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.
“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.