Outraged mom gets offensive ad removed

On November 28, 2012, in Latest News, by The Somerville Times

MBTA bus shelters like this one must follow court ordered guidelines when it comes to the types of advertising they display. – Photo by Bobbie Toner

By Jim Clark

When Somerville resident Renée Scott spotted an over sized poster advertising the video game Assassin’s Creed III prominently displayed at an MBTA bus shelter in Union Square she was more than a bit taken aback by the graphic imagery utilized in the ad.

“It shows one armed soldier rearing up over another with a hatchet or an axe, about to bring it down on the guy on the ground,” Scott explained. The mother of three small children said that she felt the imagery was too violent for such a public placement. “It was so blatant,” Scott said. “I don’t consider myself a prudish person, and I feel like I’m pretty liberal about things. But it was such an awful image with this man about to split this other man’s skull in half.”

“I think that we have become kind of immune to that,” Scott explains. “I felt like if it was nudity that was up there it never would have made it. I feel that we are shocked by nudity but not shocked by violence.”

“I found it pretty shocking that it was allowed,” said Scott. “The game itself is rated ‘M’ for Mature.”

Scott had noticed the ads in many Somerville bus shelters from Union and Porter Squares, to Highland Ave. and elsewhere. She had talked it over with a friend who also has small children and they decided that someone should register a formal complaint to the MBTA.

“So I wrote them a letter. On their website they have a complaint form and I filled that out and explained that I felt that the ad was too graphic,” Scott said. “And I never heard back. I think it had been about nine days, so I contacted our state senator, Pat Jehlen, and she got back to me right away, I think it was less than 24 hours later, and she said, ‘I agree. It shouldn’t be up there.’”

Jehlen contacted the MBTA about the matter and they informed her that they would take the ads down immediately. Scott said that around that same time another representative from the MBTA responded to her email and told her that they agreed with her complaint and that the ad would be removed from the bus shelters.

The violent imagery depicted in many video games is too over-the-top for some.

“I was very impressed with their reply,” said Scott. “I expected that I would never, ever hear from them.”

MBTA Director of Communications Joe Pesaturo praised Scott’s action saying, “We are greatly appreciative that Ms. Scott brought this matter to our attention. The ads in question did not comply with the MBTA’s court-approved guidelines. The guidelines prohibit ads for video games that are rated M. The contractor never should have posted the ads on the bus shelters. We are pleased to report that the contractor has removed all of the ads.”

Needless to say, Scott is pleased with the results of her efforts. “I was very pleasantly surprised that it was so easy,” she said. “Not one of those things that you work on for a couple of weeks then it peters out.”

Scott jokingly refers to her husband’s suggestion that she take on the NFL in getting them to reduce the violent imagery found in their ads. “I was like, ‘Oh, man.’”

For the time being, Scott is enjoying this one victory in the battle against excessive violent imagery in the media.



35 Responses to “Outraged mom gets offensive ad removed”

  1. Jey R. says:

    The wussification of America continues…

  2. Boston Kate says:

    People can make a difference.

  3. Janet blair says:

    You go girl, we need more people like you to stand up. thank you so much for your guts.

  4. Joe says:

    It’s not an ad for real assassins, you know? How about Skyfall? Plenty of people get killed there? How about many tv shows? I hope the vg industry fights back.

  5. ElishaBender says:

    Oh, Joe. Try to use what’s left of your noodle.

    The promoters of ‘Skyfall’ aren’t putting the goriest scenes from the movie on their posters and pasting them up in public places. Really bad example.

    The article points out that ads for video games rated M are forbidden at the bus stops. That’s the law.

    Video games are promoted all over TV, in magazines, etc. They’re not being suppressed. A line has been drawn concerning these bus stops. If that bothers you then I believe you’re overreacting. Think about it.

    Freedom of expression is great. People raising families also have a right to guide their kids away from stuff like this too. The bus stops are too open and are a public trust.

    Renée did good. Real good. My heroine for the day.

  6. Jennifer Lynch says:

    I agree with Joe here, actually. In our NRA dominated society, it is ridiculous that somebody complains because a VIDEOGAME picture seems too violent but does nothing about REAL guns popping up everywhere.

  7. Jane Sherrill says:

    Thank you Renee for doing this. I’m no kid but I couldn’t stand to look at it either. It was sickening. I never thought I could do anything about it though. Thankfully, now it’s out of my line of vision.

  8. Bill says:

    I do find it funny that the liberals in Somerville scream “Free Speech” and “Accountability” and “Openness” – oh, until it affects them. The Obama as Jesus painting offends me just as much as the ad for this game offends you. I’m willing to bet you’re ok with the painting though

  9. ChazInCharge says:

    Bill, not even half as funny as the whacko Teabats seizing every possible opportunity to spew out their same sad old tripe about “liberals.”

    Go away. We’re having fun here.

  10. Tom says:

    So this is exactly why the MBTA no longer displays ads about TV shows, movies and video games on all of their buses, trains, and stations. It’s because greater Boston residents, politicians and MBTA officials consider such ads offensive. Right??? I recall the MBTA being forced to take down ads for “Sex and the City” and an R-rated Seth Rogen movie.

    When I go to NYC, I see lots of ads about violent, R-rated movies, TV-MA TV shows such as Boardwalk Empire, and M-rated video games on all of the city buses. But do New Yorkers complain about this at all??? NO THEY DON’T!!!!!!!! They see nothing wrong with that at all.

    I think Bostonians need to stop complaining about movie, TV and video games ads being displayed on MBTA buses. Instead they should start complaining about people killing people with guns and knives, drunk driving, and sexual predators, and ALSO the fact that the stupid government has done NOTHING AT ALL to resolve these problems.

  11. Harry says:

    The Taliban would like this! Good job, mum, now your kids are safe from evil!

  12. Maddy says:

    Jennifer and Tom are a match made in Heaven. Neither one believes anyone’s doing anything about guns, knives, etc. Meanwhile, NYC’s transit system ads are up for sale without regard for common decency. Big disconnect. Too much video game playing, folks. Put down the controller and get a grip on reality.

    BTW, you couldn’t get me anywhere near NYC.

  13. Harry says:

    The thing is, that ad is not that violent! Do you see blood and guts? It’s pretty nongraphic, actually. It’s all in your head, folks. That is when the thought police kicks in, and before you know it you will be imprisoned because you might think something.

  14. Reilly says:

    Anyone who looks at that poster and does not see extreme violence is not someone I would want to be in the same room with. No thought police involved here. Just good common sense.

  15. Todd says:

    If this is the same Renee Scott from Two Mamas Photography, then it’s funny she compares the shock value of nudity to violence, as she has scantily clad pregnant women as examples of her work on her website. Also, if she’s putting her foot down to blatant and grotesque imagery, I hope her next plight will be that against the cleft palate awareness ads that are brandished on MBTA buses and the like. My take on all of this…you have the right to be offended and to offend others, but you don’t have the right to never be offended.

  16. Ray Spitzer says:

    “the cleft palate awareness ads that are brandished on MBTA buses and the like.”

    Good argument there, Todd. Those posters are rather disgusting and graphic. They should be banned. Also, the sadistic way insecticide ads depict poor dying insects is very upsetting to me!

  17. Somerville Sal says:

    really lady? are u really offended by a fake picture? what a dummy… she must not really be from somerville, their are far worse things in somerville that are real that should offend people but don’t. If ur offended by that, move to fantasy island.. MBTA has more important things to worry about than ur feelings.

  18. Knuckle Dragger Lover says:

    I love how stories like this bring out the knuckle dragging morons to make their idiotic comments. Very entertaining. You did great Renee. On two counts.

  19. Brain Mush Carrier says:

    Funny how the brain mush morons get offended by mild videogame screenshots. Somebody made a comment about this being like the Taliban. There is some truth to that!

  20. Lisa B. says:

    Yes. There are a lot of dumb mean spirited people making comments on this site. It’s a shame. They have their problems. Renee did a good thing. Congratulations.

  21. AmazedOnlooker says:

    “Anyone who looks at that poster and does not see extreme violence is not someone I would want to be in the same room with.”

    Nail on the head. Thank you Rene.

  22. Domenic says:

    I have to agree with the objection to this ad. I’ve noticed it a number of times on billboards and had the same reaction. Yes, freedom of speech protects it’s being up there, and it should, but really, when do we as a society stop glorifying this nonsense.

    And how can steeping young people’s minds in violent imagery, such as is common in many video games, not result in people who are more likely to think that violence doesn’t have real, flesh and blood consequences. It defies logic to me. George Bush was quick to go to war because he had never seen one up close.

    It has been my experience that the people who like violence of the virtual kind have never experience much violence of the real kind. Most people who have would prefer to forget about it … if they’re able to.

  23. Harry says:

    So, Domenic genius, you are saying that these posters cause Columbine? Not the actual weapons or the example adults give to kids? This is not real violence, no real people are being depicted. The Taliban is indeed out in full force!

  24. Domenic says:

    No, Harry, not a genius by any means, just someone who thinks there’s an awful lot of violence in the world. And that it might be a nicer place to live if there wasn’t so much of it. Glorifying it just makes it appealing to young minds trying to figure the world out. Is that really such a quantum leap of logic?

    But thanks all the same for all your cogent, insightful, and well-reasoned thinking on the subject.

  25. P Reuel says:

    “Taliban” Too funny. You crazy hypocrites slay me. You know very well if it was about nudity or some sacred cow of your own that got tipped over you’d be screaming bloody murder and you sure wouldn’t be “Taliban” would you? You want total freedom? Are you an anarchist or not? We are not. We set reasonable standards for civility and we live by them. You and your pals go find a place where you can enjoy one another and this anarchy you long for. This is America.

  26. Elma La Monaca says:

    I have been watching this thread because I support freedom of speech. I’m a pretty sheltered young woman (private school, prudish family, all that), but the poster shown in the thread does not bother me at all. What bothers me more are the disgusting ads showing Domino’s Pizza slabs of pure poison or sleezy beer ads. Booze and bad diet kill WAY MORE PEOPLE than any videogame posters, people. So, at least be consistent and go protest about these other ads that cause your kids to become obese and obnoxious alcoholics! Thank you for your attention.

  27. Bill says:

    Typical. Every time I question or disagree with a statement that a liberal on this site makes I get no mature response. Instead of debating and backing their stance up they spew hatred and insults – Right ChazInCharge? Get some guts and address my comments and issues intelligently and honestly

  28. Should the MBTA stop advertising video games, bad food and booze, how do they recoup the lost revenue money? I don’t condone bloody advertisements, but have to look at them in terms of the MBTA’s revenue stream.

  29. Harry says:

    This is clearly a case of a nutjob waking up one morning, deciding that a poster at a bus stop is bad for her kid and making a fuss about it. What a waste of time for all involved. Imaging the guys who had to take her call, look into it, order it removed and all that. Probably 2Ks worth of taxpayer’s money, plus lost MBTA revenues. Our society is going to hell, that’s for sure…

  30. ChazInCharge says:

    Bill, do as you’re told. Go away.

  31. Bill says:

    Ok Chaz, you obviously don’t have the intelligence or the passion to back up your view. It’s ok, I’ll have conversations with adults

  32. Mellisa says:

    Normally I am not a big believer in one person’s morals overwhelming the rest of us, but what Rene did here was just highlight that the ad was a bit over the top. This may not sound realistic to some, but I feel the video games and movies have more to do now with all the nuts knifing/shooting/bombing/running-people-over than any other factor.

    Seriously, I know when my partner and I are watching a movie I tell her to fast forward as I know it’s just going to be blood/gore/guys all over the screen for no reason. Who needs it? Years ago you’d watch a murder mystery or suspense and you got that person X was killed without having to watch their head rolling on the floor.

    My 2 cents.

  33. PixiePocahontas says:


    Since then, have you made any attempts at shutting down the violent video game global industry? I think you should start there if you really want to make an impact. I’m sure the millions of college education software engineers, designers, young 20 something’s who help to create these images would agree and quickly change careers.

  34. Uncle Rocco says:

    Back in the good old days, when you had to see a guy beating the crap out of someone on the street in Somerville, it would only last a couple of minutes. And he might buy everyone a round afterwards to prove he wasn’t such a bad guy after all. Now, with these bus stop ads, the violence is 24/7. And no beer.

  35. PixiePocahontas says:

    The corporations making these videos are making billions. I do agree that some if the content does intrude on young impressionable minds. But my issue is that liberals will only go after the small guy because it’s easier. Who do you think is paying for the advertising? Collusion is the name if the game- get as many unsuspecting or those who don’t care, show them the easy money and they will always come back for more. If people really want change, they have to start at the top.

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