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Salman Rushdie Proposes Dropping Nintendos On Iran Instead Of Bombs

by Matt Bertz on Nov 29, 2010 at 05:15 AM

Why use weapons of mass destruction like nuclear warheads when you can use weapons of mass distraction like game consoles? That's the theory proposed by famous novelist Salman Rushdie in an interview with Big Think.

In a far ranging discussion that covers everything from dating tips to the double standard against immigrant writers, Rushdie was asked about biggest issue the Islamic state is wrestling with today – modernity.  "If you look at the opponents of the Iranian regime, the green movement in Iran, that clearly represents a young, liberal, modernizing spirit that exists in that country," explained the Booker Prize-winning British-Indian author best known outside of literary circles for the death fatwa Ayatollah Khomeini issued for his portrayal of the Islamic prophet Muhammad in The Satanic Verses. "And in every Muslim country you will see that. You will see particularly young people. They don’t want to live according to the rules that the old gray-beard mullahs set for them, so I think if we want to look at the Muslim world you have to look at it in those ways. You have to look at it as a world in conflict. And what we need to do is to support, I think, that modernizing positive way of being a Muslim, which involves living in the world as it is. Support that and encourage that, and be extremely critical as we should be, of that other tyrannical, despotic, medievalist Islam, which unfortunately is in power in a lot of places.

"I often think that the best way to liberate Iran is just to drop Nintendo consoles from the air. And Big Macs."

Later in the interview Rushdie also discussed how video game storytelling contrasts with more traditional, linear narratives. "One of the things that is interesting about it to me is the much looser structure of the game and the much greater agency that the player has to choose how he will explore and inhabit the world that is provided for you," he said. "[You don't] really have to follow the main narrative line of the game at all for long periods of time. There is all kinds of excursions and digressions that you can choose to go on and find many stories to participate in instead of the big story, the macro story. I think that really interests me as a storyteller because I've always thought that one of the things that the Internet and the gaming world permits as a narrative technique is to not tell the story from beginning to end – to tell stories sideways, to give alternative possibilities that the reader can, in a way, choose between."

You can read more about Rushdie's viewpoints, including the role video games play in his new children's book Luka and the Fire of Life, at Big Think.