Michael Jackson and 5 other bands censored for video games

Censorship, eh? What's it good for? Protecting our children's short-lived innocence, of course. But otherwise, it's only good for one thing - the ruination of many of our favourite games, films and songs. ET had its guns changed into walkie-talkies, Eminem songs on TV sound like a morse code message (probably spelling out an expletive or three) and now even the late Michael Jackson has been censored by Ubisoft.  

The song in question is 'They Don't Care About Us', which has reportedly been chopped about by the censors in the upcoming Michael Jackson game from Ubisoft for alleged antisemitism, removing the lines: "Jew me, sue me, everybody do me / Kick me, kike me, don't you black or white me". Racial slurs? Urban Dictionary and South Park say yes. Antisemitism, to be precise (a hate of Jews), which has made Ubisoft use an edited version of the song, as you can hear in the Wii trailer (at 1m26s):

But what makes the news all the more ridiculous is that Michael himself explained the meaning behind the words when the song was first released, back in 1996:

"The idea that these lyrics could be deemed objectionable is extremely hurtful to me, and misleading. The song in fact is about the pain of prejudice and hate and is a way to draw attention to social and political problems. I am the voice of the accused and the attacked. I am the voice of everyone. I am the skinhead, I am the Jew, I am the black man, I am the white man. I am not the one who was attacking. It is about the injustices to young people and how the system can wrongfully accuse them. I am angry and outraged that I could be so misinterpreted."

Honestly, we've only had 14 years to read the public statements and extra sleevenotes. Sigh.

Above: They're bad, they're bad. Really, really bad. Who's bad? The censors

I'm guessing he'd feel even more angry and outraged today. If there's one thing Michael Jackson would want to be remembered for, it would surely be for his universal love of everyone. Well, that and being in Space Channel 5.

Oh, but Michael – you are not alone. Look at this little lot…


Crazy Taxi

The Dreamcast version of Crazy Taxi was rated T for Teen. What reason could there possibly be for this cautionary note? It's impossible to hit pedestrians, there's no blood, no car damage… turns out it's the sweary soundtrack, provided by The Offspring. Specifically, 'Way Down The Line', in which Dexter shouts 'And all the things you learn when you're a kid / you'll fuck up just like your parents did / it all just happens again way down the line.'

Subsequent versions lost the offending word 'parents'. Nah, just kidding. They dropped the F word, of course. Then dropped The Offspring altogether. Then KFC, Tower Records and Levis. Yup, we're really looking forward to the upcoming XBLA release of Moderately Eccentric Hackney Carriage. Here's the Gamecube version, minus the F-bomb (skip to 5:26):



So offensive was the song in LittleBigPlanet that the entire game had to be delayed for almost a week in order to remove it in its entirety. Containing a passage from the Qur'an, the Swingin' Safari level's backing track was deemed offensive for Muslims. If sacred religious texts don't sound like something you'd expect to find in LittleBigPlanet, you'd be right. But the words were there, apparently translated as 'every soul shall have the taste of death' and 'all that is on Earth will perish'. Not even Stephen Fry can make that sort of thing sound family-friendly…

Above: Ban this sick filth! We would publish the video here, but then we'd probably get banned too...

As a result, the game was delayed, existing copies patched and future impressions of the disc made without the offending lyric. Crikey.

Guitar Hero: Aerosmith

This one is a bit special. I can understand cutting offensive lyrics from games when children are going to be playing them. But what could be more childish than the line 'Pink gets me high as a kite'? I can see how it could possibly be taken as a drug reference, but as Dave H pointed out, they're singing about a colour. You can't snort a colour (although the Toxic Twins might have given it a go, back in the 1970s).

The game doesn't even try to hide its censorship with clever editing - it just blots out the word 'high'. That's right, Pink gets me      as a kite.


Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3

While we're on the subject of Neversoft, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3 had some rather severe censorship, most noticeably in The Ramones' Blitzkreig Bop. A song that actually made it into Rock Band uncut. But hey ho.

The offending line is 'Hey ho, let's go / shoot 'em in the back now'. THPS3 cleverly solved the problem by removing the word 'shoot'. That's right, it makes perfect sense as 'Hey ho, let's go,     'em in the back now'. Hear it at 7:05.


Burnout Revenge

The band in question here, Animal Alpha, sadly split up a couple of years ago. Which is a crying shame because Pheromones is one of my top 5 favourite albums of all time. Best track on that album is undoubtedly 'Bundy' – a song about oppression and rising up against it, getting your mates involved to get your revenge in a style similar to infamous serial killer Ted Bundy. Criterion obviously agree, putting Bundy into their seminal PS2 racer. Only it's chopped up almost beyond recognition.

The chorus contains the following lyric: "I've fallen down / my nose bleeding badly / I'm where you want me / I know the words / I know when to say them / you're where I want you…'

…which EA chopped up until it didn't make any sense:

'I've fallen down / I know when to say them / I'm where you want me / I know the words / I know when to say them / you're where I want you'. Nonsense, whichever way you look at it. Here it is in the game:

And anyway, what the hell's wrong with singing about a nosebleed? Censorship fail.

Above: Honestly, what's inappropriate about this lovely young lady? 

15 Nov, 2010

Source: 4gamers


  • ShokuaHyuga - November 17, 2010 2 a.m.

    I know who Micheal Jackson is going to kill first when he comes back as a dancing zombie; "the fellas at the freakin' FCC!"
  • Seabread - November 16, 2010 2 p.m.

    There's a terrible piece of editing in Burnout Paradise. Faith No More's most recognised track, Epic, has been chopped and rehashed abonimably, with a line from the first verse repeated twice, once in place of the rediculously offsensive lyric "lay down on it and do it some more". I guess a total disregard of the highway code is enough for Criterion and EA
  • nai1210 - November 16, 2010 1:20 p.m.

    @knightDehumidiflier Its actually "fuck you,I WON'T do what you tell me" mutherfucker UGGGH
  • deedob - November 16, 2010 12:44 p.m.

    If i remember correctly, Jet Set Radio Future also used a censored version of it's now "(in)famous and/or annoying" birthday cake song. If i also remember, the original went along the line of a mother trying to drug his kid with suspicious ingredients added to the birthday cake. Talked about pot and LSD, among other things...
  • philipshaw - November 16, 2010 11:13 a.m.

    Animal Alpha are awesome, can't believe I never realised the song was censored in burnout revenge and I played a lot of that game
  • reaperman22 - November 16, 2010 10:28 a.m.

    i was playing guitar hero the other day singing '2 minutes to midnight' by iron maiden and couldn't believe it when the lyrics cut out during the chorus.. i would understand censoring swearing in one of these games and i know that the lyrics are a bit dark but still it annoyed the hell out of me the whole way through, the lyrics are "2 minutes to midnight, to kill the unborn in the womb" and "the body bags and little rags of children torn in two" and they got censored down to "2 minutes to midnight, the unborn in the womb" and "the body bags and little rags torn in two" now although its annoying its would be a lot more understandable if they actually bothered to cover up this instead of just leaving a gaping silence.. plus they leave in other stuff like "jellied brains" and "oil the jaws of the war machine and feed it with our babies" reCAPTCHA my second word is literally written upside down
  • QWERTYCommander - November 16, 2010 5:28 a.m.

    Oh, and also in SSX On Tour, they censored "smoking gun" in Banquet.
  • QWERTYCommander - November 16, 2010 5:26 a.m.

    @accidentprone88 And they also censored "Dopeman" in the same song.
  • KnightDehumidifier - November 16, 2010 2:15 a.m.

    I don't think Guitar Hero 2's rendition of Rage Against the Machine's "Killing in the name of" had that two-minute interlude featuring the repeated phrase, "FUCK YOU I DON'T DO WHAT YOU TELL ME." complete with the end of it being Rocha's screaming "MOTHERFUCKER". Just a thought.
  • deathrea - November 16, 2010 2:05 a.m.

    Thank you for bringing up the GH Aerosmith thing. That was the dumbest censorship in a game I've ever seen. But I suppose if they had left it in it would have listed Drug Reference on the back of the box, and being that the game was supposed to cover the band's whole career that would have come across badly.
  • accidentprone88 - November 16, 2010 1:40 a.m.

    Don't forget N.W.A.'s "Express Yourself" in Tony Hawk 4. They edited out the word "weed" even though Dre was making mention of NOT smoking weed. Which, as we all know is a lie, but still.
  • magic_muffin_man - November 16, 2010 12:57 a.m.

    The worst example I can think of bad censorship is the song "Gouge Away" by the Pixies on Rock Band DLC. Keep in mind, another song on the album, "Debaser", got away with it's lyrics about gouging out eyeballs for the DLC. However, they edited this single line from "Gouge Away": "Some Marijuana/If you got some/Gouge Away..." into... "Some Mari/If You got some/Gouge Away..." What the christ, HMX. You can cut the whole word, or you can keep it. You can't just cut it at the halfway point.
  • FistfulofPelican - November 16, 2010 12:39 a.m.

    The worst instance I can think of is Band Hero cutting the word "whiskey" out of American Pie. I get that they're trying to go for an E rating and don't want any references to alcohol in there, but it feels like too much, especially considering that they then don't censor "rye," which is a type of whiskey, anyway. Did they just assume that the kids playing the game wouldn't notice? Ah well, at least they left "Satan" in there.
  • D0CCON - November 15, 2010 11:14 p.m.

    I found Blitzkrieg Bop's censorship to be interesting. Removing the word made me think f*** them in the back now instead of shoot, although I think it would have to be butt instead of back to make the most sense. Hey, the f-bomb gets censored the most. It reminds me of a Youtube video with the Count from Sesame Street and somebody bleeped him every time he said Count. It made a child's character seem really dirty. Just another sign that censorship causes harm.
  • ViolentLee - November 15, 2010 8:36 p.m.

    I remember when a song in Tony Hawk 2 actually censored the word "suck." I was like, "What the [what]?!"
  • QWERTYCommander - November 15, 2010 8:04 p.m.

    @Gazzy Umm... EBA didn't censor The Anthem I don't think. but then again I hate GC, so I didn't listen to the original. And yeah, I don't know why they censored "Shoot 'Em in the back now". They had much worse uncensored lyrics in THPS4 (She's got a demon in between her legs with a mind of it's own; Underneath those booty tight cut-off Daisy Dukes is her sweet spot; I am the antichrist) SSX On Tour had some pretty nasty censorship though. Come Back and Banquet especially. Come Back had "hell" censored with the bracketed words shown here: "All my life's been a [long] of a sitcom. Oh my, I had a [working] of a trip." God damn! If you're going to censor words, at least have them make sense! And I'm pretty sure E10+ games can say "hell". I think either all games with licensed music should be rated M, or the T rating should be more lenient.
  • TNK2 - November 15, 2010 7:38 p.m.

    It sucks how in the MJ trailer when they have the black MJ song selected he's still white.Can u say whitewash? or he might be a little tan so they can balance white and black but back on topic ubisoft ruin a good song and those other edits sucked too.
  • Phreakout93 - November 15, 2010 6:53 p.m.

    how about madden 08 hollywood undead "undead" just horrible,like every other word gets censored. and madden 09 just destroyed guerilla radio -_-
  • Gazzy - November 15, 2010 6:14 p.m.

    And yet, the entirety of Elite Beat Agents. Especially "The Anthem".
  • 510BrotherPanda - November 15, 2010 6 p.m.

    I know it's not a "band" specifically, but you forgot to mention that Ocarina of Time had its "Muslim words" edited out of the Fire Temple's theme before Little Big Planet.

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