It's such a cliché to cast media celebrities as vapid, brainless, or in some other way of being so detached from reality as to be mentally deficient, particularly when some prove beyond a doubt that they have a fully functional mass of grey matter between the ears. They're just people like everyone else and cover a spectrum of intelligence, thoughtfulness, and contribution to society; they just have more money. But once in a while you get someone who goes full Snookie Monster and flies their idiot flag high.
Noel Gallagher, solo artist and former lead singer of Oasis, is the one shooting off his ill-informed gob today and the topic du jour is the riots that happened in London over the August 6th weekend. What was the cause of the riots? Well, rather than summarize, here is his direct quote from an interview with Bang Showbiz:
"We live in this age of violence--and I don't care what other people say: Brutal TV and brutal videogames are a reason for this pointless violence as well," Gallagher is quoted as saying in Bang Showbiz. "The people are immune to violence, they are used to it. And if they get caught they aren't punished the right way. The prisons are already full? Then build new ones!"
Well, it's quite clear that the wheel is turning, but the hamster is dead.
This is the part where I could go on a rant about how the causal link between violent video games and violent behavior is about as sturdy as moist toilet tissue and provide a link storm to 50 different studies. I could also start in with the personal anecdotes about how I play violent video games (presently on top of my Xbox: Left 4 Dead, Alice: Madness Returns, Soul Calibur IV, Bulletstorm, and Dragon Age II) and own a handgun (Firestar M-40, locked and hidden away...what? I'm from Texas, it's practically mandated to own something and firing on a range is kinda fun) and somehow have miraculously managed to avoid going on a rampage throughout the city. I could direct you to the episode of Penn & Teller's Bullshit where they dismantle the hype around video game violence and start a discussion around that. But you know what? We've done all this before. We know this song and dance and all of its verses. So why post an article? Because Gallagher's diatribe is a level of laziness I have yet to encounter on this topic.
The JT days had us examining the ramifications of our hobby on society in a way that we wouldn't have otherwise. Credit where it's due, that crazy-pants lawyer is in a large part responsible for gamer culture as a whole being aware of how not-damaging our hobby is to the human psyche, even to the young ones. And more credit where it's due, he at least did research to some degree into the lawsuits he'd try to throw around that at least had threads of plausibility. It was shaky plausibility based on the wrong research that came to all the wrong conclusions, but you can't deny that the man worked his ass off in his wrong-headed crusade.
Gallagher's quip, conversely, is insultingly lazy. Lawyer-man went after school shootings and other small-scale incidents (relatively speaking) to use as proof of the corrosive power of video games. The riots in London were a massive event...so the blame can just be thrown at the feet of violent media? What a bunch of crap. Never mind that violence has been a part of the human condition from the absolute beginning, that massive riots and revolutions have happened throughout history and the world to varying degrees of violence, somehow long before the advent of modern violent media could influence them. Never mind that other forms of media fell under accusations of instigating violence , including music, and none were found as a whole to be responsible. Violent video games are different somehow. No other form of media has held up to scrutiny, and really even video games haven't held up either, but somehow they're still responsible for causing a massive five-day riot.
Here's the truth of it, gaymers: the riots in London are the result of a series of complex issues all coming together and reaching an ignition point. There was the shooting death of Mark Duggan for carrying a gun by London police officers, which may have sparked a reaction from the already tense race relations between the police and black citizens. Social exclusion and disenfranchisement are thought to have played a part, as are the rollbacks of government programs which included shutting down youth clubs. Then there's the whole flailing economic climate that's causing social division and massive levels of unemployment, and if there's one thing that history has repeatedly taught those who bother to pay attention is that a wide social division between the wealthy and the poor rarely ends well.
But there's something that's conspicuously absent from the suggested causes of the riots: violent media. So either Gallagher's on to a breaking insight that he needs to explain to the masses so that Londoners can fix this problem and prevent it from happening again...or he's got his head so far up his ass he's forgotten what daylight is. What do y'all think?