Carding not the answer

I was on my way to a friend’s house last Tuesday night when I heard the startling news — NATO is going to start carding youngsters.

NATO? The North Atlantic Treaty Organization needs to card youngsters? It seemed to me that having NATO card underaged kids trying to buy alcohol would be overkill: why do we need to send a bomber to do the job when the guard at Big Red Liquors already cards customers with unerring efficiency?

Besides, why on earth would NATO, an international organization currently concerned with preventing Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic from committing more genocide, be interested in pausing from its efforts to card youngsters?

Naturally, I was intrigued with this breaking news story, so I turned the radio up and listened carefully.

To say the least, I was surprised to learn that there are actually two NATOs in existence. The first is the aforementioned North Atlantic Treaty Organization. The second is the National Association of Theater Owners, an organization of movie theater owners that represents, according to the New York Times, about two-thirds of the movie screens in the U.S.

It turns out that the latter organization is the one that will start carding teenagers, but not for alcohol. Instead, the theater NATO is going to start carding teenagers who try to attend R-rated movies without an adult. The theater NATO agreed to start carding teenagers after a meeting with President Clinton, one which took place in the aftermath of the Colorado school shooting.

Two words immediately sprang into my mind — good grief.

The entertainment industry is not responsible for violence in the schools of America. If this were the case, any place that American culture dominates the entertainment industry, we should find violence in the schools. Yet Europe and Asia remain free from violence in their schools.

We need to blame the people at fault, not the American entertainment industry whose products are distributed around the world without ill effects. Continuing to blame the entertainment industry instead of irresponsible parents, educators and law enforcement officials in Colorado who could miss a pink elephant standing in front of them, is pointless.

I want to know — when will the madness stop?

It’s been clearly demonstrated with the silly drinking age limits that banning products for certain age groups does not work. Because there is a thrill at the prospect of breaking the law for many, the prevalence of fake IDs among those under 21 is widespread and can, in some cases, lead to tragic consequences.

Applying the same treatment to movies will just mean that even younger kids will get fake IDs so that they can go and watch “Instinct” or “The Matrix.” But who really cares?

At least for watching R-rated movies, there are no long-term consequences for teenagers unless you count the possible nightmares they might get from seeing the many dumb and pointless R-rated movies out there.

If this theater NATO really wants to win friends, I think there are a few changes that would make the movie watch experience truly pleasurable.

First, all theaters need to lower their prices at the concession stand. $2.50 for a small bottle of water at Showplace 11 is too much. I won’t even mention the prices of everything else it tries to hawk. I realize that attendees are a “captive” audience, but that shouldn’t mean the theater can rook us on every aspect of the movie experience.

Secondly, ban small children from attending any movies except those rated G. I had the misfortune of sitting near a couple with their young child when I went to see the PG-13 rated movie “Entrapment.”

The child cried.

The child ran around.

The child talked.

“Entrapment” was a good flick. It would have been better without the kid.

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