Russian Media Late (Again) to the Blame-the-Video-Games Debate

By Sam Machkovech

Russians love being late to American cultural trends. A Russian TV adaptation of the sitcom Married With Children became one of the country's biggest hits... in 2007. Russian hip-hop arguably rose to local prominence around the same time.

And now, today, Russian TV stations are trying that most dated of American pastimes: blaming violence without a legitimate link of causation. In this case, it's Monday's tragic airport bombing tenuously linked to video games:

Russia Today, a government-financed satellite channel, broadcast a report that mixed footage of the aftermath of the attack with gory scenes from a video game, "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2," which allows players to take part in a terrorist attack on a Russian airport.

Nevermind that the video game in question has no suicide bombers, nor that the game came and went in the United States in 2009 with remarkably little controversy. Or that studies have failed to find a link between video games and violent acts. This is an alarmist non-story, yes, but one that's cause for celebration.

What we have here is globalization at work! So many American exports combine to great effect here: uninformed news reports, hastily edited video, and the hypocritical combination of moral offense that, in reality, promotes said moral offense. When Russia creates a homegrown wind tunnel of stupidity, that empowers the country to buy into American fear in kind. It grows our purchasing audience!

Surely, some will soon complain about the potential for outsourced fear—how we'll start to pay men and women in India at a fraction of the cost to complain about caste systems, then cheaply beam their words, faces, and jarring conversation interruptions into American living rooms. But we don't have time to analyze! So long as our worlds of industry and production dwindle, we might be looking at our best chance to cheaply produce a real, honest-to-goodness, American commodity.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2011/01/russian-media-late-again-to-the-blame-the-video-games-debate/70193/