As I swung the wrench at a defenceless man’s kneecaps, I winced at the graphic scene that is unfurling before my eyes. But I didn’t dare look away. The torture was unrelenting, pulling out teeth, electrocution and even water boarding. To say it is uncomfortable to watch is an understatement, I was deathly silent throughout as I was made to perform these inhumane atrocities. That is precisely why Grand Theft Auto V deserves it’s adulation as a masterpiece.
The scene is enthralling, not only do you witness the monstrosities, you’re part of them. In the same way a piece of Cinema affects you, GTA can make you laugh as much as it can horrify you. That scene in particular makes you feel a little sick, just like it should. It fully warrants its seven world records and rave reviews, it’s about as close to perfect as you can get.Not everyone agrees with the widespread praise for GTA. James Delingpole of the highly moral Daily Mail stated: “The fact that this is the most popular computer game on the market should make us all shudder.” Of course GTA is ultra-violent, by its very nature that was always going to be the case, but should its success indeed worry us?
For anybody who hasn’t played the game, GTA V follows the lives of three protagonists, Michael, Trevor and Franklin. Michael De Santa is a semi-retired gangster who has a short fuse and spends a lot of his time trying to patch things up with his wandering wife and degenerate children. Franklin Clinton is a black man desperate to make a better life for himself and get out of the Ghetto. Finally, Trevor Phillips is a socio-path who has a violent temperament and a rather insatiable blood-lust. All three characters commit robberies and murders with seemingly little remorse.
However it’s only when playing the main storyline that these three characters develop and in turn you develop with the characters. You feel for them, you understand them. Michael desperately wants to get out of the game, desperately wants to have a normal life with his family. Franklin constantly bemoans his orders and performs assassinations only for the promise of a life outside the ghetto. Trevor is a revolting human being, deranged and violent, but very vulnerable from the abuse he suffered as a boy.
Grand Theft Auto doesn’t pretend to be anything it isn’t. It’s success stems from the incredible world that sucks you in. It’s an awe inspiring parody of American life and the evils that corrupt it from within. It caricatures capitalism, consumerism and blame culture with dark acid wit, whilst making every part of its world as believable as our own.
Like all works of art, it has its flaws. It doesn’t quite exaggerate misogyny and sexism enough to justify the use of women within the game. Prostitutes and strippers make frequent appearances, but no female characters encountered in the game are strong and meaningful. Women to an extent are seen as disposable and weak, the one part of the game that Rockstar fails to apply its cutting criticisms.So what about Delingpole telling us to “pray that the violence on the screen doesn’t bleed into Britain’s streets” then? Well I too hope this video game doesn’t cause another period of riots amongst our youth like the ones seen in the summer of 2011, fingers crossed. Wait, they were caused by mass unemployment and an out of touch Conservative led government enraging our youth. My Bad. GTA V is a game, a bloody good game at that. Please, just enjoy it.