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Wednesday, December 15, 2004
In Which I Once Again Marvel At The Eagerness People Display To Find Something To Be Offended By
"Don't take life so seriously, son. It ain't no how permanent." --Walt Kelly
So, it seems that there's a new blog out there that has managed to tick off a bunch of people. Not to mention the people who are ticked off that people are ticked off by the site. Which means, of course, that there are people out there that are ticked off that people are ticked off because people are ticked off.
Now, I saw the site shortly before everyone started talking about it, and I wasn't very impressed with what I saw. The site in question is essentially rating comics based on whether or not the site's author found the content "depraved" or "inappropriate for children." In other words, it's saying the same thing we've all heard hundreds of times already, usually much more cogently. Heck, I've been known to weigh in on the topic from time to time, usually coming down on the side that Marvel and DC are inconsistent in regards to the marketing, tone and content of their books, and that makes my job as a retailer more difficult than it needs to be. There should not be such a thing as a mature readers Spider-Man title, for example. But I found the tone of this site to be over-sensitive, almost to the point of self-parody.
It's also worth noting that one of the sticking points with this site's author is the absence or presence of labels. I don't like labels. I don't think it should be my responsibility as a retailer, or the publisher's responsibility, or the responsibility of anyone other than a parent to decide what is and is not appropriate for that parent's children. Mostly, however, I don't trust the judgment of people who want labels to consistently and rationally decide what does and does not merit a label. To use one of my personal pet peeves as an example, I've noticed that material containing positive portrayals of gay men and lesbians tends to be labeled as "mature" regardless of whether or not it contains any adult language, sexual situations, violence or nudity. But material that contains negative images of gay people or contains lots of "jokes" at the expense of gay people does not get rated as "mature" when it also has no swearing, sex or violence. And the same is true of other cultural hot-button issues such as abortion and birth control.
The other thing about labels that bothers me is the notion which goes hand-in-hand with them, that our culture must be sanitized so as not to offend people. Particularly that no material that is "bad" for children reach their sensitive little eyes or ears. Or brains. Because the last thing in the world we would want to do is expose people to material that might actually cause them to think for a minute.