“The English follow the principle that when one lies, one should lie big, and stick to it. They keep up their lies, even at the risk of looking ridiculous.”
This is the actual quote from Joseph Goebbels, often mistranslated regarding telling a lie often enough and attributed to the German minister of propaganda. I hope everyone who reads this is intelligent enough to understand the irony of me citing a radically right wing representative to discuss Katie Couric, one of the biggest punching bags for the “conservative” mentality among talking heads.
On a recent episode of Katie, the absolutely riveting daytime talk show that has the journalistic integrity of a NeoGAF anonymous user, Miss Couric decided to get her hands dirty and investigate a topic that has been hotly debated every since blood could be digitally depicted: are video games ruining your life? The answer is no, it actually gives me money, so fuck you very much, but I don’t produce her show. By getting her hands dirty, I mean Couric got everyone else to do the work for her while she sat comfortably and counted the hundred dollar bills she uses for toilet paper. What followed was a sequence of baiting, editing and showcasing exactly why the gaming industry and media will never, ever get along.
The main culprit used to showcase the evils of shooting at moving animations while using a plastic controller is Daniel Petric, son of a pastor in an Ohio town that has a population of less than the amount of people on a New York City train during rush hour. A snowboarding accident and subsequent staph infection left Daniel bedridden and unable to engage in normal small town outdoor hobbies, so he became invested in gaming that included the Halo series, often playing for “18 hours a day.” After his father forcibly removed the game from Daniel, having apparently never noticed that something was wrong in the 16 years leading up to this incident, Daniel found one of the many guns kept in their home and shot both of his parents, killing his mother and critically wounding his father.
One of the many money shots in this latest episode of grindhouse journalism was when Mark Petric reveals that he was able to find it in his divinely inspired heart to forgive his son for what happened. I’m happy for the holy man. Perhaps one day he will be able to forgive himself for his complete failure as a father, allowing his mentally disturbed son complete access to a real firearm but perish the thought of him using a fake one.
At no point during this show is the question presented to Mark Petric, now happily remarried, why the man did not make serious household adjustments to curb his son’s habits. Dr. Michael Welner, forensic psychiatrist and the only person in this entire episode who seems capable of performing the duties described in his job title, explains that this crime was radically different than other shootings where games have been blamed, i.e. Columbine, Aurora, and Newtown. While Daniel Petric had a sufficient and dangerous addiction to playing games, they did not fuel a plan to violently execute dozens of people. The reason his mother is dead and his father has a partially artificial jaw is because there was an attempt to forcibly remove his addiction, akin to a heroin abuser going cold turkey.
This is yet another example of a problem that does not lie in the amount of bloodshed in a video game, movie or comic book. The problem is shitty parenting, something that should now be considered a chronic condition in the United States. How many times can you ignore what is happening right in your own household until the problem manifests itself in a multitude of fatalities followed by a suicide? The discussion we “need to have” does not involve adults playing too many video games, it involves children whose parents are too fucking wrapped up in their own bullshit to see that their number one responsibility, their ONLY responsibility, is crumbling before their very eyes. Not one time, not ONE FUCKING TIME and this pisses me off so much that I am resorting to capital letters, does Katie Couric, Deborah Andrews or any other hack who dares call themselves a journalist or news anchor take the opportunity for a real story and ask the father of a murderer “Why didn’t you do anything?”
Deborah Andrews claims that she spent over an hour interviewing Daniel Petric at the prison where he is incarcerated. Approximately five minutes of footage from that interview were used in this episode, less than half of which involved discussion of video games and their contributions toward his behavior. I would love to find out what other questions were presented during the full length interview that did not have the luxury of savvy production or sudden jump cuts to happier times. Did Andrews ask bout his relationship with his parents as a child and how active they were in his spiritual development? Why did he feel the need to escape from his parents in not just video games but the other outdoor activities he enjoyed at one point?
Dr. Welner claims that in order to take a human life, “ you have to be alienated from everyone.” Can someone explain to me, then, how the fuck a teenager could be so isolated in the only place he has ever lived to the point that he was able to rationalize, however warped such a decision may have been, that it was perfectly acceptable to grab a gun and kill his parents? After 16 years, how is it possible for you to have missed the chance to explain to your child the outlandish concept that using a real pistol (something everyone should be able to own, by the way) is a fundamentally different process than acting out using a gun in a video game?
You tell me, Katie, as soon as you’re done ordering your new imported curtains.