Fumbling Towards Maturity
There’s this idea that giving something a rating because it contains nudity, foul language, sexual innuendo, drug use, actual sex, or ultra violence somehow makes it more mature than something that does not. This is something that needs to stop. None of those things are, in and of themselves, any more mature than a thing that lacks any or all of those qualities – it’s not the trappings, it’s the context of them that makes something mature. The quality of how those tools are used to tell whatever story they’re being used to tell.
Call of Duty and Gears of War are full of blood and guts and that grimdark idiocy that people seem to think is adult, but none of it means anything – the stories lack anything more than a wink and a nod and are lacking anything resembling thought. By contrast, Farcry 3 or the recent Tomb Raider reboot contain those elements while also presenting characters that matter and present a narrative that means something, and can be talked about. You become a better person for having played them, and can discuss your experience with those games with other people that have played them.
Mature storytelling makes the media that possesses it better. It’s why something like the Avengers movie is qualitatively better than the whole of the Transformers trilogy, despite both possessing many of the same superficial elements. It’s why the comics Valiant is producing every month are better than the comics DC is putting out – there are characters and events that we care about, over shit that seems to just be thrown against the wall to see what sticks.
All this garbage – the loud explosion/instant gratification without consequence/in-your-face misogyny/gore-and-torture bullshit tends to lack depth, meaning, or any desire other than to shock an audience. There’s no soul to any of that shit, making all of it nothing more than a marketing ploy designed to appeal to the adolescent anger that we all tend to feel about the world around us, the world we’re told we can’t do anything about.
This is another reason I’m glad we’re entering a new paradigm; the idea that no one person matters is inherent to the one we’re leaving, and it disgusts me on such a basic level…
As fun as explosions and boobs are, they do not instill a thing with maturity merely by being there. Explosions and boobs are the sort of thing we start looking for when we move out of childhood, and we accept that as a means of showing that we’re growing up.
As in, not finished.
Why are we so eager to accept a refinement of those desires as proof of maturity, or even a staid perspective based around those desires as such? Is it because the one thing we’re taught not to do is reflect, think, change, or grow. We’re told by the old paradigm and its champions to conform to their whims, to remain static, to use whatever medium we enjoy escapism in as a means of venting the terrible anger that dwells within us that they have inflicted upon us.
That way we don’t have to think about it and we don’t have to do anything about it.
We can remain children for all our days.
Escapism, fantasy, myth – none of these things are wrong. They’re a part of the human identity and we define ourselves by the legends we choose, use them to make the stories of our lives and give those stories meaning. We learn from story, remember things as story, and tell stories to explain how we feel or what we’re experiencing.
Reading, learning, growing, all of these processes give us new ways to express ourselves and grow us as individuals.
That said, context is everything. So, if we’re going to dismiss the current trend to think of mature media as nothing more than glorified explosions and legitimate porn, we need something else to explain what it is we’re talking about when we look for maturity in our fictions.
I hereby put forth the idea of awareness being the new basis of maturity. Not just thought, but being aware of what we’re thinking and why we’re thinking it, where our thoughts come from and why we do the things we do. Not accepting because as a legitimate answer for anything, expecting better from first ourselves and then everyone around us. Why not expect and accept the idea of actions having consequences, of exploring what it is we want and why, where those tenants we choose to live our lives by come from and whether they serve us or we serve them, if they’re even worthy of us?
What do you think?