Stan Lee Wants You!

September 14, 2010 -

Stan Lee, the creator of such great comic book heroes as Hulk, Spider-Man and Iron Man (with the help of co-creator Jack Kirby), has put out a plea through the ESA-run Video Game Voters Network for gamers to stand up for the First Amendment.

In a note to the VGVN, Lee likened the current climate against video games to those he faced when comic books were starting their heyday in the 1950s:

Comic books, it was said, contributed to "juvenile delinquency." A Senate subcommittee investigated and decided the U.S. could not "afford the calculated risk involved in feeding its children, through comic books, a concentrated diet of crime, horror and violence." Comic books were burned. The State of Washington made it a crime to sell comic books without a license. And Los Angeles passed a law that said it was a crime to sell "crime comic books." Looking back, the outcry was — forgive the expression — comical.

Lee said that the same thing is happening now, pointing to the California law that is coming up for review before the U.S. Supreme Court:

The Supreme Court should find the law unconstitutional, as lower courts have. But politicians will keep looking for ways to restrict the rights of gamers and computer and video game artists because it makes for good headlines to say they're "protecting the children," even if they're doing no such thing. They do so despite the fact that the industry has a remarkable rating system in place already and all new consoles have parental controls — both of which help parents ensure parents are in control of what their children play. But you can help fight the battle against politicians.

Lee then adds a public service announcement about the VGVN, urging people to use it to help stop the censorship.

It's nice to see support from some of the more entrenched members of the entertainment industry. Hopefully he's also signing the ECA-sponsored consumer petition as well!


Comments

Re: Stan Lee Wants You!

I love that Stan Lee even says to use Parental Controls, something I've extolled in most of my comments on the subject.

This whole argument is just about politicians wanting to look good to the media, and the media wanting something to scare the parents into watching. The irony is that it's being pushed by the administration of one of the most violent action heroes ever.

Ten years ago if you said that Arnie "I'll-B-Bach" S. would be the one pushing for games to be federally... however you want to put it, I'd have called you crazy. Conan the Destroyer? Commando? Get in da choppa? THE Running man? The guy who makes a quip after impaling someone?

I just feel like we are getting a Raw Deal. He should be worrying about laws on child Predators, or stem cell research on Twins. I think he should just take an Eraser to the whole thing. Well, I guess when your a politician, you don't have to be telling True Lies anymore...

Re: Stan Lee Wants You!

I really wish people stopped attacking Arnold personally. His name is only on the case because he's the Governor, and it's the Government that's pushing the case, (or more specifically, the original proponents of the bill, such as State Senator Leland Yee.) 

Re: Stan Lee Wants You!

He signed the bill, DJRBK.  When the court threw it out as unconstitutional, he appealed it.  He's publicly come out in support of it.  If you think he's not actively supporting it, you're not paying attention.

Re: Stan Lee Wants You!

Thing is, Stan Lee can speak from experience, far as I know he lived to see what can happen when you let people have too much say regarding an art form they know nothing about.

Re: Stan Lee Wants You!

Yeah -- he got rich complying with the censors' guidelines.  Tough life.

Don't get me wrong, I applaud Stan for speaking out -- but there were a lot of people who lost their livelihoods during the anti-comic witch hunts, and he wasn't one of them.

Re: Stan Lee Wants You!

That's because he knew when to fight and when to shut up, picking his battles to be precise. A number of those who lost their livelihoods kept screaming when no one was listening to the message and shooting the messengers.

Re: Stan Lee Wants You!

Yeah, he knew when to shut up -- when he was getting a paycheck from his uncle while his contemporaries lost their jobs -- and when to fight -- years after it was all over, when he could get publicity from having Harry Osborn shoot heroin.

Again, it's great that he's speaking out and I don't begrudge him that.  But let's not make him out to be someone who put his neck on the line back when it mattered, like Bill Gaines.

Course, on the other hand, Bill Gaines probably would have been better off keeping his mouth shut too.

Re: Stan Lee Wants You!

And that is a big reason why we need to not let it happen again.

especialyl since right now the absolute last thing we need is even more people out of work because moral crusaders had to have their way.

Re: Stan Lee Wants You!

 Could someone please get me Stan Lee's autograph?

Re: Stan Lee Wants You!

"Stan Lee, the creator of such great comic book heros as Hulk, Spider-Man and Iron Man"

That's "co-creator".  Hulk was co-created by Jack Kirby, Iron Man was co-created by Kirby, Larry Lieber, and Don Heck, and Spider-Man was co-created by Steve Ditko.

...also, there's an "e" in "heroes".

Still, good article; nice to see Stan standing up for games and making the obvious comparison to the witch-hunts against comics -- he wasn't one of the loudest voices against them at the time, but he DID help to weaken and ultimately push past the Comic Code.

Re: Stan Lee Wants You!

If this passes I can see a "Video game code" being introduced. *Shudders*

Re: Stan Lee Wants You!

They're not exactly the same thing.  The Comic Code didn't have government backing; it was the industry's own CYA move to get the government off its back.  In that respect, it's more analogous to the video game ratings system than to the California law.

Of course, where it's UNLIKE the rating system is that, well, there was no rating system -- instead of the "no AO-rated game will be sold in major stores", it was closer to "Only E-rated games will be sold in major stores."  Except the guidelines were far stricter than the E rating.

Re: Stan Lee Wants You!

"...it was closer to 'Only E-rated games will be sold in major stores.'  Except the guidelines were far stricter than the E rating."

From that sentence alone, it actually sounds more like the strict censorship policies Nintendo of America had in place back in the 80's and 90's. Well before the ESRB came into place.

--- I do more than just play games. I draw, too: http://www.silvermelee.deviantart.com

--- I do more than just play games. I draw, too: http://www.silvermelee.deviantart.com

Re: Stan Lee Wants You!

Yeah, that's a pretty good comparison, you spoony bard.

Although Nintendo at least allowed the use of vampires...

Re: Stan Lee Wants You!

Well I can see a government backed "Video game code" law put into place.Where it would be illegal to have certine types of content in games. Every game would have to be child friendly.

Re: Stan Lee Wants You!

Really the code WAS sort of government backed in a backroom kind of way.

The first head of the Comics Code was a Judge (Charles Murphy).

I remember this because of the case surrounding the last comic book EC comics (The company famous for "Tales from the Crypt" ever published.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EC_Comics#.22Judgment_Day.22

 

I link to that story because I think it's relevant in how a "Code" like structure can not only censor what the Code SAYS it will censor.

But it can also censor pretty much anything it doesn't like, whether it falls under the 'code' or not.

 

Re: Stan Lee Wants You!

I'd forgotten Murphy was a judge (though I'm familiar with the Judgement Day story), but it still bears noting that the Code wasn't actually legally binding -- it controlled what did and didn't get published because distributors refused to carry books without it (in the same way that retailers won't carry AO games and theaters won't show NC-17 movies), but people were still legally allowed to publish comics without the Code -- they just had a hard time selling them.

To wit, Incredible Science Fiction #33 was, of course, printed without the Code seal, and was the last comic EC ever published.

Of course, EC was subject to plenty of government pressure; there's no denying that -- there were the infamous congressional hearings, and if you know the publisher's history you're most likely aware of the Santa Claus spoof that caused an outrage in Boston and the crime spoof that got the business manager (and an unlucky secretary) arrested.  That said, EC won the latter in court; it's the court of public opinion where they were trounced.

Found an excerpt from Tales from the Crypt: The Official Archives that outlines that story if anyone's interested.

Re: Stan Lee Wants You!

On what grounds can you see that?

I see the argument that if the California law is upheld, stores might not stock M-rated games anymore and therefore the industry would stop making them -- I find it unlikely, but I understand the argument.

But an actual LAW stating that people can't make violent games at all?  Never happen.  Even if it did, it would never pass constitutional muster, even on as conservative a Supreme Court as this one.

The worst-case scenario here -- the absolute worst-case -- is that violent games come to be treated like pornography, and this leads to an erosion of the market for them.  That's not the same thing as a legal ban.

Re: Stan Lee Wants You!

This law will say games are NOT protected by the first amendment so they COULD make laws banning content from games.

Re: Stan Lee Wants You!

No, the law says games can't be sold to minors.  Not the same thing.  Pornography is protected by the First Amendment but can't be sold to minors; the worst-case scenario here would be -- as I said -- putting violent games in the same category as pornography.

 
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