There has been a long established history of Tabloid Journalists bashing that which they do not understand. Nothing seems to frustrate these people more than change. Think about it, how many times have we seen a headline in the Daily Mail, or heard ITV news proclaim some new threat that will destroy the entire world? Bird Flu, Pubs being open past midnight, Swine Flu, Foot and Mouth, Paedophiles, Y2K, Mad Cow Disease, AIDS, the list goes on and on and on. Given half a chance the Tabloid Press will twist any story and attempt to whip up terror and fury amongst the populace.
As a child I distinctly remember becoming conditioned to stay away from blue Smarties because of an ITV news report. In this news report, a child mistook his parent’s medication for blue Smarties, consumed the whole lot, and subsequently wound up dead. Thanks to the ITV reporter warning parents about the dangers of blue Smarties, my mother told me in no uncertain terms that I was never to consume blue Smarties ever again. Being but four years old I simply listened to my mother, as all good children should, as she was acting on the advice of the man on television.
Not once did it cross my mind that perhaps blue Smarties were not to blame, nor were the pills in question. Perhaps the blame should lie at the feet of the parents who did not take proper care to keep dangerous medication out of the reach of their young child. However, it would seem that this specific leap in logic is beyond these journalists, or perhaps it is a less financially viable reporting avenue to go down; who would want to read a story about sloppy parenting when they could instead be worked up in to a fury over some external threat?
“But what has this got to do with videogames?” I hear you cry. As we all know, The Newb Review is a well respected website, dedicated to the coverage of all things video game related, not some weepy blog of a rampant Emo-saur. Being the newest and most popular kid on the entertainment block (the games industry is barely 30 years old after all) video games are a prime target for these journalists who, for the most part, have next to no knowledge on the subject, and are all to quick to condemn. Just look at the recent debate on The Alan Titchmarsh show.
Enough has already been written about the fiasco that looked at the effect violent video games are having on children, such as our very own Tom’s satirical response to the “debate”, so I won’t go in to too much depth here. But it is safe to say that it was a prime example of a bunch of old fuddy-duddies gathering together with their burning torches and pitchforks, looking for someone or something to blame for the state of the world. These are the kind of people who display their ignorance on their lapels.
Another example of this “Fuddy Duddy syndrome” can be found in the pages of The Daily Mail, a reactionary UK Tabloid newspaper. Following the United Kingdom’s 2008 Byron Report, a study funded by the UK Government to look at the effect violent video games have on people, The Daily Mail, Britain’s Moral Defender, asked writer and presenter Anne Diamond to review some adult rated games she picked up on the high street. Normally I would say that writing an article criticising the Daily Mail is as futile as writing an article criticising Nazi Germany’s policy towards ethnic minorities, but there are some real gems contained in her paragraph long reviews.
Highlights include calling Scarface: The World is Yours “mindless garbage”, and Dead or Alive 4 “mindless and stupid”. When reviewing the multiple Game of the Year award winning Resident Evil 4, she had this to offer “This game shouldn’t be allowed to be sold, even to adults… This kind of violence can only be bad for you”. Compare this to the highly respected Edge Magazine’s multipage feature about the same game in the latest issue , number 214, detailing the creation of what it calls a contender for “game of the decade”. This is clearly a case of someone who has no idea what they are talking about (Anne Diamond) offering their opinion and looking very foolish in the process (so much so that the Daily Mail refuses to accept comments on her online version of the article, and blocks access to past comments).
It probably won’t surprise you, but this is nothing new. Video games are one of many in a long line of entertainment mediums that have been attacked by the press. Throughout history, writers have criticised what they see as the faults of the young and speculated what has caused this terrible behaviour. In the early 1900s, the Chicago Tribune published articles concerning the corruption of the nation’s youth by the vile art of dancing. That’s right, dancing. Even simple everyday things like television and mobile phones have been blamed for the degradation of society by these journalists.
Those of us that are old enough should cast out minds back to the late 1980s and 1990s. Back then, the focus of the moral outrage in certain parts of the media was aimed squarely at controversial films such as Natural Born Killers and Child’s Play 3, both of which were tenuously linked to high profile murder cases; The Columbine Shooting and the Jamie Bulger murder respectively. While those films are very clearly of an adult nature, the link between these films and the specific murder cases have been feeble at best. It is reassuring that the debate against violent movies has quietened in recent years, thanks primarily to the fact that the current generation of Journalists grew up watching violent movies. Yet the media is always quick to lay the blame at some external influence that has “corrupted” the perpetrators of the crime, rather than face up to the fact that we as a species are absolutely fucking horrible.
How else do you explain atrocities that have happened throughout history before the invention of video games, Television, Mobile Phones, or Cinema? How do we explain the enslavement of innocent Africans, or the decimation of the Native American and Native Australian populations at the hands of European settlers? Can we expect the Daily Mail to reveal that Adolf Hitler was a big Command and Conquer player in his day? In general, and to be less flippant, the older generation has always looked at the young and criticised their behaviour. A quotation attributed to Socrates, the Greek Philosopher that lived over 2,000 years ago, discusses the problem with the youth of the day:
“The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers.”
Sound familiar? My own personal message to Alan Titchmarsh, The Daily Mail, ITV, scaremongering journalists, and all of their readers is this: You want to blame something for the state of your children and the world around you? Look in the mirror. Stop blaming new toys that you can’t figure out how to play and take a good, hard look at yourselves. And while you’re at it, read some of the articles Journalists of the past have written about the corrupting power of Dancing, Telephones, Books, Movies, and Cartoons, to name but a few. Maybe, just maybe, it might change the way you think about new forms of entertainment.