3 July 2012

Lacanian Ops

“The Week in Books”, Guardian, 30 June 2012.

The fatwa against Salman Rushdie has now gone virtual. A nasty-sounding new videogame announced this week by Iran’s Islamic Association of Students aims to show the writer’s “sin”, under the menacing title The Stressful Life of Salman Rushdie and Implementation of his Verdict.

Videogames’ use as political propaganda is not new, and neither is their engagement with the world of literature, but this news could spark a topical trend. Somewhere, sardonic game designers are no doubt working on The Curious Class Obsession of Martin Amis, a lurid Grand Theft Auto-style slice of urban mayhem in which you play an unrealistically named thug who emits Nabokovian quips while battering prostitutes. More left-field and meditative is Being Jonathan Franzen, a slow, atmospheric game in which you sit in your study and do nothing but admire yourself for 40 hours.

Set to break all sales records, meanwhile, is Call of Duty: Lacanian Ops, a first-person shooter in which you play the role of philosopher Slavoj Žižek liberating major world cities by blowing invading armies of concerned humanitarian liberals to bloody smithereens. Pull the left trigger to wipe your beard and exclaim “My God!” between wild bursts from your AK-47.