Wednesday, January 30, 2013

As Though the U.S. were Trapped in a Bad 80s Film

On MSNBC this morning, Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn) shared with us his wisdom about addressing the U.S.'s problems with gun violence:

"You know, I think video games is [sic] a bigger problem than guns, because video games affect people."

The statement "video games affect people" is, of course, a truism because so does everything, and the word "affect" has no innate normative connotation.  Moreover, taken simply at that level alone, so do guns.  And, even though (having never played video games much as a child) I've never been fond of violence in video games, the science behind Alexander's claim is slim.  We might know more about the how guns "affect" people if Congress didn't block research on that matter.

However, I want to get back to the point about the Republican vision of a world in which video games--certainly not guns--are the root of our disproportionately high rate of gun violence.  I thought to myself, "Self, somebody must have made a movie sometime about kids getting sucked into video games, getting trapped inside, and disappearing."  It sounds like the perfect idea for a D-rate horror film.

Of course, this exists, and, of course, it was made in the 1980s.  The movie in question would be Nightmares (1983), which featured four horror stories.  "The Bishop of Battle," starring Emilio Estevez, tells the story of a kind named J. J. Cooney who becomes obsessed with a notoriously difficult, thirteen-level arcade game called The Bishop of Battle.  No one that our video game wizard J. J. knows has ever beat the game--they've all died on the 12th level.  Yada yada yada...he gets sucked into the game and dies.

Effectively, the Republicans are acting as though the U.S. is in the middle of a bad 1980s horror film rather than a real-life tragedy.

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