Thursday, May 03, 2007

Sony Decapitates Goat to Promote Violent Videogame

Horrific publicity stunt is centerpiece of launch party for PS2's God Of War II

WARNING: The following contains graphic descriptions of animal mutilation which some readers may find objectionable and revolting.

The increasingly bloody violence of videogames leapt from virtual reality into the real world recently when Sony displayed a beheaded goat carcass at a launch party for God Of War II, a newly released title for the company's PlayStation 2 console. The goat's corpse was featured as the centerpiece of the premiere with his severed head still dangling from his blood-soaked neck by a mere tendril of skin.

Guests were even encouraged to partake of animal flesh—deliberately prepared to look like the goat’s intestines—by reaching into the still-warm cadaver’s open neck wound. Partygoers were also invited to use their bare hands to pick up live snakes writhing in a pit, and to eat grapes salaciously dropped by topless young women into their mouths.

Held in Athens, Greece within sight of the Parthenon, the celebration’s theme reflected that of the game, in which players must fight and kill fabled monsters from ancient Greek mythology. One of the protagonist’s rewards in the game for cutting off his enemies’ heads and limbs, smashing them with giant hammers, and impaling them on swords is a bacchanalian hot tub tryst with half-naked women whose moans of pleasure can be controlled with the deft touch of a button.

The gory “sacrifice” of an actual goat in a commericalized ritual glorifying domination was clearly meant to advertise the vividly rendered violence that characterizes God Of War II, which has earned the game a rating of M for mature (ages 17 and up). However, this supposed safeguard will not prevent underage gamers in the UK who subscribe to Sony’s official PlayStation magazine from getting an eyeful of the headless goat in the latest issue, which includes a two-page photo spread of the launch party.
Though Sony pulled 80,000 copies of this edition from newsstands last weekend, it has already been mailed out to subcribers and cannot be recalled. These vile images only reinforce the message that killing animals and exploiting women is a means to obtaining the power that many impressionable young people seek in playing ultraviolent videogames in the first place.

Sony’s public relations arm formally apologized for the grisly gimmick, and vowed that the company will initiate protocols to prevent animals from being slaughtered to promote their products in the future. With over $80 billion in global revenues, the electronics and media giant is one the largest and most profitable corporations on the planet. However, their dominance over so many aspects of the economy and our lives does not give them the right to hype sadistic videogames by killing animals, and caring consumers should let Sony’s top brass know that this is totally unacceptable.

What You Can Do:

Write, call, or fax Sony Chairman and CEO Sir Howard Stringer and tell him what you think of this abhorrent publicity stunt. While many readers will be justifiably angered by this unpleasant incident, it is important not to be rude in your communications with Sony. Keep in mind that expressing your outrage in a respectful manner will be much more effective in getting your point across than blindly lashing out with insults.

Sir Howard Stringer, Chairman and CEO
Sony Corporation of America
550 Madison Ave.
New York, NY 10022
Tel: (212) 833-6800
Fax: (212) 833-6956