Target Australia have announced in a press release that they will be changing their name and logo to avoid any affiliation with violence of any form.
The drastic decision to make the change came less than twenty-four hours after the company decided to remove the popular video game Grand Theft Auto V from sale, after being hit with complaints from many customers regarding the game’s content.
Among the complaints was a petition on Change.org. A petition is a good way to get notoriety for a particular issue, but quite often an online petition can be factually incorrect. The petition to target stated:
“It’s a game that encourages players to murder women for entertainment. The incentive is to commit sexual violence against women, then abuse or kill them to proceed or get ‘health’ points – and now Target are stocking it and promoting it for your Xmas stocking.”
The only factual part about that statement is that “Target are stocking it and promoting it for your Xmas stocking”. At no point in the game are players encouraged to murder women for entertainment, nor is there any incentive to commit sexual violence against women, including abusing and killing for health or points. If this content was in the game then it would have been Refused Classification by the Australian Classifications Board. The rules for video game classifications state that a game will be refused classification if it contains:
- Gratuitous, exploitative or offensive depictions of:
- (i) violence with a very high degree of impact or which are excessively frequent, prolonged or detailed;
- (ii) cruelty or real violence which are very detailed or which have an extremely high impact;
- (iii) sexual violence
Although target agreed to remove GTA V from sale, other games and movies containing similar content or even the same classification of R18+ are still available for purchase, including a previous game in the GTA series, GTA IV.
GTA IV contains similar content to the newest title but due to the classification laws at the time, was only given a rating of MA15+, the highest rating that was then available. This is one of the issues that was fixed with the introduction of the R18+ classification. Games that might have contained content that would today be rated R18+ were only rated MA15+.
More than anything education is key. Consumers need to be educated on what the ratings system in Australia is for and what the actual ratings mean to them and the dependents in their care. The petition also states:
“Games like this are grooming yet another generation of boys to tolerate violence against women. It is fuelling the epidemic of violence experienced by so many girls and women in Australia – and globally.”
Parents and guardians need to understand the content of a game and make an informed choice whether or not it is suitable for the younger generation of boys. Contrary to popular belief, women and girls actually play games too. If you are letting your child play GTA V and think that the content is grooming them to tolerate violence against women and that it’s fueling an epidemic of violence, then first off you shouldn’t be letting them play that game and second, your child may be mentally disturbed or living in a bad environment to think such things.
Like all retailers in Australia, Target is bound by rules set by the Australian Classifications Board on who can legally purchase games of a particular rating. The ratings system is as follows:
G – General.
The G classification is suitable for everyone. G products may contain classifiable elements such as language and themes that are very mild in impact.
However, some G-classified films or computer games may contain content that is not of interest to children.
PG – Parental Guidance
The content is mild in impact.
The impact of PG (Parental Guidance) classified films and computer games should be no higher than mild, but they may contain content that children find confusing or upsetting and may require the guidance of parents and guardians. They may, for example, contain classifiable elements such as language and themes that are mild in impact.
It is not recommended for viewing or playing by persons under 15 without guidance from parents or guardians.
M – Mature
The content is moderate in impact.
Films and computer games classified M (Mature) contain content of a moderate impact and are recommended for teenagers aged 15 years and over.
Children under 15 may legally access this material because it is an advisory category. However, M classified films and computer games may include classifiable elements such as violence and nudity of moderate impact that are not recommended for children under 15 years.
Parents and guardians may need to find out more about the film or computer game’s specific content, before deciding whether the material is suitable for their child.
MA15+ Mature Accompanied
The content is strong in impact.
MA 15+ classified material contains strong content and is legally restricted to persons 15 years and over. It may contain classifiable elements such as sex scenes and drug use that are strong in impact.
A person may be asked to show proof of their age before hiring or purchasing an MA 15+ film or computer game. Cinema staff may also request that the person show proof of their age before allowing them to watch an MA 15+ film. Children under the age of 15 may not legally watch, buy or hire MA 15+ classified material unless they are in the company of a parent or adult guardian. Children under 15 who go to the cinema to see an MA 15+ film must be accompanied by a parent or adult guardian for the duration of the film. The parent or adult guardian must also purchase the movie ticket for the child.
The guardian must be an adult exercising parental control over the person under 15 years of age. The guardian needs to be 18 years or older.
R18+ – Restricted
The content is high in impact
R 18+ material is restricted to adults. Such material may contain classifiable elements such as sex scenes and drug use that are high in impact. Some material classified R18+ may be offensive to sections of the adult community. A person may be asked for proof of their age before purchasing, hiring or viewing R18+ films and computer games at a retail store or cinema.
Retailers can be hit with major fines for breaching regulations on selling MA15+ and R18+ to minors and although there are cases where this does happen, parents need to be responsible too. All current video game consoles have parental settings where you have the ability to lock out games above a certain rating. Parents also have the ability to monitor the games that their children play by physically watching what is on the TV whilst the game is turned on.
Another thing that needs to be understood, with GTA V in mind, is that video games are not violent. They are depections of violence. To quote Penn Jillette:
“They’re not violent, there is no violence in video games at all. I don’t know of anyone that’s been injured in a video game. It is depiction of violence. It is depiction of violence, just like Shakespeare is depiction of violence”
Video games also do not cause people to have violent tendencies. A person who plays a game with depictions of violence who then commits violent crimes are disturbed long before playing a video game. The Beatles song Helter Skelter did not encourage Charles Manson to commit his crimes. His mental illness is a lead contributor to that.
To the delight and approval of their customers Target revealed their new logo.
From the beginning of January 2015 Target Australia will begin trading under their new business name Nanny Stores Australia.
In a quote from the press release:
“Target Australia wish to remove affiliation of any and all forms of violence against women. It’s not that we as a company hold the same values as those who have persuaded us to remove Grand Theft Auto V from sale, we are just scared of the feminist population, and feminism is all the rage right now.”
A double outrage has hit Target over the course of just a few days, starting with members of the group Collective Shout pressing hard on the company to do their bidding. Collective Shout claim to be:
“Collective Shout is a grassroots campaigns movement mobilising and equipping individuals and groups to target corporations, advertisers, marketers and media which objectify women and sexualise girls to sell products and services.
Collective Shout names, shames and exposes corporations, advertisers, marketers and media engaging in practices which are offensive and harmful, especially to women and girls, but also to men and boys.
Collective Shout is for anyone concerned about the increasing pornification of culture and the way its messages have become entrenched in mainstream society, presenting distorted and dishonest ideas about women and girls, sexuality and relationships.”
It is easy to respect such values as a community and race of people. It certainly is a cause that should be fought for. What is hard to respect is the misinformation, militia like tactics and outright lies used to further a cause. Where does it stop? The end never justifies the means.
On the flip-side of those fighting for the cause, there are just as many, if not more, fighting for their own rights. Their rights to purchase material that has been approved by the Australian Classifications Board for their viewing and use.
As a consumer I am disgusted in Target’s choice to remove GTA V from sale, but I have to accept it. They are a private company and they have the right to sell, or in this case, not sell whatever products they wish to in their stores.
There are always going to be people on both sides of this argument. It’s my hope that the people against the issue do more, or at least some research into what is happening. I hope that more people look at the classifications system in Australia and learn what it is all about. I hope more people review and if necessary, restrict what their children watch and play.
The coin of responsibility has two sides. Provision and revision. PROVISION being the retailer following the regulations of sale and then REVISION from parents and consumers of what they and their children play and watch.
I’ve talked about the Australian classification system before and some of the issues it has in the article Classifications in Australia – A little bit different.
Oh hey, this article has some satire in it. I hope you are able to tell what is satirical and what isn’t.