The Age of the Low-Life

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There’s been a good deal of talk about hidden code in a few programs that makes a few games rather more risque than the official version. This has gotten a lot of people upset, including legislators.

There’s a small and a big issue here.

The small issue is leaving an awful lot of code around to be tapped by an audience very, very prone to tapping. You can’t enable or mod what isn’t there.

If I put a ton of hardcore porn pictures in a subdirectory of this website which could be accessed by going to, say, www.overclockers.com/porn , I don’t think I could disclaim responsibility just because I didn’t provide a link to it or tell you how to get it. Only a low-life would claim that.

Then again, games like GTA are pretty low-life to begin with, and that’s the big issue.

Pandering To The Low

So much of popular culture these days is based on pandering to the low, lewd and crude. Jumping on programs like GTA alone in such an environment is like living in an outhouse filled with feces, and objecting to the fourth turd in the far right-hand corner while overlooking the fact that your house is literally full of shit.

Anybody who does that is figuratively just as full of the fecal stuff, too.

The problem with this material is not due to this or that being bad, but because there’s so many thisses and thats. It’s the cumulative weight of all the lewdness and crudeness that creates a lewder, cruder society. When you glorify base sensations and the low life, you end up with a lot of base low lifes.

That’s the harm this kind of material does, even to those who turn the channel off. It hurts the people who get hooked on it, and it hurts those who have to deal with the people who get hooked on it.

Sizzle, Not Steak

What used to be called culture and art has largely turned into sequences of sensation-seeking. Why? Because it’s easy to do.

Understand that for the most part, the more sex, violence and crudeness there is in a movie, game, TV program, etc., the less thinking and creativity is required. If every other word that comes out of a character’s mouth is a four-letter word, that’s a lot fewer real words that have to be written. If a character is in bed half the time, again, that’s a lot less that needs to be said or done.

Sex and violence have been fillers, empty calories, a cheap, quick hit with a lot of bang (often literally) for the buck. It’s substituting grease for meat, and if you eat enough grease, you start liking it.

Compare an “action” film made fifty years ago to one made today. You’ll see that a lot more thought went into the first than goes into the second. It had to, they didn’t have the kind of visceral shortcuts available today.

It’s not the obscenity but the mental poverty of much popular entertainment today that’s the real problem.

The Disgusting Cry of Freedom

For sure, if you suggest that taking the easy way out should be discouraged, either a little or a lot, you’ll have people talk about having their freedom taken away. The word “freedom” is becoming the preserve of low-lifes these days. Spammers yell “freedom.” Hackers yell “freedom.” P2Pers yell “freedom,” so it’s hardly surprising that low-talent “artists” demand the “freedom” to give you filler smut.

It’s a ludicrous argument, and since we’re talking about lewdness and crudeness, here’s a simple lewd, crude example.

Let’s say you got an email from me out of the blue saying, “I want to poop on the floor of your house next Tuesday.” I think it a very safe bet you’d say “No.” If I then replied, “You’re taking away my freedom!!” would you not find me insane?

And why would you think that? You would find me insane because my claims of freedom are going (literally) on your turf. Freedom for me does not mean I have the right to shit on you.

Yet that is just what all the abovementioned people are claiming.

Freedom is not the right to do anything you want. Freedom is the right to do what you want without interfering with or hurting others.

What To Do?

How can we clean up the outhouse?

Well, first, we have to recognize that we live in an outhouse, this is not good, and the problem is a lot bigger than a video game or two.

Second, we need to start discouraging people from coming to our house and leaving deposits. If someone feels compelled to make an “adult” movie, fine, then it should get an adult rating. Oh, that means you’ll make less money because kids won’t be able to be titillated? Well, gee, are you out to make an adult movie, or kiddie porn? Freedom isn’t free.

For at least a while, just to break people of the habit, we might have to have codes for a while that set limits on the number of sexual/violent shortcuts people can take in a movie or game or whatever. It was done before; it can be done again.

Finally, and most importantly, we have to get back a stronger sense of social disapproval. Sure, there were low lifes fifty or a hundred years ago, but back then, they were called low lifes, and it wasn’t a compliment. If there was a day-to-day price to be paid for being a low life, you’d have a lot fewer low lifes. Just because we can be disgusting animals doesn’t mean we have to be, or that we ought to be.

Some would shrilly shout that I’m suggesting a return to Ozzie and Harriet days. No, but it’s not a choice between a lot of censorship and none at all.

Remember, these folks are demanding the right to poop on your floor and encouraging others to do the same.

Ed

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