Mass Effect and Mitt Romney: Can There Be Rational Dissent?
I’ve sat back and watched the uproar surrounding Kevin McCullough’s attack on Mass Effect. And then when Fox News jumped in the ring, I continued to observe, read, and digest the panorama of responses. Some have been quite rational. Most of them have not. Unfortunately, both sides of this argument have so far lacked what any reasonable person could call objectivity. Art is like that, I guess.
Though, one must ask, “WTF?” when we are in a situation where EA is the voice of reason. Never thought I would type THAT. My question now is: Will the game industry take anyone seriously who thinks that this kind of content goes too far?
It honestly doesn’t seem like it.
Mitt Romney ran a political ad that stated, “I‚Äôm deeply troubled about the culture that surrounds our kids today‚Ä¶ I‚Äôd like to see us clean up the water in which our kids are swimming. I‚Äôd like to keep pornography from coming up on their computers. I‚Äôd like to keep drugs off the street. I‚Äôd like to see less violence and sex on TV and in video games and in movies. If we get serious about this we can actually do a great deal to clean up the water in which our kids and grandkids are swimming.” The reaction from GamePolitics was… less than objective. It’s hard to tell if GP is supposed to be a serious journalist or a blogger/columnist.
Kotaku responded, “Good to see someone tackling the hard issues our nation’s youngest generation should be most concerned about with the help of s***ty analogies.” Way to really focus on the substance of the argument, there.
Now, being that we are part of the “blogosphere” (oh wow, do I hate that word) I know that we are all supposed to be all extreme and foaming at the mouth (it is a lot of fun, after all), but on this issue I think we can do better than that.
For starters, Romney’s position needs to be taken more seriously. Kotaku’s reaction isn’t all that different from Kevin McCullough. Knee-jerk. Reactionary. Uneducated.
See, I agree with Romney. It seems to be an extremely unpopular view, especially in the video game community, but I happen to think children should be insulated from graphically sexual and overly violent content. I also happen to think a lot of it isn’t all that good for adults, either. That doesn’t automatically mean that I think that content should be banned. What an adult reads, views, or plays in the privacy of their own home should be their business. If parents decide it’s okay for a kid to play Mass Effect, that’s fine. That is their decision.
However, as parents, it is also important to protect and educate their children. If I give my kid Mass Effect, am I, by default, giving tacit approval of sexual relations outside of marriage? I can hear you asking, “Is that so bad?” Well, that’s the real debate isn’t it. It’s not whether video games should contain this content. It’s not whether retailers should be punished for selling this content to minors. I dare say the issue isn’t even whether or not this kind of content should be banned.
The core issue is that certain segments of the population still believe that the power to create life should be used responsibly and only within the bounds of marriage. It really is okay if some people feel like TV, movies, books, and video games that depict a message of “free love” without bounds or commitments are damaging to our society and damaging to the institution of the family.
That being said, I still don’t believe it’s right to infringe someone’s rights when exercise of those rights doesn’t harm anyone. If my neighbor loves to view and watch porn, that’s his business. I don’t care what he does or doesn’t do in his home. Nor do I place any judgment on him. That’s called tolerance.
By the same token, observation has shown that these kinds of views are ridiculed and marginalized. That’s called intolerance. That sword cuts both ways, you know.
Now, I certainly am not going to defend ignorance like Kevin McCullough and Fox News exhibited. There was obviously no desire for rational discussion, merely a Bill O’Reilly-esque sensationalism.
On the other side of the coin, many have said that these parties cannot judge Mass Effect unless they have themselves played it. I take issue with that logic, because that infers that nothing can be declared “bad” without having first sampled it in its intended manner. Do not say that heroin is bad for you unless you’ve done it yourself! Do not say war is bad until you’ve actually fought in one! So, let’s drop this whole “don’t judge it until you’ve played it” argument. The fact is that there are already accurate enough descriptions of the questionable content, and Fox News, et al. plain and simply dropped the ball. The info was there, but they refused to see it.
So, what should be done about Mass Effect? Frankly, nothing. I won’t purchase it. And anyone else who feels the same way I do won’t purchase it. There’s not really much else one can do without infringing people’s rights, or at the very least, ridiculing those who believe differently.
The few (like me) have had more than ample opportunity to make our voices heard. Sadly, no one is listening. And that’s fine. No one has to.Tags: Ones to Watch