Hilarious 1982 CBS report on Boston's zoning fight over video games

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2020/11/01/hilarious-1982-cbs-report-on-bostons-zoning-fight-over-video-games.html

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I’m sure that, if some enterprising video-game pusher had given the officials a taste of playing Mike Haggar, in Final Fight, a city official who gets to let out his rage on the city’s poor, they’d have seen the light, and would have soon been passing fast comments of their own.

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This video brought back memories - I was in 8th grade in 1982 playing these games (and I’d have to say I never “passed fast remahks” when senior citizens passed by as I played Donkey Kong at the laundromat).

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4kn1x8

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Passing “fast remarks?” What the… I grew up in Maine around this time, I don’t recall that particular phrase at all. Must have missed us.

Oh, and spoiler alert: Boston and all the other places ended up losing in the end. Video games grew and grew and grew… until home systems became better, and then they crashed like the proverbial Hindenburgh and are as rare now as a truth coming out of Donnie’s mouth.

Parents are greatly relieved and have returned to watching episodes of TJ Hooker, which as everyone knows isn’t violent at all and television doesn’t rot your brains.

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“with fewer than 600,000 people, the city has 4-5,000 video games.”

Oh god. Is there a number we can call to donate more to those people in need?

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I hear they’re not interested at all in violent activities…

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I think the Republicans did. One of the characters from your screenshot is canonically transgender.

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first video game i saw was donkey kong in the grocery store. sure as heck i would have picked the pocket of every passerby for a quarter. of course i was four, and other people’s pockets were well above my reach.

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Looking up Joanne Prevost on the standard search engines, I’m shocked, shocked, that every result I find on the first page is from a series of court cases involving these morally crusading city officials doing shady things with property:

TLDR; the mayor at the time bought a house for his two assistants (Ms. Prevost and Mr. Anzalone, soon to be married) from a landowner for $1, in exchange for the rights to develop high-value waterfront property.

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Ha, I almost looked her up but I was worried she might be dead, and that would make it less funny to me. Thanks for the legwork!

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First of all, what’s a cawnuh? And why is there an entire store devoted to selling these things?

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Simpsons, With It

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Goddam puritans. They hate it when people enjoy themselves, and call it “sin.”

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Wow, I had no idea the old “video games cause violence” BS went all the way back to the days of Donkey Kong and Pac-Man. Apparently there were lots of kids cannibalizing each other and tossing barrels in 1982.

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Moral opposition led to legal crackdowns. The most infamous effort began in 1942, when New York Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia sent his gendarmes to seize the city’s pinball machines. They brought in more than 2,000 on the first day, and newsreel crews filmed the mayor smashing some of them with a sledgehammer. New York did not relegalize pinball until 1976.

When video arcades started booming in the early '80s, many of those fears came rushing back. Parents worried that Pac-Man dens would encourage truancy, that kids would smoke cigarettes or buy drugs, that young children would come into contact with bad elements, that violence might break out. In 1982 The New York Times quoted a Long Island mom who believed video arcades “mesmerize our children,” “addict them,” “teach gambling,” and “breed aggressive behavior.” Zoning and permit fights were common, as fretful grown-ups urged the authorities to keep the arcades away.

And for a more academic minded piece about Death Race.,

The fetishization of novel media technologies in industrial and public narratives of video gaming helps obscure the medium’s long cultural history. Debates about video game violence seem perpetu- ally new, as the specific technologies used to depict violent acts are endlessly retooled with an eye toward interactivity, immersion, and realism. Each installation in the Grand Theft Auto franchise, for exam- ple, has stirred new outrage based partly on the games’ increasingly sophisticated graphics. The seeming freshness of outrage masks a his- tory of moral panics about video game violence stretching almost as long as the history of the industry itself, beginning with Exidy’s Death Race in 1976. The game, based on the 1975 film Death Race 2000, made waves far beyond the confines of the coin-op industry and helped establish the Exidy brand nationally. For moral guard- ians suspicious of or hostile to the budding culture of video gaming, Death Race became the most prominent example of video games’ depravity and corrupting influence.

3 ADAPTING VIOLENCE: DEATH RACE AND THE HISTORY OF GAMING MORAL PANIC

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I remember when Downtown Boston only had two pinball parlors and they gradually introduced Video Games. Most of my encounters with video games in strange places in the 1980s involved fast food joints. My family never went to laundromats. Why waste a perfectly good scrub board, holed plunger and bathtub?

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"Puritanism: The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.” ~ H. L. Mencken

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Zackly. Those fuckers would name a child O Be Joyful, then beat it when it was.

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