A grumpy old man says the male sex should put down the controller and get a job.
Gaming has been blamed for many things over the years - violence in schools, decreased attention span, and a low sperm count - but no one ever claimed that videogames were the cause of the decline of an entire sex. Until now, that is. William Bennett is a conservative author who once held the position of "Drug Czar" under George H. W. Bush. In addition to hating gay marriage and proposing to abort all African-American babies, Bennett penned an op-ed for CNN that laments the current crop of men in American society. Bennett thinks it is a shame that women hold more college degrees than men and that their salaries are growing much faster than men. His solution is for men to "man up" and to stop playing so many dang videogames.
"For the first time in history, women are better educated, more ambitious and arguably more successful than men," writes Bennett. "Man's response has been pathetic. Today, 18-to- 34-year-old men spend more time playing video games a day than 12-to- 17-year-old boys."
Bennett believes that young males have been receiving mixed messages from media and that has them confused about how to be a man. "Increasingly, the messages to boys about what it means to be a man are confusing. The machismo of the street gang calls out with a swagger. Videogames, television and music offer dubious lessons to boys who have been abandoned by their fathers," he says. "We need to respond to this culture that sends confusing signals to young men, a culture that is agnostic about what it wants men to be, with a clear and achievable notion of manhood."
I can follow Bennett's logic only so far, because he follows that up by imploring young men to accept their responsibility to stop enjoying life. "We may need to say to a number of our twenty-something men, 'Get off the video games five hours a day, get yourself together, get a challenging job and get married,'" says Bennett.
Full disclosure: I am a man who has a wife, a family and I play videogames a lot. What do you have to say to me, Mr. Bennett? Have I not "manned up" enough for you?
Even if you agree with his general sentiment for our youth to accept responsibility - which I do to a certain extent - throwing videogames into the mix as an obvious evil that must stopped if you are to grow up is just plain wrong. Why doesn't Bennett mention his excessive gambling problem and how he had to take responsibility for ending that destructive practice? Why wouldn't Bennett implore young people to achieve without eschewing an activity that many enjoy? It would be just as offensive if Bennett told people to get off the couch on Sunday and get a job instead of watching football, eating chili nachos and drinking an entire 18-pack of Coors Light.
Which, let's face it, most Americans should probably stop doing.