Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Kick-ass's Classification Upsets Family Groups

You may have heard about the recently released film Kick-ass produced by Brad Pitt, based on the cult Marvel series of the same name. (Sample cover to the left.*)

What you may not have heard is that certain family groups have been complaining about the film's classification. Hence the title of this blog post. Although perhaps you have heard, since they tend to complain pretty loudly.

There seems to be some confusion amongst parents who see an ad for a film, see that one of the protagonists is a kid and think that, because of this, the movie is suitable for kids. That doesn't make sense. What is perhaps more useful as a guide is the fact that it has an MA15+ rating. This means that the film is not deemed suitable for anyone under 15 and that anyone under that age needs to be accompanied by a parent or guardian. For more details, have a look at the Australian Classification website.

What particularly irritated me was this comment by Amanda Cox, of Real Mums**, "I think it's a cop-out," she said. "The Government is society's parents; they can't do this stuff and then turn around and blame parents."

Let me make this perfectly clear. The Government is not our parents. Let me say that again. The Government is absolutely not our parent or guardian or caretaker, nor should it ever aim to be. It is not the Government's duty to protect us from ideas or expressions of ideas. It is not the Government's responsibility to choose what is safe for us to view.

In fact it is the opposite***. The Government should be strictly neutral with regards to any form of expression. To do anything else is for the Government to partake in a form of censorship. At present, the role of film classifications (or at least, the role classifications should have), is as a guide to the contents of any film so that people can inform themselves about the film so that they can then choose whether or not they would want to watch it.

So if Amanda Cox meant that the contents of the film should have been even more clearly explained so that parents wouldn't make the mistake of thinking that it was a film aimed at children, then that would be fine. I can't say I'd agree with her, since the fact that the film is MA15+ seems clear enough warning to me, but that's besides the point.

What she should not be saying, or at least, what I am upset at her for saying, is that the Government should be having more of a role in determining what anyone can or should be watching. That way lies censorship, which does far more harm than good, if it ever does any good at all.


* A bit of research on the internet and I can tell for myself that it's not a movie or comic intended for young readers. Was that so hard to figure out? Even a monkey can do it.
** This link, which does show up in a Google search for "real mums", doesn't work for me, so I can't be sure their site works.
*** Well, not quite the opposite, since that would mean it tells us what to watch.

One in a Million Monkeys

They say that given enough time, a million monkeys on a million typewriters could eventually write the entire works of Shakespeare. Or maybe that they couldn't. I don't remember. Either way, it's a very profound and deep statement, illustrating the power of time and repeated events to seemingly defy all probabilities. I don't know who They are either.

This blog will never manage to be that profound.

Even though I, Charles T. Monkey, have managed to master not only the typewriter but also the personal computer itself despite, I might add, the lack of truly efficient opposable thumbs, which makes it more difficult to ten-finger type than you might suppose (It has to do with the way the space bar is positioned), this, alas, does not mean that I have been gifted with the gift of elegant and insightful prose. Indeed not even one or the other, as it turns out.

The idea for this blog occurred to me while I was swinging past a book shop a few days ago and saw a copy of Charles Darwin's book, "On the Origin of Species". Having never read this book in it's entirety (and that's embarrassing because I'm named after the man), I decided to buy it and the other two of his books that were on sale, "The Descent of Man" and "The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals". Apart from putting me out of pocket quite a bit (Not that I actually have pockets, most of the time, since I walk around naked.), the books also started me thinking; Charles Darwin came up with the hypothesis of evolution well over 150 years ago. To put that in perspective, that's 10 times the average life span of a squirrel monkey (Luckily, I'm not a squirrel monkey.). Yet even today, despite all the proof and experiments that have validated Darwin's hypothesis and established it firmly as a scientific theory and therefore tantamount to fact in the scientific community, some people still do not believe it. Even more troubling, a subset of those people who remain unconvinced about the veracity of evolution have tried over and over again and are trying still, to have their own "alternative" idea* taught instead, as science.

This concerns me. A world where pseudo-science has equal footing, or even precedence over science? That way lies madness. And this monkey does not like madness.

I decided there and then (but more exactly 5 hours later) to write a blog where I could add my voice to the growing collective of fellow skeptics, atheists and generally concerned citizens standing against irrationality and, let's be blunt, complete quackery. This is that blog.

So, prepare for sharp** and witty*** writing like none you have ever seen (from a monkey) about things skeptical and atheist, political and just plain strange.


* Their alternative is Creationism, or Intelligent Design, which involves magic.
** Sharp like a pointy stick.
*** Witty like jokes from the turn of the century (the last one, not the coming one).