Australian Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton has just labelled Grand Theft Auto a culprit behind toxic masculinity. I think we’ve heard this one before?
To be honest, given the track record of Peter Dutton, this statement doesn’t appear as too much of a surprise. What is surprising is that Dutton would seek to blame a video game amidst multiple ongoing scandals regarding the problematic behaviour of men in his party.
Despite the numerous scientific studies proving that his statement really just isn’t true, at this point it seems like an unbreakable stigma that video games are stuck with.
Dutton’s statement came about during his interview with Channel Nine’s Today Show, which aired on Friday morning. The minister and his co-interviewee, the Federal Deputy Opposition Leader Richard Marles, shared their thoughts on the current political environment in Canberra.
Dutton eventually sidetracked into divulging his own personal anecdotes, starting off with a statement in response to the horrific sexual assault allegations that shocked the nation recently.
Petter Dutton said:
“As a father of a 19-year-old daughter and teenage boys, it horrifies me the stories you hear. And it’s not uncommon: young girls, hand up a skirt, on a breast etc, it’s completely unacceptable behaviour. For teenage boys, it’s incumbent on parents first and foremost, to make sure that we are teaching them the right values, the respect they need to have towards women.”
— Kevin Airs (@KevinAirs) March 26, 2021
However, he then continued onto a different tangent and launched into a tirade on social media and the internet in general.
“I think what we should demand is the same laws that apply in real life apply online… So if you’re flicking through TikTok videos and there is content on there that is unfiltered, going into the minds of young impressionable boys and girls, then we need to think about what happens there.”
“If you’re playing Grand Theft Auto, as a 13-year-old boy, and lets of teenage boys will do, you can go — in that game, not just, you know, drive cars recklessly, you can go for a lap dance, you can go and shoot police… And so we need to have a broader conversation about the influences on those young boys, both in a family setting and a societal setting and particularly online.”
His flippant shift towards blaming modern games and apps, as if the personnel at the centre of the Liberal party’s recent controversies aren’t all dinosaurs, naturally meant that a lot of people weren’t happy.
Today Scott Morrison and Peter Dutton have said the problems are Social Media and Grand Theft Auto. I'd politely suggest that's incorrect and rapists are the problem. #auspol
— PRGuy (@PRGuy17) March 26, 2021
Tim Watts, a Member of Parliament representative for the Labor party – and someone who’s also a strong supporter of video games – couldn’t let this slide. He shared:
“Peter Dutton is smashing the distraction button. Apparently TikTok and video games are to blame for the disgusting behaviour towards women that we’ve seen coming from Parliament House over the past month.”
What’s more, he further advocated for Grand Theft Auto and went on to claim that a copy of the documents legitimately allowing GTA into Australia are officially approved and on Communications Minister Paul Fletcher’s desk.
He also says that by Australian legal standards, the game was perfectly acceptable. This comes directly from the Australian Classifications Board, which also had its own fiasco with Disco Elysium: The Final Cut just last week.