Friday, October 2, 2009

Mature Content in Comics . . . Or the Lack Thereof

It used to be that kids were the main demographic that read comics.  But comics are no longer written for children.  Over time the audience age gradually increased until we have today's comics.  Now, the main audience is teenagers and adults.  Is this a sign that comics have matured?

Not really. 
Unless you count that "mature content" has become much more commonplace.  It's ironic that mature content is often very immature.  T&A for the sake of T&A, raunchy humor, extremely graphic violence . . . rarely is actual maturity required to read these comics.  In fact, having a maturity level above the average teenager is often a detriment to enjoying comics that's selling point is the "mature" nature of their product.

You have the Ultimate Marvel universe . . . where Hulk is a cannibal, and Betty is turned on by that.  Where extremely graphic violence is the norm, superheroes with admirable characteristics are a rarity and sexual content is everywhere.  Now that's not to say that sexual content is a bad thing.  But frequently it's handled in such a way that it would fit right in the raunchy talk of a locker room.

Mature talks about relationships and sex are few and far between, and finding a healthy, lasting relationship in a comic is becoming harder and harder.  Apparently relationships are only interesting when they are fraught with arguments and sometimes physical altercations.  (But we're never shown the emotional and psychological toll being in such an abusive relationship would cause.)

In fact, mature conversations about any subject are rare.

Politics?  If it's brought up, writers will often set up strawmen for their characters to knock down or show the other side to be a bunch of immoral hypocrites who don't care about anyone but themselves.  Heaven forbid that two honest and decent people could look at a situation and disagree on what the best solution would be.

Religion?  Avoided like the plague by some writers, ignored by others.  And then you have some writers who like writing anyone who is religious as a Bible-thumping bigot or an ignorant hick.  Not to mention the writers who attempt to write a story with "religious" implications without knowing a thing about the religion they're trying to write about.  *cough*Chuck Austen*cough*  On rare occasions, I've seen mature discussions of religion in comics, but I can count the number of times on one hand.

Maybe I'm expecting too much to expect much from a genre that involves people with superpowers in spandex.  But it's kind of sad that kids are being excluded from comics because of "mature content" that is anything but mature.

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