The video game FINAL FANTASY 7, besides being a big-seller (and profit-maker) was in many ways THE most revolutionary RPG of its era. Not because of it's Full Motion Videos or its Materia and Magic system, but for its radical social rhetoric. While FF8 is probably more political in the proper sense, FF7 employs the tenets of terrorism, national security, capitalist dictatorship and class struggle into its gameplay.
You begin as Cloud Strife (a surname that evokes images of class struggle), who is a mercenary for the eco-terrorist group AVALANCHE. Right from the beginning, the game plays with your mind and your morality (are they really terrorists or 'freedom fighters'?) After blowing up a Mako reactor (Mako is like real-world petroleum) you have to escape the military police, all employed by Shinra. Shinra is a Mako energy company out to dominate the world (what Karl Marx would have referred to as a state-monopoly capitalist). The mayor of Midgar City (basically a Final Fantasy analogy to New York or London) actually lives in the Shinra headquarters! The message is clear: Private capital rules over government. Shinra owners control the police, the military, the infrastructure, the city's architecture, everything! Private enterprise has morphed into a form of private monopoly-capitalist tyranny.
Anyway, AVALANCHE and its revolutionary leader, Barret Wallace, get stymied when they try to blow up a second reactor. Though they escape, Shinra and its ruthless leaders like Rufus and Heidegger (an allusion designed to show the Nazi-Capitalist connection) decide to blow up Sector 7, one of Midgar's eight boroughs. They plan to create a terrorist attack and blame it on AVALANCHE since they also control the media. AVALANCHE tries to prevent it but they fail. Eventually it is decided that they must invade Shinra's headquarters and fight to overthrow the corporation which is simultaneously destroying workers, the poor and the environment.
But when they reach the top floor, a gruesome discovery awaits: Sephiroth, Cloud's long rival and a total nihilist, has assassinated the President of Shinra! After escaping they learn from Cloud about Sephiroth's deep-seated anger and hatred toward the human race, and how he is on a mission from Mother Earth to destroy humanity and "save the planet," even if that means magically summoning a meteor to hit the Earth!
There are other allusions in the game with a social conscience: the port town of Junon used to be a prosperous fishing town until the greedy, Mako-selling Shinra came in and polluted the waters, destroying both the environment and local economy in the process (making clear that sometimes environmentalism and economics go side by side). Shortly later, you find out about Barret Wallace's history in the mining town of Corel. Corelian miners experienced a history similar to that of the Appalachian or British coal miners in the 1960s/70s/80s, with Mako replacing coal and the local coal mines shut down, in this case (as in the Thatcherite real world) via brutality, murder and corporate/political criminal activity. And Engineer Cid (there's a 'Cid' in every Final Fantasy) complains about how the space program was shut down because Mako was more profitable. Money over science.
I could go on and on about Final Fantasy 7's socially conscious and socially relevent messages, but if you've played the game I'm sure you know what I'm talking about. If not, consider borrowing it from a friend or buying it used. You dont' have to buy a new copy and line the financial pockets of Square-Enix to enjoy this artistic masterpiece which deserves to stand above its commercial viability.
So the big questions (please comment on these!):
1. Is America, and corporate capitalism in general, evolving toward the system expressed by the Shinra in Final Fantasy Seven? What are the similarities and differences?
2. If there really is a "Shinra of America," does it behave like the one in Final Fantasy 7? Could the 9/11 WTC attacks be the real-world equivalent of Shinra's conspiracy to destroy Sector 7 and blame AVALANCHE?