Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Oliver North is The Pitchman for "Call of Duty"

Every time I think the modern gaming industry cannot sink any lower, I am proven wrong. This is... inexcusable, even for this industry. This is disgusting, despicable. This is evil. Oliver North - a man who was convicted of what many feel amount to (but do not technically qualify as) war crimes - is doing commercials for "Call of Duty."

Hey, I've got an idea - Charles Manson isn't doing anything right now, maybe he'd like to lend a thumbs-up to the next "Manhunt?" Or maybe we can get some actual gangbangers to stump for GTAV?

Are you fucking SERIOUS, Activision??
For those you too young to remember, North was the central figure in the Iran-Contra scandal - in which he was effectively the "bagman" for a covert and illegal scheme by agents of the U.S. government to sell weapons to Iran (an enemy nation) and funnel the profits to The Contras, a Nicaragaun rebel group opposing the Sandinista government of the time.

North was convicted, but it was overturned via an ACLU appeal (strange bedfellows and all that); and since the Sandinista's were "dirty commies" and North did his dirty-work during the time of Saint Reagan, he remains a folk-hero to far-right Conservatives to this day. But this isn't an issue of politics - or rather it shouldn't be. If you can't see why this is a horrifying development after reading the provided links about who North is, I don't know what else to say to you.

Congratulations, Activision - this is officially the worst thing a video game company has ever done to promote it's game. You win. You're the new champ. Say hi to EA for me when you go to pick up the trophy.

Un-fucking-believable...

62 comments:

Aiddon said...

It's kinda sad how Activision is doing this without a hint of irony. They truly are a bunch of tasteless shitheads. This kind of crap is why I wish the CoD bubble would burst already.

James said...

Oliver North is a criminal who deserves to be in prison, and Activision is idiotic for using him to shill their product.

HOWEVER, Bob, I must again remind you that CoD and their related idiotic ilk do NOT represent the whole of modern gaming. Stop acting like it does.

Dark Side said...

Full agreement. This is pretty fucking low, even for Activision. You're really sending a great message about your game wit this stunt, you idiots.

James said...

Oliver North is a criminal who deserves to be in prison for what he did.

As a side note, though, Obama is also guilty of doing the same thing that North did - selling weapons to the dictatorial regimes of Saudi Arabia (http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503543_162-20016181-503543.html) and Bahrain (http://www.salon.com/2012/01/30/obama_quietly_sells_arms_to_human_rights_abuser_bahrain/singleton/)

Anonymous said...

Your outrage would be more appropriate if the guy hadn't been a public figure and best selling author for over two decades.

I do agree that Activision using him to promote CoD is a terrible idea, if only because he doesn't quite jive with the largely liberal target demographic.

9jack9 said...

It's almost like they're playing the most extreme game of good idea/ bad idea in history.

Good idea: quote a variety of well known and occasionally controversial figures as flavor text on your loading screens.

Bad Idea: Pay WAR CRIMINALS TO SHILL YOUR VIDEO GAME!

Racecarlock said...

I smell a new overthinker subject. Do you smell it?

Anonymous said...

James, go away. Just go away.

Obama may have sold weapons, but he put that money towards the economy, and North puts his money toward even more violence.

James said...

Anonymous: you are as big a hypocritical douchebag as Bob is.

Anonymous said...

2nd Anon here.

Tell me why I'm wrong then. I provided a clear distinction between two people you said were guilty of doing "the same thing".

James said...

Anon: you're saying that the end justifies the means if the "end" is something that supports your agenda. That's where I have the problem. What does it matter if the money is being used to "stimulate the economy" if it leads to innocent people being oppressed and murdered?

Anonymous said...

Okay, I've done some research into what Obama actually sold them.

On the links you provided yourself, it says that Bahrain got spare parts that could be made into weapons, and that Bahrain also maybe got some more parts that could possibly be weapons. Saudi Arabia got entirely war helicopters and fighters, and fighters are unfit for dealing with a civil war on the ground like this.

Even still, you've ignored what I actually said:

Saying that Oliver illegally and secretly selling weapons to Iran, and then turning the profits over to terrorists is on the same level of Obama having to make a questionable judgement call is abhorrent, and you've yet to do anything but put up strawmen and ad hominem.

Jakob Bloch-Nielsen said...

A destinction between what Obama does (and every president since... well before I was born - 1981 - did in some way) is that while we may say that Saudi Arabia and Bahrain are dreadful people the USA considers both to be allies.
As such selling weapons to these countries is just business as usual for the USA.
Selling weapons to Iran, who may not publicly be an enemy, is an entirely different kettle of beans. Add to this that the money was used for the US', at the time usual, anti-communist agenda in the rest of the world (a policy that may or may not have been a necessity) is also a big no-no. While these things may be acceptable in the murky halls of the pentagon, the american laws don't really think so.
Now strictly speaking the Mr. Norths record is actually clean, but as so many things about old intelligence and counter-intelligence operations they are pretty much open secrets. Everyone knows he did it. The courts just decided it was not a crime. That laws go out the window when there is something we really want is not a new thing and it is in no way restricted to the US.

So we end up where we started with a man with a very spotty past being a de facto spokesperson for the most played wargame franchise ever. Then they have him spout fearmongeri and I start getting a bad taste in my mouth. It is too bad. The game even started to seem promising.

hazlenaut said...

Ok so a person sold weapons to killers call us lazy, call and self aware machines bringers of destruction. It seems progression will be stopped again for people who act like the Marvel’s Friend of Humanity.

hazlenaut said...

So the hatred and fear of foreigners will change to hackers and those encourage them now. I was going to ask about people that cheat in call of duty by use dirty tactics inorder to be in a group but… now I have to ask are they encouraging it.

hazlenaut said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
REPTILE 0009 said...

Maybe Activision is actively taunting you guys? We all people like Bob weren’t going to buy this game even if it cured cancer. I think Activision realizes that haters like you exist, and they are trying their best to cause your to bitch and complain about this game as much as possible. Because in the end, people like me will still buy it, because we are mature enough not to let bad advertising get in the way of a potentially awesome game.

Admittedly, I’ve never heard of Oliver North, and from what little I’ve read, he’s guilty of selling weapons to Iran. But even then, don’t you people think you’re overreacting by, I don’t know, a lot? Just by looking at Youtube, there are more likes for the video than dislikes, so obviously not many people are being that offended. There doesn’t seem to be any outrage, except for what I’m seeing from you guys. I’m sure whatever did was bad, but I think you guys need to grow up, because you guys are offending my intelligence.

Anonymous said...

Damn, I bet now you wish you let Necrothinker destroy the CoD offices.

REPTILE 0009 said...

@Anonymous
Even if he did, it wouldn’t have destroyed Cod because they are not made by Activision. Activision simply publishes the COD series.

antecedentless said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Aiddon said...

@Anon

no kidding, this is reason enough to not let them survive. Even EA's STUPID Dante's Inferno and Dead Space 2 ad campaigns didn't reach this level of crassness

antecedentless said...

Iraq was also an enemy at the time. Reagan or one of his aids said "If only they could both loose" in regard to the Iran-Iraq war. Like some of the anti-commie dictators the U.S. supported: enemy of my enemy...
Contras where not exactly clean either, but let us not pretend that somehow the Sandinistas where somehow virtuous.

Charles Mason: Evil
Letting Nicaragua become yet another Venezuala or worse yet, another Cuba: Evil
Those stubborn mules in congress who for the sake of political sick games created the Boland ammendment: evil

Decorated Vietnam vet and succesful counter-terrorist op. : Not so much.

antecedentless said...

>that somehow the Sandinistas where somehow

Me and my copyediting.

Smashmatt202 said...

Last I saw of Charles Manson, he looked... really old... and dirty. Ick.

El Pibe Progre said...

@antecedentless:

You watch too much Fox News.

I can tell you that Venezuela is as democratic (if not more) as the USA.

And I don't mean democratic in a loosely way, I mean it in the most strict sense of the word (Multi Party System, Free elections, Division of powers, etc).

The fact that they're friends with Cuba doesn't mean they're the same.

As for the sandinistas, they surely were much more virtuous that the american forces occupating their country to protect corporate interests.

Oh wait, they were socialist, which in America is a synonym for "evil". Silly me...

I guess France's soon-to-be president Fran├žois Hollande is evil too. /rolleyes

Back on topic: This advertisement may seem low, but after Bob said some company was going to make a game about Blackwater, this doesn't surprise me.

guyinthehat said...

Aren't you overreacting a bit here Bob. Granted he was convicted, key word being convicted never charged with war crimes. From what I've read he's not that bad and trying to liken this stupid move to someone using Charles Manson is just as crass as the whole ad campaign. Also don't blame the franchise, Treyarch made the game, Activision funds it and markets it. So don't try and browbeat the CoD franchise (which you obviously have a bias against anyway) when Activision is the group responsible for this controversial ad.

Also quit trying to play it off that CoD and its fanbase represents the whole gaming community. You pulled this same crap when you put people down for rightfully complaining about the Mass Effect 3 endings. And you weren't even right as to why people were complaining about the ending in the first place, you seem to pull highly opinionated reasoning from behind you, while intellectually boosting yourself when you've not an idea or clue as to what you're talking about.

Don't get me wrong this campaign is stupid. But a simple crappy ad is not reflective of the game itself, which otherwise looks entertaining. It's just a tad immature Bob. I usually agree with you but not so much here.

Crimson said...

You know, I find it hilarious that in the middle of this argument about the specifics of one man's life and the virtues or evils of his actions, Bob's own words are being mislabeled right next door. Seriously, did anyone actually READ the post, huh?

Where does he say that CoD fans represent all of gaming? Nowhere. Where does he blame the CoD franchise? Nowhere; in fact, he specifically mentions Activision and ONLY that dumbass company for this low-brow stunt. If you're going to call someone out, try and get your facts straight and ducks in a row beforehand. Saves a lot of time that way.

Now... about the ad itself. I have to say it, but I agree with one point; as crass and stupid and disgusting an idea that it is... Bob, sad to say, it did its only job. It got people talking and interested. You've said before about GTA that we shouldn't go running to their rescue, because Rockstar really does not give a damn about being defended by us. Their goal is to get controversy in the public eye to get their demographic gamers itching for the product. Welcome to reverse marketing, Bob!

The author of Wired For War is mostly there for backup and actual intellect, but do you honestly think that it was a split-second decision, or even an off-chance decision, that got Oliver North to be on this advertisement? Hell no!

Activision WANTS to get people enflamed and spouting off. EA wanted the same thing for every single stoopid campaign it has ever done... and that company has come a long way since MULE. This is only marketing, gamers, and the more we bitch about it, the longer we argue about what's going on, the more money we put in their pockets. Because SOMEONE is going to buy this game, for one psychological reason or another. The best thing we can do, in all honesty, is just to grin silently and let it fade away. If we're offended, just walk away quietly.

Nothing could piss them off more.

Crimson.

AlanaHarmony said...

You're kidding right? If not, you're either an idiot, ignorant, have lost touch with reality, or seriously brainwashed. But either wagood job with all of that.

guyinthehat said...

@Crimson: He implies and acts like the CoD franchise and its followers represent modern gaming as a whole. And that's my mistake he did specifically mention Activision and not down the franchise itself. Though through his Twitter posts that I follow it would seem he's under the impression that it's just the franchise. At least that's what I get from them.

And those last points you made about the purpose of this marketing campaign are spot on. I couldn't agree with you more on that.

biomechanical923 said...

Who better to sell a game called "Black Ops" than somebody who was involved in a REAL black op? I guess they couldn't afford the SEALS that killed Bin Laden.

In some circles, North has been painted as a patriot willing to do whatever is necessary to stop the spread of Communism, even if that means having to bear the image of treason. (Think of "The Boss" from MGS3)

Anonymous said...

"But this isn't an issue of politics - or rather it shouldn't be. If you can't see why this is a horrifying development after reading the provided links about who North is, I don't know what else to say to you."
I don't see how what North did is any worse than the violence we already sanction other than the fact it's OMGIRREGAL. I just don't understand the kind of logic that says that slaughtering thousands of civilians overseas is a-okay as long as it's within the law.

Anonymous said...

For some reason, this reminds me of Lord of War.

For those not in the know, the film used actual weapons and tanks as props provided by a real life arms dealer (they just rented the guns).

Having Oliver North, a man who is intimately antiquated with deniable actions, market a game about deniable actions makes perfect sense.

Hell, I kind of admire what they're doing here. It takes balls to advertise a game using a guy who many believe should rot in federal "pound my ass" prison for war crimes.

Controversy is the life blood of these kinds of ad campaigns.

biomechanical923 said...

@Anonymous
"Having Oliver North, a man who is intimately antiquated with deniable actions, market a game about deniable actions makes perfect sense. "

I think you mean acquainted, not antiquated.

Anonymous said...

Pardon me while I not give a shit because this seriously isn't worth giving a shit about.

biomechanical923 said...

@Anonymous
"Pardon me while I not give a shit because this seriously isn't worth giving a shit about."
Pardon me while I bask in the irony that you're on a blog called "Game Overthinker" and you're commenting that people are overthinking things.

Anonymous said...

@biomehanical923

Damn you auto correct!

hazlenaut said...

Perhaps we don’t put much thought since we are mainly looking for what shiny new toys we get to play with. No one really plays COD for the single player. I am guessing there is going to be a cowboy, zombie, and robot fight, which does sound amusing. I have scene games with questionable motives like Megaman 9 where you destroy 8 good robots to clear Dr. Light’s name. I can go on list character with questionable motives but we don’t care since it was fun doing it until after we are done than we cynical later about it. There are limits though and is the question did they went too far? They seem to want us to pay attention to the single player.

antecedentless said...

@El Pibe Progre

Wow, I take it you support this guy.


Look, It is easy to find what evil women/children killers the contras where and what great literacy promoters the sadinistas where. Horrible things happened in south america during the 70's and 80's, done by those supported by the U.S. and those supported by the USSR. Given Bob's positions I do not think he can make a balanced GO episode based on Oliver North. He already has it clear in his mind that North was an opportunistic supporter of hospital bombers. There is plenty of crap on the web showing just that.

Anyways, my mother (@CavySong) was in a prayer group with a son of someone who served under Lt. Col. North. I learned from her that North had this card with him, and whenever a congressman demandanded what dirty secret was on that card he responded "It's personal."

The card had Isaiah 40:31 on it.

That's right, North is not only a wingnut hero, he is part of the radical religious right! Just like Erik Prince!

Speaking of Isaiah...

antecedentless said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
antecedentless said...

@
I found the thread your post reminded me of.

I was posting as Quintix256. Highlight:
"Despite what you hear from FoxNews, Russia's media aren't state run. You need to take your head out of your asshole, yankee."

Oh, and guess who else likes MSNBC?

I fear a GO episode will insinuate that Reagan supported Afghan "freedom fighters"... when it was a contination of Carter policy, just like support for the Contras. Yes, that is right. Support for the Contras by the U.S. started under Carter and supported by congress.

antecedentless said...

>@El Pibe Progre
>started under Carter and was supported by congress.

Soy muy analfabeto

Hypershell said...

Weapons deals are a touchy subject. You get the rogues who are in it for the money, but I doubt when political figures step into it that that's what's going through their heads (or at least, it's not the only thing). Playing devil's advocate, while selling death isn't an idea that any decent human being is fond of, it's not terribly difficult to justify it as a moral compromise when you're responsible for the security of your nation. And I'm not saying I agree with this, I don't, I'm just saying the logic is fairly easy to observe. It appeals to the selfish side of humanity when you realize that when potentially shifting political powers in other nations grab your attention, and for your own safety you want to influence whose gun barrel you expect to be staring down in a couple of years, your alternatives are to either send your own guys to die, or bury your head in the sand and hope for the best.

Ideally, one would use that time to beef up their own defenses and leave it at that unless provoked, but it's not politically correct to build military strength when you're not actually involved in any conflict, so the whole thing turns into a mess very very easily.

I don't think there's really a "right" answer to those kinds of situations. And I certainly don't feel that one weapons trader should be castrated while another is praised because their alleged goals and/or political allegiances are slightly different. It's not a matter of legality and it's not a matter of where the money goes. Those are tangents. Either it's a valid method of affecting political change, or it isn't. Either it's inhuman, or it isn't. It's probably both, and that's where the problem is.

El Pibe Progre said...

@antecedentless:

Heh, I guess we got off-topic here. My fault.

What I take from this GO post is that Bob thinks it's a wrong move to put a controversial figure like North to advertise your game.

Why? Well, from an ethical point of view, at least half the people that posted here think the guy should be in jail. But that's debatable.

Now, for practical purposes, will this advertisement make somebody more likely to buy the game? I don't think so. I think those who get excited to see North promoting CoD are people who already were going to buy the game no matter what. So this ad might have the opposite effect: it might turn away potential buyers.

Whether one agrees with North or not, it's a bad marketing strategy.

As for "the modern game industry sinking lower than ever before", I still remember "We Dare", the PMC recruiting game and "Your mom's gonna hate it" Dead Space ad.

The industry sank a long time ago.

(or at least the part of it that's aimed at "hardcore" gamers).

Anonymous said...

Oliver North is a true Patriot and has done more for his country than moviebob or any neckbeard here.

*big boss tear salute.*

Aiddon said...

I think about it this way: Oliver North knew EXACTLY what he was doing. And he had could have turned down those orders. Heck, in the armed forces you are obligated to turn down an order that would assist in illegal activities. He could have turned it down but he didn't. He's a criminal, and he deserves neither sympathy nor fame.

James said...

Hey Bob, again I point out that Obama, and hell, the four presidents that preceded him, are guilty of the same thing as North - selling weapons to enemy states. And you have yet to offer a good explanation as to why you defend Obama but criticize North. You are a hypocrite, Bob, and an intellectually dishonest sheep.

James said...

And again, I must also point out - Call of Duty and military FPS games do NOT represent the whole of modern gaming. Take off your bias blinders, Bobby. Look at The Elder Scrolls, Mass Effect, Infamous, Dragon Age, Portal, Radiant Historia, Professor Layton, Persona, the Arkham series, Fragile Dreams, Sam & Max, Bioshock, Okami... all a fine demonstration of how the industry can rise above the mediocrity and atrocious nature of generic military FPS games. But hell, you probably haven't even played a quarter of the games I mentioned. You just want to live in your bubble and assume that nothing's improved since the 8-bit era so you can keep acting smug and egotistical.

Sylocat said...

@James: CoD doesn't "represent" modern gaming TO GAMERS, but it is the public face of gaming to people who don't play video games. And Activision knows this.

This has been explained to you several dozen times already, and you've completely ignored it in order to convince yourself that your holy crusade against Bob is morally justified and not just a creepy fixation on a random z-list internet celebrity.

James said...

Sylocat: Bob is a gamer, and he treats CoD, military FPS games, and sports clones as though those are all that modern gaming is. That is either ignorance on his behalf, or deliberate lying.

I go after bob because he deserves it. Because he is an arrogant, condescending, cynical, hypocritical, biased, egotistical, intellectually dishonest fool.

James said...

@Sylocat: remember how his last two Overthinker videos were discussing the Mass Effect controversy, yet he hadn't even PLAYED the games? That's how arrogant Bob is. He thinks he can pass judgment and assume he's right without even looking at all sides of a topic.

antecedentless said...

@James
My vain hope is that Mr. Chipman can open up his heart back to the religion he was baptized into (Orthodox Christianity, not necessarily Catholicism... ideally Messianic Judaism, hence linking to the sermon talking about two Jews suffering under Nazism after discovering Christ through Isaiah), so he can use his limited bully pulpit to make Christianity suck less from the inside rather than try to wish it out of existence from the outside. That is my reason to obsess over his political/religious posts, despite the number of times I have put my foot in my mouth. What is yours?

Anonymous said...

James, while CoD does not represent the whole of modern gaming, Activision as a corporation represents a massive slice of the collective pie. And in this post, Bob's outrage is (in my opinion) directed at Activision, NOT CoD, and rightfully so. This latest dick move just happens to involve CoD (Activision's big money maker). I don't understand how this particular blog post can be construed as an attack on CoD, or Bob misrepresenting CoD.

James said...

@Anonymous: I don't care about Activision/CoD. From my standpoint, they deserve all the criticism they get.

My complaint is that Bob keeps insisting that CoD and military FPS games are ALL that modern gaming has to represent, while he completely ignores the positive aspects the industry has brought over the last 6 years.

Anonymous said...

This is a Muppet News Flash! A shark has just reported to the Muppet News Room that Activision has jumped him. According to the shark, "when you have war criminals advertising war games, you the only thing that you can call it is jumping the shark." We have attained a one-word statement from an Activision spokeman, Mr. I. Dante X'sist, "WHEE!!"

Anonymous said...

Read the links. Learned a bit more about Iran-Contra (I was 2 when it happened, so I missed some of the context). Thanks for the info, Bob!

That said, I'm not feeling it with this one.

Bob's opening comment smacks more of incensed partisan invective than deep analysis or even "overthinking". There is an assertion that Oliver North's crimes are comparable to Charles Manson's, and I'm not sure how that comparison holds up at all, given the vastly different nature and outcome of their respective affairs and ensuing trials. "*How dare they* hire Oliver North?" with the same breathless indignation as a dog-loving Eagles fan asking "*How dare they* hire Michael Vick?"

The article and Bob's own mention of his acquittal give the impression that accusations of "war criminal" fall more toward hyperbole or personal interpretation than legal analysis.

I'm seeing a person with a military background in covert/unethical activities putting his voice behind advertising a game franchise about covert/unethical military activities. He also hosted a Fox News show (War Stories) that covers the kinds of covert/unethical activities (albeit, with a kind of jingoistic, patriotic gusto), and 'tech' exhibited in the CoD games. He is also a right-wing political pundit (again, Fox News). I'm not sure how any of those things make him less-fit for the job voicing a Black Ops ad. Given the content and the audience, it doesn't seem unreasonable for Activision to want to use his name/face recognition. Given his vocation since Iran-Contra, it doesn't seem unreasonable that he'd want it to be used. Given that a considerable margin of CoD players are active-duty, retired, or otherwise military enthusiasts, it doesn't seem unreasonable that CoD fans would be indifferent or encouraged by this.

I guess I'm seeing things differently: I see bad things happened, law happened, the man was (eventually) acquitted, then he was gainfully employed over 20 years later. I'm not seeing how this is wrong - where the injustice is. I'm guessing the folks who do have a beef with North that goes far beyond the context of games or the Iran-Contra affair.

Sanguine Symphony said...

I'd buy a game endorsed by Charlie if just for the novelty. I have a feeling given his drug abuse and overall lunacy it would be something really strange though.

But yeah wouldn't buy a game endorsed by Oliver North. Maybe Ollie Reed.

maninahat said...

They picked him because he's a successful military historian, and a best selling author of war books. That is what most people will know him for.

The fact that he got away with a lot of bad things 20 years ago, does not make him comparable to the Manson family. Not unless Manson is an expert on military history, anyway.

Sanguine Symphony said...

Manson fixates a lot on weird Occult crap... SMT could get his nod of Approval maybe?

Anonymous said...

I don't have a problem with North per se. I do have a problem with the fear-baiting approach the ads seem to have taken. "Oooh, hackers are scary! Ooooh, Anonymous is scary! Ooooh, terrorists are scary! What if... our next enemy was terrorist hackers from Anonymous?! Triple-Scary Bonus!!!"

But hell, they're trying to sell a game, and the problems presented are plausible - if not probable - within the context of the game's narrative.

Aside: I tend to think a satisfying revelation would be that a backdoor was purposefully programmed into major systems, either by a rogue engineer or a short-sighted government directive a la the recent demands by the Justice/HomelandSec Depts on ISPs/Telecoms/IM groups. The special "us only" exploit gets discovered and used against our protagonists, and we all learn a lesson on why bad policies make for bad engineering, and that bad engineering is deadly. That might be wishing for too much, though...

Additionally: I think some serious analysis can be done correlating the North ad, Black Ops 2's premise, and the popular fear of technology we've seen in our society for many generations.

Anonymous said...

Not only is Ollie North shilling, but if you view the ad, they imply at the end that anyone wearing a Guy Fawkes mask is "the new face of terror." (It could be anyone!) Of course, since GF masks are most popular with peaceful OWS activists who don't want to be extralegally harassed for voicing their opinion, it implies Activision or their ad company equates anti-Wall Street protesters with terrorists.

Ronnel Sahagun said...

my favorite gaming online is like a call of duty also !

Anonymous said...

Now, call of duty is selling big over the last 24 hours, and the occupy movements and anonymous are being demonised and called terrorists. Forget the UK or US, human culture makes me sick. Thanks COD, thanks Goyer, and thank you North, for destroying my faith in gaming.