Screenshot: Coming to America

I have three chirrens. They are ages 9, 3 and 2. At this point, because children are sponges and shit, I am very careful about what I watch and listen to in front of them. The last thing I need is to have my kids absorb some super-profane content and then repeat it. I already accidentally talked my 2-year-old into calling his mother “Mommy Monster” the other day. God ain’t done with me yet.

This intentionality with what content they absorb has me thinking about when is the appropriate time to introduce kids to certain movies and things that I’m pretty sure I saw when I was at least my (9-year-old) daughter’s age.

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For instance, Coming to America came out in 1988, when I was 9 years old. Now, I know for a fact that I did not see it right when it came out. I lived in Germany, and we usually got movies about six months late. I know I didn’t see it at a movie theater, and I know I didn’t see boobies on-screen at age 9. But I clearly saw it at some point as a youth, before I was a teenager. Maybe they just covered my eyes at the good parts. I intended that pun.

Pretty sure I saw New Jack City in similar fashion because I had context for the soundtrack I listened to during track meets. At 12, “I Wanna Sex You Up” was my jam.

I haven’t asked my parents yet, either, because there’s nothing like asking your parents when they first exposed you to television boobs and classic lines like, “The royal penis is clean.” That line is something I say to myself in the shower every morning. TMI? TMI. What can I say except “You’re welcome”?

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The Color Purple came out in 1985, and I remember watching that while living in Germany. We moved back stateside in 1993, so I was 13 or younger when I watched it, and there are some pretty heavy scenes in that movie.

I thought about that recently because The Color Purple is a movie I absolutely feel that my daughter should see at some point, but I’m not quite sure at what point that is. I haven’t talked to her mother about it because it seems premature, but that day soon cometh. I feel like it’s one of those black-experience movie events that all black families should have, like Rosewood and the aforementioned Coming to America.

Nowadays, I could probably just turn on TBS and the edited versions of various movies with lots of skin and curse words will probably be playing. It’s an option, though I feel like robbing anybody of the sheer joy of hearing Samuel L. Jackson cursing is just wrong. I think that’s also something every family should do: have a night where you introduce your kids to his absolutely fascinating command of profanity.

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Surely I will figure out this dilemma, and my daughter will see such movies when the time is right and she’s ready and we’re ready to discuss what we see on-screen. But for the life of me, I don’t remember any of that happening to me as a youth. Michael Jackson told me that I was not alone. I wonder if that’s true.

So when did you first see Coming to America? Or The Color Purple, etc.? When did you start seeing grown-up movies?