Column: Grand Theft Auto: D.C.

By Eric Naing

The summer days are getting longer, hurricane season is again upon us and lawmakers are back to doing what they do best-complaining about video games. Senator Hillary Clinton is calling for a federal investigation into a modification of the game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, which allows players to engage in graphic sex acts.

The modification in question is called “Hot Coffee,” and it allows your male character to have sex with the various girlfriends he meets in the game-which he formerly couldn’t do. It is surprisingly detailed, going so far as to have “power” and “excitement” meters that you need to keep up with the right combination of button presses (apparently, video games can make even sex incredibly nerdy).

The “Hot Coffee” modification was unknown to even the most hardcore of video gamers until recently. To find it, one would need advanced technological knowledge and access to the Internet or extra equipment, making it even more ludicrous that Clinton is outraged at just this aspect of the game.

Sen. Clinton is not only calling on the Federal Trade Commission to investigate this game, but she also is planning on authoring legislation that would make selling “violent or sexually explicit” video games to minors illegal, much like the law proposed by Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich.

Let me get this straight. The latest incarnation of a series of games that made killing hookers a national pastime has an extremely hidden segment featuring graphic sex, and suddenly the government is up in arms. There is something very wrong with that.

    Sign up for our newsletter!

    This country has a ridiculous hang-up when it comes to sex. Arnold Schwarzenegger can blow a man’s head off and Al Pacino can dive nose-first into a three-foot tall pile of cocaine just fine, but when Janet Jackson has a little wardrobe malfunction, all hell breaks loose.

    It’s time for the United States to catch up with the rest of the world. For some reason, in this country, even a little nudity or the slightest suggestion of sex is something absolutely horrific, but graphic violence is A-OK. When it comes to the hierarchy of things you don’t want someone ever to do, having sex should be way, way below shooting 20 men with your AK-47 while spouting off witty catchphrases. But think about which scenario is more likely to be allowed on U.S. television.

    The Grand Theft Auto series lets you steal vehicles, kill people (particularly the aforementioned hookers), do drugs and (dare I say) fly a plane into a building. And you know what? I don’t care. Graphic displays of violence and sex are not endemic to video games alone. I’ve already seen all these things and so much more in movies, television shows, on the news, in magazines, on billboards, etc.

    Practically everything can be labeled offensive by someone, which is why the government should not be the entity to regulate such things. The Entertainment Software Rating Board gave San Andreas a “mature” rating, meaning that the game was for people 17 and older and featured “intense violence, blood and gore, strong sexual content, strong language and use of drugs.” That accurately sums up the game even with the modification, and if a parent didn’t heed that rating, it’s their own fault if their child is exposed to it.

    Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is simply a fun game. Yes, it does feature graphic violence and sex, but so do many other things in our society. If a parent is really offended by the game, then they should be the one who prevents their children from being exposed to it-not the government.

    Sen. Clinton is only grandstanding for family-values voters in her ongoing attempt to appear more moderate. I’m sick of these politicians debating issues they know nothing about. Before Sen. Clinton writes her bill, I’d like her to sit down and play San Andreas first. I definitely think she’d benefit from some good old-fashioned car-jacking and hooker-killing. It might actually be less offensive than what politicians usually do in Washington.

    Eric Naing is a senior in LAS. His column appears Mondays. He can be reached at [email protected].