Sunday, November 28, 2010

8 comments Kobe Bryant Needs To Stop Murdering Teenagers

Tim Keown has a great concern. His great concern is that teenagers in Oakland are dying in violent shooting deaths. Kobe Bryant is at fault (naturally) for this occurring. See, Kobe is in the commercial for the new game "Call of Duty: Black Ops" and he is seen shooting a gun in the commercial. It's probably not the best move for Kobe, simply because Kobe shooting a gun doesn't seem to match up with his personality. It is only a commercial after all though. For those teenagers (all three of them) that pattern their life after Kobe and will go shoot someone because they saw Kobe played a violent video game this is a great day. Kobe has now murdered teenagers in Oakland in the opinion of Tim Keown. It's much like how Tiger Woods is going to be responsible for a generation of kids who think it is fine to cheat on their Swedish model wife.

Todd Walker was working in the mortuary Monday, preparing the body of a 14-year-old boy, a kid he'd coached in youth football for five years, for a funeral later this week. Larry Malik Grayson was shot in the head two days after his last freshman football game at Berkeley (Calif.) High School.

This is sad. Let's get that out of the way. I don't condone violence and I can't imagine the pain that must be felt seeing a kid you coached lying on your table. That being said, I can't imagine this kid is dead because another kid was emulating Kobe Bryant shooting a gun in a commercial. "Call of Duty: Kobe Bryant Caps Some Motherfuckers" never made it to production fortunately.

I find it funny that Tim Keown is concerned Kobe will be emulated by kids when he plays a violent video game...if kids were that concerned with emulating Kobe off the court shouldn't we be concerned with how they treat women in hotel rooms or that Kobe's great work ethic may rub off on them? It's not a cheap shot at Kobe, but a real question.

It happened at a friend's house. Somehow a gun appeared and Malik died.

"Somehow a gun appeared..."

I will tell you how the gun appeared. In "Call of Duty" once you beat the Vietnam War level a gun appears in your living room. It's not just an ordinary gun that appears out of thin air once you beat the level, but a fully loaded gun. This gun that appears in a room after this level is defeated. who puts it there? Kobe Bryant. So that's how the gun "appeared" in the room. None of the kids in the room planned on shooting the gun, that would never happen, there was no previous forethought on the part of the kid, he just did it because the gun "appeared" there.

The shooting may have been accidental. The details seem unimportant, but the senselessness isn't and neither is the frequency.

It may have been an accidental shooting or it may not have been. The details of WHY this kid was killed don't matter. The details are only what give the reasoning for the murder. Who needs details and reasons for a murder when you are writing an article trying to tie the reason into Kobe Bryant in a commercial for a violent video game?

Wouldn't the details be super important when accusing Kobe Bryant of perpetuating gun violence?

Too many lives are being lost or changed because of guns. Too many kids -- good kids, kids who play football or baseball or basketball, kids who go to school and try to do right -- are dying on the streets of places like Berkeley and Oakland.

It's sad...yet has nothing to do with sports really.

Walker's heart breaks and his anger rises. As a youth football coach and funeral-home worker, he fights the gun culture and the death culture. He fights the pervasiveness that threatens to turn youth gun violence into just another annoyance of modern life, along the lines of a dropped phone call or a pothole. He tries to use sports to create a positive alternative.

It's a great idea to create sports as a positive alternative. Unfortunately not every youth chooses this alternative.

And then last week, he went home and was watching a game when a new commercial for "Call of Duty: Black Ops" came on his television. Seen through Walker's eyes, the content was bad enough. A woman in high heels, a hotel concierge, a guy in a fast-food worker's outfit -- they're all shooting automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades in an urban warfare setting.

Not to sound like a self-important talk show host, but this is where the parents come in. A parent can't always watch their child, but they should be able to know enough about them to know they don't own a game that parent doesn't want the child to own.

He was already disgusted, but about halfway through the spot, Walker did a double take: Wait! Wasn't that Kobe Bryant?

Seriously, is that really Kobe Bryant carrying an assault weapon with the word "MAMBA" on the barrel?

Yes it is. The music is "Gimme Shelter" by the Rolling Stones. They are equally to blame for the gun culture. How many times has that song been played during a scene showing a war? Give me their heads on a stick!

Look at the commercial. It is clearly showing a fake war setting. I know all kids may not get this, but these people in the commercial are clearly fighting a fake war against an unknown enemy. Does Tim Keown expect Army enlistments to increase as well because of the commercial? This commercial is no less dangerous to the public than any athlete who does a commercial for fast food or any other high calorie/high fat brand. Obesity is a huge (pardon the pun) issue among youth in America as well.

None of his people, not his wife or his agent or someone in the NBA offices, advised him against this?

"I couldn't believe it was him," Walker says. "What's wrong with him?"

Clearly Kobe doesn't care about any of the kids in Oakland dying of gun violence. Let's look at this logically...are there really kids who think because they see Kobe Bryant with a gun in a commercial for "Call of Duty" that are going to believe it is now fine to go purchase a gun and murder someone? Most likely, these kids will be motivated to go purchase the game. I guess that is the slippery slope Tim Keown is worried about. Once they buy the game they will go shoot someone with a real gun. This never would have happened if Kobe Bryant wasn't in the commercial for the game. That's just a lot of causation to go through in order to blame Kobe. A kid has to see the commercial and want to play the game, which will cause him to think it is fine to shoot someone, and then when he has a chance to do so he will...all because he saw Kobe Bryant in the commercial for "Call of Duty: Black Ops."

Kobe Bryant also sells basketball shoes. We are all aware of the labor issues that go into the manufacturing of basketball shoes overseas. Is he to blame for that as well?

Those responses might be coping mechanisms or a natural defense against the reality of a situation that some deem hopeless, but Walker fights anyway. The glamorization troubles him.

I wonder if it troubles him that he has to be the one to talk to the kids on his team about these issues? I am sure it does, but rather than blame a parent he knows and probably likes for violence, it is easier to blame Kobe Bryant.

And then he sees Kobe shooting an assault weapon on TV, along with Jimmy Kimmel and those other "ordinary" people, including an overweight girl wearing glasses and a revenge-is-mine smile as she fires into a building. (She's apparently in the throes of a self-esteem bump, but it doesn't take much of a leap to see her as a geek settling things with a gun.)

Or she could be a female who is playing a video game about war. Nah, that's too obvious.

At the end of the spot, the tag line -- "There's a soldier in all of us" -- manages to diminish and trivialize the work of real soldiers while sending one of the most irresponsible messages in the history of advertising.

I don't think the game trivializes the work of real soldiers at all. This is just a weak attempt by Tim Keown to feel morally justified at knocking the gun culture of America while still giving credit to soldiers who fight for America overseas. It's like the adage that "guns are bad, unless the right people have them." Unfortunately, you can't differentiate in who should and who does get a gun.

"This is exactly what we're trying to fight," Walker says. "I'm looking at a 14-year-old boy right now who got shot in the head, and then I see Kobe get on TV looking like a damned fool, holding an assault weapon and wearing the same stuff the kids are wearing when they kill somebody. The look on his face -- all smiling and happy. This is the attitude we're trying to get away from. It's OK for him, though, because he's never had to worry about going home to the ghetto. That ain't his world."

So if Allen Iverson or any other NBA player who is on record as having grown up in the "ghetto," was holding a gun in the commercial then it would be perfectly fine because they have enough street cred to be in the commercial? If another NBA player who had a tough upbringing is holding a gun and smiling then there would be no problem because that was his world at one time?

The NBA has a dress code. Break it and get fined. The NBA has a code of conduct. Break it and get fined or suspended. The NBA made an example out of Gilbert Arenas when he brought a gun to work.

He brought a REAL gun to his work, which just happens to be a locker room in an arena owned by an NBA team. If you don't get the difference in Arenas' situation and this Kobe commercial then you probably shouldn't be writing columns about America's gun culture.

Walker asks, "Where's the NBA on this one? What the hell is this guy doing? He needs to explain his reasons for that."

The NBA isn't going to regulate what a player does outside of his job that isn't against the law. The NBA does not have the authority to confiscate a player's legally registered weapons or regulate their lives outside of the long as that life stays within the confines of the law.

It is Kobe Bryant. He had to get a tattoo on his arm and call himself "The Black Mamba" to even begin to get some sort of street cred. I don't think this is a guy that kids look up to when it comes to how to live a rough life in the streets. Maybe I'm wrong.

It's well known that Bryant is involved in military charities and feels a kinship with American soldiers. He reportedly trained with actual black ops soldiers to prepare for the commercial. At the game's launch, Bryant helped present a check for $1 million to the Call of Duty Endowment for returning soldiers.

Tim Keown thinks he is still a murderer.

Robert Kotick, the CEO of Activision, which makes "Call of Duty," considers his game a tribute to the military. It's a claim that's undercut by a commercial that makes its "heroes" appear to be regular people using their lunch break to take down a helicopter and fire a few rounds into a building.

So if the commercial featured soldiers that were doing the exact same thing that regular people were doing, then there would be no problem? So the fact American soldiers are idolized and considered in high regard by American citizens, wouldn't that have an impact positively or negatively on a kid's idea that carrying a gun and killing another kid is wrong? I would think if a kid thinks Kobe Bryant carrying a gun makes it fine to shoot another kid then that same kid would see a soldier carrying a gun and also think it is fine to shoot another kid. Sure, maybe kids like Kobe Bryant more, but I would find it hard to believe a kid could be naive to the high esteem American soldiers are held in.

We're trying to send a message that guns aren't the answer, and we've got an NBA player on television shooting that big-ass gun with a stupid-ass look on his face. We can't win."

I can't help but feel like this would make a kid want to buy the game, not commit a murder.

Walker has an idea he knows will never happen. He wants to give Kobe the same tour he gives his young football players.

"I'd like him to come in here and see what I see," Walker says. "The bodies, the tools, the chemicals -- he needs to see it and smell it. He damned sure needs to see it."

So is Todd Walker railing against Kobe Bryant being in a commercial for "Call of Duty" or is he railing against the existence of the very game "Call of Duty?" I wonder because I think it makes more sense to rail against the existence of the game more than Kobe Bryant being in a commercial for the game.

Walker had to get off the phone. He had to go back to work. The Lakers come to Oakland to play the Warriors on Jan. 12.

The offer stands.

Yes, gun violence is terrible. Kobe Bryant in the commercial for "Call of Duty" was almost funny to me. I found it hard to take him seriously as he was shooting the gun because that didn't seem in line with who he is as a person. I don't know if kids will grab a gun and shoot someone because they saw Kobe in this commercial. Most likely, there is another reason a kid would shoot someone, and there is someone else to blame for this happening. It's easier to blame Kobe Bryant than to blame a parent.


HH said...

Robert Kotick, the CEO of Activision, which makes "Call of Duty," considers his game a tribute to the military. It's a claim that's undercut by a commercial that makes its "heroes" appear to be regular people using their lunch break to take down a helicopter and fire a few rounds into a building.

Plenty to comment on here, but let's start with that. Does anyone really think that regular people wanting to be like soldiers is not a tribute to soldiers?! We play Madden because we want to be NFL football players, and we play Call of Duty because we want to be soldiers. We hold both of these in high regard, for vastly different reasons. I don't think less of soldiers just because I can press circle to explode a tank just like I don't think less of Chris Johnson because I can accelerate using triangle. [Or whatever, I don't have a playstation.]

The desire to emulate is a form of flattery, so no, the game is not in any way lessening societal respect for soldiers.

Bengoodfella said...

HH, you are right. It is a form of flattery and I don't see how pretending to be a soldier undercuts what soldiers do for the country at all.

Who plays the game and then says, "these soldiers really suck," because they can play a game and pretend to be a soldier?

FJ said...

HH - what about Grand Theft Auto? Are we going to twist your definition to say, "well, at heart, we all want to be able to do whatever we want, even if it involves killing people for no good reason and slapping prostitutes around".

Don't get me wrong, I agree with you, but not your reasoning. Whether it's a form of flattery or not doesn't matter. It's a form of *entertainment*, that's what matters, and only immature morons translate what they do in a video game to reality. That's like trying to leap off a building because you read a Superman comic and your parents suing DC when you die in the fall.

Personally, I don't care for that type of entertainment and really don't play video games at all...but kudos to those who can afford hundreds of dollars on consoles and games and hours of spare time to kill. No pun intended.

rich said...

Seen through Walker's eyes, the content was bad enough.

My problem here is that you can always find one person who thinks something is horrible and needs to be banned. I'm sorry for Mr. Walker and having to deal with this situation, but it's a commercial about a video game. Nevermind the fact that in urban environments, which Oakland certainly is, there is plenty of real violence happening on the streets.

"I couldn't believe it was him," Walker says. "What's wrong with him?"

Again, this is one person's opinion. For every person who freaks out about Kobe being in the commercial there are thousands who didn't think about it for more than 15 seconds. The problem with a lot of journalists is that they'll find one person who has a point of view and build their entire argument around it as if this one person had the same view as everyone else.

Kobe Bryant also sells basketball shoes.

What's kind of interesting, in a sad way, is that more people have probably been killed because they owned a pair of Jordans than have been killed because of the COD commercial. We should probably stop selling shoes.

"There's a soldier in all of us" -- manages to diminish and trivialize the work of real soldiers while sending one of the most irresponsible messages in the history of advertising.

How does it do this? If anything, these games show how terrifying war is. The number of times I've played games involving war and gone "eh, war isn't that bad" is zero. While the number of times I've died in these games is countless. In a way these games show you how at any given moment you could die.

However, like FJ said, it's all about entertainment. To think that a video game is going to be a realistic depiction of an actual war is naive. There's no way to recreate the effect of "I hope I don't get blown up by an IED on my patrol today" when you're sitting in your living room.

Martin said...

I'll even move beyond the premise of the article, and blast it for just being hack writing. The entire piece is terrible, as if it was written by a 16 year old looking to make his mark in the school paper. It has overly ominous and serious tones, while making egregious comparisons and brushing aside any factual or important points that might weaken it's narrative.

Seriously, go back and read the first paragraph. It's a disaster. It was so bad that English teachers were critiquing the piece in the comments section. It's yet another instance of "Does ESPN have any editors?? And if so, how do I get that job because they sure as hell don't seem to do any editing."

Jeremy Conlin said...

Preface: I don't especially like Kobe. I never have, I don't expect I ever will. I have begrudging respect, and that's about it.

That being said, it is my personal mission to assemble a list of everyone that wrote a column condemning Kobe for making this commercial, as well as every talking-head on daytime sports TV or Radio. Then, I am going track down every single person on that list, go to their home or place of business, and scream "WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU?!?!?!" directly into their face, hopefully bombarding it with spittle. Then I am going to strangle them. Not enough to cause serious bodily harm, but enough to make sure the message really sinks in.

your favourite sun said...

Jimmy Kimmel with a grenade launcher was even funnier than Kobe with a gun, and that was the whole point--this isn't what these people really do, except in the fantasy game world. The commercial seems designed to differentiate between the real world and the game world. But I guess people dying from grenade violence in the real world is somehow Kimmel's fault, too.

your favourite sun said...

I meant rocket launcher. I guess I get rockets and grenades confused when I post at 2:20 in the morning...