"Master of Horror" horrified by Massachusetts bill proposal

Stephen King – a name synonymous with horror fiction – has written in his latest Entertainment Weekly pop-culture column his thoughts on the recent proposal of House Bill 1423 in Massachusetts to restrict the sale of violent videogames from minors.

King, who makes it clear that he is no fan of videogames, said that word of HB 1423 made him “hit the roof,” pointing out the nonsensical standard that the bill would restrict a 17-year old from playing Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, but not from watching Hostel: Part II.

“According to the proposed bill, violent videogames are pornographic and have no redeeming social merit. The vid-critics claim they exist for one reason and one reason only, so kids can experience the vicarious thrill of killing,” King wrote regarding HB 1423. “Now, what does and doesn't have social merit is always an interesting question, one I can discuss for hours. But what makes me crazy is when politicians take it upon themselves to play surrogate parents. The results of that are usually disastrous. Not to mention undemocratic.”

As for the real parents themselves, King believes the responsibility is ultimately up to them. “And if there's violence to be had, the kids are gonna find a way to get it, just as they'll find a way to get all-day shooters like No Country for Old Men from cable if they want. Or Girls Gone Wild, for that matter. Can parents block that stuff? You bet. But most never do.... Parents need to have the guts to forbid material they find objectionable...and then explain why it's being forbidden. They also need to monitor their children's lives in the pop culture — which means a lot more than seeing what games they're renting down the street.”

Although the famed author said he is far removed from videogames, he appears to be keenly aware of several high-profile titles. On the popular shooter and its scapegoat status in the mainstream media: “It was too easy for critics to claim — falsely, it turned out — that Cho Seung-Hui (the Virginia Tech killer) was a fan of Counter-Strike; I just wish to God that legislators were as eager to point out that this nutball had no problem obtaining a 9mm semiautomatic handgun. Cho used it in a rampage that resulted in the murder of 32 people. If he'd been stuck with nothing but a plastic videogame gun, he wouldn't even have been able to kill himself.”

Even better perhaps, is the article image with the caption, “Could Massachusetts legislators find better ways to watch out for the kiddies? Man, I sure hope so, because there's a lot more to America's culture of violence than Resident Evil 4.”

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