A veteran of the war in Afghanistan has criticized how Modern Warfare 3‘s “Vet and Noob” commercial “trivializes war to an extreme.”
The Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 commercial sitting to the right of this paragraph could be offensive to a wide variety of people for a wide variety of reasons (I know a guy who claims to be physically allergic to Sam Worthington, for instance). While not all of the reasons for these various offenses are valid – see unlikely Worthington allergy – here’s one that is: D.B. Grady, a former U.S. Army Special Operations Command paratrooper and veteran of operations in Afghanistan, has described how the commercial is “hideous,” “a new low,” and “trivializes combat and sanitizes war to an extreme.”
Writing in The Atlantic, Grady says that, “If this were September 10, 2001, maybe it wouldn’t be quite so bad… after ten years of constant war, of thousands of amputees and flag-draped coffins, of hundreds of grief-stricken communities, did nobody involved in this commercial raise a hand and say, “You know, this is probably a little crass. Maybe we could just show footage from the game.””
It’s hard to disagree with him. “This is not an argument against so-called shooter video games or depictions of war in popular culture,” continues Grady. “However, as Afghanistan intensifies and we assess the mental and physical damage to veterans of Iraq, is now really the time to sell the country on how much fun the whole enterprise is?”
Grady also takes a moment to remind us that soldiers are not into being “professionally aggrieved” and that he expects that many servicemen and women play and enjoy Modern Warfare 3.
His words are food for thought. After telling the story of Sergeant Timothy Gilboe, a soldier with 4th Brigade Combat Team of 10th Mountain Division who received a Silver Star for heroism in combat, Grady draws our attention back to the commercial. “Two smug, A-list clowns strut toward the camera, rifles hanging over their shoulders, explosions consuming the city of New York, and then the words: “THERE’S A SOLDIER IN ALL OF US.”,” he says. “No, there’s not.”
Grady’s argument speaks to a lot of the current in-industry debate on war games and the blurry lines around how “real” a war game could or even should try to be. The commercial’s fun-tastic atmosphere is right for the general experiences you tend to find when playing Modern Warfare 3 online, but Activision’s complete failure to recognize in the advertising for the game that hundreds of thousands of people actually do this kind of stuff on a daily basis and suffer for it is a valid criticism. How close to the bone should these games and their commercials land themselves? The comments threads are, as always, all ears.
Source: The Atlantic