Plan for the Evening
- Last Official Class of the semester!!!
- 4/28: Workshop in Fretwell 219 (not required but encouraged)
Final Exam (online)
Multimodal Project (online)
Final Presentation(Combined with above–see Major Assignments for more details)
- Define Neoliberalism (didn’t we do this?)
- Ch. 6 “Video Games and the Neoliberal Hero”
- polemic: aggressive attack on principles of others.
- Conclusion “Video Game Studies and Culture”
- Correction on New York City dumping trash in the ocean
- They stopped the practice of dumping their trash into the ocean in 1934
- NYC appears to have continued dumping sewage until 1962
- Apparently, they stopped dumping “sludge” into the ocean in 1992*
*This is what I remember from high school, but I thought trash was still dumped. My mistake!
I know I’m sometimes loose with my definitions, but I blame that on Derrida. One thing I’ve done, inadvertently, is use capitalism and neoliberalism interchangeably. They are certainly related, but capitalism has a much longer history, so we should recognize that neoliberalism is a contemporary celebration of market capitalism.
Some Working Definitions
- neoliberalism: the idea of a total (or nearly total) market-driven economy with little or no government regulations.
- In America, we often label people who promote this philosophy conservatives, neoconservatives, libertarians, or Republicans. In American popular media, the term “neoliberal” would be confusing because a “liberal” is considered (these are generalizations, of course) having the opposite view of the term “neoliberal.” This term is more a European one and rarely heard outside of academic discussions in America. As a fun side note, check out the history of the usage of liberalism.
- Jodi Dean: “neoliberalism is a philosophy viewing market exchange as a guide for all human action” (p. 48)
- “Espousing the primacy of free market competition is a common neoliberal agenda” (Toscano, 2020, p. 113).
- “Neoliberalism, which is an extension and modernist version of classical liberalism, promotes free markets, lower taxes, and deregulation to benefit the rich” (Toscano, 2020, p. 115).
- “neoliberalism…is the governing cultural logic of contemporary American life. The myth of individualism may even convince some that they are beyond neoliberal influence and can shop for themselves and their families while being immune to market forces” (Toscano, 2020, p. 116).
- Mark Fisher: “neoliberal politics are not about the new, but a return of class power and privilege” (p. 28)
- p. 33: Families produce labor power.
- Modern Family…same as it ever was: Disneyland, Javier’s Fiancée, and Phil’s backing out of getting snipped (skip to 16:20 then 21:45). All support the view that families should raise children, thus, reinforcing the idea that the family (superstructure) supports capitalism.
- To head further down this rabbit hole, please see a page from the class New Media: Gender, Culture, Ideology–Spring 2021.
- Mark Fisher: “In the entrepreneurial fantasy society, the delusion is fostered that anyone can be Alan Sugar or Bill Gates” (James, qtd. in Fisher, p. 36).
One of my favorite topics. I even have a Zombies and Consumption Satire page. You’ll see the color photos from Chapter 6. I also have images below that didn’t make it into the Video Game book…
- Biltmore Park Town Square
- Twin Peaks Margarita Day
- Compare to Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag server
- Dawn of the Dead Zombies (1978)
Finally, what does all this consumption lead to? The “Conclusion” asks “How does our unconscious acceptance of planned obsolescence contribute to the need to replace good technology for want of a newer model? And what of the environmental costs of more and more e-junk?” (p. 135). If you need a visual, here are two from Charlotte:
Ch. 6 “Video Games and the Neoliberal Hero”
- p. 113: “The immersive worlds of video games often mimic closed, yet free-market virtual economies.”
- p. 114: “as herd animals, we conform (both consciously and unconsciously) to cultural norms: rarely can individuals subvert social mores and not be punished.”
- p. 114: “No Supreme Court ruling captures the illusion of democracy better than Citizens United v. FEC: this ruling…complicates the idea of one person, one vote because of the vast wealth of corporations.”
- Citizens United v. FEC also reflects American as opposed to democratic values. In theory, a democracy is equal voices, but, when corporations can purchase advertisements and have larger mouthpieces, it’s hard to say “free speech” is equal. An absolute libertarian might object, and I’d be happy to have that conversation…
- “Even though inequality is systemic in the United States, the rhetoric of equality and freedom pervades American history. ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’…”
- The myth of the Marxist professor…we’re all part of the system and not “immune to market forces.”
- pp. 115-116: “Video game algorithms continue to become more complex, but they cannot mimic real-world nuances, which reduces variability and allows gamers to better predict outcomes, simplifying the fantasy world.”
- Let’s see Hitman: Codename 47 (2000) for an example.
- p. 116: “…consumer spending is a major aspect driving America’s economy. Consumption is vital for capitalist economies, and companies have plenty of strategies to get consumers to part with their money.”
- Not to throw shade, but most of us will only feel an increase in gas prices and very little disruption in goods because of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine…unless…
- p. 117: “The individual in a lowered-tax economy is a neoliberal hero, free to choose to give money to corporations for goods; this is a victory over having the government take in more tax revenue.”
- Did you file/pay your taxes last week?
- The myth of cutting government spending.
- p. 118: “Americans need these myths about self-made men in order to continue to espouse neoliberal assumptions surrounding the American Dream.”
- I purposely chose “men” and not “person.” Care to comment?
- “…the power the United States wields across the globe maintains its citizens’ consumptive way of life.”
- p. 119: “The ability to consume a surrogate, for instance, binge watching the luxurious lives of the rich and famous, allows individuals to indulge, at least, in the unattainable illusion.”
- p. 120: “Americans’ lack of critical thinking and supposed individualism condition a myopic worldview much like fictionalized representations of zombies.”
- p. 122: “These rags-to-riches narratives epitomize neoliberalism in video games, providing a virtual world to model how prosperous one can be with little to no government regulation.”
- p. 125: “CJ and Kenway, represent neoliberal heroes who individually bootstrap and build wealth for themselves.”
- p. 126: “Tracing the value of individual competition in a variety of media and recognizing how education and other institutions socialize members of a culture into accepting the values as intrinsic identifies prevailing ideology.”
- p. 127: “…video games valorize individual outcomes, and, in a culture that celebrates, at least, the rhetoric of individualism, gamers already believe in the god-like qualities of the avatars.”
- “All this prosperity is allowed because it has been ordained; one just has to work to accumulate it.”
- p. 128: “…video games are one of the only media perfecting divinely inspired illusions where all actions are because the player is the god of the game.”
Environmental Concerns and Conclusion
- p. 119: “When there is no price put on clean water or air, companies can pollute at will, disregarding and ignoring collective public risks.”
- p. 124: “He has to hunt for these exotic items, and they allow Kenway to upgrade weapons and health. The whales, jungle cats, and other animals are not protected by endangered species acts, so Kenway is free to take what he wants…”
- p. 132: “Cultural studies approaches attempt to identify assumptions we take as givens.”
- p. 133: “Inadvertently, technical communication re-entrenches patriarchal bias and privileges instrumentalist approaches to research that focus on technological mechanics, or, in the case of composition studies on gaming, it assumes that broader cultural forces do not influence digital environments.”
- p. 133: “This book’s cultural studies approach asks readers to scrutinize taken-for-granted everyday practices privileging the system. It also asks us to consider our culpability in the broader systems of control and reproductions of cultural ideology.”
- p. 134: “Cultural logic is quite pervasive, so there might not be a way to resist, but we can choose to be aware.”
- Some people don’t like the idea of just raising awareness and assume that only activism is appropriate for the types of radical critiques of society and culture I do.
- p. 135: “Focusing on use and not consequences of our technological consumption allows us to ignore our culpability in a system that continues to reproduce inequality and environmental destruction.”
That’s is, folks! We reach the end of the semester. We’ll be meeting in Fretwell 219 for any help you may need with your Multimodal Projects. I hope to open up the Final Exam on 4/28, but it will close promptly at 11:00 pm on Monday, 5/9. Your Multimodal Projects will also be due by 5/9. I haven’t graded all you Video Game essays, but you should be getting those soon.
Finally, if you want to really know what it means to be a deep critical thinker who’s outside the mainstream and intellectual, check out this recent interview with Noam Chomsky “Ukraine, Brexit, and ‘The Most Dangerous Time in World History'” (April 2022). You will be floored at the history he provides that complicates our perception of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. No one’s condoning the atrocity, but the story is bigger than most media are willing to provide. I also highly recommend the documentary Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media (1992).
Dean, Jodi. Democracy and Other Neoliberal Fantasies: Communicative Capitalism and Left Politics. Duke UP, 2009.
Fisher, Mark. Capitalist Realism: Is There No Alternative? Zero Books, 2009.
Toscano, Aaron A. Video Games and American Culture: How Ideology Influences Virtual Worlds. Lexington Books, 2020.