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July 27, 2005

From MK to GTA

Kevin Drum asks (and answers):

What effect has the videogame "Grand Theft Auto" had on actual thefts of autos? "The national carjacking rate has dropped substantially," reports Steven Johnson in the LA Times today.
...
It strikes me as a bit degrading, actually, that Hillary has to pretend to oppose violent videogames as a means of gaining heartland social values cred, but I suppose that's the world we live in. If I were running for president I might do the same. And I guess the upside is that a few speeches denouncing the evils of "Grand Theft Auto" is unlikely to do any real damage.

True 'nuff. But then, what effect will Hillary Clinton denouncing GTA have on "Grand Theft Auto"? My hunch is none whatsoever. Indeed, it may create an uptick in sales thanks to the added publicity. That's why I can never get bent out of shape about this stuff. If parents wary of a violent, sexualized culture want politicians to recognize their fears, then politicians should do that. The denunciations of Mortal Kombat sure didn't harm that series longevity at all (interesting note: the first time I ever used the internet was to look up early pictures of Mortal Kombat 3), and I've little doubt that exposing GTA's misogyny, violence, and sexuality will lead to any different an outcome.

Should politicians censor games? Of course not! But what's Hillary calling for? A study to assess the impacts of video games on youth. Funny, I could've sworn commissioning studies was what politicians did when they wanted to publicly acknowledge a problem but didn't want to do anything about it. A law fining video game retailers who sell "Mature" or "Adult Only" (as rated by the ESRB) games to kids. Well, fine, that's kinda the point of a ratings system, to ensure some content can only be accessed with parental permission.

We shouldn't be afraid of this. It's not a slippery slope. We've watched pop culture get denounced for decades, but in that time it's only gotten breast implants, larger weapons, more blood, and hotter sex. We always say parents should be responsible for determining what their kids can play. This law is part of that. Parents can't be around 24/7, and the disc bought while mom is at work can be hid from her when she comes home. Clinton is smart for recognizing and addressing that. If she ever tries censorship, we can take to the ramparts and fight to the death. Until then, barring minors from buying what their parents wouldn't want them to have is perfectly sensical and damn good politics.

And let the flaming begin!

Update: Whoops, what I meant by this was Hillary Clinton should roast in the hottest furnaces of hell for abandoning us coastal elites and our digitized killing sprees and simulated rapes. Manhattan's Upper West Side will never, ever forgive her.

Her days as a Democrat are over.

July 27, 2005 in Democrats | Permalink

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» Will the Real Hillary Clinton Please Stand Up? from The Debate Link
I will admit to some confusion. While The Washington Monthly is split both ways on whether Hillary can win the White House, I don't see why Drum thinks that Clinton's centrist drift is in anyway faked, and I certainly don't see it restricted to "a fe... [Read More]

Tracked on Jul 27, 2005 6:00:16 PM

» Will the Real Hillary Clinton Please Stand Up? from The Debate Link
I will admit to some confusion. While The Washington Monthly is split both ways on whether Hillary can win the White House, I don't see why Drum thinks that Clinton's centrist drift is in anyway faked, and I certainly don't see it restricted to "a fe... [Read More]

Tracked on Jul 27, 2005 6:03:00 PM

» Will the Real Hillary Clinton Please Stand Up? from The Debate Link
I will admit to some confusion. While The Washington Monthly is split both ways on whether Hillary can win the White House, I don't see why Drum thinks that Clinton's centrist drift is in anyway faked, and I certainly don't see it restricted to "a fe... [Read More]

Tracked on Jul 27, 2005 6:07:32 PM

» Sex in Games SIG from Freedom Democrats
Sex in Games SIG If you feel the appropriate response to Jack Thompson and Hillary Clinton is knowledge and sanity regarding mature themes in videogames, read this blog. Sex SIG writes about the rights of developers to use sexual themes in their games, wh [Read More]

Tracked on Aug 16, 2005 12:49:46 PM

Comments

As a sidenote, I've actually stopped playing San Andreas. I think the sex and violence is what it is, not a huge deal in my opinion. What had started to bother me about this particular installment, though, is the racial exploitation. I sat there in my room one day playing and was just struck by how gross it was for me , white suburbanite, to be getting my jollies off virtually slumming. Again, this is independent of the "sex & violence" debate. I dunno, maybe I'm overanalyzing. I just think the racial politics of GTA:SA warrant a closer look than its supposed obscenity (which I don't think is horribly out of line with societal standards).

Posted by: Drew | Jul 27, 2005 1:22:46 PM

Ezra, did you not get the secret memo? All liberal young twenty-somethings need to condemn Hillary as loudly and as fiercely as possible so that she can come across as a true centrist. Now shhh.

Posted by: Brad Plumer | Jul 27, 2005 1:40:38 PM

My bad, it just came over the wire. See the update.

Posted by: Ezra Klein | Jul 27, 2005 1:44:34 PM

Heh. Speaking of street cred-building denunciations, I still think this is a good idea:

"Someone with millions or maybe billions of dollars needs to set up some lefty front group with obviously noxious views on national security that then spends money insulting the Democrats for not adopting those very same noxious views. Roll the ads: 'John Kerry, hawk bastard that he is, supports increasing pay for our child-killing Marines.' Or whatever. That's how the Democrats start getting tough!"

Posted by: Brad Plumer | Jul 27, 2005 2:16:31 PM

Since I'm quoting his words, I'd post this on Kevin Drum's site but for it not being up and running right now. It might help us understand the machinations of Senator Clinton if consider the idea that she is not "pretend(ing) to oppose violent video games." She may in fact actually think that, Steven Johnson notwithstanding, they're not so good for the children. And, she's certainly not saying that nobody should be able to play these games. Her point so far has been that they should be accurately labeled so that they would be harder for children to get. I mean, she's been able to finesse the far trickier 'pro-choice bad but abortion good' thing so far.

The bigger question is whether we think that politicians should make noise social issues that they don't necessarily want to see a legislatively response to. I think we can say that Bill Clinton and George Bush were able and willing to do it. And that Al Gore and John Kerry were not.

Posted by: scola | Jul 27, 2005 2:51:41 PM

While, like Ezra, I'm not so bothered about her comments - Britain has compulsory licensing of video games without any slippery slope - it wouldn't have hurt her to point out that besides the children themselves, parents have the major responsibility in this. Nobody's forcing them to buy games for their children, and nobody's stopping them from paying attention to what their kids are playing.

Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Jul 27, 2005 4:20:09 PM

Ginger, you folks don't have a 1st Amendment right like we Americans do here. That makes any approach at legislation in this country probematic, and Hillary could've done something more nuanced, instead of her quioxtic quest to appear as a Centrist to the 'soccer moms'.

Posted by: The Dark Avenger | Jul 28, 2005 5:35:11 PM

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Posted by: peter.w | Sep 16, 2007 11:08:04 PM

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