Whether you’re too young to remember, or the hyper-speed news cycle has rendered your long-term memory functionally obsolete, you may find it difficult to recall the tumultuous 1990s discussions about broad multimedia censorship.
There have been violent video games since the 1970s, but the 90s really drove home the visceral content both figuratively and literally. Video game creators were generating some of the most “realistic” gore-fests audience have seen, and games like Mortal Kombat and Doom were selling like hotcakes on home consoles and computers.
Shit really hit the fan in 1999 when Democrats found out that the Columbine school shooters played violent video games and listened to anti-social music. Turgid leaders from both the Democrat (Both Clintons, Lieberman, Gore, etc) and Republican (basically just Newt Gingrich) sides demanded action to investigate the impact of violent video games; and look into measures to ban media content deemed anti-social or “dangerous.”
In 2011, the Supreme Court ruled against California’s desire to place sales restrictions on certain video games. Conservative Justice Scalia argued in favor of studies that showed no correlation between video game violence and real world violence in any greater degree than any other media not being called into question, and that restrictions would be an affront to the First Amendment.
Thankfully, the federal government is notoriously incompetent, and the penultimate legislation we got from this time was a largely irrelevant rating system for TV shows, Records, and Video Games.
Democrats throughout the 2000s, in conjunction with their desire to decrease or eliminate the sale of firearms, still sought to investigate the responsibility video games had for real world violence. Seizing and opportunity to shield against a 2nd Amendment onslaught, the NRA and various Republicans began to raise concerns about the inundation of young people by violence in video games and various media.
President Obama and Joe Biden called for a complete investigation into video games and video game developers in hopes of getting broad-based support for their plan to ban firearms.
Activist groups called on video game developers to stop working with gun manufacturers to license real gun designs and brands in realistic wartime video game franchises.
Somehow, now that President Trump is discussing the content of violent video games, the media is calling it a right-wing distraction from the “real discussion” of banning firearms. Many on the Left now assert that there is absolutely no link between violent video games and real violence, completely ignoring their previous platitudes, because now that argument has become a distraction from their anti-gun agenda.
The war against accountability is being waged on all fronts. But one thing is becoming increasingly clear: alienation and increasing rates of autism diagnoses (almost entirely amongst young males) are turning people (read: boys) inward, isolated, and creating a breeding ground for anti-social behavior.
While the average psychologically healthy male can play hours of video games, watch gory movies, and engage with internet pornography, it isn’t difficult to imagine the impact on all of these habitual behaviors constantly drilling into the consciousness of the unhealthy mind.
Young males have broadly been experiencing an increase in unhealthy desensitization toward violent and sexual behaviors. Does that mean it creates an increase in a normal male’s desire or conscious ability to commit violence? Of course not; however it undoubtedly exacerbates the likelihood of this behavior in the abnormal, anti-social male brain.
Our culture chooses to ignore the laissez-faire attitudes we’ve created toward media, thus generating a complete lack of conversation and allowing real issues to fester while we pretend to rally against “bullying”, “systemic oppression”, and other scapegoat concepts.
Companies like Facebook and Twitter create algorithms to weed out bad words and offensive speech because they feel it is their moral obligation to control content on their platforms. Yet, somehow, they free themselves from all liability when a sociopath uses their platforms to live-stream a killing spree, rape, or torture.
Media outlets across the globe, with a complete and total lack of self-awareness, focus in on the irreverent behavior of young people on Tik Tok, Twitch or YouTube who flock to entertaining characters like PewDiePie, flaunting objectionable language and politically incorrect memes, while lambasting and further alienating the very people who flood those platforms yearning to speak freely.
In all aspects of life, more freedom means less violence. More speech and open dialogue means fewer people being made to feel like their voices aren’t heard. When you marginalize voters, they stop being honest in polls. When you threaten the removal of religious freedoms, freedom of speech, or freedom to defend against tyranny, you create a cultural mindset of being hunted down.
Then, the media literally hunts you down, doxxes you, creates public demand to shut you down. In a free society, and probably in any society, a calculated attempt to make an entire population socially and politically voiceless will have serious psychological implications. When that “population” is the entirety of historic and modern western culture and civilization, those implications can be severe and unpredictable.
The acts of violence that get the most international media attention are not as common as they seem; far less common than the acts of violence we see examined solely on local news. But we are made to feel we are in the midst of a great civil war, an ultimate Armageddon, and things are only getting worse. And maybe, mentally, we aren’t far off.
The simple truth is that there are easy and practical ways to combat aggression and anti-social behavior. And that’s through more speech. We need real conversations with those who spend a majority of their lives plugged in to forum sites and games; conversations that don’t end in their vilification or alienation. We need cultural discussions about the impact of certain attitudes and behaviors in music, movies and other media–and about how, while art often reflects life, we need to know how to mentally separate the two.