Why Target Australia made the right decision.

December 4, 2014

As some of you may be aware, Target Australia was petitioned, in the last week, to take down the video game Grand Theft Auto 5, off their shelves. The attention was drawn from an advertisement from Target, placing the game on the same page as children’s toys.

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Survivors of violence, Nicole, Claire and Ket, started the petition due to the graphic sexual and violent nature of the game – most notably towards prostitutes – which cements perspectives of violence against women.

I felt it was important to share the petition because even though I don’t own the game, YouTube was dutifully able to provide me with a sick commentary of how to pick up a prostitute (woman). Of course, one can choose whether or not they’re going to run her over after the first-person sex, set her on fire and finish her off with a blast from a machine gun.

Yesterday, Target Australia listened, agreed and stopped the sale of the game in its stores; demonstrating integrity with their business standards.
I believe it was the right thing to do.

With emotional issues such as this, many choose to clutch the time and tested clichés of yore. In this case, those who oppose Target’s ultimate decision have two common arguments:
1. It’s just a game
2. Parents are to blame for children having it

I’m not going to go into the first point because the reason/s why a person chooses to play this game is a whole different kettle of fish. I’m not a psychologist nor a judge and it would be going down Alice’s rabbit hole for me to try and understand it.
The second point, however, is where the crux of this lands with me.

The main argument is that this is an R-Rated 18+ game and that the simple solution is that parents should not buy it for their children.
Yes. This is true – BUT, it’s not the simple solution.

Parents are always the easy target in arguments like these, but to be fair, the common cliché has lost its potency in this day and age because of the context of the world we’re living in. We are ALL being bombarded with a pornified and hyper-sexualised world and yet somehow, it’s up to the parents to ‘simply not buy it’?

I think this has become very difficult for parents; to actually deal with the pressure of filtering the ever-encroaching, adult world for their children. To do this successfully, though, one would have to be next to their child at every given moment and that’s impossible – and quite frankly, who would want to raise their child like that anyway? Not me.

As a parent, I am very aware of this paradigm and am doing my utmost to help my girls navigate through it, regardless of whether it’s aimed at them or not (and more often than not it isn’t – but they’re still being exposed anyway). My last post gives examples of the child exposure to this game – and it’s widespread in Primary Schools.

What we need is for the adult world to meet us half way and in my mind, Target Australia has now done just that.

They are a family store and being a family store means it comes with responsibility.
If they had ultimately chosen to keep stocking R-Rated games, then they would have needed to create a section where children can’t access the products; making it very clear it’s for adults only. Ultimately, though, what family store would want to attract attention to the fact that they sell products for adults only?

You’re more likely, as a parent, to be shopping with your children in a place like Target, Big W, K-mart (who should also follow suit and not just this game but all R-Rated games), as they sell children’s toys near the games section. To a child, one ‘game’ is the same as another, so:

Question #218: Can we just have some space that’s safe for kids?

Sadly, we have the fact that many young (predominantly male) children are actually playing this game and although it’s easy to pass the buck on parents – it’s not always their fault.

This decision makes it easier for the parents who are not aware of the game and its pretty horrible contents and who simply don’t notice the rating. We are human, after all, and not noticing a rating when your mind is full of a million other things, is far more forgivable than the bigger picture of all this.

And for all those who cry foul about not having their violent, porn games available in every store they want – at their fingertips – I ask them to step away from their own sense of privilege and think of reducing the temptation of having something rated strictly unsuitable for children, in a place frequented by children. It’s at their fingertips too.

UPDATE: Kmart have in fact now followed Target Australia’s lead and have also pulled Grand Theft Auto 5 from sale. That’s two.

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