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.
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…
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.
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?
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