“Adult” media: add violence, sex, bigotry, subtract plot
One thing I like to do is be meta. I’m meta like woah. You see that shit over there? I can relate it back to five social trends you’ve never heard of, then I’ll make a sarcastic joke about it tomorrow. In other words, I’m a kill-joy and I point out how deeply unoriginal shit is.
Know what is unoriginal? “Darkier and Edgier” plotlines. In the space of time between the ages of twelve and eighteen, shit gets real. We trade in cartoons and cute time-wasters for two-hour long epic movies about violence, violence, sex, how cool shit can look with CGI, boobies, violence, and more sex. If you follow this completely transparent and overdone formula, you’re guaranteed a high-grossing block-buster or an action movie so predictably awesome that the Oscar committee will totally suck your dick.
In short, as we age it seems that we demand our entertainment “age” with us. We want it to be more “mature”. What results is anything but. Advertising usually promises that reboots of old classics will be edgier and darker. They’re supposed to be more cynical, and acknowledge the complications and moral ambiguities of adult life. But time and time again, this isn’t what results. What we typically get is pure escapism: immature, fantastic, and utterly decadent satisfaction of our most infantile impulses. Jungian psychoanalysts could have a field-day with this shit.
As with Michael Bay’s clusterfuck of the Transformers reboot, the finished product is something that takes out the emotional and complex parts of the plot-lines that we all loved as children and replaces them with asinine dick jokes that only impress the likes of Beavis, Butthead, and their cabal of like-minded dude bros.
Sure, there’s movies that do touch on the many nuanced difficulties of adult life. These used to be Oscar-bait, but now they’re typically side-lined into the category of “indie” and never heard of again. For instance, the indie flick 500 Days of Summer offers a very realistic portrait of the life of a relationship, and includes a meaningful ending far more poignant than the typical rom-com. Instead, accolades are now showered upon movies like The Departed — an orgy of mobster violence — Avatar — a CGI masterpiece of a guilty liberal white fantasy — and The Blind Side — the story of a rich white woman and her large black plot device.
Sometimes, a plot will get a makeover by having several bad things happen to characters that are totally unlikely. These bad things are then used to force emotional tension and ham-handed character growth. A perfect example of such a Deux Angst Machina is the latest Spider Man’s veritable orgy of super villains packed into a single movie, or basically every disaster movie ever made. This may or may not be coupled with the usual Stuffed in A Fridge plot line, where the death or rape of a character, usually female — seen briefly or never on camera — is used to facilitate the character growth of another. Take Avatar, in which the male protagonist is motivated to go to Pandora because of the death of his twin. The twin, on the other hand, and his mourning for the loss of such an important figure in his life, is never fully developed. Actual emotional responses to death that don’t inspire gratitude displays of violent heroic angst — such as, you know, actually crying — have no place in “adult” media. Only fags cry.
Probably the most offensive manifestation of the larger phenomenon is the tendency to simply turn the sex, violence, misogyny, racism, and homophobia up to 11 and forget to hire a good writer. Bay’s Transformers is probably one of the best examples of this, but others include women-hating gun-happy action fests like Wanted, Dude Bro comedies featuring Seth Rogen, Michael Cera, Judd Apatow, or Tucker Max, and every single James Bond movie ever made.
In the end, what separates adult entertainment from family-friendly fare is the level of maturity. If it features even slightly plausible writing, advocates some sort of positive ethics, and requires protagonists that are more than one-dimensional manifestations of massive self-entitlement — chances are that you’re either watching a movie rated no higher than PG-13 or some sort of artsy indie flick. If the bigotry is palpable, the plot nonexistent, the gore plentiful, the CGI gratuitous , and every single cast member that isn’t white, male, and heterosexual is used as a plot device, villain, or reward, then you’re watching a “mature” and “adult” movie.
Bottom-line: when you’re a kid, you’re expected to work hard, play fair, and learn things. When you’re an adult, you get to do whatever the fuck you please, cuss a lot, have sex with unrealistically good-looking women who only exist to further your shallow development or reward you for your self-entitlement, and reduce moral dilemmas to just doing incredibly illegal and totally immoral things because they look really cool.