Friday, August 15, 2014

You Can Rip-Off a Limb, but Don't You Dare Show a Birth AKA Much of The American Comic-Book Industry Treats Readers as if We Are Puritanical Sociopaths

I was doing some casual reading around on the internet the other day, and noticed how an issue of a comic all the way from 1986 that is currently being re-released by Marvel had something so shocking and apparently disgusting within its pages that even today, in 2014, Marvel has decided to put it in a poly-bag to make sure younger readers don't accidentally stumble upon the page while flipping through comics at the shop. What could possibly be so gratuitous that even these decades later it needs to be sealed-up? A scene of childbirth in "Miracleman" #9.

At least the content warning is pretty small.
If we're being honest it is one of the most anatomically-correct renderings of childbirth ever put to page, so I won't post it in case anyone reading this at work or the library fears getting in trouble. Still, isn't it odd that in this day and age we think showing something like the gift of life and birth in all its admittedly messy glory is something only mature-readers can take, while meanwhile on Free Comic Book Day the publisher DC gave away a comic to plenty of adults and children that featured super-heroes getting their arms cut-off along with the head of another character sewn into the body of Frankenstein?

Fun for the whole family!
Is it just me, or is it a tad odd that a comic where decapitated head is poking out of the body of another character is considered fine reading for all who want some of DC's offerings (they admittedly had more children-geared comics on FCBD also, but if you're a kid you know you would grab anything with your favorite heroes on the cover), yet showing the miraculous act of a baby being born is treated as if it is something shameful and pornographic? Now, I'm not saying all comics should be poly-bagged or something, because at the end of the day it comes down to the parents to decide if they are offended more by little Tommy seeing a baby being born or a woman's head grafted into a monster's chest. It just is bizarre, especially considering how so many readers of comics are grown-folk, that Marvel felt they needed to poly-bag "Miracleman" whilst Image has their "Black Kiss: XXXmas in July Special" sitting on the shelf without a care.

Doing a drive-by is okay,
but how dare you show the main character having sex!
Maybe it is a case that while a publisher such as Image feels they can have both images of sex and violence out in the open for readers, Marvel still operates under that weird view that seems so common in much of America that it is okay to have as much violence as you want in your films, television shows, or video-games, but dare show a nipple, talk about sex, etc. and everyone loses their mind. You could claim I'm exaggerating, but remember when "Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas" caused a scandal not because of the violence that every game had, but for daring to include a sex mini-game where the characters weren't even naked? Again, you can have your entertainment contain as much violence as you want, but hint at sexuality and suddenly we have an issue.

Another choice panel from DC's 2014 Free Comic Book Day offering.
It is kind of strange that we as a nation operate in a way where something so much of us experience--romance, sex, having a child--is treated as a taboo and gross topic, yet other acts which disgust us in real-life --assault, gun-violence, murder--are celebrated in our forms of media. True, other nations have violent movies, and some don't allow violent movies or too much sexuality, but we Americans in particular seem to want our entertainment to be made as if we are puritanical sociopaths. Look at  a movie such as "The Dark Knight" which is loaded with violence yet it gets a PG-13 rating (although I've seen and heard plenty about how our ratings system is broken for movies) and parents happily bring their kids to it because, hey, its got Batman and the Joker from those fun comics! You can have the Joker slicing up people's faces as long as with enough clever-editing you don't quite see the blood, yet the idea of two people making love and having a baby sends us into a tizzy. Really though, aren't parents who are dumb enough to take a five year-old to any movie that contains content they might find unsuitable (be it violence or sex) to blame because they lacked the foresight to read-up on if it contained things they disliked?

Thanks for helping us survive the winter!
Now, practice our religion or we will kill you all.
I'm not sure what my point is with this article other than to complain about an aspect of American culture that is so deeply ingrained within us that protesting it is pointless. We are a people who seem to be perfectly fine with extreme violence but freak out when the concept of sex is brought-up. Perhaps it traces back to how the nation as we know it was founded by uber-religious folk who came from across the ocean (we seem to forget the Pilgrims were basically religious zealots who attempted to convert the Native Americans and then murdered them if they didn't comply, although the genocide due to germs did a lot of the work too), as that is the best reason I can think up. Whatever the case, I just find it odd that in 2014, Marvel needs to take a comic written back in 1986 by Alan Moore--excuse me--"The Original Writer"--and seal it up in a plastic bag, and not for the usual reason of it being an event comic that  they're trying to raise the value of, but because they chose to treat it as if it were a dirty magazine. Meanwhile, that time The Sentry literally ripped another character in half during the event "Siege" is perfectly fine to have sitting out:

Ew, just ew.
I mean, how could anyone find that remotely as gross as childbirth? I'm going to go sigh and shake my head now.

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