Monthly Archives: February 2013

Waist-High Walls and Indiscriminate Shooting: Video Game Violence.

Video games are violent, sometimes disgustingly so. This is an undeniable fact. One brief glance at the new releases and you will see games like Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance; a game based around a system allowing you to slice and dice your enemies as if you were playing Gordon Ramsey and upon discovering your wife in bed with a selection of fruit and veg had gone to fetch your favourite knife. This makes it hardly surprising that video games are the first point of call when it comes to locating the blame for catastrophes such as the Columbine school massacre. Is this really fair though? I, like many others, grew up playing video games almost religiously and have not once felt the urge to casually meander into anyone’s house, proceed to smash all of their pots, steal all their jewellery then pop down to the local shop and use it to buy my groceries for the day. Okay maybe I have imagined it, but surely if video games are that corrupting playgrounds would be full of children bringing their pets to school in order to pit them against each other cat vs. guinea pig in a grim battle to the death so they can win a portion of their opponent’s lunch money. Or have I misunderstood the Pokemon series completely?

One of the most frequently coined arguments is that videogames desensitise children from the harsh consequences of violence. Prince Harry was recently condemned for likening the killing of enemy troops in Afghanistan to playing the popular videogame Call of Duty; simply adding credence to the already persuasive argument from David Icke that the royals are really a psychopathic bunch of lizard-people in disguise, biding their time until the opportune moment so they can destroy us all. Perhaps we would feel more comfortable if Prince Harry curled up in the foetal position and wept himself to sleep each night.

That said many games do feel as if they are simply being violent because they can. Maybe they are worried that if they allow 10 seconds to pass without some kind of death resembling an explosion in a Dolmio factory the player will get bored and go do something productive. Video games such as Gears of War, Call of Duty and their critics alike make the mistake in assuming that the public are all a bunch of drooling wet sponges only able to register enjoyment when presented with various depictions of death served up to us in the most violent possible way. What we perhaps need is some kind of system whereby only those old enough to play games of a violent nature are allowed to purchase them. There could be different levels of rating and everything, and who knows; if it works well enough we could extend this measure to films too!

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Makes you wonder where all the praise comes from, a voice in his head maybe?

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What is wrong with horse meat?

People have been in uproar about their delicious microwave lasagne meals ever since it was discovered they had been tainted with this evil. It was as if Lindus had promised them a feast of caviar, quail eggs, and honey, only for the poor individual to peel back the thin protective film and reveal a great big steaming turd. Is it really that bad? I mean, it even has its own Wikipedia page (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horse_meat for all those interested). Plenty of countries across the world consume horse. It doesn’t even look all that different and, judging from the shock reactions of the public, it doesn’t taste that different either.

Should we even really be surprised there is horsemeat in food? When you have paid 12p for a burger you can hardly expected the cow to have been lovingly guided through a luxury spa, fed Greek yoghurt and massaged by a harem of young beautiful men until it dies from having enjoying life too much. When I pay such prices for food, I am simply glad it contains meat. I eat the food shouting loudly at myself in order to distract from thoughts of pink playdough shooting along conveyor-belts in a drab grey factory, manhandled by workers wearing plastic rain-macs bashing the substance until it takes the shape of a hockey puck.

The problem is not that we have sat down to Sunday dinner and eaten a nice plate of Sea Biscuit’s thigh with a side of chips. It is that we have been told that Sea Biscuit was in fact Daisy the Cow or Dolly the Sheep. Granted the blame for this could be traced back and back until the baton is being passed around in a circle like some kind of primary school playground game. The problem is that the supermarkets have advertised food as one thing, yet have delivered another. It raises questions about whether you can really trust the packaging. Who knows, maybe those crisps you ate were made from the back end of a dog. Thinking about it, Nesquik balls did look suspiciously like rabbit droppings, and that bunny did seem smug.

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Don’t they look fabulous, and tasty?

Why are all Horror Films Shit?

Why are all horror films shit? Yes that is a bit of a broad-stroked question. I do not claim to have watched every horror film made, nor even that I dislike them all. There are in fact plenty of horror films that help me develop whatever muscle it is you tense when you try to prevent your bladder from serving up Bear Gryll’s favourite cocktail. There are the classic low-budgets like The Blair Witch Project, which forced producers to work on torturing the viewer’s imagination rather than slapping him/her across the face from the fourth minute, bellowing: “Look, look how disgusting that was. It even had stitches and body parts missing. Oh man, check out all that blood!”. No horror film today seems able to spare any time for building up tension. Instead they play out as if they were directed by a child desperate to show off their new toy, managing a couple of minutes holding it behind their back, only to throw it in their parent’s crotch and run off giggling.

Recently there was one film which showed promise. October 2012 brought Sinister to our cinemas, a film about Dad of the Year Ellison Oswalt, a true-crime writer desperately searching for his new best seller. Ellison moves his family into what he neglects to inform them is a murder house. Before long he discovers a box of snuff movies in the attic. Upon viewing, a series of paranormal events begin to haunt Ellison. In typical horror movie fashion he decides for the sake of his wife and two children they better stay put and hope the poltergeist becomes housetrained. Maybe it would help out around the place? If it can set-up a creepy old projector it must be able to put it away. The film develops slowly, but effectively. The director Scott Derrickson manages to show restraint and respect, well spacing each horror scene from the previous. It isn’t until the climax that everything is depressingly bungled together, as if the director suddenly felt the need for every unanswered question to be addressed and tied together. This misses the advantage of what can be done in horror films. A few unanswered questions will let the viewer imagine their own personal worst case scenario.

Any discussion about horror would seem flawed without mentioning arguably the most famous horror film in history (and sole reason behind the drop in pea soup sales since 1973), The Exorcist. While this film revolutionised horror, breaking down almost every boundary constricting directors and screenwriters in a cascade of blood, vomit, blasphemic masturbation, and head rotation. It cannot be denied that the film, when separated from those breakthroughs, is abysmal. The film generally relies upon in your face techniques to disgust the viewer, a technique used to the detriment of this genre ever since. What makes a viewer lie awake at night checking the colour of their pyjamas at every creak is something more general: the corruption of what could be an everyday situation. When the audience are faced with watching someone tortured in a circumstance they themselves could be in. That is what wriggles up underneath someone’s skin and refuses to leave.

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I don’t think bed-rest worked, probably best move onto Ibuprofen.