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19 Nov 2006

Ok, someone really needs to explain this country's [the U.S.] ongoing adversity toward sexuality to me. I realize we were established from Puritan roots, but that was well over 200 years ago. Isn't it about time we grew up?

Here's what's tripped today's tirade. Earlier today, I was browsing some forums for an upcoming video game. There has been speculation as to whether the game's ESRB rating will be T or M. I came across this post:

"i hope its not Teen, teen means no blood no swearing, which means its almost fake" That's all fine and dandy, aside from the question of why blood and swearing are so important, but I'll get to that in a moment. The thing that pissed me off was this reply to the above:

"Yeah thats true. i just hope it goes M with swearing and blood but no sexual stuff. I really will not buy any game that has a lot of sexual bleep in it." There is a very serious issue with this response: the fact that the guy actively desires blood (and general violence, by implication), but wants nothing to do with sexual content.

Are we so fucked up that we prefer human suffering to human pleasure?

Let's consider a few case studies. Last summer, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas was re-rated to AO and pulled from some store shelves over a poorly-detailed, tongue-in-cheek sex mini-game. A few months later, The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion was re-rated from T to M after the release of an end-user mod that allowed female characters in the game to appear topless. Both received significant [negative] media coverage, and both triggered the predictable critical rhetoric.

Contrast that with the recently-released film Hostel, which contains intensely detailed and graphic depictions of violence, torture, gore, and general human suffering. The film is rated R, and rightfully so. But there's no political backlash. I certainly don't hear soccer moms blaming the collapse of society on this film.

How about this:

  • Sex is about pleasure, while violence is about suffering.
  • We have sex with people we love (or at least like), and we're violent with people we hate.
  • People generally feel good and content after sex, but feel stressed and frightened after committing an act of violence.
  • Sex is associated with comfort and happiness, while violence is associated with pain and fear.
  • Sex is rejuvenating, but violence is destructive.

Seeing a pattern here?

I'd really like to hear a good reason why we accept brutality but demonize eroticism. Anyone?

Posted In:

politics video-games