29 August 2010

Should I Feel Flattered?


Some time ago, I decided to share my terrible acting skills with the world and create a series of bogus audio recordings of the (possibly) lone crewman of a spaceship overcome by a terrible calamity. I have to give credit where credit is due and point out the article Snap, Crackle, Plot by Graeme Virtue as well as his Science Officer's Log Blogger page. Additionally, there's Jason Killingsworth's Start Press: The Spirit of Radio. They all deal with these little items of video game fame known as audiologs:



So, in short, I made a few of my own, bogus audiologs for a game that never was. I uploaded the videos to my YouTube channel, but I'd also uploaded them to Revver where, after taking a surprisingly short amount of time in showing them live, the videos were given maturity ratings, effectively on the power of words despite there being no foul language and no innuendo. Heck, there isn't even any music or sound effects.

Part One:

This received a 13+ rating from Revver's internal review board. I wasn't disappointed or upset or anything, as I had no idea what sort of "rating" my content would warrant. After all, the fact that novels lack a sort of rating system compared to theatrical motion pictures would imply that simply describing a gruesome act (either via printed text or even spoken, as with an audiobook) is not half as objectionable as a movie showing it to us. In the case of Part One, the act in question is the hysterical aftermath of some sort of outbreak or invasion, wherein frantic and paranoid crew members begin indiscriminately killing one another.

Part Two:

Part Two received no rating, implying a general appeal and lacking in any overly objectionable material. This seemed rather odd to me; I mean, it was obvious I was making episodic content, so why wouldn't they just stick with the "13+" designation as the default rating? It's not uncommon for a film series to have ratings go up, as was the case for Revenge of the Sith and Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, which received PG-13 and PG ratings respectively while their prior chapters were rated PG and G, but it's quite a different issue when the ratings go down. This was the case for Conan the Destroyer and Weekend at Bernie's II, both PG-rated sequels to R-Rated films as well as Be Cool, the PG-13 sequel to the R-Rated Get Shorty. To give further perspective on how ratings going up for a film series is more common than going down, consider the James Bond films, which had all been rated PG up until Licence to Kill in 1989, which was originally rated R upon release but later re-rated PG-13, which ended up being the typical rating for a Bond film henceforth despite retaining relatively consistent levels of violence, suggestive dialogue, and sexual scenarios throughout. Granted, the PG-13 rating didn't exist until the late 1980s, so the shift ultimately had more to do with social standards than the actual content of the films.

Part Three:

Here is where I apparently cross the line, or at least come as close as is possible to it without actually crossing it since that would probably just lead to the video being taken down. As for what tripped the alarm and got me the "17+" rating:

Decomposition

That's the only thing that might be considered objectionable in the whole recording. I mean, I doubt anyone's offended by vending machines or the continued use of coined currency in the distant future. So, apparently discussing and describing mass hysteria and homicide is worthy of "13+" but taking the extra step to mention that those victims of said hysteria and homicide will start to reek a bit when no one's around to clean up takes us straight into adult territory. It's like in old westerns and, probably more noticeably, the jailbreak scene in Star Wars where people just seem to vaporize after they fall out of frame, clutching their fatal shot wound. It's something we can probably find examples of everywhere, but the fallacy of the logic behind it: showing humorous or inaccurate results of violence is all right for children, but once you start showing the real consequences (like in a public service announcement against drugs, gangs, guns, and the like) suddenly the material is objectionable.

Part Four:

Like part two, it received no mature rating, implying mass appeal. This is just baffling since the plot ultimately leads to my character requesting what basically amounts to a mercy killing (possibly in the idiom of self sacrifice, if there was indeed any sort of calamity) and begging his wife for forgiveness about not being able to come home.

At the risk of turning this into a catch-phrase: Am I missing something here?
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