A letter which appeared in the Stabroek News this week decrying the presence of two small girls in a movie theatre where an ‘R’ rated film was playing was not as shocking as it was disappointing.
One would have hoped that the move to legitimately widen the provision of entertainment to locals would have brought with it the same laws and mores that obtain elsewhere. Sadly this seems not to be the case.
Unfortunately, much of what is wrong in this country takes place under the ‘This is Guyana (where anything goes)’ mantle, which too many of us seem to subscribe to. It is sad to see people shrug off issues like: small children being left at home alone; children being sent to purchase alcohol and cigarettes; children being allowed to watch whatever they want on TV at any time, among other things. It is reprehensible that some parents and guardians seem to think that none of the infractions mentioned above are wrong and that they are not harming their children by allowing those things to happen. And in some cases by the time they do realise it, it’s already too late – the children are already well on their way to becoming dysfunctional adults who are likely to turn around and do the same things, continuing the vicious cycle.
There isn’t much that the authorities can do if they are not aware of what is taking place. However, steps can be taken to prevent some of these things from happening in the first place. This is one of the reasons why, films, for example, are rated and why shops and bars have mandates not to sell tobacco and alcohol to minors.
Film ratings provide a solid guide as to who is eligible to view them based on their content. Usually, minors are barred from viewing films which have scenes depicting sex, violence, nudity and swear words (cursing). The ratings are always very public so that parents and guardians know in advance which films their 16 years and under children can see.
In addition to this, in theatres around the world, tickets to films that are rated ‘R’ are not sold to minors or people who have children with them. And in the event that this ever happens, ushers can and will refuse entry to the cinema and a refund is offered to the child/children/adult. This is a norm.
In fact, this is something that used to happen here many moons ago when Guyana had those old cinemas. Stories abound about back in the day when teenagers and young adults were either turned away or asked to produce ID before being allowed in the cinemas to see certain films. Some did manage to sneak in undetected, but this was always a clandestine operation. No one under 18 could walk boldly into any cinema where an ‘R’ rated film was being screened.
I am pretty sure that these rules have not changed. Obviously they were not in use when Guyana had no cinemas, but now that the theatres have returned, the rules must once again be steadfastly enforced.