Grand Theft Auto is no stranger to controversy; typically, however, the controversy doesn't start up until the game is on store shelves. That being said, it seems that GTA IV is breaking new ground in more ways than one.
In a recent news broadcast, the evangelists of Anti-Everything-Gaming -- otherwise known as "Fox News" -- somehow managed to tie the recent surge in Chicago violence to the newly launched outdoor Grand Theft Auto IV campaign taking place in (of course) Chicago. Although the reference wasn't as blatant as "GRAND THEFT AUTO IS KILLING CHICAGO, ZOMG", the suggestion was relatively obvious.
"Fox News Chicago noticed—in a moment of divine correlation—that Grand Theft Auto advertisements appear on CTA buses and train stations.
The remainder of Fox's report becomes muddled. In the intro, we cannot tell if they are blaming the shootings on the ads or just claiming that the ads are in poor taste. (They never, in fact, mention when the ads actually went up.) We'd say Fox buried the lead, but we're not so certain there was any lead to bury.
The piece continues grasping for a story, this time through the political hypocrisy of IL governor Rod Blagojevich, who had once spoken against Grand Theft Auto San Andreas advertisements publicly. And then, to demonstrate how we should/could feel about this story (other than confusion?), the viewer is treated to a series of man on the street interviews. Finally, we find that CTA has made no comment on the situation but will be pulling the ads (we can assume only because Fox was doing the story)."
This isn't the first time that Fox News has made a game the centerpiece of controversy for absolutely no reason. Earlier this year, Fox got on the case of Mass Effect for including "full nudity and explicit sex scenes" (which, of course, was yet another sensationalist pile of donkey doo, much like this latest GTA IV debacle).
If GTA IV is already stirring up this much of a controversy with roughly a week left before launch, it'll be interesting to see what happens when the game finally hits at the end of the month.
Related Links: Kotaku Article, Fox News Segment, GTAForums Topic