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.
LaughingMan

The loveable lunatic with the foul mouth and the iconic laugh, Laughingman is the founder of CCS. With more coffee than copper in his bloodstream, he's a full-time website developer by day, and a gamer, editor, and fiction writer by night.

CineMax

A subversive excommunicated from [REDACTED] as a result of a failed coup d'etat, CineMax has miraculously managed to reach and find asylum in the Land of the Free. Here he spends his days working for Cheshire Cat Studios, all the while plotting his inevitable return to the motherland to once again foment the flames of revolution.

B-mask

B-Mask was not always a purveyor of animation. Having credentials ranging from frog slinger to hash seller, he has experienced life to its fullest extreme from under his tiny rock. He hosts the series known as Beyond Pictures which aims to look beneath the surface of works- understandably difficult in this day and age.

Kenny

Born in the stomach of a whale in a small fishing town in Antarctica, Kenny knew that his life mission would be to end world hunger, save Tibet, and finally learn how to dougie. Instead, he ended up studying law and writing the "Food For Thought" article series for CheshireCatStudios.com. One day, he hopes to become President of Brazil and blow up the moon.

4 Comments on “Video Game Violence & Misogyny: A Brief History of Media Scares

  1. Probably the last thing these people crave is the “betterment of the video game industry, in terms of social equality”, to be very frank, and as such I can’t see a reason why video game developers and Gaming journalism take these people seriously.

    I think it is pretty obvious (or honestly, should be), that the only reason these radical Tumblr Feminists jumped on the gaming industry (and basically tried to butcher every sense of originality and artistic endeavor, which didn’t include a satisfying Social Justice theme to it), is not because they genuinely seek to improve the “quality” of video games, nor to promote their Feminist agenda. They seek attention, whether in the form of fame (or infamy), or simply seek to rob gullible people out of their money, like Anita Sarkeesian did so professionally.

    It should be clear, however, that there are countries out there, where women are ACTUALLY being abused, discriminated against, systematically tortured, on a daily basis, and certainly do require the… “enthusiasm”, these Feminists display on their articles, videos and speeches. They have the resources, and (apparently) the “DUTY” to aid women who suffer from “systematic misogyny”, or the “Patriarchy”, but I never heard of Anita Sarkeesian, or Rebecca Watson going on a mission to Saudi Arabia to help improve Women’s Rights or something.

    They don’t care about videogames; they probably don’t care about Feminism, either. All they want is to rob you of your money, or reach front pages in newspapers… or both.

    • I wouldn’t go as far as to say they’re attention seeking for their own sake or even for money. As any person who’s an ‘advocate’ for something and loves to ‘spread the word’ and call out people, they genuinely believe they’re doing good and they want to believe that regardless of context.

      The most perfect example I saw of this was actually someone who was quite close to me, she’s a close friend of mine and we try to hear each other out about these things where she leans more towards Social Justice whereas I think maybe a lot of these “oppressed” people could do with a walk outside. Anyhow; when Ubisoft announced they wouldn’t be making a female protag she quickly jumped on the bandwagon of #womenarehardtoanimate. I asked her if she knew the engine they were running from meant that all males used the same base and if they put a woman on there it would just look like a long-haired guy. She said no and in fact did not play games, and was just outraged because well, that’s what everyone else was mad about. And context didn’t apply, nor did she think that reading into the subject was required.

      What I’m trying to say is this trend of feminists and social justice warriors are the result of a perfect marriage of mob-mentality and misinformation and the sense that they’re doing right is the Priest bringing them together.

      Anita Sarkeesian and professionals may be out to steal your money and give the feminists a confirmation bias, but they don’t jump on the gaming industry for attention. They don’t understand gaming (like most everything else they leap on) and they’re only here because all the whistle-blowers and advocates sicked them on video games as the flavour of the month and soon maybe they’ll hop onto TV and other entertainment forms.

      However, you’re absolutely right that these people don’t want to practise what they preach in more severe forms, or anywhere out of their comfort zones in fact. God forbid they go to a country where women have their genitals mutilated on the daily cause that might mean they have to admit they don’t understand the scope of the topic they love to push down your throats and into your games.

      But what do I know, I’m just a cishet white male who’s mad about his privilege being taken away, right?

      • Yeah, they keep getting the entire world blown up in their faces, yet they’re believers in nonsense.

        Sometimes, you just have to face facts that religion is a scary thing and faith based arguments are even scarier…

        • Not to go all stereotypical atheist on you but I think the faith comparison is pretty apt.

          You need to be a good person and the only way to be a good person is to accept these ideas. This creates the idea that your way is righteous and you can’t be wrong.

          Another funny comparison is circular logic:

          Your argument is invalid because it’s misogynistic -> why is it misogynistic -> because you don’t subscribe to our idea of sexism -> defer to argument as debunking of this idea of sexism -> the argument is invalid because it’s misogynistic.

          (Misogyny can be switched for any SJW idea)

          Nice avatar, by the way – Bastion was a great game.

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