GTA 6’s biggest problem isn’t living up to the hype, it’s the fact that parody is dead

“Grand Theft Auto is, in fact, a clever satire of the American Dream” is the kind of obvious statement that weary forgers like me used to make in the early 2000s to assert artistic merits. The art of a game in which you can get a prostitute to blow her trumpet to improve her health, then kill her to get her money back.

We felt inclined to defend video games as a medium at the time, as it always seemed precariously balanced on the cusp of mainstream acceptance, never completely overturning. (see: blowjobs, murder). Today, form no longer has anything to prove: its legitimacy is self-evident, and requires no intellectual grasp. But evidence of its unrefined, crude past still abounds – especially in its long abutments.

Grand Theft Auto so old that it carries its old jokes in the same way that Windows 11 got the MS-DOS command prompt. It’s a world where the stock market is called BAWSAQ; a kind of school joke that’s more likely to cause an admitted “hm” than a real laugh, and not quite a late-capitalist quirk. I’m not sure it even works outside Scotland.

But BAWSAQ and self-adventure prostitution persist as legacy markers in a game universe that, contrary to all expectations, has matured and perfected over the years as the world it was meant to mirror. darkness has turned into a parody of its own screams. This is a series that began with silent protagonists existing only as a means of conduction for the player agency, but has grown invested in its character arcs to the point where it embodies of the term “ludonarrative dissonance” – the term for a player’s actions that do not match the character’s motives.

For example: Niko Bellic of GTA 4: PTSD was a suffering child soldier during the Yugoslav War, in America in search of a better life. Hobby: waging a bloody one-man war against the LCPD for no apparent reason.

In addition, dissonance of argument is an overblown problem. The audience is smart enough to understand 9,000 different Spider-Mans running at the same time; people are more equipped to distinguish between the freedom of the player and the rigidity of the story. Existing somewhere in the space between them is something beautiful that only video games can do, and something innate to be understood by audiences who have never known a world that is not. have them.

What is not over-hyped is the existential problem faced by satirists of all kinds; that the real world is now absurd beyond parody. Armando Iannucci (another Scottish export company known for imitating the US as an astute outsider) had as much to say in 2016 when asked about the prospect of The Thick of It’s post-union revival: “Now I find the political landscape so strange and so horrible that it’s hard to match the wave of skepticism that it’s transmitted on its own.” For context, this has been said in the weeks before Brexit returns. a reality, when the presidency of Donald Trump is often seen as a distant possibility. .

Five years, countless crises, a pandemic, an endless string of lucrative SNL sketches, and a strange later revival of Spiting Image, it’s hard not to conclude that satire is dead. Love the man or hate him (and you shouldn’t love him), Donald Trump himself is easily funnier than anyone who writes lines for his Spitting Image puppet, and clearly more grotesque than Alec Baldwin in a series fatsuit movie.

However, he is no funnier than a Jetski company called “Speed ​​Enthusiast”.


This is where GTA can be perfectly and uniquely placed to perceive reality: it’s inherently mixed with puzzling dissimilarity, its molecules being oddly close together. strange. In this world, there is a cartoon for children, where marines conquer the galaxy with a giant dildo. There are two car manufacturers with misspelled names of ‘anal’, a clothing brand called “ProLaps” and an airline called “Air Biscuit”. And yet, while becoming equally obsessed with satirical puns, the series has spent more than a decade in the process of turning into something reminiscent of the hit TV series.

GTA 3 and Vice City have honed Rockstar’s gold standard in world building, but there isn’t much to say other than to tell us how much Dan Houser loves Scarface. San Andreas built on that foundation by presenting some seriously dramatic stories – a touching tale of loss and finding your roots, one that admittedly revolved around race relationships. ethnicity in America in a way that is now considered cowardly but at the time was considered daring to merely introduce a black protagonist – coming from a black neighborhood – and be immersed in the gangsta rap culture of the early ’90s. Indeed, a handful of white players complained about CJ’s racing on the grounds that they couldn’t relate to him, unintentionally giving the reason why at why representation matters, as those idiots often do (it should be noted that Tommy Vercetti is Italian, or Niko Bellic is Serbian, does not inspire similar objections).

Rockstar’s sequel to San Andreas, GTA 4, a trashy reimagining of the East Coast fusion vibe of the Free City that pushed the series deeper into the vein of TV series HBO hits like The Sopranos and The Wire, both are enjoying the peak of their popularity in game development. Pushed too far, many argue: Niko’s escape from war-torn Eastern Europe following the decline of America after 9/11 was a serious story at a critical time, and caused backlash for many people who desire a little different but dizzy escape from their ideologies. simulates a billion dollar murder, a backlash that Saints Row capitalizes on by turning full speed into neon-saturated surrealism (which doesn’t stop it from becoming an inappropriately lifeless pile of trash) to lick GTA’s shoes, but I’m glad it found its niche).


More recently, the sequel to GTA with horses, Red Dead Redemption II gave us an almost experimental recipe by making us relive the last days of a protagonist who died of tuberculosis – and that’s it. their best work to date. Arthur is a fun character to live with; His story is determined to live up to his title “redemption” promise, and there’s nothing more endearing than the joy he exudes as he sits in a tin bath. There’s no shortage of evidence that Rockstar’s flair for drama is as vibrant as their love for jokes and pitfalls, and that they grow not in the middle of the two extremes, but by twirling around. transfer at will from one person to another while somehow. keep it all perfectly consistent, like a dancer flying beautifully through the air wearing a stupid hat.

The world of Grand Theft Auto is just a place of fun for creators and spectators alike. Whether the world it used to satirize had somehow become too stupid to indulge in ridicule was of the utmost importance; The next GTA will – as a gift from its predecessors – have the bandwidth to choose how serious it should be in each moment. Whether Rockstar has the acrobatic ability to swing from tune to tune remains to be seen (why? with lead screenwriter Dan Houser moving from the company in 2020), but signs from GTA Online don’t deter this front: Lamar and Franklin’s dialogue in Latest Short Trip co-op campaign hilarious at least (even if the rest of the content is trash, one hopes since the studio has already completed the sequel).

Grand Theft Auto has proven it has the agility to challenge a world of murder parody and enough distance from it that it almost doesn’t matter. Notwithstanding, GTA 6 won’t launch in a vacuum: its legacy is so important and instills in it the power to overcome the inevitable suspicion that nothing it does can be more silly or obscene than business as usual in the post-Trump world . As of course you might be stupid, there’s a jetski company called “Speedophile”. GTA 6’s biggest problem isn’t living up to the hype, it’s the fact that parody is dead

Fry Electronics Team

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