The Scapegoat’s Scapegoat

10 Apr

bold-beck-4Police officers, over the weekend, were killed by a crazy man with a gun, and blaming anybody else besides him is like blaming a flight attendant after a terrorist takes down a plane.

In other words, giving passengers a nice, little safety talk to prepare them for a worst-case scenario doesn’t mean you’re responsible should a terrorist actually make that worst-case scenario happen.

One person is providing important information, and the other is a nutjob who would acted that way no matter what. (src)

That quote is from Glen Beck, conservative political commentator for Fox News, trying to divert the blame pointed at him after a man in Pittsburgh seemingly followed the suggestion he gave his audience to rise up and take back their country before the government takes their guns by killing three police officers. Of course, anyone with a brain should be able to see how poorly constructed Beck’s comparison is.

In this case, Beck is the flight attendant providing the important information to America, aka the passengers, in order to prepare them for the worst case scenario of the terrorist government taking away their guns. The problem here is that a flight attendant will never tell you to rise up and take back your plane in the case of a terrorist hijacking as that would be incredibly irresponsible. Of course, even if a flight attendant did suggest that you engage a terrorist on a plane, you would be to blame because you’re in control of your own actions.

So, Beck is right. He shouldn’t be blamed for someone flipping out and gunning down police officers, despite suggesting that gun-owners rise up and act against the government. That’s because anyone who would commit such a horrific act because a hypocritical idiot like Beck made a vague suggestion is obviously crazy. Beck is too ignorant and closed-minded, however, to realize his own hypocrisy.

By now, you might be wondering how any of this has a place on a video game blog. It’s pretty simple:

Glen Beck is quick to tell his audience they should rise up and act, and he’s quick to tell them he’s not to blame when they do just that, but he’s also quick to tell them video games “are training our kids to be killers” and “training our sons to treat women like whores.”

So, biased talk show hosts preaching just their side of major news stories on national news networks can’t be blamed for their influence, but video games  most certainly can? Glen Beck is what’s wrong with the mainstream news media today and is just another irresponsible “news professional” too lazy to give the medium of video games a fair shake.

When Grand Theft Auto 4came out last year, Glen Beck was there to take the gameplay out of context for the impressionable parents watching his show.

In Grand Theft Auto, your son, or your husband, or your boyfriend, or whoever, can hire a prostitute, have sex with her, and then beat her to death with a baseball bat.

When a police officer comes after him, he can either light that police officer on fire, or he can cut him in half with a chainsaw. This is entertainment!?

As he makes his getaway, Niko [the main character] can carjack the car of his choice and drive down a sidewalk mowing down as many pedestrians as he’d like.

While it’s true you can do most of these things in GTA4 (though, I’m pretty sure there wasn’t a chainsaw in thatinstallment), the same is true for real life. The point Beck is trying to make, however, is that video games condition players to more easily perform the task in the real world. He argues his point by referencing the military use of various training methods to motivate soldiers to fire at enemies. Again, Beck needs to work on his comparisons.

The problem with this line of thinking is that, for many soldiers in the military, it’s their dutyto fire at and kill other people. It’s important for not only for the safety of the individual solider, but for the soldiers around him and, ultimately, the safety of his nation. Therefore, it’s important that the military train soldiers to overcome the hesitation they have when it comes to firing upon other people. Glen Beck isn’t arguing that this is wrong but that “sixty bucks, buys your kid the same thing” in the form of a video game.

Beck greatly overestimates how realistic video games are and misunderstands the way they influence people. Grand Theft Auto doesn’t teach you how to acquire, load, ready, or fire a gun. And even if you somehow managed to randomly come across a loaded gun on the street, firing a gun in Grand Theft Auto is nothing like firing a gun in real life. You’re locking onto targets, tapping buttons, and moving control sticks.

As for reducing the player’s inhibitions and making them less hesitant to replicate the actions they performed in a game, I really hope Glen Beck isn’t so easily influenced as he seems to believe people who play video games are.

Beck spends ten minutes blaming video games for influencing players to kill, but he also spends ten minutes explaining why he shouldn’t be blamed for influencing gun-owners to kill. 

This all goes back to my last post, which focused on the incredible lack of profesionalism among “professionals” in news media. Glen Beck is a major face of the Fox News Network, one of the big-league players in what has become the accepted practice of blatantly injected political bias into mainstream news networks. Though I personally lean more towards the left-wing, I find networks like MSNBC no better. As they are, these networks provide blatantly biased “news” for two different audiences: the one that already agrees with them and only watches to learn more about why the other audience is so stupid, and the one that disagrees with them and only watches to learn why the other audience is so stupid.

Between all the bickering, no one has time to stop and understand the young medium of video games. This is evident in how Beck not only assumes anyone playing GTAmust be male, but how he presents the gameplay as if the object of the game is kill as many prostitutes, cops, and pedestrians as you can. Beck even had the infamous, and now disbarred, Jack Thompson on the show. Of course, Thompson backed up Beck’s out of context gameplay synopsis by classifying the GTA series as a “cop-killing simulator.”

If a game contains the potential for violence and sexual depravity, that’s all these commentators see. They never take the time to realize that you, the player, actually have a choice in the matter. If the player chooses to sleep with a prostitute in the game and then kill her to get his money back, he made that decision for himself, but will never think of doing the same in real life.

Anyone crazy enough to replicate video game violence in the real world is just that: crazy. Even Beck should realize this as he said something very similar in the opening quote on his segment where he claimed you can’t blame someone (him) for influencing acts of violence:

[T]he other is a nutjob who would have acted that way no matter what.

Maybe Glen Beck should shut up follow his own advice.

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