The Charade Club
Why is it laughably contemptable when Justin Verlander (fictitiously) attempts to be rewarded for something he hasn’t done, but perfectly acceptable when some person playing a video game attempts to (not really) do something only the likes of Justin Verlander can do? Even if you “pitch” a perfect game in video game, and even if you win $1,000,000 and the hand of a pretty girl because of it, you aren’t Justin Verlander. Your accomplishment is nowhere near his accomplishments; the fact that he hasn’t (yet) pitched a real perfect game notwithstanding. Why is it okay in this day and age to openly degrade the truly heroic just so that the truly non-heroic can feel better?
Justin Verlander, like virtually everyone else who sees this ad, fails to see the wider philosophical implications of it and thinks it’s just a harmless joke (hence his participation in it), but that doesn’t change the fact that this ad is bad for everyone involved. Verlander deserves the accolades and admiration he has. He’s earned it. If the trend he is attempting to exploit for the sake of some short-term gain continues over the long-term, eventually all he will receive from people – people who have been made to believe that faking an accomplishment is just as good as actually doing it – is at best indifference, and at worst outright hostility (he would be a reproach). Similarly, those who allow themselves to believe that it’s okay to seek rewards for achievements they haven’t earned will eventually lose whatever motivation they had to cultivate or maintain whatever skills or potential they might have had to reach real goals. They will be forever searching for the easy path to success – even if their ambition never compels them to, they will – as mentioned – grow to hate the likes of Justin Verlander because he reminds them that this is all they deem themselves worthy of. Finally, of course, there is the effect that the method of thinking which this ad exploits will have upon the very people who made it: 2K Sports. Their purpose is to make a product, trade it, and therefore profit and live. In the short-term, this type of manipulative behavior will work. In the long-term, however, all it will do is to ensure their financial ruin. The reason for this is that luxuries such as video games can only exist if there is enough wealth (and resultant free time) in the society to allow for it. If people are encouraged to never achieve real goals – if they are told over and over again that fake goals work just as well – eventually they will take it to heart. As a result, they will not achieve and produce, and their standard of living will drop. When this happens, the first things to go from their lives will be their luxuries (ie: things like their video games).
Justin Verlander doesn’t pretend to be anything more than a baseball player. He can’t be disliked because of his inability to grasp the vicious evil – the antipode of everything he and his life implicitly endorse – which he is helping perpetuate. Similarly, 2K Sports is just one single business in a much larger macroeconomic environment. An extremely unpredictable, unstable, politically-twisted macroeconomic environment. One where the “long-term” doesn’t exist. One where all that any given person or company can reasonably do is focus on the short-term exclusively, and do whatever they must to meet their particular goals. Nevertheless, despite these facts, if exceptional achievers like Verlander and the producers of technological marvels such as modern videos games become rarer and rarer or even cease to exist, they will have no right to claim that they don’t understand why it has happened (although they will probably try).