I should offer an apology up-front for likening singer Dion DiMucci to Abraham "Grandpa" Simpson, who's infamous for futilely shaking his fist at inexplicable bothers. But DiMucci's grievances with Bethesda, its parent company ZeniMax, and Fallout 4 are so out of touch, I can't help myself.
DiMucci is suing ZeniMax for using his song "The Wanderer" in its commercial for Fallout 4. The commercial, according to DiMucci's legal team, contains "repugnant and morally indefensible images," and "entice young people to buy a videogame by glorifying homicide."
DiMucci is seeking $1 million in damages, plus legal costs.
DiMucci signed a contract with Universal stating that The Wanderer can be used in general cases, e.g. commercials, but he also says he signed another contract with a California court stating the song can't be used unless he gives the say-so. DiMucci's new contract is reportedly about a month old, whereas Fallout 4 is not, but the musician argues that the commercial's existence on YouTube causes "an ongoing irreparable injury" to The Wanderer.
I'll say this: If there is a legitimate breach of contract somewhere in this mess, then DiMucci is entitled to compensation. That's all I can say about the courtroom side of this story; untangling legal mumbo-jumbo is not my forte. But I'm a Viking at slamming my fist on tables and getting mad about video games, so let's get elbow-deep into the good stuff.
The wording used by DiMucci and his legal team comes straight out of a '90s scare-video about how Mortal Kombat is stealing kids' innocence. Those days are over with, thank goodness, but there are still several hold-overs, mostly older folks (DiMucci is 77), who associate video games with the (supposed) decline of youth. Video games are a very handsome scapegoat for kids' innate rebelliousness.
DiMucci's baseless determination to label videogames as Hell's own roof-tiles becomes especially apparent when you watch the commercial the song features in. Other than a scene of Codsworth slicing mercilessly into a shrub, there's no violence to speak of. We see the game's protagonist shoot at a super mutant, but there's no blood. It doesn't even recoil, fall, or give any indication it's been hit. The scene literally lasts for a second. There is nothing to suggest the protagonist is "hunting for victims to slaughter," as DiMucci's legal team claims, or that the commercial makes the "infliction of harm appear appealing." For all intents and purposes, the protagonist is the commercial looks like – well, he looks like a wanderer. The song's a very inspired choice for the spot.
Some commenters on Kotaku and elsewhere wonder if DiMucci confused the official commercial with a fan-made video that also uses The Wanderer, and does have quite a bit of blood and violence in it. That would indicate DiMucci's legal team can't tell the difference either, and wouldn't that be a laugh.
Yes, Fallout 4 is a dark and violent game. It's also rated M and therefore not intended for audiences under the age of 18, but when has that nugget of logic ever stopped frenzied adults who have taken it upon themselves to Think of the Children™? However, it's highly disingenuous – even insulting – to baldly label Fallout 4 as a mindless shooting game where you splatter zombies' liquefied innards on the radiation-baked ground for points. I get the impression that's the picture of Fallout 4 DiMucci drew up in his head after watching five minutes of footage from the 100 plus-hour game.
Fallout 4 is a game about violence and survival. It's also about forging relationships and building communities, as Kat can attest to. People in the Fallout universe are traditionally a bit quick to pull the trigger (which can be attributed to the harsh conditions they live under), but they also work to restore society, government, and order.
Unfortunately, once a 77-year-old singer gets a massive video game company in his legal crosshairs, even a well-reasoned argument isn't likely to draw him away from the scope. I'm preaching to the choir, I guess. How are you all doing today?
One last point: DiMucci is worried Fallout 4's wanton eye-popping, heart-shredding violence will taint The Wanderer's wholesome image, but the song is anything but wholesome. It's about a guy who sleeps around and leaves a trail of broken-hearted women in his wake.
DiMucci claims the song is "sad" (he re-iterates this point in his lawsuit), though the protagonist clearly claims his wanderings make him "happy as a clown." The one line that can be considered troubling – "with my two fists of iron, but I'm going nowhere" – was originally "with my two fists of iron and my bottle of beer" until DiMucci's record company made him change it.
Of course, every song is open to interpretation. Songs are complex things. Like video games.
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