Video Game Violence & Misogyny: A Brief History of Media Scares
In part 1 of what we affectionately call our “Social Justice Warrior Trilogy”, we investigated the lack of debate occurring on the topic of sexism and misogyny in video games, and the people who profit off of the controversies. We began with game journalist, Matt Lee’s, indignant reply to B-Mask in regards to the use of sexuality in video games, and Matt Lee’s self-righteousness and reluctance when it came to the topic of an open debate on the matter. The conversation then explored recent gaming controversies regarding an openly hostile slant of video game journalism towards their consumer-base, and the soapbox preaching that they resort to on slow news days. From Anita Sarkeesian, to Suey Park, to Jim Sterling, to David Ellis and Adam Orth, we pointed out the hypocrisies in their logic and the fact that each is profiting off of the controversies that they and the rest of yellow video game journalism perpetuates.
However, as we demonstrate in Part 2 of our Social Justice Warrior Trilogy, this is nothing new. Movies, comic books, music and video games have a long, sordid past of power-hungry parasites stirring up controversies in an attempt to either gain or retain power. From violence and sex in video games, to the controversies in heavy metal music of the 1980s, to the Dungeon & Dragons Satanic panic of the same decade, to the comic book controversies of the 1950s. We brush up on our history to demonstrate that not only is it common with each new entertainment medium to be used as a scapegoat or straw man for the ills of society, but that it’s highly profitable to do so. Besides returning our attention to Anita Sarkeesian, Jack Thompson and the Social Justice Warrior movement, we focus on US politicians (Joe Lieberman, Hillary Clinton, Tipper Gore) who have spent decades vote-chasing under the banner that video games, movies and music are “robbing children of their innocence”.
LaughingMan: It’s an all too familiar scenario. When an emerging form of entertainment begins to gain mass appeal it’s usually used as an easy scapegoat for societal ills by those who either want power or those who want to retain their power. From the crime and horror comic book controversies of the 1950s, to the music lyric congressional hearings of the 1980s, to the Satanic scares of the same decade in which Dungeons & Dragons was seen by over-protective parents as “baby’s first Beelzebub.” In the past decade or so, with video games becoming a dominant force within the entertainment industry, it comes as no surprise that these megalomaniacal parasites would come out of the fucking woodwork and attribute real-life violence and misogyny with a popular past-time in an effort to once again propagate fear and gain, or retain, power with their brand-new strawman! And people eat this shit up… Soccer moms to the left of me, neckbeards to the right, and here we are stuck in the middle with you. And while we may have beaten Thunderf00t to the Jack Thompson and Anita Sarkeesian comparisons in our last video (a month ago) there’s an even longer history of people stirring up controversy and scapegoating (Joe Lieberman, Hillary Clinton) in order to make their careers.There’s a common link in all of the music, movie, comic book, and video game scares in that adolescents, kids and teenagers, are usually the first adopters of any new medium of entertainment: comics, movies, music and video games. So naturally any budding form of entertainment is labeled as ‘kids stuff’, or a toy, and shouldn’t be taken seriously by adults. (This Simpson’s episode “Moaning Lisa” aired in 1990. Only ten years later gaming would evolve to become a socially acceptable past-time for an adult, and not just “for kids”. However the transition wasn’t smooth.) However when the adult creators of a medium (Alan Moore, V for Vendetta, Watchmen, Lost Girls) tries to expand the appeal of that new form of entertainment to a more adult demographic, it’s met with resistance by the religious, social, and political establishments. And they hold power-rallies under the guise of “protecting the children” from these new adult forms of art. (Warning: Parental Advisory. The made for TV movie about how the PMRC, a committee of political housewives like Tipper Gore, tried to censor music in the mid-80s because of “child-unsafe” lyrics like The Mentors’ “Golden Showers”.) It’s exactly what Hillary Clinton did with the Family Entertainment Protection Act, or FEPA, -notice the happy and positive title of the bill- where she said ‘oh soccer moms, there’s these dangerous things out there and if you keep me in power I’ll fight to save you from them!’. “If you put it just really simply, these violent video games are stealing the innocence of our children.” – Hillary Clinton. And now we have people like Anita Sarkeesian also banking on people’s outrage.