GTA Social Research

Since I'm on a GTA: San Andreas as a reflection on society research kick, I've read two very different articles that look at GTA from two distinct directions.

Barrett, P. (2006). White thumbs, black bodies: Race, violence, and neoliberal fantasies in Grand
Theft Auto: San Andreas. The Review of Education, Pedagogy, and Cultural Studies, 28:
95-119.

The article takes a very critical view of GTA and the racial issues it represents. It looks at the representation of body, sex, gender, and class as shown through GTA. Barrett discusses how Rockstar's game portrays a negative stereotype of African Americans through the characters and environment of the game.

Murray, S. (2005). High art / low life: The art of playing Grand Theft Auto. Performing Arts
Journal, 80
: 91-98.

The article views GTA: San Andreas as a mirror and dissects the gameplay, characters, and environment as a satirical commentary not only on the early 1990's society it depicts, but also on today's society. Murray views Rockstar's use of providing the African American main character with the ability to rise above his surroundings an achieve a jaded version of the "American Dream" as a satire on institutional racism.

The criticisms that Barrett makes about GTA reducing the African American male down to nothing more than a physical commodity and thus promoting racial stereotypes is viewed by Murray not as continuing racism but as a "reminder of a shameful history of genocide and slavery." Both points are valid and anyone playing GTA: San Andreas should welcome a discussion of these issues as depicted in the game and how they are played out in our current society. Rockstar created a very mature game, both in the content and themes, and we (as educators) should treat it maturely. While there is certainly content that is objectionable, there is a unique opportunity to use that content as a jumping off point for a serious, meaningful, and mature discussion about race and class in America.

2 comments:

Dan said...

Hi, my name is Dan, and I am from Spain. First of all, I wanted to say that this is an excellent blog.

I believe that most people do not understand that GTA San Andreas contains a social crictic against wild capitalism.

Please see this review:

http://game-brains.com/archive/jan17_2005/gta_sanandreas.htm

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