Nearly a month after its release, I finally watched the Joker movie and I am as surprised by the hysterically negative reactions about it as I thought I would be. Frankly, all the articles and essays about how it condones and glorifies riot violence, the incel movement, white supremacy, Antifa hooliganism, and every other qualifier from each side.
My reaction to the film may be different than other's reactions to it, but my assessment is that regardless of how it portrays Evil, it is, in the end, a work to be interpreted, and shouldn't be dismissed or vilified because it is choosing to portray Evil in one form or another.
Evil, unfortunately, exists in abundance in our world. Racism, war, rape, terrorism, sexism, torture, and a hundred different other ways some humans use to dominate over other humans. As long as evil do exist, we shall always see works of “Art” depicting it in its many forms. However, the depiction of evil does not mean an acceptance of it, just as much as the reflection in the mirror of an oversized pimple not meaning its existence is acceptable.
Yet, we are continuously seeing attempts at banning stuff because it does show us real evil in the world. More so in the realm of gaming (As a young medium) than otherwise. Just to pick up a number of controversies in the last two years, we see different groups of people objecting on games showcasing: rape attempts, racism, and the atrocities of war.
This is not unique to gaming though. Every year, we see some parents in the US trying to ban some books from being taught at school because of their depiction of real-life evil. Sometimes, an even more organized attempt tries not to only ban a book, but censor it as well. One of the most famous and enduring attempts at censorship are the attempts to ban Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain from American Literature classes. The reasons argued for banning the book often cite its “racist” attitudes towards African-Americans.
Outside of the obvious factor that an American Literature class would be incomplete without one of its strongest and most enduring book, there are a bunch of realities that critics of the book should realize. First, the fact that is a mirror of a society that just barely started illegalizing slavery, and by that token is a significantly racist society. At that point, the N-word was the standard term used to refer to the African-Americans of the era. Laughably, I have seen arguments for changing each N-word with "African-American", a term that was only invented 80 years after the book. Second, the fact that Huck Finn is a scathing satire of the exact evil it is accused of promoting. The fact that it so barely exposes the racism of its time should be considered a work against evil, rather than promoting it.
Back to games, we have seen many similar controversies in the last year. In Tomb Raider, many felt that the attempted rape scene was “unacceptable”. Yet, the facts on earth suggest that rape is a real threat that faces women in isolated circumstances, and that rape as a weapon of war and degradation is still in vogue now just as much as it was 1000 years ago. In Far Cry 4, despite the main antagonist being modeled on his Asian VA, many were upset at the idea of a “white” evil man abusing ethnic groups. As if “white” evil men have not been abusing ethnic groups for the last 400 years.
There needs to be an understanding of the nature of depicting evil. Showcasing it in its grotesque reality does not mean condoning it, rather the opposite. Attempting to censor it from literature, movies, and games will not make it go away.
Evil exists in abundance in this world, and as long as it does, we shall see reflections of it in the games we play, and the books we read. Those reflections are not a celebration of it, but rather a reminder of the evils we wrought on this world. If in Joker's case, some people think it makes Evil look cool or heroic, then isn't the movie simply a reflection of those people who would think that in the first place?
*- Jonathan Holmes sheds light on Bum-Bo, an indie game developed by the same person responsible for the very popular Binding of Isaac. The unique thing about this blog is that he showcases the game from the point of view of a hardcore (but otherwise casual) fan of Isaac.
*- I have not played LISA: The Painful RPG, but RileyIsCool writes so well about its strange and disturbing themes that I feel compelled to try it out for myself. This a very good in-depth blog about a game that had a big impact on the writer.
B- This month's Band of Bloggers prompt is presented by LaTerry who is inviting you to write about games that made their "Impact" felt:
B- Other than Band of Bloggers, the Bloggers Wanted prompt dealing with "Darkness" in videogames is continuing for another month:
A- If you start thinking about the "morality" of a videogame developer and the "morality" of buying their games, then you are opening a pandora's box about the "morality" of being involved in any shape or form in the capitalist system of today's market. I think Riley1sCool's blog about the difficult decision of supporting Blizzard's games after their recent "capitulation" to China attempts to shed some light on the complexity of the issue. However, know that everything you use has traces of gross human rights violations attached to it. Whether it is petrochemical products in the plastics found everywhere, or fabric being woven by 8-year-old girls in Pakistan. Then, stop to think if that 8-year-old would rather work in that factory and be able to eat and play, or if she and her kin would rather starve as machines replace their labor. Also remember, the protestors in Hong Kong DO NOT have the unanimous support of the Hong Kong people, and their actions have plummeted the economy of the city harming both friends and foes.
A- Michael Arietta writes about the most "important" games in this decade, which I think is an important academic category. However, I think the fact that not a single Nintendo game is in the list or the fact that Grand Theft Auto V is not included renders this list incomplete.
S- It looks like Kerrik52 is back with his weekly reviews of past games in his "Traveller in Playtime" series:
S- Lord Spencer continues reviewing the supposed best games of the Sega Saturn system:
T- CorruptAI125 didn't enjoy finishing The Outer Worlds as much as he thought he would, given the incredible opening. I understand that sentiment, but 40 hours of "pure gaming bliss" is nothing to scoff at.
R- Check out these reviews by ViableCornXD:
D- In an epic (and possibly fruitless) quest, ABowlOfCeareal continues writing some interesting balancing suggestions for the Super Smash Bros. cast:
M- PhilsPhindings continues his excellent series where he looks for similarities between famous videogame tunes and other music from different sources:
To celebrate the recap of the entire month, give a hand to the following bloggers:
Comments of the Week and Band of Bloggers Team of This Month:
Blog Count: 62