Thursday, April 1, 2010

What a World, What a World Redux the Third

So I'm on vacation in the Pacific Northwest, dealing with aging parents and cold rain and coughing kids. But the real world is an even colder and sharper place. The real world has viral video games like RapeLay, a Japanese game (and I use that term quite generously) that actually first came out in 2006 in which the player/perpetrator gets to seek revenge on a woman by selecting victims in her family to rape repeatedly, by various means, also selected, and even to impregnate her and urge her to have an abortion. CNN had a splashy cover image on the their website about the game.

So I've really tried to put this game, and the CNN coverage of it, out of my head since I read about it two days ago but I just can't. First, there is the game itself, which is so obviously objectionable and which has been rendered "viral" because of the mass interest created in coverage of its heinousness. Part of that seems all too familiar to me as a parent. I used to explain repeatedly to my two older kids and even to my youngest why it was that various Grand Theft Auto video game offerings had no place in our home. (Particularly ironic with the youngest since he's adopted and his brother in law is a police sergeant). But where do I even begin with a game as heinous as RapeLay?  But there was this second thing that stuck in my mind. When I googled for a bit more information on the game, I saw it had been around for about four years. Where was the ire and outrage when the game was released four years ago? How could it be around for four whole years and just be getting all this outcry now I kept asking myself? And why would CNN be all over the issue now?

Taking compassion fatigue to a new level, repeated exposure to violence inures young people to it. It sets a new threshold for normalcy that is simply frightening to contemplate. We know this from all kinds of studies from  the dehumanized Lost Boys in Sudan to young men inculcated by the Taliban to young people ensnared by various terror organizations throughout the world into thinking that life is worthless unless it's their own or their leaders and their ticket to the afterlife is to become suicide bombers. And filling news websites with images and rhetoric that express alarm and horror in a sensationalized fashion may even be contributing to the problem, especially if we look at the DART analyses on the effect of visual imagery of trauma and the viewing audience. So what about the potential for exploiting the information in order to up your visitor clicks onto your site? Hmmmm. Would CNN be using biased and exploitative reporting here? Au contraire, mais non! How could they?

After not being able to get the report and the whole "game" out of my head, I dug around and found the Kotaku article, which was something of a gold mine at least in terms of further information and context. It seems that in 2009 the gaming industry itself, within Japan, put a stop to production and development of games involving such sexual malice. I should note that they didn't put a stop to the release of games already in the release pipeline although they did rename them.  And what can we say about a gaming culture that even developed rape games in the first place? But anyway, what the Kotaku article makes you wonder about is what CNN was up to with their report, especially the context of their report. What are we reading when we read the news these days and why do we have to do all kinds of research to make sure what we read is true? All I know is that paying attention to the news is getting to be an exhausting process. Between trying to prove to my mother that Glenn Beck is lying and distorting facts, statistics and reality, and researching even reports on supposedly neutral outlets like CNN, who even has the time for news? Being sure it really is news (rather than opinion or reality-based fiction) is becoming such a trial.

The strategy of exploiting and generating more and more outrageous sound bites is so harmful to our literate and caring society. It's great to see the world out there and know where our ire and moral outrage should be directed. 

If it hasn't been bled dry by a sensationalized and distorted press presenting information out of date and out of context.

1 comment:

  1. I think it is so appalling I really don't know what to say