Who says video games aren't educational?

Real Americansminibanner.gifI’m usually not one to fawn over flash and web-based games, but this deserves special mention. The Anti-Bush Game, from the good people over at emogame.com, manages to be hilarious, inspiring, offensive, disgusting, and depressing all at the same instant. Your team consists of ‘Real Americans’: Hulk Hogan, Mr. T, and an obsese He-Man, (along with ten ‘secret’ characters.) The game is a typical side-scrolling affair deep into the bowels of the White House, Hell, and other pertinent locations. Most fascinating are the educational nuggets scattered throughout; each stage is preceded by an animated lecture on the (disastrous) effects of certain Bush Administration policies, with the first half of the game focusing mostly on (irresponsible) tax cuts. Sound dry? It’s anything but. Well-written and often savage rhetoric combine with good research and poignant facts that need to enter the American consciousness. Throw in some brilliant and well-placed 80s video game sound effects and the perverse joy of leg dropping Tom Ridge and Karl Rove and you’ve got a near-classic, despite the button-mashing gameplay. “Hulkamania is running wild like never before!” It sure hasn’t.

When I was a child, professional wrestling was different. Instead of hyper-sexualized, hyper-aggressive themes, the characters and storylines were intensely gimmicky, relying on nationalistic, racial or ethnic stereotypes to create conflict between characters. Hulk Hogan was the American in these storylines. The American we could (strangely) be proud of. Despite his flamboyant attire and mannerisms, Hulk Hogan fought for the rights of ‘every man,’ was always loyal to his friends and never fought dirty. As the glory days of Hulk Hogan faded along with my adolescence, I lost interest in Hulk Hogan. Upon seeing the short-lived reality show ‘Hogan Knows Best,’ I was shocked and intrigued to find that the real life ‘Real American’ is an ignorant, indulgent, SUV-driving, egomaniacal goober just like the rest of us. Complete with celebrities of his calibre, he has a collection of small dogs, vehicles and mansions to occupy his idle time while shamlessly promoting his daughter’s ‘music career,’ making himself the latest bandwagoner in the ultra-fashionable trend of promoting sex (with one’s daughter, no less) and celebrity in media with no need for talent, ideas, meaning, etc. – all for the purpose of pimping them dollars out of your wallet. When did all this- the Real American and the America he represented- change? Or maybe they never changed, but our hearts and minds just hadn’t yet worn through the bright and colorful facade of Hulkamania?

Whatever happened to easter eggs?