Two major retailers, Target and Kmart, have opted to have GTA V pulled from their Australian store shelves in response to a Change.org petition claiming the game promotes killing women “to get health points.” While the game has been out for over a year now on last generation consoles, the current generation edition of the game’s inclusion of a first-person mode is reportedly the catalyst for the petition and subsequent pull from store shelves.
Target and Kmart, both owned by the retail group Wesfarmers, ultimately pulled the game from shelves after intense pressure from the petition’s 40,000+ signers and feedback from concerned customers.
“We’ve also had customer feedback in support of us selling the game, and we respect their perspective on the issue,” Target’s Cooper said. “However, we feel the decision to stop selling GTA 5 is in line with the majority view of our customers.”
Australia and Australian companies are notoriously quick to knee-jerk react to depictions of violence in media, and censor offending works. The country has a strict set of rules dictating what does or does not constitute the right to be sold in their stores. As detailed in Australian’s guide to their R18+ rating, essentially any game that depicts violence and drug use are tagged with the rating and/or banned from being sold in the country. Previously, any form of media that met these restrictions would have gone unrated and been unavailable in the country, but the R18+ rating became available in 2011, giving these games, which still end up heavily edited in some cases, a way to be sold.
With all that said, it’s a shame that a petition with so much potential misinformation was used as a catalyst for removing the game from store shelves. As the petition itself reads:
It’s a game that encourages players to murder women for entertainment. The incentive is to commit sexual violence against women, then abuse or kill them to proceed or get ‘health’ points – and now Target are stocking it and promoting it for your Xmas stocking.
The petition makes many references to the game’s violence again women, but it also strangely omits the fact that the same level of violence is also dished out to members of the opposite gender, as well as animals. It also contains several references to “sexual violence” that can be carried out against women in the game, which is objectively false. Anyone who has played the game more than a few minutes and have seen more than a trailer or short clip, would know that there is no way to perform non-consensual sexual acts on anyone in the game – let alone sexual acts of violence.
While the game’s protagonists, Michael, Franklin, and Trevor, are all very obviously misogynistic and generally terrible human beings, the petition never makes note of the fact that they are being clearly satirized. The trio is never shown in a good light throughout the game’s playtime, and for good reason. They’re not good human beings. That point is driven home several times throughout the game’s main story that they lead a hedonistic life style and they pay for it dearly multiple times. The game is not glamorizing violence against women or misogyny any more than the 2013 film The Wolf of Wall Street is. It contains all of these things, but they are not shown in a positive light whatsoever.
Target, Kmart, and similar stores in Australia will still continue to sell R-rated violent movies and other violent video games.Source: PCMag