Culture critic Anita Sarkeesian criticized President Donald Trump for his recent meetings and statements blaming violent video games and movies for the Parkland, Florida high school shooting. She tweeted out that President Trump has been using video games as a scapegoat.
+1 all of this re. Trump using video games as a scapegoat https://t.co/9j63kt1ewy
— Anita Sarkeesian (@anitasarkeesian) March 1, 2018
Some of One Angry Gamer’s readers feared the media would be latching onto her comments to use as a sounding board for anti-Trump screeds, despite the fact that Sarkeesian is no saint when it comes to criticizing video games for violence and sexism, and didn’t hesitate to go to the United Nations in a bid to have censorship applied to online communities.
In fact, during the 2015 E3 press conference that Bethesda held, Anita Sarkeesian used the Feminist Frequency Twitter account to reproach the industry for the “extreme violence” that was on display for the then upcoming release of the 2016 version of DOOM. The tweet was posted on June 14th, 2015.
This level of extreme violence shouldn’t be considered normal. It’s not an excuse to say it’s expected because DOOM. That’s the problem #BE3
— Feminist Frequency (@femfreq) June 15, 2015
It’s really troubling (and depressing) that the #BE3 audience is enthusiastically cheering for bodies being ripped apart.
— Feminist Frequency (@femfreq) June 15, 2015
We need to seriously address connections between violence, sexism and toxic ideas of manhood before boys and men commit more mass shootings.
— Feminist Frequency (@femfreq) October 24, 2014
President Donald Trump said the exact same thing about violent video games. Here is a tweet from December 17th, 2012 from Trump, before he became President of the United States of America.
Video game violence & glorification must be stopped—it is creating monsters!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 17, 2012
But the similarities and views on violent games don’t end there. Back in 2010 during a presentation, before she started the Tropes vs Women In Games series, Sarkeesian admitted that not only was she not a fan of video games but that violent video games were “gross”. RicanGamerr has the clip, which you can view below.
If you’re unable to view the video or hear the audio, Sarkeesian states…
“I’m not exactly [in] fandom. I’m not a fan of video games. I actually had to learn a lot about video games in the process of making this.
[…] I would love to play video games, but I don’t want to go around shooting people or ripping off their heads. It’s just… gross. Hence, this is my response to that.”
Instead of outright calling for censorship, Sarkeesian wanted to subvert the way people viewed vioelnt video games by subliminally pushing the anti-violent stance through anti-sexist rhetoric, which was actually attached to the broader discussion about “toxic masculinity”.
By addressing “sexism in gaming”, Sarkeesian used it as a way to discuss patriarchal tendencies in video games that were borne of “toxic masculinity”. Hence, she viewed violence in video games as being a subset of that “masculine” trait.
President Donald Trump didn’t have to use gender politics to get across his dislike of violence in media, simply stating that…
“I’m hearing more and more people say the level of violence on video games is really shaping young people’s thoughts. “
In a separate meeting with members of Congress just recently, President Trump reiterated his disdain for extreme violence, saying…
“I think that’s a very important point. The video games, the movies, the internet stuff… it’s so violent, it’s so incredible. I see it. I get to see things you’d be amazed at. I have a young, a very young son who watches – I look at some of the things he’s watching and I say ‘How is that possible?’ – and this is what kids are watching. And maybe you have to take a look at it.”
So both Donald Trump and Anita Sarkeesian believe that overt violence in video games are “gross” and “incredible” (the latter of which was used with negative connotations). Both also believe that video game media can shape the minds of players.
While Sarkeesian never focused solely on video game violence in her videos, she did believe that sexist themes in games could help shape “sexist” views about women in real life. From the first episode of Tropes vs Women in Games, Sarkeesian states…
“The reality is that this troupe is being used in a real-world context where backwards sexist attitudes are already rampant. It’s a sad fact that a large percentage of the world’s population still clings to the deeply sexist belief that women as a group need to be sheltered, protected and taken care of by men.
“The belief that women are somehow a “naturally weaker gender” is a deeply ingrained socially constructed myth, which of course is completely false- but the notion is reinforced and perpetuated when women are continuously portrayed as frail, fragile, and vulnerable creatures.
“Just to be clear, I am not saying that all games using the damsel in distress as a plot device are automatically sexist or have no value. But it’s undeniable that popular culture is a powerful influence in or lives and the Damsel in Distress trope as a recurring trend does help to normalize extremely toxic, patronizing and paternalistic attitudes about women.”
So to recap:
- President Donald Trump believes extreme violence can help negatively shape the views and minds of young gamers.
- Culture critic Anita Sarkeesian believes that violence and sexism can help negatively shape the views and minds of gamers.
As a way to be politically antipodes to President Trump, we’re seeing identitarian propagandists like Sarkeesian and Polygon take opposing stances to what the President has stated, despite sharing similar or identical views in the past.
Hopefully gamers can see through the ruse from the media and certain critics who are now trying to get back in the good grace of the community. This is despite the fact that just four years ago game journalists launched an anti-gamer crusade that made it all the way into the mainstream media. Certain journalists even went so far as to say that members of the gaming community were “worse than ISIS“.