Rockstar North Boss Compares GTA IV Fears to 1950's Elvis Panic

April 28, 2008 -
Are critics of the Grand Theft Auto series the same breed of culture cops who were mortified by Elvis Presley's hip shaking style of rock'n'roll in the 1950's?

Leslie Benzies (left), president of Scotland's Rockstar North, creator of GTA IV, says they are. Benzies told The Scotsman:
[GTA IV critics are] the same kind of people who complained about Elvis... There is a big fear factor here. It's [like] the coming of the railways, it's Elvis shaking his hips. It's cars going over 25 miles per hour and making people explode.

We've had such a beating over the past three years, by the US government, the British government, the Daily Mail. 'You kill prostitutes' – that's usually the objection. I ask if they've ever played the game. Invariably they haven't.

Benzies also offered his thoughts on another controversial title, Manhunt 2. The game was banned in the UK until Rockstar won an appeal earlier thus year:
We wanted to make a horror game that would scare you in the same way a film would. If it's a film or a book, you can do what you want. We seem to be in a different category. We're very careful who we market the game to, and what is in the game.

Comments

The comic book scare is an even better parralel methinks, but Elvis works too.

@Christian Astrup

Either way it's a huge uproar over something that is essentially harmless

Give it 20 years and the culture cops will have something new to complain about. By that time, people who grew up with video games will probably be a majority of the legal voters and politicians and save-the-children groups will need a new spiel to get attention. Time and history are against these people; they'll figure that out soon enough.

Excellent comparison. Spot on.

"We’re very careful who we market the game to, and what is in the game."

You shouldn't have to be, but sadly the game industry has been bottlenecked into that position.

As for the Elvis analogy, yes, it's basically the exact same things. Heavy metal, movies, comic books, rap, it's all the exact same crap over and over again.

[...] wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerptAre critics of the Grand Theft Auto series the same breed of culture cops who were mortified by Elvis Presley’s hip shaking style of rock’n’roll in the 1950’s? Leslie Benzies (left), president of Scotland’s Rockstar North, creator of GTA IV, says they are. Benzies told The Scotsman: [GTA IV critics are] the same kind of people who complained about Elvis… There is a big fear factor here. It’s [like] the coming of the railways, it’s Elvis shaking his hips. It’s cars going over 25 miles per hour and making people explode. We’ve had such a beating over the past three years, by the US government, the British government, the Daily Mail. ‘You kill prostitutes’ – that’s usually the objection. I ask if they’ve ever played the game. Invariably they haven’t. [...]

Hell Dungeons & Dragons too was considered evil. Just look at the horrid Tom Hanks shit fest Mazes and Monsters.

@WarOtter

Or the (in)famous parodies the Dead Alewives produced. Yes, the same one that produced the famous: "I attack the darkness!" line. (Which, when I play, gets the reply: "The darkness hits back.")

But yeah, it really is just "same shit, different day."

What's ironic is how those who fought "the man" with regards to Elvis and comics, etc, now try to dismiss games' struggle as "different". As if the only mediums that were declared "wastes of time" that actually matter, were the ones they grew up with.
-- If your wiimote goes snicker-snack, check your wrist-strap...

While I agree with their arguments about it just being all a scare, it's not quite right for R*/T2 to sit back and play the victim card. They have made a few questionable decisions in the previous GTA games that have brought some of this down on themselves. You can't really make a game where hiring a prostitute regains health, and include the Hot Coffee thing (yes, it was disabled, but they actually thought it would be a good addition or it wouldn't have gotten coded), then not expect alot of people to be offended. It's a little like South Park - it's fun, it's harmless, but it goes out of its way to offend people.

But again - I do agree with them. GTA isn't for kids, so anyone screaming that is just wasting air.

"It’s a little like South Park - it’s fun, it’s harmless, but it goes out of its way to offend people."

That's what makes it great though, it gets the discussion going. I really can't say the same for other cartoons that try to push the envelope. Of all the cartoons that are designed to offend, only with SP have I been able to directly tie it in to a broader discussion on the issues it raised in a particular episode.
-- If your wiimote goes snicker-snack, check your wrist-strap...

@linenoise

Touche. I agree wholeheartedly.

I'm with him on Elvis and the railways, but I don't think the "cars going over 25 miles per hour" analogy holds.

Cars that go over 25 miles per hour have actually, demonstrably, provably killed people. Lots and lots of people. Video games haven't.

I tend to get a little gassy when I drive faster than 25 mph. Does that count as an assplosion?

Never heard about the cars analogy. I just heard about the trains going over 50 miles per hour. Back in the 1800's some people believed that at that speed it would siphon all the air out of enclosed areas and people would die from lack of oxygen.

The people at Take Two produced GTA IV for entertainment and not educational purposes, so it would be pointless to attack it for not being "intellectual" enough, or whatever else.

@ Baruch
Give it 20 years and WE are going to be those culture cops. We're the generation whose media is being repressed now, 20 years our media's going to be an art form as far as anyone's concerned and whatever our children are in to is going to be demonized. We should all take a lesson from this and keep it in mind when some new tempting media presents itself, it's going to be our generation's decision on whether or not we want to be hypocrites like our parents generation is today. Remember, they're the generation that was into Elvis, and comic books, and the Beatles with their girlishly long hair, you would think they would take a lesson from that, apparently not so, this should be an eye-opener to everyone who visits this site.

@Marlowe

Maybe we will be that way.maybe we won't.

But I would like to think most of us gamers that visit this site,and are trying vehemently to get our voice heard,would remember how difficult it was for us.

@JustChris

One time in 1885 they got a train to go up to 88 miles per hour. Some town in California.

I just thought about the main arguement, or at least the most widely used point, is that "you get to kill hookers".

Now from the perspective of the uptight, intolerant version of Christianity that continually pervades the people that press this "anti-GTA" fad, how is this a bad thing to them. When did the world's oldest profession get its sticker of approval from the moral-right. If I were to apply the same logic of monkey see monkey do to GTA, it is a whore deterent because your showing kids what will happen if they become hookers.

Backwards logic is fun. :P

@The_Peacemaker

I agree, you would think that the "holier than thou" crowd would be glad that you can rid the world of hookers in GTA due to the fact that sex is a greater moral crime than violence to them in the USA.

@ Kuros

I think we have just proved that GTA is moral simulator. :)

jking aside

With all that one can do in the GTA series that might light a fire under the ass of the moral right (drunk drive, assassinate, use large weaponery, e.g Mini gun, on the unsuspecting masses, kill cops, get high, go to a strip club, start and 'manage' a crime cartel, commit hate crime and play low res porn games), this point is the only one they bring up. Hell, it was even used in front of congress.

I think if the moral right are to make any head way on this issue they need to a) stopping beating this dead horse (or should I say hooker) that no one cares about and b) pick one of the acts listed above and use it for testimony and c) (this one goes out to Ol Jackie) don't sue the producers and developers, sue the retailers. THEY'RE ARE THE ONES WHO SELL IT TO KIDS.

Don't look at the way he shakes those hips Forrest!! That's pure garbage~

And why on earth is anyone in Government complaining about Hookers in a game? If it wasn't for them in real life, they wouldn't.... heh - nm ;)

@The_Peacemaker

"c) (this one goes out to Ol Jackie) don’t sue the producers and developers, sue the retailers. THEY’RE ARE THE ONES WHO SELL IT TO KIDS. "

It's not the retailers that are at fault here, it's the employees that allow the kids to buy M rated games.

I know this because I worked in a Gamestop myself for 3 years and have seen a few lazy employees allow kids to buy rated M games, I made sure that only people 17 or older bought the games.

However, that didn't stop me from selling the game to an adult who wanted to buy the game for their child, that's their decision and I respect that. In fact, my parents allow my younger brother, who is 14, to play rated M games, although they typically consult me first to determine if the game would be over the top or not.

A couple of years ago, we would allow him to play Halo, but not Resident Evil 4, both rated M, however both are very different from each other. Back to my point, that being that parents need to be more informed on what their kids are playing and need to take a more active role when it comes to video games.

@ Kuros

I agree the with what your saying, that lazyness is the reason the vid industry has the rap of "targeting children" but if you think about, sueing gamestop would be the best way for the moral right into scaring the retailers into making changes that would prevent lazy employees from selling there games to kids.

@ Marlowe
Hopefully, in 20 years we'll all remember the kind of crap we put up with in regards to video games and can be fair-minded about whatever our kids are into. We can at least try to be the cautious-yet-informed parents instead of the paranoid-and-gullible sort that JT and Fox News cater towards. Of course, I don't know if it'll matter. Culture marches on despite the paranoia of the uninformed; I don't think we'd be able to stop it if we wanted to. We can rest easy knowing that our children will never listen to our crazy old guy paranoia anyway. ;)

Baruch wrote:
"Hopefully, in 20 years we’ll all remember the kind of crap we put up with in regards to video games and can be fair-minded about whatever our kids are into. "

Well I doubt it's folks like us who are going to be the ones making a stink about the next generation's favourite media pursuit. It's not the old comic book readers or the Elvis or Beatles fans who are going after video games - it's the repressed kids who were never allowed to go to a Beatles concert and who got a beating if their parents found a comic book in their room. Similarly, it's not us who will be the agents of censorship for the next generation - it's the young folks whose parents are preventing them from participating in gaming now. Repression and ignorance feed on themselves, so one generation of ignorance passes itself to the next.

Well he's a bit late to the party, but he is entirely correct. Public concern over GTA and video games in general is exactly the same thing we saw with elvis- which was exactly the same thing we saw with the moral panics over radio, movies, and television. The specific arguements about the danger of video games are somewhat unique, but the underlying fears and concerns they represent are essentially identical to those expressed when elvis took the stage. But this really shouldn't surprise anyone. Video games have long been recognized as just the latest instance of a moral panic over a new media type.

@ Baron Saturday

Oh God, I lol'd hard.

@Ian Cooper

Thank god you're right! I feel bad for all those repressed people though. I was exposed to pretty much everything short of porno in my childhood(My mom says the first movie I watched was Nightmare on Elm Street when I was about one), and not only am I NOT a total psycho fuck, I'm better because of it. It's cultivated my imagination, given me artistic(God I hate that word, it sounds so gay) inspiration, various perspectives on things, and of course joy. I have come to believe there is no such thing as a bad influence if you know where to apply it. :)

@The_Peacemaker

I just thought about the main arguement, or at least the most widely used point, is that “you get to kill hookers”.

Now from the perspective of the uptight, intolerant version of Christianity that continually pervades the people that press this “anti-GTA” fad, how is this a bad thing to them. When did the world’s oldest profession get its sticker of approval from the moral-right. If I were to apply the same logic of monkey see monkey do to GTA, it is a whore deterent because your showing kids what will happen if they become hookers.


While not exactly a sticker of approval, it did become not ok to kill them back when Jesus stopped one from being stoned.

@Marlowe
That right there is pretty much my biggest fear, so I'll be consciously trying to avoid becoming one of the ignorant doomsayers.

@Velvet_Llama
I am now trying to comprehend the awesomeness of a Velvet Llama. It's proving difficult

@GRIZZAM 512
I pretty much agree with you there: As long as it's in context, exposure to things is necessary. I can't imagine a worse fate than being so sheltered from life that you are unprepared for it. It's not a nice world; pretending it is not only doesn't help, but makes it harder for us to grasp the problems that are real and solve them. That kind of false optimism perpetuates the problems, because you cannot act to fix something if you are busy trying to pretend it out of existence. Simple as that.

Right on! /gyrates hips

or how about the Gospel panic of the early 20th century? Originally, gospel was thought to be "blasphemous," and disrespectful to traditional music (gregorian chant).

Every new medium has been through this. It will die down sooner or later (hopefully sooner.

@Vake Xeacons

Don't be so sure. Assholes will always find something to get all upset about. It's human nature. Only those who have experienced that retarded hate first hand will know better. I hope so anyway...I don't want to be one of those goddamn hypocrits...

@GRIZZAM 512 Says:

"Don’t be so sure. Assholes will always find something to get all upset about. It’s human nature. Only those who have experienced that retarded hate first hand will know better. I hope so anyway…I don’t want to be one of those goddamn hypocrits…"

Lets hope that with us Videogame Generation also respects other new media as we become parents and allow ourselves to get to know what our kids are into before we criticise them.

Or else we would become the people who we hated when we were younger.

I had a strange revelation a few weeks ago...

I was talking to my mother about the internet.. my mother raised me to be an open minded individual, even allowing me to play D&D and video games when she doesn't like them, but after hearing a number of awful stories about the net (she doesn't use it herself) she became convinced that it needed regulating to protect people. Of course, as an avid internet user and as someone who met his wife via the net, I don't think it needs regulating at all.

A few hours later, I was chatting to my wife and the subject of mobile phones came up. We both hate them, we were raised to write and spell correctly, as well as finding the concept of being constantly able to be called by people rather offensive to our privacy... but most of all, we despise people talking loudly in public, and that is something that mobiles seem to promote.

Suddenly, I realized that although our words were different.. our tones and rationalizations were almost identical to my mother's "completely unfounded" concerns about the net.

There /will/ be a new medium in twenty years or so, and the gamers of today, posting on this site, /will/ be amongst those who appose it. This is just human nature.. hopefully at least we will be amongst those who realize what we are doing.

In closing.. text speak is the devil, type in full sentences and use grammar you heathens..

I agree with the whole 'talking loudly in public' when cell (or mobile) phones are concerned. I still don't get why people think we, the listeners, do care about their broken up marriages or what their dogs ate for breakfast.

I think it is rather silly that people think that cell phones actually give them allowance to talk about their inner most private thoughts etc. in public. Even though, I have a cell phone myself, I don't have it with me anywhere I go. I just use it when I'm going to new places I haven't visited before.

I also agree on the whole comparison to Elvis, or cartoons, or video technology, or even tv back in the 1950's. In 1980, Swedish National TV actually had a program where all the participants in this tv-program agreed upon that the then new VHS technology was 'teh evil' (or something like that). Today, we can laugh at this - hopefully in about 20 years time, we can see these GTA IV incidents for what they are:

People afraid of new technology...

Technology has no limits...but with that said, maybe we should invent something that will stop the fear of new technology, including that invention itself ;)

@Ian Cooper

True, it seems like if you were repressed or taught to avoid something early in your life it sticks with you like glue. But we have another new medium besides videogames...the internet. With the internet it's harder to keep someone repressed and easier to get loads of information on just about anything. Now, unless they have been locked in a room for 20 years you can't keep your kid out of everything the world throws at you. Ignorance is harder to keep afloat when you're web-savvy. Stupidity is a different story though...

yeah, cell phones are the devil...but seriously, i hate people who talk loudly in public. doubly so on the ones who use the speakerphone function. i dont need to be a part of the conversation, yet its rude for me to tell them to turn it down or something.

anyway, i (hopefully) will be tolerant of the "wasteful entertainment" that my kids will get up to in 20 years. unless its something like immersive/interactive porn, or something equally offensive to my delicate sensibilities.
 
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