It's the thing.

23 September 2013

Violence and The Media

I wanted a longer title but that'd be a paragraph in itself, so I decided to sum up what this post would mostly be about in a few words.

So, with the release of Grand Theft Auto 5, reared the ugly head of Video-Games-and-their-relation-to-gun-crime discussion.

I'll start off with GTAV, then slowly roll into mass shootings, then talk about media portrayal of these events. I'm going to feel like I'm writing some kind of report or something, but it's something I passionately HATE about rolling news and media coverage on games



Grand Theft Auto is an open world sandbox game, which, described by Wikipedia:

Each game in this series allows players to take on the role of a criminal or a wannabe in the big city, typically an individual who plans to rise through the ranks of organized crime through the course of the game. The player is given various missions by kingpins and major idols in the city underworld which must be completed to progress through the storyline. Assassinations and other violent crimes are featured regularly.
In other words, it's not exactly kid friendly. The 18 rating it gets here in the UK is pretty much to stop kiddies getting their mitts on it. But anyone can tell you that the kids are gonna play it anyway. I played GTA: London back on my Playstation when I was 8 or 9. Parents buying the game because the kidders want it, shopkeepers not caring, sharing of games between friends. It happens and no-one cares.

But I'm not here to talk about that - I'm here to have a go at media screaming about violent video games causing mass shootings - mostly the US Media. Many huge outlets (FOX especially) like to try and link video games to firearm deaths, especially mass shootings.

Yes - Lots of mass shooters play video games. But do lots of Gamers do mass shootings? Is the entire western world a whole rootin' tootin' cowboy scenario because of them?

(Graph from Washington Post)
No.

Violent video games are not in trend with mass shootings at all. Violent video games have never made someone think "This is a good thing to do, I will do it".
It's usually a case of an underlying mental illness, or an actual motive behind someone to lead them to cause crime which may make them cause such a devastating act.

I can't say much for Gun Laws, being in the UK and all that - and the last thing I want is someone telling me I'm all wrong (which I get anyway when I try to talk about it), but Gun Control works. Every time someone says it, Gun Owners and advocates freak out and assume "Ban". But as I said, not getting into it.


Now, Mass Shootings and media reporting. This is where I'll get kind-of in depth.
I guess I got a good example recently with the Nairobi hostage situation, but I'm more focused on the "One-Man-Death-Machine" commonly seen in the US, rather than an organised terrorist plot.

So I'll take the recent-ish Sandy Hook shooting. (How bad is this? I can say Recent-ish and cherry pick from a few high-profile cases)

I can understand the reporting of a case of mass shooting. But as a Forensic Psychiatrist once said: "Don't make this 24/7 rolling coverage (Youtube video)

It can make any egotistical glory hunter consider it. They analyse every move you ever make, everything you did, what you did for a living, why you might have done it. The focus is on you, and you alone. You did this. You did that.

It's a completely unnecessary focus.  It's all the news will talk about for weeks. Other news passes by like nothing because "We're waiting for a spokesperson to turn up and give some spiel everyone knows off the top off their heads, but it's a new face that's here to say it"

"This event is a tragedy." 

They'll say, giving a somber look to the gaggle of press in front of them. Pausing after every sentence for dramatic effect.

"Never before has [place] witnessed such devastation on this scale.
Our thoughts are with the victims' families as they come to terms with their losses.
We are co-operating fully with the authorities as they conduct their investigations.
Thank you."

That's it. That's all it'll be, every time. But they must do it to sate the masses. We demand more because we must know every detail. Because the news outlets must know every detail.
Why do we need to know about what he did in his spare time? Look, he played Ping-pong once. He ate a Bacon Sandwich before leaving to kill.

What the hell does it matter? He did the thing, that's all we need to know. Please stop glorifying these deranged bastards - it only gives the rest ideas to leave their mark on the world in the worst way imaginable.

Count how many times you've seen a news anchor sit there and give the screen a cold hard stare whenever that "We have new developments rolling in from [place] soon." 

They probably do, and it's probably so fucking dull, they're looking for a way to spice it up a little bit, maybe throw it in some context with some previous unrelated information to make him look like a super-murderer. Maybe because they expressed an interest in Fantasy RPGs, and he took part in sword classes. "Practicing for survival" they might say.

In other words:
When a mass shooting hits the rolling news, I turn off BBC news, but I still can't get away from all this talk of murder, because it becomes hot topics on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, reddit.. We just talk about murder and discuss politics around the whole thing like it's nothing. Like it's expected.

I'm sick of it, and I know lots of others are. We're reporting on killers like we report on our celebrities.

tl;dr News Outlets are fucks, I like video games, so by correlation, I am a potential murderer.