The Advertising Standards Authority has ruled that a TV ad for Rockstar's Bully: Scholarship Edition
does not realistically portray bullying. The advert received 31 complaints.
* - The 'hero' (Jimmy Hopkins) " in a headmaster's office. The headmaster said "Ah, so you must be Hopkins. You're quite the nastiest little boy I have ever encountered" to which Hopkins replied "I'm just trying to fit in". "
* - Jimmy kicking a wooden box apart, firing a catapult and shielding himself from a burning substance in a science classroom.
* - Students running away from a mouse.
* - Hopkins emerging from a locker, creeping around the school and skateboarding (!)
* - Two other characters were shown lifting another student up by his underpants.
* - Jimmy kisses a girl.
The issues raised by 31 complaints about the advert included:
1. Several viewers, some of whom had experienced bullying, complained that the ad was offensive and distasteful.
2. Most viewers complained that the ad glorified, trivialised and encouraged bullying and violence. Some of them were concerned that the ad gave the wrong message in the current climate of bullying, suicides and violent crime amongst young people.
3. Some viewers complained that the ad was scheduled inappropriately because it could be seen by children.
The ASA also quotes Clearcast ("the company responsible for the pre-transmission examination and clearance of television advertisements") as follows, "the scenarios seemed to depict a school from the past when catapults were the most dangerous weapons in the playground.
"...older pupils' ideas of bullying went only as far as the hackneyed idea of lifting people by their underwear.
"(Clearcast) agreed with Take Two's view that it had attracted complaints because of its name rather than any depiction of cruelty or harm."
Clearcast also went on to state that, "far from glorifying bullying, the aim of the game was actually to beat the bullies. They believed the characters were not shown in a sympathetic or glorified light. They said the one scene of actual bullying did not encourage violence and the aim of the game was to stamp out that activity. They argued that the bullies were shown as contemptible characters dressed in the style of "Jocks", as the American educational system would label them, with the association of stupidity that went with that stereotype"
Also in Take-Two's favour are that it pulled the ad and has no intention of showing it again - and, according to Clearcast, "Take Two had taken great care in the scheduling of the ad and had erred on the side of caution whenever the suitability of a programme was in doubt."
The ASA has, therefore, ruled that, "We noted the character of Hopkins was not intended to be a bully and would often be tasked with overcoming bullies. We considered that the ad did not contain explicit or graphic violence and that young people would see the lifting of a boy by his underpants as comic and exaggerated, rather than as realistic or condoning intimidating behaviour. We also considered that viewers were unlikely to draw a direct analogy between the computer-generated, stereotyped school setting and contemporary society. We concluded that the ad did not glorify or encourage bullying and violence among young people."
The issue of ratings came up as well in the ASA's refusal to uphold complaints. The organisation stated that, "We noted the game carried a 15 rating and the ad had an 'ex-kids' restriction, which would help prevent younger children from seeing it.
"Although some complainants reported viewing the ads in prime-time programmes and football matches, we considered that the ad was unlikely to present a problem if seen by older children and adolescents. We concluded that the ad had been appropriately scheduled and the 'ex-kids' restriction was sufficient."
There is no news yet as to whether any authority has declared that Manhunt 2 doesn't realistically portray... man hunting (unlike, say, Sex and the City
, which quite obviously does).Source: ASA