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You be the judge: Indiana Jones, shades of grey, and twitter

Jeff Warrender
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Twitter is (justifiably) in the news now for its decision to lock the accounts of users (some of whom were quite high profile) who shared links to a story in the NY Post, and for deleting tweets that linked to that story, including the Post's own link. But Twitter the cultural phenomenon is interesting as a bellwether of our time, and perhaps the best metaphor twitter provides us with for the increasing polarization and intellectual stove-piping we engage in is with the block feature.

In a way this gives you the whip hand in every engagement: someone says something you don't like, you can just block them, and never hear from them again, nor can they ever hear from you. Now surely there are people that you just know you never want to hear from again, so, it's easier to to block them then to ignore them every time someone quotes them or replies to them. On the other hand, the "mute" feature also exists and has a similar effect, so using block is, in a way, a more aggressive act.

So for a bit of Saturday frivolity, I will allow you, the audience, to play Twitter jury. Late one night, someone (who might have been Seth), opined that he liked Last Crusade better than Raiders. Someone else (whose identity doesn't matter) said they like Temple of Doom better than either. The first someone made a joke about Kate Capshaw's ridiculous performance in ToD. The second someone said that criticizing a female character in the IJ canon was a bad look, because of the fact that Marion is pretty much implied to have been about 15 when she and Indy were romantically involved in the events referenced in Raiders. And that someone linked to this article:

It is a real doozy, and it seems to me to be a huge exercise in missing the point. Unable to let things go as I sometimes am, I took to Twitter to opine:

Yikes, the only thing I’d cite that article for is as evidence that the world is not bereft of people who invest quite a bit of energy into being poopypantses. “Indy doesn’t publish enough”, seriously?

I think Indy is quite clearly drawn in shades of grey, a contrast to Star Wars’ characters who are all white hat/black hat. I suspect this is why Ford liked playing Indy more than Han; Han is a fun character for the audience, but he’s not very interesting, ie not very three dimensional.
As a result of this, the second user, the one who linked to the article, blocked me. No great loss, it wasn't someone I follow, and maybe it wasn't nice of me to imply that by liking the article this person was themself a bit of a poopypants.

But I think there's a connection here to the kinds of questions we and others are grappling with about games with morally questionable themes: capitalism, colonialism, and so on. We talked a bit about Dan's very nice review of The Cost and the way it threads a tough needle: it is, he says, an honest look at a morally problematic industry, and yet it's also quite fun to play. The implication of this silly article would seem to be that if Indy has blemishes on his character, we should think badly of him as a film character and either shouldn't enjoy the films or shouldn't root for Indy. By extension, if an entity in our game's world has bad things associated with it, we shouldn't play such a game at all, or certainly we should feel like sewer refuse if we enjoy ourselves even the slightest bit while playing.


To me, this gives too little credit to humans, and the ability that we (some of us, anyway), possess to hold things in tension. You can watch Raiders, think that Indy's conduct toward Marion ten years prior to the film is reprehensible, can think that looting the temple of the Chachopoyan Warriors is ethically questionable, can think that Belloq has a point that Indy wants to see the ark opened just as much as he (Belloq) does (which point Indy confirms by lowering the bazooka), and still find the film to be entertaining. People are rarely all good or all bad, and a film forcing you to grapple with a protagonist's flaws and faults in tension against their virtues and triumphs, is part of what good entertainment can do: it makes you think.

And incidentally, this is part of what I like so much about the hubris system in Lost Adventures, that it allows for these sorts of gradations -- admittedly in an abstract way -- in 'shades of grey'; who wants the grail most and is willing to (abstractly) engage in the most hubristic conduct in the pursuit of it? All of us will emerge from the story with some black marks on our character (well, green actually), but also some acts of altruism; will the good outweigh the bad or will our hubris make us unworthy and doom us to a painful and untimely death?

Anyway, maybe I'm way off base here, in which case, you may have to block me on Twitter or here at BGG!
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