Apple vs. The Onion: App's Rejection Shows Flaw in New Guidelines
A few months ago, the satirical newspaper The Onion carried a "report" on its video channel, the Onion News Network, about a fictional video game called Close Range, "the hotly anticipated video game in which players repeatedly shoot people point-blank in the face." (Be advised: The video is hilarious but graphic.)
Hot New Video Game Consists Solely Of Shooting People Point-Blank In The Face
Taking the joke farther, the paper actually created a playable version of the game and submitted it to Apple for sale in the app store. Apple rejected the app, saying it was too violent, leading The Onion to try again recently with a somewhat toned-down version. That one is still awaiting review.
However, the guidelines do make allowances for "professional political satirists and humorists," stating they "are exempt from the ban on offensive or mean-spirited commentary." But does a video game qualify as "offensive commentary"? One of the delightful things about The Onion is how often its put-ons are mistaken by the dull-witted and literal-minded for real news. For every Apple customer who would buy Close Range for a sophisticated laugh, there's surely another who'd do it for the thrill of vaporizing an ostrich's head with a shotgun. Whose intent matters -- the creator or the end user?
No one from The Onion was willing to comment on this issue, which isn't surprising, seeing as the new guidelines also contain this rather thuggish thinly-veiled threat: "If your app is rejected, we have a Review Board you can appeal to. If you run to the press and trash us, it never helps."