Target Removes GTA V From Store Shelves

It came out of nowhere when Australia’s Target faced heat from a petition hosted on the site that demanded the removal of Grand Theft Auto V from shelves due to the game apparently ‘encouraging players to commit sexual violence and kill women’. It’s something we have all seen before and Rockstar Games are not exactly strangers to criticism for their GTA franchise. These games have been accused of warping the minds of our youths since 1997 and yet somehow minds such as mine are perfectly fine.

This is obviously a very sensitive issue, especially seeing as the majority of votes might come from those unfortunate people in society who have found themselves in the position of a victim. The issue is also one I strongly support, the abuse or encouragement of abuse to women is inexcusable and wrong. You should put a stop to whatever puts incentive on the senseless abuse of women alone and you should feel contempt for any form of media that encourages unwarranted violence towards only women. But Grand Theft Auto V does not do that.

The petition starts off by stating that GTA V is a game that ‘encourages players to murder women for entertainment’ and says the game incentives sexual violence against women in or to proceed or get health points. As a person who has played countless hours of the game I can safely say that the it never once encourages the murder of women and it does not encourage sexual violence towards them. In fact at no point whatsoever are you told to kill a prostitute or assault a female in any way. The petition mentions that players are also given the ‘options to kill women…to get their money returned’ and yes this is true in a way, the player can kill a sex worker after services have been rendered to get their money back. But the player is not given the option, the option to perform violence is perpetually there and is not directed toward one gender but both sexes and in no way does the game direct tell you ‘you can kill this prostitute to get your money back’

An issue to pick up on is that the petition makes clear reference to grooming a generation of boys to this sort of behaviour. Rockstar makes no allusion that the game is fashioned for anyone but adults and the big 18+ on the box should deter those misinformed parents away from buying it for their children. The generation of young boys that could be influenced by this is in no way under responsibility by Rockstar but by the parents or guardians themselves. While it used to be easy to access adult-rated games years ago there are now strict blocks that stop young children from buying these games both digitally and physically and if the game falls into the hands of young children it is usually dropped by an either unaware or irresponsible adult.

The petition also says the game shows ‘hatred and contempt’ for women in the sex industry. The game objectively appears neutral on that part and any contempt or ill treatment for prostitutes or strippers is usually through the player’s actions. The game does not condone this, in fact any acts of violence or even the possibility of violence will get you wanted by cops and this will more or likely end up in the players arrest or death. The game clearly shows the consequences of your actions while at the same time remaining a form of entertainment and fantasy.

The petition has succeeded in removing GTA V from shelves of Target and Kmart across Australia but has also sparked responses, petitions set up to change target’s violent image and name, a petition to ban the erotic fiction ‘Fifty Shades Of Grey’ and even in the mock form of a petition to remove the Bible from Target due to ‘sickening’ images, parrying the same keyword and excuses used to criticise Grand Theft Auto V.

Target Australia will stop selling the R-rated video game Grand Theft Auto 5 (GTA5) following feedback from customers about the game’s depictions of violence against women. Target General Manager Corporate Affairs Jim Cooper said the decision was made following extensive community and customer concern about the game.

“We’ve been speaking to many customers over recent days about the game, and there is a significant level of concern about the game’s content,” Mr Cooper said.

“We’ve also had customer feedback in support of us selling the game, and we respect their perspective on the issue. “However, we feel the decision to stop selling GTA5 is in line with the majority view of our customers.”

Mr Cooper said Target would continue to sell other R-rated DVDs and games.

“While these products often contain imagery that some customers find offensive, in the vast majority of cases, we believe they are appropriate products for us to sell to adult customers.
“However, in the case of GTA5, we have listened to the strong feedback from customers that this is not a product they want us to sell.”

If anything this situation has shown us what the power of many concerned individuals rallying together can do and I would like to see it done more but only against the real culprit. In the end Grand Theft Auto V never encourages abusive behaviour towards one sex alone and remains non discriminatory considering both sexes fair game, in fact much more violence is committed against males in the game without worry of encouragement to murder men. Something that becomes a dilute point, much like the idea that a film is not real is that GTA V is “only a game” which is what we sometimes forget when videogames are accused of creating a generation of murderers.

I feel the removal of GTA V from Target and Kmart will ultimately do nothing to deter people from abusive or violent behaviour because I strongly believe that GTA V has simply nothing to do with that statistic. If these same amount of people put their energy towards eliminating gun crime or making it safer for these workers in rather than directing their passion toward a game that has no business being criticised. In the end my opinion is that these concerned people had a knee-jerk reaction to the images or footage of the game that led them to believe GTA V is something more sinister than what it actually is.