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Facepalm: CNN rediscovers Rapelay

2:30 PM on 04.04.2010 // Josh Tolentino


I was almost trying to avoid posting about this for fear of giving the issue more attention than it was worth, but now that it's metastasized there's no real way to get out of it, especially not in the face of the loli laws to be voted upon come June. If you follow that sort of news, you've probably read about it now. CNN filled a block of dead air by taking their time machine back to 2009 and covering the infamous Rapelay, a game by Illusion Soft about, well, rape. You can catch the video below.

It shows the usual hysteria, but in this case emphasizes the idea that the game has "gone viral", by propagating itself over teh internetz like a lolcats picture (but with rape). The video also latches onto the convenient "Japan is oh-so-weird/perverse etc." angle that's always useful when trying to pad out the 24-hour news cycle with some "human interest" content.

Then came the followups. Kyung Lah put up a blog post wondering in print why Japanese culture would "allow rape games to thrive", and another post by Eve Bower suggested such games might/should be restricted "when they go too far". The common thread in all of these stories is the ridiculous notion that all of this sick filth coming out of Area 11 should be reined in based on the fact that it can get on the internet where people whose sensitivities might be hurt can be outraged by it. The articles put emphasis that this crap is becoming an issue "in our borderless digital world" as the internet enables foreigners to be offended by content not produced for them in the first place. Australian pols even used it to further justify their decision to censor the internet.

That absurdity aside, some of the experts usually brought in to amplify the controversy actually played the voice of reason to an extent. On Ms. Lah's post, Kyle Cleveland of Temple University noted that it's especially easy to pin Japan as particularly perverse because foreigners are naturally viewing its culture through the prisms of their own. A bald-faced attempt by anchor Mike Galanos to stir the pot in the "think of the children" direction was cooled down by Grand Theft Childhood author Dr. Cheryl Olsen, who ironically pinned some of the concern on continuing, sensationalistic coverage by the mass media. Rapelay was old and out of print long before 2009, in fact. Manga creator Nogami Takeshi also managed to get a few blows in, with an open letter accusing CNN (and others, in retrospect) of casting the first stone

On the whole, this is the evergreen case of one culture attempting to impose its moral norms upon another, and once again highlights the big struggle between freedom and rights. That's a perfectly fine (and necessary) debate in and of itself, but is ultimately undermined in this case by the suggestion that "they shouldn't make it because we find it icky", and because there's so much else to be concerned about besides the rights of nonexistent entities. We should remember that, lest we encourage congress to go ahead and ban everything, no?

[Thanks to everyone who sent this in, and tsurupeta for the translation!]

Josh Tolentino, Managing Editor
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Josh is Japanator's Managing Editor, and contributes to Destructoid as well, as the network's premier apologist for both Harem Anime and Star Trek: Voyager For high school reasons, he's called "u... more   |   staff directory

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