GTA Trilogy Trailer Removes Confederate Flag

GTA Trilogy Trailer Removes Confederate Flag
Tommy meets Phil near the end of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. (Screenshot: Rockstar Games / EJrM FILMS / Kotaku)

The remastered Grand Theft Auto: Trilogy appears to be leaving the Confederate flag behind based on its recent trailer. Revealed last week, the footage offers a brief glimpse of arms dealer Phil Cassidy, but this time without the symbol of Southern slavery on his shirt.

Cassidy, a recurring GTA character, is only visible for a split second in the new trailer, but at 0:34 you can clearly see him sporting a black t-shirt with a skull across the front instead of his usual Confederate flag. It’s unclear if this means that all depictions of the Confederate flag have been removed from the remasters, though it seems unlikely that Rockstar Games would make that alteration only for the trailer.

Phil Cassidy in the original version of GTA: Vice City (left) compared to how he appears in the remaster (right).  (Screenshot: Rockstar / Kotaku) Phil Cassidy in the original version of GTA: Vice City (left) compared to how he appears in the remaster (right). (Screenshot: Rockstar / Kotaku)

The studio did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

A gun freak and drunk, Cassidy appears in GTA III, Vice City, Liberty City Stories, and Vice City Stories. Vice City is where he’s featured the most prominently, however, and it’s the only game in which he’s wearing the Confederate flag on his clothes. Over the course of the games, Cassidy loses one of his arms when one of his moonshine bombs accidentally explodes, and is generally an arsehole fuckup, so it’s not exactly an endorsement of the symbol.

The Confederate flag, long a symbol of Southern states igniting a bloody Civil War in defence of slavery, has recently come under renewed scrutiny as more and more white people realise how racist it is. Apple removed games that featured it from the App Store back in 2015. Just last year, Twitch banned the Confederate flag from appearing anywhere on its streaming platform.

It’s also become increasingly common for studios to cut other offensive content from games before re-releasing them. Just this month, Capcom removed suggestive comments and upskirting from its new VR version of Resident Evil 4, though the original version of the game is still available on Steam. In Rockstar’s case, GTA III, Vice City, and San Andreas were removed from sale prior to the Trilogy’s arrival on November 11.

Comments

  • I don’t understand why. Vice is set in the ’80s, so it seems wired to change something like this. It’s not like the people who actually care about that are going to play the game. They’re all on Twitter complaining about stuff. They have no time to actually play games.

  • That’s concerning. All these games really pushed the bounties as they were when they were released.

    Once you start changing one thing it implies that anything you haven’t changed has been endorsed. (eg. why is the confederate flag offensive but the scooter is still called the ‘faggio’).

    The guy wearing the shirt is a clown. He was a pisstake then, it’s a shame Rockstar are scared that society can’t understand satire anymore.

    • Probably because a lot of people have been talking about the confederate flag for years and brought to the attention of white people how meaningfully discriminatory it is, and this sort of move is not an implicit endorsement of every other offensive thing but a step in a process of making games more accessible to wider and more diverse audiences. I’m sure if other offensive things were brought to people’s attention we’d be (rightfully) trying to change those too.

      I do like this point though – I wonder how Rockstar decided where to draw their line; was it purely based on negative media attention or a genuine desire for inclusivity? I think probably a blend of both, but in that case how did they decide which things to remove and which could stay, or was it just that some things escaped attention?

      • I get that people are offended by the flag, but it’s a part of history and this character is a tool. Do we have to go back and remove anything historical that might offend anyone? Should this kind of thing also apply to film or other forms of art when they’re reproduced? Do we edit the racism out of every piece of sh*t who’s ever been portrayed?

        It’s a ridiculous conversation, but it’s a slippery slope and no matter how you change it you’re going to offend some nutters while pandering to others. Would have just been better to leave it and avoid the conversation. Say it’s art and that it has context that adults are expected to understand.

        Put a Assassins Creed style disclaimer on the splash screen with a trigger warning and all the other sensible stuff people should already understand, then don’t touch it.

        • There’s truth to what you say but it’s certainly more complicated than say, a controversial mini game or artistic license.

          Given the last few years and the multitude of bans, laws and restrictions that have been introduced since, I have a feeling it’s easier to deal with a little backlash and remove it all together rather than the potential consequences down the line.

          The only people to blame here are the ones who took an already controversial icon and removed all debate over its purpose and place in society.

          • It is 100% about artistic licence. The designer who put the flag on the shirt didn’t do it because they were some obnoxious internet troll trying to rile people up- as I said below it was done to add context and background to the character (who’s portrayed as a drunk, stupid POS). That’s an directorial decision that contributes to a better game.

            All that said, if this is a hot-button issue for platform holders who are too spineless to demand that their adult customers understand context, then I don’t blame Rockstar for making the change. I do hope it doesn’t reflect broader changes though.

            Like I said, a splash disclaimer would have done the trick fine:

            ‘Warning: This game contains bad people who are bad and do bad things and say bad things and wear bad shirts because they’re bad, and it that makes you feel bad, it’s because you’re good and moral and important. Which is what you wanted to hear, right?’.

          • Yeah nah, how I’m perceived by other is quite literally one of the least important things for me, think as you please.

            As I said, I agree with you on a lot of points but in context it’s far more complicated.
            If this was done back when they ported the game to other platforms I would’ve have laughed my arse off but now we’re in a time where various states and organisations have implemented various laws and bans on the flag itself.
            I don’t think it’s simply a matter of wanting to appear moral, it’s bloody rockstar, I would bet my savings on them trying to avoid problems down the line, such as having to make several different versions to keep different platforms and retailers happy.

            I think a disclaimer would’ve been fine too but clearly Rockstar doesn’t want the hassle.

  • Games being changed to be appealing to a more diverse audience is a good thing. Removing the confederate flag does not in any material way impact your enjoyment of the game but it may make someone else more comfortable picking it up. I don’t know why people are resistant to things like this.

    • You’re fighting the wrong battle here. Nobody sensible thinks that way.

      The original decision to put that shirt on the guy wouldn’t have been an accident. It’s there to establish the character and add context as to his values. So yeah, the game (in a tiny way) IS worse without the shirt.

      Adults should be expected to understand context. I don’t like pandering to those who can’t.

    • Of all the gratuitous violence in Grand Theft Auto, you really think changing a shirt would make someone more comfortable? Come on, it’s not a sports team or a community club, it’s Grand Theft Auto.

  • So is this gonna be a new edited version of the original or the censored version with extra stuff removed/changed?

    I don’t care about the removal of the flag, it’s fairly obvious why I’m just curious if we get the original cutscenes or the ones with strategically placed shopping bags.

  • The guy was a tool, honestly probably does more to make Confederates look like idiots than any glorification.

    Honestly, I’m more offended by the ‘fortnitisation’ of the models. Fuck they are ugly.

  • I always thought GTA’s social commentary/satire about real-life was quite well done, in that they make fun of everything.

  • I honestly don’t care either way in this cosmetic change but I think the article hints at why the change has been made. If Twitch and Apple aren’t going to let the original versions fly without causing headaches for Rockstar, Rockstar would rather change them than lose out on the bump in sales that would occur.

    • GTA Vice city mobile has the character with the confederate flag on his shirt so i dont know why you mention apple. As for twitch people play the originals with the flag on the shirt daily with no issue.

  • The entire point of his character is to be a caricature of a southern redneck. If anyone thinks the mere appearance of the flag on his shirt is an endorsement of it they need to stop sniffing glue.

    • I don’t think anyone thinks it’s an endorsement, Rockstar removed it and we’re finding out after the fact.
      We know what Rockstar cares about so I’m going with that angle.

  • The amount of people giving reasons why they understand this, yet then continue in the other direction of calling it out as BS and how anyone offended is a snowflake.

    You peeps are gold!!

  • The flag being removed doesn’t bother me that much – it’s possible I might not have even noticed, honestly – but it then concerns me how much else they might be watering down, which again points to that article from the other day around making sure older games are retained in some way as they were at the time.

    I agree with the ‘Faggio’ as a great example – as a straight guy who rides scooters, shouldn’t I be offended by that? Shouldn’t gay people be offended? Maybe, but if you’ve got thin skin maybe you shouldn’t be booting up GTA.

    How about all the racist overtones in Vice City? Are they going to cut out all of the missions with the Cubans and the Haitians? San Andreas is basically one big gang stereotype/parody until you get out of LS, will they cut that out too? What about the radio ads for Gloryhole World? These games are COMPLETELY offensive all the way through. Will we still be able to kill people, or will they just fall over and get a boo-boo? People who’ve been killed IRL might get offended.

    It’s smart that R* have kept the characters looking like cartoons and caricatures, it helps to make it clear to those with low IQs that this is all meant to be a bit silly.

    So yeah, change the shirt, whatever – but it IS the start of a slippery slope of revisionist bullshit that makes me wonder why R* was brave enough to bother re-releasing these in 2021.

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