Once again the mainstream media is using video games as pariahs of bad taste while simultaneously displaying the kind of gross ignorance and ratings chasing that you couldn’t write as satire.
During this ‘slow news’ period (the assassination of Benazir Bhutto in Pakistan apparently doesn’t count as news in the United States gutter press) many sources are using a 2002 French, online video game called New York Defender to stoke outrage and gain readers.
The game sees the player defending the Twin Towers from airborne attack. This is also true of New York Defender 2 also on the same site: uzinagaz.com. You will also find such ‘gems’ as:
Pied au Caul (Kick Ass) in which you get to, well, kick George Bush’s posterior.
Flash Ball which comes with the delicate tagline “shoot the savages” – the savages in question look very much like non-white human beings.
Enduring Freedom – yup, you get to bomb Afghanistan.
Baghdad Defender – you, you get to bomb (sorry, defend) the capital of Iraq.
The site has many more such cheaply produced cash-ins including a ‘hilarious’ outing in which you get to slaughter various characters (Jean Claude Van Damme, Paris Hilton and… Fidel Castro?!) by throwing axes at them. All are Flash games, all have been knocking around for some time; all of them are as easily overlooked as most Web-based Flash games – until, that is the mainstream media need a scapegoat.
What better scapegoat to slaughter than one that mentions September 11th in combination with the current most demonised entertainment medium around: video games.
Statements from outraged news sources such as WCBSTV’s Deborah Garcia lend more outrage. Ms Garcia’s opinion is, “Remembered as one of the worst days in American history, countless millions believe Sept. 11, 2001, should never be duplicated, not even in a video game”.
Maybe somebody should have passed Ms Garcia’s advice to Republican presidential hopeful and former New York mayor Rudi Giuliani who, according to The New York Times is making the most of the tragedy to sell himself to the nation as:
“Rudolph W. Giuliani released a graphic new television advertisement here Wednesday in which scenes of Osama bin Laden firing a rifle segue to the smoking wreckage of the World Trade Center”, says the newspaper. Tasteful Rudi, very tasteful.
Possibly Ms Garcia’s advice regarding duplication of the event might also have helped the BBC to stop broadcasting its award-winning docu-drama, 9/11 Twin Towers in 2006? Possibly Showtime Networks might have benefited before releasing its DC 9/11: Time of Crisis – a movie created just in time to cash-in on the second anniversary of 9/11?
Apparently, however, video games not movies, TV adverts or news media inches are to be covered by the inane blanket ban. Of course, this is not about good taste, morality or ethics. If it was then Ms Garcia would surely have resigned from a news outlet that tails her piece with a link to “WCBSTV.com’s Most Popular Pages” – a list that has the following right up there at the top.
‘Slideshow: World’s Most Bizarre Deaths’ – if the title wasn’t lurid and morbid enough, it is introduced as follows:
“When your number’s up, your number’s up. But some people’s numbers come up in a most unusual way. Here are some notable bizarre deaths.
We begin this display of death with mother of three and New Yorker, Carol Gotbaum who “died while in police custody at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport in 2007. Authorities said she may have strangled herself while attempting to get out of handcuffs”, bizarre, eh?
Or how about another ‘mom’ of three children, Jennifer Strange? Surely her death could be used by WCBCTV.com? “Jennifer Strange, died of water intoxication while trying to win a Wii console in a Sacramento radio station’s “Hold Your Wee for a Wii” contest. It involved drinking large quantities of water without urinating. Strange finished second”, yup it sure can.
Not content with those deaths? Of course not, the Slideshow features 39 other deaths. Who can forget 29 year-old TV news reporter Christine Chubbuck who “committed suicide on live television while hosting her public affairs program”? Or what about Yoshiuki Takada of Sankai Juku Dance Company who in1985 fell six stories to his death when his rope broke during a performance in Seattle?
All these deaths – and more – are absolutely fair game for putting on your website to attract hits are they apparently Ms Garcia? Obviously this is not about 9/11 otherwise the media would also be berating movie companies and presidential candidates. It can’t be about the deaths of human beings, otherwise 39 deaths would not be paraded in front of us as a freakshow of bizarre entertainment by Ms Garcia’s employers.
So, just what is this all about? According to another news source, the outrage regarding the French Flash game. WNBC, in a story called “Video Games Based On 9/11 Spark Outrage” ‘reports’ that, “The games may dredge up painful memories for many New Yorkers and other Americans, but they are not the only games that rely on death, destruction and the tragedy of others for entertainment.
The game Grand Theft Auto, which portrays violent racial and sexual scenes for the player, angered many parent groups. Under Siege is a game that has people shooting at each other over the Palestinian territories.”
First things first, Under Siege is aimed squarely at presenting a pro-Palestinian view of the Middle East conflict. It is about war – so, yes, much like US Army recruiting device, America’s Army which is even aimed at nine year-olds.
It appears, therefore, that we are simply being whiplashed back into GTA as the demon that the mainstream wishes to lash out at for want of any real coverage of an entertainment format that is well and truly here to stay.
As for WSNBC’s holier-than-thou pontificating about “games that rely on death, destruction and the tragedy of others for entertainment”, this is possibly an even greater hypocrisy than Garcia’s misleading and childish rule making. Why? Well, WSNBC is owned by NBC Universal, which also owns Universal Pictures, a company responsible for:
Carlito’s Way – “he gripping tale of the early years of gangster legend Carlito Brigante”.
The Don is Dead – “But when he discovers that an ambitious lieutenant (Robert Forster) from his own family has become a rival for the love of his beautiful mistress, the Don vows to turn the streets red with the blood of the traitor, triggering an internal mob war of wills and weapons in this hard-hitting tale of betrayal, ambition and revenge.”
Hard Target / Sudden Death – “Van Damme is the target of an evil mercenary (Lance Henriksen) who recruits homeless combat veterans for the “amusement” of his clients – bored tycoons who will pay handsomely to stalk and kill the most challenging prey of them all: Man. Laced with dark humor and slam-packed with electrifying action…”
SPOnG is all for the criticism of tasteless, poorly realised and plain shoddy entertainment in all forms. So, isn’t it about time that the mainstream looked to muck out its own stable of drear and desolation before pointing fingers in order to make use of tragedy for money itself?