Kotaku’s attention seeking has become libellous, stupid and potentially racist

It has been an odd week. We learned the first PS5 details. We got Cuphead on Switch. Joker came to Smash. Then Kotaku journalist, Laura Kate Dale, accused Nintendo and Atlus of using a disability slur in one of the Persona songs featured in Nintendo’s fighting title Super Smash Bros Ultimate. This is an excerpt from the beginning of the article:

“In the track ‘Wake Up, Get Up, Get Out There’, if you skip to around 1:48 into the track, you’ll reach a section of the song where words are softly spoken rather than sung. At around 1:57 it appears the term “retarded” is used, and followed up by the assertion that “I can say it.” The official lyrics for the song, curiously enough, does not include this spoken word section.”

Then Kotaku published what they believe the lyrics to be. They didn’t bother investigating. They didn’t do research or talk to the many, many Persona fans on the internet. They just simply ran the story while waiting for Nintendo or Atlus to make comment. Unsurprisingly, people were unhappy:

Now I love Persona 5. It’s a masterpiece. The music is fantastic and composer Shoji Meguro has created something timeless. I’ve never heard anything that sounded like that word so upon seeing this story I was curious. I checked out the song, as you can here, and at there is a spoken word section that isn’t included in several iterations of the lyrics. However, it’s pretty clear that the word retarded isn’t used. In fact, the only way that it would be possible to hear that word is if you wanted to. The track’s singer, Lyn, is a South Korean national and of course has an accent. She recorded multiple different versions of the track in multiple languages. The official lyric is ‘Retort it’. Instead of bothering to research this story, Kotaku literally jumped the gun in order to capitalise on the popularity of Persona and Smash at this moment in time. What happened then when Persona fans pointed out the issue? Did Kotaku retract the article and the author apologise? No. The person running their social media account decided to start throwing around ridiculous responses to the varying comments and abuse from Twitter users:

Now, believe it or not, the vast majority of replies are very constructive. They are from people pointing out the true lyrics and do not contain abuse. Did Kotaku respond? No. They continued to accuse the song of containing those lyrics while saying their article couldn’t update due to ‘gremlins‘. They also still maintained that the slur could potentially be the lyric. Their only evidence? A handful of journalists with perception bias, mishearing a lyric from a foreign singer. I don’t need to see why this is painfully offensive and ignorant. What happened next? Well, Nintendo commented of course:
We checked with Atlus who confirmed that the actual lyrics of the song do not include the word “retarded”.
Pretty much clears up the issue. So as you’d expect Kotaku has deleted the article.
Oh, you didn’t expect that? Clever reader. The article still stands. There isn’t an apology or any link to an apology in that article. Or maybe Kotaku has published an apology? I didn’t bother investigating or reaching out for a comment, didn’t know that was necessary for journalism. This article will probably update whenever I find the apology from Kotaku. In fact, ‘gremlins’ will potentially mean this article never gets updated again.

That’s right, still maintaining there’s a chance the lyric is what Kotaku originally decided to make it. The accusation is potentially libelous and Kotaku are very lucky that the internet was able to inform them of the truth so quickly. Without the informed individuals online then this story may have spiraled and led to some very serious accusations being taken seriously instead of immediately quashed.
Image result for dont be sorry be better
However, the internet comes with a huge downside. Some people can be absolutely horrible and the author, Laura Kate Dale, has received some pretty horrendous abuse. Forget the fact that all people make mistakes, no one deserves any kind of personal abuse online. It’s bullying and the damage that can do to a person is immeasurable. Don’t be sorry, be better.

No matter how this situation resolves itself I personally think one thing is very clear: jumping the gun is never a good thing. Publish with haste is never a good thing. In any kind of journalism, you have a responsibility and duty to the truth, not to try and drum up controversy in order to gain clicks. Kotaku has a huge following and does some fantastic work, weaponising that in order to receive clicks is very wrong and, frankly, a scary prospect. A lot of trusts will have been lost in the gaming community due to this article.

If a job is ever worth doing, it’s worth doing right.

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