Above: Eager fans await their opportunity to plunk down $69.99 each for a copy of Call of Duty: Black Ops – image from Wiredcontroller.com
Call of Duty is really fucked up. It teaches that America can and should torture people (including its own soldiers) and that terrorism is OK if performed by the US army. Call of Duty masks the reality of American imperialism and replaces it with a myth of American self-defense, purporting that all countries other than America are evil and hate freedom. It is the crack cocaine of American propaganda: incredibly addictive and a key player in a multi-billion dollar industry.
War In Your Living Room
by Michael Toledano
In the first 24 hours after its release, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 sold 4.7 million copies and collected $310 million dollars in revenue, becoming the single biggest entertainment launch in history. Its sequel, Black Ops, sold 7 million copies the day it was launched and easily shattered the earlier record. Black Ops, an unstoppable entertainment behemoth, made $1 billion in a mere six weeks (Modern Warfare 2 also eventually topped $1 billion, but took longer to do so) and currently stands as the best selling game of all time.
Critical reviews, for both games, were overwhelmingly positive – the games offer a polished and immersive war experience with unparalleled production value. In Black Ops, the voices of an all-star cast (including Sam Worthington, Ed Harris, Gary Oldman and Ice Cube) are combined with an original score by Hans Zimmer and licensed music from the Rolling Stones. The familiar experience of a Hollywood war epic is seamlessly combined with an absorptive first person shooter – the drama, intensity, star-power, and frequent large-scale explosions of a film like Black Hawk Down are perfectly translated into videogame form. Appropriately, Black Ops was launched alongside a big-budget TV spot, complete with the sellable faces of Kobe Bryant and Jimmy Kimmel.
Together, these games push the same Neo-Conservative agenda as Kiefer Sutherland’s 24 – they promote torture, unwavering and unthinking patriotism, expansionistic foreign policy, and the belief that terrorism is a real, omnipresent, and immediate threat to all Americans (it is, of course, not). But, unlike 24, which viewers engage with passively, the Call of Duty games are interactive and experiential. They are immersive, addictive, and incredibly fun – as an ideological vessel, Modern Warfare 2 may well be the most effective tool of indoctrination to date.
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