A Divine Entertainment

Some may see little to compare between the recent launch of a violent video game and the wars in the Middle East. After all, the bloodthirsty slaying and criminal activities indulged by gaming fans around the world, as Grand Theft Auto Four hits the computer scene, are ethereal and unreal. It can surely have little to do with the real world, when blood and guts are only made of pixels.

Or, can it?

Most gamers recoil in horror at any suggestion video games can impact violent crime statistics. Just because it’s fun to kill and torture people in cyberspace doesn’t necessarily make it fun in reality, but how far does it go towards dulling the sensitivities, presenting an aura of thuggery as an okay idea?

No-one knows, because no-one’s done the research. Yet the military has been using video games as training elements for years.[1] Presumably, they must have some effect in persuading young soldiers to kill?

It’s interesting to note how the top-rankers on Western culture’s scale of antisocial behavior – violence and sex – have evolved in America. Europe, generally, is far more tolerant of sexual activity and soft pornography than its transatlantic neighbor but considers, at least gratuitous violence, as an unacceptable symptom of a sick society. This is not to suggest that French or Italian kids don’t play violent video games, merely that society’s emphasis is different.

While the reason for strict suppression of natural sexual urges in the young is fairly easy to identify in American society (it’s way behind Europe in evolving from its strong Calvinistic indoctrinations) the almost heros-ian treatment of violence as something acceptable and to be encouraged is less easy to comprehend, until one realizes that attitudes towards both sex and violence emanate from the same religious root.

America is not enamored of violence for it’s own sake. The foundations of this love-affair began years ago, in a great American ideal: the triumph of ‘Good’ over ‘Evil’, as preached to the early settlers by fire and brimstone pastors from makeshift pulpits all across the territory, and exported to the Americas, ironically, from Europe.

This ideal helped combat the gun-toting lawlessness of the early American West, and was later oft-immortalized by Hollywood as a representation of good always conquering evil, usually after a bitter struggle. Later, as America advanced towards superpower-ship, the ideal was fermented and poured out to the masses to be drunk as a heady elixir of righteousness and power. America was not just king of the world, but a moral crusader leading the planet to a better future, overlooked and egged-on by a God that had become America’s very own.

Two savage world wars in Europe, and particularly the later one that terrorized civilians throughout the continent, helped cast the yoke of strangulating religion from the masses, most of whom questioned a God that could sit back and allow such suffering. For America, however, they were just foreign wars. It seemed God was good to America, protecting its civilians from the dastardly goings-on across the Atlantic.

Violence, in the pursuit of righteousness, was obviously acceptable to God, and America forged ahead with plans to ensure it stayed that way.

Militarism became just another part of American religion. Like its sidekick, Israel, America was prepared to use violence in almost any form, and to any degree, to further its righteous empire. The British utilized a similar policy some hundred years before, and in the name of the self-same God.

Today, God and US violence walk the same path, holding hands. America is heaven-bent on bringing its God to the Middle East, whether they want it or not, and the death toll is of no importance.

Dead soldiers are heroes; dead Iraqis are collateral damage. A plethora of violent TV shows, movies, video games, assisted by patriotic chants and indoctrinal schooling – all watched over and blessed by the great American God – will help ensure a plentiful supply of suitably programmed ‘heroes’ to swell the ranks prepared to kill, torture, and maim for the cause: the God-given ideal of American ‘Superpower’ righteousness.

Were America to lift its head, albeit briefly, and peruse the path of history, it would note a vast number of other nations gone down that road before. Most are long, long gone. Without exception, they all looked to their God.

It seems when the die are cast, and the bets are lost, the God invested in so heavily takes off to find another host.

All that’s left is a screen that reads: “GAME OVER”.

[1] “War games: Military training goes high-tech”, CNN, November 23rd 2001.

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3 Replies to “A Divine Entertainment”

  1. Great post, RJA, on a topic friends and I have debated on into the night with am adjunct in that in a true and healthy atheistic society there would be no war as lives would be far more valued by all if recognised as terminal.
    Stay well my friend, it is good to see you blogging again!

  2. I’m waiting for a religion that preaches responsibility and justice. Foregiveness leads to sin and recidivism.

    The Baby Einstein games were designed to teach babies and were found to be ineffective. Even so, I wish games actually taught kids something educational as it is evident the schools are failing at it. Stupidity and arrogance is the worst combination possible, but probably produces more soldiers, cops and politicians.

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