D.C. Metro Rider Complains About Fallout 3 Ads

A man who rides Washington, D.C.’s Metro underground rail system has written to the Washington Post to complain about poster ads for Fallout 3 which appear in the Metro Center station.

Joseph Anzalone criticizes the ads as well as Metro management for accepting them:

In one ad, the Washington Monument and the American flags surrounding it stand ravaged, as if hit by missiles. In another, the Capitol dome is partially caved in, while the rest of the building and the city behind it lie in ruins.

The people of our city do not need a daily reminder that Washington is a prime target for an attack. We do not need a daily reminder of what our worst fears look like. Since any First Amendment objection would be irrelevant (the ads do not present a true viewpoint or political message and would therefore not be protected), there is no reason for these ads to be part of our daily panorama.

The ads should be removed, and the appropriate office at Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority should be directed to exercise better judgment regarding what can be displayed in our transportation system.

GP: Whether the ads are in poor taste is a matter of opinion, but Anzalone gets his constitutional argument wrong. The First Amendment protects more than "true viewpoints" and "political messages". That’s why they call it free speech.

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  1. mogbert says:

    I guess this goes along with him BBB complaint about NukaCola’s bottling practices and FCC registration of his VaultBoy watch?

    Seriously, video games are usually about conflict. They aren’t even using imagry that offends most people, like personal injury or violence, rather it is indescriminate and impersonal violence of a nuclear holocaust. He is upset because it COULD happen, and he doesn’t want to be reminded of that. Guess what, that emotion it is evoking? That’s art. This same person would be offended by "hippies" protesting the building of nuclear weapons because it exposes him to said fear.

    In his next public statement, he says "Get off my lawn you kids!"

  2. Solipsis says:

    Who’s to say it won’t boost sales? Last I heard brand recognition and exposure were considered good things in advertising terms. Hell, probably the negative publicity will boost sales (look at GTA, for crying out loud).

    Also, censoring ourselves to a degree that’s not required of any other media will reinforce the stereotype that games are not an art form and are not "equals" with film, television, and the performing arts. We don’t want that. You can’t just take down everything that might make somebody somewhere feel uncomfortable.

  3. Adamas Draconis says:

    Sir! His fail level is over 7500!! (As opposed to JT’s 10,000,000)

    Hunting the shadows of the troubled dreams.

  4. digitalmetropolis says:

    yeah, i can’t believe someone wanted to write in about an ad for a game based on 1.) a past that didn’t happen, and 2.) a future that is 200 years in front of us. what a joke. take up a nobler cause, dude.

    also, the metro was filled with all kinds of ads for this game, beyond the reported screenshots by the clown who wrote to the washington post. vault boy makes several appearances, as do fake cereal box ads. it is a pretty phenomenal campaign that will end just in time for the guy who complained to think he was responsible.



  5. ddrfr33k says:

    WHAT?!? Nine Thousand?!?


    All we need now is a shoop da woop and we’ve turned into 4chan . . . *facepalm*

  6. Krono says:

    I’m guessing you don’t live anywhere near D.C. and it’s surrounding counties? Those of us that grew up here don’t "feel" we’re a high priority target for attack, we know we are. Growing up this is realized about the time we learn about the concept of war and nuclear war. From there it’s a short step to the realization we’d stand a fairly good chance of being inside the fireball looking out in the event of one.

    It doesn’t particluarly bother most of us. It’s just one of those facts of life, similar to how the various monuments around here are seen as "It’s just the monuments." Just another one of those things we take for granted.


  7. Wolvenmoon says:

    Okay, as much as I hate it, I have to agree.

    Those shouldn’t be in D.C. or other places where people feel they are high priority targets for attack.

    It’s negative PR, and unlike the ATHF stuff (which this instantly reminded me of), it won’t boost sales, and might turn public opinion further against video games.

    It’d be like putting a huge big mac sign outside of a clinic that specializes in bulemia. As hilarious as it might sound, it’d do harm, and would cause people to want to avoid the product.

    Now if it was like a commercial advertisement for one of the vaults, it might be a bit more tolerable. heh.

  8. vaminion says:

    I live in DC.  If you aren’t already aware of the fact we’re a prime target, you’re an idiot.  If being reminded of that fact bothers you that much, move.

      -P, who has no sympathy for twits like this.

  9. Ebonheart says:

    I’ve lived in DC, and trust me. Those ads are the least of DC riders concerns, considering the reason the Metro hasn’t gone under is because the Feds own it. And aprrently he must not watch 24 or a few other shows who’s name escape me at the moment. If he paid attention for more than a moment he would realize that "Fallout 3" and Bethesda Softworks" logos are slapped on them. "True viewpoint" "Political message"? What the hell is that even suppose to mean, the game is basiclly "Mad Max."


    Let me put that on my to-don’t list.

  10. Thomas McKenna says:

    "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

    Now compare to:

    "Since any First Amendment objection would be irrelevant (the ads do not present a true viewpoint or political message and would therefore not be protected), there is no reason for these ads to be part of our daily panorama."


    Ok…so his arguement is that because the ads to not have any form of political nature or viewpoint to them, that they’re not covered under the First Ammendment.  He apparently doesn’t read much.  Where in the First Ammendment does it give any sort of requirement that speech has to be political in some way for it to be protected?

    The answer is no where.  To be concise, it says that the government shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech.  That’s is it.  It means all speach and any speach, you shallow, narrow minded, insecure jackass.  And now you’ve written something to the paper that’s been published, and now everyone can see you’re an idiot as well.

  11. gamegod25 says:

    Yeah and it IS just a game. 

    Guess we should be glad it took this long before someone got their panties in a bunch.

  12. Chaplain99 says:

    I think we DO need a daily reminder that D.C. is a viable target.  Maybe it’ll help shape our foreign policies a bit, make us think a little more before we start WWIII.

  13. Ormick says:


    If I find the time, I will try to write something. I use DC metro weekly and have seen the ads, but from an objective standpoint, I can’t see why anybody would complain about them. Honestly… ffffffffffff, great, now I’m raged.

  14. Dark Sovereign says:

    Credentials does not stop anybody from being a dumbass. Nor do they stop somebody from being wrong in their subjects. Have you already forgotten Jack Thompson? Didn’t you notice that Joe Biden (a constitutional lawyer) was completely ignorant on the powers, position, and location in the constitution of those powers and that position of the Vice President of the United States? 

    To clarify: I agree with your ends, but not your means.

  15. KayleL says:

    I though the whole concept of free speech is that you can talk about anything you want. It doesn’t limit to political messages. As far as I know, the only time the the first amendment is excluded is "Clear and present danger" like yelling bomb at a airport.

    I bet if 9/11 never happened, people wouldn’t mind the ad anyway as much as they do today.

  16. ZacharyMiner says:

    And who, may I ask, is Joseph Anzalone? He has no credentials, no title, no law degree. So, what makes him qualified to make pronouncements about what the First Amendment protects, or doesn’t protect? Right, then.

    Also, I was a little put off by this comment:

    "The ads should be removed, and the appropriate office at Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority should be directed to exercise better judgment regarding what can be displayed in our transportation system." [my emphasis]

    So, he wants to chill free speech by making rules about what can (not "should") be displayed in the subway? Y’know, I don’t think that the ads are that great – they’re obviously presenting a provocatively frightening image in order to get people to look – but I don’t think they should be censored. Pretty soon they’ll be complaining that the ads in the subway are pro-immigrant (schools for learning English) or that they’re immoral (that woman advertising the new NBC show is revealing too much cleavage) and then we’re on a slippery slope to Censorship Land.

  17. Cecil475 says:

    Sorry dude,

    Fallout’s post-nucular war theme precedes the current war.

     – Warren Lewis

    R.i.P GamePolitics 2005-2016

  18. cppcrusader says:

    So, apparently it takes almost three weeks to cook up a complaint? 

    What’s amusing is the sense of false accomplishment this guy will have in a couple weeks.  I’m assuming that the ads were probably supposed to run through the end of the month, which is next week.  If that’s the case then another week will go by and then the ads will be replaced by something else and then this guy will think "Look at that, I did that with my keen misunderstanding of the First Amendment."

  19. Anomalous says:

    Next thing you know, people will start saying "Stop reporting about deaths in the news, we do not need reminders that we will eventually die."

  20. shady8x says:

    But what would the 24 hour news networks report on for 23 hours of the day if that happens???

    There are already people complaining about this and they have a point, the ‘news’ networks like to report on sensational death stories a bit too much…


    As for the Metro thing, I am surprised that so few people have complained… I seroulsy expected a huge moralist movement… This little amount of outrage about a game that is ‘corrupting our youth and training them to want to nuke washington'(I expected this to be said about it…) has been an expected surprise, I guess people are finally getting it into their brains that games are just games…

  21. Zero Beat says:

    I have no idea what meaning there is behind Warhol’s drawing of cans of Campbell’s Soup.  All I know is that the colors are pretty and they look like cans of Campbell’s Soup.

    And if that qualifies for First Amendment protection, most things do.  Incitement to riot (must be very specific), creating a dangerous sitaution (yelling "FIRE!" in a crowded theater when no fire exists) and direct threats on the President’s life are the only exceptions I can think of.

  22. Bigman-K says:

    If the works of Andrew Pollock and Andy Warhol are protected by the First Amendment (and they are) then so is this. The art itself express viewpoints and ideas in our minds.

    "No law means no law" – Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black on the First Amendment

  23. Vake Xeacons says:


    Worst fear? What about The Great Depression II? What about Abolishment of Constitutional Rights…oh wait…whose side is this guy on?

  24. MaJeStIc_12_x says:

    Somebody failed high school government. Commercial speech (of which these ads fall into) are protected so long as they do not violate special situations (the Miller Test). 

  25. Zen says:

    No, I have to disagree with that one.  It exists just for them. Or at least that is what they usually have in their heads. 

    Jeremy Powers aka Zen
    Panama City, Fl.

  26. MaskedPixelante says:

    Unfortunately, free speech doesn’t exist in the minds of political and evangelical loudmouths.

    —You are likely to be eaten by a Grue.

  27. NovaBlack says:

    lol its so daft.


    How many films have been advertised in the metro that feature terrorists, washington, bombs, etc etc

    I mean ban adverts for ’24’ , that show is all about the terrorists. So completely daft.

  28. hellfire7885 says:

    "Since any First Amendment objection would be irrelevant (the ads do not present a true viewpoint or political message and would therefore not be protected), there is no reason for these ads to be part of our daily panorama."


    The ads coudl very well be interpreted to depict a literal wasteland that many believe Washington to be figuratively already.


    Opps, guess I’m anti-american now, put me o na watch list for speaking my mind.

  29. GoodRobotUs says:

    Was only a matter of time, to be honest, no-one worried about ‘The Day After’ etc, and they were quite horrific, but then they weren’t those dratted ‘Vidja Games’…

    You’ll always get people who will be oversensitive, purely because they can be.

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