Recently I was asking the question, what does it mean to be an adult? It seems like a good question, in a society lacking a proper coming-of-age, and where we have many aspects of dependency now carrying on late into people’s 20’s. What does it mean to suddenly, somewhere in the midst of all of that, be an “adult?”
In thinking about this question, I have also been wrestling with some opinions that I’ve read. One is Alan Moore, acclaimed comics writer, who thinks that comics are for teens, and that the adults (generally probably men/manchildren in his mind) reading comics are just refusing and failing to grow up. I wrestled with this a bit in a discussion of Watchmen on Sourcerer, and I was talking Alan Moore again today for V for Vendetta.
The other opinion is that of Alejandro Inarritu, director of the new film Birdman. I read about this on We Minored in Film – great post (and it got me commenting at length) and it got me thinking I wanted to write about this. Well, rant about this. Inarritu believes… well, in his words (quoted from We Minored in Film):
“I think there’s nothing wrong with being fixated on superheroes when you are 7 years old, but I think there’s a disease in not growing up.”
So two creators, saying comics, comic movies, superheroes… these things keep us as children, make us weird or wrong as adults. And I want to respect and engage with their opinions, because unlike people who don’t even give science fiction a chance, these creators are engaging with the genre, creating works in the genre, and not just completely dismissing it. So what does it mean for a genre – like the comic book story – to be for children? Well, let me be sarcastic, and then a bit serious.
Let’s Get Rid Of Comics
Alright, so comics keep us as children. Since children can’t help themselves, clearly by “never growing up” (again, this means?…) we’re not going to be able to stop ourselves. So that means the product itself shouldn’t exist.
So, we get rid of comic books. Comic stores, of course, go with. That takes with it a lot of collectible card games and all as well… heck, let’s get rid of those, for sure. And while we’re at it, most all collectibles – in V for Vendetta, Moore has a (male) character who collects dolls, and who tries to talk this up as a serious thing. Clearly a well-rounded manchild character.
That hits related gaming fields like war gaming (which I was doing tonight – played my first game of Warmachine, pictures on my Twitter!). Oh, and the hobby stores where these things happen. Close them down.
Alright, so there’s nowhere for those comics nerds to go. Of course, that will just drive all of them to computer games, so those absolutely have to go. Oh, and gaming consoles, all of that. I’d say we could keep Nintendo, but no, too many young adults now who have grown up with this and keep playing for nostalgia. And sure, maybe keep just the games rated E? But no, if you build it, they will come – so don’t build it.
Okay, so then there’s the movies. All the comic movie adaptations have to go – Alan Moore would be thrilled (if not for the fact that we put him out of a job up above). Sure, they make a bojillion dollars and employ a ton of people, but they could be doing other, more serious things. Like adding more effects to more serious adult fare.
Oh, wait, no, all those movies with effects? Those are such popcorn-snackers – Inarritu looked down on those. They’re really for kids too – less thinking, right? So let’s get rid of all the genre films. No more action films. No more horror. No more romantic comedies.
And those Young Adult novel adaptations? Those have to go. In fact, we should do away with Young Adult as a genre completely, as our Young Adults need to grow up and become capital-A Adults.
So we’re leaving historical movies, art house – just be careful of the content. Really, probably avoid any adaptations. Again, Moore would be pleased – he doesn’t think his work can be adapted, as it was made perfectly for the correct medium and for no other. All works should be made precisely and only for the medium it is most appropriate for.
So really, I think we just killed most of the film industry – oh, and I didn’t mention TV, but I would assume the same goes there? In which case, we could probably collapse TV back down to the basic networks, maybe just a few channels like in England.
Alright, having now killed the entire Entertainment Industry, we have a lot less need in a lot of other industries. We’re just generally going to need a lot less marketing and advertising, HR, management, finance – all these sorts of jobs which go with an industry like that. So we can close a bunch of business schools too, we don’t need as many graduates with these degrees. Oh, and technical computer schools as well, without all those pesky computer games or movies to give them jobs.
Instead, we should all be focused on our own cynicism and on politics. Politics, which I studied, which reminds me that all acts are political acts.
So me reading comics, and seeing comics movies, and caring about representation in these media, and respecting all the hard work and technical skill and jobs and people involved in making this… appreciating how even the elections process can employ a ton of people… these things, to me, feel like adult attitudes, not childish ones.
This is my political stance: I read comics.
What Else Could It Be?
Okay, so maybe these things aren’t inherently wrong or evil. After all, the critics that I am being a little hard on above are also creating comics or superhero movies, so they don’t necessarily want this all to go away.
So I have an alternate hypothesis. Maybe their problem is with people having such an excess of leisure time. And they think that we could use that time for better pursuits – more enlightening, or engaged, or helpful pursuits. Okay, I buy that.
At one time, leisure time really only belonged to kids. It still, in the minds of many, is something reserved for them. And the hobbies and leisure activities that an Adult should pursue were useful ones: cooking, sewing or quilting or crocheting, building and repair work. Barring that, get a second job! Earn more money!
Oh, and parenting, parenting takes a lot of time. And you shouldn’t dare join you children in games – I guess? I’ve mentioned before – I played games with my dad. War games, trading card games, video games. From a young age up until I moved. My mom got me into comics and collecting. They both got me into science fiction and fantasy. Was that all wrong? Are they not Adults?
I guess my point is, there are likely people who are upset at others for choosing Leisure over toil. For not spending their extra time also working. After all, for creative people like Moore and Inarritu, they probably have to use a lot of what could be Leisure time creating their products, maybe especially in their earlier days. So there’s probably a lot of resentment for people who have never “grown out” of Leisure activities.
However, I would argue that the future is going to see more, and not less, of Leisure time. For one thing, people are living longer, and even if we work a little later in life, there’s still a whole bunch of time in retirement when entertainment is going to be necessary – you can’t travel all the time!
People are having fewer kids, or no kids at all, and this affords a lot of time for Leisure. And, there are so many products and media that work for adults and kids that I could see the interaction between the generations increasing over time, not decreasing. More parents like mine, playing video games with their kids.
The Internet has made getting your hands on things so much easier and cheaper, as well. There’s so much less need for you to have a “practical” hobby, when you can buy all the crafts you could ever want on Etsy. And whatever else. Finding specialists and specialty items is easier than ever in history.
Meanwhile, with increased technology and automation and the Internet, we are seeing fewer jobs. This is a natural progression and has been an effect of technology for a long time. Maybe always. Combined with this, there is a growing push for not just a minimum wage – but a Living Wage. If employers are going to pay a Living Wage, then it’s going to be a lot harder to get a low-paying, easier or off-hour sort of second job. Businesses will go without, instead. And you hopefully shouldn’t need to, as your first job should have you covered.
All this is to say that Leisure should be on the rise, not on the decline, in foreseeable future. Barring the apocalypse (which Moore did not bar, as it’s in both Watchmen and V for Vendetta). So we need to not identify Leisure activities as “childish,” unless we’re also willing to say that “childish” is okay.
“I do not miss my toys. I wouldn’t play with them anyway. I am fifteen. I miss my childhood.”
-Jo Walton, Among Others, p.160
Sorry for the rant, but I needed to get this out of my system, and I think my ideas coalesced pretty well. But I’d love to know what you think. Do we need to be productive every moment of our lives? Or perhaps do some people just need to unleash their inner geek? Let me know in the comments below!
If you want to know more about geekery and our opinions in opposition to the opinions I argue against above, read literally all the rest of this blog – as Comparative Geeks definitely should not exist if these sorts of things are “childish!”