Discussion area for the DOCC 2013 Video Dialogues as they are released
Race – Lisa Nakamura and Maria Fernandez
October 6, 2013 at 10:19 pm #1665
Dale MacDonaldKeymasterOctober 15, 2013 at 12:53 pm #1738
Blog post in reply to this dialogue: A Feminist Game
October 17, 2013 at 12:28 am #1755
- This reply was modified 11 months ago by scollingwood.
Technologies of Difference
During the dialogue “Feminism, Technology, and Race,” Maria Fernandez notes several theorists who have engaged with the idea that race and gender should be viewed, studied, and theorized as a form of technology. She states, “By technology, I mean a series of techniques that have been historically used to establish differences among people.” Due to my lived experience as a veteran of the United States Army I cannot extricate the idea of technology from the idea of militarism. I cannot think of a “difference” that can be created with a greater magnitude than that of those who wage war and those on whom war is inflicted. Who’s doing the bombing versus who’s being bombed.
Nakamura and Fernandez discuss the ramifications of the belief that technology only refers to the digital. They warn of the dangers in this reductionist idea. While I had some experience with computers, my real entrance into a digitally enhanced reality coincided with my enlistment. I enlisted in 2004 as a 25 Mike (MOS), multimedia illustrator, and as such was trained at the Department of Defense Information School (DINFOS) as a digital multimedia specialist. At the same time I was being introduced to militarism in a very intimate way. From that time on, I remained aware of the impact that digital media had on the construction of ideologies as well as of how much of the dominant ideological narrative was dedicated to militarism.
The process of my indoctrination into militarism required my indoctrination into a racist binary that set the U.S. as “us” and the targets of U.S. militarism “them.” This ideology is overtly nationalistic, but also carries racism embedded within it. A speech I wrote for an Global Women’s Strike International Women’s Day action in 2011 that now serves as my biography for Iraq Veterans Against the War ( http://www.ivaw.org/alejandra-rishton ) addresses the relationship I developed to technology at this time:
Facing homelessness and in need of health care I enlisted in the US Army at the age of twenty. I went off to Basic Training where I trained with about 60 other women who mostly came from the same socioeconomic background as I did. What I found was a culture saturated in misogyny and racism.
Cadences about how Napalm sticks to kids, and how much fun it is to massacre Haji children were commonplace. All of us were repeatedly told that if we didn’t “man-up” and stop acting like “pussies” we were never going to be able to complete our training. The truth is that when you teach soldiers to dehumanize “the enemy,” you dehumanize the soldiers themselves as well. Basic training was a way for them to switch our emotions off and keep us focused on following orders. Critical thinking was not allowed.
I left Basic Training and went to the Department of Defense Information School. I was to be trained as part of the Personal Relations sector of the Military. We were treated as the elite; with our high tech facilities only a stone’s throw from the NSA. What I learned there changed my perception of our Military forever. As I was taught to spin images and stories to suite the Army’s political needs I realized how much of what I had been taught as History in school was propaganda. Basically, we were taught to stay on the sunny side of war. Civilians only mattered when they made the soldiers look good; you were never allude to the existence of dead civilians.
Our cultural addiction to technology has left us emotionally disconnected from the realities of war. While drones drop bombs like video games, my generation sits at home transfixed by digital illusions.
I understand now that there is no sunny side of war. Ninety percent of all deaths in any war are civilian deaths. Nobody prospers from war, except the elite who capitalize off it. When one country sends its poor people to slaughter the poor people of another country, nobody wins but the weapons manufacturers. With our own social programs facing budget cut after budget cut, our government is assuring that it will always have fresh crops of troops gambling their lives and mental health for health-care and a steady paycheck.
My time in service was filled with much emotion, much friendship, and much tragedy. I married the love of my life. He was also a soldier in the US Army. We have now been married for seven years and are raising three kids together. I am the proud mother of a twelve year old daughter, a five year old daughter, and a four year old son. We’ve come a long way together. We strive to build a home culture centered around education and activism.
Today while our Vietnam Veterans continue to suffer and die from the effects of Agent Orange poisoning, a new cohort of soldiers returns home from Iraq with Depleted Uranium contamination. One of the biggest propaganda campaigns I encountered was the myth that our troops are overseas to help liberate women. Dropping bombs on women is not liberating. Using Depleted Uranium munitions on civilian populations deprives the women of their most basic humanity by robbing them of their reproductive capabilities. There are regions in Iraq where eighty to ninety percent of the infants born are dying within the first year of life from exposure to DU weapons. Under the U.N.’s Article II of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide, this qualifies our aggressions as genocide.
Great atrocities are being met with great indifference.
Most of all I hope to learn enough to find a way to show others the need to end all of our illegal and immoral aggressions. It is time for us to work together, to spread awareness and to spare future generations from having to live through this massive systematic abuse of power.
We should think of militarization as a habit as well as racism.
Maria Fernandez notes that cyberfeminism is lacking a sufficient amount of postcolonial analysis in its current incarnation. A neocolonial lens should be applied to cyberfeminism analysis and theory as well. This lens is evident in the video game that Nakamura discusses by Molleindustria called Phone Story ( http://www.phonestory.org/ ). The game forces players to confront neocolonial issues that most corporate media ignore. The FemTechNet Docc is also a digital space that challenges the digital norms of neocolonialism. The dialogue format of this course is providing a holistic and dynamic platform for me to assess my relationships to feminism and technology.October 17, 2013 at 3:26 am #1759
Well, I am a white male. I grew up on southern California. Video games were a part of my life for as long as I can remember. First it was Atari, then Nintendo, supernintendo, a few Playtations and xboxs later I was in the army. I was a big fan of first person shooters. I just couldn’t kill enough Nazis. I played the Halo games, all of the COD, GTA, Resident Evil and Battlefield as well as anything else I could squeeze in. Most of the mainstream FPS titles, the ones for consoles or computers, involved being an American in Germany, Japan, Vietnam, Latin America, some country the Americans had invaded and killed thousands of people to end communism or some other excuse that the Americans would buy so the ruling corporate class could rape these people and their land while sending millions of young men and women charging to their deaths. I played them all. In these games Americans were and still are always portrayed as the morally superior individuals, especially the white American males. It was during my deployment in Iraq in 2007 that a new installment of Medal of Honor was released. But this one was different. This one had you playing as a white American mercenary killing farmers in Afghanistan, but they were called “terrorists”. This was the first time the evil enemy in a mainstream, highly promoted console game was from a country in which U.S. forces were actually there killing massive amounts of civilians, yet this was not shown in the game. Only bad men are killed in the game, never the women and children. Since the Vietnam war, 90 % of the casualties of U.S. wars of aggression are civilians, which leads me to believe that the civilian populations are the actual targets of these wars. The games were mimicking reality, it was now open and obvious propaganda that genocidal empires had always wished for. When this happened, and I saw what was going on around me in Iraq, I began to get the feeling that a large portion of my life, the time I spent playing video games, was me being trained by the corporations and the United States to fight and die in these wars, to behave like a supremacist murderer, to come pre packaged and pre-programmed with the military know how as well as the ideology needed to make me fear the people we were there to eradicate. I felt like a guinea pig, and it felt abusive. Video games are fun, I still enjoy them, but the fact that they are a part of a massive operation to train if not brainwash large swaths of the planet into fascist military patriarchal hierarchies is undeniable.
Racism is pivotal in war, it is typically a driving factor behind the aggression being waged along with religion. Video games produce a trigger happy and desensitized soldier, a soldier that has run their brain through the simulation of killing another human being thousands, if not millions of times. The avatars being shot are typically people of color, in their countries, or “Aliens” like the ones in the Halo games. Where else do we use that word? Ah yes, after the word “illegal”. Language shapes the way we interpret reality. The person the player is projected into is typically a white American male. The people being shot are portrayed as less than human, and the transition from shooting Nazis to Mexicans, Cubans, Bolivians, Venezuelans and Arab men is a telling transference of identity that the military industrial complex wants to create in the minds of the players, the average American and the soldiers fighting the wars. They want us to believe these farmers are Nazis and pose an existential treat to the United States and its allies. If one looks at the enemies in the popular first person or action games, they are the socialized countries, the countries that have pushed out multinational corporations that pollute the land and force the population into poverty before unleashing death squads upon them. These games are very dangerous bits of art that are part of the propaganda apparatus which blinds us to repeated and current atrocities being carried out by the United States government and its allies around the globe. These games also perpetuate the idea of American exceptionalism by claiming america has the most advanced technology, high morals, and bravery. Along with distracting Americans from the wars abroad, these simulations also distract them from what appears to be a massive police/surveillance state that is being erected around us.
Lisa Nakamura discusses the racism that is displayed by individuals playing the games online, but she only lightly discusses the racist environment that the games themselves provide. All first person shooters create an “other.” It is the games that are encouraging and reinforcing racists ideas, and if something makes billions of dollars in its first week of sales, whatever content it may contain is deemed socially acceptable and repeatable. But seriously, they are massive simulations in murdering black and brown people and terrorizing children with threats of nuclear and chemical attacks. How did this become acceptable? These games are a massive driving force behind the acceptance and ignorance of the wars being waged around the globe. On top of programming the soldier and the American culture, they serve as a distracting device which takes people time that they could be using to research critical issues, or god forbid, get up and do something about them. I may be incorrect but video games seem to be a pacifying device that is only rivaled by porn. It has long been known that these games pose risk of addiction, and as the technology has progressed, game designers with their Pentagon consultants and military budgets have become savvier at sculpting virtual environments and interactions that are more engaging, making it harder and harder to put the controller down.
I see the games sucking all of the talent and creativity out of society. They make individuals who are really good at using video game controllers. Some Drone pilots in the Air Force opt to use a Playstation 3 controller to steer their aircraft. Good thing so many games at this point let you fly drones over farms and let you kill the people down below. Games produce so much joy, but the military influence has pushed the gamer culture into realms of violence and misogyny that may be making us all slightly psychopathic. The culture is also producing a group of males who would much rather play the games than learn any skills or about the world they live in. If your parents are not rich, when it comes time to get a job, guess who won’t say no? Uncle Sam. And the cycle continues. I am not saying that everyone who plays these games will join the military and kill people, but it will make them feel more comfortable with the idea of killing people over differences of race, gender, nationality, religion, and class when it is a group they identify with that is committing the killing.
I played through many of the games on Moleindustria.com. I played the entire Oiligarchy game. My favorite part is when the game suggests that somehow the oil industry was behind the attacks on September 11, 2001.
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