Two years ago, friends were aghast when I mentioned that I allowed Amanda, then-five, to watch the American Psycho of misogynistic repute. For those who’ve never heard of the book which spawned the movie, starring the current Batman, Christian Bale, it’s about this suit-wearing narcissist who’s an ad-agency executive by day and a prostitute killer slash cannibal by night.
Anyone who’s even seen the trailer of American Psycho will know it is full of blood and gore. Sort of like Luka Rocco Magnotta’s escapades, except that this is merely fiction. After getting over the shock of such a confession, the question they put to me was, “Why?”
You’ve got to know the child you have. I didn’t take Amanda straight from the womb and plonked her in front of American Psycho. We’d been having conversations about life through films long before she could even question what was on the screen.
Why use the TV, you ask. If you are going to watch the idiot box, then you might as well learn something from it. I can’t teach Amanda about stranger danger, rapist and murderers without giving her examples of what evil these people do. After all, how do you explain to a five year old there are worse things than her doll being chewed by the neighbour’s dog?
Obviously if you haven’t laid the groundwork of talking to your child about what they see, you shouldn’t even go there as such images are likely to give them nightmares. I started off when Amanda was still a baby by talking to her about her environment. I pointed out objects around the house and gave them names. When I took her for walks and we came across a dead frog, I allowed her to see it, to prod it with a stick if need be to confirm the cessation of life.
Some people argue that 3 years of age is too young to know about death but by 3, Amanda already knew the difference between suicide and being killed. All this from our many encounters with dead frogs, which were a common sight in our neighbourhood.
I explained to her that everyone and every living thing dies and for that reason, life is precious. Some people like the American Psycho, appear nice and smiling, but are really very, very, very dangerous. I left out big words like sadistic and misogynistic. All she needed to know was that some people need to be avoided.