Perhaps recalling Frank Rich’s op-ed page audition consisted mostly of writing overwrought, biting theater criticism, New York Times video game reviewer Seth Schiesel opts to open his review of Homefront thusly:
When it comes to our national self-image, humility gave way to hubris long ago.
Politicians not only proclaim the United States the greatest society the world has known, but say that it will remain so forever. Few leaders give voice to the notion of decline even as it becomes quite plausible to some of us.
Thankfully, that’s what we have artists for: to challenge and force us to face our darkest fears. And that’s why we have video games like Homefront.
Written by John Milius, a screenwriter of “Apocalypse Now” and “Red Dawn,” Homefront conveys a chilling, gripping, not entirely ludicrous version of America’s fall. Strictly as a game — mechanically, technically — Homefront is pedestrian. But as a provocative, emotionally involving and politically relevant creative experience, it is vital.
Having not played any video game save Tetris since 1992, I don’t have too much to say about Homefront itself. As for the review, a couple quick thoughts: A) When it comes to reviewing video games, I guess humility gave way to hubris long ago and B) I surprised Schiesel isn’t more bullish on America’s greatness considering a review of a totally inconsequential video game not only lands him on the front page of the arts section of America’s purported “newspaper of record,” but finds him being paid to open the bit with a discussion of the macro-sociopolitical views that inform his approach to…playing video games.
In the scope of the history of both humanity and our nation it seems to me the guy has done more than alright for himself, but, then again, if the New York Times nurtured a sense of scale think of all the crises we’d let go to waste! Seriously, is there anything more “pedestrian” at this point than ignoring a video game’s “pedestrian” mechanics to offer a lecture on its “vital” political meaning?
Come back to me with the “America’s fall” stuff when you’ve been forced to leave your New York Times gig for subsistence farming.