Respectful Insolence

It’s amazing where anti-vaccine nuttery will metastasize to when you’re not looking.

This time around, Tom Chick (who, I’m told but don’t know for sure, is actually Jack Chick’s son) warns us about a new Wii game by Ubisoft called Your Shape. It sounds as though it’s nothing more than another of “personalized” exercise guides, but what it does have that other such exercise guides lack is a certifiably loony anti-vaccine wingnut as one of its “health experts.” Indeed, as Tom points out, this is what Ubisoft says in its press release:

In addition to being the face of Your Shape featuring Jenny McCarthy in North America, Jenny will also be your in-game work-out buddy, providing a fun and motivating exercise experience, while also ensuring that players get the most efficient, and effective, work-out possible. Once the player completes an initial fitness test, McCarthy’s in-game avatar will be able to completely personalize their workout routine to both their fitness level as well as their personal fitness goals. And, with the innovative new motion tracking technology, the game is able to follow a player’s movements as they work-out, and guides them so that they know whether or not they’re doing the exercises correctly.

“Partnering with Jenny McCarthy was a no-brainer for us,” said Tony Key, vice president of sales and marketing, North America. “Her commitment to fitness, and exceptionally wide fan-base, make her an ideal fit for the Your Shape brand. Best of all, she will make the workout fun for players, which is an element that has been missing in the fitness game market.”


“No-brainer? I’ll say! It sounds as though Ubisoft didn’t use any brains when it chose its new avatar. Here’s a hint, Ubisoft: If you want your Wii program to have any credibility as a “health” guide, partnering with an anti-vaccine wingnut whose knowledge of health science is so risibly inadequate as to be beyond contempt and who with her boyfriend Jim Carrey (who is also an anti-vaccine loon) has led anti-vaccine protests in Washington, is not a good idea.

Tom has some amusing other ideas for Ubisoft:

Hey, Ubisoft, here’s another no-brainer for you: Maybe you can partner with some Truthers for an authentic contemporary storyline for the next Splinter Cell game? Or maybe you can get some Holocaust deniers to partner with you about your upcoming WWII strategy game, Ruse?

The possibilities are endless. Perhaps David Irving could be an on screen avatar in Ruse telling players how the Allies were just as bad as the Nazis. Or maybe the next Splinter Cell could feature a plot line where it’s discovered that the Mossad was behind 9/11, with the help of the Bush Administration.

Actually, what Ubisoft is doing with McCarthy is potentially worse, because Ruse is fiction with World War II as a backdrop, and Splinter Cell is pure fiction based on Tom Clancy novels. Here, we have Ubisoft promoting Jenny McCarthy as the face of its new health and exercise guide based on what? Well, let’s see:

Louder Than Words: A Mother’s Journey in Healing Autism, was released in mid-September 2007 and her latest book, Healing and Preventing Autism: A Complete Guide, was released in March of 2009. McCarthy has recently become the spokesperson for Weight Watchers, encouraging healthy living and nutrition for new moms, and she currently has a development deal with Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo Productions. She will be seen next in the ABC Family original movie, “Santa Baby 2.”

What? Weight Watchers is using Jenny as a spokesperson, too? I’ve fortunately been spared seeing that–yet.

In any case, it just goes to show that a celebrity can spew dangerously pseudoscientific nonsense and somehow become seen as an “expert” in health. It’s also something that appears not to trouble Oprah, Weight Watchers, or Ubisoft. They apparently don’t think that someone who threatens public health the way Jenny McCarthy’s message does is bad enough that they don’t want their brands associated with her.

Comments

  1. #1 tWB
    August 16, 2009

    FWIW, Professor Google indicates that Tom Chick is no relation to Jack Chick (the tract-writer had only one daughter, who evidently died young,), but does have a Masters of Theology from Harvard Divinity School. Significant distance between the “Dark Dungeons” comic-tract (in which Jack Chick apparently believes the Inklings to have been a Satanic death-cult) and Harvey “Atheism is a welcome critique of religion” Cox’s school.

  2. #2 IBY
    August 16, 2009

    Uh oh, that is troublesome. Ubisuck has a past tendency to release turds on the Wii that sell well. Actually, a lot of the developers jump on such bandwagons, but that is besides the point. If this sells, a lot of people could be misinformed.

  3. #3 flim flam
    August 16, 2009

    The only way i’d buy this is if the boxing sim features jenny mcboobs as the punch bag. That might be worth $20. Or if there’s a game where you get to jab her with giant syringes full of “natural” diseases. Take that pro disease fembot!

  4. #4 JThompson
    August 16, 2009

    She was already in Command and Conquer: Red Alert 3.
    Having poor enough acting skills to make you stand out as being the worst actor in a C&C game oughta be an imprisonable offense. The only decent actor in the whole mess was Sulu.

    The only way Jenny will ever be my workout buddy is if I’m allowed to repeatedly push her into a sewage pond while she’s forced to yell “There’s no mercury in here! Natural things aren’t toxic!” at the top of her lungs.

  5. #5 Grendel
    August 16, 2009

    I see a game boycott coming – I’ll volunteer a blog post or two for that one – and as a parent of a child with autism I (apparently) have the same level of expertise as Jenny the Death-monger.

    OK – I don’t have the playboyable body but since when has that supposed to have meant anything in intellectual discourse?

  6. #6 Joseph C.
    August 16, 2009

    Hey, maybe this game will be the thing that finally motivates JB Handley to lose the weight.

  7. #7 KristinMH
    August 16, 2009

    According to Wikipedia, Jack Chick and his wife only had one child, a daughter. I suppose it’s barely possible that Tom Chick is Jack Chick’s illegitimate grandson, but you’d think he’d mention that somewhere. I know *I* would.

    /offtopic

  8. #8 Pablo
    August 16, 2009

    “Partnering for Jenny was natural for us. She’s an attention whore who is getting old and can’t just rely on naked pictures of her body. And she is a lousy actress, and an idiot besides. Thus, she’ll do anything to stay in the limelight, so we were able to get her cheap. Scott Baio, apparently, had too much self-respect.”

  9. #9 Laser Potato
    August 16, 2009

    How about a Tetris game with a John Bircher constantly screaming how it’s Commie brainwashing propoganda?

  10. #10 military wife
    August 16, 2009

    You know what’s really fun, and has lots and lots of reps? The Jenny McCarthy Body Count, of course!

    http://www.jennymccarthybodycount.com/Jenny_McCarthy_Body_Count/Home.html

  11. #11 BobK
    August 16, 2009

    This is especially bad considering the Wii, versus other consoles, is where moms are most likely to receive this potential nonsense.

  12. #12 Zar
    August 16, 2009

    Maybe they can make the game a crossover with Trauma Center. In one level, you perform chelation therapy on an autistic kid and castrate him. In another, you give McCarthy breast implants and inject Botox into her face.

  13. #13 trrll
    August 16, 2009

    Partnering for Jenny was natural for us. She’s an attention whore who is getting old and can’t just rely on naked pictures of her body

    …but she sold us the rights to how she used to look, and that’s how her character will appear in the game.

    Of course, Ubisoft probably does not know (or care) about her antivaccine lunacy. She is an attractive female celebrity who appears on TV talking about health-related stuff.

  14. #14 IBY
    August 16, 2009

    @Zar
    NNNOooooooo!!! Not Trauma Center! :(

  15. #15 DragonIV
    August 16, 2009

    Accord to Tom (http://fidgit.com/archives/2009/06/electronic_arts_hires_fake_chr.php) he is Jack’s son. See several comments down into that Fidgit post.

    Not sure how “legit” he is in that department. :) But he sure hasn’t taken a shine to Ubisoft over this.

  16. #16 WJA
    August 16, 2009

    Tom Chick has been a well-known game industry writer/reporter for over 10 years. That’s more important to mention than implying he’s related to the religious nut, especially because it only confuses the issue with an extraneous topic, and because, well, there seems to be no evidence it’s true.

  17. #17 fred edison
    August 16, 2009

    “In any case, it just goes to show that a celebrity can spew dangerously pseudoscientific nonsense and somehow become seen as an “expert” in health.”

    Agreed. You must examine quality of the messenger before you surmise the quality of the message. You have to look at their credentials; their education, their background, their history of the veracity of the “information” offered by them. If you don’t perform these simple preliminary judgements, then you may as well open your door to any stranger that walks by your house and say to them, “Come on in, I trust you!” Is that what you’d do with this woman, trust what she says as verified truth? Would you not question the evidence she claims is true, and not ask her to convince you that she is right beyond a doubt? I hope not because that’s an express lane to doing some very bad things with your or your children’s life.

    If it were only celebrities that thought like J.M., there wouldn’t be so many people in the world believing they were experts on health & medicine, when they are clearly not. If there is one thing we can learn from Jenny’s crusade to _blame something_ for her kid’s autism, it’s that misinformation and its partner ignorance are easily shared and spread. It’s that people think they’re experts on things they actually know next to nothing about. I offer you J.M. as evidence.

    You can’t lay the blame squarely at Jenny’s feet, however. She needs help to get her uneducated opinions out to the masses. She needs a podium and a microphone. This is the job of people like Oprah, Ellen, and any other media forum where people like J.M. are allowed to spread the virus of misinformation and infect the minds of the innocent with rumor and innuendo, sometimes with life altering or ending consequences. Arguably, they are as guilty as J.M. for the deaths that will be caused by uneducated and harmful health advice from these prolific and widespread pseudo-experts.

  18. #18 DragonIV
    August 16, 2009

    #16. Actually, neither the fact that he is a respected gaming journalist nor the far-out possibility that he’s some relation to the Tractmeister has anything to do with the inanity that is this Ubisoft title. However, it does add some interesting colour.

  19. #19 Pete
    August 16, 2009

    Re: fred edison

    On the topic of the media – I think you’re right.

    These people offer stories. A story needs characters: baddies and goodies.

    Evil pharmaceutical companies conspire with overpaid, underworked doctors, to cover up a scheme of monstrous proportions: injecting America’s children with poison, all the while saying it’s healthy.

    They’ve even got the government paid off to cook up some sham about ‘swine flu’, and at some point they’ll grab ever person, force them into their torture chambers, and jab needles full of toxic waste into their arms.

    Of course, Jenny McCarthy knows the real truth. Her child was hurt by these cretins, and she’s not going to take it. She’s going to reveal to the world what’s going on behind the tinted windows of towering big city pharmaceutical firm buildings.

    Well, maybe it’s not so melodramatic…but the point is, I think, presenting medical complexities doesn’t sell.

    I suppose that people like Ellen and Oprah sell themselves as caring, wise, funny people that women all over the world could sit down and have coffee with.

    What really annoys me though, is that scientists spend their lives working in their fields. They spend years absorbing knowledge, practicing, testing themselves and being tested. Then they spend years more researching or using their knowledge in their chosen area.

    But no, that’s not enough, any loudmouth celebrity can wail and moan about an issue – bang – all the science goes out the window.

    Suddenly, it’s not science anymore. It’s opinion. It’s an argument.

  20. #20 Sastra
    August 16, 2009

    I suppose the optimistic way to see this is that it can, in theory, provide a gracious “out” for McCarthy should she ever realize that her stance on vaccines is a load of dangerous nonsense. Oh, being anti-vacc was just a phase she went through a long time ago — what she’s really about is exercise videos and losing weight with Weight Watchers. Focus on that now.

    It would be funny if her publicity ‘handlers’ were steering her in this direction, for that very purpose. Ok, unlikely. But probably not a bad idea, assuming there’s anyone around her who realizes she’s way over her head when it comes to medical science. When it comes to endorsing some lively dance steps and encouraging smaller helpings on the plate, though, she’s probably qualified enough. And harmless.

  21. #21 Lucario
    August 17, 2009

    I don’t know what to think about this. As long as she isn’t spewing any woo in the videogame itself, I’d see no problem in it, but man – you would think Ubisoft would pick a better person for the job.

    I think I should stick to saving my money for WiiFit.

  22. #22 Tom Morris
    August 17, 2009

    “Partnering with Jenny McCarthy was a no-brainer for us”

    Well put. “Jenny McCarthy” and “no-brainer” go pretty well together.

  23. #23 Mark P
    August 17, 2009

    Did no-one at Ubisoft notice that their “face” for “Your Shape” got her shape by way of surgery?

    So what message does that send about how one gets to be the shape one wants?

  24. #24 Jojo
    August 17, 2009

    I’m not thrilled that they picked an anti-vax loon as a fitness guide. However, my bigger problem with this game is that they are setting up unrealistic expectations for women. By using her, they are saying to their customers that it’s possible to look like Jenny just by using their product. Never mind that she needed surgery to look that way. This would disgust me even if she wasn’t an anti-vax kook.

  25. #25 DragonIV
    August 17, 2009

    #21: Buy EA’s Sports Active if you’re looking for an exercise program. It’s more exercise-orientated than WiiFit. There’s some great stuff in WiiFit, but it’s hard to make any kind of exercise program with it. SportsActive is far better, imho. And yes, I own both. :) I haven’t seen any other game to date make such good use of the balance board that would justify picking it up, unfortunately.

    #23 & 24: Excellent point!

  26. #26 Orac
    August 17, 2009

    I suppose the optimistic way to see this is that it can, in theory,
    provide a gracious “out” for McCarthy should she ever realize that her
    stance on vaccines is a load of dangerous nonsense. Oh, being anti-vacc
    was just a phase she went through a long time ago — what she’s really
    about is exercise videos and losing weight with Weight Watchers. Focus
    on that now.

    You mean like her “Indigo Mom” and “Crystal Child” period, which she shucked in favor of being an autism “warrior mom,” going so far as to try to bury any evidence on the web of her past incarnation as an Indigo woo-meister? :-)

  27. #27 Guruweaver
    August 17, 2009

    One thing that I haven’t understood about the whole “Evil Big Pharma is poisoning teh babiez” thing that the anti-vax croud harps on is motivation.

    Let’s say they are right, just as a though experiment. The drug companies know that their vaccines are toxic (or, if you really want to run with the loons, intentionally toxic). What is their motivation to do this? Why would they sell and push, cover-up, bribe, etc known toxic vaccines? While they aren’t giving away vaccines out of their collective coroporate altruism, I’d wager that they do not provide such massive profits to drive such evil behavior.

    We’ve seen companies destroyed by bad products harming people and getting caught. From a strict profit/loss risk assessment basis, it just isn’t worth it.

    This isn’t very cogently written, so feel free to ignore. The core thought, I guess, is to understand motivations. If a company is doing evil, why? Profit only works so much. Liability, civil and criminal, destruction of good will and trust, alienating your customers thus losing revenue, all seem like pretty strong motivators to try to do the right thing.

    Need a nap,
    Guru

  28. #28 Guruweaver
    August 17, 2009

    Please overlook the flagrant typographical, spelling, and grammatical errors in my last post. I am shamed.

    Guru

  29. #29 Pablo
    August 17, 2009

    Profit only works so much. Liability, civil and criminal, destruction of good will and trust, alienating your customers thus losing revenue, all seem like pretty strong motivators to try to do the right thing.

    But see, this is why you need to conspire with the CDC and pediatricians of the AAP, so they can front for your activities. You have to be sure to give them a lot of free pens and refrigerator magnets and free dinners (because, you know, so many pediatricians would prefer to spend their valuable free time at a free dinner from a sales rep than do something so crazy as spend time with their wife and kids) to keep them from spilling the beans on the real truth.

  30. #30 Scott
    August 17, 2009

    The core thought, I guess, is to understand motivations. If a company is doing evil, why? Profit only works so much. Liability, civil and criminal, destruction of good will and trust, alienating your customers thus losing revenue, all seem like pretty strong motivators to try to do the right thing.

    Even more than the (quite legitimate) questions you’ve raised here, consider this. Which is more profitable for Evil Big Pharma – measles vaccine, or treating measles? Since the answer is the latter, one would have to conclude that the massive EBP conspiracy is actually one designed to hurt their profits.

    But hey, I’m sure EBP losing money is precisely what the Illuminati want (to conceal the funds being provided to the Evil Reptilian Overlords, no doubt) so it’s all good.

  31. #31 katydid13
    August 18, 2009

    Jenny as a WW spokesperson actually bothers me more. WW loves to stress the degree to which their program is based on science and for the most part is it. (Although listening to some leader massacre the materials and you might miss that.)

  32. #32 Emerson Cardoso
    August 18, 2009

    You are pathetic with your “loony anti-vaccine wingnut”. It shows how little reasoning you have to support this killing device.

    By the way what about the 1/3 of british nurses that won’t get the vaccine? Would you go in the line?

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1207270/A-nurses-refuse-swine-flu-jab.html

  33. #33 Richard Eis
    August 18, 2009

    Will it come with a botox add-on though?

  34. #34 Richard Eis
    August 18, 2009

    For future reference Emerson, the Daily Mail is a running joke in England. It’s journalistic intentions are on par with the world-nut daily.

    Plus according to your comment, 2/3rds of nurses WOULD want the vaccine. Pretty good amount there. So yes.

  35. #35 Zach Miller
    August 18, 2009

    On the load screen, instead “Why not take a break? Press + to pause the game,” it’ll say “Vaccinations cause autism. Doctors are evil!”

  36. #36 Dinah
    August 18, 2009

    grrrr…now it’s personal. As a fitness instructor with 15 + years of experience, she’s treading her ignorant, incompetent ass into my territory now.
    I don’t know the background, but what are the chances they consulted someone with a degree in exercise physiology when they developed this program? Perhaps they did. Or maybe Jenny convinced them that exercise physiologists cause obesity?
    No brainer is right.

  37. #37 Chris
    August 19, 2009

    No, Susan, you are a spammer. ‘Nuf said.

  38. #38 Ginger Yellow
    August 19, 2009

    Having read Tom’s games writing for some time now, I find the idea of him being related to Jack Chick pretty hilarious.

  39. #39 Stacey C.
    August 21, 2009

    Argh! I do Weight Watchers and love it (my leader is really good about keeping up to date on the basic science and a great motivator) and I hate that it’s tainted by Jenny McCarthy. **goes to write letter to the CEO**