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Interviews With Oscar Goodman, Fay Wattleton, Michael Burdick

Aired July 17, 2003 - 19:32   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Remember when Dungeons and Dragons was a controversial game? Well, there is a new game in town. And unlike D&D, this one involves moving the outdoors and women, women actually without any clothing.
Lo-Anne Sorel (ph) of Las Vegas station KLAS reports.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have to collect four flags that are put throughout the course. Some are easy for you, and some are not so easy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): It's a new adult game that's only being played in Las Vegas. Women strip down to just their tennis shoes and try not to be shot by men who are hunting them with paintball guns.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Got her. And it was sexy. Let's put it that way. Got me going.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Although playing Hunt for Bambi got George Evampes (ph) going, the fear of getting hit by a paintball traveling at around 200 miles per hour is what gets the women going, and the fact that they get paid $2,500 if they escape unscathed, and only $1,000 if they get hit.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now, you can see, this is nonlethal. It wasn't meant to hurt anybody. Just good, clean fun.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hunting for Bambi founder Michael Burdick says the majority of the men who pay the $5,000 to $10,000 to play the game are the submissive, quiet type.

MICHAEL BURDICK, FOUNDER, HUNTINGFORBAMBI.COM: For the individual that's used to saying, No, I can't go out with the boys tonight, my wife doesn't want me to, and, Yes, dear, no, dear, and the wimp of America, it's a chance for him to come out here and really vent his aggression and take charge and just have some fun.

MARV GLOVINSKY, CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST: You might think of all men as being little boys who have never grown up, so they entertain their adolescent fantasies and go through life being adolescents on the hunt.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (on camera): This so-called game mixes sexuality with violence, and for some men, that can be a very dangerous combination.

(voice-over): Although clinical psychologist Marv Glovinsky says this game is every man's fantasy come true, for men who cannot distinguish fantasy from reality, acting out the violence in this game could lead to them acting out real violence.

GLOVINSKY: So if you're blurring reality and fantasy, or you can't make the distinction, and your emotion is overpowering your intellect or your higher mental function, you're going to get yourself into trouble. You're going to -- and if you have a control problem to boot, that's really going to cause problems.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Problems, Glovinsky says, like beating, raping, or even hunting women with a real gun.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, this is just a game. Get serious. Get real.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But some say it's a game which may have consequences that go far beyond the playing field.


COOPER: Did the reporter in that story say that the psychologist said this is every man's fantasy come true? I thought I heard that.

Anyway, earlier I spoke with Las Vegas Mayor Oscar B. Goodman about the so-called Bambi hunting.


COOPER: Mayor Goodman, some men, I guess, are paying several thousands dollars to shoot paintballs at naked women running around. Is this legal?

MAYOR OSCAR B. GOODMAN, LAS VEGAS: Well, we're researching right now whether it's legal or not. I will tell you this, I would like to have anybody who's paying that kind of money to do that kind of thing in a poker game, because I'd own them at the end of the day.

COOPER: The man who runs this business says he has a license to sell videos.

GOODMAN: He has a -- he came to the city. He applied for a license to sell videos from his home. He said that it was hunting videos, no pornography. And our investigation right now would indicate that this activity isn't taking place in the city as far as the filming, but if we see that there is any kind of violation, you can be assured, like with anybody else, we're going to go after the violator.

COOPER: What sort of violations would you be looking for?

GOODMAN: I don't know if this borders on our anti-obscenity laws here. He would need a special use permit in order to engage in that kind of activity. And I'm not sure just what it is. To me, it's an amazing thing.

Here we are in Las Vegas, the entertainment capital of the world. If a fellow wants to go to a gentleman's club, there are dozens of them. If he wants to go to a club, which we call juice bars, where girls perform nude, he could go there. If he can afford a cab ride to go 60 miles away, he could go to a brothel.

So as far as I'm concerned, any guy who is engaged in this kind of activity has to have a screw loose, because all it has to be is an interest in violence. So I have very little...

COOPER: So that's what it is that concerns you? I mean, it's the image of violence against women?

GOODMAN: That's what bothers me, because as I say, Las Vegas is a place where you're supposed to have a good time, and just about anything goes. But once it goes over the line and it becomes abusive, to me, that doesn't appeal to anybody's good judgment, and it just appeals to one's prurient interest. So I have very little tolerance for that.

COOPER: You say you're investigating. How are you going about doing that?

GOODMAN: Well, we're checking out, number one, to see where, in fact, the filming is taking place, whether it's real. There are some folks who have a theory, like the bum fights that were out here at one point in time, where they take these pour souls and -- who are homeless and pit them against one another. It turns out that basically it was voluntary on their part, and an awful lot of acting rather than abusing them.

We want to get to the bottom of this. We're certainly not going to allow any assaults to take place. And as I understand it, at least one of the girls looked like she was assaulted after she was downed by one of these pellets.

COOPER: What the owner of this says, though, is, Look, these women have approached him in many cases, they want to do this, they're adults.

GOODMAN: Yes, a lot of people don't know what's good for themselves, though. That's the thing. Sometimes society has to protect those who can't protect themselves. And I'm not a moralist, as I say. We have some wonderful adult entertainment here. But it doesn't get to the point of physical abuse. And that's what's bothering me.

COOPER: All right, Mayor Oscar Goodman, appreciate you joining us. Thank you.

GOODMAN: Thank you.


COOPER: Well, right now we have with us the founder of Real Men Outdoor Productions, Michael Burdick, the man who created all this. And here in New York, Fay Wattleton of the Center for the Advancement of Women.

Appreciate both of you joining us.

Michael, want to start off with you, just responding to what the Mayor Goodman said. He said he's going to be investigating. Are you concerned?

BURDICK: Not at all. Matter of fact, there was an investigation done just shortly before I came here today. The city of Las Vegas had came out to our residence and basically looked at our office, asked questions about the type of operation that we have, what exactly we're doing, if we were selling merchandise from our premises, and basically looking to see that our license was in place.

And that their final comments when they left was that they would take a look into things and get back us, and the bottom line, as quoted to me, was basically that they were going to look and make sure that we have all the permits that we need, and that everything is in place. And if they find out that there is a permit that we don't have and need, then their goal is to make sure that we do get that and conform to what is required by the laws.

COOPER: All right. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) legality aside, let's talk, I guess, the more the -- some of the moral issues that this raised. Obviously what a lot of the criticism of these videos, this whole idea, is, is, that it is violence against women. Michael, why do you say it's not?

BURDICK: Well, because plain and simple, if you look at one of the quotes the mayor said himself, it's an amazing thing. Volunteers and acting with bum fights. The video, as I've said in many cases, was something that we put together mirrored after a cross between bum fights, jackass, girls gone wild-type video that was out.

And we found that people wanted to do hunts and participate in it. And most of that video, as we said, go on and buy it and check it out on the Web. The bottom line is, that video, a great portion of it, is acting. I mean, that's what it was. This whole thing was a parody spoof to create a comical...

COOPER: All right, but nevertheless...


COOPER: ... men, men are, men, I mean, according to you, men are coming out and paying large amounts of money to do this, to fulfill their fantasy.

BURDICK: Men are going nuts wanting to pay a large amount of money. They think it's absolutely incredible. (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

COOPER: All right. Let's bring in Fay Wattleton. Fay, what about this? I mean, you know, Michael has said repeatedly that, you know, the women want to do this. They're earning, in some cases, good money for it. What's wrong with it?

FAY WATTLETON, WWW.ADVANCEWOMEN.ORG: Well, there's -- it's really hard to know where to start in describing what's wrong with it. But just because women may participate in the situation, we don't know what the circumstances of those women's lives are that they may choose to do this in order to earn money.

But the larger context is the imagery that is being presented here, that it's OK, it's fun, in fact, to be -- to conduct games that are violent against women. And that's really the real danger here. We talked about the earlier example of the homeless people who were pitted against each other. Those are really images of approval that suggest that those people that we consider disposable in our society can be engaged in these kinds of actions.

COOPER: Well, Michael, you know, you say the women want to do this, I -- and I'm only going by, you know, the various video stories I've seen on this. I mean, one of it, you know, it seemed like one of the women got hurt. Look, we're going to show this to the audience, a sound bite from one of the woman. Let's show this.

BURDICK: Let's see (UNINTELLIGIBLE) showing.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It really hurt. I just -- I didn't think it was going to be that bad. You know, I was, like, hoping I wasn't going to get hit, I was hoping I was going to make it to the end. I was like, Oh, God, I hope I don't get hit.


COOPER: You know, later on she goes to show the wound on her rear. I mean, even if you say you're not offending women or promoting violence against them, in some cases, they seem to be getting hurt.


WATTLETON: Well, I mean...

BURDICK: And what you're not seeing on there, though, is, I mean, you're seeing a small cut of an edit. You're not seeing the footage of her saying it was lot of fun, she'd do it again, it was great, and it was easy money. What you're seeing isn't an edited piece to exaggerate and draw press, so the press comes out...

COOPER: So you're saying women, women are not being hurt at all.

BURDICK: No, I'm not saying that. I'm saying we are not going out to hurt women to make money. I'm saying the women are coming to us and saying, Hey, this is neat, I want to be in the video, and I want to get out there and get some attention.


BURDICK: ... I will tell you this... COOPER: Fay, Fay, go ahead. Fay, go ahead.

WATTLETON: You know, there may be...

BURDICK: No, no, no. In all fairness...

WATTLETON: ... there may be a, there may be women...


COOPER: Wait, wait, Michael, my -- you responded to that. I just want to get Fay here.

BURDICK: I know, I want to finish my statement.

COOPER: Look...

BURDICK: If you go out to a paintball course, you'll see 15-, 14-, 13-year-old kids shooting each other even with padding. And when you remove that padding, that they've got welts. Because I've played it, I've worn the gear, and I have even worse bruises than them.

COOPER: All right. Michael, if you were naked at the time, I guess the example would make (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...

WATTLETON: I would gladly be naked to any woman who wants to come out there and pay $10,000 to shoot me, and I'll do it 100 times a day.

WATTLETON: I guess, I guess...

COOPER: All right. Fay?

WATTLETON: I guess the comments that he makes really validates a survey that we recently found, that women considered violence against women to be the number one issue that needs to be addressed. And I think that this attitude really reflects the concern that violence against women is a growing national problem.

One in four of every women in this country has reported that she has been the victim of violence. And...

BURDICK: Yes, and nine out of 10 people...

WATTLETON: ... to perpetuate this in games...

BURDICK: ... reported that their employers treated them like garbage.

WATTLETON: May -- if I may finish, if I may finish. To perpetuate games and to suggest that it's fun to hit women with pellets that travel at 100 miles an hour, and that somehow men are -- have this hidden desire to conduct violence against women and to extract some pleasure from the pain of women, is really a very serious problem that we need to address in this society.


WATTLETON: It may be purely legal, but it really is not the kind of society that we ought to be working for as civilized people.

COOPER: All right, we're going to have to leave it there. Michael Burdick, appreciate you joining us...

BURDICK: (UNINTELLIGIBLE), I would like to say one statement.

COOPER: Really can't, we're simply out of time.

BURDICK: Look at the children's video games promoting violence including rape and car crash that are out today, being marketed to children, on the market right now by Sony and all of the different video companies.

WATTLETON: And those should also be condemned.

BURDICK: Well, why don't you go after them? Because, you know what, it starts at the youth. It doesn't...

WATTLETON: We should...

BURDICK: ... at my level.

WATTLETON: ... it starts -- it starts at every level.


WATTLETON: We have to attack violence against anyone.

BURDICK: It's not just about their number one thing. It's the number one thing today because I'm the hottest topic. Tomorrow, women are complaining about everything else.

WATTLETON: Well, I think that...

BURDICK: Bottom line is...

WATTLETON: ... I think that you -- I think that you...

BURDICK: ... this is (UNINTELLIGIBLE) story for you to turn...

WATTLETON: ... are trying to be...

BURDICK: ... around and market.

COOPER: OK, got to...

WATTLETON: I think that you're trying to be a hot topic...


WATTLETON: ... because you want to...

COOPER: Michael Burdick... WATTLETON: ... exploit women.

COOPER: ... Michael Burdick, appreciate you joining us, Fay Wattleton as well.

BURDICK: Mayor Oscar Goldman, a...



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