Tuesday, July 10, 2012

COD: Black Ops II's Villain is... Occupy Wall Street?

Y'know, I don't really relish being the guy who keeps beating the "Call-of-Duty-As-Right-Wing-Propaganda" drum; but what else can you do when this stuff keeps cropping up?

Below, the new trailer for BLOPS2; which seems to reveal that the drone-army-hijacking bad guy(s) are (or are somehow tied-to) a "99 Percenter" movement called Cordis Die ("The Heart"); whose leader is suspected to actually be an aging Nicaraguan (hmmm...) narco-terrorist. The story comes from David Goyer, who also wrote "The Dark Knight Rises" which ALSO looks to potentially have an "income-inequality activists are tools-of/servants-of/opening-the-door-for destructive evil" story-element going on...


I kid, I kid. But, still... between the Oliver North thing, the general chest-thumping militarism of the franchise in general and now (potentially) casting a variation on the most-visible "liberal" slogan/movement in current American popular culture as either villains or the useful-idiot tools of villainy; it becomes awful hard not to look "askance" at the whole production.

In any case, we'll find out November 13th - one week after the election, incidentally.


guyinthehat said...

Have you ever played a Call of Duty game Bob? Because the more you post and harp on this franchise the more I feel that you don't know the slightest thing about it save for the superficial knowledge you get from watching Zero Punctuation and franchise trailers.

Because I guarantee if you actually have you'd know that the franchise isn't chest thumping militarism nonsense and it's very often that the series actually brings to light some of the worst things about war and military jingoism. In the original Modern Warfare it's shown that the United States usual "shoot first ask questions later" policy is what leads to their demise and the SAS are shown as bloodthirsty psychopaths. In Modern Warfare 2 the entire war is the fault of an overtly patriotic US Ranger who basically helps start a war just so him, his country and his men can be seen as heroes. Modern Warfare 3 is probably the only one in the franchise that doesn't really have too heavy of a message and just devolves into a Michael Bay blockbuster.

World at War works more as a drama of sorts, showcasing the horrible things that took place during World War 2, and the glorious most patriotic moment of the entire game is the Russian forces take over of Berlin. Black Ops reflects none of these things really as it's more a story about government conspiracy that just so happens to involve Vietnam and the Cold War. I can't say much about Black Ops 2 thus far but I'm still not getting this whole chest thumping militarism stuff you're talking about.

I might also mention that the game is very well known for having left and right wing quotes after every death, regarding the philosophies of war and humanity and the moral ambiguity of the whole thing. I like you but you just come off as a narcissistic liberal who bashes the entire conservative culture, who then plays hypocrite and gets upset when something says "hey maybe liberalism could be evil." And then as some kind of old school Nintendo elitist who tends to look at everything that isn't a Mario/Zelda knockoff like it's meaningless tripe. It's things like that that give the biggest implication you're an undereducated guy who has the pretension to share these straw man fallacies.

Logan Deckard said...

I see it more as lazy storytelling than right-wing propaganda. Though the whole Oliver North thing still baffles me.

Anonymous said...

have you ever got a job from a poor person? but I digress....

Anonymous said...

Yes I have gotten a job from a poor person, so has everyone, where do you think the rich peoples money ultimately comes from?

The trailer seemed to be pretty clearly showing the black general guy as the villain as much as the 99% guy.

SpookyDonkey said...

hey man, huge fan of the show. i made a documentary showing the intense corellation between COD and recruitment rates and how it affects ppls perception of our war in the middle east. please check it out and tweet it or mention it if you like it! thanks moviebob!


Sabre said...

guyinthehat- I agree, kind of. Things are alot more complicated than that.

I would add to your piece that CoD is popular all around the world, so the idea that it's only popular because it has some kind of US gun nut and political masturbation doesn't really work.

It's also interesting that there is an Iranian FPS called Persian Gulf Soldiers that, judging from the trailer, is a CoD knock off. There are also Russian FPS games, so again, the idea of it being US right wing power fantasy doesn't really work.

Plus, wasn't Bob arguing in one GO episode that more games need to have political controversy, and shouldn't be judged negatively for that if we want the medium to grow? CoD comes along, maybe has a political message (though we won't know until we play it) and Bob is crucifying the game for that because it doesn't agree with his opinions.

Aiddon said...

Activision, by far the dumbest, most attention-whoring, and most inflammatory game publisher working right now. It just makes me wonder what they'll do next to get attention

guyinthehat said...

Sabre- Exactly, it's his same thing with his damning the Michael Bay Transformers franchise for being nothing more than a military wank fest. The military is often dwarfed in those movies and are displayed as completely outmatched. I think anything that displays the military in a positive light or has them on the forefront of a story without outright saying "military bad" just doesn't sit well with Bob. His whole thing on Act of Valor seemed to be positive just so he didn't get backlash.

I didn't know that there was an Iranian FPS or a Russian one that were CoD knockoffs, but my experience with the FPS genre comes only from America really.

Exactly! I've noticed that about him, he tends to be a hypocrite when the story isn't leaning towards his beliefs and political views or opinions.

Megabyte said...

SO Bob... how does it feel to be Kotick's tool and get their trailer out to more and more people? You know, despite your complaints about it. Just asking...

Sabre said...

guyinthehat- "my experience with the FPS genre comes only from America really."

Well, without going to deep into it, yes, America does make and play most FPSs. There are also attempts from other nations to pander to Americans. The Crysis games, despite being European, are all about Delta force and New York and generally lays the stars and stripes on pretty thick as most Americans won't touch a game that doesn't appear to be all American.

That said, some of the most famous FPS games are from outside of the US. Goldeneye and Timesplitters are British, Crysis and Dead Island are Europian, Metro and Stalker are from the Ukraine. To be fair, most of those aren't CoD knock offs, but the point is that by trying to paint FPS games and fans in a specific way doesn't work, because these games are played, made and enjoyed outside of America.

So, even if we believe what Bob says here about the game in the US, that doesn't apply to people outside of the US.

guyinthehat said...

That's very true, on the tail of some countries sort of pandering to American audiences by laying on the Red White and Blue sentiments so thick. It's of note to Bob and his belief that CoD is a Michael Bay "America For the Win" kind of franchise that the two main characters and the guys who save the world from a Russian terrorist threat are two British SAS agents. The US doesn't really play a huge role in that series, albeit dying an awful lot.

I never got to play Timesplitters and Dead Island myself. And Metro is one of my personal favorites, so I guess my experiences with the genre are outside of the US lol. I guess to be more specific and say that my experience with military shooters is based in the US.

That's very true.

Nixou said...

"I would add to your piece that CoD is popular all around the world, so the idea that it's only popular because it has some kind of US gun nut and political masturbation doesn't really work."

John Wayne's military movies and western are also popular around the world: that they managed to become so despite the simplistic worldview they're built on doen't mean that the simplistic worldview isn't there.

But I think the problem with the Call of Duty franchise is different: while the writers seem to be trying to make ambiguous stories, the series is being marketed as a straight up John Waynesque power-fantasy. So no matter how subtle the game plot ends up to be, it will be marketed to appeal to people receptive to the idea of right-wing revenge porn because, well, people receptive to the idea of right-wing revenge porn represent a larger share of the series consumer base than people interested in subtle, ambiguous stories.

But then again, to aknowledge that is to aknowledge that the "hardcore" crowds from which the CoD series consumer base arises is far less interested in quality than it is in cheap thrills, something gamers' tribal instinct forbid.

Vinny Andreotti said...

Hey guys,

Not sure if this constitutes spamming, but If there's anyone that agrees with Bob's assessment of the Call of Duty franchise, as well as any fans of Trent Reznor/Nine Inch Nails, you might want to check out the latest post to my blog, which is a response to the news that Reznor is scoring the Black Ops II theme.

It's a relatively brand new blog with virtually zero traffic, which is something I'm hoping to change eventually. I'm not nearly at the level of Bob in terms of literary chops and insightfulness, but I think I bring a fresh perspective to certain issues.

If you're interested, check it out:

Anonymous said...

I have no idea what this issue has to do with Overthinker's quest to collect mystic gems from his dopplegangers, but I'm sure you will be mashing the two concepts together into an ill-conceived episode very soon.

Thomas Winwood said...

"SO Bob... how does it feel to be Kotick's tool and get their trailer out to more and more people? You know, despite your complaints about it. Just asking..."

I don't think Mr Kotick has any trouble marketing his IP such that Bob Chipman not mentioning it will dent his sales to any significant degree. He posted it to solicit commentary and thoughts regarding his perception of it, not for advertising purposes.

guyinthehat said...

Nixou- That's very true and I will agree that some things even with that simplistic mindset can be very popular to a wider audience than the patriotic flag lovers.

I think the biggest problem with CoD and its hardcore fan base is the fact that they really couldn't care less about the single player campaign or the moral commentary the series storylines touch upon. That's the biggest reason I'm a huge fan of Treyarch because they actually try to push the series forward narratively whereas IW tends to push it back. The first Modern Warfare had stronger commentary than MW2 and especially 3. Mostly because IW focuses more on pleasing the fan-base with their competitive multiplayer. While Treyarch hasn't really touched upon strong commentaries since World at War they have focused on giving their games a much stronger focus on narrative.

The marketing campaign for these games tends to lean towards the right wing revenge porn as you said, but even still Bob is only taking this all at face value, which is fine but when he tries to berate the entire franchise while only knowing what the trailers tell him it can get a little old. It'd be like me saying Scott Pilgrim is a lowest common denominator hipster comedy film when it's much more than that, but that's what the trailers imply.

And let's not even touch the "hardcore" fanbase, they put gamers and the gaming culture in such a bad light. Especially when they act like elitist idiots who think CoD is hardcore when it's one of the most AAA titles that appeals to the casual crowd as well.

JeffBergeron said...

I just wanna say... I'm all for freedom of opinion and the fact that different videogames offer different viewpoints is to me something to be celebrated. And you'd be hard pressed to find one person more anti-war than me, just sayin'.

Are the people demonizing the OWS people wrong? In my opinion, yes, but so are the people demonizing the Tea Party. But strangely Bob, I get the feeling that if a game was to make the Tea Party people villains/useful idiots, you wouldn't have a problem with it.

So while I'm not agreeing with the message this game seems to send, I'll defend its right to say it to the end.

Megabyte said...


"I don't think Mr Kotick has any trouble marketing his IP such that Bob Chipman not mentioning it will dent his sales to any significant degree. He posted it to solicit commentary and thoughts regarding his perception of it, not for advertising purposes."

I don't either, but controversy is free advertisement. And that's exactly what I see Activision brewing up here. Bob's reaction is exactly what they are probably fishing for. Because Ill be honest, articles like this mean I don't even have to look for game trailers or happen to catch it as an ad to see it. And if you are curious, this isn't the only article Ive seen of this nature on the new trailer.

Bob and others like him have done their work for them.

Anonymous said...

nice posting.. thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Dear guyinthehat, your use of adjectives aren't backed up with any substantial evidence and therefore you appear strangely hostile. You attack the blogger as having "superficial knowledge" and a desire to bash "the entire conservative culture" that is by your own definition "some of the worst things about war and military jingoism" - not nonsense at all. It's very good and sensible "chest thumping militarism," that states plainly "liberalism could be evil". You obviously have considered the problem of libetty and freedom and the terrible implications of letting these types of ideas flourish in a society. Your on-the-fence "objectivity" serves a noble purpose: protect the franchise from scrutiny both moral and intellectual. All this cynicism cast at Call of Duty can be chocked up to "Nintendo Elitists" and "straw man fallacies". Attempting to play both the sinner and the saint by financially contributing to the franchise while you note the obvious horrors of America's War Crimes, you ignore the less obvious crime of manipulating perception of peaceful citizens groups through the employment of propaganda. That's just my "narcissism". Villifying peaceful organizations is effective, you are an example of its power, while you also willingly defend the apparent right the company has to do so, because hey, they pointed out some bad stuff, so let them demonize any peaceful group they want to. They pointed out WWII War Crimes, so let them call your grandma a terrorist.

boat supplies online said...

I really prefer the bf3 the game play is more realistic and have 13 amazing huge maps and vehicles like thanks, jets and helicopters.
But COD is like a fast close quarters shotter.

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