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Wertham Thompson

Dee Yun Dee Yun: (contact-deleteme[at]-deleteme-direman [dot] com) 2006-03-31 00:17:25

Full Circle

The sad thing is that none of the illustrations in today's strip employs hyperbole. Those are actual arguments posited by Wertham, and that's an actual quote by Thompson. Wertham nearly destroyed the comics industry with his crusade, and today Thompson is attempting to do the same to the videogame industry.

In 2003, a carjacker by the name of Devin Moore seized a gun from a policeman and killed him and two others. Obviously, Grand Theft Auto is responsible. Jack Thompson initiated litigation against Take-Two Interactive (for publishing Grand Theft Auto), Sony (for manufacturing something to play GTA on), and Wal-Mart and Gamestop (for selling us GTA). What happened to placing responsibility squarely on the shoulders of the murderer? And at the risk of sounding callous, the officer clearly failed to follow proper procedure.

Nevertheless, it's true that GTA isn't good for you. It's fraught with graphic violence, and no matter how much you protest that it doesn't affect you, exposure to media like GTA desensitizes every one of us to human suffering and fosters aggressive modes of thought. But the vast majority of us are able to digest it safely as entertainment. I agree M rated games and R rated movies should be kept away from children, but Thompson is as off base as Wertham was.

This is the same sort of thinking that led to Prohibition. Alcohol is bad for you. Alcohol-related tragedies exact millions of dollars in medical bills and property damage, and far more lives than "GTA related" deaths. And yet, when a drunk driver kills someone, it's unthinkable to launch a civil suit against the distillery responsible for the drink, much less the liquor store it came from or the glass manufacturer that provided the bottle.

These things come full circle. "Youth culture" of any type is fair game. Music that used to be blamed for suicides when I was a kid, is now background for car commercials. Ozzy Ozbourne is almost cuddly now. Roleplaying games were accused of being Satanic rites, a charge which filtered on down to collectible card games like Magic: the Gathering and even Pokemon. Pokemon for crying out loud!

As ludicrous as this all is, it's taking a serious toll on Take-Two. Wertham's attacks set back comics as a serious art form several decades. Let's all hope that the judicial system is able to see this witch hunt for what it is, and allow videogames to continue its maturation into a legitimate, meaningful art form.

Now Playing - Black (Xbox, but runs/looks great on the 360), Burnout Revenge (360) and Guitar Hero (PS2)

Xbox Live Gamertag - Vawce

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