My personal over/under was four hours, but of course, Jack Thompson blew that out of the water. Less than an hour after news of the horrible events at Virginia Tech began to seep across the 24-hour news cycle, Thompson, the notorious knee-jerking/anti-games-crusading attorney, was spewing his special brand of ignorance on Fox News.
Videogames, he said, and Counterstrike in particular, were unquestionably to blame for the senseless deaths of 32 students at the hands of troubled shooter Seung-Hui Cho. So what if police were unable to find a single console or game in Cho's apartment? So what if roommates denied ever seeing him play a single videogame? Really, such niggling details were beside the point. In the eyes of the much of the world, perception is virtual reality.
As less-addled minds could tell you, there's a library's worth of serious discussion to be had about the ways in which violent videogames, from Halo 2 and Grand Theft Auto San Andreas to the forthcoming Manhunt 2, may or may not cause us to do horrible things to our neighbors, pets, and classmates. Unfortunately, Fox News, Dr. Phil, and most of the folks in mainstream-media land aren't even slightly interested in engaging in it.
After years of getting kicked in the groin by this kind of jerking knee, I'm thinking that it's time to bust out the "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em" routine. And when you join 'em, really join 'em. So, like Stan and Cartman giving the finger to our frosty neighbors to the north in South Park: The Movie, I'm laying all the ills of our messed-up modern world right where they belong.
On videogames, of course.
• The wacky NFL draft. Obviously, NFL team execs have discovered the secret that Lions' GM Matt Millen has known for years: Messing around with the franchise mode in Madden '07 before submitting their picks can lead to some serious head-slappers. How else to explain the Dolphins taking Ted Ginn Jr.?
• Illegal immigration. Immigrants simply want what all of us want, nay, deserve. No, not a job, health care, and a better life. A PlayStation 3 and a copy of Grand Theft Auto.
• $4 a gallon gasoline. It's not the war. It's not the summer travel season. And it's certainly not all this nonsense about problems and irregularities in the refining process. No, gold-plated gasoline prices are due to all those gaming DVD cases and the shells that house the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and Wii. Those things are made of reinforced plastic. And everyone knows you need oil to make plastic.
• YouTube. Gamers needed somewhere to post all the cutscenes from every Final Fantasy game ever created and that essential Guild Wars/World of Warcraft dance-off. Chad Vader, eat your Sith heart out.
• Global warming. Al Gore blames SUVs and coal-fired power plants; try the Xbox 360, doughboy. Those things run hotter than current temps near the polar ice caps.
• George W. Bush's excellent African-dancing adventure. As that recent, um, groovalicious Rose Garden performance proved, it's clear that the prez and Laura have been spending nights in the West Wing shaking their money makers with Dance Dance Revolution. Uh, W.? Might I suggest scoring a copy of Guitar Hero II instead?
• Britney Spears' career suicide. On the other hand, nah. That one's all on her.
• Sanjaya mania. Four words: Karaoke Revolution : American Idol. Stop the madness, people. Seriously.
Aaron R. Conklin would like to blame Pokemon: Diamond and Super Paper Mario for stealing all of last weekend. Damn you, Nintendo.