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Breaking the Narrative Episode 76: Is It The 90’s Again? Really Governor Bevin?

If you’ve been paying attention to the School Shooting hysteria of the past few weeks what with Florida and even the Benton shootings I’ve covered then you may already know how much experience I have in addressing these issues. You may even remember my coverage over how the ESRB was formed. Why am I mentioning this now? Because the current governor of my home state of Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin (R) decided to pull a Jack Thompson and blame vidya and movies for school shootings. I will grant to him that its not the fault of the guns  but its not the fault of media either. So for any of you out there that say I’m light on the right. This article will show you  that is a outright lie. Let’s Hammer This In!

I’m going to first include Gov. Bevin’s exact quotes from his talk in Covington, KY this past week:

“We need to have an honest conversation as to what should and should not be allowed in the United States as it relates to the things being put in the hands of our young people, Violent video games and movies.”

I shouldn’t have to re-link where I talked about the formation of the ESRB. The system is accurate and works but his approach still tries to abdicate the responsibility of both retailers and parents. These movies and games are specifically rated, with designations on why they are rated as such. However, if retailers and parents don’t work together to enforce those ratings (much like how if we don’t enforce the existing immigration and gun laws – though gun retailers are meticulous about enforcing those) then any law or regulation put into place has no bite, whether its an industry self-imposed regulation or not. Notice that in the US you don’t often see the AO/Adults Only or NC-17 ratings in stores. That’s because retailers don’t carry them unless they are specific adult entertainment outlets or websites. Otherwise the highest they carry is rated M or rated R. Both restricted to 17 and up. If your child is watching these movies or playing these games then that’s your doing. Not the media’s doing.

“I’m a big believer in the First Amendment and right to free speech, but there are certain things that are so graphic as it relates to violence, and things that are so pornographic on a whole another front that we allow to pass under the guise of free speech, which arguably are,” Bevin said. “But there is zero redemptive value. There is zero upside to any of this being in the public domain, let alone in the minds and hands and homes of our young people.”

To paraphrase a recent Mister Metokur video on Internet Bloodsports, not everything needs to be high brow debate and intelligent discourse. Sometimes we just want or even need some dumb fun. I bet there are some out there that would like to see Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ censored, but even a pagan like myself will say let it stand. It has no value to me but that would not be a legitimate reason for me to call for censoring it. At this point I think we should go all out and see if anyone in Bollywood feels like doing  a world wide release of a film based on the life of Siddartha Gautama! I’d go to the theater to watch a movie about Buddha, that would be trippy as fuck! So at the same time we need there to be fun ultraviolent films like The Evil Dead (All four of them), Robocop (1987), and Kill Bill.

Now to bring this full circle to Florida, one of the US Representatives of that state, Representative Brian Mast (R) claimed that video games and movies are the ‘biggest pushers’ of gun violence today. Mast, who is a veteran who lost both legs while serving in Afganistan, uttered the repeatedly debunked claim that Call of Duty and John Wick desensitize people to real world violence. I would beg to differ. I am going to approach this using a surprisingly realistically built arc from an anime I’m not exactly a fan of but have watched well enough to know the beats of the story. I also won’t spoil the whole story here as despite my own criticisms of the work. It is still a highly popular and decently crafted series and many may wish to see it for themselves, Sword Art Online.

In the show there is a character by the name of Sinon whose arc revolves around dealing with the trauma of having killed a bank robber in self-defense with the culprit’s own pistol, killing him with three shots. As she was about 11 at the time, the police did not blame her due to the circumstances. However, the girl’s mother who was with her at the time never looked at her the same again and she had to move to another city to get away from the stigma of having taken a life even though it was justified. To deal with the obvious PTSD that she would suffer even late into the series due to what she had to do, she would go into a VRMMO called Gun Gale Online or GGO.  In this world she became a professional level sniper who participated in regular Player Killer teams even though this game didn’t have the consequences of the earlier part of the series of players dying in game dying for real.

What you come to find out is that she was doing this as a form of self-treatment for her mental illness and to try to move on with her life, getting the horror of her acts behind her and coming to terms with her bloodstained past. However, even when she thinks she is over it she still has bouts of nausea, vertigo, and anxiety when even holding a non working prop-replica toy pistol or an airsoft pistol. Some of her aiming skills from the VR game did carry over into the real world, as the arms in GGO were designed to fully replicate their real life counterparts. There is one wrinkle in the logic that people such as Bevin and Mast are using when it comes to FPS games. Even ones using light guns in arcades as rare as those are nowadays.  Aiming a real gun is nothing like aiming a gun in a video game, not in the least. There is dealing with weight, recoil, the disorientation caused by firing a gun without proper ear protection. In short by doing this Bevin and Mast are sorely misrepresenting video game gunplay.  In addition, a large majority of the violence in these games is stylized.

I remember speaking with several friends and colleagues about their first reactions to Resident Evil 7. Even some of the most hardened horror nuts had some trouble stomaching how it demonstrated gore and being in first person view when an arm was removed from a character’s body made them feel extremely unsettled. This works, as it is a horror game, though. I’m not going to lie here, I played the original Resident Evil when I was 12 to 13 years old but I also knew very well the differences between fantasy and reality, something rarely taught to the tumblrite sociopaths bred in our society nowadays. That is something I do see our society as having sorely forgotten, how to discern the line. I don’t care how blurred it may seem, that barrier is and should stay there for all our sakes. In the fight for sanity that we are dealing with here, because don’t be fooled… this is a fight for the sanity of our civilization, we need to start reestablishing what the line between fact and fiction is and how to expose our children to it.

I’m going to play pretend with my son, introduce him to old Westerns, Film Noir detectives (even while channeling my inner Razorfist), and war dramas. Play pretend with him and whatever friends he makes in those contexts as well. I will make sure that they understand what is real and what is fantasy and the places for both things, teach where the balance is.  I highly suggest that you do the same if you are or decide to become a parent. Don’t be a right wing idiot that thinks that fiction makes our brains desensitized to real dramas or a left wing idiot that thinks Hogwarts and Narnia are places you can actually visit. To think it takes a guy who worships a pantheon of gods led by a man holding a huge pot of food and a big stick to tell you that ‘no magic doesn’t work like that!’ Yes I’m using self-deprecating humor to make those that think such things feel like complete and utter fools just because I’m cheeky like that!

I hope like always to get discussion in the comments about this but like many times I’m not gonna hold my breath. I know this is a short one this time around but I have already tread a lot of ground in the previously linked articles. If you want that please go to those articles. Please share this around, and Please Remember to Game Freely!

Alex Tinsley
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Alex Tinsley

A student of Fine Arts and Japanese culture of six years at Murray State University. Having never graduated due to difficulties with a specific teacher has gained a unique perspective upon the issues being faced by men and boys. A father of a young boy and loving husband.
Alex Tinsley
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Alex Tinsley

A student of Fine Arts and Japanese culture of six years at Murray State University. Having never graduated due to difficulties with a specific teacher has gained a unique perspective upon the issues being faced by men and boys. A father of a young boy and loving husband.