Correlation Does Not Imply Causation – unless it is unprofitable

September 22, 2013

Grand Theft Auto V – the brand new, hyper-violent, and incredibly realistic video game… just did the biggest weekend box office of any entertainment offering… ever. Bigger than any movie. Bigger than any musical act.

I personally am repulsed by the concept of this entertainment/activity. But I am obviously in the minority.

Grand theft Auto V (GTA 5) opened bigger than the two biggest movie openings ever — combined.

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GTA 5′s success in the marketplace leaves little doubt that people like to kill people (at least digitally), engage in drugs and violence (at least digitally), and watch degrading images of women (at least digitally) more than they like to do just about anything else they could do with their spare time.

Some claim all this digital debauchery is OK because really it’s only a fun, elaborate satire of America. Harmless escapism. That the victims and scenarios aren’t real.

What a crock.

It isn’t satire to parody the sad state of affairs we see on local TV news.  Night after night of have-nots and wannabes shooting each other and an occasional random victim in an endless parade of misery. Our culture sliding more each day into the scenarios that inspire GTA.

This weekend in Chicago, for instance 5 were shot dead and 18 were wounded overnight, one day after 13 were shot with an assault rifle in a park, for goodness sake. And the weekend isn’t even over. Should we root for an even higher score by Sunday night, so the President can hold a press conference, the police chief can say we are doing better this year than last, and our local news can have something sensational to lead with?

Over the years, victims of violence and families of victims of violence have sued the makers of the GTA… claiming shooters learned to kill by immersing themselves in this game.

A 9 year old even told police he learned how to drive from playing GTA… before he went and took his parent’s car for a spin before cracking it up.

To my knowledge no lawsuit has yet been successful in claiming causation. But playing or watching this crap can’t be good for your mind. Especially if you do it for hours on end and then wander up from your man cave and turn on the TV and — it continues to happen right in front of you only in real time and in real life.

I don’t think it is possible to stop the trajectory of our own culture.

Obviously video games are not the only exploiters of violence in our society. Turn on your TV, flip open a magazine, go to the movies and you will be immersed  in tales of murder, sex and narcotics. Our culture is filled with these images. We are bombarded with them constantly. Here’s a newsflash. Sex and violence sells. And everyone, but the have-nots, profit.

If you own an IRA  managed by Fidelity, or Vanguard, or TIAA-CREFF - odds are you are making money from Grand Theft Auto V. Because these mainstream funds own shares in companies that created GTA 5.

Then there’s Fox, Sony, ABC, Disney, NBC… you name it. Any company that makes or distributes ultra violent TV, film, video or music. They are all in it, deep. And we are all party to it. We watch it, spread it, and fund it.

The only chance we have to change the direction of our culture’s slide into hell is to be selective with what we put in our brains. What we expose ourselves to. What we allow our kids to play with. And where we invest our dollars.

Watch what you watch.

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Jan Johnsen September 22, 2013

I totally agree with your post…Feed Your Head is more important than ever…

viewser September 22, 2013

I wish I could say it the way Grace Slick sang it…

Leslie Nichols September 23, 2013

Amen! It is both sad and shocking to see our culture realistically . It’s not just our culture but a worldwide phenomenon of violence. Those of us who believe in peace and peaceful living need to spread our energy out to our planet,

viewser September 23, 2013

Culture and respect is a learned behavior. Acting out violent fantasies is not. We are sliding down a slope and need to dig in, quickly

Aidan Epstein November 5, 2013

An alternative explanation that came to me through reading your article is the use of media as a means to control what we cannot control ourselves.
The majority of the users of GTA and consumers of other media such as Movies and TV shows do not engage in the violent/ dramatic activities portrayed therein. Therefore, they are separated from them. This separation creates a lack of knowledge or understanding of the type of people that do engage in this behavior. Ultimately this lack of understanding drives a fear in those who do not understand those who act like characters in GTA. Thus, one reason people play or enjoy GTA is because they are controlling their fear. By becoming, briefly, someone that they are so distant from socially, they feel like they understand the gangster or killer. Thus their fear is relieved. Same reason why we watch the news. Our fear is played on by every single news source, mainly because the audiences are so distant from the crime that is occurring. It eases our consciousness to try to know or understand what is going on… Thus GTA serves as a construct through which people become, temporarily, what they most fear. In doing so, they can control their fear of people of such a different lifestyle.

viewser November 6, 2013

Interesting idea – getting at the psychological basis of what we think of as “fun.” Thanks for going public with your thoughts!

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