||[Sep. 3rd, 2004|12:15 am]
The Porn protection League - Politcal Satire
(Although, to be fair, both of these are actually based on real events. I wonder if that affects their satire-rating?)|
Sex, Lies, and Video Games
Last June in Tennessee, two teenage brothers, William and Joshua Buckner, shot up several cars driving along the highway. One person was killed and several others seriously injured. While the boys accepted “full responsibility”, the victims’ families were quick to blame another culprit: Grand Theft Auto Three, a video game the brothers said they were emulating. The families have since filed a lawsuit against the company that developed the game. The families’ lawyer, Jack Thompson, told reporters at a press conference that they wanted to “send a message to …the…video game industry that if they're going to…market adult-rated games to children…then we're going to take their blood money from them.” Some nay-sayers will “pooh-pooh” this theory, saying things like, “You shouldn’t blame someone’s lack of intelligence or moral fiber on a video game”, or “Money won’t bring back your loved ones,” or even, “You’re a real scumbag, Mr. Thompson, how do you sleep at night?”
I, however, disagree with this consensus; whether we want to admit it or not, video games do influence us. I remember back when I first played “Doom”. It was a different time, then, and children were more innocent, without a care in the world- except for me. I was convinced that I was the last surviving member of a futuristic Marine force, with a vendetta against homicidal aliens. It’s painful to recall that for months, no man-killing Martian within two states of me was safe. Things didn’t improve with time: shortly after beginning “Streetfighter”, I found myself constantly picking fights with foreigners- it didn’t matter if they were Chinese, Russian, or developmentally-challenged mutates from Brazil, somehow I knew I had to beat them up for the betterment of mankind. Don’t even get me started on “Wolfenstein: 3D.” I know, we all thought killing Nazis was a good thing, but it can come back to haunt you- for instance, at your murder trial.
Some argue that violent games have always existed; after all, Baby Boomers grew up playing with real guns and other weapons, and they never had trouble differentiating between fantasy and reality. This argument is flawed, however, because today’s games have something that didn’t exist in the 50’s: Graphics. Yes, while little Timmy and Bobby may have spent hours playing “war” by throwing bricks or shooting BBs at each other, they never sat in front of a TV and shot an alien’s head off, watching pixilated blood splatter everywhere. Sorry, folks, but killing animated Demons in “Diablo II” and playing “Salem Witch Trials” in your backyard are two very different things, and it’s obvious which one is worse: Diablo II.
If only America had followed Australia’s lead and banned GTA 3 outright, this tragedy might have been avoided. Instead of imitating a game involving shooting cars, the Buckner brothers might have chosen something more wholesome, like the classic Atari 2600 game, “Custer’s Revenge”. Yes, while it may not have been big on graphics or plot, it did have something all decent and moral Americans could support: General George Armstrong Custer sexually assaulting a Native-American woman (coincidentally named “Revenge”) tied to a cactus. Not only did this ground-breaking game show that romance has a place in video games; it also taught men about persistence- Custer doesn’t just “get the girl”; he has to avoid arrows, too. Back then, companies cared about releasing a quality product, and the developers worked hard to make the game historically accurate by thoroughly researching and including specific details from Custer’s fascinating life; for instance, his noted passion for hot, steamy cactus sex. (Hear that, GTA 3? It’s a little thing called taking responsibility.) Experts note that in the twenty years since Custer’s Revenge was released, it has never been linked to a single crime.
But don’t just take my word that GTA 3 is “evil” – let’s ask the objective folks over at “Christian Spotlight”. According to Scott, their “Christian gaming reviewer”, GTA 3 urges players to commit “virtual sins.” Not only does it have “sleazy-looking gang leaders”, but also “immoral gunplay”- as opposed to the other kind, found exclusively in Charlton Heston movies. While the game’s graphics are good, “all the work involves committing some kind of atrocious sin for profit”, and therefore Scott was forced to give it a lowly “1 out of 5 Christian rating”, much less than Christian-friendly games like “Marble Drop” and “Luigi’s Mansion”. While Luigi’s Mansion did contain “questionable” things like ghosts and Italian people, they were apparently not offensive enough to violate the “Christian Gamer Code”. I’m not sure I’d agree with that, but it’s your call, Scott.
So pay attention, parents! Monitor your children’s games! Keep them away from violence, sex, swearing, drugs, lying, or anything else resembling reality! ...After all, that’s what the news is for.
Reverse-Ageism Hard at Work
I’ll admit that when I first heard senior citizen criminals claiming they couldn’t get fair trials because of discrimination, I didn’t take them seriously. I didn’t believe that “ageism” was a real problem. But apparently I was wrong. Recently, in New York City, a certain special-interest group was able to circumvent the law and keep a reprehensible felon out of jail. This time, however, it came from an unfamiliar source: the powerful Children’s Lobby.
While many have not heard of them, they have in fact been working for years to give children special legal advantages, many of which are clearly discriminatory. Thanks to the Children’s Lobby, hardworking multimillionaire rock stars like Lars Ulrich have been shafted yet again, as a chronic criminal-offender is let off with a slap on the wrist. The perpetrator? One Brianna LaHara, age twelve. Ms. LaHara has admitted to sharing over 1,000 music files over a three-month period, yet was allegedly “shocked” to find out that she had been named as a defendant in a 261-person civil suit filed by the Recording Industry Association of America.
What I can’t decide is which is more outrageous: that LaHara thought she could get away with flouting the law or that the media and millions of sympathetic Americans actually believed her. Within days, the country was in an uproar, and the media was quick to show its pro-children bias; for instance, multiple news sources used the highly inaccurate description of “Little Brianna”, despite the fact that LaHara is actually considered to be of average height for a twelve-year-old. Additionally, many seemed to blindly accept her “story” that she thought that it was “OK” to download music simply because her mother paid a service fee. Had any of those so-called reporters actually investigated her background, they would have found that LaHara is an honor student at St. Gregory the Great Catholic School. Does LaHara really expect us to believe that an honor student wouldn’t know that file sharing was declared illegal under the 1984 Supreme Court Sony Betamax case? Or are we to believe that St. Gregory’s simply doesn’t teach that in seventh grade? Once again, the Children’s Lobby is trying to play us for fools, implying that simply because LaHara can’t watch the movie “Holes” without an adult she should not be held responsible for her actions.
But even more shocking was the public support of this admitted delinquent. All of a sudden, it seems that age is supposed to be a major factor in determining guilt. Wow, what a great idea, Children’s Lobby! Forget evidence and justice; let’s just let criminals off the hook because of their age. Sorry, but if a 14-year-old can get the death penalty for murder, then I think “little Brianna” should be able to face the music, too. Instead, in a mockery of justice, the RIAA has been shamed into settling for a pathetic $ 2,000 fine. That comes out to an insignificant two dollars a song- laughable, when one remembers LaHara broke the law an incredible one-thousand times. Imagine what would happen if a sixty-year-old had accidentally crashed his car into one-thousand Seven-Elevens? The outcry would be deafening. Yet somehow, because LaHara is a “minor”, and she “only” stole from the music industry, people are acting as though she should get a free ride. There’s a word for that: sickening.
As if keeping a twelve-year-old out of jail wasn’t bad enough, now LaHara’s supporters are trying to discredit the RIAA and convince people that somehow it is at fault. Wayne Rosso, president of a “peer-to-peer” Internet service, even stooped so low as to compare RIAA executives with Joe McCarthy and Joseph Stalin. This despite the fact that the RIAA has repeatedly stated that it doesn’t “have any personal information on any of the individuals” named in the lawsuit. I.e., not only was the suit not biased, it was the most not biased it could possibly be! What more do kleptomaniac-lovers like Rosso want?
To add insult to injury, just days after the RIAA settlement became public, the Child Lobby struck again: in a scant five hours, an online raffle raised enough money to pay for all of Brianna’s RIAA fine- thereby leaving her free to contemplate further online thievery with no fear of punishment. It’s clear what lesson pre-teen criminals are going to glean from this: if you whine about your birth certificate and pander to the media, you can commit nearly any crime and get away with it. Where does this slippery slope end? Today, it’s a twelve-year-old getting off for file-sharing. Tomorrow, it could be a nine-year-old avoiding prison for decapitating a nun. End reverse-ageism now!
(Paid for in part by the AARP.)