Friday, July 22, 2005

Are We Really Doing This Again?

I'm reading
Gamespot. I come across this article.

Guess what? Jack Thompson says crazy shit. Again.

My first question: Why is Gamespot vindicating this lizard-brained shithead?

I think this guy keeps getting press because even people that can't stand what he says want to hear more of it.

It's like tuning into Art Bell during some of the stranger phones calls (and, yes, there is a continuum of strangeness, even among the crazies).

Now Jack Thompson is going after The Sims 2.

Here is Thompson's latest brain dropping (apologies to George Carlin):

"Sims 2, the latest version of the Sims video game franchise ... contains, according to video game news sites, full frontal nudity, including nipples, penises, labia, and pubic hair."

I, apparently, have played the inferior version of the game.

As pornography, The Sims 2 is akin to making sock puppets hump. Tongue-kissing my own hand would be more titillating. Anybody that has actually played the game would realize that if you want to get your rocks off, there are far less tedious ways.

For example, Google just about any freakin' word you can think of - there's bound to be a porno site slotted into your search results somewhere.

The old geeks (OG, as might be said), probably recall a very similar social and political furor over a supposed children's medium - comicbooks.

Dr. Fredric Wertham will be a familiar name to some.

It's hard to be a comicbook fan and not vilify this man. I'll try my best to be even-handed. Note, also, that I was not alive during the controversy he created, so my knowledge is based upon scattered sources.

A pivotal moment for comicbooks came when Dr. Fredric Wertham published Seduction of the Innocent in 1948.

The gist of the book is something that we are hearing constantly. I'm of the opinion that it is being said constantly, all throughout history and possibly in perpetuity.

That media contributes to making us more violent.

On the face of it, this statement doesn't seem too erroneous to me (though erroneous, nevertheless). I would qualify it by saying, "Media may contribute to making a person more likely to act in a violent manner."

Of course, I also think you could replace "Media" with almost any other word. Steak, for example, may contribute to making a person more likely to act in a violent manner. Pigeons, too. And marmalade (how I hate marmalade). Paris Hilton. Teflon.

Go on. Try it.

Seduction of the Innocent went wrong by vastly inflating the influence of comicbooks. This is the same mistake that people like Jack Thompson live and breathe. Making everything into an extreme example (labia in The Sims, vaginas hidden in the shadows of a comic panel, playing Doom will force you into a psychotic rage) is a great way to incite the public.

And, oh, how the public loves being incited. There's no rule like mob rule.

Wertham's biggest mistake is that he blamed violence completely on the environment. And he worked off of the assumption that viewing violent or sexual content will automatically generate the desire to emulate that behavior.

That's one of the worst conceptions of human behavior I've ever heard. It amounts to Garbage In, Garbage Out, which is amusing, but also a glaring fallacy. We ignore thousands and thousands of images and ideas everyday. Others we synthesize into our world conception and some we actively oppose. Some we enjoy without striving to emulate, others we hold as role models. Combinations are endless and chaotic. The reactions aren't fixed, not even in children.

Might as well try and predict the weather. Oh yeah, people do that, too.

What did comicbook makers do to try and stem the tide of controversy? Well, they formed the Comics Code Authority. Even then, of course, the crusaders continued to fight, claiming that the Code was ineffectual, or deliberately misleading the public, or insidiously encouraging actual sex and violence.

Does anybody see any similarities to the wave of anti-videogame nonsense and the creation of the ESRB? And the backlash the ESRB is now facing despite their, by all accounts, reasonable ratings system?

And people like Thompson continue to rant and rave: "The sex and the nudity are in the game. That's the point. The blur is an admission that even the 'Ken and Barbie' features should not be displayed. The blur can be disarmed. This is no different than what is in San Andreas, although worse."

So, he equates the fact that Maxis thought it prudent to cover up even the suggestion of nudity as proof of wrongdoing? Let that be a lesson to game makers: don't even bother being discreet; that just proves you're dirty pornographers. Disarming a blur to create SimAnatomicallyIncorrectNudistColony hardly seems on par with GTA's ass-slapping softcore bump-and-grind.

Or is there some kind of "Under the Covers" mod in The Sims that zooms in on Whoopee, cues the porn funk and proceeds to show freaky Sim sex all . . . night . . . long, baby!

Even discussing how fucking ridiculous this guy is makes me feel ridiculous.

Another crazy quote:

"Thompson's new conclusion: EA is 'cooperating, gleefully, with the mod community to turn Sims 2 into a porn offering.' "

My second question (or set of questions), then: Is anybody out there using games like The Sims 2 or GTA for masturbatory purposes? Have you ever frigged while playing any kind of videogame, at all? Has a game ever turned you on, to the point where you demanded release?

I just wonder if this is a new development.

A middle-school lunchroom somewhere:

"Tommy, man, you gotta check out that game DOA: Extreme Beach Volleyball. The chicks are so hot I had to pull out some Vaseline and a happy sock. You probably don't want your controller back."

I don't know. The mind boggles.

When it comes to sexual content in videogames, I'm strictly a "look but don't touch myself" kind of guy.

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