An open letter to Senator Tom Coburn

The following remarks are entirely those of Alex, and not the views of the MADE. The MADE is a non-political organization. As a personal opinion, things might get ugly, but remember, this is entirely a personal opinion.

Tom Coburn doesn’t think videogames are worth saving from the dustbin of history. He issued this report targeting what he called the biggest wastes of taxpayer money in 2011, and on that list was a +$100,000 grant to the Strong Museum of Play for the preservation of gaming history. Coburn wrote: “Video games, robot dragons, Christmas trees, and magic museums. This is not a Christmas wish list, these are just some of the ways the federal government spent your tax dollars.”

So, to you, senator Coburn, I pose this question: What is culture? Is it something you can define? Can you draw a line in the sand and say “nothing beyond this line is cutlurally significant?” I suppose your response would be “Yes,” as you have some very strong beliefs about what is and is not an appropriate representation of our culture. It’s pretty obvious you draw the line for cultural and artistic works in a harshly narrow space.

For example, Schindler’s List is clearly not art or culturally relavent in your eyes. After all, you did say, in 1997, that airing the film on NBC unedited brought television “to an all-time low, with full-frontal nudity, violence and profanity.” He also criticized Oscar Schindler’s “…irresponsible sexual behavior…I cringe when I realize that there were children all across this nation watching this program.”

Clearly it’s an egregious breach of moral and ethical lines to show images of old, naked Jewish people being herded toward their doom, eh Senator Coburn? Those 6 million people that died for no good reason had better do it quietly and away from our television sets. After all, there are more important televisions shows to watch, like Fox News, right?

I suppose it’s understandable that a man as backward as Senator Coburn wouldn’t “get” videogames. They’re an interactive medium, one that requires thinking for one’s self and making decisions, rather than simply parroting the nonsensical ramblings of the racist, bigoted, homophobics who clearly make up his voting base. Why else would Coburn have said the following“The gay community has infiltrated the very centers of power in every area across this country, and they wield extreme power… That agenda is the greatest threat to our freedom that we face today. Why do you think we see the rationalization for abortion and multiple sexual partners? That’s a gay agenda.” 

But what can we expect from an OB-gyn in the Senate that is anti-abortion? Abortion is clearly wrong in Corbun’s eyes, but sterilizing a woman against her will is entirely fair game. Coburn did that in 1990

Coburn is not an entirely repugnant figure. He does have a ruthless dedication to cutting spending in Washington. But perhaps his efforts would be better spent tracking down million dollar boon doggles, rather than quibbling over the only federal grant in existence dedicated to videogames. That +$100,000 grant is powerfully helpful in a field that has been almost entirely overlooked by the artistic communities of our nation. Japan certainly has no problem recognizing the artistic importance of video games. Indeed, Shigeru Miyamoto, the creator of Mario and Zelda, is considered a living national treasure to the nation of Japan.

Video games aren’t just about giant robots, Senator. They are the primary communicative media of our time, and will be the voice of an entire generation in about two to three years. We’ve been spending federal dollars to preserve and study works of art across all of the popular mediums, and our country is only the richer for it. The Smithsonian has oodles of television history on display, and is currently preparing a video game exhibition of its own.

Video game preservation needs far more funding that it currently has. Federal dollars were spent to preserve such trivialities as Archie Bunker’s chair, and Jerry Seinfeld’s “Puffy Shirt.”

The video game is a 100% American created art form, Senator. The first video games were invented here in the United States, and our country continues to be the most prolific source of video games in the entire world. These are new-world jobs, and ones that are powering an entirely information-centric revolution within our markets. Thousands of Americans profit from the creation of video games, and millions more enjoy playing them every day. If your view is so myopic as to wish an entirely American pass-time and cultural movement be forgotten to the dustbins of history, then we can add the epitaph “un-patriotic” to your long list of egregious credentials. 

Perhaps if you spent more time learning about topics you do not understand and less time persecuting anything your devinely holy judgement cannot comprehend, your career in our federal government would not be so heavily tinged with intollerance and irrational hatred of that which you do not understand..

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