Friday, September 27, 2013
What Grand Theft Auto can teach us about torture.
Since the games release last Tuesday, Grand Theft Auto Five has enjoyed the largest opening success in video game history, raking in over 1 billion dollars to date. The numbers are staggering, but perhaps even more staggering is the new content included in the game. The addition of mandatory torture scenes in the games campaign has drawn a variety of critics to condemn the game for promoting such intolerable acts. When I read these criticisms I can’t help but think draw a parallel between the criticisms that accompanied the releases of the other Grand Theft Auto games. Critics have always condemned the game for themes like drug use, violence, robbery, and sexuality. While I do feel torture may be a step too far when it comes to video games, I feel as though the addition of torture reflects how society has changed its tolerance about various topics. For example, I still remember as a middle school student nudity in any form of media was shunned, and yet now girls wear shorts that barely cover their butts and we have topless girls dancing around on youtube (thanks Robin Thicke). Have these changes necessarily made society worse? I honestly don’t think so and therefore I look at these new torture additions in Grand Theft Auto similarly. Do these scenes really make people more violent and susceptible to committing acts of torture? If anyone is really to blame for this new attitude of condoning torture it should be the CIA. Ever since 9/11, there have been countless stories about water boarding and other tortures that would make any person cringe at the thought. So is Grand Theft Auto just reflecting the changes society is going through or is adding torture scenes really a violation to human rights? The answer really lies with the audience.