CleverMonkey

The Opposition Press

Grand Theft Armageddon: Streets of Nazareth December 12, 2006

When faith-based organizations discuss the topic of videogames, it is typically a critique of the level of violence, not a discussion of how to use violent games as a tool to further their cause. Check that assumption at the door and prepare yourself for the multimedia adaptation of ordained Evangelical Minister Tim LaHaye’s ‘Left Behind’ series of books. The game, ‘Left Behind: Eternal Forces’, is based on a fictional narrative taking place during the Earth’s gradual destruction; as imagined through a particular interpretation (known as the Dispensationalist interpretation) of the Bible’s last and most disputed chapter, Revelations. Essentially the game pits a series of militant born-again Christian characters against all the non-believers who have been left to fend for themselves after God recalled all the devout Christians to Heaven. New York City is the backdrop where a vengeful God unleashes a series of plagues and other natural disasters to stimulate chaos amongst the remaining infidels, and our heroes are armed with a vast selection of real-life American military weaponry.     Having played the demo version of the game, I would describe it as appalling. The game action consists of a slaughter extraordinarily comparable to the scenes of violence that motivated countless interest groups to condemn the ‘Grant Theft Auto’ series. Except in ‘Grand Theft Auto’ you get points regardless of the religious affiliation of your victim; whereas in ‘Eternal Forces’ it is only the killing of non-Christians that scores you points for the afterlife. Although, Left Behind Games Inc. CEO Troy Lyndon points out on the game’s website that in fact there is no actual blood on the screen. He is right of course, the game allows you to unload a bazooka round into the chest of your victim, but does not allow you to observe the crimson-colored reality of human destruction. So why leave out the blood? My guess is that it would be too much for the game’s creators to acknowledge human traits in their non-Christian antagonists, even at an anatomical level.  So, is this video game strictly another Benny Hinn-style money grab in the name of literal Bible translation? Is there another motive for its release? The answers are yes and yes. The mission statement of the game developer explicitly states their goal as being to create “products that perpetuate positive values and appeal to mainstream and faith-based audiences, while remaining committed to increasing shareholder value.” It cites the recent boom in gospel music sales and the box office success of The Passion of the Christ as proof of the demand for what the Wall Street Journal referred to as “God Games”. Given the attempt to entice investor dollars, there is no questioning the existence of a profit motive. Throw in the inclusion of FOX-TV and AOL Time-Warner (CNN’s parent company) executives on your advisory board and one also detects the stench of a political agenda.  What is the agenda? Well it appears to be an attempt to associate all small ‘l’ liberal ideals with evil. Dispensationalists like LaHaye believe that the Antichrist referred to by John of Patmos in Revelations will take the form of a peace-seeking politician. In short, the game tells of a world where a Romanian politician named Nicolae Carpathia rises to Secretary-General of the UN on a platform of liberal ideals such as multilateral problem solving and freedom of choice. He then organizes an authoritarian world government backed by a strong army that he engages in a violent campaign against the Christian world. Nicolae transforms from a champion of liberal rights to a global tyrant. This is a poorly veiled attempt to warn the gamer of the devastation that ideas like multilateralism and cooperation lead to; but the vehicle for the claim has a major weakness. It relies on the gamer’s acceptance of one particularly radical interpretation of the English translation of one man’s dream experienced roughly two-thousand years ago; and their denial of the real-life devastation that realist ideas like unilateralism and competition are causing every day. However, this weakness will most likely go unnoticed given that video games are clearly a medium that is aimed at children, the most susceptible demographic. Therefore the creators can skip logical reasoning and win hearts and minds simply by illustrating in 3-D link between the application of liberal concepts and the Earth’s destruction. The right to free expression has been repealed in the past when it has been used to incite hatred. Not only does this game clearly incite hatred, but violence is suggested as the inevitable means for solving an imagined problem. We should not ask a child to infer the political bias of those writing the game’s storyline and discern its inherent ideology; but with no sign of a hindrance to the release of the game, it appears it is the kids that will be left behind.  For more info visit www.leftbehindgames.com.

Advertisements
 

What’s Important? Madonna Adoption vs. the Military Commissions Act October 27, 2006

Just a quickie during lunchtime. I decided to take a look at the level of coverage various stories get on popular News websites. Today we’ll pit the Madonna Adoption against the Military Commissions Act.

CNN – www.CNN.com

The term Madonna Adoption brings up this:

CNN.com results for Madonna Adoption
27 total results, quite conservative for a website as popular as CNN.

Next, a search for the term Military Commissions Act returns this:

CNN.com results for Military Commissions Act
That’s two (2) results. That’s right, an act that, “makes possible the permanent detention and torture (as defined by the Geneva Conventions) of anyone – including American citizens – based solely on the decision of the President.”

Surely this is an anomaly, Fox News is supposed to be Fair and Balanced, surely they’ll have more coverage of the Military Commissions Act than this.

Let’s see

The same search using the terms, Madonna Adoption returned this at the FoxNews website (www.foxnews.com)

FoxNews.com results for Madonna Adoption

Six Hundred and Sixty (660) results. Somewhat more what we’d expect for a web search.

Now, the term Military Commissions Act

FoxNews.com results for Military Commissions Act

One hundred and fifteen (115) results. Significantly more than CNN, but still only 17.5% or just over 1/6th of the coverage that Mad gets. Well I guess now we know what’s really important, or at least what the Mainstream “News” Media feels the American Public should be concerned with and it’s not the signing away of their Civil Liberties, not by a long shot.

 

A Daily Lesson in Media Literacy? Sure, why not. October 26, 2006

banner
Question: Which, if any, of the following fit the criteria for Endangered Species as defined by the CWF?

  1. Whooping Crane
  2. Swift Fox
  3. Journalistic Integrity
  4. All of the above

All you over 40s, stop peaking at your neighbour’s paper, and all you under 30s close that Wikipedia window, the rest of you are Gen X’ers and are too jaded and hip to bother answering that question anyway. The answer, sadly, is 4. The majestic Whooping Crane can now only be found in Wood Buffalo National Park these days and their numbers are estimated to be under 200. Similarly, journalistic integrity has all but disappeared from it’s natural habitat of the mainstream news media, forced out by predators, hunters, and trappers who use it’s likeness to lure their pray (public opinion) which they quickly devour completely. Some of the threats to journalistic integrity that are found in the wild are;

  • The 24 hour news network, by forcing journalists to constantly have some ‘breaking news’ story to report these networks confuddle (harry potter word?) audiences into thinking that the stories they report are actually important. In many instances stories that are actually important are not sufficiently reported at all.
  • Corporate interference in news reporting, also related to the “news’tainment” phenomenon, corporations seek to make profit at all costs, that is their nature. Therefore, if a story is not entertaining enough it is either sensationalized or not reported at all.
  • Bias, many times journalists, inadvertently, insert their own opinions and beliefs into their article. However, increasingly often the opinions, beliefs, and political interests of journalists, corporations, and owners is actually a governing factor in the method that the news media reports stories. Hence, some news anchors feel they can instruct producers to, TURN HIS MIC OFF!!! if a source says something they don’t agree with.
  • Spin, this involves selective reporting and omission of certain facts pertaining to stories. Also, more often than one might think, false facts and entire stories are reported, in addition important stories may not be reported at all. In these cases the unreported stories fade away and fail to exist because (as Peter Mackay taught Canadians this week) if it isn’t recorded, it never happened.

I can hear you all stirring in your seats right now, “what can we do? How do we help save Journalistic Integrity from extinction? Should we donate to the WWF?” Put your pocketbooks away, Vince McMahon wont be needed this time (heheh). Instead, much like a great American hero once said, “the power is yours!” Media literacy is our first weapon against these usurpers who would erase Journalistic Integrity from our memories. Now we are all busy with work, and all the gadgets that were supposed to make life easier have only succeeded in making the home a workplace as well. So, we at Clevermonkey propose to examine a news story each day and highlight the issues we see within the article. We are aware that some of some of you actually wanted to get jobs after University/College graduation so we’ll keep the Poli-Sci/Comm Studies/Journalism School/English jargon to a minimum or else provide explanations or links thereto. And, remember….

The Power is Yours!!!