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Fear and Loathing in Los Santos: An Analytical Look Inside the World of GTA V


Dominic Dimanche

More than a few months have passed since the release of Rockstar“s magnum opus of current-generation systems, Grand Theft Auto V. As the game was snatched off store shelves and anxiously shoved into the optic drives of Xbox 360s and PS3s the world over, it also came under a fanfare of criticisms and accusations of its use of drugs, violence, misogyny, and racism as the many volleys of critique towards the game and its characters. The truth of the matter, however, is the characters and the world of Grand Theft Auto V are not only criminals and vagabonds - they're also the very victims of the world that they are acting in.

 

Los Santos, the Los Angeles-esque backdrop of GTA V is as much a living, breathing creature as the rest of the cast. A growing and voracious beast that grows upon the denizens it consumes through the 24/7 media coverage of vapid celebrities, reality shows, socio-political soap operas, and the not-so-hidden underbelly of crime on the streets and in the homes. This seemingly bright and happy city full of wealth and glitz is also the scene of rampant crime on the streets, celebs and paparazzi doing the song and dance, and rich families being host to broken homes.

 

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And the three heroes of this broken world - Trevor, Franklin, and Michael – are all willing to throw themselves into the city“s gaping maw of crime, cash, and corruption. All for different reasons, but all reaching the same result – just as every other person in Los Santos does, from the strippers to the politicians. At its core, GTA V is about money and people: people stealing for money, killing for money, selling their bodies for money – sacrificing themselves for money and the status and glory it is said to buy. The second part of the theme is the cast coming to grips with the price they had to pay.

 

Michael, the first protagonist we meet, is living the high life in the upper-crust part of Los Santos with the wealth and status that past GTA protagonist spent the whole game trying to attain. And that “happy ending” becomes nothing more than a bad joke: his wife is constantly cheating on him, his son is a lazy and disrespectful oaf, and his daughter is too busy having sex and taking drugs on party yachts to pay attention to him. He struggles the most with the price he paid to have the “good life,” and when the chance to get back into the hustle of heists and robberies comes around, he jumps at the chance again. Not only because he needed the money to repay an extraordinary debt, but also to take back some of the parts that he gave up to be part of the upper-crust.

 

Trevor, Michael“s past robbery-partner, has not changed at all. He still remains a psychotic killer, drug-addled, and vice-ridden man. He is a man who has given everything to the system of the city and its demands. He willingly let himself be devoured by its appetite for corruption and wealth, and because of that is possibly the most honest of the three in his demeanor and thoughts.

 

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Franklin, the third and youngest member of the trio poses as the everyman of the tale and possibly has the most honest desire of the three as to why he enters their world. His desire to better himself and rise up from the ghetto he lived in at the start of the game serves as his reason. From his honorable need gives way to the same chaos and destruction that wreaks havoc in the lives of the other two. The tragic note is that he is aware of the madness around him but decides to push onward despite the risks.

 

Throughout the three men“s misadventures, we see not just them but the whole city as part of this microcosm. All the way to the endgame, the three aspiring turned successful robbers achieve their hopes and dreams not by fighting against the system of the city, but by embracing it and more than anyone else in it.

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