Some Weird PC Stuff

August 22 2004 19:06 (+ 12 - 8 )

In a world (actually, at a time) when a huge focus is on trying not to offend anyone or even anything, everything from history to colloquialisms to things that are inescapable truths are under attack. Often, the truth hurts, political correctness says avoid any mention of that to make you feel better. As if that's going to make it go away; years of educational cartoons and sit-coms in the 80s have taught us that ignoring something will not make it go away.

This time, video games that make use of actual facts are the target.

More worrying from The New York Times, this time about the dangerous stereotyping of minorities in American video games.
The main offender is the latest version of Grand Theft Auto, which is said to be set on the streets of gangland Los Angeles and to be infused with all sorts of insidious racial stereotypes that can damage the minds of young players.
The Times is also shocked that sports games include African-American players. NBA Ballers, for example, features stars of the National Basketball Association ("most of them black") in one-on-one matches and "encourages players to experience a millionaire lifestyle off the court -- accumulating virtual cash that can buy mansions, Cadillac Escalades, yachts and attractive ‘friends.’ The style of play emphasizes a street-edged aggression, sizzling with swagger and showboating moves on the court."
The paper tracked down one Joe Morgan, a telecom executive in New York, who called the games "nothing more than pixilated minstrel shows" that are "dangerously reinforcing stereotypes."

First of all, I have to say, "THEY'RE VIDEO GAMES, PEOPLE!" I would hope that all, if not most, people can distinguish between the virtual world and the real world. While these games to make use of real world situations, they take place in a world that ends with the push of a button or the loss of electricity.

And that's the thing. These games do make use of real world situations. If you went to Los Angeles and looked for the gangs, you will find black and latino gangs only. If you went to the LA jails, you would find mostly black and latino residents. I don't like that any more than anyone else, but I'm not going to ignore it.

Oh, and something else about that first's a game about stealing cars! So the NYT is worried about the stereotypes damaging youth more than stealing cars? What a whacky world we live in.

When I read the first line about NBA Ballers, I nearly cried tears of laughter. "Oh no, there are black athletes in these sports video games!" Well, duh! Almost all of the NBA is black. A good majority of the NFL is black. Half, if not more, of the MLB is black. Hey, there are even a few black hockey players! What? How dare they be represented in sports games?

Oh, perhaps the shock is over the atmosphere of the game NBA Ballers. Well, besides Ballers being a more comic version of the NBA (as NFL Street is of the NFL), there is a bit of truth to it, too. Okay, so Ballers glamourizes some of the "darker side" of the NBA, but take a look around. What kind of car does Shaquille O'Neal drive? An Escalade (or something like it) that has been "tricked out"; and he's not the only wealthy NBA (or any sport) star to do so (or something like it). Oh, and they don't live in mansions (dripping with sarcasm), how can they live in all the mansions they own? And as for the attractive "friends"...don't these guys date and marry stars and models? And the "relationships" involved in the Laker franchise are storied.

All stereotypes have some foundation in truth. Sure, that truth is charicatured, but under all the layers, that truth is still there. In many cases, I can concede, the stereotype is meant to ridicule or degrade, but that does not dismiss the fact that there is a bit of truth to the stereotype (usually).

Sermon over...

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