Image problems and the NBA go together like ES and PN so you would think a guy like Kobe Bryant, ambassador for the After-School All-Stars, might think twice before starring in the commercial for the Call of Duty Black Ops video game. Media outlets are taking notice and I hope the league will follow suit.
I don’t keep up with current first person shooter games, or any video games, so the ad for Call of Duty was a shock to me. It shows mostly regular people, with the exception of Kobe Bryant and Jimmy Kimmel, walking around, answering their phones, doing regular things, except they are carrying and firing assault rifles and grenade launchers.
They could be your next door neighbor, your doctor, your mechanic. If you take out the shooting and explosions, it’s sort of calm, with the Rolling Stones’ Gimme Shelter in the background.
I read one piece that says the ad was set to debut during Sunday Night Football, but it didn’t. My son saw it during one of the afternoon games. My five year old son. I am not opposed to watching stuff blow up, and I go to my share of action movies, but I don’t take my kids to them.
I’ve been arguing with my husband for a DVR for years, dating back to before the kids came along. Though the ability to watch TV on our own schedule is attractive, my main argument lately is the desire to cut out the commercials. When Oliver was 3 and demanding to watch SportsCenter on ESPN every morning, I was happy to get MLB at Bat and hand over my iPhone and later my iPad so he could check baseball highlights without the deluge of inappropriate commercials.
Beer, women in spandex (and less), violent TV dramas, five dollar foot longs. He finds them all captivating, but none so much as the Call of Duty ad.
Oliver seemed stunned as he watched it, and I think he could see it was bothering me. He said something like, “Shooting is bad, right?” but I was too stunned to remember his exact words. I remember feeling a little bit relieved that his first reaction was to think shooting = bad, but my head was still spinning with worry about what was going on in his head.
I’d rather my kids saw a few wardrobe malfunctions than this level of violence. Naked body parts are explainable and natural. If a video game is rated M for Mature or the TV show carries a “view discretion advised” label, the ads need to be toned way down if they are going to air when young children are likely to see them.
Despite Charles Barkley declaring he’s not a role model, athletes still impact kids in perhaps unintended ways. Kobe Bryant is smart enough to know better.
ClumberKim published an earlier version of this on her personal blog.
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