A point in passing about the shifting nature of moral censorship.
The old moral censorship was aimed at protecting children from inappropriate material. The new moral censorship displays very little interest in children, but classes them with adults in a new moral crusade based around political censorship of inappropriate attitudes.
It’s a point that struck me when reading this from Four Color Media Monitor about Space Jam.
Critics have said the amorous cartoon skunk sets a bad example for children when it comes to consent for sexual advances. With the creators behind Space Jam: A New Legacy playing it safe when it comes to the Pepe, it does seem odd that the same logic didn’t apply to the Clockwork Orange droogs. In the original film, the troublesome gang attacks, rapes, and murders victims in jaw-dropping ways.
Avi notes, “Curious enough so far that NY Times columnist Charles Blow, who complained about Pepe, hasn’t said anything about it. Because no matter how you view this, what WB did is put elements from a movie unsuitable for children into a movie that is aimed at children. Specifically, a gang of savage rapists.”
He quotes Bounding Into Comics, “Pepe Le Pew is not allowed to be in Space Jam: A New Legacy, but Warner Bros. allows themselves to hypocritically shoves rapists like the Droogs into the movie in order to promote their own library of content. Even Pennywise, the evil clown from Stephen King’s horror novel IT, can be seen in the trailer for Malcom D. Lee’s kid-friendly Looney Tunes film. Yet Pepe Le Pew is deemed too offensive for younger audiences?”
But it’s all in how you define what is “offensive”.
Hollywood had long since dismantled the idea that cartoons are for children and has been inserting adult references into them for quite a while. The contemporary industry and woke cultural elites have no regard for protecting children from inappropriate material and the old categories of violence, language, and sexual explicitness. They follow MPAA regulations, elastic as they are, only to the extent that they must.
Offensive is a whole other category and encompasses political incorrectness. Woke elites have no problem with sexually explicit material. You can find Elizabeth Bruenig, the token lefty “social conservative”, pitching porn literacy classes for schools at The Atlantic. What they have a problem with is political incorrectness, such as the “lack of consent” in Sleeping Beauty or by Pepe. But this too is selective. When the overall political message is deemed to be the right one, as in Clockwork Orange, such technical issues quickly go away.
Everything is culturally subsidiary to politics. And the wokes castrating 8-year-old boys are not concerned about hurting children. Only embedding the correct values in them. They don’t see children (or women for that matter) as a particular class toward whom we have a special duty. They turn children into miniature adults (a common sight for anyone who has been around yuppie elites) while their adults act like children.
The MPAA ratings system had some kind of grounding, but woke moral ratings are as much a matter of cancel culture as anything else. When deconstructionists suddenly pounce to complain about tropes, purges follow. The end results are no more consistent than any Marxist dictatorship’s laws. But what they do is affirm the power and terror of the cultural revolution which is not controlled with protecting children, but controlling adults.
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