Thursday, September 8, 2011

When does cute cross the line?

Have you or your kids played Angry Birds yet?

In the video game, pigs have taken eggs from a bird’s nest. You use a slingshot to hurl birds in a suicide mission to try to take out the pigs.

With a reported 300 million downloads, Angry Birds has become so mainstream culturally that you can buy stuffed animals bearing the likeness of these cartoon birds and pigs made famous by a game that originally was available only on smartphones.

Earlier this year, a new video game in the style of Angry Birds and similar phone applications was launched. Smuggle Truck, which is set in the desert, puts the game player in the role of a pickup truck driver crossing a “fictional border” though desert wasteland and through tunnels without losing the immigrants in the back of the bouncing vehicle. Along the way, the immigrants fall out and are apparently killed.

“Oh, they’re all dead,” a grown man whines while playing the game in a video posted on the Smuggle Truck website.  

At the risk of sounding preachy, I have to wonder what this game says about us as a society. What does it take to entertain us? Are we supposed to laugh with our kids about a cartoon immigrant falling out of a truck and dying?

The game’s makers have characterized the game as being a social commentary on our current immigration situation. They explain that after watching a friend’s immigration attempts, they figured it would be easier to be smuggled into the U.S.

This prompted the game. Somehow, I just don’t find smuggling humans amusing enough to be quality entertainment.

Apparently neither did Apple. The game was rejected by Apple when submitted for approval to be sold for the iPhones and iPads. Now if only other operating system providers such as Android will do the same.

Smuggling is so prevalent that Texas has mounted its Texas Hold ‘Em campaign to warn American drivers. Groups such as Truckers Against Trafficking have highlighted good things truckers have done to combat trafficking and smuggling of prostitutes, many of whom are under 18.

I’m sure no one laughed when reading real-life stories about smuggling. Click here, here and here to read about three such stories.

In May, Mexican authorities stopped trucks carrying 513 illegal immigrants headed to the U.S. from as far away as Guatemala, Central America and Asia.

I won’t be downloading Smuggle Trucks.