Why Did Apple Ban A “Cecil the Lion” Game?

The moral panic over the shooting of a wild lion was one of the more fascinating and stupid cultural panics of the year. Suddenly, people cared very deeply, for a very short time, about a wild lion they’d never heard of. A big bad hunter had killed this lion in a legal hunt on allowed hunting ground where the lion had wandered off its preserve. He was “lured,” of course, insisted people who knew absolutely no hard facts but were filled with the terrible conviction conjured by social media posts.Screenshot 2015-09-03 09.55.08

Locals reminded comfortable white middle class westerners that maybe they should spare a thought for the villagers eaten by lions, but feh, they’re just brown people and no one makes stirring animated features about them.

This lion was allegedly “popular” (apex predators are popular?), and allegedly named Cecil (by whom, and why?), so it was suddenly a tragedy on par with the eradication of the ancient Christian populations of Syria and Iraq.

Except not, because Internet Outrage Warriors don’t give one hot crap about Middle Eastern Christians. Like, ew, they’re all … Christiany and stuff and probably don’t support gay marriage. Lions are a moral blank slate onto which they can project fantasies and emotions from the comfort of their couches.

And where internet trends go, expect vultures to follow, picking the bones for a buck or two. A couple of guys name David Kotkin and Glenn Cutler exploited the story by making a crappy instagame called Cecil’s Revenge in which happy animals kill wicked hunters. They did this under the cover of “raising awareness.” Sweet holy Moses, is there a person with a mobile device who hasn’t heard this story (which is already just SO July) incessantly? How much more awareness could you raise?

Well, this awareness is about using drones to protect animals or something, a dumb idea that will fizzle faster that a leftover sparkler in July, just like the rest of this story. Indeed, they claim some of the money they collect from the app will aid the drone program. How much? Details to be provided later…

However, there’s a helpful button labelled “Help Cecil” that allows suckers customers to slip a couple bucks in the pockets of the developers. Maybe “Cecil” is the name of a speedboat they have their eye on.

Apple wasn’t having any of it, though. They bounced it from the store because “Enemies within the context of a game cannot solely target[s] a specific race, culture, a real government or corporation, or any other real entity. Specifically, your app targets poachers… We encourage you to review your app concept and revise it to avoid targeting any groups or individuals.”

Eh, Apple is a little flakey about how they apply these rules. A poacher is a category  of criminal, not a race or culture, so their language is off. Most likely, they sensed a tasteless scam and wanted no part of it.

The developers observed that “There are plenty of games still on the App Store that feature stereotypes of specific races like African Americans and Hispanics.”

Let’s take a look at that piece of that Cecil’s Revenge art again.


Oh do tell me more about offensive stereotypes, fellas.