Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Bill O'Reilly on the PS3, gamers & iPods

So Mr O'Reilly has a new target for his disassociated reactionary rants - GAMING. Yup, it's the new Communism, this year's War on Christmas, worse than heroin or alcohol or tobacco:

Bill O’Reilly Slams PS3 Launch, Gamers, iPods, Digital Tech (not in that order)

There's a good discussion on Slashdot on the article at

I like this quote in particular:

"I don't own an iPod. I would never wear an iPod… If this is your primary focus in life - the machines… it's going to have a staggeringly negative effect, all of this, for America… did you ever talk to these computer geeks? I mean, can you carry on a conversation with them?"

Speaking as someone who has (somehow) managed to become a tax-paying fully-employed married adult with children, despite all of the horrible influences of computers and video games in my life since the age of 5 or 6 years old, I have absolutely no idea how anyone talks with me. Not a bit. I mean, I can barely even write coherent sentences in my native language, let alone carry on a conversation, or, say, teach high-school students how to speak effectively and defend an argument. Or write business proposals. Or conduct meetings, or training sessions, or interview job candidates.


While I agree that a lot of mass-marketed entertainment can be a low-fidelity lossy replacement for reality, that's not really a new problem, or something that the Sony PS3 or Apple iPod introduced.

To a large degree, people from my generation and younger generations play video games the same way our parents and grandparents play card games, board games, darts, bowling or other not-so-physically-active forms of entertainment. Multiplayer games, networked or not, are the way we hang out and de-stress and enjoy each others' company. My 16-year-old brother-in-law and I don't sit down in front of the TV to watch football games, we play Madden. Or Halo, or Red Faction, or another fun multiplayer game.

Any form of entertainment can be addictive, but calling gamers irresponsible and witless is no more true than exculpating Scrabble players or someone who enjoys a hand of solitaire for their moral weakness.

In the words of today, WTF, Mr O'Reilly. Are you just an old fool too removed from your own listeners to have any idea of what people do with their time? Or does this look like an inflammatory target, something that can be easily railed against, not targeting a traditional minority group like gays or blacks or Jews which would generate backlash, and generate angry call-ins, attract listeners and ad revenue?

Maybe you should walk down the hall from your broadcast booth to visit the sound techs and radio engineers working in that building, and see what they say. Maybe talk with them, see if they can carry on a conversation. Or the folks who host your website. Or the accountants tallying your revenue from podcast downloads, online advertising and TV broadcasts. I'm sure you interact with some IT support people from time to time, try asking them what they enjoy doing in their spare time, what they're interested in, if they have families, if they're active in their communities, if they go to church, if they (gasp) fire up a PC or console game from time to time.

You'd be surprised.

1 comment:

  1. Someone should tell Bill that the ipod actually has a built-in Techie Talk/Geek Speak translator (patent pending) that converts their speech and allows his people to understand what the gamers, programmers, etc are saying.

    Then, someone should try to convince him that the Prius is really a time machine that runs on garbage.