Why So Serious?

 
Battlefield 1 cover

Battlefield 1, the big WWI game that launches this October, features this Harlem Hellfighter in all its marketing and has an expansion pack devoted to the famed unit. But do any of them identify as transgendered or intersex?

Throughout my life, I have been extraordinarily traditional while most of my friends have been remarkably progressive. Perhaps it’s the curse of an orthodox artist. Perhaps God thinks it’s funny. In any case, experience has taught me to be diplomatic and to choose my battles with care. But while my hippie friends and I have generally gotten along because we share an interest in life’s frivolities (even though we differ on nearly all serious matters), I find it’s increasingly difficult to maintain such friendships. With each passing year, philosophical differences intrude further and further into our casual pastimes.

These days, every other film, novel, or game is linked to some public controversy. Does the story lack gay characters? Unacceptable! Does it involve hunting? Outrageous! Why can’t player-characters in the game be cross-dressers? How can the book be respectful of the nefarious oil industry? How racist of them to choose a white man as the hero! How irresponsible to show a character smoking! Why doesn’t this sport have more diversity?  You know what I mean. Even Superman, who used to explicitly fight for “the American way,” is now a globalist, an environmentalist, and probably a secret bisexual like all superheroes must be.

Electronic Arts advertised a black man and an Arab woman as two protagonists in its upcoming WWI game, Battlefield 1, but even that hasn’t stopped many gamers from complaining that they can’t play as female soldiers in the history-based shooter’s multiplayer mode (history must be racist and sexist). The hero on the cover is at least rooted in reality.

The Passion of the Christ was accused of anti-Semitism for daring to dramatize millenia-old scenes straight from the book of this country’s most popular religion.

And today I find myself having to defend the proposal of whaling as an acceptable feature in a light-hearted pirate adventure game called Sea of Thieves. Never mind that every player in the cartoonish game is cast as a thief and a cutthroat (that is, a pirate) or that we’re talking about a game with krakens and mermaids.

When did progressives abandon the liberty to have fun?

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  1. Seawriter Contributor
    Seawriter
    @Seawriter

    Aaron Miller: When did progressives abandon the liberty to have fun?

    Q. How many Progressives does it take to change a light bulb?

    A. That’s not funny!

    Seawriter

    • #1
  2. Kate Braestrup Member
    Kate Braestrup
    @GrannyDude

    Seawriter:

    Aaron Miller: When did progressives abandon the liberty to have fun?

    Q. How many Progressives does it take to change a light bulb?

    A. That’s not funny!

    Seawriter

    That joke used to be about feminists…

    Okay, Aaron—do an actual headcount. In all the movies you check out, all the games you play, all the shows on netflix you binge-watch, actually count the number of women and the number of men.

    I can explain why, even under the most PC regime, the result will be less than one woman for every three men. That is, if you’re really interested. (It’s okay if you’re not, and just want to watch/play?)

    • #2
  3. Sandy Member
    Sandy
    @Sandy

    Today an 80-year-old Progressive friend was complaining about the lack of liberty today, though she didn’t (openly, at least) connect it with politics.  She talked wistfully about the joyful freedom she had as a child, something denied to most children today. Young Progressives won’t have that memory, or maybe, as it gets worse, they will remember these times as more carefree.  Heaven help us.

    I took the opportunity to say something to my friend about everything being over-regulated, with which she agreed.  But the situation you describe, Aaron, is much more difficult, I think, and the answer to your question may be that it all happened so gradually that it wasn’t noticed.  It will be addressed with anti-depressant and anti-anxiety medications, I’m afraid.

    • #3
  4. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller
    @AaronMiller

    Kate, the answers are simple, though not politically correct:

    — because most professional storytellers are men

    — because human history is dominated by the actions of men

    — because the easiest told and most exciting stories are action adventures, to which men are better suited

    — because most historical leaders and audiences alike are heterosexual

    Femme fatales, colored heroes, and gay characters abound. But there are never enough to satisy, it seems.

    • #4
  5. TG Thatcher
    TG
    @TG

    Kate Braestrup:

    Seawriter:

    Aaron Miller: When did progressives abandon the liberty to have fun?

    Q. How many Progressives does it take to change a light bulb?

    A. That’s not funny!

    Seawriter

    That joke used to be about feminists…

    Okay, Aaron—do an actual headcount. In all the movies you check out, all the games you play, all the shows on netflix you binge-watch, actually count the number of women and the number of men.

    I can explain why, even under the most PC regime, the result will be less than one woman for every three men. That is, if you’re really interested. (It’s okay if you’re not, and just want to watch/play?)

    An aside about action-adventure and women …

    They’re full of Amazons, women who do amazing physical things.  And I love ’em! …

    And I find it silly to complain that they are unrealistic in showing, for instance, tiny Scarlett Johanssen throwing down with brawny brawlers, and “ruling” – because it’s all about the internal rules of that fictional universe …

    But, really, to complain that there are not more of these exceptional female physical specimens … is, in some ways, to say that “it’s not enough to be a woman, you need to be the man, too.”

    Fortunately, I don’t think that deeply about it most of the time, so my enjoyment level remains high.  Grin.

    • #5
  6. Seawriter Contributor
    Seawriter
    @Seawriter

    Aaron Miller: Femme fatales, colored heroes, and gay characters abound. But there are never enough to satisy, it seems.

    That’s because 51% of the population is female, and 25% is GLBT* (or is it BLT sandwich?). That why 75% of the characters in games have to be female and 50% gay. To make up for previous underrepresentation (or sumthin’). And if you disagree, you are a homophobic, Christianist misogynist, so shut your pie hole – you don’t deserve an options you heteronormative male creep. (Just ask any Progressive and they’ll say what I just said is gospel and any deviation is heresy.)

    * And if you think it is only 3-5% that proves you have not been watching enough Hollywood movies and TV shows – the percentages are at least that high in the flicks of the last 25 years and are probably higher in the entertainment industry.

    Seawriter

    • #6
  7. Front Seat Cat Member
    Front Seat Cat
    @FrontSeatCat

    It’s all become so exhausting and annoying I just tune it out and say what I think – I find if it offends someone to the point where they avoid me, fine – I am respectful and not foul mouthed, but I can’t walk on eggshells and enjoy life.

    • #7
  8. Fred Hadra Podcaster
    Fred Hadra
    @FredHadra

    I’ve been very fortunate in that, after moving from the bubble that is Hillsdale, MI, home of Hillsdale College, to the big, diverse city of Atlanta, GA, I have not really encountered to much ridiculousness by way of PC over-seriousness. Perhaps I’m just not in the right settings, but that can’t be the whole story – I encounter a lot of different people in my various business and personal dealings. Perhaps some of it has to do with Atlanta being in the Bible Belt, where so many of the residents have more traditional Christian backgrounds and upbringings.

    Regardless of my own experience, I worry more and more that the country – if not the world – we’re moving toward is some combination of Samuel P. Huntington’s Clash of Civilizations and Yuval Levin’s The Fractured Republic, where we end up living in balkanized cultural/intellectual/etc. communities. For progressives, those communities might be by design, to keep out the backward Bible-thumping, gun-owning bigots. For conservatives – or, more generally, “everyone else” – the separation might be for the sake of sanity and the escape from all the suffocating seriousness.

    Thanks for this post, Aaron.

    • #8
  9. Kate Braestrup Member
    Kate Braestrup
    @GrannyDude

    Aaron Miller:Kate, the answers are simple, though not politically correct:

    — because most professional storytellers are men

    — because human history is dominated by the actions of men

    — because the easiest told and most exciting stories are action adventures, to which men are better suited

    — because most historical leaders and audiences alike are heterosexual

    Femme fatales, colored heroes, and gay characters abound. But there are never enough to satisy, it seems.

    My theory, FWIW, is that the basic story (Knight kills dragon, wins princess) is undergirded by evolutionary psychology. It’s not just that the action adventure is more exciting (though it is)—presumably, it would be exciting no matter who was jumping around with a  sword, especially since we can suspend disbelief and believe that a 120 pound female is capable of flipping a 300 pound male like a pancake.

    And, of course, were we to be menaced by a  real dragon, we’d be fine with anyone protecting us, provided they were effective. But in story-land, it’s the princess provides the extra kick— she’s the Reproductive Opportunity the hero is offered upon winning the battle.

    If the knight in shining armor is female, and defeats the dragon, does she get to marry the prince?

    Depends. Is she cute?

    On some primal level, human beings understand the basic story (however its told) as having an existential theme: will the hero’s genes make it into the next generation or not?

    So Princess Reproductive Opportunity will turn up in many/most adventure stories (Princess Leia in Star Wars, for example) and if there is another female in the story, she’s probably someone’s Mum. (The Mum shows up in children’s stories—Kanga in Winnie The Pooh, for instance).

    Whether Princess R.O.’s genes make it into the next generation tends to be largely beyond her control—you don’t strive to be beautiful, or train to be fertile. At the most, you can be virtuous, preserve your virginity and thus deserve the attention of the Knight; this is the basic plot of the phenomenally successful, cookie-cutter romance novel not to mention any number of chick-flicks.

    Incidentally, my poor children have been conditioned to count the females in movies and books—not for “social justice” reasons, but just because once you’ve noticed the strange absence of females, it’s hard to un-notice—and the most PC ratio (strenuously arrived at, one imagines) is 2 men for every 1 woman. The Harry Potter books more or less achieved this ratio, and—interestingly, I think—our impression is that half or more of the characters are female.

    As you might imagine, this is a long and complex theory I’ve been thinking about for years. Never mind. Suffice it to say that it’s not something I, at least,  attribute to “sexism.”

    • #9
  10. Kate Braestrup Member
    Kate Braestrup
    @GrannyDude

    Seawriter: * And if you think it is only 3-5% that proves you have not been watching enough Hollywood movies and TV shows – the percentages are at least that high in the flicks of the last 25 years and are probably higher in the entertainment industry.

    Count ’em. I’m willing to be convinced.

    Nowhere near 51% (let alone 75%) of characters in movies and TV shows are female. Which isn’t a sign of horrible misogyny, it’s just interesting.

    “Skyfall” (James Bond) Wikipedia lists a cast of 7 men, 3 women

    The latest Star Wars (2015 “The Force Awakens”) lists 10 main male characters, 3 main female characters

    “The Big Short” 16 males, three females

    And so on.

    • #10
  11. Sabrdance Member
    Sabrdance
    @Sabrdance

    I don’t doubt the ratios, and I don’t blame sexism.  But I think storytelling has more to it that just “Princess Reproductive Opportunity.”  For one, there are entire genres of literature that are completely stag.  And it used to be said that the difference between Protestant and Catholic Literature was that the Protestant books ended in a wedding, while the Catholic ones ended in a funeral.  But in neither is “reproductive opportunity” the underlying theme.  Protestant books ending in marriages are not about perpetuating genes, but about completing the individual (this is true even when the author is Jane Austen).

    It’s also evident in the Chivalric Romances of the late middle-ages and early moderns, where courtly love -the love for which knights slayed dragons -is emphatically chaste.  Sex, in fact, would ruin the courtly love by making it base and human, rather than abstract and holy.  (I’m not concurring with the view, just stating it.)  Lancelot’s affair with Guinevere is a later addition to the story where he was simply her court champion -added by the Romantics centuries after the basic story.  And the basic idea remains in Sir Gawain, whose devotion to courtly love is considered both old-fashioned and innocent.  As a result, he’s one of only 3 able to see the Holy Grail.

    • #11
  12. Casey Inactive
    Casey
    @Casey

    Yes, our nation is far too serious. That’s our problem. Here’s something I wrote from last year.

    One has to acknowledge that life is a bit ridiculous.

    • #12
  13. TeamAmerica Member
    TeamAmerica
    @TeamAmerica

    Kate Braestrup:

    Aaron Miller:Kate, the answers are simple, though not politically correct:

    — because most professional storytellers are men

    — because human history is dominated by the actions of men

    — because the easiest told and most exciting stories are action adventures, to which men are better suited

    — because most historical leaders and audiences alike are heterosexual

    Femme fatales, colored heroes, and gay characters abound. But there are never enough to satisy, it seems.

    My theory, FWIW, is that the basic story (Knight kills dragon, wins princess) is undergirded by evolutionary psychology. It’s not just that the action adventure is more exciting (though it is)—presumably, it would be exciting no matter who was jumping around with a sword, especially

    not something I, at least, attribute to “sexism.”

    All good points, but I think that does not explain the seriousness  of the left. Today on the radio, Dennis Prager noted that the emotional response by pro-choicers to the Supreme Court’s decision on abortion had overtones of religion. And I believe leftism/progressivism now serves as a de facto religion for more and more Americans.

    • #13
  14. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    Complaining about unserious things is not going away. It’s never been true that unserious things are just unserious & the lessons people think they’ve learned–the new suspicion with which people view each other isn’t going away. I’m not sure there is any way for any story to go beyond the conflicts that are threatening to tear America apart.

    The people who ruin fun just because they like to complain would not succeed–would not be more than mere nuisances–if they hadn’t figured out something about your country–that the likes of them get to complain &, if they provoke complaint themselves, then they’re really going to win. The people who might know how to burst their bubble & the people who dare to bark back are almost by necessity separate.

    As for the stories & the new requirements–true, they’re oppressive, more so than the old requirements. This is the price games are paying for success. Now they’re becoming part of the American obsession with finding meaning, the fear that, as a nation, you’re not doing enough with what you’ve got. It is a somewhat foolish, somewhat endearing quality, but it needs educating if it’s going to make for better games or more persuasive stories. Without entering into the intentions & turns of mind of the audience, that cannot happen. There’s no such thing as suspension of disbelief–there’s only a deep, spontaneous, & somewhat vulnerable interest in human things.

    • #14
  15. Sandy Member
    Sandy
    @Sandy

    Casey:Yes, our nation is far too serious. That’s our problem. Here’s something I wrote from last year.

    One has to acknowledge that life is a bit ridiculous.

    Missed this the first time around, so thanks.  Needed that!

    • #15
  16. Tom Meyer, Ed. Contributor
    Tom Meyer, Ed.
    @tommeyer

    Aaron Miller:And today I find myself having to defend the proposal of whaling as an acceptable feature in a light-hearted pirate adventure game called Sea of Thieves. Never mind that every player in the cartoonish game is cast as a thief and a cutthroat (that is, a pirate) or that we’re talking about a game with krakens and mermaids.

    Okay, that’s a really fascinating illustration of progressive thinking. Killing and murdering people? Sign me up! Killing a whale? How dare you!

    • #16
  17. Bishop Wash Member
    Bishop Wash
    @BishopWash

    Seawriter: * And if you think it [GLBT population] is only 3-5% that proves you have not been watching enough Hollywood movies and TV shows – the percentages are at least that high in the flicks of the last 25 years and are probably higher in the entertainment industry.

    There were some polls last year where respondents cited a 25-30% rate, most likely because they watch too many movies and shows and that’s the feeling one gets.

    • #17
  18. KC Mulville Inactive
    KC Mulville
    @KCMulville

    Aaron Miller:When did progressives abandon the liberty to have fun?

    When everything became political.

    And, in turn, when politics became more about image than substance.

    IMO, politics today is just competing PR campaigns, run by PR people with PR attitudes. Politics is conducted through the media by staging one political stunt after another. It isn’t about your theory about economic strategy; it’s about how emotionally appealing you can be when staging a PR event to display your “empathy.”

    When perception replaces reality, all the fun goes away.

    • #18
  19. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    Aaron Miller: Battlefield 1, the big WWI game that launches this October, features this Harlem Hellfighter in all its marketing and has an expansion pack devoted to the famed unit. But do any of them identify as transgendered or intersex?

    A WWI video game? Do you spend four years digging trenches and dying of influenza?

    • #19
  20. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    Progressives only think they’re looking for (diverse) heroes. What they’re really looking for is victims — they’re victim-mongers. Especially if they’re able to self-identify with the victim group.

    We may well see a rise in sexual and gender confusion for this reason. It’s the last open seat for white males in this twisted game of musical victim-group chairs.

    Prager said something else yesterday I found worth remembering: The Left believes the extraordinary things about America and the West are its sins (slavery, racism, sexism…); the reality is, the extraordinary things about Western Civilization are its virtues (human rights, its treatment of women, capitalism overcoming subsistence-level poverty, etc.).

    I have hope that individuals can turn away from this proctologist’s view of the West, but the mindset is a fundamental characteristic of the Left. And, sadly, we’ll always have the Left with us.

    • #20
  21. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    Misthiocracy:

    Aaron Miller: Battlefield 1, the big WWI game that launches this October, features this Harlem Hellfighter in all its marketing and has an expansion pack devoted to the famed unit. But do any of them identify as transgendered or intersex?

    A WWI video game? Do you spend four years digging trenches and dying of influenza?

    The Flu came after the war-

    • #21
  22. Aaron Swick Member
    Aaron Swick
    @

    I only see it getting worse in gaming. Most of the people who make the games are Progressives. No wonder I only play a few games a year now. Here is a good break down of the trailer.

    • #22
  23. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    Titus Techera:

    Misthiocracy:

    Aaron Miller: Battlefield 1, the big WWI game that launches this October, features this Harlem Hellfighter in all its marketing and has an expansion pack devoted to the famed unit. But do any of them identify as transgendered or intersex?

    A WWI video game? Do you spend four years digging trenches and dying of influenza?

    The Flu came after the war-

    “The pandemic started in January 1918, overlapping with the war for nine months and persisting in its aftermath as people travelled back to their homes. Indeed, the war played a major role in its spread and severity.”

    https://theconversation.com/world-war-ones-role-in-the-worst-ever-flu-pandemic-29849

    • #23
  24. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    Aaron Miller:

    When did progressives abandon the liberty to have fun?

    It reminds me of the rules when Sharkey was managing things.  A lot of them could be summed up as “No Hobbits are allowed to live happily in the Shire.”

    There is probably something very profound here.  (Hopefully someone here can tell me what it is.)

    • #24
  25. cdor Member
    cdor
    @cdor

    One summer, when I was a young hippy, around 1968, I hooked up with a couple of like minded artists and together we wandered from Kansas City out to Marin County north of San Francisco and found a home to rent deep in a valley formed by Mount Tamalpais. It was beautiful. I was somewhat different than my friends in that my “art” was more crafty…pottery, leather, candles.. while they were truly artists, at least in my mind. As the summer progressed, and the energy of that season began stirring, my friend met up with a wild loner artist living by himself deeper in the canyon. They formed a sort of roaming tribe incorporating a number of younger teenage kids from the area. My friend, who was from Chicago, had a visitor from home who had to fly back for an emergency with his family, leaving his car behind until he could return. Big mistake. My friend had become enamored with a relatively new construct called “Glue Art”. It was pretty simple, find articles of trash like broken bottles, bottle caps, parts of objects lying by the road or in trash receptacles and epoxy glue them to a larger item, bejeweling the item with trash. It actually was pretty cool, except one of the first items my friend “bejeweled” was his friend’s car.

    • #25
  26. cdor Member
    cdor
    @cdor

    To read the rest please go to the member feed. I will post it shortly.

    • #26
  27. zepplinmike Inactive
    zepplinmike
    @zepplinmike

    The trend Aaron identifies here is very important and is readily apparent on a daily basis if you visit entertainment websites.

    I’ve definitely read too much of this stuff (out of morbid curiosity usually) and I’ve become hyper aware of it while consuming entertainment media (“uh oh, there’s the ‘damsel in distress’ trope, the writers of this Disney cartoon are in for it now!”).

    Among the many ridiculous examples I could name, an especially crazy one recently concerns the utter outrage at the casting of Marvel superhero Iron Fist, for his upcoming Netflix show. This martial arts hero inspired by ’70s Kung fu movies is a white male named Danny Rand in the comics. He’s always been a white male. And Marvel had the audacity to cast him as a white male!

    What they should have done, you see, is cast him as an Asian-American. That would have promoted diversity. And it’s not as if doing exactly that would have brought the ire of progressives for conforming to the “all Asians know martial arts” stereotype. Nope, that wouldn’t have happened, because these people are reasonable, right?

    • #27
  28. Man With the Axe Inactive
    Man With the Axe
    @ManWiththeAxe

    Kate Braestrup:Okay, Aaron—do an actual headcount. In all the movies you check out, all the games you play, all the shows on netflix you binge-watch, actually count the number of women and the number of men.

    In the sports I watch the ratio is 100 men to every zero women. Something must be done.

    • #28
  29. Kephalithos Member
    Kephalithos
    @Kephalithos

    Casey: Yes, our nation is far too serious. That’s our problem.

    No. Our nation may be far too touchy. Touchiness, though, is different from seriousness.

    American culture is the very inverse of serious, if “serious” means “solemn or thoughtful in character or manner.”

    • #29
  30. Man With the Axe Inactive
    Man With the Axe
    @ManWiththeAxe

    The reason “Lawrence of Arabia” was such a crashing bore was that it didn’t have any female characters. The BFFs were all male. The only sexual drama was between a gay Turkish officer and Lawrence.

    If only they had had the sense to cast Audrey Hepburn as Lawrence’s love interest, and added a couple of songs for her to lip-synch. That would have been a movie.

    • #30

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