Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Big Trouble in Little Big Planet

If you are even slightly in tune with the video game industry, I am sure you have heard of the controversy surrounding the up-coming game Little Big Planet. But for the rest of you here is a quick summary from the Little Big Planet wiki entry:
On 17 October 2008 SCEE instigated a worldwide recall of Little Big Planet and announced that the games release would have to be pushed back. This was after a PlayStation Community member reported that the lyrics to one of the songs in the game included passages from Qur'an and could therefore be offensive to Muslims. The song in question was entitled "Tapha Niang" by Malian singer, Toumani Diabaté, himself a devout Muslim.

Click the video above to listen to the song yourself. The two "offending" lines are:
كل نفس ذائقة الموت ("kollo nafsin tha'iqatol mawt", Translated: "Every soul shall have the taste of death")

كل من عليها فان ("kollo man alaiha fan", Translated: "All that is on earth will perish")
There has been a bunch of whining and complaining on every forum on the face of the earth about this and that's a whole other story. But then yesterday two new stories popped up:

Toumani Diabaté, the Man who wrote the song says Qur'an quotes are "Quite Normal."

M. Zuhdi Jasser, M.D. , an American Muslim Group Leader Slams Little Big Planet Recall.

Poor Sony, damned if they do and dammed if they don't. You can hardly blame them for delaying the game to take out the song, they are probably still feeling stung about the whole Church of England controversy from Resistance: Fall of Man and the game Kakuto Chojin was pulled from the shelves back in 2003 for also having versus of the Qur'an.

I have some questions though. Has anybody considered that maybe Sony just doesn't want the lines "Every soul shall have the taste of death" and "All that is on earth will perish" in their game which is rated for children, regardless of what language it is in or where those lines might be quoted from? They might be afraid of one of the ratings boards that has given the game the children's age rating requiring them to reclassify the game.

And as to Dr. Jasser's comment that the free market allows for expression of disfavor by simply not purchasing a game that may be offensive. I think that is exactly the point, Sony wants to sell games to the people who would be offended by those lyrics in the game and would rather not have them boycotting the game. It's not like anybody has suddenly rushed out and canceled their pre-order because of the slight shipping delay.

Toumani Diabate, himself a Muslim claims that it isn't offensive to sing quotes from the Qur'an.
"It's quite normal to play music and be inspired by the words of the Prophet Mohammed. It's my way to attract and inspire people towards Islam."
So who exactly is saying that it is offensive, can we get an official ruling on this, reference link to the Qur'an online, wiki, something?

If anything it brought more national attention to the game and maybe will increase sales. I know its certainly given Mr. Diabate a lot more attention than just having his song used in the game. I listened to the song, sounds kinda cool and maybe I'll buy some of his stuff off iTunes and add it to the music I listen to while writing.

I do have one more question though. About the lyrics in the song, has anybody read the full, translated song lyrics? Not just those two lines, but the whole song? I'm curious as to what the rest of the song is about. Is it something like, "Every soul shall have the taste of death and all that is on earth will perish but Iiii-ah-iiiiiii will alwaaaaaaayyyys love you-ewwwwwwwwewwwewww."

1 comment:

Joseph B. Hewitt IV said...

In case you were really wondering, here is the MTV article where the record's label provided more detail on what the song is about.