New on RedState – Video Gamers: The Latest Pawns of Big Government

My latest RedState post:
A recent Fox News segment concerning federal funding for video games has provoked outrage from gaming news websites, and while the hyperventilating of professional nerds might not seem noteworthy at first glance, the sad spectacle deserves to be revisited because it offers a troubling window into how liberals consolidate political influence over apolitical constituencies.
The National Endowment for the Arts has decided that video games of particular artistic or educational merit can qualify for federal grants, so Fox ran a debate on the decision between Icrontic.com editor-in-chief Brian Ambrozy and conservative radio host Neal Asbury. Admittedly, the Fox anchor wrongly suggested that big-budget action games like “Call of Duty” were the NEA’s focus rather than smaller projects by independent developers, and Asbury didn’t perform particularly well, having little more to offer the discussion besides generic platitudes about runaway spending. But the geek brigade saw something more nefarious at work.
Kotaku.com’s Owen Good complained that Fox had “no intention of” respecting the “gaming-as-art point of view.” CJ Smillie of GameRant.com criticized Fox for “attacking” the “idea of games as an art form.” At EscapistMagazine.com, Tom Goldman accused Fox of “using the general ignorance of the public” about video games “for their own ends.” Ambrozy himself later called the segment “media brainwashing of the highest order,” through which Fox was poisoning its viewers’ minds against “our world and our generation.”
Speaking as both a member of Ambrozy’s generation and an avid gamer, I feel a special obligation to call out nonsense spouted by pompous hacks claiming to represent me. 
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New on NewsReal – PC Comics: Superman Renounces His US Citizenship

My latest NewsRealBlog post:
Once upon a time, superheroes were a source of comfort and escape from the difficulties and ugliness of real life. While real-life recession and terrorism aren’t likely to meet any tidy resolutions soon, we can always count on Batman to solve the Riddler’s latest puzzle just in time, or Spider-Man to save the damsel in distress (well, usually).
Somewhere along the line, though, it was decided that our heroes had to grapple with real-world issues. When done sparingly and handled well, this can elevate the genre, such as Harry Osborn’s battle with drugs or 2008’s brilliant The Dark Knight. But more often than not, such efforts these days instead result in train wrecks of heavy-handed political proselytizing and moral confusion.
Such is the case with the latest development in DC Comics’ Action Comics #900, in which Superman decides he has to renounce his U.S. citizenship:

In it, Superman consults with the President’s national security advisor, who is incensed that Superman appeared in Tehran to non-violently support the protesters demonstrating against the Iranian regime, no doubt an analogue for the recent real-life protests in the Middle East. However, since Superman is viewed as an American icon in the DC Universe as well as our own, the Iranian government has construed his actions as the will of the American President, and indeed, an act of war.

Superman replies that it was foolish to think that his actions would not reflect politically on the American government, and that he therefore plans to renounce his American citizenship at the United Nations the next day — and to continue working as a superhero from a more global than national perspective. From a “realistic” standpoint it makes sense; it would indeed be impossible for a nigh-omnipotent being ideologically aligned with America to intercede against injustice beyond American borders without creating enormous political fallout for the U.S. government.

First, it’s interesting to note that the story’s starting dispute comes dangerously close to a damning indictment of Barack Obama for not taking a stronger stand on the Iranian protests of summer 2009, which is surprising coming from an iconic cultural mainstay and a major entertainment company. And while John Hawkins is right to note that there are certain practical difficulties with throwing someone as powerful as Superman into geopolitical situations, I can see definite story potential in exploring the tension between Superman’s no-nonsense moral clarity and the empty suits on Capitol Hill.
But renouncing his citizenship?

There’s Just No Good Spin for This One

Electronic Arts, the publisher behind the NFL’s official Madden video game series, has a problem:

Today, the two finalists for the Madden NFL 12 cover were revealed. It couldn’t have turned out worse for EA. Forget being between a rock and a hard place; EA Sports is trapped between a knife and a gun fight: relative unknown Peyton Hillis of the perennially awful Cleveland Browns, or convicted dog-killing pariah and ex-convict Michael Vick. Either EA has to market a game featuring a player the average person cares little about, or they’re hit with animal rights activist protests for a highly controversial cover boy. 

IGN’s Hilary Goldstein has some words of wisdom for EA:
EA made a fatal error in preparation of the Madden cover vote. The person voted to be on the cover only hurts or helps EA. It doesn’t impact a Madden fan’s sponsorship opportunities. It doesn’t affect a gamer’s promotion plans. No one voting stops and thinks, “Man, I better not let Vick win or EA will have a tough time doing a media tour.” Don’t think for a moment that EA ever would willingly put Peyton Hillis or Mike Vick on the cover of Madden. They expected the voters to do the right thing for EA. That’s not how popularity contests work.

The lesson here: never, ever, give people the option to affect your product unless it’s something you can live with. The 32 players in the Madden voting bracket needed to be 32 players EA would gladly have on the cover. Because, as we can see with the final round in this contest, online voters aren’t predictable. Never assume they have the same priorities or business sensibilities of a publicly traded corporation. The public loses nothing by turning on EA and biting them in the ass. 
Me, I’m trying to decide what the worst part of this story is: that Vick’s still part of the NFL, that EA included Vick in the poll, or that enough sports fans still like Vick enough to make him a finalist?

New on NewsReal – The X-Men Get Political in "First Class"

My latest NewsRealBlog post:

For the better part of the past decade, moviegoers have gotten a new batch of comic-book adaptations every summer. The trend continues in 2011 with Captain America, Thor, Green Lantern, and the latest film in the X-Men franchise, X-Men: First Class.

Set in the 1960s, First Class goes back to the origins of the mutant team, before leader Professor Xavier and archenemy Magneto became foes. And as the just-released trailer for the film reveals, this prequel has an unexpected political twist.

It seems that the X-Men intervene in the Cuban Missile Crisis. Now, there are a couple different directions this could go: a) President John F. Kennedy is, for whatever reason, unable to stop Soviet aggression himself, so it’s up to our heroes to save the day, or b) the X-Men have to get involved because the United States and the Soviet Union are both hell-bent on settling their differences in the most violent way possible rather than talking to each other. Either scenario could pan out—we all know how Hollywood feels about America and Communists, but we also know how much leftists revere JFK, and may be reluctant to portray the country as too evil under him.

Read the rest on NewsRealBlog.

New on NewsReal – Lefties Poison Conservatives for the Greater Good in "The Last Supper"

My latest NewsRealBlog post:

Last I checked, we were supposed to be heading towards a new Golden Age of Civility in which everyone will respect each other’s views, police their own side’s misbehavior, and, above all, make sure to never, ever, ever say anything that could possibly be misconstrued as a call to violence. Well, apparently some lefties in Madison, Wisconsin didn’t get the memo; the Mercury Players Theater is putting on a play about a group of young leftists who decide to start murdering conservatives—and not metaphorically:

Five lefty graduate students in Iowa City gather for weekly dinners to revel in their shared (and sometimes smug) world view. The first dinner we witness ignites a surprising shared mission when one of the students invites the truck driver who offered him roadside assistance to join them. This young man, a patriotic Desert Storm vet, first startles the group when he insists on saying grace before the vegan meal and then goes on to praise Hitler, alarming and repulsing the other dinners. Threats and violence ensue, and one of the hosts stabs him.

As he lies bleeding on an area rug, the quintet, after some debate and initial hand-wringing, decide that they have done society a favor by eliminating him and silencing his dangerous words. They also decide that since participating in protests and sit-ins has been a futile way to fight the power, this new dinner party/murder method may be a more effective technique in coping with right-wing adversaries.

Soon a parade of special guests is invited to dine, and when their dinner conversation proves repellent, they are given poisoned wine and buried in the backyard. Our smarty-pants grad students toast themselves for making a difference each time and feel vindicated when they learn that their first victim, the trucker, was implicated in a heinous crime.

Things come to a head when their final guest, an infamous right-wing talk show host, turns out to not fit the stereotype they expected, leading four of the five to regret their killing spree. The apparent moral of the story, that killing people over differing views is wrong, is also the defense for its shocking subject matter:

“By the end of the play, everyone turns such a corner and you realize how devastating it really is to go down that path,” said [director Doug] Holtz.

The audience seems to concur, with some saying the play jabs at extremists on both sides of the aisle.

“I think it plays on both sides,” said audience member Heather Stotts. “I think it’s obvious this is a show that pokes fun at liberals as well as conservatives.”

Okay, fine. The play isn’t telling people to go kill conservatives. But Sarah Palin wasn’t telling Republicans to kill Democrats, either, and according to our liberal betters, that didn’t matter—the very use of violent imagery in the context of political opposition was allegedly enough to put the idea into people’s heads.

Read the rest on NewsRealBlog.