The Britcepticons: Sony versus God versus Jesus H. Blair

The fight against so-called ‘violent’ videogames is quickly degenerating into self parody. With the arguments against the games industry becoming evermore flimsy and social clowns like Jack Thompson increasingly desperate for attention, every new attack launched against a videogame has become one new farce after another. This past weekend saw the idiocy hit critical mass however, when, as I reported myself, the Church of England threatened to sue Sony for allowing Resistance: Fall of Man to show the interior of Manchester Cathedral.

With the church not quite as influential in Britain as it sadly is in the United States, I expected this issue to fizzle out and die, but it has not ceased, becoming more ludicrous as time goes on, to the point where the King of England, Archmage Anthonius Blairstard (or Prime Minister Tony Blair to some), decided to weigh in and make this all political as well. Because of course, Church and State have authority in the entertainment sector and we should listen to what they have to say.

Well two people say no. NO TO YOU, BLAIR AND NO TO YOU, GOD! They are Jim Sterling and David Houghton, Destructoid’s premier British editors who, when their tea-drinking powers combine, become The Britcepticons. After the jump, both David and I share with the world our thoughts in ways that only two very angry Europeans can.  

David Meghoughtron: First a disclaimer. No part of this article is an attack on the faith of any group or individual, and all comments made are in relation to the Church of England’s current feud with Sony, and that feud only. We all good? Okay then …  

Right, lets get to the issue at the heart of this, shall we? Or rather, the non-issue as I should say, because that’s exactly what it is. The Church wants to sue Sony for using the image of Manchester cathederal without permission, thereby “desecrating” it, and also adding to the already prevalent gun crime in the city. Allow me to look at those three points individually. 

Firstly, Sony did not need any kind of permission to use the building. It’s a public building
and therefore copywrite infringement does not apply. End of story.

Secondly, Sony has not desecrated the building in any way. They presented a fictionalized version of it in an entertainment medium, and believe it or not, doing that did not actually involve sending any actual aliens or actual soldiers into the actual cathederal. Because, you know, it was a videogame, and not real life. Trust me, I live in Manchester. The cathederal’s still standing. And the Church can’t get them on the defamation of character charge either. To be fair, that one might have actually worked had the game involved a C of E vicar selling crack from the font, but it didn’t. It merely used the location as a backdrop, so a defense of “Shut up your hysterical babblings” most definitely applies. 

Thirdly, a brand-new game having a noticable effect on gun crime, merely by representing guns in a real world location? No. Using existing geography in a game does not make it any more real, immersive or likely to influence a person’s actions. Just ask anyone who’s ever played a Call Of Duty game and then not gone off to shoot up some German citizens. After years of no evidence to support, and increasing evidence to the contrary, the old “games as an influence” argument is getting pretty tired now anyway. And even if not, how many Manchester yobs are realistically going to get into a life gun crime on the off-chance that they might get to shoot an alien one day?

So what do we actually have here? Well at best, be have the Church pulling its usual trick of trying to sue anyone who even acknowledges its existence in a popular medium (Seriously, why are they always so touchy about any kind of media treatment? You’d think they were insecure or something), and at worst we have an increasingly unpopular institution looking for some free publicity and positive PR, and realizing that videogames are a good hot potato to get the press riled up with. In truth, it’s quite possible that it’s a combination of both. The claims being made by the Church are so woefully out of touch and desperate that if this whole fiasco isn’t a horribly contrived bid for publicity and sympathy, then they appear to be far more out of step with the modern world than anyone could have feared:

“For a global manufacturer to re-create one of our great cathedrals with a photo-realistic quality and then encourage people to have gun battles in the building is beyond belief and highly irresponsible.”

Of course. Sony are encouraging people to have gun battles in your cathedral. Bless your poor confused little mind. Now if you’ll excuse me, Nintendo are on the phone trying to persuade me to go round to the aquarium with them and stamp on some turtles.  

And now we have President Tony’s response of, well, not very much at all. A collection of non-commital vaguenesses which make a definite point of not really addressing anything in particular. But then what are we to expect during the death throes of a self-serving career polititian such as himself, who’s spent the majority of his career using the political arena merely to masturbate his own ego and make friends in high places? With the Church on one side and a very rich corporation on the other, he can’t side with anyone for fear of offending, so despite the C of E’s total lack of a legal leg to stand on, we get a non-specific response of “Well maybe, but I don’t know. The Church is probably right. Stop asking me things”. Well done on upholding freedom of artistic speech in the face of a nonsensical challenge there Tony. 

So in the end, all of this boils down to a self-important, self-publicizing and unfounded claim being justified by a lack of opposition, despite an absence of legal grounding. Of course no-one’s trying to take away the Church’s right to be offended. Everyone has that right. But no-one has is a legal right to sue or have something banned merely because they are offended. 

Oh, and as an aside, I find it thoroughly ironic that I’m being expected to accept the stance that

“… it is important that people understand there is a wider social responsibility as well as an interior responsibility for profits”

from a man who happily bombed out two countries in order to follow his new best friend in an arms-industry boosting oil hunt. Thanks for the advice Tony, but I think I’ll make my moral judgements for myself. That okay with you? Awesome.

Jim Sterlscream: I already made my feelings clear on the original, ridiculous situation during the weekend and David has added his thoughts to perfection, so there’s no point me rehashing that. I would, however, like to focus on His Royal Blairness as well as give a few wider thoughts in general. 

Firstly, who asked these damn politicians to get involved in the first place? Just like actors and singers shouldn’t be pushing their political opinions on us (seriously, shut up and act/sing), politicians need to keep their greasy noses out of the entertainment industry. They’re supposed to be running a country, not distracting themselves with videogames, but then again, when has Tony Blair actually paid more attention to government than popular culture, international showboating and trying to be loved by everyone? This is, after all, the man who can’t fix the National Health Service but always has time for a Simpsons cameo. 

Simply put, the government has no business here. You wouldn’t ask a plumber to fix your car, would you? There’s no difference between that and this. It’s bad enough that they’re making their opinions known in arenas outside of what should be their concern, but then they spew the utter trash that was dribbled out all over Prime Minister’s Questions this week, it goes from annoying to flat out disgraceful. 

It was Manchester Central MP Tony Lloyd who originally brought this issue up and I’d like to focus firstly on what it is he said, which was thus:

“Would the Prime Minister agree with me then that when Sony used images of Manchester Cathedral as part a game which extols gun violence, this was not only in bad taste but also very, very insulting to not simply the Church of England, but people across the land who think it’s inappropriate that big corporations behave in this way?”

Um … what? What? The most frustrating part is that the above paragraph so perfectly argues in my favor through virtue of being utterly stupid that there’s very little I can do to point out exactly what’s so retarded about it. This idiot, who’s probably watched many action movies in his time, packed full of gunplay, doesn’t even explain how the use of Manchester Cathedral is insulting, outside of merely guessing that the game “extolls” violence and then passing off his assumption as fact. Yes, Mr. Lloyd, actually play some videogames and then come back to me, okay? Right now, your uninformed opinion’s about as worthless as the Church of England until you actually know what you’re talking about.

Of course, Blair has to agree because he possesses no spine and is unable to think for himself. David already quoted the coward’s response, but I’d like to show you again because I have a very heartfelt thing to say on the matter:

“I think it’s important that any of the companies engaged in promoting these types of goods have some sense of responsibility and also some sensitivity to the feelings of others.”

This very quote is indicative of the problems we have in today’s society, this idea that somebody else is responsible for everyone else. People throw the word “responsibility” around these days like candy and usually they haven’t the faintest clue what that word actually means. No form of media EVER has a responsibility to do anything other than entertain. It’s not Sony’s job to care about the feelings of others. Sony is a corporation and it has only one duty – make money. That’s what a corporation exists to do. Its product, in this case, videogames, has but one duty also – to entertain. Just like when Marilyn Manson gets lambasted for not setting a good example to children, it amuses me to see videogames attacked for not always being about fluffy bunnies who need more strawberries for their damn strawberry party. Manson’s only job is to make music, not be a moral guardian. Similarly, a game can shoot as many aliens as it wants, even those freaking strawberry loving bunny twats, provided it entertains.

The only people who need to set moral standards are people who’s very jobs are based in morality, like, say, all the vicars who are too busy weeping and pissing themselves because there are Blu-ray discs that have pictures of their beloved cathedral on them. 

All that aside, David said it best. Tony Blair is responsible for more violence being shown on British television than any videogame, mainly because the footage we see on BBC News 24 constantly is real. That’s genuine gun violence and that’s genuine death. While I’m not as strictly anti-war as many people, at least in this late stage of the whole stupid situation out in Iraq, I will just say that for a man who’s caused so much violence in the real world, should he really be pretending to care about violence in the virtual one?

[Britcepticons Out] 


James Stephanie Sterling