About two weeks ago, I swore off politics (again), for the same reason an alcoholic swears off brewskis. No political blogs, no articles, no news. No politics for me, ever.
(Well, except for like one weekly column from a really funny guy. But that’s it, I swear.)
Since then, my stress has decreased and my average happiness has increased. Ahhh, relaxation.
See, I find politics intensely stressful, which is why I hate Political Tourette’s. Unfortunately for me, Political Tourette’s is ubiquitous. I can’t browse an RPG board or read a blog post without running headfirst into some ignorant fool’s irrelevant political interjection.
(“Ignorant fool” meaning “anyone who disagrees with my politics”. See why I quit?)
I’d like to steer clear of these kinds of outbursts (and have in many cases), but several of my favorite bloggers, columnists, and reviewers are (in addition to their excellent commentary) inveterate poli-Tourette’s enthusiasts.
Today’s example of a reviewer afflicted with a bad case of poli-Tourette’s (and, given the amount of profanity in his videos, quite possibly the real thing as well), is Zero Punctuation’s Yahtzee Croshaw, an Australian-by-way-of-Britain videogame reviewer for The Escapist, a video-game centric website.
Were I discussing “Zero Punctuation” as a whole, I’d bang on about the intriguing minimalist visual aesthetic of the videos, Croshaw’s genuinely witty sense of humor, and the sheer enjoyment that can be had from watching him deliver the smackdown. (Which he does regularly.) But I’m discussing political Tourette’s. so lets skip all that.
Yahtzee hates first person shooters, particularly Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and its clones. Hates them, so far as I can tell, for entirely political reasons. He thinks FPS games are “gung-ho, nationalist, realistic, modern war, everyone behold my spunking deathcock shooter…” In other words, they offend him politically.
“Patriotism is for twats,” he’s proclaimed, and the least little bit of patriotism guarantees a game a bad review. Conversely, he gave the first Modern Warfare a good review, based solely on the absence of patriotism: “What I like about Call of Duty 4 is that there’s less of the smarmy, black-and-white, ‘My Country, ‘Tis of Thee’ jingoism that turns me off most war games.”
In other words, the game matched his politics. Virtually his entire review (transcript here, video here) revolved around political matters.
In contrast, he despised Modern Warfare 2 for being insufficiently anti-American, despite the main villain being <spoiler alert!> an American general who kicks off World War 3 and the invasion of the US East Coast just to prove that Congress needs to spend more money on the military. (I don’t know if this plot was stolen from Die Hard 4, or if Die Hard 4 stole this plot from Call of Duty.) <end spoiler> (Highlight to see the transparent text.)
Are there FPS that Yahtzee does like? Sure, games like Spec Ops: The Line. (Based on Heart of Darkness and Apocalypse Now, which tells you everything you need to know.)
Despite worrying about the game beforehand — “I was all geared up for another […] spunking deathcock shooter” — the game instead delivered “rogue American soldiers queuing up for [my] bullets”. Yup, it’s a quality game because the story has you shooting American soldiers in the face.
To Yahtzee, the only good first person shooter is a politically appropriate first person shooter.
Look, I’m not saying people can’t criticize the politics of popular culture. But when your primary approach to criticism (or sole reason for enjoying or disliking nearly everything) revolves around whether or not it flatters your political views, it’s either time to find another job, or swear off the politics.
One could accuse me of hypocrisy: “You just don’t like Yahtzee because his politics disagree with yours.” Two problems: A) I like Zero Punctuation and B) I get just as annoyed when people I agree with (there are a few) insert irrelevant political ejaculations in the middle of things I’m trying to enjoy. (Err… “interjections”, I mean.)
It isn’t the species of politics that irritates, its the infestation of politics into everything under the sun. For frag’s sake, can’t I enjoy a nice half hour of comedy without being berated about how evil <political party A> is or how stupid and insipid <politician B> is?
When you insert politics into articles about computers, blog posts about steampunk, or webcomics (all actual examples I’ve encountered before), what you’re saying is “Hey, half my audience? You can fuck right off, because I don’t want your money.” For anyone with aspirations to commercial success, that’s a suicidally stupid position to take.
Life is wild and interesting, and politics is an ugly business. It’s about as appealing and necessary as septic tank maintenance.
That is, you absolutely need people who deal with feces and feces disposal, but it’s not for bystanders and you always have to deal with a lot of shit. Amateurs who obsess over septic tanks in their spare time, and insert septic tank related interjections in the middle of everything they write and create, are a little weird, and need a new hobby.
Which is why I swore off politics. I was never a practitioner of political Tourette’s (except maybe once, and it turned into a massive flamewar). But politics decreased my quality of life greatly, and it was time to stop worrying about political feces, and start focusing on things I can change.
Doing so has decreased my depression and increased my net joy. The only thing that could make me happier is if all the poli-Tourette’s sufferers did likewise.