The article following contains adult language.
A crowded sidewalk in New York City, and you’ve got a loaded revolver in your jacket pocket. Nobody notices you — you may as well be invisible — but that’s only fair. You don’t really notice them either. You only notice the cop across the street, looking like a true blue watch dog, protecting the endless parade of sheep. Your hands are sweaty. You grip the handle tightly, fondling the hammer with your thumb.
Your eye is picking out plenty of targets for social justice, finally settling on a prize asshole: a yuppie whining to his little blinking earpiece while waiting for a cab. Entitled little prick with the whole world in the palm of his hand. You’ve got something in your hand too, and it’s going to turn his upside down. Hesitation builds. There’s a lump in your throat. You swallow it.
You take a step toward him. The adrenaline surges to your head, and suddenly you’re fearless. You’re pushing past the people, you’re drawing the pistol, you put it against his head — you’re running down an alley with a smoking gun in your hand. It’s time to run. On second thought, it’s time to stay. The whole world is against you now, but you’re not finished yet: you duck behind a dumpster and turn. The sheep are running wild, but the dog is coming for you. Let them come.
You drop the cop before he even has a chance to see which way the panicked crowd is pointing. Next thing you’re out, same way you came in. You’re standing on top of him. Everyone is trampling each other, cars are screeching and smashing in the confusion. In the eye of this tornado, you are free to pick up his gun, his taser, and his baton. Between all the noise you can hear the backup over his little radio. When they find him… Well, they’ll send all the heat of hell, you suppose.
Ten feet from you, some dumb teenage girl in a sports car makes eye contact with you. Suddenly she can’t look away. You run toward her and she bolts for it, as you hoped. The car is yours now, but all you can think of is your chances of survival, dropping with every passing second. It makes you feel more alive than you could have ever imagined. The car is still running, which means this is where things get interesting…
A GIANT PURPLE DILDO SMACKS YOU IN THE FACE.
A man with a jetpack, who, besides this contraption on his back, is as naked as the day he was born, has landed on the hood of the car. While you’re dizzy from the blow, he urinates on it and takes off into the air again, somehow setting it on fire. You watch as he soars up above the buildings, shitting grenades on the intersection, literally. They detonate one after another, sending feces and shrapnel everywhere.
Somehow, you find this extremely boring.
You are now the guy in the jetpack. You’re all out of shit grenades, though, which were specially created by that time when you swallowed a bunch of regular grenades, which means you’ll need to get some new weaponry, or improvise. No worries, you simply hit a button on your jetpack and it converts into a powerful Sperm-Thrower™. (The jetpack was fuelled by your own stored up semen, but now you redirect the fuel through its enormous phallus-shaped pump-action nozzle, which is actually purple. Genius.)
You plummet 40 feet to the ground, landing on the hood of one of the cops’ armored assault vans. You’re not hurt though — you never really are. They were coming for that super lame gunman who killed the yuppie and the officer, but you can make use of this situation too. You pump until the ground is covered and slick, and the van smashes into oncoming traffic. As the guards file out of the vehicle in confusion, you kill all of them with sperm, and crush one of the struggling ones with the deadly dildo nozzle. As you laugh with great pleasure to yourself, you begin to charge up a Fartsplosion™ that will surely rock the block, so-to-speak. You look around at the devastation with a cocky grin, and notice that not a single person is impressed by any of this. They just carry on with their business as usual.
When you finally release the ass blast, it hurtles the already-overturned and feces-covered cars from you, creating a wave of destruction that kills everyone in a fifty meter radius, and go flying up to a police helicopter that just arrived on the scene. “Shouldn’t have had those burritos for breakfast I guess!” you cleverly shout to yourself as you grab the spinning rotor blades with your bare hands. Nobody laughs at the one-liner. You whirl faster than you can concentrate, and then let go…
As you fly through the humid atmosphere, you close your eyes and let the rush of wind on your naked body cleanse your mind, you finally feel the kind of freedom you always dreamed of. Your landing — into a large swimming pool full of naked supermodels, of course — wakes you from your peaceful daydreaming with a splash.
YOU CLIMB OUT OF THE POOL AND PROCEED TO SPRAY ALL OF THEM WITH YOUR PURPLE SPERM-THROWER™ AND THEY ALL GET PREGNANT and start getting fat and having contractions within a matter of seconds, because the seed is some kind of scientifically enhanced sperm.
Wow! That was unexpected! Feeling you can’t waste this golden opportunity, you decide to really show off your freedom by running up to each of the models and killing them in comical, yet lackadaisical ways. “Saves money on the abortions!” you say as you suplex one of them into an over-sized barbeque.
Nobody is shocked by this. In fact, nobody has been shocked by anything you’ve done. They all just stand there and wait for you to kill them, one after the other. They don’t scream, say anything, or even look like they notice. The police don’t seem to be on your trail either. You have the kind of freedom most criminals can only fantasize about: the kind where you can do anything you want and nobody tries to stop you. So cool.
Finally, for your pièce de résistance, you walk into the street and magically manifest your secret weapon: A special remote-controlled ICBM that will annihilate half of the city and — hilariously — drown it entirely in the putrid rotting corpses of all the victims you killed in the previous city. “This is going to go down in history,” you think to yourself.
You switch on the device. This is it… You’re steering the missile from space, all the way to the target. You watch as it hits the city, sending a mushroom cloud of death and blood a hundred miles into the sky. It’s the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen: the ultimate expression of your unstoppable power and ego. Even where you are, the ground shakes and cracks from the impact.
And, as usual, nobody around you seems to care at all…
Welcome to Saints Row: The Third‘s Exclusive New York City Expansion Pack: “The Big Shit Apple”!
Pretty great idea for an expansion, huh? I was inspired by this game demonstration:
What do you think? Are my ideas for the expansion pack plausible? I don’t think I went nearly far enough, to be honest. I guess that’s why they make the big bucks!
Let’s have a few bullet points before I try to steer this moronic article into something resembling an intellectual argument:
- Freedom is only as exciting as the forces trying to control you are powerful
- Rebellion is only as cool as the as the system you are defying is influential
- Shock value is only as shocking as the decency that surrounds it
- Flying is only cool because gravity pulls heavy things down
After watching the demo, I see that even in the game world, nobody is shocked by your insanity, no matter how “extreme” or “ridiculous” it may be. And when nobody around you cares, it defeats the purpose. A single gun shot can feel huge and powerful when you handle it with the proper gravity and make it consequential, but when anything goes and it all feels so lighthearted, you may as well be shooting at a target range. If an ICBM falls on a city and nobody cares, does it still make a sound?
I also realize that there’s something extremely boring about power without restraint. It is not power, but ambition, which is so attractive to us. What fun would playing god be if there was no devil trying to stop you? Or more accurately, what fun would being the devil be if you didn’t have a god to rebel against and overcome? Ambition is the key.
I know I’m not the only one who feels like the above video is embarrassing and flaccid. Perhaps it’s only appropriate that none of the citizens in the game seem to be shocked or scared by the ludicrous behavior in Saints Row: The Third, because neither is the audience. The Internet has ensured that nothing is sacred, everything’s been said and done before, and no matter how hard an entertainment company tries to challenge the conventions of polite society, we’ll already know that the Japanese are three steps ahead.
A real comedian knows that making people laugh is about surprising them, and that surprising people means you have to keep people guessing. Saints Row proves that if you raise the bar to the top, you have nowhere to go — hence, being “over-the-top” is as high as you can go. People become easily accustomed to “shock”, especially in our post-modern culture, to the point where a man trying to offend people is practically a joke in itself. Saints Row: The Third features the kind of antics that would have lit the world on fire with controversy if it was 1911, not 2011.
Duke Nukem is in the same boat:
Action, horror, comedies… they’re all suffering from desensitization and self-awareness today. That’s why artists like the Coen brothers (Raising Arizona, The Big Labowski, O Brother, Where Art Thou?, No Country For Old Men, etc.) are so consistently appealing: they know how to keep people guessing, always contrasting innocence and quietness with intensity and depravity, and telling stories without having to wink at the audience all the time. The law of contrast means that black doesn’t feel black unless it’s next to white — and the more light there is, the more dark that black is going to seem. Videogames like Duke Nukem Forever and Saints Row: The Third are too afraid to include genuine, decent moral themes and characters because they think it’s going to spoil the party; little do they realize that parties tend get old pretty fast, and it’s only the monotonous work week that makes it interesting for the little stretch that it is.
Finally, let me say that I realize these games, like so much feel-good trash in pop culture, is squarely aimed at the type of idiots who have terrible judgment to begin with, and are happy to endure any amount of terrible experiences as long as they can laugh about it with their other dumb friends. However, I also know that the general level of cultural-awareness today is becoming higher and higher, to the point where even idiots aren’t falling for (what one may call) “meta-exploitation”.
I’ll finish with a poster for this movie, which I just remembered is probably the best example of corporations failing desperately to pander to meta-loving hipsters: