11 May, 2011

My RPGs, Right-wing or Wrong

Last week I posted an account of our first game of The Price of Freedom (played in Oct ’10), I had intended to present some of the vehicles and minis I’ve amassed in a sort of Victory Day Parade homage, but the last few days have been rather hectic.  I have a new son – arrived one month early but healthy and cute.  Additionally my wife, daughter and I all have a strange flu-like cold, making any activity, beyond sleeping and watching Top Gear, rather strenuous.  Instead of the show of military force… I present a few thoughts about the ridiculous conservative crap my group found in The Price of Freedom.
To start with, in the game books are little asides, text boxes topped with Federal eagles.  In one is the quote:
“My Country, Right or Wrong.”
A long-time favorite bumper sticker of arch-conservatives, such as these douchebags:
What was wrong, Alex.
There is the small fact that the quote is taken completely out of context. I know, shocking, right?  For the record – here is the complete quote:
I confidently trust that the American people will prove themselves … too wise not to detect the false pride or the dangerous ambitions or the selfish schemes which so often hide themselves under that deceptive cry of mock patriotism: ‘Our country, right or wrong!’ They will not fail to recognize that our dignity, our free institutions and the peace and welfare of this and coming generations of Americans will be secure only as we cling to the watchword of true patriotism: ‘Our country—when right to be kept right; when wrong to be put right.’
Carl Schurz, “The Policy of Imperialism,” Speeches, 
Correspondence and Political Papers of Carl Schurz,
  vol. 6, pp. 119–20 (1913)

It is not surprising that conservatives have taken the wise words of a liberal and completely twisted them to suit their base purposes.  This is what keeps Jon Stewart in business.
My gaming group is a bunch of commie, pinko, tree-hugging, liberal fags.  Several of us are militant, commie, pinko, tree-hugging. liberal, fags – that’s why we love action movies like Red Dawn, and war-based RPGs.  That said, The Price of Freedom contains probably the most ridiculous setup for WWIII put to print.  That includes John “I ain’t calling him ‘sir’” Hackett’s The Third World War.
I read a lot of WWIII fiction.  The Third World War, The Third World War: The Untold Story, Red Storm Rising, Team Yankee, Cold War Hot, First Clash, Kibun wa mou Sensou manga, Bomb Comic’s World War III manga, and Red Army.  Of all of these Red Army is my favorite.  All WWIII fiction tends toward “Carter was a pussy / Reagan was a badass.”  Hackett’s work is particularly critical of Carter, presenting a second Carter administration as the death knell for freedom.  Yet in these stories – despite the liberals’ treasonous cuts to military spending and research – we kick the USSR’s ass.  Red Army is different.  The Soviets win.  Now that is a lesson – “fear the USSR, because they can kick our ass unless we are prepared.”
TPoF reads like it was a pamphlet from the John Birch Society.  Those are the guys who said: “Could Eisenhower really be simply a smart politician, entirely without principles and hungry for glory, who is only the tool of the Communists? The answer is yes.”  I checked the box and the title pages of the game but I didn’t see their logo.
“Lets go kill some Russkies!”
Still In just passing out the characters, the intensely right-wing setting/writing furrowed eyebrows and caused eyes to roll.  Jordo’s near-fascist personality combined with being a blonde, blue-eyed German-American was noted upon as being particularly tasteless.  Interestingly the drawing of Jordo looks nothing like his description – much more like Ozzie Davis.
I read through the suggested campaign time-line with my players – where the American government (insinuated to be Democrat controlled) is lulled into signing START II, thereby allowing a belligerent USSR to achieve nuclear supremacy by developing a ballistic missile shield.  Murphy the (most likely Democrat – how many Irish Republicans are outside of the PIRA?) president surrenders and Soviet forces arrive to occupy the US.  Without wasting your time – it makes Red Dawn seem like a Noam Chomsky / Howard Zinn collaboration.  Oddly it is months after the occupation starts before the Second Amendment is abolished.  I’m a panty-waist liberal and I know I’d shoot me some Russians if they came marching down my street.
Um… nearly exterminate the human race.
Ironic how START I and START II ended up being signed by a Republican president.  And that Carter did a better job of keeping NASA funded vs. inflation than H.W. Bush did.  Indeed several of the [mis]steps in the time line are things that did come to pass under Republican administrations – without precipitating a Soviet invasion.  Huh… funny how that works out.  Historically it was Reagan’s anti-communist rhetoric that scared the Soviets and kept the Kremlin in the hands of the old guard.  This nearly had disastrous consequences in 1983 when the Able Archer exercises nearly resulted in a nuclear exchange.  The world was not saved by Reagan – it was saved by Podpolkovnik Stanislav Petrov who disobeyed orders to initiate a retaliatory strike.  Gorbachev is the architect of the downfall of the Soviet state, Reagan may have extended its life.  I recommend the BBC Documentary 1983: Brink of the Apocalypse and the ZDF film Der Dritte Weltkrieg, a counter-factual documentary highlighting the importance of Gorbachev.
The last page of the Player Book has an appeal entitled “A Note to Liberal Readers.”  As I said above, it suggests that the game is a parody of a Right-wing nightmare.  That is probably true – the various character profiles include socialists and liberals and athiests as the good guys.  Greg Costikyan’s website doesn’t read like that of a wing-nut… his Facebook page lists Andrew Coumo as a like and he does have a penchant for extremely off-color parody (Violence: The RPG of Egregious and Repulsive Bloodshed).  It seems clear that The Price of Freedom was written as a parody of the ridiculous fear-mongering and posturing of the conservatives in the 1970s and 1980s.  The problem is that with the rise of douche-nozzles like Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Dinesh D’Souza, Jerome Corsi, Ann Coulter and Michelle Malkin et al, what was once a ridiculous joke, now reads like a lead off story at Fox News.  The broad strokes of the plot are reasonable (for an RPG), the detail is crushingly paleoconservative – and like the Colbert Report proves, the Right-wing nuts don’t get parody.  They revel in the message – oblivious to the sardonic undertones.  Given the daily barrage of crap from real-life conservatives – my group and I don’t want it in our escapism.  Christ, the symbol of the resistance in TPoF is the Gadsden Flag – forever tainted by its appropriation by the Teabagger Party.
An image forever tainted
Anyway – the setting detail may be (a parody of) ignorant, wing-nut, bigoted, cracker crap, but the game mechanics are great!  Perhaps I just need to tweak it… change the timeline… add tough freedom fighter NPCs who are a married, biracial gay couple.  Things like that.  I am more tempted to use the Freedom Fighters video game setting, with everything going alternate because the Republicans kept us isolationist during WW2.

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