Control: Rated R

My two days off: I saw Richie. He is in town. He is back from Saudi Arabia and will be here for two weeks to get ready to go to California. He will hike from California to Canada over the next six months. I will never do that, I expect, because I am thirty-eight and miserable and fat and barely employed. I also watched a certain Marvel movie again. I enjoyed it again. It wasn’t R-rated because of the nudity and the violence and the swearing, I think — it was R-rated because of the honesty and bravery of the difficult storytelling. It showed the reality of torture, the reality of a frank love affair, the reality of how fucking bad cancer is, and the reality of how annoying a superhero is — and how few people actually act like that.

The bad men in the world are scary, and they are often the victim of racism, too, like the character in the film who is called “mutant” in a derogatory manner towards the beginning of the film. Several other films have been rated PG-13 and cut corners, but they think they cut corners by showing less violence and nudity. I suppose that is true, but I also know that they cut corners by having nice characters in nice situations fighting villains who are just trying to kill you in situations that are beatable by easy decisions. I like the writing of the Dragon Age stories, who thinks that easy decisions are a cop-out. Difficult decisions have to be made, and people have to die. That is inevitable in life and should be inevitable in fiction, too. In another set of movies, Marvel and DC want stories where the main characters fight. The Marvel one emphasizes dramatic conflict between Cap and Iron Man, with Cap representing Republicans and Iron Man representing either Democrats or 2000-era conservatives locking people up without warrants. I am curious about which he represents, but there is clearly subtext about the direction America is moving in politically, and it is interesting material. I worry that Batman and Superman are tricked into fighting each other by Lex Luthor, who may want money on a land deal somewhere. If you recall, in the original one, Lex wanted to make money off his land in eastern California by nuking western California so that it would fall into the ocean. In another one, my favorite, by far, he creates a continent in the Atlantic Ocean to put cities under the water and make money off this new continent. I have the sinking feeling that he is yet another mentally ill villain, and this trend bothers me. Mentally ill people in fiction commit a lot of crimes, and a lot of crazy monologues are spoken. I don’t like it. As a mentally ill man in his late thirties, I think that some mentally ill people are completely innocent.

I’m rambling. Point is, R-rating is an idea, an idea of honesty in storytelling and hitting honest and painful emotional beats during a story. That’s the key to R-rated storytelling, and I hope someone notices what worked for the next one.