[Bad Press] Kotaku Lies About Smash, Doubles Down

Kotaku UK, a website that bills itself as “Kotaku, but without the integrity of Jason Schreier.” When Kotaku UK isn’t pumping out plain old clickbait compost for articles, they’re pumping out slanderous clickbait compost.

Last night marked the launch of Smash Bros Ultimate 3.0, and also the release of Nintendo’s first DLC fighter Joker from Persona 5. As is standard for Smash character releases, Joker comes with his own stage, a number of costumes, and a number of songs. In other words, it’s the perfect time for tabloid e-zine Kotaku to rev up the faux outrage and find something you should be offended by.

Enter Laura K. Dale penning an article that posted today, “Super Smash Bros. Ultimate’s Persona 5 DLC Includes a Disability Slur.” Dale listened to the track “Wake Up, Get Up, Get Out There” and decided that not only does the song use the term “retarded,” but apparently justifies its use by saying “I can say it” right after. Here is Dale’s personal transcript of the lyrics.

Oh Ah Hi
Are you ready?
Ready to pick up the pieces
Let’s go, let’s play, retarded
I can say it
Are you ready?
Uh Huh

The article got the attention of Erika Harlacher, voice actress for Ann in Persona 5, who confirmed that of course the song doesn’t use the word “retarded.”

The article has been slammed even in Kotaku’s community as racist, as a large number of commenters are calling out Dale for essentially accusing an Asian singer of using a slur because of her accent. Folks in the comment section are calling out the article for shaming someone for not speaking English good enough for Dale to understand it, when English is very likely not her first language.

You’ll also notice that the title of the article doesn’t leave anything to theory and just straight claims that the slur is absolutely included. Dale goes on to wag her finger and wax poetic about how inappropriate this is for Nintendo’s “family friendly image.” It’s hard to imagine Nintendo would allow the word “retard” to get into a song. It’s easier to imagine that Kotaku UK knows exactly what it is doing and is deliberately pushing out a bit of defamatory content and outrage-bait to jump on the coattails of a big video game update.

Laura, for her part, has posted multiple apologies via Twitter and acknowledged that her conclusion to the song’s lyrics was wrong. Kotaku UK has refused to pull the article, has not posted a genuine correction, and has simply updated the article to essentially say “some people say it’s different, but we disagree.”

It’s disappointing to see this level of reckless behavior from Laura K. Dale, who MMO Fallout generally holds in higher regard.

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