It baffles me that this argument is simultaneously arguing about "artists shouldn't be given a pass just because it's expressing a message they want to express" (which I think is a misrepresentation of what people are actually saying, but okay) as being a "selfish concept" while the criticism of the scene rests on nothing more than not wanting to upset people, because all art should apparently be concerned about the feelings of anyone it would theoretically offend... but this is somehow not a selfish concept. I fail to see a meaningful logical distinction between the two things when it comes to accusations of selfishness, one is just appealing to the sensibilities of more people and thereby saying those feelings should have more weight than the feelings of the artist.
Moving on, I think there's a crucial self-contradiction in what you're saying. You repeatedly and rightly say that there should be open and quality criticism of games, but you're also saying that on principle I cannot call a hurtful or damaging scene needless, that I couldn't even call a scene needless when it causes traumatic rape flashbacks in victims.
I don't think many people are arguing that people can't think something is hurtful or needless, but merely that an artist shouldn't be so harangued about what is ultimately a subjective thing that they feel compelled to remove it from the game so as to not offend people. This ultimately gets us into the "they're taking away our games" thing. You're not saying things like this should be censored... just so socially ostracized that they feel compelled to not offend people for fear of backlash. Which... I don't find a very big practical difference between.
This is an example of art punching down, not up.
Okay, an artist is conveying a message, why does that mean we shouldn't point it out or fight back against it when it hurts people or spreads gross ideas?
This is what I was calling Randian, the idea that it's okay to hurt and damage and mislead as long as you're saying whatever it is you want to say,
I feel like these arguments are happening from a separate reality where this scene is actually way more violent and tasteless and pointless than it actually is. Where is Hotline Miami 2 punching down? What about the scene, which is meant to satirize the nature of exploitation movies throwing in sex as a cheap thrill, where no actual rape occurs, is "spreading gross ideas"? What about it is meant to "hurt and damage and mislead" outside of your personal interpretation of the scene? This argument is centered around the foundation that this scene is some cheap, violent rape scene meant to throw middle fingers at rape victims when that's not at all what it is. If it was that, I would be right there with you being skeezed out by it, but the descriptions of it, and the outrage surrounding it, in no way befits the actual contents of the scene or the message behind it!
The way people are reacting to this scene, or at least the arguments that are being used, are behaving as if this scene is specifically to make fun of rape victims or something, which is a complete misrepresentation of what's going on. That's where I get a little offended at the "Randian" accusation. Ayn Rand's own M.O. was total selfishness. I would understand if the scene was a juvenile "ha ha! rape! remember how this feels??" jab that tried to hide under artistic freedom (which it still should, principally, but would at least be legitimately repulsive) but the only way you could think that about this scene is to completely miss the point, because that's not the actual intent.
It's just so weird to me that multiple people are now dismissing something as Randian when the principles behind the idea are no different than the lefties in American society that inspired the free speech movement and led to people like George Carlin battling right-wing obscenity standards.
Look, every piece of art can offend anyone, for any number of reasons, legitimate or not. The issue that I and many others take with the outrage over this scene in particular is that there's a lot in society that's really awful and really gross, that are more or less frequent than rape is, and if you accept that the door should open to "not going there" on one particular issue, there remains no logical argument for why outrage over literally anything else can't be considered just as valid. Should we "not go there" when it comes to gang violence? Or domestic abuse? Or religion? Any scene in a video game where animals are casually abused, should this be off limits because it's "not taking the issue seriously enough"? All forms of media don't grant the "appropriate seriousness" to certain issues, largely because life doesn't grant "seriousness" to every issue.
That art can be so widely interpreted is amazing and is what I love about living in a free society that doesn't impose a certain code of values and behaviors on its entertainment. But what one person or another interprets about a scene is not automatically granted more legitimacy than what I feel about it, and immediate deference shouldn't be given to those who are offended about something just because they feel offended. This is simply not rational. I think everyone is free to say what they want about Hotline Miami 2, insofar as they don't want to prevent its existence, in which case I have a problem. But in the end, if people see a piece of art they dislike, they are not obligated to experience it. The only way we have a free society is by the collective understanding that not everything is meant to suit our personal sensibilities and that we walk away from things we don't like instead of trying to snuff it out. That's just the only place this discussion can reasonably end.
@brodehouse: This is not a campaign for anything other than piety. They are not asking you to be less violent, because you're already not violent. They're not asking you to stop raping, because you're not raping. They're not asking you for anything but to prostrate and show how pious you are, usually by financially supporting them. And while the upper and middle classes fall over themselves to earn the most community respect, the lower classes can't afford to; this demonstrable lack of piety is used as justification for their derogation in polite company. I dealt with the demands and commands of privileged, pious hierarchs my entire childhood; I won't do it as an adult. I especially won't buy into this neo-Protestant work ethic shit about "doing better". It means the same thing it always did; fall in line.
As someone who follows politics a lot I would throw "we must do better" right in the "stump speech" bin. A lot like when people talk about "change" or "comprehensive reform" or "having a conversation." It sounds nice, it makes people feel good, and means jack shit.