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Fatherhood changes your viewing habits
Scripps Howard News Service


May 04, 2005

So I'm sitting in the living room the other night, with my 3-year-old son in my lap and the movie "Scarface" on the television set.

"Whoa," you say. "You were watching what?" I was just flipping through the channels, honestly. And there it was, the quintessential movie about the cocaine era, soaked in all its gory glory.

And for a second, I froze. I was a deer in the headlights. A batter staring at a knee-buckling curveball.

It just so happens that, at that moment, my wife walked into the room and caught me in the recliner, son in my lap and Tony Montana on the television screen.

"What are you watching, Ryan?" she asks me.

"'Scarface,' " I reply.

"What's it about?"

"Eh, you know. Drugs. Money. Power."

"So, soon they'll be shooting at each other?" she says.

"Yes," I reply.

"So why are you watching this with our child?"

"Because," I told her, "'South Park's' in the middle of a commercial break."

Let me tell you, fellow fathers, that if you ever decide to pull this prank on the mother of your children, the time to bring it to an end is soon after you mutter the words "South Park."

Otherwise, you're basically hitting a nuclear reactor with a sledgehammer. You may not perish immediately, but you're in for some horrible suffering over the next few weeks.

It was about this time that I switched the channel, from one of the (very few) nonviolent parts of "Scarface" to a sporting event, chuckled, and let her in on the joke. Even I'm not crazy enough to subject our son to that, I told her.

She disagreed with my assessment of my mental state, collected our son from the recliner and walked him into his bedroom.

I got a good chuckle out of my little play, but it did get me thinking about the television selections I make each day.

Used to be, I could pop in my "GoodFellas" DVD any time I liked and watch the nearly three hours of evolution in a mobster's life. Like "Scarface," it was a lot about money, power and drugs.

Also out of the question? My copies of "Bull Durham," "The Shawshank Redemption" and "Stand by Me."

In fact, pretty much everything in our DVD cabinet has been eliminated from daytime and early-evening viewing except those creations put forth by the people at Disney and Pixar.

Laugh all you want to at Mike Myers in his "Austin Powers" roles, but I'm far more familiar with his work in the two "Shrek" movies.

And consider this: The other day I caught myself muttering the lines in "Toy Story 2" before the dinosaur and the space hero could say them.

So it's not that parenting has reduced my film intake. It's only changed the menu in the oddest - and most opposite -way.


Ryan Reynolds is an editor at the Evansville (Ind.) Courier & Press.
Contact him at ryanr(at)


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