There is nothing quite as appealing to a news outlet as controversy. Disasters are fun too, but controversy, especially with moral outrage attached, can really differentiate one media outlet from another. But sometimes when it is a slow day, and the news just isn’t acquiescing to demands for something sexy to cover, you just have take a “what the hell” approach and create your own controversy out of thin air. It is like magic; stupid, irresponsible magic.
While Fox News has repeatedly faced harsh criticism for this tactic of taking seemingly harmless issues and inflating them into national catastrophes, it is more an issue with journalism in general than any one outlet, as evidenced by the CBS affiliate in Charlotte, North Carolina, WBTV, who may have just created the stupidest video game controversy yet. And that’s saying something.
On what must have been an epically bad news day, the station decided to run a piece about the game Portal 2 after one man was mildly (yes, mildly!) upset over a line in the game where the antagonist (voiced by Stephen Merchant) attempts to make fun of the protagonist for being adopted. It is a single line meant as a joke to show the Merchant’s character of Wheatley is the bad guy and has it in for you, but it is also meant to illustrate that Wheatley is a moron. The line in question that is blowing the wind of outrage up the skirts of the North Carolina news station is this—and be prepared, because we are not going to censor it and you may want to hide your children to prevent them from seeing it: “Alright, fatty. Adopted fatty. Fatty, fatty no parents”.
Hopefully that wasn’t too harsh for our readers, as it apparently sent WBTV and local father Neil Stapel to the airwaves in a moral frenzy.
The line took Stapel by surprise, when he was playing the game with his 10-year old adopted daughter, Zoe. He believes that it could be harmful to adopted children, as it “Throws the question—the most ultimate question that that child is ever going to have for you—and it just throws it right there in the living room.”
Stapel rushed to turn the game off before the terrible weight of those taunts warp the brain of his daughter who—by the way—is of Chinese descent but part of a Caucasian family in North Carolina. Odds are she must at least have suspicions. Thank the heavens that he managed to reach that power button before he was forced to have a meaningful conversation with his daughter. Close call.
To be fair, Stapel does seem genuinely concerned for the well-being of his daughter. Wildly overprotective perhaps, but that is a father’s prerogative. Still, kids are tougher than most give them credit for, and Zoe claims she didn’t actually hear the line. Her father believes that this means she is not ready to discuss the issue because it moved her so deeply. The other possibility is that she simply doesn’t care and probably doesn’t understand why a news crew wants to watch her play Portal 2.
That is not to make light of the horrors Merchant may have inflicted on poor Zoe, and adopted children all around the country—nay, the world. One day your adopted child may be playing Portal 2–which is actually being called by some an educational game as it utilizes spatial puzzles–the next she may be selling meth and living on the streets, fighting off rats for a place to lay her now ruined head, all because of that damned Stephen Merchant and his obvious hatred of orphans. Or, like pretty much everyone else in the world you can accept it as a joke.
But not WBTV. The station was so outraged that it attempted to contact Sony (because the family was playing Portal 2 on a PlayStation 3), presumably to confront the company on its blatant anti-orphan policies. Sony then suggested WBTV contact Valve, the company that actually developed the game, to which the newscasters replied “They’re [Sony] passing the buck on to someone else.” Of course, trying to hold Sony responsible for Portal 2 is like asking it to apologize for something that happened on an episode of The Biggest Loser because people watched it on a Sony TV.
And speaking of big, where is the outrage from obese people? The taunt clearly is meant to offend overweight people as well, and yet WBTV did not even consider interviewing people of weight. Perhaps they are holding off until the next slow news day. Or maybe they plan on interviewing someone who is overweight and adopted. That would cut right to the core of the issue.
Besides incorrectly pointing to Sony as the company responsible for the offending line, the story also incorrectly identifies the rating of the game as E for everyone, when it is actually for anyone 10 years and up. But why bother fact checking something that might actually hurt your argument. It would be easy to pick apart all the inaccuracies with this “report”, but why bother. You can watch the entire segment below and make up your own mind on how stupid it is, and sound off below in the comments.