Thursday, April 5, 2012

Culture War: Grassroots-level Mentalities

So, apparently some of the more conservative groups in the culture war recently had a letter writing game to Electronic Arts, complaining about the homosexual "romance" options in the Mass Effect series. Not sure if any of you guys are gamers, but Mass Effect is a pretty huge game, so in a way I commend this attention to a normally ignored part of culture from the conservative/Christian end of things. I haven't looked at a single one of their arguments or moves on this subject, so I don't endorse them - I just am glad they're, apparently, paying attention.



Anyway, that's not why I'm writing this. Instead I want to call some attention to the reaction from a pretty popular (and frankly, normally pretty good) game review/news site. European, I believe. Rock Paper Shotgun.

Have a look at the article. Really, have a long, hard look at it. For fun, check the comments too. It's a sight to behold.

I'm not going to take out the scalpel on this one, or go through some line by line, or - God spare me - comment by comment examination of the acts and errors. There's plenty of targets there, front and center being the '1950s' line and equating homosexual acts with being black. But that's not the point here.

The point is this: just look at it. Look at that glorious, mindless fury. That - not to be too ironic about it - hate. The intolerance. But worst of all, the lack of thought behind it all. There is no reasoning there, because reasoning on this topic is terrifying for these people. So, they don't reason. They just act out. They scream, or the internet equivalent of it. They show their OUTRAGE.

Reasoning, however? That's right out.

Look at it, because it's yet more evidence - and this point, this blog may actually have a theme - of a point I'm trying to make. The culture war is not won on arguments exclusively, or even largely, because quite a number of people inoculate themselves against anything within the neighborhood of reasoning - either wholly, or on a topic by topic basis. You will not get through the "HATE HATE HATE HATE" mental shield John Walker and company have put up if you try to discuss this with them. If they sense you disagree with them - certainly if this conversation is public, seen by their friends and family - the conversation will very likely be on two different wavelengths.

There's a way to get through to these people. But rational discourse? Good, reasonable arguments? All I can say is, have a good look at the article. See what you're up against. You're going to have to explore other options.

17 comments:

Ilíon said...

The moment one pauses to reason, one loses one's place in the herd-mind (or hive-mind if that metaphor words better). So, reasoning is definitly a no-no for these folks.

Ilíon said...

Crude (today): "[you can't reason with these people who have willfully chosen to be irrational]"

A thing I often point out.

Crude (yesterday): "[Oh! but that's different! One must accomodate their knee-jerk irrational reactions in one hope to have a 'discussion' with them]"

Right!

Crude said...

Holy hell, guy. If you can't see the gulf of difference between 'pissing off a person who will listen to you if you choose your words correctly' and 'not wasting your time trying to converse, at all, with a fucking maniac', the problem is on your end, not mine.

You're looking for some one-size-fits-all rule for how to communicate, and it doesn't work. You may not want to learn this lesson, but trust me - the people you're engaged in a culture war with, do.

Crude said...

There's another angle you're not getting either.

I pointed out that rational discourse and reasonable arguments aren't going to work with people like this, in that frame of mind, in that situation.

But you can still get to them in other ways. Your attitude seems to be to just plain taunt someone like this. To what end? Okay, call them all liars and lunatics. I suppose it feels good - what else does it gain you?

What you have to do is think, 'Now, this person can't be reached with rational discourse. So how do I change that?' The proper answer doesn't always involve conversation. In fact, most of the cultural changes we've seen had almost nothing to do with rational argument and conversation, and a lot more to do with roundabout means. TV shows, articles, video games.

And that's even for the most irrational, lock-step ones. For the guys who will listen to you so long as you don't start spouting off with whatever coarse language you normally prefer? You CAN converse. You just have to watch yourself.

Codgitator (Cadgertator) said...

Sorry to pop in here, wonder if you could update my link in your sidebar. Or how does that work across blog platforms? Well, now I'll go back above and read this post.

Crude said...

No prob, Codg.

Ephram said...

To hum a few more variations on the theme, did you hear about the recent "Smut for Smut" spectacle that a group of liberal college atheists put on? Suffice it to say, they could stand to learn from their LGBT peers.

http://news.yahoo.com/atheist-students-encourage-christians-exchange-bibles-pornography-013422828.html

Seriously. What a categorical failure of marketing. It's so bad that it makes me wonder whether these liberal atheists are actually interested in promoting atheism, rather than just engaging in something akin to an act of self-gratifying, public masturbation.

Anyway, thought you'd get a kick out of it.

BenYachov said...

I am looking forward to Mass Effect 3.

I started with Mass Effect 2 finished it (& lost 3 crew members The Assasin, Legon and Jack) & after a replay of the final confrontation with The Collectors I only lost Jack whose loyalty I lost because I sided with Miranda in there epic argument & I didn't have enough Paragon or Renegade points to tell them both off without losing their loyalty.

I find in gaming the only homosexual romance options(including ME1 & 2 or KOTOR)are lesbian. That is clearly not to cater to lesbian gamers but the fantasies of male gamer nerdlings. Also most gay romances in even older games are possible with Mods. Again it's not to cater to the gay community. It's to cater to male nerdlings who have fantasies of a hot female Darth Revan & Bastila Shan romance.

Most "sex scenes" in these Games are either PG-13 or soft R. Stuff you might have seen on NYPD Blue.

Interesting piece of trivia. I went back to play ME 1 and you have the option to make male Commander Shepard either an Atheist, Agnostic or Theist in a dialog with the human female love interest Ashley Williams.

Naturally my Shepard believes in God.

Crude said...

Ben,

I believe it's expanded in ME3. I can't say for sure, since I never got into the series - my gaming tastes are odd. I know in Skyrim a semi-big deal was made about any gender of character being able to start a relationship with or marry any of the other 'options' in the game.

I don't think it's necessarily to cater just to 'the gay community', though that's part of it. Certainly the sort of people who get all gung-ho about this sort of thing goes beyond that community (unless you're counting intellectual allies, etc, as part of it.)

Either way, my concern here wasn't over the game's content itself, so much as the reaction of the guy at RPS to people objecting to it. Like I said, just look at the article. He (along with a lot of the commenters) comes across as a snarling maniac who is completely incapable of comprehending disagreement on this subject as being an option. There is no argument there, no reasoning - just screaming about hate, and how it's 2012 (the 'argument by date' is always the mark of someone out of their league.)

Some of the comments were unintentionally hilarious. I liked the one about the person who 'talked to a friend' who programs games or something, babbling about how they had to 'specifically code heterosexuality into the game', and how 'computers think heterosexuality is an error of love'. At least at the time of my glancing over the list of comments, no one had the guts to point out how unbelievably idiotic that was.

Crude said...

Ephram,

I've heard about that for years. I think it's an atheist mainstay, right up there with the conservative 'bake sale where you get discounts based on your race/gender'. I don't think most Cult of Gnu atheists are concerned with persuading anyone that they're right, so much as wanting to be dickheads in public. Of course, these guys will do this sort of thing, then cry their eyes out at the fact that most people have a low opinion of atheists. Go figure.

BenYachov said...

@Crude,

In Fallout New Vegas there are no romance options with Player companion characters but you can choice a sexual orientation(or not).

Lady Killer perk for straight male. Black Widow perk for straight female.
Confirmed Bachelor perk for gay male.
Chez La Fem perk for Lesbian.

Or you can make yourself Bi by choicing both perks in your character's gender.

But if you choice Chez La Fem as a female Veronica Santiago the companion scribe from the BROTHERHOOD OF STEEL still won't be into you. Sad for gay chicks and dudes since she is voiced by Felica Day.

If you want romance in FNV you need a fan Mod. Cause even with Lady Killer ROSE OF SHARON CASSIDY is not into either.

What can I say? I need Romance in my epic RPG otherwise it's just hack and slay and dramatically boring.

BenYachov said...

Christians need to choose their battles. This is like the whole Ellen can't sell sportsware cause she's gay thingy.

OTOH if you really wanted to cause trouble for EA instead of asking them to take the gayness out ask them for Shepard to have a "I'd liek to sleep with you Amanda but not outside of marriage" or the Female Shepard can tell the male love interest "Put a ring on my finger or you don't hit that!" option.

Then see what happens. Let's see how open minded they really are?

Crude said...

Ben,

I'm not trying to cause trouble for EA. I'm not entirely at home with what I vaguely take to be the 'Focus on the Family' response here - in fact, I'm going to read up on just what that response is before commenting on it. I don't even know if their move was 'petition EA to take out the homosexual sex options' or what.

That said, I'm sure there's another approach that would be more positive and reasonable - maybe ones that don't even involve 'pressuring' EA at all, at least not in this way. As you said, choosing their battles. And their technique. And their approach.

Regarding video games, one of the things that pissed me off about the latest Red Dead Revolver was, in the opening, having some (intentionally made to be) obnoxious priest chatting with some teenage girl. She excitedly mentions that she heard some brothers invented a flying machine. The priest chuckles and says, 'Don't be silly, my dear. Only angels can fly.'

First, the people who were the most skeptical of the Wright Brothers were scientists and engineers at the time, not the clergy.

Second, I'm pretty sure there were fucking birds around prior to the Wright brothers.

Crude said...

Also, I'm surprised you're into video games enough to know about mods. I'm impressed.

Anyway, I don't think even a Christian should have any problem with some amount of this stuff in games. It's not like the answer is "no homosexually inclined sorts in fiction ever!" On the other hand, there's a tendency towards a certain amount of over-representation. (I remember reading how most people in the country think gays make up fully 25% of the population. In reality, closer to 4%. You can guess why they're overestimating it that much.)

The proper response isn't, or is minimally going to be, 'Protest'. (The protests should be positive. Don't demand gays are removed from ME3. Demand that christians, in a positive light, are put *in*. Maybe even including ones who disapprove, in a sympathetic way, with certain sexual lifestyles, hetero and not.) It's going to be, 'create games and plots which feature Christians in a positive light, and make sure these games are very good'.

Ilíon said...

Clearly, there is nothing more you need, or desire to, say to me. And I can live with that.

Crude said...

Clearly, there is nothing more you need, or desire to, say to me. And I can live with that.

No idea what you mean here. I'm more than happy to talk with you. I agree with you 90% of the time. Here? I disagree strongly with what I take your position to be. I've given my reasons, and when you try to pull a "gotcha", the gotcha better be valid - because if it's not, I'm going to just keep right on pointing out where I think you've gone wrong.

No harm done either. I disagree with everyone, often. I disagree with Feser on the worth and validity of some ID thought. I disagree with Ben about the strength of theistic personalism. If you're looking for someone who's going to be in 100% agreement with you all the time, I'm not your guy. I'm also not going to hold it against you for disagreeing with me.

Do what you will, but that's where we stand.

Brian said...

lol, I am a Nintendo diehard fanboy. I will never have to worry about this stuff.