I think every family has a different belief of what is appropriate or inappropriate for their children to watch (or read). One of the best things to do is vet it yourself. Sometimes that’s difficult to do, but websites like commonsensemedia.org are great resources. They itemize items like violence, sexual content, use of alcohol consumption and to what degree. Parents or teachers can then make an informed choice. They review books, video games, and other media sources.
Last night I went to see Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland. I have been a Tim Burton fan since Edward Scissorhands and thought this adaptation was great. It also had some great positive messages: believe in yourself, don’t believe anything is impossible, have faith in the ones you trust, only the weak use fear to rule. It also doesn’t play to the usual female hero stereotypes and had a great female protagonist. Still, with amazing 3-D effects, in 6 story IMAX, and an intense soundtrack, this movie might just be a little too dark for the average 8 year old. That would be my judgement, but it doesn’t mean that someone else has a different sense of what ‘appropriate’ looks like. For example, the caterpillar is smoking from a hookah. That wouldn’t bother me at all as I feel I could easily have that conversation with someone who’s 8. Another person might find that character trait too offensive. Because of that, short of previewing the movie, video game, or book itself, websites like commonsensemedia.org are a great tool to make an informed decision. For me, it’s never about censorship, it’s about being informed. Oh, and if you’re a purist to Carroll’s work, don’t see this movie. It’s an adaptation. Great for older kids to discuss, compare, and contrast.