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12 June 2007


Dear Mr Schembri,

My friend Jellyfish has just sent me a rather irate email containing a link to your latest offering in The Age.

In response to your '10 key reasons why children should not be allowed in cinemas', I would like to alert you of '1 really key reason why Jim Schembri should not be allowed in print'.

The other day, David Levithan said that homophobia was the last acceptable prejudice. He was wrong. There is another one, and it is ephebiphobia. The fear of young people. (or pedophobia, the fear of children and babies).

Do you think if Jim Schembri had written an article on 10 reasons why we shouldn't let WOMEN or JEWS or BLACK PEOPLE into cinemas, it would have been published?

Why does our society see young people as some kind of lesser species?

Apart from all of the absolute bollocks you see in the media about "teens running wild" and all of the head-shaking and 'in my day'-ing that goes on today, have a think about these 10 things:

1. children as young as 12 can be tried for crimes as adults

2. children can't vote, as they are cited to have a lower level of reasoning. But adults don't have to prove any level of reasoning to vote.

3. the 'lower level of reasoning' line was also used to prevent people with different coloured skins and vaginas from voting up until the 20th century.

4. Senile people have a say in how their country is run. Alcholics and psychotics and murderers and rapists have a say in how their country is run. Not young people.

5. children are forced to attend underfunded schools, have little or no access to free health care, and will have to grow up coping with catastrophic global warming, but have no voice to protest or bring about change.

6. they also have to pay taxes AND superannuation, if they are earning money (not to mention the fucking GST), but with no legal say in how those funds are managed.

7. in the US, poverty among young people exceeds all other age groups, yet the government spends 10 times more on each poor senior than each poor child.

8. you can be a Christian and a child. A Muslim and a child. You can be gay. You can be disabled. You can be poor. You can be homeless. But you're not allowed to have an opinion. (or, if Jim Schembri has his way, go to the fucking cinema)

9. many people in Positions of Influence seem to think that young people should constantly be educated - that books must be either Classics or about Real Issues (see the YA winner of the WA Premier's Award for a recent and tooth-grinding example), television should only be documentaries, and computers are just plain evil.

10. I'll stop ranting now and quote Goosebumps author RL Stine: I believe that kids as well as adults are entitled to books of no socially redeeming value.

Stop picking on the young people. Or at least give them an opportunity to respond.

(With thanks to the NYRA and this episode of the West Wing.)


Mike said...

You're right, how come that level of offensiveness is tolerated? Would you get away with it on any other group, apart, of course, teeangers?

It is however Jim's idea of being funny, Mr Outrage. Rent-a Rant. He lives for the backlash. Take away the backlash and you take away his reason for existence.

But given that his spray was on the same weekend as the absolutely brilliant Little Big Shots Film Festival (a film fest for, gasp, children) it was a particularly poor effort. I sat in a cinema with around 100 children for 90 minutes and was not disturbed at all. Great films, great audience. I've had a lot worse cinema-going at the Nova on a Friday or Saturday night. Jim of course was no doubt curled up on his couch in splendid isolation with the Jerry Bruckheimer special DVD collection* enjoying explosions, heists and heavy breathing women. Go get, 'em, tiger.

*I'm not sure that such a thing exists, but if it did I'd put money on Jim owning it.

Anonymous said...

Hear hear, o Lili. I'm very pleased to have a new word in my vocabulary to use in the defence of young people and the attacking of the kind of fogey-ness that attends many, many discussions of young people, young people's behaviour, young people's books etc etc et bloody cetera. Perhaps you can reproduce this post and stick it on a very large banner outside the SLV?

moonflowerdragon said...

When I began your post, I immediately thought of that episode of West Wing - wasn't it effective.

I've asked my sons (14yo & 9yo) for their opinion. They believe they should have the right to vote. They're not in arms about it, and asked if they want to they said 'no' until they started discussing who is running the country and the issues that concern them (like carbon emissions, refugee treatment) at which time they definitely wanted to be able to choose.

Among Amid While said...

Now you've got me wondering - how many colours do vaginas come in?
You see what a state of sludge my brain is in, after Reading Matters?
:) Margo.

Penni said...


I must admit I wrote a really really irate blog post about this very article (really irate), filled with backlashy rage, and in the end decided it wasn't fit for public consumption. So thank you for articulating my inarticulate rage.

It's amazing the amount of people who don't like kids in restaurants or cinemas. Why go out to eat or watch if you're basically a misanthrope? Jim Schembri, it would be much easier if you stayed home instead. Don't worry, you won't be missed.

audrey said...

Excellent article Lili. I love the points about children voting.

At risk of incurring the wrath of penni though, I do get quite annoyed by children in restaurants but only when their parents let them run around screaming and yelling over the top of everyone's conversations. This is less to do with them being children though and more to do with the parents

1. not housetraining them and
2. thinking that their children are so amazing that everyone should experience them

It used to really annoy me when I was waitressing as well because kids would just run into your legs while you're carrying hot food and the parents would sort of giggle and say things like, "Now come on Ibithia, watch out for the lady's legs."

In short, children treating restaurants like the playground at the local mcdonalds is both annoying and dangerous.