18 July, 2005

When politicians attack

Sometime last week, it emerged that someone was distributing a mod for the game "Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas" called Hot Coffee, which allows you to view some sex scenes apparently hidden in the game. Rockstar denies having anything to do with this; the mod's author claims he only unlocked what was already there, and he can prove it. The scenes are real and are definitely explicit (you can find screenshots easily enough with Ole Henry).

Anyway: if any of you have ever played GTA, you're probably finding it hard to give a toss. After all, the game involves shooting up innocent people, stealing cars, pimping, and other high crimes and misdemeanors. Surely a little consensual sex should not raise many eyebrows, especially since the game is rated "M for Mature".

But, for some reason, sex crosses lines that misogyny, drug-dealing and brutal murder does not. Jumping on this particular train is Hillary Clinton (Joe Lieberman is aboard, as well). Quoth the Senator:
Clinton (D-N.Y.), meanwhile, said she will introduce legislation to help keep inappropriate video games out of the hands of children, and has asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate the "Grand Theft Auto" game.

Her legislative proposal would institute a financial penalty for retailers who fail to enforce the video manufacturers voluntary ratings system rules. It would prohibit the sale of violent and sexually explicit video games to minors and put in place a $5,000 penalty for those who violate the law.

"The disturbing material in 'Grand Theft Auto' and other games like it is stealing the innocence of our children, and it's making the difficult job of being a parent even harder," Clinton said.

In calling for the FTC to launch an investigation, Clinton urged the commission to determine whether an AO rating (adults only) is more appropriate than the current M rating (mature) for the video game given this new sexually explicit content. She also requested that the FTC examine the adequacy of retailers' rating-enforcement policies.

Now, far be it from me to question the intelligence of a U.S. Senator, but... does Senator Clinton have Krispy Kreme donuts where her frontal lobe should be? An "M" rating restricts games to 17-year-olds (ostensibly), who, last I checked, were not exactly paragons of innocence. Furthermore, those parents who DO allow their kids to play this game are either (a) gleefully unaware of what their kid is consuming or (b) sublimely indifferent. In either case, the fault is obviously with the parent, whose responsibility it is to discipline the child, not with the game itself.

Clinton is also, apparently, calling for further studies into the effect of video games on children. Personally, I think she could have far more transparently courted conservative votes by simply having herself nailed up on a cross on the Capitol steps.

I think this is a fine opportunity to point out that Clinton is a slimy politician, lest anyone have any doubt, and in the coming years when she stands up against torrents of putrescent bile spilling from the mouths of a horde of evil conservatives, do not let yourself be swayed; harden your heart, and remember: she's not a human being. She is a construct, a cipher, a manifestation of forms.

But, back to the issue at hand; Clinton, as a cipher, is only expressing an extant societal tendency. I'm not certain that it has become harder to raise children in recent years, since I've never been a parent and I certainly have no basis for comparison over several generations. Actually I suspect instead that shrill voices have always been shrieking to scrub the world clean of all the filthy bits of drek humanity creates. An ugly and futile sentiment - we ourselves are the ones who shit and piss. Whether we scatter it everywhere or don't, it has to exist. We'll never make ourselves clean by denying that. Far better to see the world as it is and learn to live in it, messy bits and all.


Gah. I wish one of her youthful staffers would explain to her that she's in dire danger of alienating the geekier-youth that she'll need to both campaign and vote for her. I'm no fan of video games, especially violent ones, but yeesh. This is exactly the line of argument that makes her it-takes-a-village aphorism (one I support when it's being earnest) look ridiculous.

There are so many better things for the Senator from New York to be working on . . .so frustrating. Who do these people hire? 

Posted by Saheli

i agree that it's total demagoguery, but she and her nonprofit pals all had a much better grasp on the subtleties of the situation than you give them credit for. they all said they weren't letting parents off the hook. and really, they weren't just ranting about GTA -- they said "it adds porn to an already violent video game." in fact, they complained more about violence at the press conference than they did about sex, but they knew that sex would get the story in the paper. and it did.

the law she's proposing mostly aims to enforce the existing ratings system for games. which would be a fine idea if age limits ever worked at all and if that didn't put a huge incentive for corruption onto the group that assigns ratings.

oh well! 

Posted by hedgehog

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