As we all know, the city of Charlottesville, Virginia here in the United States was embroiled on Saturday, August 12, 2017, in a heated battle between neo-Nazi fascists and counter-protestors. The clash resulted in the deaths of 3 people – one counter-protestor, and 2 police officers – and many others wounded. We here at PCU grieve for the families who have lost loved ones, and our thoughts are with those who suffered injuries at the hands of those who would spread bigotry and hatred.
This brings me to the point of today’s message, dear readers.
The vast majority of us can appreciate good satire. Saturday Night Live, MAD TV, Black Adder, The Onion, Duffle Blog, and many other forms of media have made a name for themselves by poking fun at current events, public figures (i.e. celebrities & politicians), and the like. However, satire is usually used to lighten the mood when something not entirely tragic happens, and in which there is some inherent comedy. NOT when people have died as a result.
On Tuesday, August 15, 2017 popular satire site The Hard Times published an issue of their ‘Hard Drive’ gaming column, entitled, “Bethesda Apologizes for Extremely Insensitive Wolfenstein ARG Over Weekend”. The article told the story of how video game publisher Bethesda SoftWorks had pitched and set up an augmented reality game (ARG) experience, meant to tie in to their upcoming title, Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, and implied that the tragedy in Charlottesville, VA was nothing more than an ill-advised publicity stunt. The article went on to detail an “apology” from Bethesda VP Pete Hines, talking about how the idea behind the experience was that “there would be this ‘Nazi’ rally and people who pre-order Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus would earn multiplayer weapons, skins, and other rewards by taking part in an augmented reality game, identifying Nazis from photos posted to news sites and Twitter”.
Let’s talk about this for a moment, shall we? If you are a comedian, writer, satirist, etc., you REALLY need to examine your choices carefully. Sure, there are comedians and comedic personalities who do things just for the shock value. Sure there have been personalities like this for many, many years. However, for this “story” poking fun at an event which resulted in the deaths of three individuals (two of whom were doing their jobs to try and protect the populace, and one of whom was LITERALLY fighting Nazis) to be released a mere THREE DAYS after said event, is (in my opinion) in incredibly poor taste. Good comedy comes from timing, and this was poorly timed, to say the least. It would seem to me that, even though the folks at the site bill it as a “punk news site”, they would be at least cognizant that there are grieving families who have not even had time to bury their loved ones. To – even jokingly – imply that the Nazi rally which erupted into violence was the result of a poorly-planned publicity stunt for a video game is pretty reprehensible, to say nothing of the implication being made less than a week after the event occurred.
I mean, C’MON PEOPLE! The site has been around since 1982, meaning that it’s seen the worst that humanity has had to offer in the last 35 years! I would probably be willing to bet that some of the staff at that site have experienced personal tragedy in that time. However, the publication of this recent article seems to indicate that these individuals are completely incapable of seeing things from the perspective of those involved.
So, Matt Saincome (founder of TheHardTimes.net), Jeremy Kaplowitz (‘Hard Drive’ Editor-in-Chief), and Seth Macy (author of the article)… Rather than write about a fake apology for a fake ARG taking place in a REAL event where REAL lives were lost, I think you may want to consider issuing a REAL apology of your own.