This Summer, I made a decision to let my daughters see the movie “8th Grade”. While some expressed concern about the film’s R rating, others stated that the film was too important not to let kids, especially in 8th grade, see the film. The filmmakers also expressed the importance of the parents seeing the film. Once we had seen the film, we all had questions for each other. And in today’s current environment, this conversation needed to be held, and the sooner the better.
The film basically deals with an 8th grade teenager who is social media smart, but socially present awkward. She clearly struggles between being wanting to be cool and accepted, and just confused.
If you Google “uncomfortable car scene 8th grade,” the clip I am going to describe will come up and you can see for yourself. But the clip does not show what kids need to see, just how innocent something can seem, and turn into a worst nightmare.
As I said, the girl is in 8th grade. And one of the things that occurs during the school year, as the 8th graders get ready to enter High School, a program involving seniors, has the 12th graders have the 8th graders shadow them around school for the day to show a typical day and what it is like. The 8th grade girl is matched up with a female senior, follows her around the school all day, including lunch. After school, the younger girl clearly was excited about the day and called the older girl to say thank you for being so nice, for being so cool.
The senior responded, saying that she was going to be hanging out at the mall with friends later that evening, and invited the 8th grade girl to come along. She was more than happy to accept the invitation. And so her dad drove her to the mall.
Once inside the mall, she located her 12th grade friend, along with other teens at the food court, and joined in on their gathering.
Unfortunately, the other friends spot someone “staring,” and it ends up being the younger girl’s father. Totally unaware her father was following her, she races up to him, chews him out for embarrassing her, and then informs her father that he needs to leave, and she will get a ride home with one of the kids she is hanging out with.
The driver, one of the boys, is dropping every one off at their houses until only he, the 8th grade girl, and the 12th grade girl friend are left. They are near the older girl’s home, and the older girl replies, that they should take the younger girl home first. The boy objects saying it was stupid for him to drive the other girl all that way, and double back just to drop off the older girl since they were right there.
At that point, out of the corner of my eye, I could see my younger daughter, also an 8th grader, begin to squirm as if she sensed something was going to happen.
The boy drops the older girl off, and then proceeds to take the 8th grade girl home. He is in the driver seat obviously, but she remained in the back seat. After a few words, he says, “you know? This is really hard talking with you back there.” Admittedly, I was clueless, as he pulled the car to the side of the road, thinking he was just going to allow the girl to get into the front seat. Instead, he turned the car off, and walked around to the other side of the car and got into the back seat with the girl. Now I may be forty years from being a teenager, but I know what this dirt bag was up to.
After a minute of small talk, he asks her if she wants to play “Truth Or Dare.” This game has not changed over the years, and as an adult, I am not naive to think my kids have not dabbled in the game already. The girl says okay. The first round is a “truth” for both and while she asks an innocent “truth,” he puts her on the spot with something inappropriate. But as round two begins, and she asks him, he responds that he wants a “dare.” At this point, my blood is boiling because I know where this is going, and as I looked at both my daughters, I could see the concern on both of their faces.
And she dares the jerk to take off his shirt. He knows that she is playing along now. And when he asks her, “truth of dare?”, she responds with “truth,” to which he immediately calls her out because he did the dare. She changes her mind and replies “dare.” And of course he dares her to take off her shirt. At this point, Iknow how this scene is going to play out, and clearly after the movie, there will be a conversation with my daughters.
She replies that she is not comfortable with taking off her shirt. His response, “you think I’m comfortable sitting her with my shirt off?” And when she does not respond right away, he approaches her again about removing her shirt, and she snaps back, “I SAID NO!!”
Rejected, the dickhead puts his shirt back on, and gets back in the driver seat, and drives her home. During the ride, she actually apologizes to him. WHAT THE HELL!!! Apologize for what?!? There were a couple of scenes in the movie that would be talking points, but with both of my daughters approaching dating age, this scene would be the one we needed to discuss as a priority.
There were all kind of factors that should not have taken place, but I want to stress, there is no blaming the girl. She had innocent intentions and even explained to her father who she would be hanging out with. Now honestly, I would not let my kids hang out with high school kids, mainly because they have enough friends their age. But we all agreed, that the mall was a public place, and seemed safe. And really, up until there were only 3 left in the vehicle, the ride home seemed uneventful. But when the slimeball argued with the 12th grade girl about being dropped off before the younger, everyone knew he had a plan. And now my daughters could see, for themselves, how something so simple and innocent, could turn into something so wrong.
I am glad that we saw the movie and could discuss it for several reasons, first, just as an icebreaker for a dad to have with his daughters.
But the other main reason, given today’s environment, which I have also discussed with them, the recent Supreme Court Nomination process, how a decision they make now, could impact them later in their lives. And they both agreed that the boy was a jerk, and very wrong.
So with us so divided today, concerned with believing the victim, versus not letting boys be “victimized” by false allegations, I did my part. I have had the conversation on being aware of situations to avoid, and how to respond if circumstances change and how to deal with something they are not comfortable with. But make no mistake, there is only one warning, and then they are told to defend themselves any way possible. And then talk to their mother and I. All the boys have to do, is be a gentleman and be respectful with my daughters, and there will be no issue… now… or later.