I'd like to think of it as the Perfect Blue of blogs: arty, disturbing, dreamlike. As opposed to the Showgirls of blogging...

>> Thursday, February 21, 2008

Nathan, over on Polybloggimous, brought my attention to a blog rating system over at Just Say Hi. Plug in your blog's address, and it spits out what your blog would be rated if it happened to be a movie. Shoulders Of Giant Midgets:

That's right. We're adults only over here. Five uses of the word "dead" (who knew the MPAA had a thing about that one?), three asses, two shits and... only one "fucking"? That can't be right. I'm losing my touch for sure.

I don't mind being an NC-17 blog. Not one bit. Okay, insofar as it might create a bit of trouble if I ever pulled the mediocre YA novel out of its hidey-hole and edited it and sent it away to be rejected, I suppose that it might make some trouble for me. Then again, I think I'd need to come up with a vaguely effeminate pseudonym if I did that, anyway--I hear that men really aren't supposed to write books for kids, tho' Philip Pullman certainly puts that one to the test. (Yes, I know there's Lemony Snicket and Lloyd Alexander, etc.; I was being slightly facetious about a sometimes-alleged bias, anyway....)

A deeper lesson might be that the MPAA rating system is quite absurd. Dead is a word that elevates things towards an adult rating? So much for Old Yeller, eh? ("It's alright, ma, I'll --bleeep-- Yeller, he's my dog." And then he bought the dog a chewtoy. The end.)

Not that there's anything interesting or insightful in that observation. I'm just saying.

Of course, the other observation is that rating systems are ineffectual, not because of the industries involved or the pitfalls of self-regulation, but because there are a lot of consumers who... why be nice about it? There are a lot of consumers who are stupid. Unbelievably stupid.

I remember, many years ago, seeing letters in the local paper complaining about the violence in the PG-13-rated movie Batman Returns. "I took my wee child to this movie, and I was appalled," people would write. Which confused the hell out of me: I could understand someone who took their child to the first Batman movie expecting Adam West being a bit shocked when Jack Nicholson gases his girlfriend and whatnot, but Batman Returns was a sequel for crying out loud. It's not like you couldn't go and read reviews of the last one, observe that the new one has the same director, basically the same cast and even some of the same crew and say, "Hmm, I wonder if this movie will have the same disturbing gothic sensibilities of the first movie? I wonder if the 'parental guidance under age 13' rating is some kind of hint...?"

(Before someone tries to tell me that Batman Forever and Batman And Robin took the series back in a more "kid-friendly" direction, let me ask what, exactly, is "kid-friendly"--or human friendly about bat-codpieces and batnipples? Seriously. I want someone to explain that. Also: notice that Batman And Robin was such an awful movie that the featured photos on the main IMDB entry are mostly drawings from the storyboards of the movie. Because a pencil sketch of a scene from Batman And Robin is actually less offensive than a real still.)

Where was I? Oh yes, idiots who don't pay attention to ratings systems. Two years ago, you may recall, a woman sued Take-2 Interactive over the notorious "hot coffee" hack in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. The 85-year-old crazy bat was upset that she purchased a game disc that had porn on it.

Let's set aside, for a moment, that the only way to get at the "hot coffee" material was to install a patch (on a PC) or hack the motherboard to accept a mod to access the material (PS2). Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas was rated "M," which, according to the label on the box, meant it wasn't suitable for anyone under the age of 17 even without considering the additional material in the game that you had to, you know, totally void the warranty on your PS2 to access if you were playing the console version. The lady's grandson, you may recall, was 14. So I think we may safely infer that the old woman is, I don't know, blind? Illiterate? Easily confused? What more, one wonders, did she want? The game to be titled, Grand Theft Auto M, As In "Mature," As In Little Old Ladies Shouldn't Let Their Grandkids Talk Them Into Buying This Unless Their Grandchildren Are 17 Years Of Age Or Older, In Which Case It's Okay (Except Why Aren't The Blighters Buying Their Own Videogames)...?

Of course that label is a bit small. The words "Grand Theft Auto," however, are rather large on the box front. If you saw a game called Grand Theft Auto, do you expect it would be about:

  • a) Raising ponies on a farm and learning about the intricacies of raising adorable animals and managing an agricultural business, or
  • b) Stealing cars and fucking shit up?
Take your time to think about it, if you need to.

Oh, and one more thing. Yeah, there's more. Yeah. San Andreas was the fifth game in the franchise. So, if you were wondering what the game might be like, oh, I don't know, how would you find that out? I understand that some members of an older generation are uncomfortable looking up such things online... if only there were some kind of old-fashioned method of communicating information about games in a written format, available in some kind of, I don't know, physical repository of printed documents. Alas! Who will invent such a thing, and how long must we wait?

It might be even funnier if you didn't have folks like Joe Lieberman or (and I hate to say it) Hilary Clinton making a big fuss about how the entertainment industry is failing to regulate games and/or movies and/or music and/or TV. (Oh, you conservatives can quit laughing about the foibles of liberals--if it was up to some of your Republicans, it would be JeebusVision on all the channels and mandatory viewings of Expelled between church services. There's no shortage of well-intentioned asstards who want to stick their noses in everyone's business on both sides of the aisle, so everyone can get over themselves right now, or I swear I will turn this blog around right now, and you can just write off going to Wally World this year! Did you hear me?)

Anyway, we're an adult blog now, so I'm going to have to see some IDs. Meanwhile, it's been a rough day, and I've been typing this instead of sitting down with a white russian and a really heavy book for a bit before dinner. G'night.


MWT Friday, February 22, 2008 at 1:08:00 AM EST  

Awesome post. I needed that good laugh. :)

Jim Wright Friday, February 22, 2008 at 12:44:00 PM EST  

Again, great post.

However, you've set me to grinding my teeth this morning - I have a personal loathing for Grand Theft Auto. It's not the violence or the porn or the rest of it - it's the noise. The squealing tires and that god-awful, head banging metal music.

On my last deployment, 4 month to South America hunting drug runners, my two idiot cabin mates played that damned game for hours on end in our stateroom. They worked normal day hours but I worked all hours of the day, and only got maybe a hour or two of sleep per 24 hour period. Inevitably, as soon as I rolled into the rack, those two would drop into the room and fire up GTA. I'm a very light sleeper and it got to the point where I wanted to kill the both of them in a painful and lingering fashion. Since I was one of only two officers onboard authorized to carry a sidearm at all times, and keep it stored in my stateroom safe, I finally got to the point where I told them I was either going to shoot the game box, or them - their choice (and I was actually holding the loaded weapon in my hand at the time). They finally got the message. But to this day, mere mention of that piece of shit sets my blood to boiling.

But, nipples on the batsuit? WTF was that all about?

Eric Friday, February 22, 2008 at 1:44:00 PM EST  

Sorry to bring back the bad memories, Jim! But I will say that what you experienced could have been the same with Super Mario Brothers or Animal Crossing or something non-game related--someone obsessed with "Achy Breaky Heart" or "Macarena."

But I'm missing the more important point you make, aren't I? The real lesson is: don't annoy Jim.


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