Welcome to GameStop, where ridiculous-looking, half-assed fat suits are in, and tastefulness, judgment and common sense are, by all appearances, out.
The Wii Fit is a tremendously popular device, and the idea of "active videogames" has spread like wildfire, letting people indulge their love of gaming without having to put up with the gently nagging guilt that goes hand-in-hand with spending an entire day sitting on the couch and swearing at the television. But someone at GameStop decided it needed even more of a push, and that the best way to convince people to buy the things would be to dress up store employees in cheap fat suits and make them wear t-shirts warning against the evils of being a lard-ass.
It's surprising how often ideas that are clearly bad don't seem like bad ideas when they're fresh and new, and this is pretty obviously one of those cases. This isn't an isolated case of a single store manager making a poor decision, either; the fat suits appeared in two Los Angeles locations, as did an official press release from GameStop. "Reminding people to stick to their New Year's resolutions, today GameStop employees dressed in fat suits are encouraging shoppers at Los Angeles shopping centers not to follow their example and to instead try out active video games," it said.
So let's put this into perspective: You're a gamer. Maybe you're a little chunky. You walk into your local GameStop to pick up a cheap copy of Haze and what do you see? Three guys who like they've just returned from a raid on the Sears sleepwear department. And they're wearing t-shirts that say, "Don't end up like me." Which, admittedly, could be taken a couple of ways: It could be urging you not to forgo college, a move which will doubtlessly land you in a low-paying, dead-end job in a place like GameStop, where you'll toil thanklessly while living in your parents' basement until your mid-30s; or it could be suggesting that fat people are inherently flawed, lazy and worthless.
Either way, it's pretty clear that somebody is being insulted, and it's not too hard to figure out who. And while most people - myself included - would be inclined to let it slide because GameStop obviously isn't trying to offend anyone, consider it this way: If those same employees had put on blackface and worn "Don't end up like me" t-shirts, there would be riots. We'd probably be reading about L.A. shopping malls being burned to the ground. Weight, on the other hand, remains a relatively safe target for point-and-laugh, at least for now, but it's mind-boggling that among all the people at GameStop a promotion like this would require, not one had the sense to step back, consider things rationally and put on the brakes.
It probably seemed like a good idea at the time.