Well, I've been reading the blogs, and slowly getting pissed. See, it seems that "The Dark Knight" (a movie I would like to see, no spoilers are gonna stop me) has a moral. And we've all gotta focus on the moral.
And here is when I get pissed. Do not, ever, give me a morality play. I don't care if we agree, I don't care. I'm here for the entertainment. "V is for Vendetta" was almost over balanced here, but ended up being a good show. Only when you look at the back story (what was changed for the movie, etc) does the moral card become clear and heavy. In the movie it's clear, but not that heavy.
Let me plant a flag in the sand here, probably to abandon it later.
If all your movie, show, story, book, has going for it is the moral card, not interested. This might be why I was unable to get past the first few chapters of "Left Behind" (you know, besides being so poorly written I had used up most of the terms of the Turkey City Lexicon before reaching Chapter 2). It's all morality play, all the time. This might also be why most slasher movies just bore the crap out of me, it's all about the morals. Teenage couple having sex, yep, they get popped off first (hint to the kiddies, you don't have to be completely undressed and unaware of your surroundings to have sex, just a pointer there). The girls who wear black bras under white shirts, the narcissistic jock who is more impressed with his body than any of the girls around him, yeah, they're all headed for the axe. Boring.
Now, do something well, say like "Serenity" and I'll accept the moral end of the story (What, you say, "Serenity" has a moral? Yes it does. One that fairly well drives the whole movie and starts making clanking sounds in the last half hour). Because, while the moral is so much a part of the plot, the characters don't take a moment and explain it all out, "As you know, Mal..." See? I mean, "Serenity" is all moral, the plot wouldn't exist without the moral, but the moral only gets two appearances in dialog in the whole movie. Plus, it's hard to tell the white hats from the black hats (with their actions) except for knowing whose story it is.
Now Star Trek was mostly morality plays, but there were occasionally a good story mixed in. The Next Generation, though, kind of got lost midway through and, as a friend put it, became "As the Saucer Section Turns." Which made the morals stick out all the more. But STNG has "The Q." And John Delancy played that character so well, most people missed that what they were seeing was a morality play. Every Q episode was a morality play. Fairly big ones too.
Want to know how I know that? See, while Trek is technically Science Fiction (light on the science please), the Q episodes were fairy tales; and fairy tales are nothing but morality tableaus. Q was a fairy, the Q Continuum was a fairy hill (as was the Nexus from "Generations", BTW), and those episodes were all about what it means to be a human (which is what most fairy tales are about). Q is the Greenman, John Barleycorn, and Puck all rolled up into one. His morals aren't our morals, he doesn't care about humanity (but secretly likes us), is more than willing to screw with us, is concerned about the survival of his continuum and is willing to take a human bride to save it... beginning to see the connections here? Or am I the only one who read my Briggs? I love the Q Episodes, BTW, not so much the Deep Space Nine or Voyager Q Episodes (mostly because Q was just playing with people, not being all Q'y, he was a cardboard Q).
Most people can miss the moral if the story is entertaining. And that's my point. If all you got is your moral, don't expect me to spend my time. Make it entertaining, slip in the moral, even make it the most central thing, and I'll enjoy the heck out of it so long as the journey is fun. And it doesn't hurt if you blow shit up.
I think this has a lot to do with literary critiquing methods. Can I find the Jesus relationship to Frodo Baggins in less than a thousand words? Sure. Can I diagram the eschatological arguments of The Da Vinci Code? Not hard. Can I mine the modern cultural references and allusions of my favorite SF Authors? Somewhat. But it's not like I'm collecting literary coupons like green stamps to trade in for fabulous prizes. Like Rick in "The Mummy" I'm just looking for a good time.
Oh, and keep the True Meaning of Star Trek, Batman, Superman, Firefly, etc to yourself. Don't care (and they're just a show, cartoon characters, etc).
Don't get me started on the SF that just has cool science without a story.