(Guten Tag, Flynn Keaton is CHUD’s German perspective)
Media critic Anita Sarkeesian (WAIT wait wait – this article is not about her or SJWs or MRA or any of that) has a new video out, one dealing with the strategic covering of butts. I’ll only say one thing about that specific clip: it’s one of her weaker works, filled with bad examples and lightweight arguments. Still, it’s funny to see how developers hide male hero butts as much as possible, while spending lots of work on making female butts a real work of art.
Nevertheless, I started this article because I wanted to put out how her series of works made me personally re-think parts of my own teenage past. Maybe some of you can relate to that.
Like most of you, I had always been a total media sponge. Never cared much for sports. During primary school, I was hot on Star Wars, Masters of the Universe, Turtles, MASK, Galaxy Rangers, BraveStarr, Batman and Amiga video games, and I played on friends’ NES, Gameboy, Mega Drive and 386 systems any chance I got. Later on I had my own PC, and played all sorts of action games while getting even more into movies. When my teenage years finally came around, I wasn’t into parties and drinking. See, my stepfather had been a raging alcoholic at home, and that made me steer away from drinking and enjoying parties for a long, long time. Instead, I just loved hanging out with my friends, playing games or watching rented movies til the sun came up.
My love life eventually blossomed up, but to be honest it was rarely hit, mostly miss for quite some time. What I didn’t know back then was the fact that my whole perspective had been influenced big time. It was an influence I had never thought of until Sarkeesian’s videos made me aware of a year or two ago. I didn’t realize it during my teenage years, but movies, games even more so, had taught me that winning over a girl was equal to solving a problem, to winning a competition, or to winning a difficult game on the hardest difficulty.
See, and this is important, any rejection I experienced I registered as having failed, personally. I always felt that the negative outcome was my own fault. Any time a girl didn’t return my interest, I thought I had done something wrong. That I had been too direct, or too passive. That I had simply said the wrong things, similar to failing at clicking the right dialogue options in a point & click adventure. To sum it up: I thought I had lost something that a better me could have won.
I literarily tried out lots of different approaches, because I wanted that sacred prize of being loved, of getting physical with a girl, of being one of those proud guys who had a girlfriend. Of course I saw having a partner as an important aspect of maturity as well. Not having one meant not leveling up. It might sound stupid, and teenage me didn’t think in those terms, but technically I wanted so hard to gain those experience points. Those skills. Those new levels. Today I know that it had felt like failing at a game.
Important note: I never became neither aggressive nor whiny about any of the rejections I experienced, I never felt entitled. But I simply couldn’t understand. I endlessly scratched my head over it. I had followed everything I had learned about winning girls and still most of the time that “walkthrough” didn’t work out. Most of the time I didn’t even think about her personality. If she was hot and seemed open to fool around with, she was an attainable goal. One I fought for. I never once thought about what kind of girl I actually would wanna hang out and have a great time with. I never once thought about the fact that I myself rejected girls all the time; to me, they were invisible. It never occurred to asshole me that girls who rejected me felt the same about me. Or that it was actually fine the way it was, because of the massive differences in interests, friends and goals in general. Even if I had landed the most beautiful girl of the class, what would I have done with her? Go heavy drinking and dancing on the weekends? Hang out in malls? She would never have been into watching Die Hard With A Vengeance or playing Day of the Tentacle.
I mean, I luckily overcame all of that and eventually turned into a “normal” respectful, understanding human being, but back then I only had my own single-minded perspective. What Sarkeesian brought to my mind in my later years is the notion that my teenage behaviour and mind might actually have been highly influenced by video games. I had played tons of games in which the hero got a girl’s appreciation as a prize, or in which girls were irrelevant NPC’s. Today, I wish I could go back in time and explain to my stupid horny younger self that it doesn’t work that way. That girls aren’t winnable challenges. That it is way simpler than that: some are into you, and your looks, hobbies, and quirks, well, some are not. And those who are not can’t just be convinced otherwise. That’s not how any of that works, and it’s pointless.
Of course you should note that from 13-17 years of age, I had zero self-confidence. I had no caring father figure, no older brother or experienced friends friendly slapping me out of my stupidity, and in my small circle of shy friends I was the most confident of them already. Back then, I thought for weeks about the possible meaning of short moments of dialogue or even exchanged looks between me and a girl, and to me it was a huge, huge thing. In reality though, girls like classmate Anya had most certainly already had sex multiple times by that time, maybe even experimented with their lesbian side, or even had full-on threesomes while on drugs. And there I was at home, playing the original Diablo for hours, listening to Nirvana, thinking about how to precisely adjust my strategy to ask her out to see Twister with me. What a stupid, stupid idiot I had been. Today, I remember all of that and laugh about it, but more importantly I actually understand the influence media had on me. That doesn’t mean that all of Sarkeesian’s work is correct, but she might have an important point.
What do you think? Did you experience similar things?
Do you think that today’s teenagers are still getting influenced like that?
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