I like to think that I have quite a broad taste range, when it comes to entertainment, but there is a phrase that has been bothering me for some time now.,,,For Mature Readers Only. I have been pondering this phrase for quite some time, trying determine what makes the content more suitable for Mature Readers and more importantly, what makes a person mature enough to read/watch/play the content or indeed, what makes a person mature for anything?
Let’s look at what is considered Mature Content first.
1) Sex: I would discount sex from the Mature tag for the simple reason that it usually has a category of its own. As long the main concern of the subject is titillation using sexual words or images then the material is usually referred to as ‘Adult’. That said, most times you see the ‘Mature’ tag you will also find nudity of some sort.
2) Violence: This is probably the most prevailing content of Mature comics and usually relating to the horror genre and specifically to individual acts of (gratuitous?) violence involving a handful of people at a time. Once you start killing on a grand scale however, war, genocide, blowing up planets etc, you leave the realms of what is considered Mature.
3) Politics/Religion: I am putting these two together as both can elicit strong emotions which, presumably, require a certain degree of maturity to both discuss and understand. I should really split this into two sub categories which are historical/promotional – to which the answer would be no, and critical/satirical, to which the answer could be yes but only with those that include both sex and violence (a fine example of the this being http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Preacher_(comics) well worth a read due to the excellent storytelling, both writing and artwork).
4) Drugs/Rock ‘n’ Roll: Two things that are usually linked together (we have already looked at Sex – the third of the trinity). There is not a great deal of literary focus on either of these two as a main theme, instead, they are usually just lesser elements, a sub plot at best, in a story so it is very unlikely that the appearance of either one on their own would give rise to the Mature recommendation.
5) Bad Language: Profanity to be more more accurate. There is a quite a double standard with this, on its own and in print this would be unlikely to get the Mature tag – unlike movies or television where the mere utterance can move a program to a later slot or condemn a movie to a less profitable higher age rating. That said, it is very unusual to see swearing in a non Mature Warning environment.
As a general rule, it would seem that For ‘Mature Readers’ is applied to forms of entertainment that contain elements, of which, the only purpose is to shock or disturb the reader. To appeal to the baser, rather than the intellectual, human feelings.
One definition of maturity is: “fully developed in body or mind, as a person.” Surely then, the term Mature can hardly be used when describing, what is in effect, the modern day equivalency of the old Penny Dreadfulls ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Penny_dreadful). This is not to say that everything labelled Mature Readers is low quality, far from it. I just think that we need a better, more suitable, term.
I do not agree with most censorship but I do like the descriptions that come with the different film releases, things like “contains scenes of mild peril”. I like an objective description of the contents because, as a mature adult, I can then make the decision on whether I, or those I may be responsible for, want to watch the film, read the book or play the game. I want and indeed should be taking the responsibility because I am “fully developed in body or mind, as a person.” I know that if I see words and images depicting extreme acts, that are in a fictional setting, that it is a story, it is entertainment. I am responsible enough to read and watch stories without being compelled to go out and try to replicate them. If I dislike them or if they disgust me, I am responsible enough that I will stop reading, I will turn of the television. In short I am responsible enough to differentiate between fantasy and reality and not to be offended by the personal tastes and opinions of other people.
Can we change the ‘For Mature Readers’ it is too misleading. Let’s try instead:
“Suggested for Responsible Readers”