My young son and I walked into a games shop to look for a present. Who knew we’d find sex and violence, says Murray Williams.
Cape Town - My young son and I walked into a games shop at Somerset Mall to look for a present.
Facing us was a life-sized cardboard cut-out of a woman in a bikini, holding up the cover of a new Grand Theft Auto game. We’d seen her in a few other stores too.
She looked like a very pleasant young woman. The Beach Boys may have been singing about exactly her in their line, “I wish they all could be California Girls!”.
And the title of the game sounded innocuous too. A bit like the movie Gone In 60 Seconds.
So we sidled up to the counter, and asked for a copy, please.
The young gaming dudes behind the till said: “Sure.” And then: “You know it’s a bit violent, though.”
We asked: “How violent?”
Dudes: “Um, very violent. You actually have to participate in torturing people.”
Dudes: “And there’s also some nudity.”
Dudes: “Ya, like full-frontal nudity. And some sex. Um, you have to have anal sex with a prostitute.”
Dudes: “Ya. It’s only a game. But it’s a bit hectic.”
Us: “So, like, can you deliberately skip this stuff?”
Dudes: “No. You have to do the torture and anal sex thing to get to the next level.”
We couldn’t get out fast enough.
Later, I’m about to Google this game. Hold on.
And there it is, indeed, shown on YouTube, titled: “Having sex with hookers on GTA V”.
The man’s name is Justin, the “hooker” is named “Poppy”. While Justin does his thing, his pants around his ankles, she’s playing on her cellphone.
In another scene, a driver picks up another “hooker”, pays her $50, $70 and then $100 – for oral sex, vaginal sex and anal sex. “The Bitch” is doing it “to pay off her student loans”.
Then there’s the torture. Players are commanded by the FBI to torture an alleged terrorist for information, using a selection of torture implements, including sledgehammers and electric cables, The Guardian reports. Amnesty International has slated the game.
At Somerset Mall, we saw the happy, healthy-looking blonde in the bikini standing prominently in a number of stores frequented by families. No IDs are required to buy it and it’s flying off the shelves.
Reuters reports: “Grand Theft Auto V has crossed the $1 billion sales mark after three days in stores, a rate faster than any other video game, film or other entertainment product has ever managed.”
And the moral of that little experience? What does one say in the face of this material now so mainstream of our society – in our games, films, TV, music?
Does it help to express dismay? Or does one just look like an out-of-touch fool?
Or are we right to ask the buyers of this game – they with their own wives, daughters, nieces, friends – if they will stand up and identify themselves with these values.
Meanwhile, I’m going to the beach. Hopefully the freezing water will wash away the filth from this “exciting popular culture”.
* Murray Williams’s column Shooting from the Lip appears in the Cape Argus every Friday. Follow him on Twitter: @mwdeadline
** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Newspapers.