In Men, Women & Children, a drama about how the Internet affects human connection, Jennifer Garner plays a mother who tracks her daughter’s time online like she’s Net Nanny personified. Off-screen, it turns out, Garner and her director Jason Reitman have their own reservations about raising children in the digital age, a few of which they outlined during a TIFF press conference.
1. Pro-Ana Tumblrs
Obviously, right? In Men, Women & Children, 15-year-old Allison (Elena Kampouris) is a regular on a pro-ana Tumblr filled with photos of arching spinal cords and thinspiration like “it’s supposed to hurt.” “That was the scariest for me,” says Garner. “That is where she gets her validation and that is where she is her most true self, with those people instead of the people who are downstairs at her dinner table, her family.”
2. Way way wayyyy too much porn
Gone are the wistful days when Jason Reitman would bike to a magazine stand and memorize a Penthouse tucked inside a Mad Magazine. “At 10 years old now, you would go online with whatever your curiosity is, and not only do you answer that question but every question that you never wanted to ask in the first place,” he says. “Parents come to me and the scary line that their children say to them now is ‘Dad, I saw something on the Internet.’ That is the worst opening of any conversation.”
3. Social media
@Mrs_Affleck is never going to be activated by Jennifer Garner. “I don’t understand what I would have to offer,” she says. “I certainly would never pimp out my children and that’s really what people are interested in. Or I’m not going to talk about my marriage on social media. Other than that it’s just a time suck, and I have no interest in feeling guilty about not answering one more thing than I already do.”
4. All the jerks
Against recycling? Hate Audrey Hepburn? Prefer Sex and the City 2? Your people are online. “Anyone can go online and find a community to okay any point of view and no matter how effed up you are, there is a group of people online who says ‘hey man, we’re with you,’” Reitman says.
5. SRSLY, keep a secret or two
After grueling promo campaigns for Juno and Up In The Air, Reitman felt like he’d shared pretty much everything from those sets. He told the eight young actors who star in Men, Women & Children, including The Fault In Our Stars cutie Ansel Elgort, to not make that mistake. “You’re going to have an instinct to want to tweet things and Instagram things and share things,” he told them. “I implore you to not do any of that. You are never going to have this experience again. You’re all so young. Make things just between the eight of you and create experiences that you’re never going to share with anybody.” It’s a ban he’s since lifted. “They each started asking permission a couple weeks ago when they’re like, we saw the trailer’s out: can we tweet that? Yes, yes, now, go crazy. Ansel, tweet!”
Men, Women & Children opens in Toronto Oct. 3, Montreal and Vancouver Oct. 10, and wide Oct. 17.