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Today I started playing San Andreas for the first time in a couple of years. The last time I played was when it originally came out, and since then I haven't touched it. I didn’t remember much because all of the Grand Theft Auto games play very similar. However, as I played the game with morality and ethics in mind, there were a lot of things that I realized that I hadn’t before.
One of the first things I noticed within the opening cut scenes is how stereotypical the characters are. CJ and his gang represent the typical "gangsters" that we see in movies and hear in rap music today. They all carry guns and weapons, their clothes are baggy, they do drugs, and they swear. If you watch a movie like 50 Cent’s “Get Rich or Die Tryin” or listen to T.I.’s “I’m a King”, they define what it means to be a “gangster” which can be related to CJ and his gang.
I’ve played through the first couple of missions, as well as roam the city and cause havoc. CJ really does not have any values, as he has the freedom to do whatever he wants. He can beat up and kill random civilians and get away with it because no one comes to help them. The same goes for stealing people’s cars, as CJ can take any person’s car at will without negatively affecting him.
The only authority in the game is the police, and even their resistance cannot be considered authoritative. I was able to walk up to people on the streets with a bat and beat them to death when a cop car stopped and tried to shoot me. I jumped into a car and drove away, only to lose their tail within minutes. Obviously if this had happened in real life, there would have been a hot pursuit for me and I wouldn’t have been able to get away as easily as I did.
For my second half hour or so of playing, I decided to pursue the main story missions to get a better understanding of who the characters are and what’s going on in the game. The first couple of missions deal with fleeing from enemy gangs, to getting CJ a new haircut, to beating up crack dealers. The main point of this is for CJ to become reacquainted with his Grove Street gang and earn back the respect that he’s lost since he’s been gone for the past five years in Liberty City.
From a utilitarian stance, CJ’s actions would be considered immoral due to the fact that the overall unhappiness outweighs the happiness. Killing, fighting and stealing affect all of the civilians of the city, and the only individual to gain anything is CJ. He earns his respect and money from killing other gang members, crack dealers, and even innocent people. Even though he is gaining something, more people are negatively being affected and utilitarians would find this wrong. When you consider the fact that in order to make CJ happy, hundreds of people have to suffer and die, it’s easy to realize that his actions are indeed immoral.
During my last half hour of playing I did a little bit of everything. I drove around the entire city and noticed more stereotypical things, such as Red County, the countryside part of San Andreas where you can find “rednecks” driving down the roads in their tractors. I also noticed how the only civilians to carry around guns were the blacks and Latinos, and they were only located in the bad parts of town. When I drove through downtown Los Santos, there were white men in business suites and people driving in fancy sports cars. Lastly I became aware of how the things that were being said on the radio of San Andreas were stereotypical as well, especially in the commercials.
According to the Social Contract Theory, there must be a system of moral laws and a form of government to enforce those laws. In San Andreas, there are no laws and there is no enforcement. Well, the police are the enforcement but they don’t do a good job of it. CJ has the freedom to do whatever he wants and can get away with it. He can beat up, kill and steal from innocent civilians when they don’t have the ability to do the same to him. This disobeys the idea of the Social Contract Theory because not everyone is given the same rights as CJ.
The characters in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas do not have any morals, and that can be said for the rest of the series. It is a game which allows you the freedom to do whatever you want without any repercussions. With that said, it’s hard to compare any ethical theory we have covered because they all rely on some sort of moral guidelines or ethics.
This entry has been edited 5 times. It was last edited on Oct 6th, 2008 at 00:01:48.
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