In UK, Bully: Scholarship Edition TV Ad Escapes Censure

As reported by vnunet, the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has declined to take action against a commercial for Rockstar’s Bully: Scholarship Edition.

The ASA received 31 complaints about the ad:

The game’s main character is seen in the ad destroying property, firing a catapult and shielding himself from a burning substance in a science classroom. Two other characters are shown lifting another student by his underpants…


Several viewers, some of whom had experienced bullying, described it as ‘offensive and distasteful’.


Others said that it ‘glorified, trivialised and encouraged bullying and violence’, and that it was scheduled inappropriately because it could be seen by children.

Take Two argued that the ad was comedic in nature and that sensationalized media coverage of Bully: Scholarship Edition probably led to some of the complaints. 

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  1. figsnake12 says:

    35 complaints? big deal, even this mention of the ad alone has 19 comments – and the entire united states only brought up 35 complaints?

  2. Dedre ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Wait…this looks just like the commercial I could’ve swore I have seen in the past couple weeks on our US television airwaves…

    …does that mean….?….*gasp*….

    …ah nevermind, too tired, I’ll leave you to fill in the gaps. Ciao

  3. Relax_Guy says:

    how emotionally damaged are you when a cartoon of somebody giving you a wedgie causes you to write a letter to station?



    perhaps these people should find some kind of artificial womb  to cower inside for the rest of their lives.

  4. Erik ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    "shielding himself from a burning substance in a science classroom."


    ….Wait.  So does this mean that the UK is against chemistry?

  5. Stinking Kevin says:

    I am a little confused by this story and the YouTube link.

    I thought that technically, there was no such game as "Bully" released in the U.K. I thought the game in question was re-titled to the fictional school’s motto (something like"Canus Canem Edit" — "dog eat dog" in  Latin maybe?), because back before the PS2 edition even launched there was already enough concern about hypersensitive, whiny Brits who would claim offense at even having to read the word "Bully." Or something like that.

    In any case, I think the YouTube link is  a North American ad, with the ESRB rating and all — I can’t believe it’s exactly the same one this story is about.

  6. Mikeu says:

    I think I speak for everyone here when I say that if you got a wedgie in your life and were then disturbed when you saw one reinacted in a videogame to the point where you came out and made a public comment about it being "offensive and distastefull"…that you deserved it, and should probably get another wedgie in the near future, for good measure.

  7. Kajex says:

    I was in a car accident several years ago, and I always flinch and get dizzy every time I see a car accident occur in a movie, or on T.V.. I’m pretty sure I’ve yet to stand up and complain on how fictional car accidents make me feel uncomfortable.

    Put short- grow some balls- THIS was the reason you were probably picked on.

  8. Anonymous says:

    31 complaints to the ASA isn’t that much. Ads get hundreds of complaints from people all the time, but the ASA are usually pretty good about upholding or dismissing them. I’m pretty sure there’s people around who just spend their time complaining to the ASA about adverts they don’t like ^^


  9. Anonymous says:

     > Wait, so this stuff is bad, but the horror movies can show much worse in their ads at all times of the day?

    HUh? Last I checked horror movies are shown after the watershed (9pm).  

  10. mogbert says:

    Wait, so this stuff is bad, but the horror movies can show much worse in their ads at all times of the day? What a double standard.

    I was often the victim of bullies when I was growing up, up until the time I fought back, then it was much better. Parents and teachers need to learn that walking the kid from class to class doesn’t fix things, it makes things worse. They can’t do anything to stop bullying, the only person that can is the person being bullied, usually by making it clear that either it is not worth bullying them, or by making it no longer "cool" to bully them. Parents and teachers really can’t do anything for that.

  11. Anonymous says:

    That was my thought as well. I certainly wouldn’t put my face over a tank of water whilst dropping sodium into it during Chemistry, for example.

    Damn strange thing to find offense at…

  12. Kincyr says:

    …shielding himself from a burning substance in a science classroom.

    apparently the UK has a screwy view about safety.

    岩「…Ace beats Jack」

  13. Sai says:

    31 complaints? People have too much time on their hands.

    You know, I was bullied somewhat viciously throughout elementary and junior high school (moreso the former) and this is one of my favorite games ever. Because I can recognize the wit and satire, not to mention the gameplay is engrossing and fun.

  14. Anonymous says:

    It’s just plain stupid, seeing as how one of the things you must do in the game is fight bullies.

  15. Oor Wullie says:

     Hmm, hasn’t any of the complainers read the Beano before? Much worse things happen to the Bash Street Kids or Dennis the Menace.

  16. Nessmk2 ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    So… My question is "How can something glorify and trivialize something at the same time?" I mean, honestly, aren’t the two kinda mutually exclusive?

  17. Anonymous says:

    Oh lord, people are /still/ complaning about Bully?  Argh, well, good for the ASA for not taking any action.  Ugh, I swear though, people are stupid.

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