Gamer Culture, Rape Culture, CNN and Japanese Culture: Followup

Kyung Lah at CNN has written a followup article to the story I wrote about on Wednesday.

However, the video segment — from CNN’s Prime News program on their HLN (formerly Headline News) channel — has very little to do with Lah’s article itself, and is sensationalist and overblown, particularly on the part of the anchor, Mike Galanos.  His guest, Dr. Cheryl Olson, seemed to be trying to put the brakes on his (not to put too fine a point on it) scaremongering.  In short, I don’t recommend watching the video (though since I’ve already transcribed it, I’ll still include the text below the fold; WordPress doesn’t appear to let me embed the video).

Lah’s article, on the other hand, is much more thoughtful.  I think it does a pretty good job of presenting the complexity of the cultural issues involved, given its limited space and an audience that can’t be presumed to be very familiar with video games, feminist theory, Japanese culture in general or otaku culture in particular.

It’s not without some faults — for example, this paragraph

It is terribly easy to condemn Japan as a sexist and repressed culture with a government that chooses to look the other way. Part of that would be true, but the reason hentai continues to thrive in a country as progressive as Japan is a complex cultural issue.

seems either self-contradictory, or reliant on some oddly contorted sense of the word “progressive,” and the quotations from the sociology professor, Kyle Cleveland, seem troublingly close to suggesting that this is “just how it is” in Japan, and outsiders ought not judge such things.  That can, admittedly, be a fine line to walk: Cleveland is entirely correct when he says

What provokes people about Japan is the cultural distance which inclines people to see Japan as exceptionally lurid or perverse simply because it expresses sexuality in ways outside of Western norms. Japan is in some ways not that different than other cultures, including the United States, which has its own gender problems that are quite apparent.

but the implication that the very real structural misogyny in US culture invalidates American critiques of misogynist elements of other cultures is quite wrong.  Yes, we have to look to the beam in our own eye.  But provided we are willing to do so, and work to extract it, it is not hypocrisy to also mention the mote — or, as in this case, beam of comparable size — in our sibling’s.


Thoughts on Gamer Culture, Rape Culture, and CNN

Melissa McEwan has generously given me space for another guest post at Shakesville.  Here’s the intro:

[Trigger warning for discussion of video games which simulate rape and violence.]

I’ve got video games on my mind lately — as some of you have probably seen me talking about in comments, I was at the Penny Arcade Expo in Boston this past weekend — and I just wrote a mostly-positive post with some criticism and a dubiously clever pun for the title over at my blog, about gamer culture in general and one panel at the Expo in particular.

This post is much less positive, and I’m also much less certain, ultimately, what should be done to try to fix the problems I’m talking about.

Many of y’all probably remember previous discussion, both here (Rape For Sale, Looking for Rape Products? Try Amazon., From the Mailbag for 2009-08-17) and at many other blogs over the past several years, of a Japanese computer game called RapeLay, the genre of hentai (lit. “pervert”/”perverted”) games, and the subgenre of rape-focused hentai games to which it belongs.

CNN’s Connect the World program has now run a story on the game, and its continuing availability through illicit channels despite its having been pulled from production and removed from retail…

Quick Hit: And Here I Thought…

…that dumping Lou Dobbs indicated CNN was starting to take their middle initial seriously.  As it turns out: Nope!  They were just looking for someone even more objectionable. (One wonders why they didn’t just keep Glenn Beck, really.)

I don’t really see what further comment I could add.  Erickson is vile.  He’s certainly as vile as Limbaugh or Beck.  He makes much of the rest of the conservative blagoweb look measured and reasonable, and that’s no mean feat.

Yet, somehow, the fact that people say “fuck” on Daily Kos is constantly held up as evidence that liberal bloggers are hateful and meanspirited and unserious — and I have no doubt that we’ll also continue to see right-wing bloggers and Fox News blasting CNN for being an exemplar of the “liberal media.”

(Previously, previously. Via.)

(What Does It Take For CNN To) Fire Lou Dobbs

As folks like the indispensable Dave Neiwert have amply chronicled, CNN’s primetime star Lou Dobbs has long provided a mainstream loudspeaker for radical racist/xenophobic nativism, and contributed to the atmosphere of paranoia about “illegals” that leads to the murder of 9-year-old-girls.  His vicious, fact-free anti-immigrant ravings alone should have prevented him from ever being allowed a spot on a major news network.

But now he’s picked an additional target, and a new set of paranoid fantasies: President Obama and the Birther cause.  It’s hard to imagine how he could get any farther beyond the pale at this point.

Media Matters’ press release covers the essentials and links to a number of their other posts on the subject.  Ta-Nehisi and tristero are all over it too, and make very good points, as usual.

CNN needs to either fire Dobbs, or drop the “News” from their name and give similar amounts of coverage to every equally plausible conspiracy theory: the moon-landing-hoax theory, for example, and the Roswell coverup, and of course the 9/11 Truthers while we’re at it.  Maybe throw in a special on how no one really knows for sure whether the Freemasons secretly control all the governments of the world.  Rehire Glenn Beck, why not?  He’s no crazier than the Birthers.

Dobbs is an embarrassment, CNN.  Dump him: your credibility’s on the line.