Wednesday, November 23, 2005

True Crime in Houston's Neighborhoods

As much as it rankles to admit it, I found myself last night agreeing with Quanell X, Houston's local mouthpiece for the New Black Panthers and self-proclaimed defender of the black community. On the evening news for Channel 26, the local FOX station, was a story about a neighborhood protest over billboards promoting the latest X-box game craze, True Crime: New York City, by Activision. Present at the rally were neighborhood parents and kids, several neighborhood church leaders, and Mr. X himself.

According to the FOX news report, several billboards (all owned by Clear Channel Communications) advertising the newly released game have recently been placed in predominantly black Houston neighborhoods. As do so many of today's video game, True Crime: New York City is chocked full of action and violence. According to a review on MSN:
Players wield the ultimate power as a rogue street cop in True Crime: New York City. Gamers assume the role of Marcus Reed, a former criminal turned cop, and use and abuse their authority...
The billboard itself, which is basically a copy of the graphic display on the game's official web site, seems to glorify this violence as it shows a bad-looking black cop pointing a smoking gun in that tilted "gangsta" style that is so often seen these days in music videos and TV cop shows. And in at least one instance, the billboard overlooked a local park where young kids were playing baseball and soccer and romping on playground equipment. Not the most civically responsible placement of such an ad, although it does make sense in a business advertising agenda.

It really impressed me that these good men and women were taking a stand for the moral welfare of their children. And amazingly enough, there was Quanell X standing peacefully alongside these parents and ministers in their support of the neighborhood youth.

Then reality kicked in -- he started talking. Standing right there in the middle of the kids and the church leaders, X gave his colorfully-worded (i.e., profanity-laced, if mildly) viewpoint full of the race-class-hatred-rhetoric we are so used to hearing from his mouth.

You almost had me, Mr. X.

On a side note, the FOX reporter did indicate that, while not making any official statement about the matter, a Clear Channel spokesman has said that the company would be looking into moving the advertisements.


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