Tuesday 26 September 2017

Higgins probably knows as much about gaming as he does twerking

Main player: President Higgins
Main player: President Higgins

Liam Fay

In keeping with one of the keynote themes of his tenure – Being Young in Ireland – President Michael D Higgins has made several thoughtful speeches about issues of pressing concern to the nation's youth (employment, emigration, education). It's worth noting, however, that he has also made some extremely silly speeches about the nation's youth. Very early in his presidency, for instance, our would-be open-minded head of state launched an attack on the evils of, eh, Xbox. Speaking in Dublin's Temple Bar within days of his inauguration, he denounced what he evidently sees as the damage being inflicted on the imaginations of young people by video games.

"Many of today's children no longer fully appreciate the joy of taking refuge in their own imaginations," President Higgins declared, citing computers, digital television and electronic toys as additional culprits in the intellectual degradation of the kids.

The President's disdain for new-fangled pastimes is worth recalling for two reasons. Firstly, the comments were deeply banal; fogeyish technophobia dolled up as sociological insight. It's a fair bet that President Higgins knows as much about video games as he does about twerking. At the age of 72, after all, he is hardly among the target audience for PlayStation 4. As a proven champion of creative endeavour, however, he should have been more alert to the folly of condemning a culture he doesn't understand.

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