As our president Donald J. Trump prepares to meet with the video game industry on Thursday in some epic dodge/deflection of the NRA’s role in the epidemic of gun violence, it again raises the decades old, inter-generational question of the harmful impact of popular culture on society. From EC Comics to Elvis and the Beatles and bikinis to heavy metal and gangsta rap and slasher films to MTV’s Teen Mom and Jersey Shore to first person shooters, social depravity has a long and rich and deserved history of being blamed as the hangover to pop culture and mass media’s moral toxins.
But for the neo-Marxists/Postermodernist/Radical Leftists, there are plenty of places to point the finger against the argument of pop culture’s virulent effects on society. For example, in Japan, where anime is mainstream and frequently depicts rape, Japan as a society is not overcome with rape. And given the popularity of racing games (e.g. Gran Turismo Sport) we hear very little of the epidemic of slaughter due to teenage reckless driving (except Hulk Hogan’s son back in 2007). And in a culture such as our own, where characters such as Jason Bourne and Ethen Hunt (Mission Impossible) and Bryan Mills (Taken), to name just a few, pull in hundreds of millions at the box office, we are somehow bereft of epidemics of young men jumping out of buildings and airplanes and blowing shit up and all the other nonsense that action heroes do. Somehow we’re able to separate fiction from reality, but apparently not from Twisted Sister’s lyrics or video games depicting shooting, though we curiously and rarely ever put ourselves in the position of really believing we were Pac-Man (though I did have a Pac-Man iron on t-shirt in 1981, for whatever that means, and today wear Iron Maiden t-shirts under no delusion that I’m Bruce Dickenson). And as much as I loved Conan (even DC’s The Warlord even though he was oddly towheaded), I never tried to lop a neighbor’s limb off with a clever or hatchet or broadswoard, as did nobody else in my town, so far as I know.
And these liberal neo-Marxists might even claim that, like all the dudes that keep the millions of hours of pornography streaming on the internet, dudes who watch and whack off instead of actually fucking….are watching yet controlling their urge to stick their dicks in actual orifices – if these pornophiles can do it, why too can’t we assume those playing violent games know the difference between fact and fantasy enough to exert a similar control? And if they can’t, it’s the fault of the individual not the game just as it’s not the fault of the gun, rather the shooter. Same goddamned logic, right? So don’t go banning the porno or video games or heavy metal or gangsta rap, you conservative prudes.
Problem is we don’t know the real problem and that’s why all this illogic floats around like a fart on an airplane that nobody openly complains about. And we can’t figure it out cause the problem’s just too massive. Too many variables. Too many people on too many drugs with shitty health and with shitty parents who are governed by shitty leaders – parents and children alike with too little hope for themselves in a shitty economy (though it’s curious then why it’s mostly white folks doing the mass killing, right?) But like that dick that needs an orifice, rather than doing anything of substance about it (like getting a fucking job to make yourself attractive to somebody you’d like to fornicate with), out of laziness and confusion and melancholy, we sit around in pajama bottoms all day, idly rubbing at our balls from the outside.
Against these liberal claims against popular culture’s influence on society, I’d like to provide a few example of how popular culture does, in fact, influence society, which, in turn, I hope to consider as potential benefits for adjusting our cognitive and behavioral norms.
- the Clint Eastwood hero archetype: take into account how in every family there’s at least one misanthropic brother, uncle, grandfather or male cousin who fancies himself the “strong but silent” hero in waiting in the event that a terrorist attack occurs on a train or some maltreated prostitute needs avenging or some good-hearted minority kid in the neighborhood needs a hero to stand up for him. This is the Eastwood hero-archetype. And for every middle-aged to elderly asshole who spouts such nonsense out the oral end like he does Stove Top Stuffing farts out the anal end, both at the Thanksgiving table, this asshole has inevitably been influenced by too many Clint Eastwood movies. Are you beginning to see how pop-culture influences us?
2. Judas Priest’s “Living After Midnight” or Lionel Richie’s “All Night Long” or Wiz Khalifa’s “No Sleep” or Alicia Bridges’ “I Love the Nightlife”. All celebrating nocturnal activity when sensible people should be resting for work. Look at how many people do live after midnight (i.e. don’t sleep) and (metaphorically) rock until the dawn. Various activities include (in order): Dancing, Frog Gigging and Partying/Puking
3. My Little Pony/Bronies. Now who can argue that without the cultural influence of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, that we wouldn’t be stuck with the insufferable brony phenomenon? See how one spawns the other just like the fictional violence in video games spawns actual violence? Now you may be saying to yourself, would we be better off if instead of bronies and the otherkin and cosplay creeps these were regular dudes playing violent video games? Well, no. Might the absence of violent video games push more of our male youth in this direction? We can only hope so, since there’s to date zero reports of bronies committing violent crime (though a lot of suspicion that bronies make up a disproportionate number of the To Catch a Predator weirdos).
Stupid cultural phenomenon special mention: Granny Hair from 2015 proving that if pop-culture celebrities such as Kellie Osborne and Hillary Duff can support a stupid trend, any number of other fools will fall in line.
What I hope to have highlighted in this article, contrary to popular neo-Marxist/Postmodernist belief, is exactly how popular culture can and does influence common folks’ day to day habits, attitudes and behavior. From your obnoxious grandad spouting his drunken, right-wing political views over Thanksgiving dinner cause he’s a closeted Walt Kowalski (even though he suckled on a student deferment while his buddies got their dicks blown off in the infantry at the Battle of Ia Drang. And since Walt was such a grumpy old asshole and had no friends and, in real life, even if his wife wouldn’t have hated him, she’s have to be pathologically sadomasochistic. That’s be the reality but real life Walt’s misery ain’t what the story’s selling. It’s selling a hero narrative and that’s just how gullible people are, that they actually buy it that being a miserable old asshole’s going to lead to anything but being a miserable old asshole).
And if video games affect behavior just as stylists and celebrities introduce stupid style trends that are eventually picked up by the populace, then we’re in real trouble. Or are we? Cause in knowing that, we can use it to our advantage, like Freud’s nephew knew all along.
So please, President Trump, ban the video games, not the guns. And the next time a shooter unloads in a school, maybe the kids can return fire by flinging Call of Duty and Wolfenstein discs while shielding themselves with old XBox and PlayStation consoles. And in taking away the first person shooters, maybe you can convince the boys that Candy Crush or some LEGO superheroes bullshit is the way to go. Not an unreasonable idea since young women were convinced for a period that it was cool to try to look elderly. All this just goes to show just how easy it is to sell shit to a public stupid enough to buy shit, whether that shit’s silver hair or a open meeting with video game manufacturers rather than the NRA.
But this pettiness is what happens when we don’t wanna tackle big and tough issues. Like if you’re on the brink of bankruptcy and you don’t wanna think too much about it or give up the big house or the new Lexus LX so you start buying the kids Berry Colossal Crunch instead of real Capt’N Cruch Berries. Or some morbidly obese slob who cuts down from 8 to just 7 Mt. Dew’s a day so you can look in the mirror and say to himself, “I’m trying.”
It’s a funny thing in a society based on freedom – that freedom means the freedom to create and possess and disseminate stupid ideas as well as good ideas so it shouldn’t be all that surprising when a relatively stupid public routinely buys the dumbest ideas. And the other bad side of that coin of freedom is it also gives everybody the freedom to act stupidly and irresponsibly and, unfortunately, at times even violently. But isn’t that what laws are for? To punish them for their stupid and irresponsible and violent behavior? And isn’t it the “nanny state” the the conservatives are always railing against? (i.e. “Let me kill myself with cigarettes if I want to cause it’s my freedom of choice to do that. And don’t trying to curtail that freedom through taxation.”)
But here we go again with blaming pop culture for our social ills, asking again if we need some sorta government protection from the music or the movies or the styles or now the video games when it’s usually just stupid and lazy parents and voters and corrupt politicians who know exactly how to prey on our mass stupidity that are cumulatively the biggest problem. We’ve created an ill society just as the morbidly obese or decrepit body is ill. And the illnesses manifest themselves through gun violence and tribalism and dumb shit like flat earth theory just like a stoke or heart attack or arthritis or Alzheimer’s manifest themselves in a failing body. But the body’s so far wrecked that there’s hardly no coming back and we’re so fucking stupid to be squabbling over what to do about it, where to even start – to focus on blood pressure or cholesterol or glucose? – to do anything. Instead we just sit on the couch rubbing our balls through fleece pajama pants – balls and cock that hibernate below a flabby belly that you better not call flabby lest you hurt somebody’s feelings. But fat and flabby nonetheless and mostly a useless and impotent society in which everybody wants to be something they’re not – whether it’s elderly looking when you’re only 21 or whether it’s a dude who wants to be Rainbow Dash pony or Bruce becoming Caitlin or some old dude who’s wasted his life in misery secretly wishing to be Walter Kowalski saving the hood. And who wants to be who and what they are when we’re a diseased and lazy and decrepit society anyway? But you better not say that lest we shame you with catcalls exposing your insensitivity and drown out your criticism with the glorious chant of “USA!!! USA!!! USA!!!”