I am not dead yet, I promise As we are exiting the busy part of fall semester (job search time for our graduate students) I am finally finding time to write something other than letters of recommendation and that includes finally coming back to the blog. I love the blog…I am often unfaithful with Facebook or Twitter, but I keep coming back to the blog. It doesn’t suck my in like Facebook and give me videos on demand, chat, and Flash based build your own farm/restaurant/zoo/fill-in-the-blank games, but it is comforting like homemade mac n’ cheese or wool handknits. I am all in favor of the creature comforts and after 10+ years of blogging it has become one of those creature comforts.
That being said I can tell you about something I’ve been playing….Red Dead Redemption. I was good, I was patient, I was frugal…I didn’t buy this game at launch like I wanted to. I put it in my game rental queue and hoped for the best. I didn’t even rush out and buy it when the kids in my virtual worlds seminar were raving about it. I resisted. And then, it came. I sent back Super Mario Wii and RDR came. I stayed up past my bedtime after everyone was asleep and I popped it in. I resisted the urge to splurge and buy the zombie DLC and just played original. Let me just say that while I was disturbed by the opening cinematic I powered on…the look on John Marston’s face at least let me know that I wasn’t the only one disgusted by the Kill the Indian, Save the Man religious rhetoric.
I found the game mechanics interesting. It was very GTA-esque. For the same reasons that I suck at driving cars in GTA I suck at riding a horse and driving a stage coach in RDR. But you know what? That’s okay, I accepted it a long time ago. There were subsequent problematic moments in the game, but the moment that made me stop playing all together came about an hour or so in when I was walking around town picking up missions. Now understand there is a lot of talking in this game…too much talking at times. There are inane conversations going on all around you all of the time…even when you are riding on horseback and there is nothing that you can do except listen. And (ever the good student) I always feel the need to pay attention lest I miss something important. But I digress. So as I am walking through town listening to the ambient noise I hear “*smack, smack, scream* Shut up b*tch before I cut you a new hole” Ok, you got my attention. I run around like a made woman (or man since I can only play John Marston) until I see a man raping/stabbing/otherwise violating a woman in the street. He runs off before I gather my senses and make it there. His business is done and lying in the street is a dead, bloodied prostitute. I guess she didn’t shut up quickly enough. I am nauseated. I shut the whole console off and went to bed.
When I went back to class on Monday I had to ask folks about the prostitute. Now I know that this was another GTA-like game and that there would be lots of violence and profanity so I was prepared for what I thought was coming. But clearly I wasn’t. While I have to admit that I have enjoyed my share of beating up and robbing prostitutes in GTA, but this was different. There was a kind of violence that was in your face and misogynistic. This we worse than the GTA hookers. What was even more surprising was that I was the only in class (of those who had played the game) who was as pissed off and sickened as I was. Then I began to question if I have actually reached the point when I am too old to play games?? Are the younger folks who have grown up in the age of GTA, in some cases these games have been around for literally half of their lives and in all cases for the entirety of their adult lives. I don’t have any answers for this. I’m not even at a place that I can theorize about this yet, but I can vent about it, right? Oh well, for now the game is still sitting on top of my console waiting for me to just give up and send it back since I really can’t bring myself to play it again. Luckily I did play through enough of the game to make it useful for my book project.
Have you ever seen something so INSANE that it was impossible to believe that you were seeing what you were actually seeing? I think that this was the reaction that most sane people (aka people who agree with me) had when they looked at the Purdue student paper, The Exponent, this morning. In, what one can only hope was, an attempt at humor, The Exponent ran a bit in the paper today called “Sex Position of the Week: The Prestige”. Now before I actually show you the bit I have to say that this bit made me sick to my stomach. As a woman, mother.human being I had a visceral reaction to this piece that included a desire to see the idiot who let this run punished academically, legally, and physically.
You all already know how I react to violence against women in games, but for a student (run) newspaper to run what is essentially a rape guide is not only ethically, but criminally negligent. I understand the thought behind having a student run paper, but when the paper demonstrates time after time that they are not responsible enough to make good decisions like not running sh*t like this (or fact checking, or spell checking for that fact) then it is time to hire a faculty/professional editor who has final approval lest it ceases to be a learning experience. Maturity and good decision making skills are things that come with age and experience, but this experience is something that shouldn’t come at the expense of any one group of marginalized people. For the love of God folks let’s get this under control. Image below the fold so as not to offend anyone’s delicate sensibilities and give you a chance to avoid it. Click the image to see it in it’s entirety.