Read the article below from the The Los Angeles Times complaining about sexism in Grand Theft Auto 5.
View the Grand Theft Auto V: Official Gameplay Video
this article by Anita Sarkeesian’s analysis of violence against
sexually objectified women in video games. You can also watch part of
the video linked to that article. http://ew.com/article/2014/08/28/video-games-can-b… (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.
Answer the discussion questions. You need to post your answers to my questions.
Discussion questions: Your thoughts on Grand Theft Auto 5 and other games
Do you agree with the Los Angeles Times critic’s opinion about Grand
Theft Auto 5? Why or why not? Cite specific points/arguments from the
article with which you agree or disagree.
2. Why do you think all three main characters are men?
If you have played Grand Theft Auto, can you think of examples of
stereotypical portrayals of different ethnic/racial groups? If you
haven’t played the game, what stereotypes did you notice in the promo
4. How are gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered people portrayed in this video game or other games you have played?
What’s the main argument of the Entertainment Weekly article? Do you
agree or disagree with the author? Write about a specific example of a
scene from a video game that fits the article’s argument. Write about a
specific example of a scene from a video game that doesn’t match the
6. Do you think video games can impact players’ views about women, gays, lesbians and ethnic/racial minorities? Why or why not?
Do video game makers have a responsibility to combat stereotypes or at
least to avoid reinforcing them? Explain your reasoning.
Todd Martens, Los Angeles Times, Sept. 20, 2013
2001, the “Grand Theft Auto” franchise landed on the radar of
mainstream culture by offending most everyone who wasn’t a gamer. Its
carjacking, prostitutes and murder scenarios were defended as a satire
of violent and misogynistic video game culture. Watchdog groups and
politicians didn’t see the irony.
But beyond the controversy, its
appeal was in its danger — a place where the kill-at-will,
hypersexualized fantasy worlds of interactive entertainment were let
loose in cities based on grown-up, real-world places (New York, Miami
and now, once again, Los Angeles).
Today, the series has become a
well-honed formula, a place guaranteed to deliver top-of-the line game
mechanics in the most fully-realized digital worlds. Culturally,
however, the franchise has hardly grown since 2001.
The first rape
joke is delivered by a college-age boy who’s playing a violent video
game. “I don’t care if you’re 12, I’ll still rape you,” he shouts at a
character in the fictional game-within-a-game titled “Molested.”
“Grand Theft Auto” staples later — strip clubs, robberies and murders
that come as easy as blowing bubbles — characters tune into a talk-radio
show in which they’ll be advised to crush a woman’s sternum during sex.
“Most women,” it’s reasoned, “love that.”
The need to offend has
become shtick for the 16-year-old series, and at this point, it’s a
tactic that’s exhausting at best. Consider it the video game equivalent
of the MTV Video Music Awards. It exists because it’s too big to fail,
and where it once represented risk-taking unpredictability, the
franchise is now simply twerking its way into the headlines.
week the game raked in $1 billion within three days of its Tuesday
release. And it isn’t just the public who made this installment of the
series the fastest-selling entertainment product ever. On the
aggregation site Metacritic, it’s trending close to a 100 out of 100
among video game cognoscenti.
“Grand Theft Auto V,” which follows
three morally corrupt men in “Los Santos” (the franchise’s take on Los
Angeles), is technologically impressive in its re-creation of the world
we actually live in. Its open universe is unparalleled, allowing players
to go anywhere at nearly any time via cartoonishly high-speed car
chases and an ability to swap between three characters at once.
its stubborn sexism and stale social commentary is lazy at best; a
relic from a time when games weren’t regularly offering thoughtful
Here a fancy boat is described as the kind “that
makes a young impressionable girl drop her pants and spread her legs.”
Lap dances are a game where you attempt to grope a girl out of view of
Yet the majority of the game critic community has
decided to treat “Grand Theft Auto V’s” rampant misogyny and violence
against women as a pesky housefly, a slight annoyance that doesn’t
detract from all that’s remarkably polished. Though some of the
defensiveness may be genuine for this ambitiously free-form game, it’s
also rooted in the fear of being labeled as one of those clueless souls
who doesn’t quite get the joke or, worse, is offended by it.
much of this knee-jerk cheerleading is a lost opportunity. If “Auto V”
had advanced as much culturally and emotionally as it has mechanically,
it might merit the kudos and prove to those who write off games as
immature just how far the medium has come.
Even attempts at social
commentary here are embarrassingly one-dimensional. One hip coffeeshop
brags that its tea is exploited from the Third World. There’s the Whole
Foods-like store with a “shop with superiority” slogan, and a
dumpster-diving movement of “freegans” are described as “nonproductive
members of society by choice.” Perhaps they need to go back and take
tips from “South Park,” a series that started around the same time.
for its treatment of Los Angeles? Our city is certainly deserving of
satire, and had “Grand Theft Auto” created a restaurant with a 45-page
water menu, it might have been funny, but even LACMA’s Ray’s and Stark
beat them to it. Instead, the denizens of Los Santos complain about
casting directors, whine about scripts and sleep with producers. All
that’s missing is a dingbat blond. Oh wait, that’s in there too.
all its expertly detailed traffic patterns on freeways and city
streets, creative takes on places like the Hollywood Bowl and Pershing
Square and intricate heists, “Grand Theft Auto V” lacks the deft
narrative touches of its modern-day peers. Naughty Dog’s “The Last of
Us” and Telltale’s “The Walking Dead” prove that you can wring tears out
of the zombie genre, and the tiny little border control game “Papers,
Please” shows games can capture human desperation almost as deftly as
As the biggest game around, “Grand Theft Auto V” should be
able to reach these notes and more. But just when you think the game has
hit a groove and maybe somewhere around Hour 30 will turn into
“Breaking Bad,” you get in a car, turn it on and hear someone advising a
character to crush a woman’s sternum. Nearly everyone who plays the
game is smart enough to know this is all done in the name of satire, but
to what end? One of the best-designed games in the world doesn’t even
attempt to answer that question.