Editorials and Features
Article by: MrCHUPON
Editorial: Foxy Setups: Cooper Lawrence and the Fantabulous Empty Brain [Written 2008-01-22]
The title of the segment in and of itself is insulting enough:
"Se"Xbox? New Video Game Shows Full Digital Nudity and Sex
Not having played Mass Effect myself, perhaps it's a bit hypocritical that I begin to pan this segment for its sheer ignorance and moronitude. But, I'd like to believe that, as a die-hard videogame consumer and one who pays as close attention to gaming news and details as possible without getting to play specific games (read: previews, reviews, peer impressions and critiques), "full digital nudity and sex" is a gross misrepresentation of the content in Mass Effect as constructed in the headline. If I'm told that there is full nudity and sex in any media, I'm going to assume that it's something on the level of Basic Instinct. Or hell, even The Terminator. As far as I've seen, and as far as it's been described to me by those who - you know - pay attention to their games, the sex and nudity in Mass Effect is on the level of Titanic...
...which was rated PG-13.
Oh, look at that. Apparently, your 13 year old is allowed to see Kate Winslet's nipples, yet there is an outrage over seeing alien sideboob and a derierre-crack and similar animation (hand slapping the headboard in the game versus Kate's hand slapping the car window on the backseat). As an aside, Fox's outrage over buttcracks is particularly ironic since you see plenty of them behind the newsdesk on a daily basis - non-Keighley company included. But I digress - let's take a look at what's actually said in the shamterview.
"Imagine!" exclaimed MacCallum to introduce the segment. "...the ability for the players to engage in graphic sex and the person who's playing the game gets to decide exactly what's going to happen between the two people, if you know what I mean... Basically, Pandora's Box is open... I mean kids have access to these things... How damaging is it really?"
PAUSE. So, we've got our first full fallacy. In Mass Effect, you cannot decide exactly what happens between the lovers, if you know what I mean. This much I know. Without getting too detailed, you surely can't determine what... "actions" you want to take in the bed. It's simply a non-interactive cutscene that implies intimate bonding, again, on the level of Titanic. Now, true, kids do have access to Mass Effect, since there are some retailers who do a piss-poor job of abiding by the ESRB ratings - but there is still a way for parents to circumvent this. More on that later. Let's continue.
"We know that all the research shows that violence has a desensitizing effect. Well, sexuality does too," said Lawrence.
PAUSE again. I won't argue this. Hell, I'll go out on a limb and say that I'm certainly less squeamish when it comes to gore, thanks to having grown up on movies like RoboCop. I'm also not shocked when I see women on the street dressed in a - shall we say - unabashed way, or when I see sexual encounters in your average PG-13 or R-rated movie. I've grown accustomed to this. That's not to say I believe that engaging in violence and having rampant sex are necessarily portrayed as the correct way to handle situations.
That's not my beef, though. Lawrence says, "Here's how they're seeing women. They're seeing them as these objects of desire, as these hot bodies. They don't show women as being valued for anything other than their sexuality. And it's a man in this game deciding how many women he wants to be with." Keighley, of course, handles this quite nicely in the video. Pointing out that you can in fact play as both a man and a woman in the game, he goes on and attempts to describe the complexity of the choice ("Cooper, it's not a simple choice. You don't turn on the game and it says, 'would you like to have sex or not?'" he says). My other beef, though is the double-standard we keep placing on games because people incorrectly continue to perceive them as toys. I've stated this much before; and in this case, if Mass Effect is a product that so terribly demeans women, then I challenge Fox to cancel Battle of the Bods.
This is perhaps the most questionable bit from Lawrence, solely because I haven't heard about this, nor do I trust it: "...research says there's a new study out of the University of Maryland right now that says that boys that play video games cannot tell the difference between what they're seeing in the video game and the real world..."
There's nothing I can say from a research perspective to discount this. I haven't done or seen this research. Anecdotally, I can tell you that neither me nor my gaming compatriots have ever suffered from this delusion. I can also say that yes, there are those who are deluded enough to believe that life is a game, and games are life. These are the same young men who live The Lord of the Rings, Star Wars and Star Trek. These are the same young men who would find something else removed from reality to latch onto. Novels. Comic books. Music. Chris Rock said it best: "Everybody is wanting to know what music were the kids listening to, or what movies were they watching. Who gives a fuck what they was watching! Whatever happened to crazy? What, you can't be crazy no more??"
Unfortunately, the interview portion of the segment was way too short for Keighley to get any last factual words in. It cuts to a panel of four more blowhards who mostly don't know what they're talking about, but MacCallum kicks it off with perhaps the most salient point that could be made: "You know when you buy video games... you have to pick up the box and look at the back for the rating and you have to be involved in what your kids are looking at..."
Precisely. It should have simply ended there - because I completely agree with this. But then, we've got our first candidate for forehead-slap of the year:
"Who can argue," stutters one of the panelists, "that Luke Skywalker meets Debbie Does Dallas is a good thing? It's not."
PAUSE!!! Ok, no, it's not a good thing. But then, "Luke and Debbie" isn't what Mass Effect is. Keighley already explained it better than it needed to be explained, and the screenshot that represented the worst of what you see in the game can't possibly be a tenth as explicit as Debbie Does Dallas. I believe if you look up "sensationalist" in the dictionary, a picture of this guy would be staring at you. Another female panelist ponders why "it didn't get an Adults Only rating." This, again, goes back to the double standard that we place on games as "toys". The reality is that they're simply not anymore. Just as comics range from Peanuts to The Watchmen, games cover the scale from Super Princess Peach to Manhunt. Deal with it.
More idiocy follows when a female panelist acts shocked and chagrined at the prospect of the game entering the home. "Once it's in the house, it's in the house." She claims that even though stores can prevent children from purchasing M-rated games, if daddy dearest purchases Mass Effect, Little Johnson can sneak in and play it when he's alone in the house - without any means of prevention. I think Microsoft's statement - typed out word-for-word in the opening - was completely lost on this lady. There's a little thing called Parental Controls that will completely block games of a certain ESRB rating when you or your hubby aren't in the house. Or didn't you get the memo?
Thankfully, the second male panelist reiterates MacCallum's opening point with a slight notion of reason, stating that keeping watch over videogame content is the job of parents, not the government. The trailing words are saddening, though, as MacCallum quips about how "hard" it's becoming to parent children. Here's a little bit of perspective: penguins parenting their chicks in the Antarctic have it rougher than we do. And for all of the horrified reaction from Cooper Lawrence about how Mass Effect portrays women as sexual objects, have a look at the cover of her book titled The Cult of Perfection. What a "hip" way to sell a book. (And don't try the "she's trying to be ironic" bit on me - ironic or not, it's still on the cover.)
Postscript: If you want to see some more "research" pwnage, check out this IGN user's blog. At some point in the video, Lawrence claims that it isn't older teens and adults who are playing games, but kids. Obviously, we know how wrong she is; this guy just makes sure people can visualize it.
Post-postscript: Destructoid blogger Power-Glove just brought this other awesome book cover of Lawrence'sto my attention in the comments section of the version of this editorial that I put up there. Hypocritical, much?
|The entire contents of this Web site, unless otherwise noted, are Copyright © 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 Triumvirate Games. All Rights Reserved. ™ and © for all copy, products, characters, and indicia related thereto which are contained herein are owned by the companies who market or license those products. This Web site is not endorsed, sponsored, nor otherwise affiliated with ANYONE unless specified otherwise. It has been created for the sole purpose of entertainment, knowledge and hobby. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form without consent from Trigames.NET is strictly prohibited and is punishable by law.|