Wednesday, 22 April 2015

The Softer Version

Watching the utterly lovely Daredevil TV show recently (a spin-off of sorts from the Marvel movie machine, this time with the blind lawyer/ vigilante who was last seen in the shit Ben Affleck embarrassment). It occurred to me on about episode 4 just how violent this show is. The fights are about par for the course, but you have women getting smacked around, brains and blood flying, bones sticking through skin. It's all very gory and outright glorious.

Then it also occurred to me that this is a companion show to movies like Avengers, Thor and Captain America. Movies aimed primarily at children. While people die in all of those films, it's usually bloodless and "clean". Even the other TV show spin-off, the poxy and overrated Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, isn't as OTT as Daredevil when it comes to watching bad guys getting the shit stomped out of them.

In the UK we have Doctor Who (which is also a lucrative export). It had a spin-off show a few years back called Torchwood. This was the same universe, with some of the same characters and events in both shows influencing the other. However...Doctor Who is and always has been a scary kids' TV show. Torchwood on the other hand is much more violent and gory and has perpetually horny characters who like to get it on with people from either gender, sometimes in 3-somes.

Torchwood is to Doctor Who what Daredevil is to Thor and Age of Ultron (although to be fair, as of episode 6 Mat Murdock, Foggy and that hot blonde chick haven't had a spit roast).

The "softer" versions of these films and TV shows are popular but the "darker" side of the universes they portray are also finding an audience. Loki is a camp but menacing villain, whereas Wilson Fisk is a terrifying and brutal thug.

Sometimes people want the softer version as it is deemed more suitable for the target audience. While kids in Real-3D glasses will wow to Tony Stark in Hulk Buster armour, their parents won't be impressed if Tony rips a bad guy's head off, the stump sprays blood everywhere and he's then seen hosing down the iron suit back at the Avengers mansion.

Harder and softer versions enable flexibility, and now censorship has been thankfully tailored to common sense levels and not a "nanny state" approach...we can pick and choose as we wish.

Problem is that in real life people quite often want harder and softer versions.

When you fall in love you are obsess about someone and eventually you hopefully propose marriage/ suggest they move in and you live happily ever after. You might raise kids and spend the rest of your lives together. Some naive arseholes think that marriage will only ever be a bed of roses and expect only the "softer" version of reality.

I've experienced and seen relationships where one partner wanted the other to be superhuman and defy both the laws of physics and reality to be the man or woman "of my dreams." No farting in bed. No leaving skidders in the toilet bowl. No boxes of tampons left within view. Above all, no bad breath. The softer version is required. The bloodless, stainless, reality-less version where everyone is pretty, wakes up in make-up, never gets ill and can multi-task roles that they have no aptitude for.

 I know a woman who once told me that while she was sat on the toilet taking a shit she was having a conversation with her boyfriend who was in the the same room. I personally don't even want to imagine that women are capable of farting or shitting (and like Henry Rollins, think Daryl Hannah poots talcum powder) but it proved that they weren't in a "softer" relationship. They were comfortable in each other's presence to the point that even that line could be crossed.

The reason the UK police are so screwed with regard to use of force is the advent of cheap digital cameras that can upload immediately to the internet. Violence is ugly no matter why it's being done. My brief tenure as a bobby in England had some utterly wank self defence training which tried to convince the recruits that banging someone on the outer thighs with an extendable baton would ALWAYS result in them hitting the floor and allowing themselves to be arrested.

This video shows that for the fallacy it really is.

In real life you just hit or grapple until the person allows you to get them into the back of the van or there's enough of you to pick them up and do it against their will. The UK government and the chiefs of the various UK police forces are determined to show the public that a "softer" side to policing is permanently possible.

Back in the 1960s we had fluffy, "softer" TV police shows like Dixon of Dock Green and Z Cars. I had a second hand Z Cars annual as a child and one comic strip had a copper bending the truth to get some criminals in a hostage situation to give themselves up. As the series and book were aimed at kids the epilogue had the bobby giving a long winded exposition that while lying could be never be excused, a bit of "hoodwinking" was harmless.


In the early 70s the show "The Sweeney" came out detailing the antics of the Flying Squad, a unit in the London Metropolitan police set up to deal with seriously bad criminals like armed robbers. The main character was a police Inspector who swore, drank to excess, smoked too much and shagged anything with tits. He was however a good copper. The "harder" side of policing.

The problem was that our leaders would like us to believe that we can genuinely have a "softer" police force where cops still need only the word of law to deal with ne'er do wells, scallywags and ruffians, and we now not only have the laughable sight of Community Support Officers walking the streets (Not-Cops that can't arrest anyone, have 1/4 of the powers of regular cops, and have to back off if anything gets aggressive) we also have Police Cadets who are 16 to 17 years old and walk around in full uniforms with cops and CSOs...even though they can do ABSOLUTELY NOTHING as they aren't attested as constables and aren't allowed to intervene in anything. To put this in perspective...imagine the British Army taking cadets over to Syria....just to watch.

But I digress...

When someone breaks wind under the duvet, it destroys a romantic image. For some people this is too much to take. Someone I know very well once objected to her husband wearing thermal underwear to work...even though he worked outside in sub zero temperatures. When he pointed out that they kept him warm she snapped "Well if you wear them you won't have me keeping you warm at night!" She wanted the "softer" version of this scenario. He should not wear the unsexy undies but should instead find a way to go out in minus 2 degrees centigrade and work outside and then come home brimming with masculinity and remain the man of her fantasies. He should also presumably find a way to keep his knob from shrinking to the size of a peanut and turning blue.

Reality in its "harder" form can be too much. Parents who force their kids to study subjects they are not going to ever excel in. Dippy fucking women who read 50 Shades of Grey and then wonder why their husband doesn't ignore the safe word (I've heard this more than once and it never fails to piss me off. Safe words exist for a reason. That reason is so you are safe). Children who grow up and can't handle the fact that their once strong parents become frail, old and need looking after.

Movies can be either "hard" or "soft" and we can choose between them. Life on the other hand is only "hard". You can set boundaries on bathroom sharing, flatulence and other things that annoy you...but ultimately life was filmed in all its X-rated glory and you can turn away from what you don't like under mutual agreement.

Life is never PG by design.

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