Not over the newly released Grand Theft Auto IV, I'll add. That's romper room stuff compared to the controversy sure to be generated by the just-announced Stalin Versus Martians.
Year 1942. Summer. The martians suddenly drop off their butts somewhere in Siberia and attack the glorious people of Holy Mother Russia. It is a hard time for USSR as you might know from the history books if you ever attended school. The situation is really fucked up, so comrade Stalin takes the anti-ET military operation under his personal control. The operation is a top secret and virtually nobody knows about the fact of extraterrestial intervention.
Well, that's it. Under the Stalin's command we must take control over Red Army forces and kick some alien ass.
Yeah, old Joseph Vissarionovich is the hero this time, and he's about to show those Martians the same can of kickass he opened on millions of Ukrainians, Chechens, Kulaks and Trotskyites!
The developers, Russians themselves, take a light-hearted attitude toward their subject, as shown in the game's FAQ:
Vopros: Stalin was a terrible tyrant with bloodstained hands. How can you make such a game around that?
Otvet: We can talk for hours about Stalin and all the controversies that surround him. We're Russians and we possibly know the subject better than you. But all this talk doesn't make any sense, you know, at all. Accept Stalin vs. Martians as a montypythonesque humor or get the fuck out of here.
There is a thread going on in our forum right now concerning Grand Theft Auto IV, and why some people find its visceral gameplay, set in something resembling the real world, offfensive, disturbing, or just not fun, where these same folks might enjoy an equally well presented and equally violent game set in, say, ancient Rome or the fantasy kingdom of Azeroth, or they might enjoy a violent and realistic movie such as Goodfellas.
A game like Stalin Versus Martians, to me, raises some of the same questions represented by that distinction, as well as by black comedies such as The Producers or certain Monty Python skits involving Hitler and the Nazis. A game like this skirts a fine line. Its subject, who was probably responsible for more deaths than the Nazis, is every bit as dangerous a topic for comedy as Hitler to anyone who has read of and appreciates the enormity of Stalin's crimes. I have no doubt that the makers of a game called Hitler Versus Martians would bring Abraham Foxman, as well as Jack Thompson, down upon their heads in record time.
And yet there remains the possibility that this will be a fun, even funny game to play. In fact it had better be funny in a blackly humorous way if it's to succeed, because whatever the game's designers may believe (and they don't know the subject as well as they think), the ghosts of tens of millions of Soviet dead can attest that Stalin isn't a humorous subject.
Stalin Versus Martians is expected to release this fall. We'll be following the development of this one closely if it warrants.
Last 5 posts by Patrick Non-White
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