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#258: Parental Discretion Is the Better Part of Valor

July 21, 2008

Notes from the Manager

Although The Dark Knight's record-setting debut weekend has been making the most headlines, the film's level of violence has been getting a little attention, as well. (Note: there are a few spoilers in the linked article.)

I don't know how many parents I've got reading this juvenile little strip of mine, so I don't really know how much anybody else out there will particularly care about this subject, but the violence in The Dark Knight kind of bothered me. The film was absolutely spectacular, mind you, and, in some ways, it was refreshing to see the Joker be able to cut loose with an appropriate amount of fucked-up insanity for the character, unlike the candy-coated Nicholson version or the relatively family-friendly Batman: The Animated Series version.

The level of violence bothered me not in the context of the film, but in how the film was being marketed. Toys are a hard one to gauge ages for, because adults collect action figures. (I do think MacFarlane Toys' products — while often disturbing — are generally and plainly aimed at older collectors/hobbyists, not children.) But I saw children's picturebooks unquestionably aimed at grade school aged kids at a Borders the other day — not just generic Batman picture books, mind you, but Dark Knight-specific picture books, with a sanitized version of Heath Ledger's Joker — and my soul died a little.

Marketing a film like Dark Knight to kids that young is simply inappropriate. Even though it is (of course) the parents' responsibility to decide if their child is ready for a PG-13 or even R-rated movie, little-kid merchandise gives parents the impression that the movie is appropriate for younger kids, whether that is the case (as in Iron Man) or not (as in DK, in my opinion, anyway).

Of course, you could tell from just the trailers that the Joker was going to be one messed up puppy but you couldn't (SPOILERS) tell that he was going to shove a pencil into a guy's skull or how fucked up Two-Face was going to look… (END SPOILERS).

I don't think Dark Knight should have gotten an R; to say sixteen year olds shouldn't be able to go to Dark Knight without a parent is absurd. But I do think a non-superhero movie from a studio without Warner Brothers' leverage with the MPAA with the exact same level of violence would have been given an R without hesitation. (Most people who have seen This Film Is Not Yet Rated would suspect the same thing.)

But because the studios aren't doing parents any favors by marketing movies like Dark Knight towards kids, they need to be better prepared when they take younger children to the movies — even (shudder) at the expense of spoiling movies for themselves, and so to that end, Parent Previews and Kids in Mind are two of many options to read up on the content of the movies at your local multiplex. (Note: Both links take you to The Dark Knight page at each site, so be ready for spoilers. Very detailed ones.)

Neither of these sites' Dark Knight reviews are quite on the mark, in my opinion (Kids in Mind's rating system has Iron Man's violence/gore rating equal to Dark Knight's which is ridiculous), so I'm not necessarily endorsing them; I'm just saying that they exist, and that parents should find resources they trust to rely upon.

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Sunday, November 1, 2015

2015-11-01 14.15.23

Thank you very much for the outpouring of kind words since last Friday. It meant a lot to me, and I’m happy to say that I have great news: things may not be quite so bleak as I thought last week.

For some background, since I haven’t shared much of this publicly, my cat Punk very nearly died in September from a urinary tract infection. A slew of medicines turned things around after a rough couple of weeks, and he had two great weeks but then relapsed. As it turned out, the strain of infection he had was resistant to the antibiotics he was on, so he had to go on some new meds.

Because he wasn’t back at 100% (as close to 100% as an 18 year old cat with three chronic diseases gets, anyway), the recovery this time was very, very hard on him. Punk had to be taken to the emergency room last Wednesday evening, then he wasn’t handling the pain medication they prescribed very well — or eating, except when I would spoon feed him baby food — so I was… in a very bad headspace last week.

With non-stop attention and some tweaks to his medication dosages, he began improving steadily on Friday evening, started to eat on his own and seek out my company on Saturday, and he even meowed for the first time in two weeks on Sunday.

If this keeps up, this will be the third time he’s cheated death (last month, and a bout with pancreatitis a couple of years ago), but I’m still nervous about him relapsing yet again. There’s also the very real possibility that there is something else going on behind all his recent troubles…

But… he’s a tough little guy, and he’s had a great couple of days,which is very encouraging. He has even managed to get back to work on the strip with me (pictured above!), and we’ll hopefully be able to keep at it.

The Multiplex update schedule may be a little erratic for the next couple of months. If that happens, hopefully it will be because I need more time to finish my MFA thesis, not another downturn in Punk’s health. Either way, thank you for reading, and thank you for all your support — financial, emotional, and… egotistical?

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