There’s no real soft way to say that toppling statues and journalists calling for cancellation of police shows is nothing short censorship. Misguided and well intending censorship, but censorship nevertheless. These rioters destroying and defaming public spaces and statues set in there are robbing culture away from the future generations, encouraging a lacklustre, unpolished and one-sided view on individuals and events. Not only that, but destroying individual masterpieces, sinking them into local bodies of water. That’s close to a cultural genocide, erasure of past. The world should’ve learned from the Chinese Cultural Revolution and steer far away from repeating that mistake. No matter how much Mao Zedong destroyed Four Olds, the incalculable amount of antiques from literature to paintings, from murals to statues, were hacked, burned, defaced and utterly decimated. Vandalism against cultural relics was rampant, something that’s happening still in the name of cultural reform, or in case of Middle-East, in name of religion. Yet modern China will loudly boast about their thousands of years of history and culture, despite the only place where you can see pre-Mao Zedong era China untouched is in Taiwan.
Of course, when it comes to the video game industry, journalists don’t want to do their job as independent news reporters or do investigative journalist. The video game journalism is activism for the industry, and people like Mitch Dyer supposedly already are having conversations with developers what kind of content games should have. Guessing if these are the same journalists who said being objective is impossible, being independent is as impossible as well. Media people like Dyer aren’t journalists, they’re activists gunning for a simple-minded message without any sides. Then again, Kotaku’s Imran Khan wants to change how police is being depicted in the games and they can’t be window dressing for game mechanics any more. That is, of course, loads of bullshit. Apparently, the American police can only be depicted as neutrally and as raw as possible. Majority of video game consumers don’t have issues with differentiating between reality and fiction, and thus the escapist vision of paladin-like police is what they should be. Khan’s example of a game with this sort of depiction is the recent Spider-Man game, which has far more fantastical elements than ideal police officers. Spider-Man himself, for one. Khan seems to be under the impression that all games need to represent the police as realistically as possible, which is of course is driving an agenda rather than trying to stay objective. Escapism demands fantasy.
Khan holds the major misconception that games are the ones telling the story within these products, that the framework overrides what is the true story in games; player’s play. The use of Earthbound as an example of an evil, threatening police is weak at best, grasping at straws. There are no sins in telling fiction in manner the creators want. No amount of political pressure or other should be inflicted on creating a product. Wait, aren’t you exerting a pressure for the developers and publishers to cater to the audiences? No, that would be a misunderstanding. Game developers should be free to create whatever they want, but reality is that the decisions they make have consequences when it comes to selling games. Just as anyone is free to create anything within allotted laws, nobody is forced or required to buy these products. Market dynamics decide what sort of decisions are most fruitful and what dries on the shelves. Even when journalists are exerting their authoritarian pressure on game developers and publishers, the end line will still be on the store shelves and digital markets. If a developer wants to make a game that depicts reality, it must be set in proper manner in an overall realistic game. Sure, the NYPD has chased Spider-Man for years in the comics and have taken shots at him, though always fitting the books’ tone. Every time a Spider-Man story makes a whiplash in content, like having Peter Parker making a deal with the devil, it gets riled into the ground.
Public personas, from journalists to whatever hell influencers really are, want to promote themselves as patrons of culture and arts, as people who deliver you the best world can offer. Their activism breaks this illusion the moment they enforce their double standards and see both of the as equals. We can talk about art and artists as much as we want, but even these people will gladly downgrade their views on the subject whenever applicable and resort on assuming they have a say in what creators should be doing. Certainly loud public pressure will help, even when its only momentary and comes from relative minority. Often even from audience that isn’t buying their products. The less you spend time on popular media and entertainment industry, the more you will see normal people and proper customers voicing their displeasure on what these companies are spending their time and money on. Social media forms bubbles around us, making us see our own views as much larger entities than what they truly are. We consume media supports that bubble even further and get our news that further shield that bubble. Hell, with the riots and vandalising statues we’re seeing people go their way out and forcing that bubble unto others rather than exiting their own. The censorship, authoritarian attitudes and pushes we’re witnessing is destroying whatever bridge between the bubbles we could’ve built. There has been a push, and there will be shove. It may not be now, it may be six months later. It might be next year or even during the next generation, but there will be a push. There is no right side of history in current time, in the moment. That is only for the future generations to decide. Some of now-growing generation has seen their neighbourhood ransacked and burned down, homes lost and livelihoods destroyed. No amount of dabbling with the history studybooks can change a child’s memory of city on fire.