I was listening to “Smells Like Teen Spirit” for the umpteen time on my way to work today, and I just had an epiphany.
I can see myself in the pro-choice position in the abortion debate. I guess those guys are not crazy people after all.
I know, I have some explaining to do.
So, everything starts with the whole “Kurt Cobain in Guitar Hero 5” controversy. Long story short, apparently after years of negotiation the Guitar Hero guys (well, the guys that picked up the license while Harmonix moved to greener, more “Rock Bandy” pastures) finally got the deal to put the likeness of Kurt Cobain (of Nirvana fame) into Guitar Hero as an unlockable character. Yes, you can make him sing “Smells Like Teen Spirit” in the game… and so much more. You can pretty much pick him to sing and dance to the tune of any song that’s in the game, like a nice little puppy that follows your every whim.
Of course, if you know anything about who Kurt Cobain is and what he stands for, you can at least understand the context of why this is so horrifying to some people. The torches and pitchforks had been out for awhile now – the most obvious solution, they say? Patch the game so that Kurt Cobain can only sing his own songs. Simple, right? It’s not like you’re adding features. You’re just removing existing ones. I don’t care how complex the code is behind the game, you can put a lid on this explosion of bad press in a week or less if you put your mind to it. So why didn’t they do that, but instead opt to repeat their rhetoric about how they got all the proper paperwork and it’s all legit?
Because, from one point of view, there’s really nothing wrong with the idea. Nobody is forcing you to make Kurt Cobain sing other songs for you. If you want, you can create your custom avatars or use the other stuff that Guitar Hero provides you or whatever. You. You have a choice. If you respect Mr. Cobain’s memories, then just don’t choose him when you’re playing songs that he didn’t sing. Or don’t choose him, ever. Your experience with the game is not going to be affected by some guy 3000 miles away who decides that it’s funny to make the ghost of Kurt Cobain sing a girl band song or something. That guy is certainly not hurting anyone. If he wants to exercise his freedom of speech and piss on the memory of some dead guy who blew his own brains out, that’s his own prerogative, right?
Except that the idea feels so wrong to you that you want nobody to take any part in it at all. You feel so strong about it that you’re going to be the party pooper that says “if I don’t do it then you won’t either.”
And this is where I lead myself to the pro-life versus pro-choice argument, and to completely misquote something from the Matrix movies because it sounds cool anyway, “The problem is choice.”
You see, my internal logic about the debate had always been “two options are always better than one”. If you believe that abortion is wrong, you don’t have to do it. Go ahead, nobody is stopping you. Abortion is not mandatory. If you can convince enough people, it is possible to create a scenario where everyone is given a choice and nobody wants to get an abortion anyway. The same can’t be said for the reverse – an option removed is an option that can’t be taken. How much do you really believe in the concept of freedom when you stand so firm on removing an option in a situation where the result of either option is entirely personal and bears no ill effect on you – You, who somehow think that you are a better judge on what someone else is going through?
Unless, of course, when you believe in something so much that anyone doing it is an affront to your moral belief, that offering a choice equals to an eternal torment in your mind that someone, somewhere would choose to do it, because the option exists.
Mind you, I personally have no beef in either matter – I’ll never have to face the fear of possible pregnancy and I neither own a console that plays Guitar Hero 5 or care enough about Kurt Cobain’s legacy to swing one way or another. Although, I still think that it is important as a human being to be empathic about other people’s points of view, why they think the way that they think, and no matter how wrong the idea seems to you, do the things that they do.