February 18, 2011
After nigh on 60 years the CCA Comics Code Authority seems to have been disbanded and consequently DC Comics have finally stopped showing the Comics Code Seal of Approval stamp on any of their covers and are about to adopt a new rating system that supposedly brings them into line with other media like games and DVDs. I’ve watched the old cover stamp steadily shrink in size over the last ten years until it was too small for an adult to see so I don’t think it has had the slightest effect on which comics children purchased since the 1960s or 1970s when at least it was postage-stamp-sized. I even have my doubts if comics of the recent past were ever being submitted to some shadowy outside organisation for approval anyway. Surely there must have been costs involved. It’s far easier to just print “Mature” somewhere on the cover….
The new system seems needlessly complicated to me. “E” is for everyone, “T” is for teen, and I suppose there is an “M” for mature. But that doesn’t seem enough for the powers that be. They also have to print a list of “disclaimers” describing in forensic detail the contents of the comic/cartoon/game/film concerned. “Comic Mischief” seems clear enough but “Fantasy Violence” could mean anything from Tom And Jerry getting squashed flat to a “pac man” character being “zapped” in a game.
I’m at a loss to know why there should even be an “Alcohol Reference” in a Nintendo DS game, and what on earth is “Animated Blood”?? Does it talk and jump about?
What do you think “Mild Blood” means? I suppose It’s possible to have a mild amount of blood if the hero just cut himself shaving.
There seems no end to the subtle variation of disclaimers that are used. Who on earth sits analysing all this stuff. And how long will it be before someone (no doubt in America) sues someone else because they find some violence or blood or whatever that hasn’t already been included on the list.
Here they’ve used the words “Partial Nudity” when they really should have said “Unfeasibly large breasts”.
Still, we live in a world where even watching a soap opera you “may have been affected by the issues addressed” and are encouraged to contact a help line. Perhaps I’m over-reacting. I’ll get my coat.
PS: I see that Marvel Comics continue to use their own, completely different system where A means All (when I guessed it might mean Adult), T is for Teen, PA is for Parental Advisory and MAX is for maximum sex/drugs/violence/mild blood/mischief etc etc.
PPS: This Weblog however is rated U which means it is unsuitable for anyone under the age of 50 or over the age of 60.
June 29, 2009
“I have known many adults who have treasured throughout their lives some of the books they read as children. I have never come across any adult or adolescent who had outgrown comic book reading who would ever dream of keeping any of these “books” for any sentimental or other reason.”
Frederic Wertham – Seduction of the Innocent
Superman – Action Comics
Books about comics have become far more than just lists of titles and artists. This one delves deeply into the changes in society as a whole that brought about the comic code and the potential destruction and then re-birth of the industry.
Once to do research I had to visit a library in person. Now a few mouse clicks achieves far more. Wikipedia fills in many gaps and usually points you to further material. My favourite Blog “I’m learning to Share” seems to reach all the other parts that Wikipedia doesn’t. It is there you can find this in-depth article written by Mr Wertham (before his infamous book “Seduction of the Innocent”) and originally printed in the “Ladies Home Journal”. (I hope Mr In Crowd of Learning to share doesn’t mind that I have actually shared it !!!). I can imagine this article having an immediate impact on the mothers and housewives of the day….. far more so than any subsequent news coverage that would be generated on radio/tv/newsreels (?) over the next year or so.
As with Wikipedia, another place that will become more important as time goes on is the “Internet Archive”. Loads of stuff appears here, most of which is classified as “public domain” (although I’m sure some stuff isn’t). It is here that you can “roll back” Websites and see how they looked years ago. They also have things available for download like this 326 page transcription of the Juvenile Delinquancy (Comic Books) Senate hearings of 1954. If you like to fill your hard-drive with old junk you can download everything you never knew you needed to hear or see from old radio shows and ancient Betty Boop cartoons to hundreds of hours of live music by the Grateful Dead !!