I brought my five-year-old nephew to see ParaNorman and he thoroughly enjoyed the film. Although he was a bit scared at times (as it was refreshingly spookier than what we usually find in children’s movies nowadays), he joined the gang on the adventure and shared their surprise at each new twist in the story. He was disgusted by the rage of the ignorant mob of adults and sympathized with the innocent victims who bore the mental and physical violence of their wrath.
And yes, he caught the small part about the fact that one of the characters was a homosexual. He thought it was a cute joke—as it was meant to be. He was not confused by the fact that there was a gay character, nor was he shocked by the fact that the other characters did not bat an eyelash at the revelation—and he certainly did not question his own sexuality on the ride home (which many right-wing parent groups have raised concerns about).
To be clear, not all children will be as understanding about this fact— but to be fair, my nephew was not raised to be a bigot. He is fully aware that the world is made up of an amazing variety of people. From the beginning, he was taught that just as there are people who dress differently and listen to different types of music than he does, there are also people of other races, religions, and sexual orientation than his own. We do not have to teach him to be okay with this, because he was never taught not to be okay with it in the first place.
As adults, we look back on our childhood and wonder how we could have been so cruel to others. As societies age, they look back the generations that came before them and wonder how they could have been so blind—how people could have allowed such injustices to happen to their fellow man, or worse, could have been a part of it, themselves. Though these hate groups never seem to realize it at the time and wholeheartedly believe that what they are doing is for the greater good, you do not have to be psychically gifted to realize that all they are doing is perpetuating fear and hatred in the world and ensuring that it will always remain that way.
As the movie shows, seldom does society learn from their past mistakes and instead commits the same horrific acts over and over under different guises, always leading humanity one step closer to its own destruction. And, although the movie sends a message that it is never too late to change and to accept others, it also issues a warning that there is some damage that can never be undone, no matter how badly you regret it later on. This film asks you to put yourself in the place of those who have been brutally persecuted for innocently leading their lives— and it sincerely hopes for a different and better future for your children.