Raising Awareness is not a Game
Last Tuesday’s Globe and Mail featured Erin Anderssen’s blog posting Really, Angry Brides? Is this domestic violence “awareness”?
Anderssen highlights Angry brides, a game in which you hurl objects at potential grooms to whittle down the brides dowry. The makers of the game claim it is meant to raise awareness of violence connected to dowries.
This is a distinctive form of domestic violence as often people other than the fiancé/groom are perpetrators, and is most common in some South Asian countries.
Angry brides poses another question; what constitutes effective awareness raising?
A poorly played round of Angry brides reveals that from a pure game standpoint it is rather unremarkable. As the bride you throw objects (in the first round one of four varieties of shoes) at one of the grooms. When a hit is scored there is a quick flash of a small cartoon explosion followed by the cliché dizzy clouds around his head.
What the game doesn’t show is the lasting physical and emotional damage caused by violence. The violence portrayed isn’t of a graphic nature and that raises the question; does this lack of consequences trivialize dowry-related violence?
Anderssen uses her past blog posting Is this Glee star glamorizing domestic abuse? to provide another example of questionable awareness raising. In a photo shoot, Heather Morris displays a bruised eye with the caption “Even Barbie Bruises”. Other photos show her in provocative poses where the shiner is almost an accessory. The shot where she is getting revenge on her husband is more corny than shocking.
Another photo was used in a salon ad showing the Glee star with another black eye and the caption “Look Good In All That You Do”.
Would the photos better raise awareness with a more somber tone and different captions?
Would a video game help raise awareness for a different issue than dowry-related violence?
You can raise awareness in many ways. Shock has often been effective but is it the best way to get a message understood? A medium can help raise awareness if it accurately portrays the problem, if it is factual, and if the depiction of consequences is based in reality.
Awareness is largely about starting discussions. What constitutes effective awareness raising is starting the right discussions.
What do you think? We would like to hear from you.