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Daily Post comment: A sick game but keep it in perspective.

IT is a mark of how far society has changed since the assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy that we now find ourselves seriously debating the merits or otherwise of a computer game which re-enacts the fateful moment in 1963 when the presidential motorcade passed under the window of the Dallas school book repository.

In 1963 the world was, of course, a deeply serious and different place. The Cuban missile crisis -- when nuclear war between the US and the USSR seemed not only possible but probable -- was still a recent memory; colour television would not be commercially available for another four years; and computer games were as unheard of as were personal computers.

The intervening 40 years, however, have seen more technological and associated social changes than any other 40-year period in history.

We no longer defer to the president of the United States or his British counterpart, but actively lampoon them. Had JFK lived in the age of Clinton he might well have found himself being impeached rather than hallowed as a quasi-religious icon.

But more than that, our views on what is tasteful or acceptable have changed dramatically as well. Biographies of world figures or celebrities show their ``warts and all'' because we are no longer shocked by them. We may have become a more shallow, coarsened and cynical society but we are also, in many ways, a more tolerant and worldly one too.

On the face of it therefore, the idea of playing a game from the point of view, literally, of the assassin (if indeed Lee Harvey Oswald was), is tasteless in the extreme. On the other hand the killing which traumatised the world at that time no less than the destruction of the twin towers on 9/11, has become an established part of history. Would we consider a game simulating the murder of Julius Caesar unacceptable?

Were the game to trivialise or glorify Kennedy's killing then, at this fairly recent remove where some of his immediate family are still alive, it would be in poor taste. The fact is, though, that like it or not, the events of November 22, 1963, mean as little to most of today's youth as the assassination of President Lincoln does to older generations.

To make a game of, say, the bombing of Dresden or Hiroshima would still seem to us, rightly, to be sick. But Kennedy's death, shocking though it was, was not a universal human tragedy. It might as well have been the gunfight at the OK Corral.
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Copyright 2004 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Comment
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Nov 23, 2004
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