The tragic death of nine-year-old Damori Miles, who jumped off a Brooklyn apartment building roof Tuesday with a parachute he crafted from string and a plastic bag, is being attributed to the wrestling video game “WWE Smackdown.” The Daily News reports:
Shakar, Damori’s best friend, said his pal was imitating his favorite PlayStation2 game, “WWE SmackDown vs Raw.”
“He tried to do a swan dive like Jeff Harding does in ‘SmackDown.’ That was his favorite game. He played it all the time,” Shakar said.
“That was what he was trying to do. If I would have seen him up there, I would have told him not to do it.”
Some of those who commented below the Daily News article aren’t buying it: “..this tragedy has absolutely nothing to do with wrestling except the fact that the child obviously was a fan of it. Maybe he was a fan of Superman too and that’s what he was trying to do,” posts commenter Ben Pheonix.
“My daughter watches me play [the violent video game] Halo sometimes, and at 4 she knows the difference between the game and real life. She knows not the hit or hurt other people and she knows that the game is not real and just a game,” says NY KIlla 75.
Skepticism might be warranted. So might caution, considering what sometimes happens to people who link this kind of play-death to the WWE.
Remember the tragic case of Lionel Tate, who in July of 1999 murdered 6-year-old Tiffany Eunick during a play-date? Tate’s defense claimed he’d been influenced by professional wrestling, since right before he kicked and body-slammed his smaller playmate he asked a bone-chillingly innocent question: “Do you want to wrestle?” The excuse that Tate did what he did because he’d been influenced by shows put on by World Wrestling Entertainment was rejected by the jury, and eventually got his lawyer sued.
Of course, Miles’ tragedy involves not just pro-wrestling but a violent video game , and violent video games have been the target of alarmist groups like the Parents Television Council for awhile now: “The players of today’s video games find themselves assuming the role of the most despicable people to walk the earth by carrying out mind-altering tasks with realistic graphics.” a web page explaining the organization’s Violent Video Game Campaign says.
The site — which appears to issue regular press releases — has yet to sound off about the role of “WWE Smackdown” in Miles’s fatal fall . They may not do so, as the organization is likely to tread lightly around anything having to do with the WWE: The company sued the watchdog group when it blamed wrestling for the the Tate murder. After the lawsuit the PTC issued an apology in which it said that “wrestling played no role in the murder of Tiffany Eunick.”