The Tea Party may be deluded, but they’re not zombies.


No, no, no, this is not cool. Not under any circumstances is this an acceptable piece of discourse.

Bachmann and Palin as zombies.

StarvingEyes Advergames built a first-person zombie horror game in Flash. Yeah, obviously the game is going to be technically limited, but it’s not a bad example of how to build a pseudo-three-dee game along the lines of Wolfenstein. The problem I have with this game is not technical. It’s subject matter related. You see, in this game, you invade Fox News’ headquarters and kill zombified versions of Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, Michelle Bachmann, Sarah Palin, and various random hick rednecks and other teabaggers. The game is about killing the Teabagging zombies before they kill you. It’s called “TEA PARTY ZOMBIES MUST DIE.”

Does anyone else see anything wrong with this? With the idea of turning your political opponents, no matter how dogmatically they came into their particular ideologies, into mindless zombies fit only for extermination? I don’t appreciate it when right-wingers advocate watering the tree of liberty with the blood of people who happen to think you shouldn’t pay through the nose for health care, or that gays are humans too. I don’t appreciate it when right-wingers paint targets on their political opponents or exhort their supporters “don’t retreat, reload”. I don’t appreciate it when people make death threats openly or dehumanize left-wingers in any way. Why should I stand by when right-wingers are treated likewise? Why should we let the discourse be so debased by outliers on either side of the political spectrum?

Zombie movies are creepy because you know these slavering monsters were once human beings, and they could very well turn any other human being into one of their numbers. Zombie games are fun because they’re a frantic game of maintenance against an unending horde of enemies — their ceaseless battering against your defenses will eventually cause you to succumb, and it’s just a matter of ammo and time. Political discourses about civil rights are undertaken by rational human beings who discuss and sign into law their attempt at ameliorating what they find to be the issues for the day. If you don’t like how they tackle these issues, or if you think they’re putting too much focus on some issues over others (like the Republicans’ hyperfocus on gays and abortions despite being elected on a platform of job creation), then you inject yourself into the political discourse and get elected and fight for the change you want to see.

Accusing your political enemies of being a horde bent on infecting as many people as possible might be analogous (to any group of people attempting to effect political change on either side of the spectrum), that’s one thing. Depicting them as mindless slavering zombies out for your blood, who can only be stopped by violence? Well, that’s something completely different. And we’re above that.

Aren’t we?

Comments

  1. Ms. Daisy Cutter says

    And this is why the left doesn’t win elections, folks. They use crosshairs in their imagery; we wring our hands and clutch our pearls over the use of “zombies.”

  2. says

    In Canada, either would get you drummed out of politics. Pardon me for coming from a country where a cartoon of a puffin pooping on a political opponent was considered a gigantic scandal.

  3. Ms. Daisy Cutter says

    And my point would be that the Tea Partiers aren’t in Canada, and progressives aren’t going to beat them by “taking the high road.”

  4. says

    So should your liberals advocate the use of “second amendment remedies” to eliminate those representatives of the Tea Party that are in office now? Where is the line drawn? Where are you going to stop reciprocating and decry the incivility of the level of discourse as a whole?

  5. Ms. Daisy Cutter says

    Oh, goodness gracious, incivility. /drops monocle into soup

    And, yeah, one gaming outfit depicting teabaggers (can I say that here, or is that a no-no word as well?) as horror-movie creatures is just like major figures of the Rethuglican (sorry, was that incivil, too?) Party suggesting that people take up arms against liberals.

  6. Gnumann says

    Coming from Norway, this kind of imagery is a bit more hard to swallow past 22.07

    Sure, it’s all fun and games, but it only takes one deluded fucker who don’t quite get the joke.

  7. says

    Oh for fucks sake. I’m not talking about the kind of incivility where you are rude to someone who’s being an asshat. I’m talking about the kind of incivility where you dehumanize someone for holding a viewpoint contrary to yours. Where you advocate violence against them. Do you LIKE that the other side is engaging in that shit? No? Then why should you like it when we reciprocate?

  8. Ms. Daisy Cutter says

    Because of the power differential. The game isn’t tasteful, no, but I’m about as worried about it as I am about “misandry” or “reverse racism.”

  9. says

    I’ll absolutely agree that this Jason Oda is not in any way, shape or form a representative of the liberal political sphere. He’s not an elected official, a spokesperson, or even particularly influential on the political blogosphere. Pardon me for deploring his violent imagery in making his hamfisted political statement. I’m just being consistent in my critiques against dehumanization and the advocacy of violence against your political opponents.

    Like Gnumann says, all it takes is one sick fuck to think this is a good idea. I’d rather expose the left to as little of that possibility as possible. Let violent terrorism stemming from violent rhetoric be the domain of the right-wing. We ARE above that. And the further above that we stay, the better shape we’re in as a society.

    Or, of course, the alternative is to start stockpiling weaponry for the civil war you are apparently okay with hastening.

  10. Erulóra Maikalambe says

    You know what I tire of more than teabaggers being teabaggers? Passive-aggressive martyrs on soapboxes.

    Pardon me for coming from a country where a cartoon of a puffin pooping on a political opponent was considered a gigantic scandal.

    Pardon me for deploring his violent imagery in making his hamfisted political statement.

  11. says

    Well Ms Violent Handle there kinda gives away her position before even getting started, doesn’t she?

    It’s not that complicated. If your goal is to gain power at any cost, because you like being on top, why sure, go ahead and throw logic and facts out the door, and jump straight to dehumanizing the other side. It always works, for a while. If you’re lucky it’ll work long enough for you to die still in power. Didn’t work out that way for Hitler or Pol Pot, or Khaddafi, or Louis XIV, but it might for you.

    If on the other hand the goal is to make the world a better place, a good place to start is not making the world worse. I don’t know about you, but what disgusts me the most about the right wing today is that they want to “win” the “war” against radical Islamic terrorism by becoming just like them. They hate our freedom, so we have to get rid of it.

    You can justify becoming what you hate with power differentials or obfuscation or whatever rationalization you want, but it doesn’t change the facts. Dehumanizing groups of people is not the way to a better world.

  12. happiestsadist says

    Oh no! A violent name! (I assume I shall thus also be dismissed out of hand.)

    As a Canadian, I can agree that this would not fly in terms of Canadian politics. As a Canadian, I will also point out that the Harper Reich has pretty free rein over screwing us over, but they’re doing it nicely, so apparently that’s dandy.

    And in terms of the power differential, if you choose to overlook that, then frankly you’re too fucking stupid to discuss any form of politics, the crayons are at the kids’ table. I mean, it’s obvious that cultural context is comically out of your grasp as well.

  13. Chris says

    I’ve seen worse, tbh. I recall a little shooting gallery game, back when I was a rather young child and modems were rated in baud, involving the cast of George Bush the first’s presidency. Their image would bounce around the screen while you would try and shoot it. Every time you missed, they would taunt you.

    I still remember (and chuckle at) one in particular, “You should like walrus piss!”

    It is also entirely possible I am not a good human being.

  14. Ms. Daisy Cutter says

    Oh, heavens, handles referencing weapons, we can’t have that. It will all lead to Sabbath-breaking, mark my words.

  15. Brother Yam says

    Some points:

    Like Gnumann says, all it takes is one sick fuck to think this is a good idea.

    Liberals are wired much differently than their conservative counterparts. You would be hard-pressed to find a murder spree conducted by a liberal. Hell, most aren’t even armed. I shocked my teatard in-laws when I described my rifle as they didn’t think any leftie would own one.

    The pearl-clutching about incivility is getting a bit rich. I would just use the all-round excuse we always get from the Right and claim “it’s just a joke, lighten up.” While the Right is constantly dizzied from its cognative dissonance, this may make the point a bit clearer, though I’m not holding my breath.

    And after watching the “debates” last night, I wouldn’t withhold any criticism of them being blood thirsty; considering how they acted when the death penalty or letting uninsured people die, I think that they deserve more derision, not less.

  16. Chris says

    “Or, of course, the alternative is to start stockpiling weaponry for the civil war you are apparently okay with hastening.”

    Yes, because video game violence inevitably leads to school shootings, political assassinations, and barbaric bloodshed. If this gives someone the bright idea to go out an attack a politician, they are unhinged to begin with and would more than likely end up hurting someone sooner or later anyway and should be barred from watching anything more mature than Sesame Street.

    This game is harmless, if tasteless, in the hands of anyone with the slightest notion of the difference between fantasy and reality.

  17. KG says

    Lost: Jason Thiebault’s sense of humour.

    Last seen leaving home looking unloved, and shouldering a stick to which was tied a pathetic little bundle in a red-spotted handkerchief.

    If found, please return to this blog. Jason’s sense of proportion has also gone missing, and may have accompanied his sense of humour.

  18. 'Tis Himself, OM says

    Goodness. Gracious even. We can’t have liberals acting like they were emotional human beings getting more than a little annoyed at conservatives who want to drag the country into being a third world theocracy.

    Quick, bring me my fainting couch and my clutching pearls. Oh, if only some Canadian would verbally chastise these miscreants on a blog, then my life would regain its happiness.

  19. Stephanie Zvan says

    Brother Yam, the problem with “It’s just a joke” is that it isn’t a joke when they say it. Their “It’s just a joke” is a lie. Plenty of them would kill you if they thought they could get away with it. If you make that kind of joke–and actually mean it to be a joke–you provide cover for those thugs.

  20. Stephanie Zvan says

    You know, ‘Tis Himself, I don’t really think anyone would get upset about liberals getting upset. In fact, I think an awful lot of people would be thrilled. Discovering that those folks decided the best use of their political outrage was a FPS, on the other hand….

  21. Erulóra Maikalambe says

    Really, Erulora? Would you care to interpret your statement accurately for me?

    I find dealing with passive aggressive martyrs more tiring than dealing with teabaggers. What’s hard to understand about that? It says nothing about my priorities, just which one is more taxing to me. Stop reading things into my comments that aren’t there.

  22. Stephanie Zvan says

    Well, then it’s very good of you to drag your tired self over here to deal with this crisis at Jason’s blog.

  23. Erulóra Maikalambe says

    Ms Violent Handle

    Yeah, cutting flowers is just two steps from committing genocide, if you think about it. And the step after that? Profit!!

  24. says

    Wow. Who knew the absolutely most controversial thing I could say on this blog is “hey, let’s stop treating each other like inhuman monsters that you have to crowbar in the face to defeat”? I mean, this isn’t even approaching Chris Mooney territory. I want liberals to get active, to get out there and do something useful. To be present in the political dialog. To stop the teabaggers from fucking up your country. I’d just rather “stop them” not involve weaponry. Regardless of whether or not liberals and conservatives are wired differently, which I believe to be true but I’m not willing to bet people’s lives on that. I just want more consistency. That’s all.

    I’m really very sad that, despite all the other things I’ve agreed with you folks on, you’re going to try to cow me into silence on my suggestion that maybe we should apply our issues with violent rhetoric consistently. Perhaps you’d like to call me a wilting lily? Or a traitor to liberalism? Perhaps you’d like to search my blog archives for other signs that I’m not a member of the tribe?

  25. Erulóra Maikalambe says

    Well, then it’s very good of you to drag your tired self over here to deal with this crisis at Jason’s blog.

    Yeah, typing comments is hard work. But I was already here, so I figured I’d speak my mind. Now I know that I’m not welcome, I’ll go. Wouldn’t want you to strain your neck looking down your nose at me.

  26. says

    Yes, because video game violence inevitably leads to school shootings, political assassinations, and barbaric bloodshed. If this gives someone the bright idea to go out an attack a politician, they are unhinged to begin with and would more than likely end up hurting someone sooner or later anyway and should be barred from watching anything more mature than Sesame Street.

    As I type this, Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood is paused on my PS3. It’s a game about murdering Templars, a group of people united by the sign of the cross. We know the difference between fantasy and reality. But if we’re going to complain about violent rhetoric from the right, we should damn well complain about violent rhetoric from the left too.

    What’s interesting is how many people on the right are losing their shit over this game. And in the comment threads, the right-wingers are very much frothing over how they should kill us before we kill them. Or how we’re the real zombies. (Infected directly by George Soros, apparently.) How the hell do you drain this kind of swamp without being the change you want to see?

  27. says

    You’re welcome to disagree with me. Please don’t call a passive-aggressive martyr on a soapbox though. Especially when you’re not going to call me that when I write a blog post about some shitty thing that a theist does. Consistency is all I ask.

  28. Stephanie Zvan says

    Erulora, I do try to make sure people are treated the way they demonstrate they think people should be treated. I’m very sorry you found your own behavior mirrored back at you to be so unwelcoming. I hope your neck is okay.

  29. Erulóra Maikalambe says

    Especially when you’re not going to call me that when I write a blog post about some shitty thing that a theist does.

    I’d have to time travel to do that – this is the first post on your blog I’ve read. And I only read it because somebody linked me to it. But if it makes you feel better, I promise to never call you that again.

  30. Erulóra Maikalambe says

    Erulora, I do try to make sure people are treated the way they demonstrate they think people should be treated.

    So, you’re in favor of capital punishment?

  31. Ibis3, féministe avec un titre française de fantaisie says

    I was writing a reply in which I was going to disagree with you on the basis that because the targets have been zombified, this makes the game so unrealistic it goes back into the camp of acceptable, but I’ve changed my mind. I think you’re right. Even when it’s obviously fictional, I don’t think shooting games where the targets are politicians are things we ought to approve of.

    In a way, it serves to trivialise the issues. Real people are dying and living lives in pain and oppression because of the policies of the right. Can we really feel better about it by hunting the assholes down in a video game?

    [The preceding is not necessarily a fully considered opinion. I’m just tossing the ideas around in my head.]

  32. Erulóra Maikalambe says

    Why, did you kill someone?

    No, just asking. Just trying to figure out if you’re consistent in that stance, since I’m not the only person in “people”.

  33. says

    Erulora: I’m sad to see you go, then. It’s a shame that, based on this single post, you’ve both discovered me and decided that I’m not worth reading. I do so hate it when people who never read me tell me I suck and I’m not worth reading.

    Brother Yam @16: You make a lot of excellent points, accusations of pearl-clutching notwithstanding. Since this game already exists, and since they themselves have used the exact phrase “calm down, it’s just a joke” about violent rhetoric, that is of course an excellent way to make their heads spin.

    Doesn’t mean I condone that game in any way. Just means I’d like to see them realize that their discourse is exactly as unacceptable. If they’re going to be pissed about this game, they should damn well be pissed about the other murder fantasies their leaders (e.g. Glenn Beck, Michelle Bachmann, Sarah Palin) peddle.

  34. says

    “But if we’re going to complain about violent rhetoric from the right, we should damn well complain about violent rhetoric from the left too. ”

    Really!? This video is from “The Left”!?

    “client list includes Pepsi, GM , Hasbro, NASCAR, Sears &c.”

    Doesn’t sound particularly leftist to me. This company has no authority, no voice in politics, and no power, why would I care?

    It also sounds like the game was so over the top as to be ludicrous, or a false flag op, or mebbe both.

  35. Brother Yam says

    Stephanie,

    I realize that “it’s a joke” is a lie with these people. Hence getting them to perhaps (small chance) glimpse at their own hypocrisy.

    It’s funny that the ones that scream that atheists must be killed when one shows up on Fox, now rush for their fainting couch when presented with something else to get offended about. Now there are calls to arms to kill atheists before we kill them. How many comments were there about how this has gotten liberals all fired up for violence?

    “Hey, hitting Michelle Bachmann with a crowbar sounds like a really good idea! Why didn’t I think of that?”

    Please.

  36. Erulóra Maikalambe says

    I do so hate it when people who never read me tell me I suck and I’m not worth reading.

    Not exactly what I meant, but I can see how it would come across that way, and I’m sorry. I don’t think you’re entirely wrong in your post. It’s your “pardon me” comments that just really grate on my nerves. And yes, it is passive aggressive. I grew up with that stuff, and I can’t stand it. I will read more of your blog, but I will stop commenting once this conversation has reached its end, because it’s not exactly bringing out the best in me (whatever or wherever that may be).

  37. Stephanie Zvan says

    There are a number of things that have been said over the years pointing out that consistency isn’t all that. They’re generally right. There comes a point where some of our principles conflict with other principles. This game is, in fact, one of them. How we sort things out then matters.

    No, I do not support capital punishment. A situation that resulted in killing in immediate self-defense might have a different calculus.

  38. Stephanie Zvan says

    Brother Yam, I applaud the idea, but I think that in order for it to work, you’d have to be dealing with a group of people whose capacity for ignoring cognitive dissonance was somewhere south of infinite. I don’t think the Right qualifies.

  39. Brother Yam says

    Brother Yam, I applaud the idea, but I think that in order for it to work, you’d have to be dealing with a group of people whose capacity for ignoring cognitive dissonance was somewhere south of infinite. I don’t think the Right qualifies.

    Point taken.

    I hate to sound childish, but when you have people that stubbornly dig in when presented more facts, you have to get the point across somehow and I’m all out of good ideas. Would I be offended if they had a game that presented Obama, Biden, et al as zombies and bashed them? A little, but I wouldn’t be surprised coming from what I’ve seen from these folks.

    I also shouldn’t be surprised about their squealing either. I’m properly embarrased for not expecting it. Still, it’s fun too hear even if they don’t get what they’re complaining about is what their M.O. has been for the past 15-20 years.

  40. Neon Sequitur says

    Jason,

    Your comments on zombie movies illustrate exactly why this game makes sense on some level:

    “Zombie movies are creepy because you know these slavering monsters were once human beings, and they could very well turn any other human being into one of their numbers.”

    Appropriate or not (and I’m not insisting it is), this is a fairly accurate metaphor for FOX news and its viewers.

    And this:

    “Zombie games are fun because they’re a frantic game of maintenance against an unending horde of enemies — their ceaseless battering against your defenses will eventually cause you to succumb, and it’s just a matter of ammo and time.”

    …is also a good metaphor, for how it feels to deal with seemingly endless supply of Tea-Party politicians and their apparently-immune-to-reason followers.

    And to stretch the analogy a bit further, the whole “zombies eating brains” meme is a damn good metaphor for “destroying people’s minds” in more mundane ways: misinformation, scape-goating and fear-mongering are all tools used by FOX and the TEA party to short-circuit rational thinking.

    Maybe you’re right; depicting Bachmann and Palin as zombies to be mercilessly slaughtered is possibly going to far. OTOH, if there’s a “zombie Anne Coulter” in this game, I might have to check it out anyways….

  41. Chris says

    “I’d just rather “stop them” not involve weaponry.”
    In this case, it didn’t. It involved pixels of weaponry and a keyboard. How many action movies do we see where the evil, greedy corporate tycoon gets his comeuppance in a spectacular fireball? Novels where backstabbing politicians grab for power and are brought low by the hero who hails from the disenfranchised, and is engulfed by an angry mob? Songs that decry government actions and call out to the listeners to rise up and not let themselves be bullied by the government any longer?
    In how many of those villainous masterminds are thinly veiled stand-ins for real-world people? Same concept, different media. Zombie movies themselves have a penchant for making a zombie look like some famous person and having them take a shotgun to the face.

    “How the hell do you drain this kind of swamp without being the change you want to see?”
    As jaded as it’s going to make me sound, you don’t. You have to hope and pray (well, maybe not pray) that these people don’t get it “their way” on election day, and hope some of the swamp water evaporates away. To “drain the swamp” requires reasonable people on both sides, and I’ve yet to see anything to make me think there’s anything reasonable about the tea party.

    I’ve never complained about violent rhetoric from the right, personally. It’s only when outright death threats are made that I feel the urge to complain (and report, if applicable). Unless the tea partiers actually DO turn into zombies, this game most certainly is not a death threat or call to take up arms.

    PS:
    Maybe it’s just a Canadian lost-in-translation thing, I have a friend from Alberta who sometimes does this, but a couple of your replies did seem to come off with some kind of martyr complex.

  42. Erulóra Maikalambe says

    Ah, so it’s a type of bomb. Don’t I feel silly now. Still doesn’t explain your freaking out over a nym.

  43. says

    For the record, I don’t disagree with anything Neon@45 said.

    Erulora@48: I don’t think anyone’s freaking out over the ‘nym, but you know, a name like that does suggest that the holder of said name is predisposed to violence. It’s not like the name was handed to her, or she picked it in a vacuum.

    Chris@46: I guess it’s all a matter of where your lines are drawn. Yeah, there’s a line that’s crossed when you directly advocate violence against a specific person (e.g. Glenn Beck fantasizing about poisoning Nancy Pelosi), that is not actually crossed by this game. However, a different line is crossed — one where the person you disagree with, is classified as an inhuman monster. Where you prioritize one line over the other is a subjective matter, I guess.

  44. Erulóra Maikalambe says

    a name like that does suggest that the holder of said name is predisposed to violence

    Really? I would never make that leap. I’d be more inclined to think it’s a florist who thinks of xirself as “da bomb” and is just trying to be clever.

  45. says

    I dunno. That’s about as many times removed as most cockney rhyming slang. It’s possible that’s why she picked the name, but if so, maybe she should have a disclaimer someplace indicating such.

    I’m just saying, if I walked into a feminist forum with the name “Privileged White Male who Enjoys Having Sex with Women”, even though every part of that statement is true, and even though I’m a dedicated feminist, I could expect some backlash based solely on that name. It’s not irrational to take cues from a person’s chosen ‘nym as to how they wish to present themselves.

  46. Barry says

    I agree with Jason (Didn’t zombie Bill Murray get shot in “Zombieland?”). And being raised in a southern Pentecostal church, I grew up hearing how the Debul was putting secret messages in heavy metal albums. These messages would make you turn away from God, shoot your family, and engage in cannibalism. Then it was Tipper and the PMRC talking about violent imagery in songs. Next it was decrying GTA and violent imagery in video games. I’m a Republican and I get the joke. Like your work, though, and looking forward to reading more.

  47. llewelly says

    Portraying tea party politicians as zombies is correct use of metaphor.
    A game in which the goal is shooting at simulated portrayals of them, however, is violent rhetoric that we ought to recognize as abhorrent.

  48. says

    Point of order, Barry: Bill Murray was hired to be part of Zombieland. Also, he was not actually a zombie, but was made up to look like one. He was shot for being too good an actor.

    What llewelly @54 said, times a thousand. Portraying real, living people as monsters is one thing. Simulating their death is violent rhetoric.

    Which raises a question — is it justifiable to create media involving real individuals (celebrities, politicians, or otherwise) being killed or hurt without their express consent under any circumstances? Are games where you get to punch Justin Bieber okay?

  49. Barry says

    Thank you, sir – been a while since I watched it. We could say that there’s been some pretty graphic material used in satire (Swift comes to mind). “South Park” does iffy stuff involving comedy all the time. Is it really “abhorrent?” I’m not so sure. I think the one that’ s truly off-limits is the office of the presidency – that’s an automatic Secret Service call. As far as games go, if they set themselves up for it, let fly.

  50. says

    Jeez, dicketry abounds in the comments section.

    I agree with you, Jason. There shouldn’t be a point where “I disagree with you” becomes “your death deserves to be the object of fun.” While it might be intended as ‘just a joke’ (ye gads I hate that phrase), it is definitely over the line of tastefulness. I’m about as intolerant of tone-based argument as possible, but this has nothing to do with ‘tone’. This is making violence part of the political discussion.

    I doubt anybody, regardless of political stripe, would interpret this as a call to violence against specific people. That’s hardly the point though. We must, at all times, remember that our opponents are human beings. Failing to do that makes them our enemies to be destroyed, rather than our opponents to be defeated.

    There is, however, more than a little overlap between the Tea Party’s positions and zombies. Their ideas are long-dead nuggets of stupidity that despite their deceased status keep coming and coming and coming, until the forces of reason are overwhelmed and out of cognitive ammunition.

  51. says

    Seriously, Daisy? That’s all you’re capable of gleaning from this discussion? Do you require exhortations to uncomfortable animal sex and suggestions of how to enjoy oxidizing implements before you’re capable of taking in the content of a comment?

  52. says

    Obligatory mentioning of zombie movies being released during periods of Republican power and vampire movies being released during Democratic power. If you want to make comments on the values of the Right, zombies have been a go to trope for decades. The main problem here is lack of subtlety. Had this game been about a zombie outbreak at an undefined political rally, or better yet a protest, there’d be a lot more impact filling in the psychological dots. That’s lost when you actually put faces on the horde, and specific faces really just make it juvenile.

    I’m not particularly offended by the concept simply because it’s not new and it could be a case of more stupid fluff being added to a trope until it stunk. Which makes it not only a lazy political statement, but lazy game design. So for everyone stating “oh the left needs to be ballsier” I hope the left does so with more talented folks than the people who made this. Not the end of society and hope and justice as we know it but very much a hit and a miss.

  53. TylerD says

    >2011
    >having a conscience

    ISHYGDDT

    (In all seriousness, this is really just an example of why the game as a vehicle for political satire almost always fails unless the gameplay itself is very unconventional. Shooters will always be shooters.)

  54. Ms. Daisy Cutter says

    Thanks for proving my point, Stephanie.

    Hey, Jason, are you going to address HappiestSadist at all? Or is she somehow No True Canadian, because No True Canadian would be so bluntly spoken about your pearl-clutching?

  55. says

    I addressed the point in happiestsadist’s second paragraph with every other post I’ve ever made denouncing Harper’s nonsense. Let me help you find them.

    I addressed the point in happiestsadist’s third paragraph in comment 9, only I addressed it to you, so you should remember it.

    Point one is just complaining that someone might find a name like “Mrs. Daisy Cutter” offensive, and therefore calling one’s self a sadist might actually paint the commenter as a sadist. Heavens to Betsy, wouldn’t want someone to get the wrong impression of you because you chose a nym that doesn’t represent how you’d choose to present yourself! How dare we judge you based on the nym you choose!

    Where’s the “no true Scotsman” come in exactly? Kindly point it out.

  56. says

    Erulora@65: my point at 51 stands. Your ‘nym is your first impression. When your first impression (that the person likes violent imagery) is proven correct by the comment they make (that the violent imagery in this game is perfectly acceptable), how are we not supposed to judge them by those two facts taken together? This “don’t judge us by our chosen nyms” is more pearl-clutching than anything I’ve said in this entire post or comment thread.

  57. Erulóra Maikalambe says

    This “don’t judge us by our chosen nyms” is more pearl-clutching than anything I’ve said in this entire post or comment thread.

    Thanks for the laughs. But really, it’s more like “don’t make unwarranted assumptions about people based on something incredibly trivial”. Especially when it means jumping to the least charitable conclusion you can when other equally plausible explanations are available. But hey, I’m not going to convince anybody here, so just keep assuming you know everything you need to about somebody based on a punny nym. I notice, however, nobody is calling out Johnny Vector for choosing a nym that implies he spreads diseases.

  58. Jordan Genso says

    My position is that both sides are going to have countless examples of inappropriate behavior. If there is an onus on both sides to police that behavior, that burden may be too great.

    What I feel is an appropriate responsibility is to call-out political leaders and elected officials when they engage in that inappropriate behavior. There is a huge difference between a random blogger (or group of video game designers) doing/saying something that we don’t like, and a member of Congress or presidential candidate doing/saying something we don’t like.

    Ideally, games like this should not be acceptable. But there’s always going to be another example of inappropriate behavior to condemn. If we condemn all bad behavior with equal consistency, then it has the impact of making all bad behavior equally abhorrent, when that should not be the case.

    If a progressive makes a comment about how Sharon Angle’s “2nd Amendment Remidies” statements were inappropriate, and a conservative comes back with “well there’s a video game with zombie tea baggers, are your going to call that inappropriate as well?”, they’ve created a false equivalency which requires time to explain.

    So if we all adopt the same standards for criticizing bad behavior, in which we only actively condemn it if it comes from a political leader, then we can work to avoid those false equivalencies that distract from productive conversations.

  59. says

    Erulora@68: I’m not making unwarranted assumptions. The assumptions are well-warranted by Daisy Cutter’s further argumentation. I assumed Johnny Vector liked math, actually. Or that he has a speed and direction.

    Both Stephanie and Jordan make good points — there’s a false equivalence at play that the other side is going to make every time we say “listen, your elected officials shouldn’t advocate violence” and we shouldn’t, therefore, enforce consistency. I’m willing to change my mind on that. Jordan’s absolutely right in saying that demanding such consistency “blackwashes” everything to the same level of abhorrence. There IS in fact a sliding scale of how awful a particular thing is. I’ve agreed to that, that there are lines that are crossed by one act that aren’t crossed by another, and vice versa.

    If we’re smart about saying “hey, listen, that’s unacceptable”, but save our big guns for the REALLY provocative stuff, then at the very least we’re insulating ourselves against false equivalences. I don’t happen to think that my blog, and posting something saying “yeah, this is unacceptable”, is a “big gun”.

  60. says

    Really, Daisy? Your point was that if you require someone to tell you to go find a cactus and put a battery in it in order to actually pay attention to the practical considerations they’re talking about, you’re a fucking tone troll just as much as anyone who won’t hear anything with a “naughty word” in it? Because that appears to be all you’ve got here.

  61. Pen says

    I agree with Jason that this is not cool. Probably not bannable, but definitely not cool. Also it reflects an unhealthy obsession with people who are better off ignored, and a predisposition to substitute fantasy catharsis for (legitimate) action in the real world.

  62. Ms. Daisy Cutter says

    Ah, I see, so you’re “above” responding seriously, or at all (directly, in HS’s case), to internet commenters whose handles offend you. Good to know.

    Also, you do realize that “sadist” refers not only to a sociopath who gets kicks out of hurting innocent victims, but to a person who enjoys inflicting pain on consenting masochists, right? And that it’s a literary allusion? I’m amused that both facts seem to have eluded you.

  63. says

    Why should I answer gainsaying at comment 12 that, as I point out, I addressed at comment 9?

    Additionally, what are you talking about? I never said anything about happiestsadist’s name. I said things about your name, though.

  64. happiestsadist says

    Actually, my ‘nym, which I’ve had for eight years now, is a reference to a character in a children’s book by Madeleine L’Engle. But even if it weren’t, it’s nice to know what I may or may not do in the bedroom with consenting partners is enough to make me unworthy of response.

    Like I had said, pretending that there’s not difference in power differential and context and hey, even culture, is a really dangerous line of thinking. It’s basically a zero-tolerance approach to bad words while being more than willing to let anything slide if it’s nice enough. But hey, like I said, some people like Harper. He’s civil. This false equivalence bullshit (apologies?) is really not doing you much in the way of favours.

  65. says

    I never once “pretended” that there’s not a difference in power or in context. I used Canada’s significantly greater civility as an example of why I happen to think that the discourse in America is poisoned, and I even said I agree that there’s a significant difference between a random Flash game developer and an elected official. I have additionally, as I’ve pointed out, criticized Harper harshly in the past. Do you have any points, happiestsadist?

  66. happiestsadist says

    And I contend that our focus on civility over actual justice or progress is a bug, not a feature. And your criticisms are either counter to your own finger-wagging for civility or that’s it’s a very flimsy bit of posturing. You’re being awfully mean to our PM, can’t you be a bit more civil?

    And yes, the US is fucked. That point is visible from space. However, you’re more or less claiming that it’s because they’re not as gentle in their verbiage as we are. And I think that’s kind of an utterly incorrect conclusion to arrive at, not to mention rather a bit of cultural supremacy on our part. (Which we don’t really need. We have poutine and real beer.)

  67. raymoscow says

    This is very close to the ‘eliminationist rhetoric’ that we criticised Palin et al for after the Arizona shootings. We need to continue to shout that crap down, to make it unacceptable to do.

    Engaging in it ourselves is a mistake.

  68. says

    However, you’re more or less claiming that it’s because they’re not as gentle in their verbiage as we are. And I think that’s kind of an utterly incorrect conclusion to arrive at, not to mention rather a bit of cultural supremacy on our part.

    I see the less, as in zero. I don’t see the more, and in fact, there’s been a fair amount of discussion in the comments about the fact that the “verbiage” is tied to real desires, all too often carried out, for blood.

  69. says

    Cheeses Crust on a pizza stone, people. What is it with the false dichotomies? Somehow saying “this kind of thing brings down the level of discourse and should be discouraged” becomes equivalent to ZOMG if you’re gonna ban this you’ll have to ban everythign11!!!

    Why is it so hard to see that one can disapprove of something without trying to “police” it (whatever that means coming from a bunch of random commenters with no police power at all) or ban it or call it equivalent to the same sort of rhetoric coming from elected leaders?

    Of course it’s worse when federal level legislators call for someone to be killed. Other things that are (or would be) worse than this game: Candidates for public office using violent rhetoric; candidates using actual violence; TV commentators with an audience in the tens of millions calling for violence. Syndicated columnists with an audience in the millions calling for violence. Audiences at political debates applauding people’s deaths. Or (here’s the hypothetical one) a significant portion of the left wing base getting heavily into playing this particular game.

    That last one hasn’t happened. If it did, it would say something bad about the left. All the others have happened, and almost entirely on the right. So yes, there is no equivalency. That doesn’t mean that on an absolute scale, this game is about dehumanizing The Other Side, which is one of the things we hate about the current strategies of the American right. Why on Earth would we seek equivalency with that?

    (I’ll assume English is not Erulora’s first language, and thus he or she can be forgiven for not knowing that a daisy cutter is a bomb and a vector is a math concept.)

  70. Ibis3, féministe avec un titre française de fantaisie says

    @happiestsadist

    Criticising a game for dehumanising and targeting with violence actual public figures is not focusing on civility at the expense of justice.

    Personally, I think one of the things that has led to regression and injustice in Canada is Harper’s importation of the technique of uncivil treatment of his political opponents. Our voter turnout has dropped and those who do vote are prone to parrot the personal attack ads that the Cons spewed out over the years. It’s pretty sad, actually.

    @daisy cutter

    If you’re going to name yourself after a bomb, it’s not unreasonable to expect that people might think that you’re militaristic or condone violence or at least aren’t a pacifist. Not a big leap there.

    @Jason

    I’m willing to change my mind on that. Jordan’s absolutely right in saying that demanding such consistency “blackwashes” everything to the same level of abhorrence.

    Then you’re left in a corner where you’re only allowed to condemn something if it is the worst-case scenario. Can’t complain about the gender wage gap because it’s not nearly as bad as FGM. Can’t criticise racial profiling because, well it’s not slavery. We really shouldn’t keep quiet on any issue that we find to be unjust, wrong, immoral, or ethically problematic. Keep perspective, yes. Keep silent, no.

  71. Aquaria says

    Also it reflects an unhealthy obsession with people who are better off ignored

    Oh dear.

    Did you really say something this ignorant?

    Teabaggers can’t be ignored–and aren’t being ignored. Do you understand that the entire reason Michele Bachmann is even running for President is because she’s their candidate? Do you understand how dangerous it will be to have that vicious bigoted MORON in the White House

    Better off ignored? You have got to be kidding. Ignoring these monsters (and they are monsters, make no doubt about it) will turn America into even more of a fascist police state, as if we’re not enough of one already.

    Sit down and shut up. You’ll have us all in concentration camps at this rate.

  72. says

    Ibis@83: never planned on staying silent, just making sure everyone knows damn well I’m keeping things in perspective when I chastise someone “on our side” for doing something stupid and impolitic, that I’ll damn well complain twice as loudly when the other side does it as a matter of course. Three times as loud if they’re in a position of power.

    Aquaria@84: if the FOX News channel hadn’t paid them all sorts of attention (e.g. by creating them from scratch by sponsoring the astroturf rallies that started them out), the Tea Party would be a non-entity today. I don’t think suggesting that the world would be better off if everyone ignored the Teabaggers is at all the same as advocating that we let them run roughshod over your country. I think the first would prevent the second, in fact. If we could go back in time at least. Now that they’ve snowballed themselves into being a political force, they should be met with as much opposition as we can muster. Legitimate opposition, at ballot boxes, in the media, on the blogosphere, in protests. Sans all the eliminationist rhetoric, preferably.

  73. 'Tis Himself, OM says

    Since I pay zero attention to FPS games, I didn’t know TEA PARTY ZOMBIES MUST DIE even existed until Jason brought it to my attention. I realize that 99.99 recurring % of Western civilization, i.e., everyone except me and a couple of babies in rural Burkina Faso, is aware of this game and it is distressing you all terribly. :-þ

    Seriously, what is the problem with the game? It’s showing cartoon violence towards certain people. It’s basically an interactive political cartoon. Does anyone honestly think that Palin, Bachmann et al are in danger of being assassinated as a result of this game? If Bill O’Reilly had a heart attack and died I wouldn’t be at all dismayed, but I’m not going to slip cyanide into his martini. I’m especially not encouraged to doctor his drink as a result of a game I’d never heard of before yesterday and which I’ll never, ever play.

    If this game caused a genuine threat to actual people, then I’d join the denouncements as loudly as possible. Since I really, truly don’t believe it is, then, without apology. I yawn at anyone’s complaints about the game.

  74. Ibis3, féministe avec un titre française de fantaisie says

    Seriously, what is the problem with the game? It’s showing cartoon violence towards certain people.

    Let’s imagine for a moment that instead of shooting up Palin and Bachmann and O’Rielly, the game had the FP actor raping them instead. Still OK? Or if it was a more realistic presentation?

  75. says

    That’s fair, ‘Tis. Not everyone has to drum up outrage about everything (especially things by random anonymous people on the internet), and some of us need to keep our powder dry for larger, more immediate concerns like political figures making the same kinds of eliminationist rhetoric. However, the next time you’re engaged with a teabagger who asks where the outrage was about this game, at the same time as you’re explaining the false dichotomy, you can also point them here. To the Canadian pearl-clutcher.

    We all have a utility function in this fight. As long as we’re not trying to chuck one another out of the fight for not being in 100% agreement with one another (my chief concern with Chris Mooney’s and other accomodationists’ tactics), then we’re not tangibly hurting the movement as a whole. So, I’m happy that you’re willing to yawn, as long as you’ll allow me to join you in outrage about those things that we both happen to think are worthy of derision.

  76. Jordan Genso says

    Jason,

    I absolutely agree with your post @88.

    It shouldn’t be controversial if people on the left call out things like this video game as being inappropriate. But if they choose not to vocalize their disapproval, that shouldn’t be a problem either. Some of us would prefer to focus our attention on more egregious behavior, but we shouldn’t attack those who feel it is better to criticize all examples they come across.

  77. says

    SRSLY?
    This many comments?
    I gave up around comment # 30, so let’s just go with I agree with Jason and pretend I had some brilliantly sarcastic quip thrown in for good measure…..

  78. Pen says

    Aquaria@84 – Yes, I meant ignore the tea-partiers at the ballot box. Switch off the television when they appear on it, they’re only there because it makes for good ratings. I do not honestly think for one minute that Michelle Bachmann is going to become president, but if she does, then yes, you are doomed. How is shooting her up in a video game going to help?

  79. Pen says

    My US husband tells me it used to be normal that you could go to an indoor shooting range and shoot at life-size posters of Bush. These days presumably, you can get Obama. Or Reagan, for that retro feel, Kennedy for reliving the genuine assassination experience. Maybe you can shoot Washington with an antique musket? But I wonder if my husband is actually correct? I already knew they had life-size photographs of anonymous people to shoot at and thought that was uncool. Maybe it stands to reason that a culture that finds that OK, would be OK with video game violence against political figures.

  80. says

    Hey, everyone who thinks I’m clutching pearls. Compare and contrast this post with this earlier post about Bulletstorm. A choice blockquote:

    I am mature enough to make the distinction that the video games I play are escapist fantasy. I have never mentally superimposed the image of any person that I had an argument with, onto the “faces” of the “people” I “shoot” in these games.

    Wow, I’m entirely self-consistent! :D

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