FLAPJACKS: Hey, log on to your internet. I want to show you something.
ME: Why do you never just use the internet at your house? Is it wolves again?
FLAPJACKS: Sadly, my house has become the primary conflict site for a very small but extremely intense ethnic conflict. If I surfed the net there, I might step on a landmine. You wouldn’t want that on your conscience, right? Think of what Sally Struthers would say.
ME: Sally Struthers?
FLAPJACKS: Isn’t she the one who hates landmines?
ME: Well, I’m sure she’s probably strongly anti-landmine, but I think she’s known for campaigning against hunger.
FLAPJACKS: Well, you can’t eat landmines, so I’m sure she’s with me on this.
ME: On letting you use my internet.
FLAPJACKS: I know!
ME: I see Gerard Butler is still making bad career decisions.
FLAPJACKS: Excuse me, but I think we just saw the sleeper hit of 2009.
ME: What, are you serious? It is the latest “man in competitive reality show” type thing. So it’s a video game this time instead. So what?
FLAPJACKS: Ah, but this trailer debuted on XBox Live!
FLAPJACKS: So they are marketing themselves to their target audience intensely! And you know how they are doing that? By tapping into primordial desires.
ME: Primordial desires.
FLAPJACKS: You see, whenever a child plays Halo, what they are really doing is sublimating their desire to kill people.
ME: I’m pretty sure most psychologists would tell you that you are wrong. And probably also bad.
FLAPJACKS: Possibly, but so what?
ME: I don’t want Gabe and Tycho from Penny Arcade sending their goons over here.
FLAPJACKS: They have goons?
ME: It’s a recessionary economy. Goons are a dime a dozen now. I considered hiring a goon just yesterday but then realized I didn’t have anybody I needed roughed up.
FLAPJACKS: I thought only SomethingAwful had goons.
ME: No, they have Goons ™.
FLAPJACKS: I am always impressed by your ability to pronounce the trademark symbol.
FLAPJACKS: But what’s the difference between SomethingAwful goons tee-em and regular goons?
ME: It’s like the difference between Bayer brand aspirins and regular aspirins.
FLAPJACKS: Anyway, I’m sure they won’t send any goons, because I’m totally right about this. See, consider little Timmy playing on his XBox, killing people with Master Shake.
ME: Master Chief.
FLAPJACKS: I’m pretty sure you’re wrong about that. So Master Shake shoots a guy and then they hump his face. But it’s not enough! “Gosh,” thinks little Timmy, “it would be awesome if I could kill people for real, but have it be as easy as playing XBox.” See, little Timmy is, like most gamers, quick to realize his own physical limitations.
ME: Is little Timmy in fact giant big fat Timmy?
FLAPJACKS: Don’t play into people’s preconceptions of gamers!
ME: But they’re so often true.
FLAPJACKS: Whatever. Little Timmy is a paraplegic. His only joy in life comes from playing video games. Are you happy now? Little Timmy, stuck in his wheelchair forever, doomed to die one day of bed sores just like Christopher Reeve did. All he wants to do is blow somebody’s head off in a spray of pink mist and have it be for real, and then be able to tell his parents “LOOK, I’M DOING IT” as he stands up on unsteady legs, totters over to the corpse and humps it, but little Timmy can never do that so instead he has to imagine the last part. Why must you deny little Timmy that pleasure?
ME: Because it would be murder?
FLAPJACKS: Ah HA, but that is the genius of Gamer! In this movie, all the real people getting shot and killed are convicted criminals sentenced to die! So it is morally permissible to kill them, and then force the person you are controlling to hump the remnants of their face.
ME: You know, even in the United States, they really don’t hand out enough death sentences to justify the bodycount of a movie like this.
FLAPJACKS: I’m sure in the dystopic future there are plenty more people getting death sentences.
ME: But are they getting those sentences for crimes they in fact committed, or were they shoved into the justice system by corrupt enforcers looking for additional profit?
FLAPJACKS: Oh, come now. Michael C. Hall is the inventor of the game! Would Michael C. Hall play a character who was morally ambigious?
FLAPJACKS: Okay, maybe he would. Damn. Now I am all conflicted.
ME: How so?
FLAPJACKS: Because on the one hand I want to see Gerard Butler shoot shit up and hump people’s faces –
ME: What is with you and humping people’s faces?
FLAPJACKS: …it’s been a while.
FLAPJACKS: Anyway, but on the other hand, I don’t want to encourage outright murder! Except when I do. It’s complex. You have to take each murder into account separately, weigh and balance them, that sort of thing.
ME: What if you pretend that this is not Halo, but Gears of War instead, and instead of other people Gerard Butler is shooting horrible mutant things?
FLAPJACKS: That makes things much better!
ME: I thought it would.
Top comment: I can’t wait for the riveting, dramatic scene where Gerald Butler is going to die because the kid got his camera stuck in a corner. — NCallahan