Parents Beware: Inappropriate Ads in Italian Cinemas

The other night we went to see “Alla Ricerca di Nemo,” a children’s movie whose original title I think you can figure out. Ross and I had already seen it in the States, but Enrico hadn’t, and it was worth seeing again. The dubbing was very well done, even the difficult Ellen deGeneres character, and the many small children in the audience clearly enjoyed it.

The problem came before the movie started. In Italy, it’s usual before a film starts to show product advertisements (often the same ads you see on TV), as well as upcoming movie trailers. That evening, the very first ad was for a video game: “True Crime: Streets of LA”. In the US, this game is rated for ages 17 and over, as the trailer also should be – it’s all about the violence. Another ad was for a local radio station, an arty black-and-white montage of scenes from everyday life, including a nearly R-rated one of a couple making love.

In the US this could never happen (trailers are carefully rated and shown appropriately), and if it did, there’d be a storm of protest and probably lawsuits for traumatizing the kids. There was no comment in the Italian cinema. Admittedly, most of the kids were still bouncing around and making too much noise to even notice the first ad. Maybe Italian parents are used to this kind of thing and that’s why they don’t make their kids settle down when the ads begin (plus, given chronic Italian lateness, people are still bustling into the cinema during the trailers).

This reminds me of a similar incident from my childhood in Bangkok. I was going to see a kids’ movie, but the trailer was for one of those cannibal horror movies, and showed all the worst scenes – people’s guts being torn out and eaten etc. As you may recall, I am a complete wimp at movies, so this remained seared into my consciousness for years.

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