Daniel Joseph on Grand Theft Auto V

While the creators at Rockstar might not have intended it or really cared to think about it, the characters they created were logical extensions of a hellscape, a world surrounded on all sites by invisible walls, clockwork traffic patterns simultaneously patrolled by police officers whose routines are so predictable that no real human being would be able to survive without becoming a wildly damaged individual. To come to Baudrillard’s assertion of Disney World as the Real America, one might wonder what kind of human would be produced there, if they were born there, if they were to then die there. Now imagine that person living in San Andreas.

So the political critique remains the same: the writers are conservatives. Their world is a hellscape, so the only logical actions in it are amoral ones. This is clearly not how our world works. Life on our planet is indeed awful in a variety of ways, but it is not beyond saving, and an amoral approach due to the domination of his world by amoral forces would be one worth condemning in the most strident way. Yet in a world like the one built in GTA, it makes quite a bit of sense. I don’t think I could ever condemn those living in such a world their actions, because what else would be possible? Nothing. The entire political spectrum is itself meaningless in such a world. So, in a sense then, the game becomes even more interesting for me because it sheds life on an alien planet, a very troubling one. One we should do our best to avoid.

– Daniel Joseph, “Quick Thoughts on Grand Theft Auto

(Dan wrote this months ago and I’ve had it open in a tab since then and now here we are.)

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