The Big Picture: Combat Evolved?

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Kind of long post; general gist: This episode sucks.

No, Bob, that's not the big picture. That's your picture. And it's very little.

I just today went back and watched the first episode of this series, which has been basically entertaining for me so far, and holy shit. This is bad, folks. I really hate it when people say, in reference to themselves, that "they have no idea the force of evil they have unleashed upon the world." Nothing says that you're an egotist and you shouldn't be listened to like painting a picture for your somewhat small community of less than avid followers of your own less than potent self as a horror only witnessed in the annals of Cthulu.

Have you actually read Starship Troopers, Bob? If you had, you would know that the Troopers themselves are not faceless; that rather, Heinlein takes great pains to name, describe, and dramatize almost every soldier you meet in the book, cap trooper or not. Also, almost one third of the novella is a lecture on--wiat, wait, what could it be?--military fascism and why it is good and the preferred method of government...and he makes a pretty damn good argument, too. Now granted, there's no one in the work that opposes this point of view, and it's concealed in the format of the-character-is-a-student-and-you-are-going-to-learn-his-mentor's-philosophy-with-him-as-we-sit-in-on-one-or-two-or-a-dozen-of-his-lessons, but it's still a pretty good argument. But, you know, TANSTAAFL. (Hehehe, oh, me. See, now did that sound egotist, or not? Don't do that.)

It's also not like the entirety of humanity is the Spartans. It's not even like the whole of the military is the Spartans...this is one group amongst an entire race's diverse military force, say, like the Navy Seals. And speaking of obviously don't pay much attention when you play a game, Bob, seeing as, since the very first Halo, we get many, many, many opportunities to see just how diverse this military culture is. Your first C.O. is a black dude, several of the guys on the ground have hispanic accents, there are a couple of chicks--I mean, babes--I mean, ladies--in there; and let's not forget that your main partner is crime isn't even human! If A.I. partnership ain't diversity, then I don't know what is.

Then there's the blue eyes...master race? SRSLY? Just because the Fremen's eyes turn a blue-within-blue when they become addicted to melange doesn't mean that Frank Herbert was a supremacist. Perhaps they could have explained it a little better, yeah, but it doesn't mean that everybody at Bungie is giving out invitations to the rally.

Now here's the kicker, I hate the Halo games. Despise them; "combat evolved," my ass. I was always pretty good at Halo, which pissed off my friends who played it, but these games suck. HOWEVER, just because the games suffer from bad characterization, poor writing, lame graphics, a tired future sci-fi plot loosely based on quasi-religious undertones, prophecies, and aesops, and a general proclivity to shit all over itself, that doesn't mean you're allowed to say the things you say about it...or even abuse the references you have in this episode. In fact, I'd venture to say that this pilot episode is almost as poorly written as the games that they rail upon.

Suddenly, I find myself agreeing with you, Bob. The guys at Escapist have no idea what they've unleashed. But not for any of the reasons that you think.





I suppose the point was: Would MovieBob bring Mario up to the same critique? In other words: Would he notice this sort of issue in a game he liked? If he had pointed out a similar trend in another game - which he liked - it would have empowered his argument. As it stands it looks like someone who doesn't like a game, and can't give any interesting reasons as to why not, made up some controversy accompanied with a crude psychological portrait of the typical Halo player.

I think the case could made that Mario's Mushroom kingdom is a monoculture, lots of diverse races etc. but one ruler, and a stomp on the head to all dissenters. Just because that case could be made, doesn't mean it isn't ridiculous, however, I think that Bob's case against Halo is equally absurd, and grounded in nothingness.

As for the master race - master chief connection, what connection? Both have the word master in, that's all I can see. The Spartans are not a certain race, they are just strong individuals who were put through harsh and immoral experiments.

Hey guy, you obviously didn't pay much attention to the video. Towards the beginning he said that he realized this whole subliminal racism while playing halo. However the whole point of the halo set up was to give us the "Big Picture" which wasn't the Halo universe, but that we tend not to notice when we are subliminal racist. I'm sure it would be a lil harder to bring that point across if he used Mario as a set up because 1) All the stuff kill in there isn't really considered that intelligent. Its easy to think of it as just a turtle or something VS a Sentient being with technology more advanced than you. 2) In Halo its the HUMAN RACE vs the covenant not 2 plumbers vs whatever. Its easier go like wow... the best the human race has to offer are Aryans?

Hey, well, you obviously didn't pay much attention to my post.

The "Big Picture" was apparently about being subliminally racist, but it was underthought, poorly executed and made use of a completely unsuitable example.

1) Bowser isn't intelligent? Also, the Goompas aren't at least as equally intelligent as the Mushroom folks -really?

And, unfortunately, you may not introduce the story into the conversation as it was quietly dismissed in order to fuel this ineffectual argument: The covenant are trying to kill you, not the other way around. That is the main plot point of the entire game series and in ignoring that, while favouring a different story element, you are cherry picking your evidence and lose any dignity in the argument.

2) In Mario its the HUMAN PLUMBERS vs strange humans strangely. The fact that you happen to be human constitutes racism?

The fact that its not just the human race, elites join you in Halo 2, ruins this fallicious argument entirely.

There is no subliminal racism in Mario, just as there is no subliminal racism in Halo. People using the word 'subliminal' usually means: 'bullshit'. It's true that Halo has a theme of the many vs. the few, but that is the very nature of every FPS, it's the nature of almost every game type, hell it's the nature of almost every cultural artefact known to man. So singling one game out to support this terrible argument shows a bias standpoint and handily disregards the theme that is prevelant in almost every medium ever invented.

TL;DR? Many vs. the few doesn't constitute racism.

There was an issue that I must raise when looking at this video, and since Bob brought to a larger context than just a video game, I feel that this is not overstepping the bounds of this board. And yes, this long post is breaking the cardinal rule of board posting, but, just trying to make a point...

When bringing up the topic of military collectivism, it's very easy to get bogged down in the minute details: People collectively giving up their individuality to become faceless cogs in a much larger machine. Where you once had people characterized by their clothes, looks, speech and thought processes, you now have people that speak, eat and dress the same. Don't believe me? Try talking to a member of the armed forces and see how long it takes before the digress into acronym-ese (ie: the VIP was taken OOA ASAP due UIT). Or the fact that they are required to wear uniforms (go ahead and break that word down, and no I'm not trying to be clever, just making a point)

And I know all this because... I am a SGT in the US Army.

What frustrates me when discussing these topics, especially in a sci fi setting, is the fact that these negative traits are easily blown up and looked at. The faceless, seemingly blind loyalty to the hive has provided fodder for literature for ages. It's an easy subject that brings with it pre-packaged phobias and feelings that allow the author or artist shortcuts when writing the story.

However, when you look at the reasoning behind this not-so-subtle brainwashing is the fact that our jobs in the military require absolute faith in our superiors and their willingness to bring us home safely. When you are out there making split second, life altering decisions, you do not have time for an individual questioning your decision. The place of the subordinate in a military system is to execute without question.

And while that sounds very Orwellian and shocking, here's the flip side to that coin. As a Non-Commissioned Officer in the US Army, I am taught that the well-being of my subordinates ranks just as highly as getting the job done. It is in our creed, the standard that all enlisted and commissioned leadership is held to. Yes, there are numerous examples of those who have broken this creed, and sacrificed those they are responsible for just to make a gain in the end. Yet, there are countless more who sacrifice not just their lives, but time, money and experience for those underneath them. When the system works, you have a unit that operates both morally and effectively.

Yes, the faceless conformity has provided good story telling mechanics, allowing writers and artists to comment on the de-individualization of people in society. And to say the military is a perfect system that gets unfair attention based on the its parts rather than the sum of is erroneous. There are numerous examples of atrocities committed by US Forces in the past.

But what we miss, and is very easy to miss, is that there are people in the military that willingly sacrifice the individuality for the good of the world around them. I am not naive enough to say that all do, or that this is something is regularly brought up. But the Soldiers, Marines, Airmen and Sailors that I am proud to serve with realize and accept this sacrifice for what it is and what it accomplishes.

Regardless, this was a good video and brought up interesting points. All I wished to do is bring up a counter point. If you read through to the end, I thank you.


The sarge brings up several interesting points, which makes me think the big picture is comparing what means the factions will go to to reach their ends, rather than what the factions are made of. While, as Spade points out, most any professional will incorperate jargon into their speech and generally change their mannerisms for the rest of their lives after going through any sort of indoctorination process... It still leaves them human. The creation of Spartans takes this one step further by making meta-humans. This, however, is contrasted by the Covenant, who go so far as to use The Flood to create monsters. These monsters could be the ultimate expression of 'the unclean horde', but that would frankly be giving Bungie too much credit.

I think that's the real big picture in Halo; A compromise is nessessary between having the moral high ground and getting the job done, so where is the line drawn? Humanity goes beyond indoctorination and makes meta-humans, while The Covenant makes actual monsters. Moral high ground to the manlings, but only just so. There may have been plans on exaimening this, but Halo is 'combat evolved' (although I didn't see much of that), so it probably got scrapped for the sake of gameplay (like God Of War). Maybe it's just a bad format for that sort of thing, I don't play many FPS games though, so I can't really comment on that.

As interesting as that thought process is, I think the idea of facism subtext being there is just not quite right. I think it only seems to be there because the Covenant's diversity is just more noticeable. But let's not forget, we have a very awesome black guy in the mix on the side of humans: Sergeant Johnson. And who else saw the pre-Reach intro video to Noble team? Anyone who saw that knows that 'big softie' guy is actually Russian (forgot his name, sorry. I should look it up again...). I know Kat was also a different nationality as well, but I forget which. You can definitely hear it in her accent, though. Facism? No. I don't see it.

I'm late to the party.

At first viewing, I was beyond annoyed that you were actually pulling potshots at Halo again, but on balance, you're pretty correct and insightful. Moreover, having seen your Overthinker vid "Worst Person Shooter", your opinions are far more understandable and justifiable in the broader context.

You should cross-promote more. Like it not, KNOW IT or not, your opinions are gathering more weight with each passing week, and your influence is becoming more palpable and respectable. Having a platform and a voice on four separate channels is good, but having it diluted across four separate channels might not be. Escape to the Movies, Big Picture, Game Overthinker... You need some consolidation I think. At the very least, make your fans more aware of those other channels.

I'm really surprised at your half-hazard assessment here Bob. you really didn't pay much attention to the game as you played it. Did you notice the woman Spartan with an accent? That would be a female from a different country other than America as part of the most elite fighting squad around.

Did you notice how many different types of people the spartan group came in contact with? There was even a scene where they ran into a woman who lost her father... and she was speaking a Spanish! The big Spartan had to take off his helmet to converse with her. Very rarely have I seen this in any game period. So it seems, the Spartans were a very diverse team of super soldiers, coming from many different backgrounds and cultures.

The opening levels of Halo 2 were set on New Mombasa for crying out loud! Not New New York, or New London but a city based on the second largest city in Kenya Africa.

The covenant are only culturally diverse because they literally enslave each new species they come in contact with. The only reason they are trying to kill us, instead of enslave us, is out of spite and jealousy. The forerunners, an extinct alien race that developed the technology used by the covenant, have prophesies favoring us for some reason. The covenant high counselors base their faith on the forerunners favoring them. So these high counselor idiots decided we should be exterminated.

I know that Halo can seem like a dumb pew pew sort of game, and on the surface this is the case. But in reality they have a deep multi-cultural expanded the universe, shown through books and other medium for anyone geeky enough to give it a peruse. From one Geek to another, I recommend the books!

What? Halo isn't deep, it's hopelessly god awful with terrible sterotypes, bad plot, and enough "Mary sue" to make anyone puke.

I'm always willing to catch corporate America promoting fascism, and this was a truly beautiful catch. There are aspects of this theme that just cannot be explained away.

But I would like to venture one guess as to an innocent explanation. It's a video-game. You want to immerse the player, and a standard tactic is the silent protagonist, so as to not get in the way of the player's personal projections. The more silent he is, the less you can know about his individual will, the better the immersion under this strategy. So, make his individual will highly subverted, so we don't see much of it.

At the same time, we want variety in the world we explore, and the things we interact with. It's a war game, so that means a variety of enemies, in addition to weapons and environment. Your character can't be diverse because he's you, but the enemy should be diverse to make things interesting.

you know...Yahtzee's dislike for Halo generally doesn't get in the way of his credibility
he don't like it, nothing gonna make him like it, but it's a matter of taste his movie analysis videos/reviews, they're great and food for intellectual thought
but his dislike for Halo seems to just translate into making him...dumb :p ironically

but he's got good stuff to show, so I'll be checking in still :]

Really old but I have to point out that in Halo there is a character called Avery Johnson (yes I am a Halo fanboy) and this Avery Johnson is an African American.

In future Bob, try not to attack something you clearly know little about. Yes we were all impressed with your comparisons to Starship Troopers and 300. But, your entire argument is based on your perspective. The perspective of someone on the outside area of halo fandom. Sure this makes you more objective, but you don't know that much about Halo. It was painfully clear in this video and it makes you look really unprofessional.


Have you actually read Starship Troopers, Bob? If you had, you would know that the Troopers themselves are not faceless; that rather, Heinlein takes great pains to name, describe, and dramatize almost every soldier you meet in the book, cap trooper or not. Also, almost one third of the novella is a lecture on--wiat, wait, what could it be?--military fascism and why it is good and the preferred method of government...and he makes a pretty damn good argument, too. Now granted, there's no one in the work that opposes this point of view, and it's concealed in the format of the-character-is-a-student-and-you-are-going-to-learn-his-mentor's-philosophy-with-him-as-we-sit-in-on-one-or-two-or-a-dozen-of-his-lessons, but it's still a pretty good argument. But, you know, TANSTAAFL. (Hehehe, oh, me. See, now did that sound egotist, or not? Don't do that.)

I'm actually wondering if you've even read Starship Troopers yourself. One of the (many) insanely specific things that really pisses me off is people who read Starship Troopers and conclude that it contains fascist undertones. It fucking doesn't, and you need to read it again and pay attention to the details. I've heard people describe the system of government in Starship Troopers as being a fusion of Democracy and Meritocracy, and I can't think of a better description myself.

I find it somewhat ironic that people can come to such laughable conclusions about a book which I've always regarded as being so transparently didactic that it could almost be described as an essay masquerading as a novel. But I suppose it could be argued that there is no "right" or "wrong" interpretation when it comes to works of literature and film - heck, I regard Frank Herbert's Dune as (among other things) an allegory for western society's over-dependence on oil from the Middle East.

i'm not a Halo fanboy by any mean, so i'm not here to attack Bob, but from everything i "know" from my curious browsing of the Halopedia, the human race is not nearly as "pure" as Bob thinks it is and the Covenant, while multi-racial, is not as united as he thinks it is.

i dont know if Bungie did this intentionally, but to me the Covenant resembles a 20th century human race: numerous races exist alongside one another, but they are by no means as united as they appear or would like to be. in fact, many of the races that make up the Covenant despise their fellow members. the Elites, self righteous and snobbish, hate the Brutes for being "primitive" and "rowdy." the Jackals, acting as mercenaries for the Covenant, hate the Grunts' cowardice to the point where they poisoned the narcotics they use habitually use in an attempt to sterilize the Grunt species. the Covenant, while united under the Prophets and in theory their warship of the Forerunners, is very rigidly divided along their "racial" lines, in a similar way the Human race was (or still is, depending on your opinion).

the Humans in the Halo timeline, however, have almost reached a post-racial plateau. the Human race has done a fairly good job of uniting itself regardless of racial and cultural differences, save for a few communist-esqu militants that have been mostly wiped out and some neo-hungarian partisans that eventually put aside their hatred for the UNSC when the Covenant invades their home (Reach). have you ever seen the names of a lot of your squad mates or listened to the audio logs from ODST (i spent like 3 hours finding them, so yes i listened to them)?

in summation, Halo's Covenant seems to me like an exaggerated parody of the 20th century Human race. Halo's Human race, while still suffering from similar economic and political problems we are now, has shed most of it's petty racial problems.

i understand that this thread is pretty old, and in all likelihood someone has already posted something similar as me, but i wanted to throw in my opinion.
pretty much all of my info comes from Halo campaigns, curious browsing of Halopedia, and the first chapter of Fall or Reach (i was never able to finish it or any of the Halo books. it was so boring.)

It's amazing a show called "The Big Picture" looked at this so one-sidedly...

Being a great fan of extra credits, I think we have to look at this from a game desingner's perspective to...

Having a variety in the enemy's ranks is the most common and easiest way to test and challenge the player. As a game progresses, the player is supposed to be challenged more and more and diversity in the enemy's troops insures that there is a reason to suddenly include extremely hard enemies. The difference between a hunter and a grunt in Halo is exactly the same as the difference between a normal soldier and a tank in CoD.

I seriously doubt Bungie was trying to or has ever actually achieved to create an undertone of facism...

Love the show Bob, but this one was seriously misinformed and not thought through enough...

...I have no bloody idea where he got that idea. To me, Halo was always about rigid military soldiers versus fanatical religious warriors, and it shows in their design.

Really? really?? All because of eye color? So does that make it bad that I want to have blue eyes?

OK, so this is the thing that made me really aware of Bobby boy here (Moviebob or whatever you want to call him). I wound up watching this series to see if he was off-base in general or was superficial in judgment or if it was a more specific thing (and the idea sounded interesting), and it was mostly pretty good. Eventually I got into watching his movie reviews, where I kept hitting these put-downs and dismissals of Halo (and one or two of FPSs in general, which seems very narrow-minded to me). So I went back to double-check what he really thought and said, and he doesn't address most of why it seems like he dislikes Halo-- yeah, he says he just noticed certain things and that's what he'll talk about, but I'd rather hear the rationale for the apparent lack of respect.
Possibly more on topic, as others have pointed out, the different races of the Covenant were made for enjoyable combat.
Also there are a lot of people that play Halo, and read the books and the comic books, for the context and the story (I don't want to send a flood of traffic, although it should be able to handle it... you might want to Google HBO and see what comes up besides a movie channel). The thing is those aren't usually the people you hear screaming into headsets on Xbox Live (not necessarily because they're more rational or don't talk much; they tend to prefer single-player) so they're not as well-known. A lot of them would say people that are only in it for the multiplayer aren't really fans-- I wouldn't go that far, but if someone can't really appreciate all the parts of something that are clearly different and important parts then I question if "fan" is the right word to describe them.

Well time for me to be different and not blindly agree with a guy who knows jack about the lore. I like Bob's more recent stuff since I feel like he actually knows what he's talking about but going back and watching this lost some of my respect for the guy. If you don't like a game for whatever reason that has to do with gameplay or how the narrative is that's fine, but to go deep into your perception of the subtext with little to no context and somehow pull a nazi card out of your hat just seems like your trying too hard to hate it. If you look at it from the human side of things the whole of the conflict is a group of fanatical zealots attacking a particular race of people unprovoked for the sole reason that it's an affront to the zealots' religion, now which side sounds like the nazis. Also the humans were about to have a civil war and then the covenant attacked and made the humans put aside their differences to avoid complete extinction. But now I'm drowning you guys in such a large amount of halo lore that I should be embarrassed about it. My point is that trying to be an intellectual and completely misinterpreting something because you think you can get away with it is insulting to people who actually know about the subject. I apologize for the rant.

Maybe his eye's turn blue because blue is the best eye color. <------ has blue eyes

Oh, damn it. I was subtlety racist... or eye-cist?

OT, yeah, not really seeing it Bob. Re-watched this episode today just for fun and I didn't agree with you then and i don't now. and this is coming from someone who is guilty of over-analyzing shit to the point that people who know me get annoyed by it at times. But Halo is a first person shooter. you know, with the guns and the boom boom's. it isn't supposed to be deep or have subtle hints of racism. If bungie wanted that to be the over-arching theme of the games, why would they hide it? it seems more likely to me that the "theme" would be humans like to survive when aliens try to overtake their planet and turn them into more slaves for the slave army.

To his credit, it is totally possible for an audience to perceive a message that wasn't intended by the creators. Or, a work could suggest a certain viewpoint held by the creator even if it isn't explicitly stated. The problem is that a diverse slave army does not an anti-diversity message make. It's a perfect example of Hitler Ate Sugar. While I'm not prepared to call Halo particularly sophisticated, there's very little that is so simplistic as to suggest that the fact of a bad guy doing something makes it bad. The bad guy is bad because the things he does are shown to be bad. It doesn't work the other way around. To say "the things the bad guy does are shown to be bad because the bad guy is bad" is just silly. MovieBob knows a lot about films and storytelling and knows this perfectly well. But he also knows a lot of his viewers don't. And if it did work that way, real life would be an anti-diversity message. That's what makes MovieBob's argument not only bad but harmful.

A much better argument would be that Halo has a pro-diversity message because it uses enslaving diverse races and robbing them of their diversity to show that the bad guy is bad. That's what I, and I'm sure most people, took from Halo. Turning that good message on it's head was an extremely insidious and nasty thing to do. And it was all in the name of bringing attention to his new show. This is why people call MovieBob a "bad person". He doesn't care about the quality or integrity of his work and his presence reflects badly on the escapist.

Come on it was a fine episode.
Dont get all that furious because somebody said something about a game you like that isn't positive.
I actually enjoyed this episode. Reading between the lines is something I love to do or watch someone telling me about games. For example,there are so many Zelda theories.
But we don't hate Zelda,actually it feels like the conspiracy theories around Zelda add to the game's mythos.
I dont get why particulary Halo fans get so furious about it.

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