Friday, December 3, 2010

Hasbro scraps launch of "Spastic Transformer" in UK because name is offensive there

From The Daily Mail in the UK:

An American toymaker has scrapped the UK launch of its latest Transformer model – after revealing the new character is being named Spastic.

Transformers creators Hasbro, clearly unaware of how offensive the term is regarded in Britain, was shocked at the outcry after proudly unveiling the popular boy’s toy online.

While it is seen as a derogatory word in Britain, spastic is used widely in the U.S. as a casual word for clumsiness or to describe someone who is overexcited.

The latest figure in the hugely successful Transformers franchise – the basis for the blockbuster films starring Shia LaBeouf – was expected to be one of the biggest sellers of next year.

In its 26-year history, the toy line has expanded to encompass comic books, animation, video games and films.

Spastic forms part of the ‘Power Core Combiners 2011 Wave 2’ range.

Hasbro moved quickly to stop the UK launch after it was besieged with complaints. But the toy will go on sale with its original name in the U.S. as planned in January.

The company said it ‘intended no offence by the use of the name Spastic’ and added that ‘it will not be available via traditional retail channels in Europe, including the UK'.

‘Our goal is to have all families who enjoy our brands feel good about their purchases and experiences,’ Hasbro added.

In American slang, the word spastic is often shortened to ‘spaz.’

It has been used in TV shows like Friends and Tiger Woods got into hot water when he used it after losing the U.S. Masters tournament four years ago.

His remark – ‘As soon as I got to the greens I was a spaz’ – drew no attention in America, but Woods was forced to apologise after being roundly criticised in Britain.