EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA
May 7, 2012
Child protection advocates decry Sandler’s new film
By Doug Ireland
New Hampshire’s Adam Sandler is known for making movie audiences laugh.
But when his latest film, “That’s My Boy,” opens next month, not everybody will be laughing. Some people are outraged and calling for the film to be pulled from theaters.
They say the movie glamorizes sexual relationships between children and their teachers. Trailers for the film depict a 13-year-old boy who impregnates his teacher. That boy then grows up to become the character played by Sandler, who raised the baby after the teacher was imprisoned.
The idea of Hollywood releasing such a film has angered people across the country, especially child rights advocates and survivors of child sexual abuse.
They include widely acclaimed psychiatrist and writer Dr. Keith Ablow of Newbury and Robert Brown of Chester, who has recounted his abuse as a child for national audiences.
The movie was filmed by Sandler’s company, Happy Madison Productions, and is being distributed by Columbia Pictures through Sony Pictures. Some scenes were shot in Peabody last year.
It’s described as a comedy, but there’s nothing humorous about an adolescent being manipulated into having sex with an adult, Ablow said.
“It isn’t funny,” he said. “It’s a tragedy to have that happen.”
Ablow, who has psychiatric offices in Massachusetts and New York, is also a writer and medical expert for Fox News. His recent column on the subject asks that the movie not be shown in theaters.
“It would be a great sign of corporate responsibility,” he said.
But that’s probably not going to happen, Ablow said.
An employee for Happy Madison declined to comment Friday, referring calls to Sandler’s publicist. She then hung up when asked the publicist’s name.
Ablow’s column is receiving support from followers online, including Harry Crouch.
Crouch, president of the National Coalition for Men, said he agrees with Ablow and others who say the film must be pulled because it sends the wrong message to society.
Crouch said it’s especially insulting that the movie opens June 15 — Father’s Day.
“That is horrendous,” he said. “How is that a gift to dad?”
Crouch said many members of his organization are men who were sexually abused as children. His organization plans to contact Hollywood.
“We’re not happy with the movie and I feel sorry for the people who have to see it and have it thrown in their faces,” Crouch said.
Brown, 51, is one of those people. He said he was sexually abused by teenaged boys in his neighborhood beginning when he was 7.
“The Sandler movie is glorifying statutory rape,” he said.
Brown, a child rights advocate, has recounted his abuse as a child with national audiences through the Internet. They include pieces published by such organizations as The Good Men Project and an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network’s “700 Club.”
The film gives young viewers the false impression that it’s acceptable for adults to have sexual relationships with children, Brown said.
He spoke of the Pamela Smart case, a school employee from Derry who had her husband killed in order to be with her teenage lover.
Brown said he still suffers from the trauma of sexual abuse more than 40 years ago. He is rallying opposition to the film’s showing through the Internet, including Facebook.
Brown also plans to contact theater companies, such as Loews, and ask that they not show the film.
“I’m going to be putting pressure on them to denounce the film and to scrap it,” he said. “At least maybe they can shorten its run.”
An employee at Loews in Methuen declined to comment. She referred inquiries to cinema company’s national headquarters, which did not return a call for comment.
Jetta Bernier, executive director of Massachusetts Citizens for Children, also agrees the film should not be shown.
“I absolutely, totally support the notion of pulling this from the theaters,” she said. “There is nothing funny about this. I can’t believe Sandler would go ahead and make such a crude movie.”
• • •