May 14th, 2009

Ah, Sarah Palin. The lady we all love to hate. Or at least we did, back in the fall, when we still feared she might get the chance to rule our country with her iron… -rimmed sexy librarian glasses. At the time I wrote an interview with editor and all-around awesome individual Rachel Kramer Bussel on Palin erotica — which was cropping up, along with X-rated fan art and photoshop jobs, across the internet. It seemed those who adored the would-be VP and those who despised her could join together in sexualizing her, whether as satire, personal attack, or fantasy. This woman hadn’t stirred our loins so much as incited our creative libido, pushing us to online action with the combination of her political stances and her well-fitted suits.

While at GDC, a panel — “Where Were the Election Games” with Ben Sawyer, Ian Bogost, Heather Chaplin, and Chris Swain — drew my attention to a related phenomenon: Sarah Palin games. More than any other aspect of this historic electoral season, it seems people’s hatred of Palin sparked their artistic production. The wide range of flash games still available online includes everything from attacking polar bears with tanks, to dressing up slutty for Halloween, to ruining the White House. Nowhere in there do I see a title conveying the sentiment “Palin is awesome!” No, it’s anger, frustration, and sheer loathing that led developers to dream up those designs.

For all my happiness to see Barack Obama president — every time I pass a television with him on it I get ecstatic all over again — the slew of Palin games does get me thinking about whether the production of art doesn’t thrive better in a hostile environment, instead of a nurturing one. Sure, people are making Obama games. (I’ve yet to find Obama porn.) But love can only drive creativity so far without pain, and nothing hurts like getting a bit of buckshot intended for an Alaskan moose to the virtual backside.

Tags: erotica, GDC, politics

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