Shad v Walsh
Wanted to signal boost this great discussion from a man of faith as to why pop culture can be a constructive influence, even for adults.
As readers will know, I am a strong supporter of Matt Walsh. I am not sure what comment of his spurred this response video from Shad – the most recent videogame controversy about Matt I heard of involved excessive videogame playing by kids. If that is what prompted the video, Matt has already clarified the (distorted by others) comments.
Nonetheless, many Christians feel that videogames, fantasy and RPGs are childish things adults should grow out of. And it’s great to see a person of faith defend them.
Matt Walsh does make one point that Shad doesn’t address well enough – things as they are, the media is so corrupt that if a show has a good message it almost feels like the broken clock that was right twice a day. The time is here where people of faith (and even just people of sanity) need to make a substantial break from it.
We are approaching a time where “dialoging with the culture” is no longer a (general) option. We need to propose an alternative to it.
Found a level in Cassette Beasts to be worthy of note here. Game mechanic wise, the level was fun and visually exciting. You explore a crypt, fighting undead cassette beasts until you fight the big bad for this area.
This “archangel” is called Lamento Mori and mocks how the “meat sacks” are “always thinking about death” and asks “I wonder if that’s what brings them to me?” The overall thrust of the conversation seems to be that the Christian phrase Mamento Mori is a worse death than death itself.
I find this interesting because it is an instance of unchristian messaging that isn’t connected to a third-rail issue. (Not that we shouldn’t call those into account too).
The spiritual advice offered by this level is laughable. In our culture people think they will live forever or if anything even glamorize “death by rock and roll” saying they “want to die young.”
We have renamed funerals to “celebrations of life” because we no longer believe in a life after death and thus want to refocus our attention to the “life.”
The nihilism the “Death by Rock ‘n Roll” culture (the song I am referencing only being one instance, and not even the worst instance of it) is damaging out culture.
If he himself, being flesh, maintains wrath,Catholic Biblical Association (Great Britain), The Holy Bible: Revised Standard Version, Catholic Edition (New York: National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA, 1994), Sir 28:5–7.
who will make expiation for his sins?
6 Remember the end of your life, and cease from enmity,
remember destruction and death, and be true to the commandments.
7 Remember the commandments, and do not be angry with your neighbor;
remember the covenant of the Most High, and overlook ignorance.
That is the bible verse Mamento Mori comes from, and by extension, the spiritual worldview the “thinking of death brings you to me” level mocks.
Recalling our shared mortality is what forces us to ask what truly matters, and unites us with our fellow mortals. It is not thinking of death that “leads them to me [True Death]” but quite the opposite. Denying death, is what leads to the life of sex, drugs and Rock ‘n Roll that really does lead us to death, both physical and spiritual.
For a good reflection on this, watch Puss in Boots. Puss in Boots shows good media at it’s best. I did not expect a talking cat movie to reflect on Memento Mori, but it did, and profoundly so.
Now I am an adult who has the maturity to dialog with games like Cassette Beasts (the game’s swipe at Momento Mori does make me think I may have been a bit kind in a previous post). But some people are not in a good place with their spirituality.
Keep in mind that Cassette Beasts is a game that bills itself as collecting cute monsters with a cassette tape while 90s music plays. If deeply unhealthy spiritual advice can be found even there, how are parents supposed to vet content that is rated T / PG-13 and the like as appropriate for their kids? Do we now need to watch and play every videogame in full to ensure that it doesn’t contain one-sided swipes against the Faith, unhealthy psychological fads, or nihilistic messaging?
Wherever we can, people of Faith and people of Sanity need to “take up space” as it were. Or, less zero-sum-game-mentally, build new spaces. We need to write and tell other stories and build alternative worlds. Even if some pop culture today is still worth engaging in, ultimately we need to build an alternative.
Even a broken clock is right twice a day. I can see why Matt has opted out entirely.
I haven’t yet.
Heck the original RPG for Martian Muckraker I made used tarot cards. I wanted to believe that there was something worthwhile in that tradition. (If you wonder why the Martian Muckraker RPG appears and disappears on my itch.io its because I have conflicting feelings about leaving up a game that references tarot. I have gone “Matt Walsh” on fortune telling devices – that will probably be a different post) Eventually I will have the time to edit out the Tarot references.
But I still haven’t opted out (fully) of pop culture yet. I hope I won’t have to.
To the left, communists and pagans all – I haven’t lived in a bubble. I have had my formative years in left-of-center communities (theatre groups, RPG groups, American high school in general). I don’t reject the secular left because I haven’t listened to it and considered it.
I reject it because I have.
Dialog or Break?
It’s probably not a neither or option. But below here Shad and Walsh on videogames, cartoons, anime and manga.
Matt Walsh on excessive videogames: