It’s been lower than per week since a white nationalist murdered 22 folks and injured 24 extra at a Walmart in El Paso, however the retail chain has already taken decisive motion to hopefully forestall any future such tragedies. Vice studies that Walmart has begun eradicating all promoting for violent videogames from their shops, together with indicators, demos and some other form of promotions, as a result of, presumably, this overt racist who left behind a manifesto praising the bloodbath in Christchurch and repeating inventory white genocide nonsense most likely performed a Call of Duty recreation sooner or later in his life. Sure, Walmart will hold promoting weapons—the issues that truly kill folks, and that murderous racists just like the shooter in El Paso purchase particularly to kill folks—however at the least now no person innocently on the lookout for at all times low costs shall be enticed to homicide by the sight of a cardboard Master Chief standee.
This shouldn’t shock anyone. This has been the playbook of virtually each NRA-approved politician for at the least 20 years now. In the wake of the El Paso capturing Republicans like Texas Lieutenant Governor (and former right-wing speak radio host) Dan Patrick instantly tried to pin the blame on video games as a substitute of actual points like the straightforward accessibility of weapons, Trump’s encouragement of white nationalism and violence, or our nation’s poor remedy of psychological well being issues. This is all regardless of repeated research indicating there’s no direct hyperlink between videogames and real-world violence. And with the right-wing echo chamber prepared and prepared to repeat all of the anti-gun management propaganda they’ll presumably squeeze between adverts for weight reduction scams and dick drugs, it’s a provided that the Fox News-addled Boomers of America will line up for the anti-games marketing campaign.
The Walmart scenario presents such a stark and unambiguous window into the witless hypocrisy and scapegoatism that fuels this “blame anything but the guns” college of gun violence debate. In response to their very own clients and staff being brutally gunned down inside one among their shops, Walmart, the most important vendor of weapons in America, isn’t altering something about the way it sells weapons and ammo, however will cease operating adverts for Fortnite, a massively fashionable recreation that’s additionally performed in dozens of nations that don’t have something near the gun violence epidemic seen in America. This is a cynical try by Walmart to look accountable within the wake of the El Paso capturing, whereas nonetheless profiting off the gun trade and with out alienating the strand of contemporary conservatism that apparently believes gun possession is crucial a part of being an American. (Yes, Walmart stopped promoting assault rifles and semi-automatic weapons in 2015, however why the hell was an all-purpose, family-friendly low cost division retailer promoting AR-15s within the first place?)
I don’t actually like sticking up for “violent” videogames. The politics of most army shooters are completely horrible, and I’ve at all times most popular my gaming violence to be extra summary or comical than the semi-realism of a first-person shooter. I hate the aggro schoolyard nihilism of Grand Theft Auto and would slightly play Animal Crossing or sudoku than virtually any Call of Duty-style warfare recreation. But blaming video games for what occurred in El Paso is so asinine, and so insulting to all people’s intelligence, that it’s not possible to suppose anyone might ever accomplish that in good religion. Blaming video games for gun massacres—particularly ones dedicated by overt white nationalists who overtly reward different white nationalist mass murderers—is a clear try to alter the topic from the precise causes of our gun violence epidemic. By carrying water for the anti-games argument, and persevering with to promote weapons and ammo, Walmart proves that they actually don’t care about discovering an answer to this disaster. They’ll proceed to prioritize earnings over public security, paying lip service to the victims who tragically misplaced their lives in El Paso and on the different mass shootings occurring every single day throughout America, whereas serving to to confuse and contaminate the controversy over methods to repair this by blaming video games as a substitute of addressing the actual components.
It’s silly to count on Walmart to point out any form of accountability to the communities that they’ve systematically upended over the past 40 years, after all, or to the nation as a complete. This is similar firm that spent the ‘80s entering new towns, driving most competitors out of business, and then abandoned those locations in the ‘90s and ‘00s to build even larger stores right down the street. (If you want to find the Walmart in almost any small American town, find the abandoned, derelict Walmart from the ‘80s and just drive a few miles.) There’s no accountability in retail, at the least not with nationwide chains, irrespective of how a lot accountability they successfully annex for themselves by taking up a city’s retail economic system. Walmart is likely to be fading alongside the remainder of brick-and-mortar retail, however they’re nonetheless the dominant, one-stop retail store for thus many small cities, and they also nonetheless have a large accountability for doing what’s finest for these communities and an inordinate affect upon American tradition at giant. It’s not stunning to see one thing as institutionally irresponsible as Walmart shirk that accountability by furthering a marketing campaign towards violent videogames that exists solely to distract from the precise points, however hey, at the least it’s nonetheless disgusting.
Senior editor Garrett Martin writes about videogames, comedy, journey, theme parks, wrestling, and the rest that will get in his method. He’s on Twitter @grmartin.