I run.

Gravel leaps beneath my feet as I rush for cover.  I am close enough now that I excuse the muted clatter of pebble against pebble.  The ground turns to hard rubber and my steps thud heavily as I abandon any pretense of stealth and sprint for the bridge, mere feet away.

It’s a pathetic bridge, only about four feet off the ground, bright red in color and dotted with holes, but it will do.  Even with the holes it offers more substantial cover than the small trees nearby.

Behind me, smiling at my chaotic retreat, is my pursuer.  His arms rise.  His eyes glint.

His confidence wins me the spare seconds I need.  With a thump, I dive safely behind the bridge’s red siding.  I hear a bang the moment I slide my back against the siding’s cool surface.  I almost flinch.

Cautiously, I peek through one of the coaster-sized holes in the plastic and see his head, looking down at his hands.  He knows he fired too late.  I cock my pistol, stand, reach over the rail and fire in one clean movement.

Point blank.  Those guileless blues eyes doubtlessly blasted into oblivion.

He is still standing.

He lifts his arms in victory and screams “I have a forcefield!” and shoots me in the arm, chest, face, hair, shoe.  He recklessly kills me over and over and over again.

“Your bullets are marshmallows.”  I grumble.


Children don’t die when they have gunfights anymore.  There are no losers when sticks are rifles and hands cradle invisible pistols.  Even when it’s a swordfight, when there is no longer the margin of error that surrounds imaginary bullets, no one falls in mock pain or switches their sword to the other hand because the other one got chopped off.

When I played this game with my peers if you shot somebody they died.  I mean, sure, sometimes your aim was off or they were really fricking far away, so when they kept running towards you, you reloaded and shot again, but eventually somebody fell.  I usually feigned an arm wound so I could pull myself up to my knees with a pained expression on my face and fire a last parting shot.

Playing guns is no fun anymore, because everyone is invincible.  The kids have force fields and absurdly sharp, impenetrable Captain America shields.  Or they are Superman and when you shoot kryptonite at them they say it doesn’t count.

Legit, what happened to the good old days when you shot someone with your finger and they crumpled to the ground with an overly theatrical scream?

I brought my kids (I nanny) to see Kung Fu Panda 2 the other day (it was awesome, despite every action scene clearly being a setup for videogame production) and I realized that one of the reasons why kids don’t die when they play guns now, is because no one dies in children’s action movies and Kung Fu Panda is the perfect example of that.

Po is an idiot, he’s uncoordinated, out of shape, and not particularly motivated, but he thrives as dragon warrior because he has some ineffable quality that keeps him alive and successful.  There was not one corpse in Kung Fu Panda 2.   If anything died it disappeared, and most of the time, despite huge explosions and epic kung fu battles, even the bad guys would just get up and dust themselves off a little bit.

In order to create emotional moments, of course, the hero’s parents or children are allowed to die (usually only one per movie) and create the hole in our hero’s heart that sustains the plot, but other than that unless it’s a fakeout (which happens all the fricking time), death is not acceptable.

I’m not saying that children should be pummeled with the reality death or anything like that because they are clearly just playing.  However, playing is how kids shape their worldview and from what I can tell from the games my kids and I play “Justice” or “Right” do not factor into their worldview yet.  It’s kill and survive through inherent superiority.   There is not even a glimmer of recognition that there might be something out there that could get them.

Confidence is great.  Overconfidence is deadly.

Seriously…shouldn’t kids at least kind of understand the underlying implications to what happens on the screen?  If we’re comfortable letting them watch (or play games that emulate) war and fighting, shouldn’t we do them the service of letting them also observe a cause and effect relationship in what they watch?

If nothing else it will make having faux gun battles with them a little more enjoyable.


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