Dear Mr LaPierre,
I am writing this in response to your press conference touched on in this Gamespot article, dated December 21, 2012, and this transcript posted at The Washington Post, wherein you partially blame not only film and video games, but film and television for the Connecticut shootings.
Unlike the furor you will probably receive from the rest of the internet, I’ll attempt (read: probably fail) to be civil in my response to your rather -shall we say, “interesting” claims that -on my 20 years of being an avid and enthusiastic gamer, I have heard all before. I also own a pretty decent share of films which include violence, swearing, sex and drug use
(sadly, haven’t had the chance to buy the “Eddie and the Cruisers” films, so no rock and roll for me at this point). Author’s Note: I recently found both movies. More on that later.
This is probably the biggest frustration I have with your speech. The fact that you appear to think you can use tired rhetoric to come up with a concept so confronting and mind-blowing, but honestly? That’s all it is. Tired old rhetoric.
Let’s do some early-article name dropping: Jack Thompson. Remember him? ‘Cause your little speech against the horrors of Grand Theft Auto certainly mirror his views.
You claim in your speech that “There exists in this country, sadly, a callous, corrupt and corrupting shadow industry that sells and stows violence against its own people” and go on to mention game titles such as Bulletstorm, Splatterhouse, Mortal Combat [sic] and -of course, Grand Theft Auto. You then mention the films Natural Born Killers and American Psycho, you know, as if the names didn’t give away the fact that these films might be a little bit on the gory side.
And then there’s the mention of Kindergarten Killers.
“It’s been online for 10 years”, you proclaim. As if you’ve found the stone tablets that the Ten Commandments were written on. “How come my research staff can find it, and all of yours couldn’t? Or didn’t want anyone to know you had found it?”.
In the interest of research (read: doing the small amount of journalistic research for the sake of credibility), I loaded up the brain-warping, psycho-creating murder simulator mentioned and I gotta say, shooting myself in the head was a touch more interesting than what Kindergarten Killers had to offer. So maybe you have a point.
You then go on to blame music videos which I find somewhat laughable. Not sure who sent you that memo, but here’s a list of the top 10 songs in the US from iTunes. If music programmes here in Australia are anything to go by, we’re pretty much delivered a bunch of top 40 shit-shingles:
- Locked Out of Heaven
- I Knew You Were Trouble
- Ho Hey
- Beauty and a Beat (feat. Nicki Minaj)
- Gangnam Style
- Don’t You Worry Child (Radio Edit) [feat. John Martin]
Swedish House Mafia
- When I Was Your Man
Yeah, okay. Gangnam Style needs to quietly disappear into irrelevance and obscurity. I’ll give you that. Perhaps you’re referring to Justin Beiber, an “artist” who -much to my surprise, nobody has pumped a few rounds into yet. Sure, P!nk has that “bad girl” side of her she aboslutely loves flaunting, but to my knowledge, she isn’t exactly promoting violence towards people. Other than that I’m not exactly seeing a hell of a lot of “bustin’ caps in asses” happening. Unless Swedish House Mafia is actually a Mafia.
Oh wait, you mean like, those “evil evil rockers and hippity-hoppers”, right? Like that one guy… Marilyn Mansfield or something, and the other dude named after candy?
Again, tired, old, heard it all before. Then go onto your usual “guns aren’t bad!” rant, how semiautomatics shouldn’t be banned, followed up by a snide anti-Obama comment about scrapping emergency planning. Fun stuff.
The second thing that frustrates me, is that your tirade is the fevered hypocrisy. “Oh, it’s not our gun culture, or the ready-access of guns, but it’s those darn-tootin’ vidya games and movies!”. The fact you’re practically putting yourself out there as a martyr for gun-nuts while blaming seemingly everything else in the same breath is both hypocritical and stupid.
Hey, I’ll admit it, some of your speech I agree with, such as devising emergency and protection plans for schools via the help of retired police officers and emergency workers. That’s an awesome idea of “how didn’t anybody think of this before?!” proportions. If I were a gun-toting Yankee, I’d be right behind you on this.
Bringing guns onto school grounds? Not such a good idea.
Bust this: Here in Australia, we have some of the tightest gun laws going. We don’t have a gun culture and the “right to bear arms” isn’t part of our constitution. We also have ready access to most violent movies, games, music, etc. While crime still happens (I believe they call this the “people are bastards” theory) I cannot for the life of me remember the last time a school shooting occurred on Australian soil.
I can, however, remember Columbine and Virginia Tech. For both occasions? You guys jumped on the loudhailer as quickly as you could to defend guns.
Could it be that maybe, just maybe, there’s a connection here between the ready-access of guns and shootings?
I have been a gamer -as stated before, for 20 years. I have played some of the most vile, confronting, scary and violent games out there. I own copies of Postal 2, Half-Life, Mortal Kombat, both Left 4 Dead games and Saints Row (also known as “that game that’s better than Grand Theft Auto“). I also have more mental issues than a newsstand. I mean, shit. I am your garden variety candidate for a deranged killer and yet? I have never killed anyone, never robbed anyone, generally abhor physical violence and I try to shy away from it unless it’s necessary. I’d say I’m a “nice guy”, but around the company I keep, such a term comes with it’s own plethora of social stigma. Besides, everyone knows it’s a big fat lie.
Or perhaps I’m just too damned inept and lazy to shoot up a school. I could have a free run at a gun store and still find excuses to not pump a few rounds into people. Or perhaps, you know… Video games aren’t the problem. In my opinion, video games for myself and others are a release. We go to shit jobs we hate to barely stay financially stable, we come home, kick off the converses and load up the Xbox. Sometimes we run over hookers in cars, get into high-risk shootouts and generally be a horribly violent git, sometimes we go on a quest to attain riches and as many sultry maidens we can and sometimes? well…
There’s also the inherent problem of the control pad. Namely that it cannot -in any reasonable way, train you how to operate a gun. Bulletstorm is about as qualified as a murder simulator as Pokemon. Oh sure, there’s mention of the words “trigger” and “crosshair”. But name me one game where you get intensive weapons training that can -in any way, relate to the real world. Last time I checked, pretty sure you don’t reload an assault rifle by pressing “X”.
Again, there’s things I agree with you on. Guns aren’t inherently evil, the media are dicks, violent, gory video games and movies desensitize the more impressionable of society, and perhaps they should put emergency plans in place when an event such as the Connecticut tragedy occurs. But it’s some I agree with, not all. Video games and movies have rating systems in place, guns should not be a free-for-all as they are in your nation now and -in the case of school shooters, mental health assistance (something which you never discussed) should be readily available before worse indeed comes to worse. Sure, the latter means you have to deal with stinkin’ Obamacare, but hell, a little free healthcare never hurt anybody.
I owe you a cookie for trying, Wayne; But next time I implore you to to the following:
a) Fire your “research staff”.
b) Say something that the gaming community hasn’t heard before, or hasn’t been defended time and time again.
c) Take some damn responsibility.
Till next time…