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Stan Lee: The Real Captain America

By ArickStall

This is a follow-up to my last blog, Game Over for Gamers. In it, I claimed there is an attack on the video game industry by the state of California. I found today’s blog post befitting for Constitution Day as well.

Stan Lee has openly claimed that video games face the same threat as comic books did in the 1950’s. Stan Lee, who some of you know as co-creator of such Marvel creations as Spiderman and Iron Man, has been deeply involved in the comic book industry for several decades. He has also been the creator of multiple villians.

But ask the pop-culture hero to name his fiercest foe, and he’ll quickly point to those who attempt to hinder the right to free expression as protected under the First Amendment. In his youth, that meant defending his beloved comics from those who wished to see them strictly regulated.

The idea that video games may contribute to violence is comparable to comic books contributing to juvenile delinquency years ago. Lee’s open letter to the Video Game Voters Network (or VGVN for short) will be a supplemental letter for the oral arguments to be heard in early November in the U.S. Supreme Court. In the letter, Lee points out:

Comic books, it was said, contributed to “juvenile delinquency.” A Senate subcommittee investigated and decided the U.S. could not “afford the calculated risk involved in feeding its children, through comic books, a concentrated diet of crime, horror and violence.” Comic books were burned. The State of Washington made it a crime to sell comic books without a license. And Los Angeles passed a law that said it was a crime to sell “crime comic books.” Looking back, the outcry was – forgive the expression – comical.

While the comic book industry itself has been through rough times, it has recently made strides in a different field: film. And with comics on the big screen now, imagine the consequences of disbanding comic book heroes decades ago. We would no longer enjoy the action-packed “hero” genre films of today. Additionally, video games have now entered the big screen arena, and if games are discontinued, so will be all affiliated entertainment.

Lee continues:

…politicians will keep looking for ways to restrict the rights of gamers and computer and video game artists because it makes for good headlines to say they’re “protecting the children,” even if they’re doing no such thing. They do so despite the fact that the industry has a remarkable rating system in place already and all new consoles have parental controls – both of which help parents ensure parents are in control of what their children play.

Lee acknowledged that there is a rating system already in place. This law merely chips away more freedom and creativity in the industry. As mentioned in August, arguments will be heard regarding the California law in the Supreme Court in early November, but most political junkies will be tuned in to the midterm elections most likely. Just a reminder of the law being identified:

The law, which was signed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2005, was previously thrown out by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, who ruled it unconstitutional. On November 2, the Supreme Court will begin the process of making a final ruling.

Lee contends that “if you restrict sales of video games, you’re chipping away at our First Amendment rights to free speech and opening the door to restrictions on books and movies.”

I believe that if video games begin to be stripped of full creative control, there is nothing to stop movies and books from getting the same treatment. What are your thoughts?

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