Revengeance Data Storage – #9 …because Justice is corrupt

“Killing isn’t fun and games.” Get it? Get it?

Ugh.

First of all, do not under any circumstances display any kind of video content in a car within the driver’s reach please, at least not until cars drive themselves. That’s stupidly irresponsible.

Secondly, please stop having Boris throw in random Russian words at random times. I speak English as a second language, and I’ve met many others like me at university, and nobody does that. Nobody. Especially not someone with that level of proficiency. His job requires him to communicate clearly and quickly, if he reverts to speaking Russian under stress he’s not fit for the job. And it doesn’t even happen by mistake anyway. Just, no. Stop it.

Thirdly, Raiden says “killing isn’t fun and games.” Who wrote this line of dialogue, exactly? Off with their heads!

Seriously though. This cutscene is important for a number of reasons, although it’s mostly an expression of the same trends I’ve been criticizing so far. Let’s start with Raiden and the boy: “I thought you didn’t want to be a killer. Right? Killing isn’t fun and games. Remember that.” On the one hand Raiden is acting like a moral father figure, teaching the boy the official ideology that violence is a regrettable, although necessary evil, to be avoided as much as possible. This philosophy goes as far back as the very first cutscene of the game.

On the other hand, as we discussed, he doesn’t adhere to his own guidelines: justice is an excuse, he simply loves violence, as the encounter with Mistral made clear. In this instance he is framing himself as a sort of human sacrifice: in order to preserve not only justice, but the purity and innocence of the boy, he charitably, selflessly takes it upon himself to perpetrate whatever violence is necessary to restore justice, so as to spare others from having to get their hands dirty. In this sense, too, he’s a great hero.

Are you buying this yet?

The few seconds in which he hears the echoes of his past make sure to get the point across that his violence is getting to him. And in case you hadn’t been paying attention, he melancholically mutters to himself.

Boris calls, and his arguments are so irrelevant and unconvincing that he makes Raiden’s ‘won’t anybody think of the children’ sound smart (“I won’t sit by while they butcher little kids and ship their parts around like meat. It’s sick”). And of course, “being legal doesn’t make it right.” Boris is correct in saying that “It’s not all so simple”, but he fails to explain why in a compelling manner. From a moral point of view, Raiden is right, only he lacks any solution short of killing everyone involved.

That World Marshal’s (i.e. the evil corporation Raiden is going to fight) operations are all legal is not an argument supporting the morality of their actions, as Raiden believes, but rather an observation that should make Raiden and the player ponder how and why a socio-political system would consider those things legal. If the capitalist framework came to deem lawful such things as ‘butchering little kids’, as Raiden puts it, perhaps the problem is more endemic than something that can be solved by physically eliminating a few key ideologues.

The other major actor in this cutscene is the police. They’re immediately framed as evil, as above the law: first they shoot, then they ask him to pull over. And of course, they’re corrupt, just looking for an excuse to employ lethal violence. Law enforcement acting above the law. And on the other hand, the law is holding me back from restoring justice, remember?

I can’t help but feel that my perception of the situation is affected by the recent events, for instance in Ferguson, and the subsequent discussion about police brutality, but that is not all. For a Japanese game, Revengeance represents several concerns that are characteristic of US culture. There was something that troubled me a while back, about MGR seemingly celebrating weapons as a tool to defeat the bad guys using the same weapons (Raiden’s “My sword is a tool of justice”), and I couldn’t fully articulate what it was at the time. Looking back at it now, and then looking at this cutscene, a major thread that I failed to mention is the one concerning the right to bear arms, something very dear to US culture, and that, as a European, I’ve always found mind-boggling.

You’ll notice the arguments presented by those who defend the right to bear arms are echoed in many of Revengeance’s themes. The official, historical reason that the people should be able to forcefully subvert the government were it necessary (e.g. against a tyranny) is substantiated by feeding the underlying fear and showing the corruption of law enforcement, and of ‘the system’ as a whole. Other arguments, for instance that mass shootings and other criminal situations would be discouraged or more easily contained were weapons more widespread – because people would be able to defend themselves and shoot the criminal – are equally supported by the idea that “my sword is a tool of justice.” And is this not, at the same time, GamerGate’s cultural and ideological background? To rebel against the oppressor and restore justice through violent means, on one’s own, to use terror and threats as a deterrent against wrongdoing (take a look at the comments), recognizing no authority, respecting no limits, laws or boundaries, as if violence could put an end to violence.

“If you sincerely believe that the cyber mob is the ideal jury to fight corruption […] then harassment-as-praxis is inevitable.” (Katherine Cross)

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2 thoughts on “Revengeance Data Storage – #9 …because Justice is corrupt”

  1. I have to admit, it’s been a good read so far.
    The game seems to reinforce the notion of moral high ground and at the same time, mock it.

    I havent played the game, nor do I intend to, but it seems to me that people, since maybe the dawn of time? have been trying to make their use of power, violence, sex and priviledge, legitimate, through the use of morals.

    The funny thing is that a lot of people think morality is universal, especially people in the West, and therefore they enforce or atleast try to enforce those morals on others (ironically, sometimes by very immoral actions).

    Now dont get me wrong, power,violence,sex and priviledge arent inherently at their base, immoral.
    But the use of them, especially in literature (or games, movies and what not), have usually ended up as being either laughably evil (with a huge capital E), or laughably pure and good (sort of in a Nice Guy kind of way).

    MGR feels like a paradox, it’s laughing at the characters so called high moral ground, yet at the same time lets you play as him and enjoy the actions he takes.

    To me it feels pretty dated and cartoonish, I’d rather stick with the more deliberate “World is a whole lotta grey” kind of narrative, depressing as it may be.

    Dunno where exactly I was going with this, really, but thanks again for a great analysis.

    Like

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