Sunday, 31 May 2009

How the West was built in Second Life

Santa Fe - New Mexico

Adjusting the sky for the right photo, the CC Fist Fighter is a HUD, which only I see. When I click on it I am ready to fight. The space of the Wild West is a strange open frontier in Second Life. Few places have been as worked over in media as the Wild West, and that is remarkable for the fact that it was very small very brief event in history last about one generation in some states of America with very low populations. But Hollywood has turned the west in to a icon where the core values of America come in and fight it out.

Should the west be seen as a place for celebration of native culture, or a place of America manifest destiny? Was it a wild fun place, or a sad tragic one. Issues and ideas of the west are so confused for Americans that Second Life has produced different virtual simulations of the west based on different sets of values and concepts of the Other. Santa Fe - New Mexico celebrates the native experience, while a place like Deadwood won't even allow mountain men avatars to wear native clothing (I know I tried it)

The thing that everyone should remember is that there is no objective value free history. When Deadwood established that history could not include a white man in native outfit he traded for they were not making a best judgement about the past, but asserting a political position about today. Most history is justifications for current political power, and they can get kind of strange. Deadwood, I was told, can not allow native dress out of respect for the Indians who were brutally massacred by the natives of the town of Deadwood. One can wonder why anyone would one to role play a pack of mass murders and then deny their victims out of respect? The same issue could be raised with SIMS that aim to RP America 1920s of Victorianism: would blacks or South Asians be allowed?

History always has been one of the favorite majors of neo-nazis and hardcore racists, and it sadly always will be. The sad thing about our culture is prejudice can find its own reality. I have meet people in Second Life who spend hours in historical SIMs they admin, then hours on Last.Fm listening to Rush Limbaugh. What kind of "reality" could come from such a media saturation? Political hatred could easily just become reality.

Rober1236 Jua the Cyber Trekker of Second Life
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