I don't think Anita Sarkeesian's videos should be treated as an extension of the PMRC mindset. She's pointing out misogynistic tropes in video games, not advocating censorship. I mean hell, she starts her first video in the series saying that even though she's pointing out problematic aspects of games, that doesn't mean those games shouldn't be played or enjoyed. I don't understand why she's getting as much flack as she is.
Anita is getting flack because she’s an ignorant outsider. I’m not even a gamer, and this is apparent to me.
Whether you agree the content Anita showcases is misogynistic, offensive or not, most of her videos function on the same, flawed premise: That the negative gender stereotypes she finds in these games are harmful to the gamers that play them. She argues that these games somehow ingrain negative gender stereotypes in the individuals that play. They hurt women via perpetuating these stereotypes, essentially.
This is pure, unsubstantiated BS. Anita would never fund an actual study with the tens of thousands of dollars she’s raised, because she knows any such study wouldn’t work in her favor. It’s easier to buy a bunch of video games, cherrypick the most offensive parts for ignorant viewers, and then keep the rest of the money for yourself and your organization, right?
You’ve gotta wake up to the truth: Anita’s videos are about as effective and as enlightening as an elementary school screening of Reefer Madness.
Media—especially popular media—reflects already-existing norms, ideas, concepts, and sentiments in a society, it doesn’t dictate them to consumers. Slasher flicks don’t make serial killers. Grand Theft Auto doesn’t increase the probability of shooting sprees. Gangsta rap doesn’t create gangs. The game Bully doesn’t create bullies. Reading 50 Shades of Grey probably doesn’t increase the likelihood of the reader getting tied up and whipped for sexual pleasure either.
If EA Games were to somehow create and sell a video game titled Mysogyny: Women Suck, the only people who would buy and enjoy such a game would be individuals who already agreed with the game’s clearly stated ideology. Anyone else buying and enjoying the game probably just dabbles in whatever fantasy the game presents during gameplay only.
The probability of this game somehow CREATING a misogynist is about as likely as your local library’s copy of Mein Kampf creating a Nazi. Any such result would be minuscule if charted in a study of any sort.
As a kid, teen, and adult, I’ve been exposed to TONS of media that has displayed women as the weaker, more submissive, and more sexually desirable gender. However, this is not something I feel is reality. Why? Strong female role models, good upbringing, friends, family, amazing wife, and plenty of real-life interactions with women. FUCK A VIDEO GAME! A healthy reality ALWAYS trumps a fantasy.
If you really want to change hearts and minds when it comes to gender roles in society, you’ve got to work on changing that society’s reality, not its media—especially media that so explicitly deals in fantasy. I know we tend to blame the media for a lot of our ills, but your real-life interactions and role models play a larger role in guiding your moral and social outlook than any music, movie, game, or book you’ll ever consume.
Anita is on the most foolish of errands, but y’all are eating it up like a hot pizza. Looking for positive gender roles in a game like Hitman is like looking for positive gender roles in any of the three Expendables films. There’s nothing applicable to real life in Hitman because the game’s not meant to guide anyone through real life. It’s a violent video game, not a dating advice show. There aren’t a whole lotta healthy social norms in the game because it’s not meant to portray any sort of normality.
NOW DON’T GET IT TWISTED: I do understand that violent, male-pandering video games persist in the video game industry. They make a lot of money, yes. And I completely acknowledge that a lot of what’s in games like Hitman, Manhunt, and Grand Theft Auto isn’t exactly, uh, healthy when it comes to the gender roles displayed. There’s a definitely a lack of female leading roles in many games, too.
However, it’s not like there aren’t alternatives here. There are plenty of non-violent, positive indie and mainstream games out there that would love more customers. And there could be MORE if we supported this sect of the industry. If Anita really cared about the future of the video game industry in relation to her cause, well, then she’d encourage all of her fans to purchase video games that work outside the negative gender stereotypes and violence of games like Hitman. It’s that simple. Supply and demand might have created Hitman, but it can just as easily create games with positive messages and gender roles, and it already has. You just have to buy them and be willing to support future releases that fit in with your taste.
But Anita is no gamer, and most of her supporters aren’t either. They’re outsiders that want to see change in a market they don’t participate in. Anita’s lack of experience is plain as day, yet, she’s lauded as some kind of expert. What if we applied the same angle to me right here:
Would you take my metal reviews seriously if I owned no metal records? Didn’t listen to metal? Had no real history with metal? Disliked metal? Constantly criticized metal with surface-level complaints like it being too loud, satanic, violent, angry, and perpetuating dangerous, overly masculine gender stereotypes? No, you wouldn’t. No one—except people equally ignorant to metal—would take me seriously. I’d be an ignorant outsider, which Anita is when it comes to gaming.
And I still stand by my PMRC comparison, too. I see similarity in her determination to find social dangers where there really are none. Yeah, Anita has nowhere near the same level of power or political influence, and she probably never will. And she probably won’t try to pull off the same censorship stunts due to the inevitable failure of trying to enforce or legislate any such censorship. It would be more beneficial to her to stay on the sidelines and collect her fundraising bucks as she highlights games she deems misogynistic. I agree America’s got a long way to go when it comes to creating social equality between the genders, but video games are nowhere near the root of the issues we need to address. They’re just an easy target for the quick to complain.
All in all, it’s same shit, different decade. People have been whining and moaning over “harmful” media for generations. And it should be no surprise that those desperately seeking to be offended lose every time. You can be on that side if you want, but just be a good sport when you take your “L”.