Sunday, June 10, 2007

Sony vs Jesus

Yeah, I am going to indulge myself by writing a list of reasons why this is hilarious.

It was the TV news version that was particularly hilarious; my sister and I both laughed aloud at the soft-voiced bishops and the obligatory 'zomgz, you's offending meee!' wheelout - a woman whose son had been murdered in Manchester eight years ago. Yes, eight years ago. Sad, yes, but can you name a place where there hasn't been a murder in the last eight years? There have been more recent gun killings in Manchester, but their choice of coverage reeked of emotional manipulation.

That's just superficial, really. The whole damn thing is hilarious. Hilarious because of the claim that a religious building is not an appropriate setting for violence. Hilarious because it's an old world colliding with a new one, and asking all sorts of crazy questions; do you need permission to animate a nameless replica of an eight hundred year old building? Is fiction still just fiction if you're directing the actions of the protagonist? Does the passive-aggressive bleat of 'zomgz, they's only getting away with it because we're christians!!1' have any connection to reality? And is it appropriate to whine about 'copyright infringement' when you openly admit that you watched the game on YouTube?

One two-headed thing that keeps being alluded to; apparently a) our collective fantasy life is becoming more violent, and b) our society is becoming more violent. Um, whatnow? I'm not sure it's possible to quantify such things, but if you compare animated aliens in an animated cathedral to, say, public hangings, I know which one is outside my comfort zone. Crime is falling, and violence and oppression are far less acceptable than ever they were. War makes us more uncomfortable than it used to. There are places, cultures, where violence is raging out of control - Rio, Iraq - but to say that we live in one of them is untrue and perhaps unhelpful to those places that really do suffer so. Fiction has always featured violence - now, there are many things which have consistently occurred throughout human history that are presently seen as unenlightened or misguided, but I think I've never even heard an argument against all fictional violence. People pick at the edges a lot, saying 'this one is gratuitous', 'this one is glamorised', 'this one is not for kids', but for all the railing against specific articles, I've never heard it said that it is wrong in all circumstances to tell stories about violence.

I feel crusades against fictional violence are generational in nature, seemingly more suspicious of the medium than the message; no one is worried about Shakespeare or Agatha Christie (no, seriously, I've been wondering about this one for a while now; why is fictional murder so much less taboo than fictional rape?); the war on the TV news is censored, but not utterly so, and no one argues that nightly reports of how much money our government is spending on killing people constitute glorification or incitement. Black-and-white war films fondly escape censure; concerns about fictional violence all centre on new media, or on trends that exist below the notice of our governing elite. The Anglicans are mad at the game makers because they don't know why so many people are doing this shared cultural thing of shooting up aliens in an imaginary version of their property. I think they've not twigged that it's all just a story, a new story that they're not part of.

Perhaps violence in gaming is just laziness - violence is an easy way to create a game story, and gamers are accustomed to it and enjoy its intricacies (lol 2nd ed). I get bored of violent stories if they don't give me something else for my head, or my heart, to chew on. Many years ago - I think it may have been 1999, just after the Columbine massacre - I read a newspaper article about these oh so nasty videogames that had chosen a still from Final Fantasy VII as illustration; now, quite apart from the tame nature of that pick, it's one of the relatively few games I can think of in which the characters vocally question whether their violent actions are justifiable. I think that, as with sex, it's easier to have a dialogue about violence if you don't censor its portrayal.

One article about this round of batshit insanity states; When asked if the church was opposed to violent video games, [David Marshall, a spokesman for the Diocese of Manchester] said: "One of the important things parents of victims of gun crime have said to us is that they understand the link. After the shootings at Virginia Tech there was massive discussion about the fact that the person who committed the crimes was a very keen player of these games."

...except, of course, that he didn't play videogames at all. The 'massive discussion' was just empty speculation of the same variety that's playing out here. No, Cho himself claimed his killing spree was inspired by...Jesus. Whaddyaknow?

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