Washington Hypocrisy

inflatable hillary
(image courtesy Ken Wong, Bad Day LA concept artwork)

It seems that the rhetoric against video games is once again being cranked up by our friends in Washington. It must be campaign fundraising time again. Why else would senators like Hillary Clinton be out fanning the flames of controversy? Quoting an article I just read on MSNBC talking about Sen. Clinton:

She portrayed video games as part of what she called “this overwhelming culture” which assaults children and teenagers with depraved images of violence and sex. She accused violent and pornographic video game makers of “stealing the innocence of our children.”

The same article goes on to state Clinton’s goal of increasing the size of the Army:

“Our army is under unprecedented stress,” Clinton said. “When an army unit returns from service in Iraq or Afghanistan, it barely gets a breather before it begins training for its next deployment. This intense operation tempo is not only tough on soldiers and their families – it also hurts the readiness of our Army and our entire armed forces.”

Ok, so let me get this straight. On the one hand you’re concerned about exposing kids to fictional violence in video games, on the other your all for adding more kids* to the frontlines of a very real and very deadly war? The article mentions that Clinton wants to initiate a study into the long term effects of “Internet, i-Pods, and other electronic media on children.” Ha. How about studying the already existing reports of the long term effects of warfare on returning vets? (*Most new Army recruits are just old enough to buy M rated games and not yet old enough to drink liquor in most states.)

Don’t get me wrong on the war thing… I’m all for supporting our troops; I just think we should do it by bringing them home.

What really amazes me is that this false concern for the welfare of “our children” even works on anyone. Does no one out there realize that this is campaign fund-raising fodder? The article goes on to read, “…that Clinton led all senators in first-quarter campaign fundraising from 14 out of the top 50 industries ranked by campaign giving.”

This is about nothing but money to these people.
My only question is why do lawmakers continue to return to the topic of video games? This really mystifies me:

The New York Democrat said she was struck with “absolute horror” when she read a report that the game had “pornographic content that can be unlocked by following instructions widely available on the Internet.”

Ok, and dur. Has the Senator ever looked in her inbox? I mean, I don’t know about you, but I get something on the order of 50 emails a day enticing me to click on a link in order to enjoy all manner of smut and depravity. I don’t have to turn on my Playstation or Xbox for that! I mean, why view pornographic content that can “be unlocked by following instructions” when you can simply browse right to the real thing?

I once had lunch with famed porn star (some would say God) Ron Jeremy. He explained to me the porn industry concept of “whack factor”. This happened during a conversation where we were talking about whether a porn video game would actually be successful. Ron explained that “whack factor” is pretty much what it sounds like, the litmus test to whether something is “whackable”. The easier it is to whack to, the higher the whack factor, the more successful the thing will be. DVDs, the Internet, and plain ‘ol fashioned smut rags have a pretty high whack factor. They are simple, they work.

Video games? Critically low whack factor. Not worth all the trouble. Anyway, I don’t know a lot of people who are dexterous enough to manage a PS2 controller *and* their own joystick at the same time.

So sex acts in Grand Theft Auto? So what! It isn’t for whacking off to… I’ll tell you that much. If anything it is comedy. Adult comedy, I’ll grant you, but then it is an M rated game. Lets not even mention the fact that the content is contained in an *external* add-on pack!

So why do these people get their panties in such a bunch over violence and sexual content in video games? Why are they no longer attacking “rap music” or going after violent films? I have an idea…

Could it be our marketing? I mean, these senators are definitely NOT playing these games. They certainly aren’t allowing their own children to play them. Are they? So what are they responding to? I think it has a lot to do with the collective message that the games industry is sending out via their visual marketing.

What other entertainment industry these days so heavily features guns, tits, and “rough” culture in their advertising? It isn’t like the rap industry suddenly stopped putting out offensive records or Hollywood kowtowed to Washington. They just got smart in their marketing. You see anything to get upset about there? No, then move along.

It seems that for senators the video game whack factor is just too high. What was it Pac Man said? Wacka wacka?

13 responses to “Washington Hypocrisy”

  1. Wow, you are really getting my creative juices flowing with all this. It’s good to hear that someone out there actually cares about these issues, and cares enough to post it on his high-profile weblog.

    That last line put me in stitches for 5 minutes strait. I totally agree. It makes you wonder what the Senators are up to. Campaign financing comes to mind.

    What everything boils down to, in my humble opinion, is parenting. The parents should be the front lines on violent video games, and will always be the last line of protection between things viewed as “adult” and their children. Big Brother shouldn’t have any say in what goes on inside a family’s house. The father (or mother) who is in charge of the household should be the one governing the use of entertainment for all his/her family as seen fit for each individual.

    Without getting too preachy here, our families are our key group of existence. If you see these games as being too gory, sexual, whatever, for your children, then DON’T LET THEM PLAY IT.

    Anyway, thanks for letting me vent, and for the though-provoking articles of late.

  2. Your right American, damn I wish you could talk to someone to lighten the problem but it seems like everyone is telling video games to “grow up” (as stated by Gamespot.com) If the gov. doesnt want kids to play violent video games then just tell the parents not to buy it, its just that simple…but god-forbid the people in the government shouldnt make money off this – they have to get in and blow the problem into a world-wide issue -> australia and japan are getting pissed off about this too and they are increasing the ban on AO/M games

    you do make a good point, but sadly the people in office would just say “how can you think that pornographic images/ violence is just “”adult commedy””…”

    If Rockstar games is found that the “hot coffee” mod/code was in the original source-code then they should be punished, not the entire game industry

    If Rockstar didnt have that code in there, then just try to get a patch out that will block the “hot coffee” mod, simple as that

    – NiGHTS

  3. Damn hypocracy- may conservative false-faced politicians be wiped away with the wave of a new generation (yeah right …)

    Excellent points though – Id be interested in a news industry that looked for a counter-statement and found this. It doesnt seem CNN is interested in anything related to game-defending and simply wants to post any game bashing they can find … I dont know about you but Im feeling tired of being constantly looked down on as a fan and member of the game / entertainment industry . Will there ever come a time when people will look up to the opinions of those making video games? For christ sake, we spend enough time listening to people like Sean Penn and other such actors. I mean they must have the right answers to everything! They are actors after all! Actors are always right … right?? right?? *please find my sarcasm*

    Sorry – off topic. Excellent poitns though .

  4. How about the money that goes into studies like the one mentioned, to view what the ‘long term effect’ of electronic media is, instead put into body armour for the soldiers of the u.s. army. Im one of the biggest ‘down with war’ preachers out there but when i heard that the us gov were openly cutting costs by not putting any armour into the body vests carried by soldiers i was speechless, a gov. that preaches about respecting our fine men and women at war but dont respect them enough to spend a couple of grand on armour, and yet they still have to wear their empty body vests (are the gov. worried that soldiers arent wearing enough layers in the desert heat or are they hoping to find out some very interesting things about the power of placebo’s and on-coming tank shells) whats with that?

    Anyway we dont seem to have as much nagging about violence in computer games in europe but maybe thats just because our politicians dont have as big a campaign budget. Is sen. Clinton a republican? cos shes seems to be flogging more and more republican dogma as opposed to democratic issues but i guess theres not a whole lot of difference between the 2 parties anymore 🙁

    Sorry for the anti-war, u.s. govt. thing, i dont want to offend opinions or risk a flame war i just get a little p’d off when i see a lack of common sense somewhere

  5. I get sick to death of brain-dead people who jump on bandwagons like lemmings. Their opinions are born out of ignorance and sensationalism. Most of these anti-videogame fanatics rave about there not being a rating system for games like the one for movies! If they are too lazy to look at the back of a box then they can’t be taking an active role in their child’s upbringing. The people who do the worst job of raising their kids are the ones constantly looking for someone else to blame. They also have zero concept of the multitude of videogame genres. I wouldn’t boycott the whole movie industry because some perverts make pornos, and I wouldn’t tell Cyan Worlds to stop making Myst games because Rockstar came out with Manhunt. Those freaky little fanatics on the other hand think all games are the same. We have the rating system because they are not the same. Some games are just not meant for children, but bad parents don’t pay any attention to what their kids want, they just give them everything they ask for so they don’t have to listen to them. You do know of course that these people who sob and shriek about the violence surrounding their children are the same sickos who gape at car accidents: lapping up the carnage with a primitive blood lust, which they call natural curiosity.

    And as for people dumbly believing everything they hear on TV, you better believe they do. I’m astounded when I listen to some of the things that morons believe because of what they heard on TV. When a politician says they intend to eradicate violence, fight crime, lower taxes, increase military spending, end world hunger, kiss all babies, and secure world peace all in one breath you would think most people would take that with a grain of salt. You’d be wrong. Stupidity is a seriously dangerous thing, and considering how impressionable these people are, I’m a little glad they don’t play videogames. We don’t need to worry about kids taking Doom 3 to heart (which their lazy parents shouldn’t let them play anyway), but if these sheep can get brainwashed from a cheap PR stunt, then I don’t want to see what will happen if they start to believe that they have to protect Mars from Satan.

    Actually that might be funny.

  6. This reminds me…
    Janet Jackson’s “Wardrobe Malfunction” = Hissy fit
    Photos of Saddam Hussein’s dead sons on national TV and public newspapers = a couple of angry letters

  7. Well, you really got a point there. I simply cannot believe how is it possible that rich or at least important people keeps attacking videogames. Yeah alright, they are violent. Probably they think that this violence may cause more violence, but hey, have you looked a news flash lately? Is practically the same. I agree a game cna be a detonator for violence. I mean, a disturbed mind can become a serial killer by playing games. But you know what? Thats not a gaming matter. Thats a social and family matter. You dont want your sons to become violent beings? Then give them more moral counsil than a game can do. How do you do that? By giving love and care to your sons. I have a bullet lodged in my leg because a mad guy got out to the street yelling “Imps everywhere!!!” That happened here, in Colombia. Im a harcore gamer, and I think that reaction was caused by a game, but originated by loneliness and just downright insanity. Only a already crazy mind cant differ between game reality and reality itself.

  8. I agree that the gov. has adopted a very astranged and rather cruel form of control over people through the use of such things as fear and (oddly enough) what seems to be a popularity contest based on riches over any actual form of worth. In a place where we tell children they can be anything they want, where we preach the openness and accepting nature of our society, where we have fought for the freedoms we have finally gotten for so many, we’ve gotten to the point as a culture where we’ve decided we don’t understand… morality.

    I would grant that some people do have a good point, in that we merely perpetuate the violence that we should not force upon children. But then again, it is not the responcibility of a nation to raise a child or else there would be no real individuality in people. It is the responcibility of parent(s) to do such a thing.

    It seems to me that in some form or another any time any real problem arrises in children or young adults the problem is traced back to a “source”, however, that source is almost never the real cause of the problem. The real problem here: Bad Parents. It is almost always our parents that teach us our values and help us to develope into moral ethical people in life.

    Noteably, there were bad people around before there were video games. Hell, there were bad people around before there were movies or books for that matter. I fail to comprehend how a political body can dictate that the cause of malice in our culture is the entertainment we choose when they cannot definitely say that said entertainment is the definitive cause of the violence. Shouldn’t the government choose to teach parents how to deal with problematic children instead of trying to dictate the morals and interests of society? Especially in a nation founded upon the principles of freedom, we choose to allow ourselves to be blindly led by those who deem themselves the guardians and judges of morality, when they themselves have faults.

  9. It all stems from framing. Hillary Clinton needs an issue she can appear socially conservative on without being soft on abortion or gay marriage or universal healthcare. It’s her issue. It’s what she’s going to campaign on, whether it’s how she will bring videogame ratings or how she has brung them. They are an easy target for her- the videogame lobby is headed up by the Media Coalition (which is run by David Horowitz, one of the most conservative boys in the business). In fact, the videogame industry doesn’t have much of a lobby, period. It’s reactionary. Whenever anti-videogame legislation is introduced, we react. We never lobby for it and that’s a critical problem of the gaming industry.

    Most of us have to realize that by strictly regulating videogames, politicians lose nothing. The leading GOP candidate (Frist) will step up and agree with Hillary in order to neutralize her issue. It means nothing to them because politicians never grew up with videogames. Do you think Hillary Clinton ever jumped over the sun in Super Mario Brothers 3? Did John Cornyn ever blow the living hell out of a zombie with a shotgun? Did Ted Kennedy ever run over pedestrians with a ridiculously fast car? (wait, better not answer that one.)

    The fact of the matter is that the interactive entertainment industry has to realize they’re grown up. Videogames aren’t confined to a small sector of society. You’re reaching ten billion dollars in sales a year just for America! That’s more than the movie industry.

    Unfortunately, with your rise, there’re people who want to drag the whole industry down. In 2002, a federal district court ruled in AAMA V Kendrick that games aren’t free speech in their current incarnation. The whole game industry is in danger of losing a lot of freedom, just like the comic book industry did.

    Get some friends in the political realm. You’ll need them.

  10. I dont get it! Why does everyone smash the all games because of one? Why do people smash the TV shows cause the movie with the same name sucked bad? Why do people smash anything? The same reason alot of people follow religion, no offense to anyone here that is liek this, because the belief that it is right makes the world go round! Wacka Wacka! Nice!

  11. She portrayed video games as part of what she called “this overwhelming culture” which assaults children and teenagers with depraved images of violence and sex. She accused violent and pornographic video game makers of “stealing the innocence of our children.” what the hell? innocence? the PARENTS buy these games so personally,shove it hilary,whos with me?

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