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Harry Knowles vs. Roger Ebert over Kick-Ass

04.15.2010

The movie press is all a-flutter today with Roger Ebert's one star review of KICK-ASS hitting the net. He claims that though people will think him a square, he must object to the movie, and his criticism is mainly based on the cussing, killing 11-year-old character of Hit Girl.

This isn't comic violence. These men, and many others in the film, are really stone-cold dead. And the 11-year-old apparently experiences no emotions about this. Many children that age would be, I dunno, affected somehow, don't you think, after killing eight or 12 men who were trying to kill her?

Across the internet, movie geek-in-chief Harry Knowles of AICN like many others took umbrage to Ebert’s moral dismissal of the movie, and wrote a generally well-reasoned critique of why he believes the man to be completely wrong about the film.

The sort of kids that will see KICK ASS this weekend are well prepared for it. Talk to a teacher at our public schools and you'll hear fouler language than even Hit Girl dishes in the classrooms. Not of a private school, but I have dear friends that teach - their kids know the language and how to use it. They’ll see it as just a really cool movie that really let kids KICK ASS. And hopefully it’ll make a few kids want to get into acting so they could do stuff like that. Hopefully.

It was kind of strange to read both of these pieces by the two critics and actually kind of disagree with both of them to a degree. I don’t believe you should dismiss a movie based on “moral outrage” over the theory that it’s going to corrupt kids who shouldn’t be allowed into the theater in the first place. I also don’t think kids seeing an 11-year-old killing and cursing is much different than say, seeing Neo from The Matrix doing the same thing. I know when I was a kid, I would probably be running around shooting imaginary bad guys after the credits rolled on either film. And if my parents didn't want me doing this, they shouldn’t have taken me to see either movie. For the record, I haven’t grown up to kill anyone yet.

Contrastingly, I don’t know how good of a defense it is to say, “well kids play violent video games and swear all the time already, so this movie isn’t going to corrupt them any further.” Is that really justification? It more seems like evidence that pop culture is influencing these kids already to a pretty big degree, and they shouldn’t be further exposed to it.

I do end up siding with Knowles’ overall point though. I think this movie will be a great time for most audiences, and no, young kids probably should NOT be in attendance, but even if they are, I don't believe it's going to affect them any more than a different R-rated actioner would. Though if some 11-year-old girl ends up murdering a street gang using backflips and a butterfly knife in real life any time soon, please let me know.

Extra Tidbit: I love and respect Ebert, but he did put TWO Nicolas Cage movies on his top ten list this year. KNOWING? Seriously?
Source: AICNSun Times

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