Movies and TV shows have ratings for language, sex and violence. Records are often labeled with parental advisories. But none of these diversions are rated for the really useful things – like the presence of cancer and other illnesses, deaths and so on. So when these things become even the littlest part of the subject matter, the diversion is no longer a diversion, but rather a painful reminder of how badly life can suck sometimes.
I have a friend who has cancer. To keep her from slipping into the depression that so often accompanies the feeling that you have absolutely no control over your physical well-being, a group of her friends, including me, is trying to keep her socially active. To that end, we try to go to movies, plays, dinner etc., and just keep the conversation from being about the intruder all the time. She’s a reader, and based on reviews, I was going to recommend the new Mark Haddon books, because I liked his previous one so much, but luckily I read it first before opening my mouth, because the main character is a man who has a growth on his hip that he thinks is cancer, and tries to cut it off with scissors. She can’t be reading stuff like that right now. I want to take her to see a play that’s supposed to be funny called “Well,” but what I’ve read about it refers to an illness, and until I know what illness that is, I’m staying away.
I propose a new ratings system that lets people know about subject matters contained in works of literature, film, theater, dance and television that might cause discomfort and close the escape valve.
It’s not that I advocate ignoring the 300 pound gorilla in the room, but I think he should stay in the room and not leap from the screen, stage or page into the head of the unsuspecting victim.