There’s this sidebar discussion about the Aurora theater shootings that I’ve seen crop up a few times with people questioning why there were young kids, including a three-or-four-month-old infant, at a midnight screening. And they mostly tend to have this disapproving tone with regard to the babe-in-arms in particular, and I find that disturbing. Because really, how is the whole, “Why did these irresponsible parents have kids at a midnight screening anyhow?” thing different than a woman being raped and then being grilled on the witness stand by the perp’s defense attorney as to what exactly she expected if she was out late at night in a skirt that short?
As a mom of seven kids (five mine, two stepsons), I can say that I brought my kids to movies, even late-night movies, when they were that tiny. Why? Because a three-month-old baby could be expected to just sleep through it, in his mom’s arms or a baby sling, and if they woke up and made noise, I’d just put them on the boob to nurse back to sleep, or step out of the theater. I stopped bringing them at around seven months or so because it was less reliable that they’d sleep and not disturb other patrons. Really, not the big deal some folks are making it out to be, that these parents brought a baby to a late-night thing. Geez, my parents took me and my brother to the drive-in until 2AM all the time when we were growing up.
As for the 6YO, whatever. We took all of our kids, including our 8 and 9YOs, to the midnights of both The Avengers and Amazing Spider-Man. They took an evening nap beforehand so they wouldn’t be tired. Our kids are well-behaved, they didn’t bother anyone else, they were just there, like the other comic-geek patrons, to enjoy the fun of seeing superhero movies they were excited about at the midnight. We had a great family time, and it was exciting for them to get to be out late for a one-off special event. So long as they’re not bothering anyone else, it’s really no one’s business but ours. Now, if a theater wanted to have some designated adults-only midnight screenings, I certainly have no problem with that. But those families had as much a right to be there as anyone else.
Should the parents of the baby have had a babysitter? Not that it’s anyone’s business, but as a parent, I know that finding a babysitter for a midnight screening’s not so easy. I don’t know these parents, but I imagine that there are big enough comic geeks to want to be at the midnight screening of TDKR, right? So, you know, they had a baby 3-4 months ago. They’re adjusting to life as parents of a new baby. Probably haven’t had a real date night since the baby was born. And they wanted to celebrate their comic geekery by being at the midnight, of maybe being able to tell their comic geeky kid when he’s older, “Hey, your first movie was TDKR when you were just a baby!” Absolutely nothing wrong with that.
Just saying, as a parent, I find the whole “why did parents even have kids at a midnight screening?!” sidebar irritating as hell. As though that makes them bad parents, or as if they should have, you know, expected a crazy guy armed with an assault rifle to come in and start shooting because it was a midnight — or, for that matter, as if the same thing couldn’t have happened at a matinee. And it has a tinge of “blame the victim” that distracts from the actual important issues of gun control laws and our mental health care system that are what we should be discussing as a society.