Constructive Scolds

You're probably wondering where I come down on the Amy vs. Matt cultural cage match. Admit it. You're desperate to hear my penetrating insights on whether we should attack over-the-top culture (a la Amy) or leave it alone (a la Matt). Well, I'd like to offer some but it'd be redundant because Daniel Munz wrote what should be the definitive post on the subject. Read it -- it's glorious*.

Beyond Munz's contribution, I think Matt's spending too much time reiterating the data showing that GTA don't hurt nobody when that, unfortunately, is worlds away from the question. Were scores of 14 year-olds taking to the streets to carjack cops and whip old ladies with Playstation controllers it'd be a different story, but the absence of anarchy has little bearing on whether or not GTA (or Sin City, or whatever) is evidence that kids can't -- and shouldn't -- negotiate the media world they're increasingly being left to. And the place for the party in that discussion isn't throwing around crime statistics but laying out a stance. Sister Souljah probably wasn't going to get any white folks killed, but then Clinton's swipe at her wasn't a last-ditch effort to halt the legions of whitey-eating zombies she controlled, it was about defining himself. And that's what this conversation is about -- rejecting the party's image of laissez-faire morality and being pro-family in a way that appeals to parental guts.

Matt does, however, make a point worth seriously considering. All in this discussion agree that censorship itself is a Very Bad Thing and we shouldn't have it. Simply attacking GTA and Sin City, however, makes it likelier that future Congress's will do some legislative boundary-drawing. That's no good. And because of it, any Democratic critique of games or movies must be explicitly and overtly tied to solutions. We can't have cultural condemnations just floating around in the ether, they've got to anchor a larger point about the struggles faced by two-job families and the answers have to revolve around helping parents ensure their kids are supervised, be it through Universal Day Care or other means.

This isn't about video games, it's about an economy where both parents have to work, where their incomes are slipping, where their hours are increasing, where their benefits are eroding, and where kids are paying the price. And so signaling our understanding that kids aren't able, and shouldn't be able, to traverse this world alone is crucial to completing the critique. GTA and the rest are low-order examples in a large phenomenon -- they should be invoked, a la Daniel, to lend a concreteness to our argument, but they can't become our focus.

* Glorious. Now that's an underused word. And also a massively good Eddie Izzard video.

Update: Link fixed. Gah.

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