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Spider-Man Caught in Web of Controversy for Helping the NYPD in New PS4 Game

It's been a fun week for video game nerds, comic book nerds, and other groups of nerds to which I belong because the new PS4-exclusive Spider-Man game just came out. I play video games for legitimate medical reasons,* but it's also just plain fun to pretend to be a superhero with great powers and great responsibilities. When I was little, I wanted to be Spider-Man. Now that I'm (too) big, I'm as close to being Spider-Man as current technology allows.

The 2018 video game version of Peter Parker is in his early 20s, so he's obsessed with his smartphone and loves selfies and social media. But he's still insufficiently millennial, and millennials don't like it. Why? Because he actually helps the police, instead of taking a knee to protest them!

The reviews are in. Tom Ley, Deadspin:

I am only a few hours into the game, but so far the primary objective boils down to Help The Cops. Not just any cops, either, but the NYPD specifically, because the game takes place in a true-to-life rendering of New York City. It’s dumb to expect video games to be responsible reflections of real life, but it is also impossible, for me at least, to not feel some ickiness about the game forcing me into cahoots with even a fictionalized version of the NYPD, an organization that routinely oppresses some of the most vulnerable residents of the city I live in.

That's right: In a video game where you control a dude in a brightly colored unitard who swings around on magical spider webs beating up crooks, the depiction of the NYPD is unrealistic.

Heather Alexandria, Kotaku:

From cheesy detective impressions to Rikers prisoner beatdowns, Spider-Man’s uncomplicated approach to crime clashes with the reality of day to day life...

Spider-Man’s enthusiasm for the police—from his stated love of busting drug deals to his cheesy “Spider-Cop” impersonation—had my coworker Tim Rogers calling Spidey a “narc.” While I found Spider-Man as good-hearted and heroic as ever, he was also way more accepting of state power than I expected from a hero with a history of being wrongly maligned by the press and police.

He's also wrongly maligned by the press and police in this very game, but whatever.

Justin Charity, The Ringer:

In addition to his Spider-Man alter ego, the web-slinging Peter Parker assumes a goofy, secondary persona he’s named Spider-Cop. “Spider-Cop” is a rogue NYPD investigator who exists only in Spider-Man’s conversations with his irritable NYPD liaison, Yuri Watanabe...

The gag underscores the game’s strange optimism about modern policing. It’s a reactionary outlook that some skeptical players might highlight as copaganda, a term coined to describe media efforts to flatter police officers and spare them from skeptical coverage.