Thursday, January 04, 2007

Video Game Violence: Joe Lieberman is a goddamn comedian

I'm going to have to interrupt my gushing about Casino Royale to draw attention to an absurd example of propagandistic political cinema. I'm drawing attention to it because of my social libertarian tendencies, but more importantly, I want to bring it up because it's so under-argued and overdramatic that it's laughable.

It's a trailer for a new movie, I guess along the lines of new political-issue documentaries, like Inconvenient Truth, Who Killed the Electric Car?, and The U.S. Versus John Lennon. This one is positioned to attack video games as the pivotal gateway for violence to enter our culture. The video in question can be found here.

For the sake of rational argument (I put that concept in italics so you can wave goodbye to it for the duration of the clip), I'm going to look at this trailer on a point-by-point basis. They have four, maybe five soundbites, and not ONE of them stands up to the least scrutiny.

Let's take a few. I'm paraphrasing... the quotes are just to make it clear that I'm pulling a point from the video. My commentary is going to be minimal, because you're all individually capable of thinking about these points and recognizing them as farcical.

1 - "In the past, violence has been seen as a vice, rather than a virtue."
Every society in the history of civilization has valued its warriors over its lay-people. Samurais, Knights, army generals, kids play-fighting since the beginning of time... if anything, we live in perhaps the LEAST violent global culture in history.

2 - "We didn't want to get into the regulation game; we invited the gaming industry to regulate itself."
Again, nonsensical. The video game industry is regulating itself; it would take some fast talking to claim that software companies, adopting the ESRB ratings voluntarily, aren't heeding the cautions of their critics.

3 - "We blame video games for teaching people how to fly planes into the World Trade Center."
Blaming non-violent video games rather than the CIA? An irrelevant and profoundly misdirective tangent. Mentioning 9/11 is nothing but shameless sensationalism.

4 - "We'll see Columbine etc. etc"
Again, sensationalism. Why can't we blame the alarmist media for glorifying violence by making every American crisis into a political buzzword?

5 - "We literally enter into a world that's so realistic, we forget that it's a make-believe world."
This isn't true for anyone I know, including 3 to 6-year old children. It's an absurdism that equates playing video games with a kind of psychopathic hallucination.

Alarmist is a comedic understatement. If this trailer suggested any kind of cogent argument, I might take an interest in watching the film. Instead, it shows that people who want to regulate our lifestyles can only justify their actions with bizarre misrepresentation of reality.


Kelly said...

Geepers! That is *the* most lame idea for a movie EVAR! It's like that time Tipper Gore went to town on song lyrics. Look, we've got to give people more credit for cogent, conscious thought, otherwise they won't ever take responsibility for anything. "The video games made me do it!" "The rap lyrics made me do it." NO. You did it because you're a sentient being and can think for yourself.

Video games don't kill people; people with sketchy mustaches kill people.

Anonymous said...

If i cant trust videogames to babysit my kids, who CAN i trust?

What about all those statistics that say crime has been DROPPING for the past however many years? Maybe its because all those antisocial gamers are inside playing videogames than outside egging mailboxes.

People are just looking to place the blame, and the videogame industry is an easy target.

And Lieberman is a bandwagon jumping loser. Just ask Penny Arcade. He and Jack Thompson should get coffee someday, although it would be interrupted often as Thompson's spidey senses go off every time he hears an ambulance siren.