Bread and CircusesShawn Drotar

Posted on April 22nd, 2008 in Gaming, Xbox 360, Playstation 3, News, Opinion by Shawn Drotar

President Camacho: S**t. I know s**t’s bad right now, with all that starving bulls**t, and the dust storms, and we’re running out of French fries and burrito coverings. But I got a solution.
South Carolina Representative # 1: That’s what you said last time, dips**t!
South Carolina Representative # 2: Yeah, I got a solution, you’re a d**k! South Carolina, what’s up!

“Idiocracy”; meant as a satire, but getting closer to a documentary every day.

I knew America had problems - primarily the dumbing-down of… everything, but even on a gaming blog, there are days when you have to sit up and try to absorb the ridiculousness of our culture. With the release of Grand Theft Auto IV only a week away and with all the gnashing of teeth that comes with it, its painfully clear that gaming might be the least of our society’s problems.

Last night, the President of the United States appeared on a game show. A game show hosted by a man whose claim to fame was blowing up rubber gloves on his head with his nose. The President of the United States, cracking wise about his all-time low approval ratings; ratings driven by thousands of broken families and an economy running off the rails. I’m sure he simply had nothing better to do.

But the President’s bizarre performance was downright distinguished in comparison to the ones from the three people who aim to take his job.

Let me frame the discussion here: Professional wrestling is fake; a scripted soap opera where flamboyant, greased-up, oversized men pretend to have an athletic competition filled with unrealistic, over-the-top violence - and people pay to go see it. That’s fine, I suppose, but it sure ain’t Shakespeare.

What it is, however, is little different than the worst types of video games, all bluster and flash, with little substance and a request that no one peek behind the curtain of mighty Oz.

Surprising - or perhaps not so - was the fact that Senators Hillary Clinton, a noted anti-gaming zealot that’s blamed mass media in the past for society’s ills, Barack Obama and John McCain, all three candidates for the President of the United States, turned up on the wrasslin’ program “Monday Night Raw” in a desperate, pathetic and painfully transparent attempt at pandering.

Clinton and Obama, of course, are involved in a critical Democratic primary election in Pennsylvania today, and as for the presumptive Republican nominee McCain… well, he apparently didn’t want to be left out while the “kids” were doing their thing, though his advisers should have known better. Far better.

In a flat-out embarrassing display by all three, Clinton dives into the cesspool with both feet, happily declaring herself “Hill-Rod” and comparing the Presidential election to the “King of the Ring; the only difference? The last man standing may just be a woman.” Commence rolling your eyes now, because it doesn’t get any better. Obama, whose video looks like it was shot on an old Super-8, obviously reads a cue card, mooching a line from former wrestler Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, asking, “Do you smell what Barack is cookin’?” Sigh.

Not to be outdone, McCain piles on the cheese. “Looks like Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama want to settle their differences in the ring,” he says; though this writer highly doubts that’s the case. “Well, that’s fine with me. Let me tell you, if you want to be the man, you have to beat the man.”

While McCain actually isn’t “the man”, the incumbent… whatever; it’s hard to blame him for trying to position himself as such since this election has placed itself squarely in the land of farce already.

“Come November, it’ll be game over,” he continues, channeling former wrestler and admitted steroid user “Hulk” Hogan, and asking, “what’cha gonna do when John McCain and all his ‘McCain-iacs’ run wild on you?”

Stop the world - I want to get off.

This is the best way to campaign for President? This is leadership? This is what Americans really want?

I’m all of a sudden looking forward to a vacation in GTA IV’s Liberty City. Sure, it’s crime-infested, filled with hookers and hoodlums… but at least it knows what it is. At least there’s some dignity in that.

10 Responses to 'Bread and Circuses'

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  1. Erick said,

    on April 22nd, 2008 at 11:33 am

    Somewhat in defense of the canidates on Raw…They’re trying to get the vote out to a segment of society that may not otherwise vote or pay attention to politics. Sure, I rolled my eyes and kinda thought it was stupid, but I’m not the target audience for that campaign. I somewhat follow politics and am a pretty smart and educated person. I think that if they got the idea to vote out to some people that might otherwise not have voted, then it was a success, even if I rolled my eyes at it.

  2. Shawn Drotar said,

    on April 22nd, 2008 at 2:24 pm

    You may very well be right, Erick - but with the timing of the Pennsylvania primary, it didn’t seem remotely genuine to me. It seemed no more than an idea plucked from the polls that the respective candidates weren’t hitting this “segment” enough.

    Moreover, the presentations were moronic, and it assumes that - at best - someone might see this in between a guy play-acting at beating up a midget (which actually happened) and somehow decide to go home and investigate where the candidates stand on immigration; a dubious proposition at best.

    Worked nicely for the WWE (and NBC with Bush), though. I guess that was the point; which is wildly depressing when you think about it.

  3. Erick said,

    on April 22nd, 2008 at 4:40 pm

    I do agree though….Bush on ‘Deal or No Deal’ was just stupid, and in general the WWE stuff was dumb. I tend to think that all 3 did the show because they were afraid not to (ie. bad press if they declined, like they were scared or something).

  4. on April 22nd, 2008 at 6:04 pm

    Nice piece Shawn….

    I agree wholeheartedly with your premise…but watch out! The next thing you know you are going to be attacked as “elitist” for such thoughts. How DARE you deign to criticize the fine people of the WWE and their loyal paying customer base…..on the other hand, fuck all that, you are 100% correct!

    I think this country needs a good shot of indignation from people who actually CAN form a coherent thought, or string together more than monosyllabic grunts that masquerade as sentences or rudimentary communication.

    The absolute nadir for me was last week’s Pennsylvania “debate”. The mere fact that George Stephanopoulos could ask such breath-takingly inane questions (”Does Reverend Wright love America?” comes to mind, but the whole thing stank worse than the Potomac Valley after a 19th century flood in August) without hemorrhaging from his eyes, is amazing.

    The level of public discourse has sunk to such previously unimaginable depths, that I don’t think we can even see the edge of decency any more from where we have collectively been dragged. The straw-man arguments blaming the gaming industry as the source of all evil in the world have been part of the soundtrack to this disgusting movie…the only problem is that I can’t demand my money back….its already been sent to China!

  5. Langx said,

    on April 22nd, 2008 at 8:44 pm

    The problem may be the American Public. They have to stoop to that level becaue that’s where the voters are.

    The GOP should not be allowed to run for President after these last 8 years. Most of them should be in jail for treason.

    I think your blaming the wrong people. It us that’s the problem.

    Why our country is falling apart millions are watching wrestling instead of demanding our govt tell us the truth and hold those accountable for there crimes.
    What does that say about us.

    A report came out which stated the incident for which the Vietnam war was started never happened. Millions of dollars and lives lost for another lie.

    We have a President that has admitted torture and somehow he’s not on death row for that and lying us into war.

    A book written by Philippe Sands who lives in the UK details
    the administrations approval of torture.

    Where is our press with this story. This guy is writing a book and only the Washington Post has made a small mentioning of it.

    Vanity Fair has published parts of the book and only one evening news ran the story.

    We look at Arabs as there just all terrorist so it’s ok if we torture them.

    The Germans looked at the Jews as there just Jews so it was OK gas them.

    I swear we are turning into the Fourth Reich.

    We are in deep shit but hey GTAIV comes out next week.

    We get what we deserve.

  6. Mark Fossen said,

    on April 23rd, 2008 at 9:43 am

    Clinton playing sax on the Arsenio Hall Show marked a sea change in the gravity of the presidency. I don’t see anything today that surprises me once he set that precedent.

  7. John said,

    on April 23rd, 2008 at 9:55 am

    While the Raw skit was “different” and at times humorous, I agree that the whole tone of our political conversation needs to change.

    Obama’s speech on race a few weeks back was actually thought provoking and asked people to look not only at themselves, but at their friends and neighbors. Contrast that with the latest Hillary ads and the continued fear mongering schlock with Osama, nuclear explosions, etc.

    A shame that we’ve sunk to a level where “relevant” questions like “boxers or briefs” and who you’d rather have a beer and barbecue with, are asked of our candidates at ALL, let alone helping unintelligent boobs decide whom to vote for.

  8. langx said,

    on April 23rd, 2008 at 4:38 pm

    Thomas Breaks Press’s 14 Day Silence On Bush’s Torture Approval, Chides Colleagues: ‘Where Is Everybody?’

    On April 9, ABC News reported that in 2002, President Bush’s most senior advisers approved the use of harsh interrogation tactics. Days later, Bush confirmed to ABC he “approved” of the tactics. Sadly, the media have largely ignored the story since it was first reported. Moreover, not one White House press corps reporter has raised the issue with the Bush administration…until today.

    During this afternoon’s White House press briefing, reporter Helen Thomas noted that Bush “has admitted that he did sign off on torture” saying it damages “the credibility of this country.” But press secretary Dana Perino denied that the United States has ever tortured detainees and referred to testimony from CIA Director Michael Hayden as evidence:

    THOMAS: The president has said […] we do not torture. Now he has admitted that he did sign off on torture, he did know about it. So how do you reconcile this credibility gap? […]

    PERINO: The United States has not, is not torturing any detainees in the global war on terror. And General Hayden, amongst others, have spoken on Capitol Hill fully in this regard. […] And you can go back through all the public record.

    Watch it:

    In fact, during a February 5 Senate Intelligence Committee hearing, Hayden said outright that “waterboarding has been used” on three detainees in U.S. custody. But Hayden has refused to label waterboarding “torture,” calling it a “legal term” which seems to fit nicely with the Bush administration’s self-serving narrowed legal definition.

    But waterboarding is torture and illegal under both U.S. and international law – with experts, government officials and those who have been subject to the harsh treatment all agreeing.

    Seeming to acknowledge her colleagues’ absence on this story, an exasperated Thomas said out loud after her exchange with Perino: “Where is everybody? For God’s

    Hey but GTAIV is coming out.

    What happened to our country.

  9. langx said,

    on April 23rd, 2008 at 4:41 pm

    Speaking of the Dumbing Down.

    An American kid drops out of high school every 26 seconds. That’s more than a million every year

    The New York Times
    April 22, 2008
    Op-Ed Columnist
    Clueless in America

    We don’t hear a great deal about education in the presidential campaign. It’s much too serious a topic to compete with such fun stuff as Hillary tossing back a shot of whiskey, or Barack rolling a gutter ball.

    The nation’s future may depend on how well we educate the current and future generations, but (like the renovation of the nation’s infrastructure, or a serious search for better sources of energy) that can wait. At the moment, no one seems to have the will to engage any of the most serious challenges facing the U.S.

    An American kid drops out of high school every 26 seconds. That’s more than a million every year, a sign of big trouble for these largely clueless youngsters in an era in which a college education is crucial to maintaining a middle-class quality of life — and for the country as a whole in a world that is becoming more hotly competitive every day.

    Ignorance in the United States is not just bliss, it’s widespread. A recent survey of teenagers by the education advocacy group Common Core found that a quarter could not identify Adolf Hitler, a third did not know that the Bill of Rights guaranteed freedom of speech and religion, and fewer than half knew that the Civil War took place between 1850 and 1900.

    “We have one of the highest dropout rates in the industrialized world,” said Allan Golston, the president of U.S. programs for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. In a discussion over lunch recently he described the situation as “actually pretty scary, alarming.”

  10. Shawn Drotar said,

    on April 23rd, 2008 at 5:19 pm

    Langx -
    I’m with you - I could convert 5WG to a political blog and never run out of topics regarding how far off track America has gotten. As a matter of fact - and with some disappointment - I would shudder to tell you who was a debate teammate of Dana Perino’s back in high school… but now, you could probably guess…

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