Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Nobody Wants to Be Mature Anymore

In the early nineties Bill Hicks said this in response to an audience member who seemed unconvinced by his assertion that, as a nation, we are emotionally immature (I am quoting from memory): “Really? You don’t think so? Go watch Who’s the Boss and then get back to me.” I believe his point was that entertainment that is ostensibly aimed at adults is quite beneath what a grown man or woman should expect. Our entertainment demeans us intellectually, emotionally and spiritually. This point is still worth making as entertainment marketed toward adults nowadays has retarded and regressed even further in the scant fifteen years since Hick’s observation. But something else has happened since then as well. There is a new tweak in the mediocrity. Adults now watch television shows and movies that are clearly made for children. It began perhaps with college kids watching shows like Saved by the Bell as a goof, or smoking pot and ironically laughing at old cartoons from one’s childhood like The Super Friends and Johnny Quest. Somehow this phenomenon has transfigured into people my age (I’m thirty-three at the time of writing this), many of whom have no children, are watching movies like Shrek, Shark Tale and Ratatouille and then discussing the movies with each other as if this is perfectly normal behavior for adult humans. (Miyasaki, on the other hand, is genuinely child-like. The difference is that his movies show innocence rather than immaturity. There is no irony in them.)

This is related directly to the way every man and woman cherishes the right to unabashedly love the juvenile crap he or she was into in Jr. High School. How many adults do you know who spend their free time reading comic books, watching pro wrestling or old Saturday morning cartoons, renting Disney and Pixar movies or listening to tweener pop and hair metal? How many of them are your friends? How many of them think they are being ironic about it when they do it? The fact that one is supposed to mature beyond this junk is not as valid as it once was, because we look at guys like Kevin Smith and figure if he likes comic books it’s okay for us to like them too, because he’s famous. As if he is famous for liking comic books!

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