On Episode 182, Patrick, Austin, and Danielle discuss the shooting this weekend in Jacksonville, Fla, where a gunman opened fire at a Madden tournament, leaving three dead (including himself) at press time. We talk about gun violence in America and the increasingly infuriating political landscape surrounding it, then break for a discussion of games and Waypoints for the week.
In light of the topic on this week’s podcast we wanted to ask upfront that everyone do their best in being considerate when sharing their thoughts on this tragedy. Though it might be tempting to speculate about the specific details of this most recent shooting, or discuss how it may affect this industry, we feel it’s easy to get lost in the weeds and unintentionally dehumanize the victims. As always we want to encourage thoughtful discussion on here that respects the feelings & comfort of other folks in the community, so we trust that extra care will be taken when talking about something as serious and upsetting as this.
While I don’t feel my post includes any particularly triggering content I’m going to spoiler it for anyone who may be looking to engage only with the later half of the podcast.
I agree with the the Austin and Patrick that people often read about the perpetrators of these kinds of heinous acts because they are looking to make sense of it all. Anecdotal evidence but, without going into detail, my childhood best friend committed a terrible act of violence against someone earlier this year. The rational part of me knows that it was a senseless crime, and always did. But I still read every single article about it, because emotionally, I needed to connect the dots. I needed to know WHY this had to happen. To find the piece of the puzzle I was missing that would make everything make any kind of sense. I think most people have that impulse when something like this happens, because it’s so much harder to admit that sometimes bad things happen for no good reason.
One thing that really pisses me off about the American gun control debate is its framing as a purely domestic issue. But as a Canadian, I can tell you that it’s not. We voted a long time ago to have sensible gun laws, but gun violence continues to exist here. A big reason for that is we share a large, undefended border with a nation that is all for open gun ownership, and a few fall off the back of the truck into Canadian hands. So please spare me the sanctimony of the Second Amendment. I never agreed to that slaveholder-written document, so get your shit together and enact sensible legislation.
I don’t usually post follow ups to a story like this but it set this whole thing in such a different landscape. I don’t want this to be fuel to fall down to the mental health issues defense being used to overlook bigger problems, but yeesh
That said, any violent expression of anger like this shouldn’t simply be justified on mental health.
I don’t think it’s unfair to point out that mental health support is a mess in the States as well as gun culture/control.
A couple of thoughts about the shooting and the podcast:
Not only was it horrible for the families of those killed and injured, and the other attendees at the convention, but also all the viewers of the stream. Whilst not on the same scale, the public nature of this reminds me somewhat of the second tower being struck once all the cameras were rolling. It was a traumatic event, especially since I’d imagine many of the viewers were children and teenagers. I hope they are all supported in trying to deal with their experience.
I totally sympathise with going out to get first aid supplies. Working in the emergency services, there’s a certain responsibility one feels when you realise that you probably are more capable than most in dealing with first aid and first responder situations.
I would also encourage people to take first aid courses. Whilst in violent contexts such as a mass shooting you should prioritise your own safety at all times (can’t save lives if you’re dead), you never know in what other situations these skills might be called upon.
One of the points Danielle made early on (a common position when discussing violence and video games) was about fantastical settings and how it distances the violence.
For me, I’ve never read it that way. Maybe I was extremely lucky with toddler media literacy education (especially as I grew up where it was illegal for teachers to discuss positive queer representation) but for the entirety of my life I’ve been exposed to media where my dominant reading cannot escape how “villains” and “monsters” are portrayed. Queer coding etc prevented me (with how I got wired to automatically parse stories) from looking at dehumanisation in fiction (most obvious in fantastic stories where there are still far more clearly humanised characters and they just so happen to all be on the side of “good” from the perspective of the narrator) as any different when more overt (vs how non-US, non-White, canonically queer, or disabled, etc characters are dehumanised in more real-world fiction). We grew up being called monsters, having monsters coded to sound and look like us. That’s an automatic connection for me.
Halo is a game released in 2001 about how the US marines (“our troops”) are in the right, 100% justified in any actions they take, and are definitely great (and even actually helping save the oppressed) by slaughtering an extremely visually diverse coalition (all “non-human”) who all happen to be tied to a singular (authorial voice claims oppressive) religion. It could not be any more on the nose if they reskinned it entirely with visuals from an episode of 24. It is only distinguishable from playing a Modern Warfare game with a fig leaf of fantastic premise and space opera (but as I am the monster, this is not exactly helping them other who is being shot at). Just because there is green and blue blood doesn’t obscure the primary text here from being by US imperialists and assuming a US audience (Halo man is in the US military, however much they spray-paint over a few logos with a fictional name). But of course it is, Halo is a series that derives the story as much from US military-funded movies as any scifi book or film (themselves often influenced by the same) so of course it is primarily read as jingoistic propaganda.