Eighth Grade
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Should 8th Graders See the R-Rated “Eighth Grade?”

My 14-year-old tells me almost everything. I say almost because she keeps the juicier tidbits private, unless the guilt sets in or the story’s too good not to share. I don’t kid myself into thinking I know everything that’s happening in her life, but one thing’s for sure:
She and her friends are talking about sex.
Yes, most 14-year-olds are thinking about sex and they have a TON of questions. If they can’t get answers to those questions from their parents, they usually crowdsource among themselves or head straight to the internet, where they learn far more than necessary.
The life of your average 14-year-old is more R-rated than the PG-13 their parents are hoping for, but that doesn’t mean they’re troubled or at risk. It’s just part of the growing-up process.
I mention all of this because the critically acclaimed film about young-adulthood, Eighth Grade opens nationwide July 27th and many of us (including me) were shocked to find out it’s rated R.
Why would anyone make a film about eighth graders that they can’t even see?
Well, probably because kids that age don’t live PG-13 lives. If Eighth Grade is going to speak to the real eighth grade experience, it needs to include the sex-talk and profanity that peppers your average thirteen-year-old’s day.
Profanity and sex-talk isn’t new to my own 14-year-old, so I decided to see Eighth Grade with her.
Man, am I glad I did.
Emma brought one of her girlfriends along and they alternately giggled, gasped and groaned uncomfortably through the whole movie. They sympathized with 13-year-old Kayla (a heartbreaking Elsie Fisher) as she struggled to build the social life she dreamed of, and then cried out “NO” when she made horrific mistakes. They loved every minute of it though, and we had some pretty fantastic discussions on our ride home.
But what about the profanity and sex (specifically oral sex) that earned Eighth Grade that R-rating?
My daughter and her friend said they weren’t alarmed by it at all. They even felt that it was appropriately real and properly handled. The girls actually cringed harder at Kayla’s awkward social interactions, and especially when she signed off her YouTube broadcasts with, “Gucci!
While I DO think Eighth Grade is appropriate for 14-year-olds (and probably many 13-year-olds), I wouldn’t go much younger than that. My youngest daughter starts middle school next month and asked NOT to see it, saying it might scare her. She’s right. The images of sexuality and isolation might terrify boys and girls who are approaching those years, and they certainly don’t need anything else to be nervous about. Eighth Grade is definitely more appropriate for kids who are entering a new phase in their lives (namely high school), when they have to learn to speak out and stand up for themselves.
Parents will enjoy Eighth Grade as well, because it shows that growing up isn’t that different from when we did it, even with social media. Plus, it’s easier to laugh at all those braces and zits when you’re safely in your forties. Best of all, Eighth Grade will teach you plenty of hip new terms to use in front of your kids, just to watch them cringe. Gucci! (A+)
Eighth Grade
opens in north Texas on July 26th and you can buy tickets HERE.

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