19 September 2006

Sex & Violence: Violence

At some point in history violence and sex were events, more than they were topics. Those events made people feel. When the Shock and Awe campaign started in March of 2003, I cried. I watched the video and thought; "there are people under those explosions." In June of 2004, I watched Nick Berg's beheading. I was more shocked by the brutality of the saw-wielder than the actual beheading. Now, three years after the war started, I read about dozens of people blown up every day. I read about bodies found in trenches, failed army checkpoints and suicide bombers. And I don't cry. I ask myself how I can tell that story in a way that will make people care. I don't have an answer. Because it's not just the war in Iraq. It's partly the genocide in Darfur with a pinch of Israel starting a war (and not being able to win). Mostly it's Americans, and our glorification of sex and violence.

Today: the violence. I think it has a lot to do with video games. Not that the people responsible for the violence play video games, but that a desensitization caused by video games decreases the outrage to these atrocities that might otherwise be instinctual. I think for a lot of young people (mostly boys) video games are the first time they are rewarded for hurting or killing another person. My brother and I played video games growing up. I think we started with Doom and progressed as far as Mortal Kombat. I enjoyed the challenge. There's something to be said about having the fastest fingers and beating your opponent. But video games have come a long way. And from what I can tell, they've been heading downhill.

For example, Jesse downloaded some demos on his XBox recently. One of the games he found and started playing is Deadrising. Don't worry parents, your child has to enter their birth date in order to view the site. If s|he is honest (and too young) I doubt s|he'll be allowed in. Of course if your 10 year old can't figure out how to pass that security check, I dare say you're failing as a parent anyway. But just so we're all on the same page, I've included a screen shot.

The premise of this game is simple: zombies are taking over the world and you (as this heroic dude) are trapped in a mall with them. I know. Why didn't I think of that? The whole game is this guy walking through the mall and using everything from CD's to golf clubs to his bare hands to literally splatter the zombies. When they catch him, they eat him. And we get to watch. The whole thing is ridiculous to my not-so-impressionable mind but I think it gave Jesse nightmares. He has a very active imagination you know.

The only realistic part is the blood, which spills brightly and loudly. It's super gross. In light of the reality I read about on the daily, I was mildly offended by it's nonchalance. It got me thinking about the kids who will read hype about this game and play it. They'll grow up even more desensitized than I did. In their lifetimes, there'll probably be nuclear warfare. And I bet their only fear will be that they'll miss out on developing mutant powers.

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