It’s been ages since I’ve blogged, I know. Being an actual theatremaker has gotten in the way of blogging about being a theatremaker. My show previewed last night and I can finally reallocate time away from frantically acquiring last-minute props and crying over the fact that V.4 needs to be reblocked at the last minute. My cast and crew are amazing, and this show has broken all records for advance sales in our company, so I’m exhausted but happy.
During the past few weeks I’ve been slowly trying to work my way through Dead Space 3, carving out bits of time here and there because NECROMORPHS DO NOT KILL THEMSELVES (for the most part). And during this time I’ve seen approximately eleventy scrotillion people shoot their mouths off about the EVIL DANGER that is violent video games. The thing that’s RUINING OUR CHILDREN AND SOCIETY is something humans have always loved to talk about (unmixed wine, polyphony, reading the Bible in the vernacular, reading at all if you’re a girl, jazz, comic books, rock and roll, television, rap, etc), and gaming is just the latest installment.
I’m not going to link you to the many fine articles that discuss in detail why video games do not lead directly to violence, or why the studies that say they do are deeply flawed (you can’t compare random, extra-narrative violence to, say, saving a town from an invading horde of darkspawn). YOU’RE ALREADY ON THE INTERNET. I’m sure you can handle it on your own.
No, I’m speaking directly to something particular that chaps my hide each and every time this issue is discussed, because COME ON.
Do you hate violent video games? Oh, you do? Well, do you eat meat?
I’ve been a vegetarian for over 20 years. I’m not an angry, shamey vegetarian– the only people I lecture about food are the people who came out of my uterus. Eat whatever you want. If you’re polite about my vegetarian ways, I’ll be polite about your Sandwich of Cruelty. (Haha, kidding, I know you only eat meat from animals that committed suicide in a field of daisies after a long, happy, fulfilled life of published books and TED talks and Pulitzer noms.)
But where I draw the line is right here: People who flip directly out about violent video games but feel perfectly justified in killing and eating an animal for no real reason other than they feel like it. No one *needs* to eat meat. I know people like to say, “I just get so [adjective] without meat. My body NEEDS it.” I respect the fact that you believe that, and I’m not going to get up in your face about it when you’re ordering (or ever, actually), but, physiologically speaking, you’re wrong. Should all the meat in the world disappear tomorrow, you’d be fine. I don’t doubt that you crave it, but I assure you that you don’t physiologically require it. Your resilient human body is just not that delicate. You eat meat because you want to. That’s OK. Own it.
When I’m playing a video game, I’m killing PICTURES of monsters and bad guys. When you eat meat, you’re killing an actual, living animal smarter than your dog, with as wide a range of emotions.
When I’m playing a video game, I’m wrapped up in a narrative about saving people, or myself, or about struggling to survive in harsh conditions. I’m killing pictures of fictional vampires with a fictional sword because they’re threatening the village where my fictional children are sleeping (Whiterun FTW). When you eat meat, you’re killing an actual, living animal who can see, feel, hear, love, and fear because you’re slightly hungry and can’t be arsed to have a PB&J.
I’ll never get in your face for eating meat. It’s a personal decision that I’m not qualified to make for you. My husband eats meat and the amount of shit I give him about it is zero.
HOWEVER. If you’re planning to stomp around accusing my gaming of creating violence in the world, I’m going to have to ask you to TAKE A SEAT if you’re a meat-eater. When you’re done being ACTUALLY violent, we can have a chat about my PRETEND violence.
So eat your meat. Create violence in order to create your food. Kill animals and devour their flesh. I won’t judge you, I really won’t, until you start asserting that your real-world violence is in any way superior to my imaginary violence. Eat all the meat you want, and we’re cool. Just don’t try to pretend that you’re somehow better than someone who spends an afternoon shooting a fictional gun at pictures of monsters.