Podcast Zero’s Kyuubethe3rd directed me to a YouTube video not too long ago. Apart from being the average unfunny hyperbolic kind of garbage that’s a dime a dozen on YouTube, it made the attempt at debunking the comparison between people saying lolicon causes pedophilia and people saying violent videogames cause real violence.
The gentleman’s first major point is that the difference between violent videogames and loli/shota material, and the thing that blows the entire comparison between the two out of the water, is that, even though violent videogames may have the player commit robberies, grisly murders, assassinations, or acts or terrorism, the fact that videogames are about entertainment, competition, relaxing, enjoying some time off, skill, accuracy, challenges, story, character development, and creating a world to explore, means that there can’t be any parallels drawn between videogames and something as “gross,” “sick,” and “disgusting” as loli or shota.
Except that isn’t the point, and never was.
Don’t get me wrong. Gaming is one of my earliest passions, and still one of my strongest. I’ve been playing videogames, including violent videogames, since I was five years old, playing Alien vs. Predator on the Atari Jaguar. I love gaming, and wouldn’t dream of minimizing it as a choice of hobby, but let’s live in the real world for just a second.
I’m a big fan of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. I think it’s the best game in the franchise, to be quite honest. Even the linear single-player campaign finds me replaying the missions over and over because they’re so fun and engaging to me.
But I won’t balk at the fact that it’s a remarkably violent game.
One of the missions in Act II involves infiltrating an oil rig with a group of US Navy SEALs. The very first thing you do in that mission is yank a guard off of a platform into the water and slice his throat out as he struggles to get free, before casually pushing him down into the depths and continuing your mission.
One of the missions in Act III has you abseil headfirst down a cliff face and ambush a guard, quickly jamming a knife into his chest and clamping a hand over his mouth until he’s silenced. You can literally watch the life drain from his eyes.
If all of this is okay in a videogame, which it is, then how come loli and shota are such huge problems? The context for the argument is is exactly the same: Stuff that would be wrong in real life is okay when it isn’t real. However, because they’re not-real children, it becomes an issue. The context is arbitrarily rendered irrelevant because the content is subjectively “wrong.” Not only that, but because the content is drawn children, liking loli or shota means you think sexually abusing actual kids is okay.
(As an aside, one could actually make the argument that that kind of leap would more readily apply to violent videogames as, being interactive, the player must trigger the action that pulls the guard from the platform and slices his throat out. It’s still a stupid argument, but it holds more water than “liking this cartoon means you rape kids.”)
So, context doesn’t matter. Why not? Because this guy doesn’t think it matters. His entire position is predicated on his audience already believing that loli and shota are disgusting. He, like the rest of the people who constantly crusade against loli and shota, has become so complacent with his “moral high ground” that his ability to back up his own position has atrophied, similar to what happens to an astronaut’s muscles after an extended time in zero-g.
So, he’ll argue that lolicon and shotacon breed actual child abusers without giving any basis for that, and he’ll argue that this stuff he doesn’t like is wrong and shouldn’t exist, despite the fact that it doesn’t hurt anybody.
Oh, but he’s worried. He’s worried about what you might do in the future because you enjoy lolicon or shotacon. According to him, we’re all just one episode of Boku no Pico away from being that creepy guy hanging around outside the elementary school.
But when we hear that the Navy Yard Shooter played violent videogames, the narrative is that the violence in videogames has nothing to do with violent behaviour. Gamers were quick to decry Jack Thompson and his crusade against “murder simulators,” but it seems like some gamers are just as quick to jump onto the other side of the battle lines when something they don’t like is at stake.
They have a very selective application of the separation of fantasy and reality. Understand that those two moments from Modern Warfare 2 that I mentioned earlier are some of my favorite sequences in the entire game. Those kind of stealthy, quick assassinations straight out of a military action movie, played out in first-person excite me big-time. These particular people, who would argue that violent videogames and loli/shota are two different arguments, would argue that my love for yanking sentries into the ocean and venting their necks with a knife in Modern Warfare 2 is perfectly normal precisely because it’s a fantasy, but, in the same breath, would also argue that a show like Astarotte’s Toy is “evil,” and that people who like it are sick in the head.
The notion that these two issues are different is hypocritical at best, intellectually bankrupt at worst. It’s a populist argument, based on nothing but basic personal preference and moral outrage. People like videogames, so they’re quick to say that videogames aren’t bad for people. People don’t like loli and shota, so they’re quick to say that loli and shota are bad for people, even though the principle is the exact same: The notion that fantasy does not equal reality, and that people should be able to like whatever they like, so long as nobody is hurt by it.
It’s okay to not like lolicon and shotacon. It’s okay to hate them, even. What you like or hate has no real bearing on anything. The point where it’s not okay, however, is when you begin to advocate persecuting people for things they have not done, or things you think they might do, because of what they like.
We have a word for that: Thoughtcrime.
Gamers fought the “Gamers are murderers” narrative years ago. Now some of them are perpetuating an almost identical narrative toward loli/shota fans, and for almost the same reason: They don’t like it and don’t understand it.
My message to these people is simple: Grow up.