Saturday, 16 October 2010

The wrong outrage

I'll proof this later, but in the meantime ...

I leisurely imbibed a few light ales last night and retired to the cosseting powers of my duvet per chance, not to dream, but to get a good night's sleep. Awhile transversing through the routine transitory period of dizziness, spinning walls and then the blackout of sleep, I switched the radio on. A phone-in show. And they were discussing some video console game that - as far as I recall - afforded the opportunity to scope the world from the vantage point of an angry insurgent and gun down coalition troops. The callers, for the most part, a demographic largely composed of the over forties, were, not unexpectedly, horrified by the prospect of teeners getting their kicks from pretending to kill "our boys". Of course, every one of them righteous arms-bearing defenders of our freedoms, to a man - and the odd women - were heroes to them. Unquestionably. Then a kid phones in to suggest that many of the other, more “mature” callers, were “blowing things out of proportion” (an unfortunate turn of phrase in this context to be sure). It's just a game. A bit of fun. No one gets hurt. Actually killed. It's just a game.

I don't really care for video games, nor particularly the dubious taste and pandering to stylised violence they represent which, incidentally, was, in all probability, part and parcel of the marketing hype that created such appetites in the first place. I'm not saying it's a non-issue. Only, it's not the only issue here: the bigger fish in this goldfish bowl debate is why our troops are out there invading other countries in the first place? Once we get past the wildly exaggerated and overblown claims of an immediate and present danger to our citizens (or subjects) and the laughably naive assertion that, in order to bring democracy and freedom to the oppressed people of the world, we blow the shit out of their infrastructure and then send in the invading armies, what have we got? Now I'm no pacifist, if there's a real threat, of course, there's time for talking and a time for taking action.

But here's the problem, there's no real threat of invading armies and occupational rule, the real threat isn't so much to our cherished freedoms, but rather to the corporate interests of our co-opted governance structures: their interests revolve around protecting and expanding their neocolonial market share under the guise of "geopolitical strategy" and/or the securing of access and extraction ("plunder") rights to the world's natural resources. AKA "The Great Game". And they can get away this because of the implied threat their behaviour is that that to challenge such an ideology, is to undermined the access to the very goods, services and materials that support your - our - way of life. More accurately: lifestyle. In fact, the real enemy, at least as far as they are concerned, isn't a bunch of angry insurgents - they're sometimes a nuisance and others, a useful distraction – no, the real enemy is you. Asking difficult and uncomfortable questions, especially of yourself.

No wonder “the kids” can't relate to the wider significance the scenarios in these games are a symptom of - they feel no connection to those “fighting” on behalf of them to defend their “freedoms”. That “connection” has been obfuscated through ever-changing justifications, postulations and rationales that bare little resemblance or comprehensible relevance to their lives. Freedom, by-the-way, is also freedom to play video games and carries the concomitant commitment to act responsibly and to take charge of and review your attitudes and behaviour. May be the best way to dissuade our children from playing these games - and increasingly "adults" – is to teach them that and show where the adults got it wrong.

As a footnote: I should also add that a lot of these violent stimulant video games, except with the guns and bombs pointing the other way around at the "insurgents", are used for training purposes by the forces.

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