09.08.05 - Jack Thompson calls to dismantle ESRB over Killer
This is a major problem and stupid. Such moronic calls are a shadow of the video nasty period of unfair censorship. Whilst ERSB are a rating body, they seem to do so fairly. These calls are pathetic, unfounded and counterproductive.
John B. Thompson, Attorney at Law
1172 South Dixie Hwy., Suite 111
Coral Gables, Florida 33146
August 5, 2005
President Entertainment Software Rating Board
317 Madison Avenue, 22nd Floor
New York, NY 10017
Re: Killer 7
Dear Ms. Vance:
I have just learned facts that indicate the above violent game most likely deserves an “AO” rating rather than the “M” rating which your ESRB has given it. As you may or may not know, more than forty states have “sexual material harmful to minors” statutes which prohibit the sale of sexually explicit material to anyone under 18 years of age. This hiatus between the “M” (age 17) rating and the statutory criminal standard (age 1 has always posed significant peril to the industry through games that contain sexual material, and it appears that those pigeons may come home to roost in Killer 7. “Hot Coffee” is a fairly recent example of the peril. As to Killer 7, please note: The following is found in a review of Killer 7 by Matt Casamassina at http://cube.ign.com/articles/630/630908p1.html which contains the following observations at this pro-violent game Internet site: ”…profanity, sex and bloodshed are commonplace… We can’t stress it enough: kids should not play Killer 7. Not just because there’s an M on the box, but because for once that M really means something. There’s much more than blood and guts in the game. Everything from the design of puzzles to the subject matter is designed for older players and it’s really that simple…. And there are cinematics that feature full-blown sex sequences…. Killer 7’s adult themes, which encapsulate extremely violent, profane and sexual situations, as well as a wide range of issues from terrorism to the sale of children, make the M on the box really mean something.” Ms. Vance, this game was released on July 7, 2005. It may be that the stir caused by the “Hot Coffee” in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas distracted all of our attention from Killer 7. There is no question in my mind that a video game containing “full-blown sex sequences” cannot be rated anything other than “AO” rather than “M.” The reviewer above in fact says that this game’s “M” actually means something, and he says it twice for emphasis. There are those who would say that people such as I are “prudes” who have no problem with violence but get uptight about sexual content in games. That is a disingenuous charge, and you know why. I have been on national television programs, as early as the week before Columbine, complaining about 13-year-olds being enabled by the ESRB to violent “M” games. But it is your sister organization, the Entertainment Software Association, that is in court right this second in Illinois trying to prevent the extension of the “sex” argument to the “violence” argument. It is your industry, then, that thinks violence is okay for kids but that sex, given state laws already on the books, is not okay. Well, the Killer 7 game underscores the fact that your organization and the industry it fronts for appear to try to get away with anything that is harmful to kids, whether already illegal or not. What it also means is that if jurors in a criminal prosecution were asked whether Killer 7 contains “sexual material harmful to minors” in violation of statutory standards, then, based upon the above enthusiastic review at IGN.com, the answer to that question would probably be “yes.” That answer would put the Entertainment Software Rating Board, in my opinion, in the middle of a criminal conspiracy to distribute sexual material harmful to minors in violation of criminal statutes. This is not a situation in which the ESRB has been blind-sided by hidden or embedded content, Ms. Vance. You all have known that the “full-blown sex sequences” are patently present in the game, yet you chose to put an “M” rather than an “AO” rating on it. Big mistake. If I were you, Ms. Vance, I would immediately ask the makers of this game, and all retailers, to pull it from store shelves. If you don’t, expect for others to use this latest scandal, which I am hereby officially kicking off, to call for a dismantling of the ESRB. The fox has guarded the chickens long enough. Killer 7 seems to prove it.
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