In America, politics and a video game can give similar satisfactions.
No! I am not a trained psychologist, but I am a novelist who writes creative nonfiction populated with psychological archetypes. And I've lately wanted to author an interactive script for a video game. In video games, archetypes are best written as stereotypes, which are in some sense oversimplifications of archetypes.
I could see myself inventing characters representing male stereotypic avatars in a video game called "Only in America 2012". At the beginning three primary Avatars of the Republic would be:
- Cowboy, with a strange fascination for a Western movie about gays.
- Big Daddy, a black guy with a wide-brim hat and a short guy in electric colored suits following him around.
- Bomb Thrower, who may or may not be a tough guy
In the beginning players would contest to see who would get to enter the cage to do battle with a smoothly dressed avatar, a Spock-like, Democrat in a tailored suit named Chicago. The cage would be an octagon like the one in "Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome" -"two men enter, one man leave, you can't break the rules because there aren't an," a Tina Turner looking figure would say and then do that Tina Turner laugh..
As it's played it would seem that the first two Avatars of the Republic will not make it to the cage to face off against Chicago. Big Daddy gets turned on by "his ladies" and he runs from view. Cowboy falls behind because he keeps stumbling and saying: "Oops! ...I did it again," as in the Britney Spears song. If the rights are not too expensive we could buy a clip of the song for the game. "Oops! ...I did it again"!
All three have the rugged persona of video game avatars; but none seem much like members of a group of older Ivy League Republicans who I jostle back and forth with in an online forum. But these guys fell in love with one after another Presidential candidates stereotyped in the game.
I could not understand why older, well-educated, probably well-to-do, urban and seemingly urbane men were attracted to candidate resembling Cowboy, Big Daddy and Bomb Thrower. Then a woman who doesn't say much in the open forum but knows a lot about men such as these, communicated with me privately and used the term libidinal threat.
So does the love for rough and ready avatars result from libidinal threats? I looked the term up in The Urban Dictionary:
Libidinal threat "is psychoanalytic in origin and is widely used in cultural studies. Right-wingers often have a strong libidinal investment in the idea of authority (and hierarchy), so that they experience threats to authority (and hierarchy) almost as if they are threatened personally." Establishing authority and restoring hierarchy -okay, I can see how these guys might love anyone who'd do that for them.
I went back to the online forum and tried over and over to get the men to say one good thing that Chicago had done. I gave them a list of his accomplishments. Not one of the men would mention a single thing. I even asked them to give Chicago some collegial courtesy since Chicago graduated from the same Ivy League school. They would not. It did seem personal.
But I decided to probe deeper. The men were rude and condescending to women who entered the forum. One woman said something in support of Chicago and their response to her avatar photo was "She's hot." They did not dignify her remark with an intelligent response. Perhaps she represented a libidinal threat as well. All along there had been chatter about how much a couple of them had lost in divorce settlements. I don't know can financial threats also be libidinal threats.
So, I added to my next comment something additional to get deeper into their libidos: "In cultures with dominant mother figures there is also an imbalance with the male child. I think cursing the mother-figure in hip-hop is an expression of this. You guys might be hip hop artists who cannot rhyme and have poor ability to keep "beats." They ignored that remark.
In honor of them, I thought of naming the video game Libidinal Threat 2012; but I know the marketing department would veto that: "The name mocks the very people we want to buy and play the game."
George Davis is creator of the forthcoming series of world-sourced, interactive books, Barack Obama, America and the World.