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Is Your Neighborhood Best Buy a Hypocrite?
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on July 26, 2005   |   Episode 72 (Show Archive)  

   

"Excuse me, do you know if this is the right line for the new Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen DVD?"
Now that Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas has been re-rated to AO (Adults Only) it has given a lot of retail chains an excuse to take it off their shelves. Stores like Wal*Mart, Best Buy, and Target have all decided to remove the product from their shelves in favor of more copies of the Fantastic 4. We've clearly entered a new era in our industry, one where we dare not offend anybody with any power.

When it comes right down to it, I can understand Wal*Mart taking the game off the shelves. We may be talking about the biggest retailer in the United States, but Wal*Mart is notorious for banning books, movies, and compact discs. Target is not nearly as strict, but this is more of them flinching at what they expected the outcry to be. They are going for that family-friendly vibe that companies like Wal*Mart and K-Mart go for.

What I can't understand is why Best Buy would yank it from their shelves. Sure the game is violent

So let me get this right; San Andreas is bad, but polluting the world in a Hummer is okay?
and contains strong sexual content (it says so right on the box), but that's not reason to quit selling a product. Best Buy knew the game contained hours upon hours of violence, they knew it was going to feature sexuality, they knew it would be racist, sexist, and offensive to a wide audience of gamers. But they sold the game anyway, simply because they knew that it was going to be the biggest selling game of the year.

But I'm not here to condemn Best Buy for making the decision to sell San Andreas in the first place; I'm all for them selling what they want to. That means that I agree that they have the right to not sell other items they might find offensive. But if you're going to take the state of San Andreas away from the shoppers, why not do the same for the DVDs and CDs they sell?

When it comes to movies, Best Buy has no problem selling NC-17 rated or even unrated films, making them one of the few large chains that

Next time you're at your local Best Buy make sure and recommend the Dreamers to a shopper! (Just not the toned-down R-rated version.)
have always taken care of the die hard film buffs. They sell both Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer and Henry & June, both rated NC-17, the MPAA's equivalent for the Adults Only rating. These are great movies, but like the rating says, they are meant for an adult audience. The fact that Best Buy sells these movies sets them apart from a number of other rental and retail outlets.

If Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is too explicit, why are adult-only movies like Henry & June being sold on Best Buy's shelves? Thanks to videos and plenty of online hacks we have established that you never see any genitalia (see: Hot Coffee, Cold Shower), so the worst thing you see are two polygonal characters animating in a way that suggests intercourse. When it comes to sexual content there are few movies more graphic than Henry & June, yet Best Buy keeps that film on the shelf. There is nothing in San Andreas that is more violent than Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, yet Best Buy keeps it on the shelf at a very cheap price.

This hypocrisy doesn't end at obscure decade-old films, 2003's the Dreamers is readily available at every single Best Buy in this country. This is a film that is wall to wall sex; it's filled with all manners of nudity, sexual deviance, and homo-eroticism. It's an intense two hours of sexual content meant only for the 18 and over shoppers. It's hard to imagine anybody suggesting that the few minutes of sex in San Andreas is more offensive than the two hours of non-stop sex that is the Dreamers.


A Clockwork Orange proves that sometimes you have to piss some people off to get your point across!
Yet I applaud Best Buy for selling the Dreamers, it's an amazing movie that is both captivating and endearing. It, like Grand Theft Auto, is not afraid to piss people off and should be commended for it ... not banned and ridiculed. Part of true art is being a rebel; it's about not being afraid to say what's on your mind - no matter if it's Citizen Kane, A Clockwork Orange, or Pulp Fiction.

It's easy for a company like Wal*Mart to look like the good guys when they take San Andreas off the shelf, but without Best Buy applying their censorship across the board it makes them look like a hypocrite. All it takes is one swipe through their music section to see albums with some of the most sexist and racist lyrics you'll ever hear. Music videos filled with scantly-clad women and dreams of setting money on fire. All of which is on par with what you can make out in San Andreas.

I'm sure it's only a matter of time before San Andreas finds its way back onto Best Buy shelves. With Liberty City Stories shipping later on this year I doubt it will be long before you can find Grand Theft Auto at a Best Buy location near you. Perhaps part of the public relations dance is looking hypocritical from time to time, we should just hope that this brief oversight is not long-lasting.
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