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Nancy Grace On Video Game Violence

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It’s amazing that some people have jobs. Not just normal jobs, high profile jobs that can impact this country in a negative manner, and they have all the power in the world to do so, regardless of whether or not they’re honest about it. Nancy Grace is one of those people.

After picking up on the topic of the upcoming Eidos (not Idos as the show’s transcript states) 25 to Life, her one-sided, absurd debate went nowhere, barely giving the only person who was actually defending the title a second of her time. What follows are the important aspects of the debate, with the incorrect or blanket statements pulled aside for debunking:

Now there’s 25 to Life, and the object is to kill cops.

Partly true. You can also play as a cop on the other side of the law. No mention of that was made anywhere during the program.

And I also want to show everybody one after the next, after the next police officers that lost their life in the line of duty! Now, this is a video game, and you’re seeing at the bottom of this screen, real-life cops that lost their lives trying to protect you and me.

What does a list of real life police officers have to do with a video game? Player’s are gunning down a mass of pixels, textures, and polygons. If you want to do a show praising those who gave their lives in duty, please do so. Until then, showing that list has no purpose.

Jack Thompson: Nancy, there are three cops that are dead in Alabama because of Grand Theft Auto by City, two cops and a dispatcher. So we know that these cop-killing games are leading to these killings.

For those who don’t know, Thompson is a crooked lawyer that somehow finds a way on television every time these debates spring up. As far as I’m aware (someone please correct me if I’m wrong), he has never, ever won a case against a game company. He saps money from parents who believe they’re not at fault for their child’s problems, promises multi-million dollar settlements, sends them to court, and loses.

In this argument, he presents no proof. He does NOT know that GTA is responsible for those killings. The person that killed the officers is. That doesn’t make for good TV though.

The military, Nancy, uses these murder simulators, killing simulators…

Yes, far more complicated, confusing, and deep military simulations that will keep troops ALIVE as they’re fighting a war overseas. America’s Army is available free from a US government website. It’s a recruiting tool, and it has nothing to do with desensitizing people. If you think killing a person in real life and killing a game character are one in the same, seek professional help immediately, please.

GRACE: Incredible! Incredible! I can hardly even focus on what you’re saying, Jack.

Of course you can’t Nancy. If you did, you’re ratings wouldn’t be up because people would see right through you.

DINO LOMBARDI, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Nancy, people kill cops. Video games don’t kill cops.

Hey, look here. A voice of reason.

DEBRA OPRI, ATTORNEY FOR JACKSON`S PARENTS: You know, you are really upsetting me, Nancy, because you used the 1st Amendment to destroy Michael Jackson, and you won’t use the 1st Amendment to protect an entertainment company.

You’re not the only one becoming annoyed, though what Michael Jackson’s defense attorney has to do with anything on this topic is beyond me. Of course, it doesn’t matter as she’s cut off before she can get a word in and the show cuts to a commercial. How convenient.

GRACE: Well, Senator Chuck Schumer is asking the video game 25 to Life be boycotted. It depicts street gang violence, killing cops. This is what your kids will be digesting if you buy this for $49.95. You’re seeing at the bottom of the screen one law officer after the next gunned down in the line of duty.

This is immediately after the commercial break. She fails to mention the rating system. In fact, she probably doesn’t know it exists, doesn’t want to say it to weaken her argument, or just didn’t want parents to know anything about it. Instead of doing good, attempting to inform parents who may not yet know of the system (and if they don’t, they likely don’t care anyway), she blindsides Eidos saying the player is killing cops. Those aren’t cops Nancy. They never will be.

BETHANY MARSHALL, PSYCHOTHERAPIST: Well, I’ll tell you what does have to do with violence, strong emotional experiences. And when those kids are gaming and they press the button or the mouse and they actually kill somebody and there’s an emotional charge that does rewire the brain. And another thing that affects violence is lack of parental rules. So a question I have with these games are, Where are the parents.

This person appeared out of nowhere on the show, and does hit one point: the parents are responsible. While pushing a button is nothing like shooting a gun (and where this idea comes from is baffling to me; I have no clue how to load or fire a firearm after 20 years of gaming), at least she acknowledges, however minutely, the parental guidance issues.

GRACE:… But in the last Tennessee shooting, where a kid shot two cops and a third person, they had been watching this Grand Theft Auto for days on end. It said life is like a video game. And you’re still telling me this is OK?

LOMBARDI: Well, I’m not saying it’s OK, but I don’t support censoring it.

GRACE: Yes, you are!

LOMBARDI: I’m not saying it’s OK, Nancy.

GRACE: We censor porn…

LOMBARDI: … and you know I’m not saying it’s OK.

GRACE: … don’t we? We censor porn. Why would we let there be cop- shooting videos?

LOMBARDI: We have movies where cops are killed, and we have many instances of people who have killed…

GRACE: But kids can get this!

LOMBARDI: … who we can show they can have watched such movies.

GRACE: Jack…

LOMBARDI: It’s not…

GRACE: … children can get this, Jack Thompson!

The one person that actually has some sense in the conversation, and she fails to let him get a full sentence in. She blatantly ignores the movie comment, refuses to mention children can just as easily get movies (which are more in a child’s price range), simply calls them videos, and goes back to her lifeline Thompson with the over acted scare tactic “But the children Jack!” Utter hilarity ensues.

In addition, it’s not ok for a child to have a M rated video game, but it’s up to the parents discretion. Dombardi tried to slip that in. He wasn’t allowed to.

GRACE: … we logged on to buy Grand Theft Auto. We didn’t buy it, but it says, If you’re under 17, click here. That’s all it takes, Jack. Anybody can get this.

That’s wonderful. Care to tell us what a 10-year old is doing with a credit card online? Oh, you skipped that part. Strange, I might have brought that up. Seems relevant.

THOMPSON: Children don’t have a 1st Amendment…

I’m no expert in this field, but I believe if a 10-year chose to picket outside of a building to state their beliefs, I believe they’re allowed. This shows Thompson’s credibility right there.

I have no problem with people who dislike violent video games. I have no problem with people who believe in god. I have no problem with people who stick up for animal rights. I have no problem with people who wish to deliver their message.

I DO have a problem with people who put junk like this on TV, fail to give adequate time to people on the other side, cut them off, and come off much like people who would cry “Fire!” in a crowded theater. It’s inciting a false panic, and the only reason this debate continues is because America’s parents are not properly monitoring their children. They also believe people like Nancy Grace. And much like Schumer did, Nancy just made every kid in America want this game.

Way to save Eidos millions in advertising.

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About Matt Paprocki

Matt Paprocki has critiqued home media and video games for 13 years and is the reviews editor for Pulp365.com. His current passion project is the technically minded DoBlu.com. You can read Matt's body of work via his personal WordPress blog, and follow him on Twitter @Matt_Paprocki.
  • What about WWII games like Battlefield 2 or Call of Duty that let you be as nazi soldiers or terrorists and your objective is to kill American soldiers? I didn’t any objection over those games?

  • I’m not an expert on PC games, but after a quick look on Google, I found nothing on playing as Nazi’s in either of those games. Battlefield lets you play as Chinese and middle eastern fighters. Both games let you play as American troops. Player’s choice.

    Call of Duty is amazingly accurate and tells a fascinating story of war. It’s the only way most of us will ever even come close to doing what those men did. It’s far more effective than a book (or in most cases, even a film).

    If you can play as an opposing force, there’s nothing wrong with showing the other side. They fought and died for what they blieved in too. That’s something Tora! Tora! Tora! did really well, and that’s why it’s the best film on the Pearl Harbor attack. No different here.

  • Okay, so you’re fine with choice… that’s cool… I might be wrong with Call of Duty, but there is a WWII game that lets you play as Nazis against Americans.

  • PseudoErsatz

    Advertising companies spend billions of dollars a year for 30-second commercials that are statically proven to persuade television viewers to purchase a certain product. In other words, these 30-second commercials alter the behavior of individuals by changing their way of thinking and encouraging them to choose the advertised product. Yet when it comes to video games that young skulls-full-of-mush immerse themselves into for hours and hours a day, we are supposed to believe that the experience will not alter their behavior or way of thinking and choices they make. The blog originator comments are based more on wishful thinking, and not based on reality.

    P.S. When playing Call of Duty Multiplayer, you can choose to play for the German side. Skirmishes are limited to armed assaults against other players. There is no torture, loud rap music, or Koran-flushing involved. Just as when you play as Allied, you point your pixilated gun at your opponent and click your mouse button. Only thing different is that you’re aiming at the guys in green, rather than the guys in gray.

  • Um, no. An ad will tell you about the features of a product, why you need it, and what you can do with it. It doesn’t alter your behavior. It simply introduces something new and improved, and says “I’m interesting. Buy me.”

    That’s not a behavior change in any form. Persausion is something entirely else. If video games do cause people to act irationally, how do you explain the massive drop in juvenile crime since 1994 (It’s rate currently is the lowest since 1982)? How do other coutnries have lower crime rates, yet censor very little? Why do we not have the millions of people who play these games running around outside shooting each other?

    A game does not say “Go shoot someone” like an ad says “Go buy something.” Completely different. An ad will not immerse you in a world. They have less then a minute to sell you something. What about movies? Are they telling you it’s ok to kill? Books? Awful, awful analogy.

  • Henry

    I think that the defenders of these games are overstating their case. The media (or what we would have called art two generations ago) does influence behavior. Goethe’s Sorrows of Young Werther changed attitudes about suicide and may have induced some individuals in the early 19th Century to kill themselves. Birth of A Nation appears to have played a part in the rebirth of the KKK in 1916. Pornography can give viewers’ distorted opinions about sex, to put it mildly. Propaganda, including well-crafted movies by Leni Riefenstahl, played a major role in leading Germans down the path to the Final Solution. For all we know watching the Three Stooges may even make schoolboys more violent, although that strikes me as reductionist as hell.

    But even if we accept that media can do bad things–and I am not a fan of violent games, unlike many of the folks who come to this site–that doesn’t justify censorship.

    First, blaming the product is not only simplistic, but probably false in almost every case. The parents of those teenage suicides were never able to prove that heavy metal lyrics about suicide were responsible for their sons’ deaths, for the simple reason that things are never that simple. And those were cases in which it could be argued that the songs advocated suicide, in a sort of half-assed way. While I think that romanticizing suicide is dangerous stuff, and may have had some impact in some general sense in some cases, there’s no good science to draw a direct causal connection between the two in any actual case.

    Second, these censorship/boycott proposals are always narrowly content-based, often with a thick strain of racism in them. If you want to ban art that glorifies killing or –alternative argument used to denounce these products– treats it as commonplace, then we not only ban gangsta rap but plenty of Shakespeare (start with Coriolanus, where the actors not only cut out the tongue of one of the characters, but throw an animal’s tongue into the audience in some productions), Westerns, operas, etc. When you ask the book/movie/video/game-burners why they would give some art a pass while banning rap, games, etc., it turns into a distinction between “our” violence and “theirs.” Even if there is a distinction between Shakespeare and GTA –and there’s no question that there is a gigantic one– there’s no way to draw that distinction without either creating a permanent board of standards to judge every television show/game/play/song etc. or simply lashing out at art you don’t like.

    So while the First Amendment gives Schumer or Grace the right to use their soapbox to denounce these games, there’s no way to ban these games that doesn’t violate the freedom of expression guaranteed by the First Amendment. People who enjoy these games can make that argument without taking the position that games don’t have any effect whatsoever. Claiming that video games are no different from nursery rhymes makes you look like you are in denial.

  • Matthew

    Look. I have played the game where you said you could play as a nazi. I belive there are two reasons this is not a bad thing. 1. Is that the said game (Battlefield 1942) is mostly a multiplayer game. If no one played as the other team, who would?. 2. It is letting people see the other side of things. German soldiers were just as scared as our soldiers on D-Day. Nazi soldiers would pray to God just as ours did. The only diffrence was the equipment and the political standing. The were just soldiers doing their duty. I dont see how experiencing this is a bad thing. Saying it’s bad is having a one-track mind.

  • HK in ATL

    Most cops are killed by thugs who probably don’t even know what a video game is. What’s Nancy’s case then? I don’t think that there is any proof that gaming increases the chance of becoming a cop killer. There are some killers who have played those games, but there are also Volvo drivers who have killed a cop. Should we sue Volvo for that too?

    Also, I haven’t seen anybody gunning down Germans after playing Medal of Honor.