Debate:Should Sony have held back the release of LittleBigPlanet?

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Sony is delaying the release of a video game because the soundtrack contains phrases from the Qu'ran, which might "deeply offend Muslims." in the rush to appear culturally sensitive, corporations tread softly where Islam is concerned--and one could argue whether or not that's a good thing. But those corporations seem to care much less when, for example, Madonna opened her last concert tour by riding onstage on a giant freakin' crucifix. Where's the entertainment business' cultural sensitivity then? Argue they should stifle their products in the name of sensitivity, or they shouldn't--i don't really care, I buy precious little of their stuff to begin with. But a little consistency ...PFoster 22:03, 19 October 2008 (EDT)

I know what you mean, but the comparison between a Madonna concert and a video game is not necessarily valid, since we're talking about two very different entities who would approach matters very differently. I suppose the question would be whether the same video game company would take a similar action if there was something in it that may offend Christians. It's possible, but who can say for sure until it actually happens. Certainly a boycott by Christians in this country would be a much greater loss to a company's profits than one by Muslims. What mostly bothers me is when companies take such actions not out of fear of causing offense, but for fear of violent reaction by the radical Muslim fringe. Obviously no one wants to be the next Salman Rushdie, and we all saw what happened with the Danish cartoons. Giving in out of genuine concern for offense is much better than doing the same out of plain fear. DickTurpis 22:27, 19 October 2008 (EDT)
PFoster: First me, then Andy?! You are turning to the darkside.
DickTurpis: generally when Christians boycott something it does a lot better. Also, I can't in recent memory think of the last time that a picture of Jesus caused riots. (And before anyone takes this the wrong way, I'm not one of those "all Muslims are terrorists" people).
I just have to say I'm glad that not all companies are so wimpy, or I may never have had the tremendous pleasure of playing Assassin's Creed. :) JazzMan 23:03, 19 October 2008 (EDT)
Jazz-check out my record. I AM guilty of piling on Andy and Ken, but for the most part, I TRY to separate the human being from the discourse and see the fundamental goodness in every jackass out there. Many is the time that I've rolled back particularly over-the-top stuff on Andy. And as for "turning to the dark side"--check out the article on me on Rationalwikiwiki--they gave me a nice award for my stand on religion. so there. PFoster 23:09, 19 October 2008 (EDT)
So Y'ar. I guess you guy's aren't all bad ;-) JazzMan 00:03, 20 October 2008 (EDT)
On the original topic, to me what you always have to keep in mind is just how a character is being used in a film, how a religion or minority has been and is being portrayed. And frankly in this country, islam = terrorist. As long as that is the meme coming from the extreme (and now, not so extreme) right, damn straight people aught to think twice about what they say and how they portray people. How do you think they would react, financially or otherwise, if some kid decides to shoot a Muslim based on this game plus McCain's blather? I know it sounds two sided, but it's about the overall picture, not just one single image in one specific instance.--Sun mowse.pngEn attendant Godot"«Her intense and pure religiousness took the form of her having equal faith in the existence of another world and in the impossibility of comprehending it in terms of earthly life. V.Nabokov» 23:20, 19 October 2008 (EDT)
I think this is an interesting subject for discussion... In this case, I don't think the company is recalling a game, losing incredibly amounts of money and delaying their own game just because they're afraid of Muslims. Unless they are in the Middle East, they have little to fear. I think that in this case, the music was not a major part of the game and it's an easy choice. As for the Madonna thing, call it shock value or whatever, but the cross was an integral part of the message she was trying to convey. The major problem is that Christian groups tend to protest the major message or concept of the piece, not the little stuff in the background. As to Jazz's comment, just ask the writer, director and actors in Corpus Christi, who received death threats over their play, of the artist who got killed for the crucifix in a beaker of piss, or the one who did the Virgin Mary in dung, or ...... I think you get my point. There are insane elements of any group. SirChuckBA product of Affirmative Action 23:26, 19 October 2008 (EDT)
Killed for crucifix in urine? According to Wikipedia, the photographer of Piss Christ is alive and kicking. Yes, it was controversial and there were protests and outrage, but no violence that I am aware of. DickTurpis 23:34, 19 October 2008 (EDT)
My mistake, I wasn't clear. I meant killed as in "Damn, they really killed him didn't they?" Not that he was actually murdered. And death threats are pretty much standard for upsetting Christians these days, just ask PZ Myers. He has to get at least two or three a week. SirChuckBA product of Affirmative Action 23:47, 19 October 2008 (EDT)

The thing with boycotts by Christians is that they generally boycott things that weren't marketed with them in mind anyway. But certainly in terms of numbers a boycott by Christians against an otherwise culturally neutral product (maybe something like Coke) would certainly hurt the wallet much more than a boycott by Muslims, who are less than 1% of the population. Now, certainly Christians do not riot over religious matters much anymore, which is my point. As I said, my major concern is not that companies and individuals tend to worry about offending Muslims because they worry about others' sensitivities, but that they do it because they are scared for their well-being. That is basically implicitly giving in to threats of violence, which is a much greater threat to freedom of speech than when they refrain from casing potential offense to Muslims out of genuine kindness (rarely happens, I suspect) or from not wanting to appear bigotted against an already rather unpopular minority (more common). I admit there is a double standard, but this is common, as the powerful (Christians) are generally considered more fair game than the weak (Muslims, in this country) for ridicule. DickTurpis 23:33, 19 October 2008 (EDT)

I disagree with you fundamental poitns... all of them. I don' think the game company changed this because they're afraid of the Muslims. I think they did it because it's just background music and there's no reason to offend somebody over something like that. Many Muslims were extremely pissed over Assassin's Creed, but there was no change, and they've complained about Mortal Kombat for years now, still no changes. As to your comment about Christian boycotts, I disagree again. No matter what religion is boycotting, it does no good. The threat of a boycott is much more harmful than the actual boycott would ever be. The Southern Baptist church boycotted Disney for years, no one seemed to notice. I also think that it's not religion bigotry that makes Christians a scapegoat for humor, it's that they weild so much power in this country. Why would you bother mocking a small minority like Islam in America? It's much easier to attack a group that has considerable power, but acts as though they're under constant attack and claim (quite often) that they are the target of a mass conspiracy to destroy them. That'd be like Pepsi claiming the government is against cola products and they're in danger of failing anyday. SirChuckBA product of Affirmative Action 23:47, 19 October 2008 (EDT)
I wasn't referring to this game in particular in this discussion. I really don't know anything about it. I am talking about the overall tendency for people to step a but more lightly when dealing with controversies surrounding Islam than Christianity, or, for that matter, any other religion. I don't know much about Assassins Creed either, but I believe the controversy there was about how Muslims were portrayed, rather than it being blasphemous. If they had an image of Mohammad (particularly one making him appear in a negative light) the situation may have been very different. Again, the Danish cartoons and the Satanic Verses show what can happen when radical Islam's religious sensibilities are offended. Your point about Christians getting the brunt of the assault for being so powerful is the same point I made, so we agree on something.
I agree that it doesn't make much sense to mock a weaker religion over a powerful one. Yet it seems to happen, but with Islam less than others.
If boycotts don't work it's because few people follow them. If all practicing Christians in this country actually did boycott any mainstream company, that company would likely cave fast. As it happens, few people would choose to follow a decree by Falwell to boycott Disney over one by their screaming 3 year old who wants a DVD of the Lion King. Islam, without boycotts by others out of sympathy, has no such ability, even if followed 100%. Furthermore, Disney has to deal with the flip side of the coin. If they rescinded their gay-friendly policies, they'd likely have to deal with boycotts by homosexual groups and liberal allies. Also, couldn't this be considered the result of a successful boycott? DickTurpis 00:33, 20 October 2008 (EDT)
Going back to PF's original post, there are two fallacies. One is demanding consistency from the (worldwide) entertainment industry as if it was one cohesive unit. The other is the mistake made far too often of comparing attitudes to Christianity (and offending Christians) with attitudes to Islam (and offending Muslims). While people (especially Americans) who criticise or satirise Christianity or Christian symbolism are being provocative and iconoclastic and challenging people's beliefs, criticism or satire of Islam (or Judaism, for example) is a lot more complicated because it tends to contain a racist element as well as the criticism of beliefs. I'm not saying that that's the case with Sony (in this case they seem to have just sampled some music without knowing it contained Koran scriptures); just that the two don't easily compare, in much same way that being anti-Semitic is a lot more dubious than being anti-Christian. I think there's actually a lot of hypocrisy about this at the moment, in that the War on Terror is justifying a lot of racist feeling in America, which comes out for example in comedy using Islamic, Middle Eastern terrorist stereotypes, when similar stereotyping of other ethnic groups (Jews, Chinese, African Americans, etc.) is no longer acceptable. weaseLOIdWeaselly.jpg~ 09:45, 20 October 2008 (EDT)
I basically agree. I think this debate is actually mistitled, as, at least from my view, it has little to do with LittleBigPlanet and more to do with how various religions are treated in this country, at least, that's the approach I'm taking with it. (To be honest I haven't even read the article about the game.) I also agree that reluctance to mock Islam often comes largely from not wishing to appear racist or anti-Islamic at a time when such feelings in this country are very real. But there is a difference between offending people's social sensibilities and their religious ones. Stereotypical portrayals of Arabs as terrorists are likely to anger Arab-rights groups, but they are not the sort of thing that will earn a fatwa. It seems in this country you're more likely to see an image of Jesus getting ass-raped by a monkey than a mildly offensive or inoffensive image of Mohammad. Certainly part of that is because the powerful are more open to attack than the weak (obviously Christianity is a teeny bit more powerful here than Islam is), but it seems part of it is because blaspheming Christianity will get you some protests and a load of publicity (probably some death threats too, but death threats are a dime a dozen these days, thanks to the internet), but blaspheming Islam can lead to more serious problems. I certainly don't think an artist who might make some sort of "2 Christs, 1 Cup" work would not do the same for Mohammad out of some genuine religious respect, but more from thinking about what the Danish Mohammad cartoonists went through. Has anyone read Colbert's I Am America and So Can You? In its religion section it both parodies and simultaneously plays into this Islamic exception.
Oh, and if you think Jews, Chinese, African Americans, and the like are never portrayed stereotypically, I've got some news for you. DickTurpis 11:56, 20 October 2008 (EDT)
Ah, I didn't say they are never portrayed stereotypically, but that it is now seen as largely unacceptable for example in popular mainstream media, because of sensitivity to these groups. OK, there is still some stereotyping of them, but often subtly and ironically, and when old blunt stereotypes are dragged out there is usually a predictable backlash. Meanwhile, there is a political correctness gap which allows some other groups, and especially Arabic ones, to be mocked more openly. For example, I found this video linked rather irrelevantly in a RationalWiki article. I removed the link as I find it unfunny & uncomfortably racist. Nevertheless, audiences obviously enjoy this act. Now consider: if it was a comedian or ventriloquist presenting the same kind of act, but instead of an Islamic/Middle Eastern stereotype, it was a caricature of a Hasidic Jew or a Chinese immigrant, would the audience find it as acceptable and entertaining?
I believe that Islam should be subject to the same kind of criticism and satire as Christianity, or any other religion, regarding its beliefs. However, it is important not to let that stray into ethnic or cultural racism. It's a fine line. Again, none of this has anything to do with Sony & LBP, but obviously this debate has evolved beyond that. weaseLOIdWeaselly.jpg~ 12:39, 20 October 2008 (EDT)
It is a fine line. I watched that link, and of course that's a tricky area too. In the video the character is a terrorist, which is really what the joke is about, and yes, he is Muslim. Considering most of the terrorists our society is currently facing are Muslim, that in itself is not over the line. The question is are they making fun of the guy for being a member of Al Qaeda (presumably) or for being an Arab Muslim? If the situation were the other way around, and the character's defining trait was that he was an Arab, and part of the joke was that he was a terrorist too, that would be racist. I'm not sure if this example is all that much different than a puppet of an IRA bomber acting like a stereotypical Irishman or puppet of a Nazi acting like a stereotypical German. The main difference is that people have to be more careful when dealing with Muslims because there is a very real, sometimes violent, prejudice against them, which we don't want to feed into. But that, of course, doesn't mean any time a terrorist is being depicted as Islamic means that it is insulting Islam, or is stereotyping Arabs (where would the last 5 years of Hollywood movies about the war on terror be if that were the case?). And might I point out that the video shown there also has jokes about Jews and Catholic priests? Not that that makes it better, but it shows he's mocking other religions too. It's also littered with jokes about Priuses, premature ejaculation, Bill Clinton, Clay Aiken, Lindsay Lohan, and slew of other things, so it's not completely about a Middle Eastern terrorist. It's not really funny, and it has some racial overtones to it, but I don't think it's blatantly racist.
But back to the video game for a second. Reading the yahoo news article about the incident, it doesn't mention offending Muslims at all. If I hadn't heard otherwise, I'd think they were more worried about offending Christians who think the game in trying to indoctrinate their children into becoming Muslims. Did everyone see the controversy over that talking baby doll? DickTurpis 16:52, 20 October 2008 (EDT)

convenient ventriloquist button[edit]

I would also like to add that Jeff Dunham has another character (that was on his Arguing with Myself special)named Sweet Daddy D that is the complete ethnic sterotype with of a black pimp, along with his own gold tooth and long winded delivery (my name is Sweeeeeeeeeeet Daddy D). He's also in a skit with two strippers at the beginning, there was almost no outrage, so ethnic sterotypes for all groups are workable if done right. SirChuckBA product of Affirmative Action 02:09, 21 October 2008 (EDT)

Convenient Edit Button 17[edit]

Well, I think this entire discussion is entirely wrong headed. As a business owner, I recognise this for what it is. Plain good economic sense. It isn't anything to do with "cultural sensitivity" or, heaven forbid, political correctness gone mad. If they left them in, there's the possibility that there might be an outcry similar to the idiotic "hot coffee" business with grand theft auto which will severely impact their bottom line. As I remember it that particular incident almost bankrupted rockstar games. If you could possibly anticipate and avoid such an incident, you probably should. --JeevesMkII 23:59, 19 October 2008 (EDT)

Also, as a news story this is generating a lot of publicity for the game, and putting Sony in a sensitive light, whereas if the game had been released and had caused offence, some of the pblicity would have been more negative. weaseLOIdWeaselly.jpg~ 07:57, 20 October 2008 (EDT)
Well, it's all marketing and any publicity is good publicity. I knew about the game because I've seen the demos but didn't know what it was called until today when I read the story. So in a way, that's the method working in action. ArmondikoVpathetic 08:05, 20 October 2008 (EDT)
Ooh, I like the mint! Your breath is so fresh! ħumanUser talk:Human 03:43, 21 October 2008 (EDT)

Don't care[edit]

  • ħumanUser talk:Human 01:54, 20 October 2008 (EDT)