Monday, April 12, 2010

THIS Is Entertainment?

I am a pop culture junkie. If you've read my blog, this is not news to you.

I love movies, music, books, magazines and video games. I'm not a hard-core video game junkie. I have a Wii and I play silly games. I don't do those shoot 'em up games - they make me nervous and my hands get all sweaty and the controller slips out of my hands and BOOM, I'm dead. I came across this new game for the DS and at first was a bit intrigued.
I liked the movie. It was like a new take on "Heathers" (one of my faves). But a few things struck me as not right.

First, I really don't care that Lindsay Lohan is not on the cover of the game. Yes, she was the main character in the movie (which was her best work - also, it's the only movie she's been in that I've seen). But, let's face it, anyone could have played the new kid taking on the popular kids in school. It's a theme that has been done a million times (possible exaggeration).

Second, take a look at the game's description:
Rumors. Lies. Intrigue. It’s High School. Based on the hit Paramount movie. Follow the misadventures of Cady from Jingle Bell Rock to the School Prom. Go up against plastics, jocks, art freaks and mathletes, as you work to play the cliques against each other and become the high school prom queen!
Oh. So the PLAYER gets to be the MEAN GIRL. Now, had this game been released six years ago, when the movie was out, it would be totally relevant. Maybe even a little fun.

But it's not 2004. It's 2010. Bullying is in the news. Here are a few examples:
Nine teenagers have been charged in connection with the suicide death of South Hadley High School student Phoebe Prince, 15, who took her life after she was bullied by other students at her school.
JOSHUA, Texas (CBS/KTVT/AP) Bullying may have claimed the life of another student. Jon Carmichael took his own life Sunday after some say he was bullied by bigger classmates.
HOUSTON - "I thought I lost my child, and my child is my life," said Yamshannta Robertson, with her voice trembling in disgust, in front of her home on Friday, March 26. What happened to Robertson's 8-year-old child is unforgettable. The second-grader was tired of it. He said he had been pushed around by bullies for months. Then after someone pulled down his pants and embarrassed him in class, he jumped out from the second floor of Blackshear Elementary school on Wednesday, March 24.
Nothing funny there. So why the game? Why now?

Is it to allow those bullied kids to strike out in a way that doesn't harm them? That hardly seems productive.

Is it to get a bully to act out in a game instead of in real life? Not likely.

Look. I admit to being a bit bullyish at times. Being nice doesn't always get the job done. But I have never done anything to turn people against others in such a way that you'll see in those headlines or in a movie or even a game.

What's the harm in a video game? Plenty. It could be the start of a bad habit. I think any parent who lets their kid play that game needs to have a serious discussion about bullying with the child. If he or she has been a victim, report it. If your kid's the bully, stop her before things go too far (assuming they haven't already).

"Mean Girls" the movie is entertainment. A game that encourages you to be the bully is not. I guess I just became one more villain for the player to take on: skeptical adult who questions the motive behind a little old game.
Post a Comment