When Grand Theft Auto 4 was released this past April without
the typical outcry of the mainstream press, we were pleasantly surprised. We
thought that they finally understood the GTA franchise, and its significance as
popular adult media. Michael Medved, writer for conservative website Townhall.com,
proved us wrong.
In his piece, War on Middle Class Values, Not on Middle Class, Medved lambasts Americans for spending sixty dollars on the game. How
dare they spend their economic stimulus check on a game “that glorifies
guerilla warfare, murder, irresponsible driving, prostitution, cop-killing,
international conspiracies and…car theft”? Later, Medved cuts to the thesis of
his argument: GTA IV is an attack on middle-class values. (Not American values,
mind you, strictly middle-class ones.)
For Medved, the pervasiveness of divorce and out-of-wedlock birth
is taking its toll on our government, financially. While few are comfortable
footing the bill for welfare mothers; we feel even fewer taxpayers are content
with spending thirty times that amount on the current three trillion dollar Iraq War.
His next target is a scourge worse than moms on the dole-
gamblers. Medved seems delighted that with the high price of gasoline, weekend wagers
can no longer engage in their low-brow pastime. By that logic, the recession should cleanse America’s moral fabric, right?
When cultural critics impose their value system upon the
general public, aren’t they mirroring the fundamentalists whose regimes we are supposed
to be overthrowing? Medved calls GTA 4, “grotesquely violent and
anti-authoritarian.”, but isn’t the ability to stand up against authority what
makes this country great? I’d like to think those who gave their lives in the
‘horribly violent’ American Revolution would think so.
Worse yet, Medved makes the common mistake of confusing
entertainment with reality. By listing
GTA with real-world behaviors like divorce, single parents, and gambling, his argument
becomes hopelessly flawed. Regardless of one’s political position, divorce is
an actual phenomenon that affects spouses, children and families. Even those
that study video game violence and effects, would state that any game (yes, even GTA
4) is not as influential, and potentially destructive as a tangible behavior.
Freedom is the foundation of the Armerican life- freedom to stand against authority, freedom to make one’s choices whether in marriage, pasttimes, or entertainment. Media critics like Medved don’t seem to understand the simple and crucial notion.