Quiz: How violent is my child’s media intake?

This week’s blog post is by The Paternity Test co-host Matt Boresi, who lives in the Edgewater Glen neighborhood of Chicago with his wife (“Professor Foster”) and their 6-year-old daughter, Viva, for whom friendship is magic but knowing is half the battle.

My kindergartener, Viva, brought home a disturbing worksheet from school last week.  It’s not just disturbing because it’s a worksheet and we should probably pay for private school so she can build her own kites or write beat poetry in a maker lab instead of grinding out handwriting on lined paper like it’s a classroom in the Carter era. It was disturbing because she had to write the letter “D” and say what it stood for … and she said it stood for “death” and drew a guy with “his head smashed” and “his brains coming out” and “his eyeballs squirting out there and there.”  Thanks, Baby Dexter, I’ll be locking your bedroom door from the outside from now on.

To be fair to her (and to keep you from calling Protective Services), I know she copied that concept and drawing from someone sitting next to her. I’m not sure which kid from her class, but whoever they are I’m sure they’re skulking around the family motor lodge tonight dressed as their own mother. Somebody in her class obviously either knows the cable password or … they’ve seen some stuff. Viva hasn’t been exposed too much blood and guts in the real world or in her media. She’s only seen Star Wars minus the hand lopping and when I caught her trying to watch “Rogue One” on Netflix I jumped on the remote like it was a thermal detonator. She doesn’t need to know yet how it works out for her hero Jyn Urso, and I’m pretty sure she thinks lightsabers are just glow sticks that at worst cause you to teleport out of your brown bathrobe. She made us turn off “The Nut Job” because one of the squirrels was sad. She won’t read the “Corduroy” books because one time the stuffed bear got trapped in the dryer. I don’t think she’ll be sneaking onto our HBO GO to watch “Westworld” anytime soon.

I had a reasonably peaceful childhood, too. Not travelling-across-the-country-in-a-VW-van-full-of dreamcatchers-and-rolling-papers peaceful, but not reading-“Fangoria”-magazine-while-reenacting-“Halloween III: Season of the Witch”-with-an-overripe-pumpkin-and-some-gummy-worms, either. I was just your typical Gen X kiddo with a realistic plastic M-16 and some water balloons who liked to go out in the yard and re-enact the Battle of la Drang. I didn’t have a bloodthirsty streak at all, but the country still had some deep pathologies from the recent war, and Cannon films was rolling out ultraviolent B moves like “The Delta Force” at about one a day. All boys entertainment was shoot ‘em up oriented, and PG-13 didn’t exist, so even “family movies” like “Gremlins” and “Temple of Doom” featured entrails in blenders and human hearts being removed by hand. It was the Golden Age of Gross Out, with Garbage Pail Kids, Mad Balls and Dissect an Alien all flying off the shelves. Kids these days don’t know about eye-opening trips to the video store where life-size cutouts of Leatherface loomed large next to the cassettes of “The Last Unicorn” and its drunken skeletons. Plus there was “The Day After.” (Shudder) It’s never going to leave my brain.

So, where does your little one fall? Are they covering their eyes at Lego Ninjago Movie trailers or have close readings of “Wisconsin Death Trip” got them vivisecting neighborhood pets? Take this quiz and find out!

The most violent movie my child has seen is pretty much:

a. The Gruffalo

b. Jiro Dreams of Sushi

c. Home Alone

d. The Wild Bunch

e. Cannibal Holocaust

My child’s imaginary play focuses around:

a. Plush creatures hugging one another

b. Cartoon doctors fixing injured toys

c. Superheroes punching their way out of problems

d. Krav Maga

e. New French Extremity

During commercial breaks, my child:

a. Quakes behind the couch because the “Me Want Honeycomb” creature might appear

b. Squints between their fingers at those weird Justin Guarini Dr. Pepper ads

c. Giggles nervously at upcoming releases involving alien destruction and the “BWAAM” sound

d. Crosses their fingers that “American Horror Story” is coming back soon

e. Vomits pea soup 180 degrees

When meeting new friends, my child likes to:

a. Make daisy chains and do pastoral dances

b. Keep to themselves for a time then gradually begin conversation

c. Challenge the other child to a foot race and a rousing game of Kick the Can

d. Wrestle them to the ground to establish dominance

e. Build a pyre

My child’s favorite song is:

a. Ebony and Ivory

b. Teddy Bear Picnic

c. Don’t Come Around Here No More

d. Revolution #9

e. Tubular Bells

If my child controlled the remote we would never stop watching:

a. Wishenpoof

b. This is Us

c. Rebels

d. Night Gallery

e. Tales from the Darkside

My child has a poster over their bed. On that poster is:

a. Bob Ross

b. Henry Hugglemonster

c. The Incredible Hulk

d. Alice Cooper

e. Ann Coulter

Okay, time to add it up. Give yourself 1 point for every a, 2 points for every b, 3 for every c, 4 for every d, and 5 for every e. If your total is … 

7-10: The most pain your child will ever cause anyone will involve modestly strident butterfly kisses.

10-14: Alan Alda called to apologize for being more violent than your child.

15-21: Okay, your kid is a bit of a bruiser, but it’s nothing some herbal tea, a good nap and few minutes of Emile Pandolfi’s 1999 piano album “An Evening in Venice” won’t cure.

22-28: That Anton LaVey parenting manual you read really did a number on you, didn’t it?

29-35: Your child, gaze blank and pitiless as the sun, is moving its slow thighs, while all about it wind shadows of the indignant desert birds.

Good luck.

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