Sunday, November 25, 2007

One Banner #4- The Ratings System


According to Websters, a conglomerate is a corporation consisting of a number of subsidiary companies or divisions in a variety of unrelated industries, usually as a result of merger or acquisition. The fact that the Christian Comics Conglomerate really wasn’t this didn’t deter its use of the name. It was not a corporation and had no intention of acquiring properties. In fact, it had no money. But “diversified”, yeah, it had lots of that.

In fact, it was this diversification that probably made a few stiff shirts pretty darn nervous. They didn’t want their Bible adaptations and Barney Bear-esque, sugar-sweet kid stuff tainted with the other riff-raff (like Megazeen, which again had no intention of being a part of this). We’ve already established that quality would not be a factor. And so, many discussions went into the idea of a ratings system by which all comics that SUBMIT for Conglomerate APPROVAL would be judged.

This was coming just as the Comics Code Authority was dying (CCA is now a completely irrelevant issue). So yeah, leave it to Christians to drag themselves back four decades to the sixties. Oh, but don’t worry- when Christians get a bee in our collective bonnet, we go all out and create a series of uber-restrictive rules that ensure that no risks can be taken.

Case in point.

There were two aspects of the Ratings System being proposed. One dealt with age appropriateness. Some would argue that all Christian comics should be for all ages, and be nice and safe and kid-friendly, and thereby a ratings system should not be necessary. A little closer to planet Earth, some proposed a system similar to what they have for movies. Some mild violence might earn it a “PG” type rating, move adult situations (such as characters dealing with issues like drugs or sex or death) might bump it to PG-16, and foul language could push it to MA (a rarity but it happens). Because, you know, we don’t want to offend anyone.

But of course, with Christians, life’s never that simple. For example, what if there’s a demon in the book? Even if it’s not technically violent it could scare a kid or offend a parent. Can’t have that. And violence is one thing, but blood is another, and decapitations are way out. And so, any of these aspects of controversy that wight be in the book would clearly appear on the Conglomerate Seal Of Approval/Warning Label.

The second aspect of the rating system was far more disturbing.

It was the firm belief of one of the participants (it was not the Mastermind but someone else who had been pushing for this, so he decided to attach himself to this like pork projects on a government budget) that theological and denominational issues needed to be listed in the warning label as well. After all, what tragedy could unfold if an Episcopalian picked up a Pentecostal comic book? Or a pre-trib tripper bought a pre-trip trib end-times comic? Or a comic that leaned toward free will were to be purchased by a pre-destination loyalist? The chaos that could ensue. It’s unthinkable madness.

And so, where mainstream comics have enjoyed a rapidly shrinking CCA label or none at all, Conglomerate Christian Comics ratings would be incredibly oppressive. Let’s say a comic in which a teenager deals with temptation, such as in Mark Melton’s Angeldreams, would be forced carry a warning of PG16, Blood & Gore, Demons, Drug Use, Sexual Content, Free Will Protestant.

Soccer moms would now be terrified to purchase it, and comic fans that would purchase it would likely be wondering what all the warning fuss is about. The only bright side was that, if so much description is required, there would be no need to work on that pesky cover art, since there would be no room for it.

To rip through the rest of this inane story, I remember that there was the beginning of a contract for submission drawn up and posted to the board. Then the Mastermind abruptly announced he was moving to Canada and would be unable to participate any further, and we never heard from him again. I’m not kidding about this.

Ah, the insane world of Christian comic books.

For my next magical trick, I will attempt to define & conquer the main “unity” issues, starting with “The Elephant in the Room.”

1 comment:

lightbulbcomics said...

Guess they don't have the internet yet in Canada.

I truly wonder if the "Mastermind", was indeed a (evil) mastermind, and the intent from the start was to cause division.