I wanted to share this event, as a form of reflection of the development of the sense of shame and its basic human reaction.
I observed this today on my 8 yo son, as he was playing DRAGON QUEST BUILDERS 2, on the switch.
For those non familiar with video games Dragon Quest Builders 2 is a construction game very similar to Minecraft but it seemed interesting as it adds a component of storyline, cute characters etc. Today was one of my attempts to get him to play it as it seems more meaningful to me than an aimless wondering on the poorly rendered and physics deprived world of Minecraft.
That being said today we both stumbled upon something like an unexpected UXO (unidentified exploded object) and his reaction is something that I found very amusing and prompted me to write this.
The story goes that I get him sufficiently hooked on the verbose tutorial and I step away while he reads through the instruction and the due diligence talk of the various computer characters.. We agree to participate to the online experience that for now materializes on a wood board with screenshots from all the other users showcasing their work and their worlds.
imagine a collection of very different collection of various images of different nature. landscapes, cute interiors, ominous lava caves and so on.
Ok back to building..
Until I hear him screaming "dada come here!" his voice has a sense of urgency and emotion at the same time. I think to myself. oh nice this storyline got him good!
Instead the TV screen show him stumbling around those weightless companion character as he lifts and throws the giant wood board and drags it at the bottom of the virtual ocean.
I ask.. hey was not that in the castle?
"yes" he replies " but it has something weird on it I am trying to hide it"
while the front shows empty wood planks, the same ones I saw prior that the board would populate with little gallery previews, as he circles around it to the side that was leaning against the wall, I find that this is covered with some soft porn manga images.
You know those girls in school clothes of vibrant t-shirts that show their bodies with little sweat drops from their innocent faces. my son exclaiming! see this is weird! and inappropriate !
While not being extremely explicit in nature and blurred by the pixelated nature I am completely shocked.
how did this thing made it on a game for kids on the nintendo switch!? they are always so attentive at filtering out this type of things! is it an Easter egg from the Japanese programmers that have a different sense of taboo and decency? or is this an unappropriate and malicious content created by someone in the community?! while I struggle with these questions that usually you should not ask on the nintendo kid friendly online world my son managed not only to dig a hole at the bottom of the ocean but he is starting to physically bury the wood board with cubes.
He gets to bury it like a corpse, like a body of evidence, a body of shame. He is excited as his young mind (and body?) struggle with the excitement of the unexpected trove and the urgency to react to preserve the good of the world and his innocence.
He is aware that that was something he was not supposed to see. He his laughing out of embarrassment and amusement as he obliterates that damn thing. Out of mind out of sight.
But why is his reaction so strong? why his ability to intervene directly on it was so prompt and inventive, even if staying within the parameters of the game?
He probably tried to chop down that bulky thing to its minimum "material components" but being a game feature and then unbreakable, he managed to carry it far away in the ocean, on its very depth and even bury it. forever.
At least until going back to the castle he found another chalkboard in its place. this time with the obscenities on the front face. At this point he realizes that the level of threat of this accursed item is metaphysical and he throws away the controllers as a sign of refusal.
"this game is weird, I am going to play with my imagination! (that is what he calls jumping around in the house fighting imaginary enemies making explosion sounds and fighting moves all around)
"this game is weird why do you play it?! and inappropriate!"
as I try to talk to the "tutorial ghost of the island" trying to eradicate this problem he also adds "do you even have the guts to talk to that guy knowing that that weird thing is In the other room?"
So I guess it was enough for today to play with it. I must admit I liked his Kid Moral Code. The same code that gives us an hard time when we say "bad words" or we make "disrespectful jokes".
I am proud that my son is genuinely righthouse unless until the shadow of looming puberty is going to cast him in an hormonal storm, and make him an idiot like all the other teenagers.
the question is. Why such unexpected element generated such a methaphyscal reaction? while it is accepted to beat to death or gun down blue slimes or even people that reduce ether to dust or still polygons , why is allusive sexual material so disruptive in human life? why advertising is always based on alluring and sexual implications and yet a word more or less implies penalty and shunning? Not even thinking about people getting killed for a tablecloth wrapped around their head in the wrong way. As that might mean that they are more likely to give in their animal desire for pleasure..
yes I mean. it is 2023
And humanity is so fucked up, still so fucked up, EVEN MORE fucked up than ever
But that MORAL URGE that I observed in my son today makes me proud.
It makes me proud of him and makes me proud of humanity.
The reason that I wanted to share this though is the hilarious attempt at hiding the body of evidence.
It is the same that made us laugh when the wolf comes in pulp fiction to clean the sloppy car of Vincent Vega from scattered brain pieces.
It is the same comical mechanism that kept us laughing while watching "Weekend at Bernie's" (weekend con il morto).
It is actually the same story contained in the Arabian Nights of a little dwarf chocked on a fish tail and being passed around as a little corpse from people to people, everyone trying to cover up for his death rather than being in some way judged responsible for it.
It is in essence an inanimate object emanating guilt and the sole interaction with it even to destroy it or conceal it generates hilarity and a sense of shame, a blushing of forbidden thoughts, a relieving laughter of confronting the taboo and be glad to be able to laugh about it.
Laugh and Guilt
Eros and Thanatos
Yin and Jian
in the end it is all the same