A couple of days ago, PBJ showed the kids some Monty Python’s Flying Circus skits and we made a magical discovery; Monty Python hits the exact sweet spot where six-year-old humor and eleven-year-old humor intersect.
So PBJ suggested we all watch Monty Python and the Holy Grail that Saturday night. I found I only had a dim memory of the film; although I appreciate Python in small doses, I’ve never been obsessed, and I’ve only seen Holy Grail once (and it was as an adult, in America, at He-Who-Must-Be-Preserved’s insistence. I wasn’t into Python as a teenager; they, along with Led Zeppelin and Dungeons and Dragons belonged in the category I thought of as “Scripts Boys Feel Compelled to Enact Ad Nauseam”) So being the responsible parent that I am, I looked it up on “Common Sense Media,” a website that gives slightly humorless but also useful guidance on the suitability of movies for kids of different ages. (What do I mean by humorless? Their criteria include categories for “positive messages” and “positive role models.” They give The Holy Grail 0 out of 5 on both counts and state dourly under the “positive role models” heading, “the characters are too silly to be considered positive role models.”)
I for one feel comfortable exposing my children to extreme levels of silliness, so that didn’t faze me; moreover, the rest of the review was reassuring, describing the violence as “obviously fake” and stating that, while the vestal virgin sequence is “filled with sexual innuendo and proposition,” that is “the iffiest content.”
As someone weaned on the Carry On movies and Roger Moore as James Bond, I don’t worry too much about a bit of innuendo, so we went ahead and watched it.
It was all going fine. The violence was indeed “obviously fake,” as my children agreed.
However, I would like to take exception with Common Sense Media’s blatant mis-use of the word “innuendo.”
I can pinpoint very precisely when this thought popped into my mind. It wasn’t after one of the vestal virgins has told Sir Galahad they all need a good spanking because they’ve been so naughty. No, it was right after the next line, in which she says, “And after the spanking, the oral sex.”
And then they all start chanting “Oral sex! Oral sex!”
The elder shot me a look and started giggling helplessly. The younger looked confused.
“Thanks, Common Sense Media!” I said to no one in particular. “That’s actually not what the word ‘innuendo’ means,” I continued. “That’s, like, the opposite of innuendo.”
Later, the younger came up to me looking sheepish. “Mom, I have a question,” she said.
Oh, here we go, I thought.
I braced myself. “OK. Go ahead.”
She took a deep breath. “OK. What does ‘spanking’ mean?”