Thursday, November 18, 2010

Predictable Outrage (Kobe's COD Commercial)

The minute I heard Kobe Bryant was doing a commercial for the new Call of Duty game, I had a feeling people would be upset. Kobe said a month ago that he only did it because it looked silly and he felt that it wouldn't offend his young fan base.

I still knew that no matter how the commercial looked, Kobe would somehow be blamed. The commercial's been out for 2 weeks and already I'm starting to see the predictable handwringing that's coming from the media.

First off, my thoughts of the commercial. It's creative in showing how popular 1st-person shoot-em-up's have become. We've come a long way from me growing up with Wolfenstein and later Goldeneye and Duke Nukem. Everyone loves COD and this game was just as anticipated as Madden, NBA 2K11 or anyone. The commercial shows that with a variety of folks in there - including Jimmy Kimmel.

It's not offensive to me at all. Yet like clockwork, here come the reactions to the commercial about it  being a letdown to fans. The LA Times' Lakers blog had a unique take saying that it appeared to trivialize war by making it too simplistic. This I can agree with as opposed to this article by ESPN's Tim Keown that used the sad death of a child by automatic weapons to scold Kobe for doing this while Black-on-Black crime continues to happen.

It's a sad story and I feel the folks involved. They have every reason to feel outraged as it hits close to home. But I feel they were used by the writer, who targets Kobe and the commercial instead addressing the real issues that plague our communities and lead to violence.

If anyone wants to blame somebody, blame Activision for promoting this game and having a commercial that made war/battle seem trivial. But blaming Kobe is too easy a cop-out. Not when this game is going to be marketed toward kids or the general public whether Kobe's in it or not. Nobody's mad that Jimmy Kimmel's in this commercial but because sportswriters want to act like the morality police in the wrong places, it's time to target the Mamba.

Granted, we're barely a year removed from Gilbert Arenas' not-so-funny incident where he brought guns into the Washington Wizards' locker room. What Agent Zero did was stupid and reprehensible but if the media wants to put this in the same context with a video game and a light-hearted commercial, then it thinks we're even stupider because we can't tell the difference.

Yes, Kobe's the face of the NBA and has to watch what he does. But this commercial was over-the-top and I didn't take it like he was endorsing real violence as much as any of the folks in there who were involved. The commercial did its job.

Gun violence is real in this country. Thank God it's not as bad as it was during the 80's when inner cities turned into the Wild Wild West. If you want to target the real enemy, go after the video game companies that make these games. Look at the American public and our fascination with guns, violence and shoot-em-up games.

Video games are only the tip of the iceberg. Save the outrage for the real culprits of violence but don't blame fantasy for real issues. I respect anyone's choice to buy or not buy this game but don't shoot the messenger.


  1. On point!
    Agree all around.

  2. Do you think the fact that Kobe's black contributed to the backlash? Because I don't understand why he's singled out in this case.

    The problems of violence and gun issues go way beyond video games. People just don't want to take responsibility for their actions, lives, how they raise their children, etc. It's just easier to BLAME someone else.


  3. Thanks Mojo!

    Charlotte - Don't think race is a factor. Blame what happened to Gilbert Arenas last year more than anything and sportswriters' natural tendency to act like the moral police. But like I said, I don't see folks targetting Kimmel and it's not racial, it's more like who their audience is. Which is stupid.

    And that's my point. Don't use a video game to fight real gun issues plaguing us.