Could it be considered a chilling development that Stephen King has emerged as a voice of reason? Probably not. After all, he is a fairly level-headed guy from what I understand (unless of course, you run him over or something), so I guess it wouldn’t be too far off the mark to assume he would take the sensible side of an issue, as with his recent remarks in Entertainment Weekly regarding legislation pending in the Massachusetts House.
The bill would make it illegal to “disseminate material to minors that is “patently offensive.” Hmmm. Sounds like some pretty broad wording there. How long do you suppose it would be, under this bill, before other, non-video game-related entertainment options, such as comic books, graphic novels, or collectible card games would be conveniently lumped into the “patently offensive” category?
Government-as-usual was all over this, which was to be expected, as this is hardly an issue dire to most Americans, let alone the people of Massachusetts, at present. Boston Mayor Thomas Menino first advanced the proposal, which in my mind goes a long way to stating a solid case on moving to Boston (and I’m a Cubs fan). I mean, if violent video games are the biggest pressing situation on the mind of the mayor, how bad can the place really be? Of course, in retrospect, this also goes a ways in explaining the freakout the city had over characters from Adult Swim’s Aqua Teen Hunger Force.
Menino’s chief of human services, Larry Mayes, said that some parents, “despite their best efforts, have been overtaken by a culture of media saturation and outmaneuvered by very slick violent video game makers and their lobbyists who put a buck first rather than kids.”
Alright, let’s take a look at that. Media saturation is as media saturation does. That’s why movies you wouldn’t pay $1 in an impulse rack make $100 million+ at the box office. That’s why Paris Hilton is never half a second away from anybody’s field of vision or range or hearing. Most certainly, politics is no exception. To break it down for you, zen-style, there is no one raindrop to blame this flood on. Whether it’s sex, drugs, violence, or any number of immoral or unethical things, you can get more than your fair share any way you can get your hands on it. TV, print, Internet, movies, music, advertising, campaigning…it’s all the same, and Mayes should know as much.
As for being outmaneuvered by slicksters, that’s a little pandering. Video games have ratings, just as television shows and movies, so I have little use for some parent’s excuse of “we had no idea what they were playing.” You wouldn’t rent them a Jenna Jameson DVD, you wouldn’t let them watch some Cinemax at two in the morning Saturday night, so why should the gaming industry take a hit just because you don’t feel like reading the cover of a video game box! Slicker methods of getting over on people are used in Mayes’ game as opposed to say, EA Sports or Neversoft. Lobbyists? He said that, lobbyists, and probably with a straight face, too.
Bill co-sponsor Rep. Christine Canavan (D-Brockton) feels when “someone with a developing mind and a developing sense of self is barraged with a particular thing, such as violence, that it would rub off the wrong way.” Fair enough. I’m not attempting to state a case for too much of anything eventually being harmful, but ultimately, there needs to be some accountability on the customer half of the equation. That’s where Stephen King came in, with his April 11th piece calling for parents to “have the guts to forbid material they find objectionable…and then explain why it’s being forbidden,” as well as “monitor their children’s lives in the pop culture- which means a lot more than seeing what games they are renting down the street.”
That’s the chilling development, more or less…for all the hand-wringing by negligent parents and self-important politicians, apparently we just need more people thinking along the lines of Stephen King, even though common sense is the real horror story to some in the end.