One of my fondest memories of my mother involves killer robots. It was early July, 1991, and by some set of circumstances I can’t recall my father and sister were not home that day. It was just me and my mom. She made me my favorite dinner (spaghetti and meatballs) and asked if there was a movie I would want to go see. I answered without hesitation: Terminator 2.
I was eleven years old at the time and Terminator 2 was rated R, so I was certainly pushing my luck. I figured I couldn’t pass up the opportunity, though, even if there was little chance of my mom saying yes. After all, what could be more appealing to an 11 year-old boy than two hours of robots blowing things up? To my surprise, she agreed to take me to see it. This was to become the first R-rated movie I would ever see in a movie theater.
I had seen plenty of R-rated movies at my friend’s house next store. His parents were sort of like Charlie’s family in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. They never seemed to get out of bed and they certainly didn’t pay attention to what he was watching on TV. This was different, though. This was on the big screen, and with parental approval. I was elated.
This may come as a shock to those who haven’t seen the movie, but it turns out that Terminator 2 is very pro-mother. The female protagonist of the movie, Sarah Connor, is just about the most ass-kicking mom in modern fiction. She’s smart, she’s strong, and she will do whatever it takes to protect her son from the killer robot sent back in time to stop him from being alive. Sure she has a little help from the patriarchy in the form of a reprogrammed murder machine from the future played by Arnold Schwarzenegger, but she is at least as instrumental to her son’s survival as he is. She’s also alive at the end of the movie, a fate he does not share. Thus, she will continue protecting her son against whatever other time-traveling threats might come his way.
I don’t know if my mom saw all that. To her, it was most likely just a silly, violent action film. It was more than that to me, though. It was proof that my mom really, truly loved me. Why else would she agree to take me to an R-rated movie that she undoubtedly had little to no interest in seeing herself? Even at age 11, I understood the selflessness of the gesture. There are many, many other selfless things my mother has done for me over the course of my life, of course. It’s just that none of those things, to the best of my knowledge, has involved killer robots.