'Bioshock: Infinite' Review: What Can It Teach Conservatives About Racism?
It was news to me when I heard from a friend and author of this excellent piece that there was some worry on the American right that Bioshock: Infinite was anti-conservative. From what I had read about the plot I found this to be an odd conclusion and contrary to logic.
Of course, under my nom de’ musique Marty Dodge, I write game reviews. I was beginning my trek to the wonderous world of the flying city Columbia, the setting of Bioshock: Infinite, not soon after I read the piece. The Blaze article rang in my head during some of the more galling parts of the plot reveals. And then it hit me: I had heard some of the words of the game's antagonist Father Comstock, said in a web video about a Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) panel gone wrong last month.
You see Columbia's citizens and "Prophet Comstock" are neo-confederates who broke away from the US into the clouds to get away from post-Civil War Reconstruction America. They wanted to keep the old ways where blacks were non-citizens meant to serve their white masters. They believed their Prophet had led them away from "sodom" of America below.
Lets remind ourselves that at CPAC, a Southern white man (one of a pair) at an event on race wondered aloud why Frederick Douglas would have to forgive his slave masters when they "gave him food and shelter." Don’t believe me? Go watch this video and see it with your own eyes.
In one of the many short videos (done in the style of movie newsreels) in the game, Comstock makes exactly the same argument in defense of slavery and Columbia's treatment of its black population. There are posters and murals that suggest the idea. In fact, there is a scene where Booker DeWitt, the player's character, walks past two blacks chatting normally while they go about their work only to revert back to stereotypical "slave" talk the minute they see a white face. That is the fear under which they live.
In fact, the release of Bioshock: Infinite could not have come at a better time for the politically aware, as "neo-confederates" were still in the politicos' mindset from the "incident" at CPAC. The outburst got quite a bit of press, including a segment on Jon Stewart’s hugely popular Daily Show, as well as being featured prominently all over social media. There may even be conspiracists who believe, as someone always does, that the person in the video above was a "plant" to cause a ruckus about the subject in the lead-up to the release of the game.
Abraham Lincoln, the U.S. President during the civil war, is vilified, and his assassin John Wilkes Booth gets a statue in tribute in the city of Columbia. And yes, there are those that consider Lincoln to be a traitor and an evil man in real life as well. Take this post by a writer from SouthernCaucus.org, which declares "Abraham Lincoln should without a doubt be named America’s greatest war criminal."
I hope many conservatives and libertarians play Bioshock: Infinite on their platform of choice (PC is best to see Columbia in all its "glory") and remind themselves of the odious views of neo-confederates. Then they need to prevent the real life slavery-defending types who spew this ludicrous line of reasoning from sullying their discussions on race, lest they be linked to them forevermore.
No, Bioshock: Infinite is not anti-conservative, anti-Republican, or anti-Tea Party. It is quite rightly a story whose main villan is a racist neo-confederate who believes slavery was a good Godly thing that we should go back to. You are tasked to end his tyranny by all means necessary. How on earth a game with such a plot be a bad thing?