Pandering to Morons: Why GTA4 lets politicians and fundamentalists mock their own morals and religions.

Unless you’ve been under a rock, blithely rereading your bible and ignoring mass media, video game trends and reality, you are most likely aware that Grand Theft Auto IV, also known as GTA4 and ‘Satan’s metaphorical foot in the door of your child’s mind’ has been released in a hail of violence and cursing, mostly originating from the mouths of ‘moral’ right wing conservatives and religious nuts.

I saw an article asking why, because you can ‘get with’ a prostitute and then beat her with a bat instead of paying, the GTA4 production crew ‘hates’ women.

I played a little of this festering morass of moral decrepitude last night. My character beat up a few guys who were ganging up on the protagonist’s cousin, a loser who may actually have deserved said beating. There was a brief and gore-free knife fight. And I took a girl on a date bowling and again to a cabaret to watch a rather hilarious magician and singer. There was no disrespectful and abusive sex involved, sadly enough.

I fail to see the problem.

Now, I am not so naive to think that there won’t be a plethora of exaggerated movie violence and raunchy sexual glorification. I’m sure, as the cut scene introducing friends explained, that I will be blowing up rich guys and their SUVs, going to strip clubs, using a vast array of illegal weapons and picking up the kind of skanky meat-puppets only previously available in small, mid-western trailer parks and John Waters films.

But to say that someone hates women because they made a world in which I can beat up a hooker? Let’s look at that and see if we can find someone else who created a world in which men can beat up hookers; someone who also condones sexism, the beating and stoning of women and placing women into prostitution, among other ‘moral crimes’.

He doesn’t have a video game, but there is a book about him. I think it’s called the bible.

Just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should do something. This is morality as I understand it. In all my years, I’ve never met someone who confuses the morality of real life with the fantasy world of video games. I’ve met Trekkies who couldn’t hold a conversation without comparing situations to a specific Star Trek episode, but I’ve never met someone who, after playing Mario Brothers, thought that they were a plumber or that throwing turtles at people was a good idea. If you found a person who really can’t tell the difference, who has serious problems with reality, I think they call that schizophrenic. To someone who’s clinically schizophrenic, a video game wouldn’t be much worse to their state of mind than, say, the Old Testament, Nietzsche or American Gladiators – they need medication not censorship. If you are that worried that your zombie congregations will suddenly become rapists and murderers after playing a video game, maybe you need to focus more on your brainwashing and conditioning techniques – you don’t seem very confident in them. I’d also point out that since the Vatican is currently paying billions of dollars (USD so that’s like $25,453.25) to cover for its own rapists and apologizing for its own murderers (and then obliquely blaming on media, the Jews, women and anyone else they hate), maybe you should think about buying a few copies for the clergy to help them get out some of their frustrations in a safer arena than, say, pre-adolescent boy’s choir practice.

Creating a game that allows people freedom to beat a hooker or shoot a gangster or run over a pedestrian is more a psychological litmus of the average human’s mindset than a condonable offense. Hey Hillary and you religious fanatics – don’t play the game, don’t buy the game, don’t gift the game, but leave us the hell alone. Instead of targeting the producers of a game that allows you the freedom to do what you want (something I think certain people’s overgrown pamphlets call free-will) why don’t you target the creator of free-will itself? If it’s wrong for these people to make the game then why do they have that ability to make it in the first place? It’s because, according to your stories, man has a choice. So just let us enjoy ourselves and then eventually go to hell for it. After you unsuccessfully try to drive that H3 with gold trim and obligatory Jesus fish through a needle’s eye, I’ll valet park it for you on your way to your ‘tea-bagging’ session with Hitler and an unwashed hobo with hepatitis.

Seriously though, I don’t understand why people are screaming about this game without even actually playing it and without really considering the ramifications that this free and open world creates. You can still just drive around carefully and enjoy the gorgeous scenery, amazing game physics and hilarious radio stations. Oh shit! That’s it!

I can understand that the moral Gestapo hates anything that isn’t indoctrinating tripe, unless of course the door is closed and there are no parents around. Politically, there’s a strong tie to the church, of course, since the majority of US votes comes from teeming mobs of unwashed, NASCAR watching sheep who eat that shit up like it was corn pone covered in Schlitz. But one of the beauties of the GTA series of late is the radio which, in this newest installment, slams the living shit out of politicians and their attack ads. I’ve only spent an hour or two in the game and already witnessed on the radio and television quite a bit of hilarious and poignant political satire. I was actually laughing and flipping channels – while parked – looking for more. It’s outrageous and in your fact bullshit that so sympathetically echoes the current (and every other) political hate race sheds a whole new light on the rabble that’s currently begging for votes. What the politicians don’t want, I bet, is for teenagers who are being groomed for votes to realize how blatantly wrong the process is and how useless their vote has become. We most certainly don’t want them to wake up and attempt to change the status quo! What would our corporate overlords think?

All in all, I think that this game, which should be praised for its technical and artistic ability, its well acted and so-far excellently written story, its freedom and ego and motivation and humor – a game that so exemplifies what’s truly been missing in gaming and pop-culture as of late – is going to be ignored for all of these attributes and used by talking heads, religious nuts and politicians as nothing more than a springboard to get their thin and reedy voices heard over the riot of noise that is our current mass media. Instead of praising the hard work that went into this, we’ll hear complaints about violence and sexism, none of which are required in the game (but which do make it more interesting). And we’ll keep hearing this tripe about being able to beat a whore with a bat in a video game and it will be louder than the actual stories of actual prostitutes being murdered and beaten because, to be honest, stories about video game prostitutes are News, but what sane reporter, struggling politician or self-aggrandizing clergyman wants to actually have to come face to face with an actual prostitute? That’s not good News at all.

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