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SOC 202 Written Assignment

Submitted by: Tristan Wong
To: Rebecca Lock
Section – 021
Tuesday, March 25th 2014

The area of interest that I will be looking through is violence and sexism. The object of this focus will be the game “Grand Theft Auto V”. The game is described as an open world, action –adventure video game. The player may use various explosives and firearms to fight enemies including running over people with vehicles (Rockstar North, 2013). The first common sense claim is that the game “normalizes” violence. This means actually leading people to be more violent through desensitization. The second common sense claim is that the game’s depiction of women is misogynistic in nature. Therefore leading people to hate or dislike females through the game’s supposed misogynistic undertones. The game represents various females throughout the game as, strippers, prostitutes, typical “bimbos”, and long-suffering nagging housewives. Our responses to cultural and media influences vary greatly from person to person, and the conditions in which they are encoded in (O'Brien & Szeman, 2014, p. 94). This can lead to varied and different responses from individuals who view the same media or cultural phenomenon (O'Brien & Szeman, 2014, p. 94). With regards to violence in video games and media in general, how many consumers of these types of images and media are actually violent? Millions of people experience games and media like this every day, wouldn’t these millions have a cause to be more violent than a normal person? A dominant-hegemonic (O'Brien & Szeman, 2014, p. 94) meaning based around personal experience with friends, is that the game revolves around having the most fun as a player. We did not see any underlying tones of crazed murder or killing, just because the game gives the player the ability to do so. After years of exposure to “harmful media”, how could this new one game cause people to do harmful and shameful acts against the public? The millions of people that have played the game have yet to steal a car and go on a killing spree, running over a few dozen people and blowing up several cars with a rocket launcher. The whole basis and origin of gaming, is around having fun doing something enjoyable in your free time. Similarly to watching TV and movies, people do these things because they are enjoyable, video games are in the same vein as these media outlets. According to (O'Brien & Szeman, 2014, p. 90) “the value and meaning in cultural texts are not qualities that reside objectively within them; they are instead determined in part by audiences that watch and respond them”. Largely the responses are based upon the individual themselves. If we all interpreted the video game the wrong way, and it supposedly portrayed this meaning, would we not be inclined to an increase in violence? The view of sexism and misogyny are another criticism of the game. My view on the matter is that this part of the game is a form of comic relief and satire that the game continues to deploy throughout the story, not just based solely on females. Again going back to the range of people who view and respond to these forms in the game is going to be vastly different. A large part of the game for me was not based around hating or despising females but, laughing at the various funny moments in the game and fun gameplay elements that the game itself had to offer. Some may cringe at the portrayal or violence within the game, but continue to play on because of the gameplay mechanics or storyline. The notion of how people consume media and what they do with it plays an important role in how it affects an individual (O'Brien & Szeman, 2014, p. 94). Sole blame cannot be placed on the mere fact that this one game focuses and encourages, the people that play it to hate women or become more violent. The representation of the media and how one consumes it is the more important part of the equation when accusing or stating that this type of media has negative social effects on the population (O'Brien & Szeman, 2014, p. 95). The violence and misogyny presented by the game are not flat out ridiculous, or intentionally grand in the imagination. They occur every day in the various forms of media and images that we are exposed to, it’s the same things that the media perpetuates on a global scale. The views are things as people (who of are age to play), are already accustomed to. We have all experienced these same types of images and cultural references in the media around us, it’s not some new inclination of an uncommon taboo subject. I think the same alternative claim can be represented for these two ideas. The violence in video games allows people to live it out in fantasy rather than in real life. Showing the negative effects and repercussions to violence therefore can lead to reducing violent acts rather than spurring them. In relation the misogyny can show a player how bad it is to treat women the way they are portrayed in the game. For me personally the game showed me how crumbling marriages can be reasoned and repaired through different me, in relation to all the family members. If they are treated badly or represented as such in the game, it may help others to think about and self-reflect about the way they treat the females in their own lives. The video game is an outlet for relaxation and fun, with many of the “misogyny” a sense of comic relief to the intense and hectic storyline of the game. The entire game is not focused on the notion of violence or sexism; it’s just an inherent part of the games mechanics, plot and setting. All these attributes are usually located in previous Grand Theft Auto games in the series. They are simply just adult oriented games, much like the same way the T.V shows and movies of today, portray these things to the same demographic audience. The game seems to portray American culture and practices into the ridiculousness that is Grand Theft Auto. It portrays the absurdity of modern life, which is immediately relevant to the people playing it, which they can relate to and poke fun at. The game itself relates and pokes fun at the ways it is usually portrayed in the media itself. The game does not put on a façade to portray to the audience, it reveals the atrocities and absurdity that is contained in the real world. In a previous installment in the franchise a fake game is advertised over the game’s radio “Pogo the monkey” (Rockstar North, 2004). The game is supposedly something that “kids are sure to stare at for hours!” (Rockstar North, 2004). The gameplay advertised is similar to Grand Theft Auto itself, where players are awarded with diamond and cars and are involved in various shenanigans (Rockstar North, 2004). It shows how the conventions of media culture and ideologies, are marketed to the public. Violence and capitalist themes that are disguised in a cartoon game are celebrated for the younger audience instead of being critiqued about their own underlying themes or messages.
I believe most of the great controversy that can surround this type of argument is the challenge, as with all types of media to keep inappropriate or controversial material out of the hands of children, all the while at the same time protecting the rights and liberties that we all hold dear. People on a whole should focus on the objects within the culture industry, and the ways that these products are digested or appropriated.

O'Brien, S., & Szeman, I. (2014). Popular Culture: A User's Guide Third Edition(3rd ed.). Toronto, Ontario: Nelson Education Ltd.
Rockstar North. (2013). Grand Theft Auto V [Xbox 360]. New York, NY: Rockstar Games
Rockstar North. (2004). Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas [Xbox]. New York, NY: Rockstar Games…...

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