When Monster Jam trucks roared into Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida, on Saturday, something was noticeably missing. All images of guns were stripped from the sides of the huge, big-wheeled trucks.
What else has changed?
The iconic Gunslinger truck even went through a name change and is now called "Slinger." During a redesign in 2017, the gun images on the sides of the truck were also replaced with slingshots.
"The gun turret from Soldier Fortune was removed that year. And the Metal Mulisha monster truck was redesigned to remove the image of a gun," the Tampa Bay Times reported.
Names such as "Grave Digger" and "Maximum Destruction" were allowed to remain.
Feld Entertainment of Ellenton, Florida, the producer of Monster Jam, claims it made the changes to appeal to a wider audience.
"Monster Jam is a family-friendly brand with an international presence, and we are always innovating and evolving the intellectual property associated with our Monster Jam trucks," Stephen Yaros, Feld's senior vice president for global public relations, said in a written statement. "We represent over 50 different Monster Jam trucks and have a truck and design that is relatable to our wide range of fans and their interests."
But the move could cause problems for the company, which also produces Disney on Ice, Sesame Street Live and other shows. The company previously dealt with protests over its Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. Feld removed elephants in 2016 and attendance nosedived, prompting the end of the circus in 2017.
The change was made quietly, most likely to not alienate the Monster Truck fan base, Maurice Schweitzer, a professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, told the news outlet.
"Clearly, they wrestled with the experience of the elephants and the animal rights protests with the circus," Schweitzer said. "Once the protest movement gets underway, it makes it difficult to make it go away."
Could this eliminate fans?
Regarding the guns, Schweitzer said: "The risk is, they may suffer a backlash from some of their customers who don't like the idea that they've adopted a more politically correct stance, that some of their favorite characters have been defanged, or that it looks like censorship."
The NRA has called various companies' move into political correctness "a shameful display of political and civic cowardice."
Meanwhile, survivors of the Parkland High School massacre in Broward County, Florida, and other activists have insisted that more gun restrictions would help eliminate such violence.