Defying the Deadpool Memes

Last night, defying all the memes and impassioned tweets telling me “Don’t take your child to see Deadpool!”, I took my child to see Deadpool. In fact, I went along with another mom who also brought her child. And while I certainly feel judged, I don’t feel like we’re bad moms.


I know it isn’t pithy, but rather than “Deadpool is not for children!” I’d much rather the warning was, “This movie earned its R rating. Please research it carefully before deciding to bring your child to see it.” A meme spread by people who don’t know my child shouldn’t tell me what my child is ready for. Because what all the memes and quotes and other bite-sized edicts don’t address is the huge variance in what the term “child” encompasses.

My daughter is 15. Her friend is 14. They are, by all legal definitions, children. But if you’ve ever spent any time with teenagers or have clear memories of being one yourself, you know that they are very much on the cusp of adulthood. And as much as we may need to legally claim that certain birthdays magically bring maturity, in reality it’s a huge spectrum that teenagers bounce back and forth on, nearly minute by minute. A 15 year old is so very nearly an adult in so many ways, and the past two years have brought more growth and maturity in my child than any time in her life since she was an infant.

Deadpoolmeme2So yeah, your “No children!” rule feels useless to me. She certainly doesn’t consider herself a child, and she has a point. I certainly don’t consider her a full adult, and I have a point. But grouping her in with the elementary school kids who are unquestionably not the target audience for Deadpool doesn’t recognize the reality of reaching adulthood and how close to it many people legally deemed “children” really are.

Both of us moms researched the hell out of the movie before we took our kids, and we each left a younger sibling at home after deciding only our oldest were ready. We read tons of reviews, including ones aimed at parents that detail all the things parents might want to know about. I asked people to vet it for me, and a friend gave me a wonderfully detailed review of things that were both good and questionable for a younger viewer. The other mom posted the question to Facebook where almost everyone told her that under no circumstances should she even consider taking her kids to Deadpool, along with, to my mind, a strongly implied “Are you an idiot?” Meme after meme was posted to her timeline, which is why I didn’t ask Facebook.

We knew the movie was possibly on the edge of what our kids were ready for, so rather than say no, we went with them. We sat on the aisle so they could easily take a bathroom break if things got too intense or uncomfortable. And both of them were fine. They loved it, and they were willing to talk about it afterwards. I know my daughter didn’t understand every single joke, but to be fair, neither did I.

Yeah, there was some pretty adult stuff in that movie. And as much as I’d like to shelter my child from everything questionable, she also needs to be ready to be out on her own in 3 short years. If I think this is her first exposure to violence, foul language, nudity, and sex jokes, then I’m being horribly naïve. By watching the movie with her, now we can talk about it and I can answer questions or discuss things I found problematic. And I feel like that makes me a better parent than if I thought forbidding my child to see a movie would somehow protect her innocence.

Oh, yeah, totally water.

Oh, yeah, that’s totally water.

We’ve always been the parents who are very conscious about what media their kids consume. I will admit to giving the side eye to the parents desperately trying to convince their 5 year old that it was water not blood flowing over that stone in Guardians of the Galaxy. It’s important to know what you’re taking your kids to see.

Therefore, before Deadpool came out, I was leaning toward no, even though my daughter really wanted to see it. I’m sure many people would think I caved, unwilling to stand by my “No,” thus proving myself the kind of mother who is everything wrong with those spoiled and entitled “kids these days.” But I felt that if I was going to say no to something she really wanted to do, I should research what I was saying no to. And in the process, I learned enough to decide that it was something she could probably handle as long as she could walk away if it was too much—thus going with me and sitting on the aisle. She has shown before that she has the maturity to remove herself from situations that are uncomfortable, and that proved to me that she had the maturity to decide for herself if she wanted to go to the movie.

So I took my child to see Deadpool. And that doesn’t make me a bad mother.


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14 Responses to Defying the Deadpool Memes

  1. Lenny Balsera says:

    In a lot of ways, I see these memes as being emblematic of what the Internet does to good ideas. Like, reminding some parents that MPAA ratings exist for a reason, even for a comic book movie, is arguably a good idea. And I think that was maybe a millisecond of the conversation about Deadpool online.

    But whatever goodness was in that idea, it got trampled over by catastrophizing and shame tactics, and because the human brain and limbic systems tend to go in for that sort of thing despite ourselves, it spread.

    All of this to say, good on you for ignoring all that BS and doing real parenting.

    • ayvalentine says:

      Exactly! I think it’s really important that parents know what they’re taking their kids to, and some kind of campaign to remind parents that ratings exist and have at least some meaning is a really good idea. I saw some posts of parents getting upset that they weren’t warned about content, which is ridiculous.

      But I’m relatively shame-resistant when it comes to stuff like this and I realized I was fighting guilt feelings for doing what I had carefully considered to be right for my child, and it made me angry, especially when people piled into my friend’s Facebook timeline posting these memes. (To be fair, more than a few people also encouraged her to research and make her own decision, and that’s where I found the link above to the parent-friendly review.)

  2. Shane Harsch says:

    I agree. After seeing the movie I would be happy to share this movie with my daughter. When you look at the movie, it has very adult content revolving around sex, language, and violence.

    With respect to sex, I say, “So what?.” It appears to be acceptable in our society to glorify violence rather than the manner in which two people choose to demonstrate their love or lust, both of which are very real, natural, behaviors. While the content of Deadpool is “risque” rather than “artistically sensual,” it’s still a very real expression, if not comical, of sexuality.

    With respect to language, I say “Fuck off.” I apologize for using strong language when you weren’t necessarily expecting it, but there is no better way to make my point. I don’t believe there is such a thing as “bad language.” There are words and linguistic constructs that are stronger, more evocative, or more capable of eliciting an equivalently strong response. Our young adults will encounter this language and need to understand how it is used, what it means, and what it’s use implies. Is Deadpool the best way to learn this? Yes, in as much as any work of art is a vehicle for discovery.

    With respect to violence, I say “Meh.” Violence is a fundamental part of our history. Violence is an unfortunate reality for many people on a daily basis. Honestly, this is the part I wish we had less of in our society. I am a long time fan of action movies, especially ones with comedic elements. I think Deadpool is a fine example of a violent action comedy. I especially appreciate the fact that *spoiler alert* Deadpool gets shot. Too many “superhero” or action movies enable the protagonist to get away without a scratch, possibly perpetuating the myth that gunfights are an opportunity for glory, rather than a good way to get killed. Deadpool has powers that enable him to deal with getting shot, and this is on display.

    Look, I, like Amanda, want my children to remain children for as long as they can. But I also want them to be ready to be adults, and keeping them in the dark only to thrust them onto the world stage without adequately preparing them is what bad parenting actually looks like.

    • ayvalentine says:

      Thanks, Shane. I love this response.

      I’ve always been a pretty protective parent, but once she started high school that started looking pretty different. I figure I can either experience some of these borderline things with her—while I can give support and advice, answer her questions, and use them to encourage discussions—or I can tell her she’s not ready and pretend that she’ll suddenly be ready in 3 years to face these things on her own. I think the best way to protect her is to share as much as I can with her and prepare her to make her own good decisions as an adult.

  3. You can’t successfully shelter kids for very long. And the harder you try, the more the stuff you’re trying to keep from them becomes tantalizingly taboo. You can, however, expose them on your terms if you are proactive. Sex, comic book violence and colorful language aren’t as big a deal if you’ve set a tone and a context for how to treat people with love and respect.

    • ayvalentine says:

      While we were trying to decide whether or not to take her, her friends suggested she could say she was going to another movie and then sneak into Deadpool. She said she would never do that, and I think it’s because we have been open about stuff like this. Because we respect each other, she was willing to continue the conversation with us – and in the end it worked out her way partially because of how maturely she handled it.

  4. Deadpoolfan says:

    These memes aren’t aimed at you and your daughter who is ‘legally a child’. At 15 she is actually leaning more toward being a young adult. These memes are aimed at the parents who think the man in the red suit is akin to Spiderman and have the mentality that all movies about comic book characters = appropriate for young children. A lot of them are, but this one isn’t. Kudos to you for looking up the info and making an informed decision, there have been many reports of parents who didn’t bother to do that and defaulted to the example I listed above and then complained loudly when they realized their mistake and decided to leave.
    I’ve encountered too many parents lately who seem to be completely lacking in common sense, and these memes are lost on them as well because HOW DARE WE tell them what their kid can and can’t do.

    • ayvalentine says:

      I’ve seen some posts from parents who took younger kids and were shocked by the content (good lord, do you live under a rock?!?) so I’m glad there’s been a push to make it clear this one is rated R. The use of “your child” in the memes without context, though, means many parents of younger teens have been peppered with these memes when they tried to research the movie on social media, which effectively shut down conversation. Regardless of intent by the people who created them, they got used to tell parents of any kids under 17 that they shouldn’t even be thinking about taking their kids to Deadpool and they’re bad parents to consider it. It’s that shaming that I’m responding to. It’s possible that this is a minority of how the memes were used overall, but it felt prevalent in my corner of the world. And you’re totally right – the parents who needed to see it either missed it or thought it didn’t/shouldn’t apply to them.

  5. Eli Hughes says:

    Thanks for the review from this perspective. When I hear people with black/white broad brush statements I tune out. What is really telling is that some would be OK if it was just the violence and not the nudity/jokes. I find that to be a totally backwards set of priorities.

  6. BrieCS says:

    For me, these “don’t take your kids” suggestions were referring to what I consider to be actual *kids*, meaning 13 and under. Parents can judge what their kids are okay with no problem, and I do try to make myself available to answer questions on content, for sure. I do think that summary warnings about not taking very young kids to films like Deadpool are sometimes useful in order to prevent parents who won’t do the research from taking their kids.

    Great post, and I appreciate you doing the work to make sure Deadpool was okay for your kids!

    • ayvalentine says:

      I was so thankful for your review – my biggest concern was that the humor would be mean and offensive, so your perspective helped allay my fears on that front. And we decided it was only okay for one of our kids! Luckily only the one it was ok for wanted to go, so that made it easy.

      Being a parent on the internet is full of judgment and the memes felt like they were being used as a hammer – I may very well have been sensitive to it, though!

      • Clark says:

        Tough not to be sensitive sometimes. Between nuance not being well communicated, and more than a few Internet denizens delighting in doing the whole “HOW DARE YOU NOT SHARE MY PRIORITIES” thing, I was very reluctant to say anything about the girl seeing the movie. Just did not want the trouble.

        Thankfully you posting this seems to be refreshingly free of blowback, so far?

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