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There's a stink of ridiculousness surrounding an article over at the NY Times. It's a blatant attack on the use of what are called "age gates" at the front of red-band trailers, used to prevent underaged kids from watching explicit promotional material for films. It's no doubt that kids maybe shouldn't be seeing some stuff that winds up in these previews, but it's absurd to make it as big of a problem as the author is making it.
Websites like MySpace make it incredibly easy to view these trailers, and it was even easier before when they wouldn't even require a log in to watch, and parents and advocates don't like this. They claim that these trailers and their lax security are aimed specifically at younger kids in order to pique their interest in a movie that they'll think is "cool" and go tell their other underage friends about. That's called grasping at straws. Red-band trailers service the older crowd who are looking to be sure that a movie is going to interest them before they go to see it. It's not the fault of the production company that kids who see them think that hearing the work "fuck" is awesome.
Kids are smart. No matter what is done, the mystique of a red-band trailer will always draw the attention of the younger crowd, and they will figure out a way to watch it. It's pretty easy to go ahead and fill in the age verification boxes and then sit back and watch some unbridled sex or violence. The Kick-Ass trailer seems to be their jumping off point since Chloe Moretz plays an 11-year-old girl who commits a hell of a lot of gratuitous violence just in the trailer, let alone what we all know happens towards the end of the movie. But there's no way, regardless of what you do to try and prevent it from happening, that kids aren't going to figure out a way to unlock the content. It's just going to happen one way or another.
Of course the other factor that makes these age gates sound ridiculous is a little site called YouTube. Sure some of the content is labeled as "explicit" and require a log in in order to view it, but typing in a fake age into the registration page is simple and won't stop any semi-literate person from signing up. And once registration is complete, YouTube simply asks you if you're of age to watch the content in question and all you need to do is click "proceed". Plus, if a parent uses YouTube the chances are they don't specifically click the "log out" button before closing their browser, which in most cases means that their account will be logged in the next time someone navigates to the site, making it all the more easy for a young kid to watch whatever they want.
They way the author of the article talks about it, it sounds like these trailers are the end all be all of internet inappropriateness, and that is about as far from the truth as it gets. There's this whole world they seem to be forgetting about called 'Porno' where most age gates are simply a big ass "ENTER" button, or a teeny tiny "Leave" button, all surrounded by images of big naked boobs and pouty "come hither" faces. Most 12-year-olds on the prowl for porn aren't going to see that page and say, "oh boy, I'm not 18 so I better not." It just wouldn't ever happen. That sounds like a lot more serious a problem than a couple of swear words and maybe a boob or two that you might catch in a red-band trailer.
Some kids should definitely not be seeing some things that get shown in red-band trailers, but that's hardly the crux of internet absurdity. Kids today are resourceful, even more resourceful than you were at their age especially when it comes to technology, so if they want to see something, they are going to figure out a way to see it. There are too many outlets for this sort of thing on the internet to try and police them all. The only true answer, if red-band trailers really are such a nuisance, is to ban production of them altogether, which is way more extreme than is absolutely necessary. If parents are controlling what their kids are watching on the TV, then too should they be able to control what they watch on the Internet. Simple as that.
How does everyone else feel about red-band trailers? Especially if you're a parent, sound off in the comments below.
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