Old Man Yells at Fallout 4

OPINION | If singer Dion DiMucci is determined to make Fallout 4 look like a murder simulator, he should do a little homework first.

Opinion by Nadia Oxford, .

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.

I want $1 million in damages for the nightmares the Mirelurks give me.

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.

If politicians had bothered to talk to the average kid back in the day, we would've said "Violent? Nah, actually this shit's hilarious."

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.

"'The Wall is better than Dark Side of the Moon?' Listen here, you dumb mutt--"

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?

Free bike! Just needs new tires. And a new chain. And a new gearshift. And--

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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Comments 9

  • Avatar for donkeyintheforest #1 donkeyintheforest 7 months ago
    It just depends on how moral rights were written in the contract. Of course we know that videogames are fine as a medium, violent or not. However, a person has a right to control how their works are used (so long as they still retain moral rights), and this is a case that hinges on that.

    I think it would be easier to see this case as an artist flexing their moral rights (assuming he has them) if this were MLK Jr's speeches being used to advertise a game that's primary method of solving problems is using violence. It clearly doesn't reflect the values of the artist, and should be treated the same as something like Neil Young stopping Trump from using his songs at rallies. Who knows whether this guy just wants money, but that's how the law works.

    Also, funny (and often true) as the Abe Simpson meme might be, ageism is a category of prejudice that has been singled out as necessary to protect against. I guess I'll be the nerd SWJ here and bring that up.

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  • Avatar for link6616 #2 link6616 7 months ago
    Depends how the contract is written... but if they got the licence I'd assume that before now he'd have noticed fallout was violent...
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  • Avatar for riderkicker #3 riderkicker 7 months ago
    Did Joe Lieberman help him write that press release.
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  • Avatar for gekiganwing #4 gekiganwing 7 months ago
    I grew up during the 1990s in an evangelical community. Even though I heard the gospel of grace and forgiveness, I also heard fellow believers striving to ban or censor pop culture media. This was a frustrating experience, since I was already a fantasy novel enthusiast, a console RPG fanboy, and a person who enjoyed offbeat indie comics. Because of my experiences, I often thought that followers of the gospel of mercy would get video games permanently banned or censored.

    It's currently July 2017. Is it still possible that a single motivated person could go on a crusade and bring video game fandom to its knees? I don't know. I just don't know. I worry that it could happen, and in the near future, all video games could be declared illegal.
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  • Avatar for VotesForCows #5 VotesForCows 7 months ago
    Seems like if these videos predate his new agreement then this won't go anywhere. You can't retroactively enforce legal rights, or so our IP guy tells me (UK law though).

    @donkeyintheforest I think you're right to bring that up, its a real problem, though generally has a larger impact on older people who are on the low end of the socio/economic scales. I've done some work in the area here in the UK.
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  • Avatar for donkeyintheforest #6 donkeyintheforest 7 months ago
    @VotesForCows I also find it has an effect on people in the workforce (ie assumptions about adaptability to technology, people hiring young people more often, etc.) here in the US. I guess there are just so many other joke to make, I'm feeling Abe Simpson's meme is getting a bit lazy. I'm all for comedians pushing boundaries, etc, but I view this website more more it's news than comedy (perhaps Nadia Oxford excepted haha).
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  • Avatar for matt-b #7 matt-b 7 months ago
    @donkeyintheforest The possession of moral rights would have to be as described in the original, now non-valid contract though. The current contract would have no bearing on a commercial released for a video game two years ago, right?

    Ageism is certainly a real issue; working at a financial institution I see a lot of older employees fearful of not keeping up with the ever-present technological changes. You can't fire someone for being over a certain age, but you can fire someone for not adhering to a fully explained, well structured corporate policy which mandates all employees, not just you, must now use X system instead of Y system, especially when the corporation offers comprehensive, paid training on not only how to accomplish your job-specific duties in system X, but how to fully utilize it as well.

    This gentleman seems to have a poor grasp as to what Fallout 4 is and therefore his argument is going to be viewed as less valid, regardless of his age.
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  • Avatar for donkeyintheforest #8 donkeyintheforest 7 months ago
    @mattb0527 agreed. i think haha. I am not sure of the contract agreements made about moral right in this case, but ill defer to you since it sounds like you've looked into it more.

    And yeah, people should be jusdged by their compentency, not perceptions based on age, gender, race, sexuality, country of origin, etc etc etcEdited July 2017 by donkeyintheforest
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  • Avatar for matt-b #9 matt-b 7 months ago
    @donkeyintheforest oh I'm not familiar with it at all, just extremely curious.
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