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Call Of Duty's Iraq Game Could Rewrite History As A Propagandist's Dream

Call Of Duty's Iraq Game Could Rewrite History As A Propagandist's Dream
Infinity Ward | Treyarch

Written by 

Joseph Kime

Posted 

15th Sep 2022 15:33

Disconnecting media from politics has been a point of conversation for some time, especially as left-wing ideas crop up in the things we consume. Though it might be too much to ask of them, it's time for the people crying for politics to be taken out of our entertainment to pay attention to Skunk Anansie - because everything is political.

There's no way to escape it, and the only time the subject is brought up is when politics that the mug crying on Twitter doesn't like, but even so, politics are a part of the way that we perceive the world around us. Without its influence on art since political diversity began, we wouldn't have much to care about.

Of course, we don't hear an awful lot of these calls when it comes to FPS behemoth Call of Duty, despite it being about… you know… war. Unless there's a woman present, there aren't many complaints about politics in the titles - in spite of its very blatant political messaging. Just look at the appearance of Ronald Reagan and the peddling of conspiracy theories from G. Edward Griffin in Black Ops Cold War.

Right-wing politics are commonplace in stories about all-out war, and Call of Duty managed to get away with it until Reagan showed his face in Cold War - and now, it has become difficult for some to disconnect the franchise with its ideals. As rumours begin to swirl that a new title could take place during the Iraq war, things could be about to get a lot more intense for the series' propaganda machine.

Call Of Duty Already Lies To You

Call Of Duty's Iraq Game Could Rewrite History As A Propagandist's Dream
Click to enlarge
Tech. Sgt. Joe Coleman/ U.S. Air Force

Though the politics of Call of Duty could be deemed harmful in its glorification of brutality and murder, it has gone under the radar thanks to its brash lack of nuance. Players are never really given a reason to think too hard about what they're engaging in, even when they're mowing down civilians. Spec Ops: The Line it is not, and it revels in what it gets away with. But the trouble is, this attitude is going to start to cause some problems.

Because even in spite of the denialism of Cold War, Activision is close with those who were actively a part of the war itself. So close, in fact, some think they've got their hands on the franchise.

Call of Duty is no stranger to historical revisionism, with 2019's Modern Warfare proving that the shooter series has no trouble blaming others for the United States' war crimes. The game's campaign sees mention of the Highway of Death, a road out of Kuwait City towards Iraq that saw American forces on land and air, with allies massacring fleeing Iraqi forces. It was an act so vicious and disturbing, tabloids refused to print any images from it.

Except, Modern Warfare needs you to care about its American forces, and so the character Farah outright tells the player that "the Russians bombed it during the invasion, killing the people trying to escape." Russia had nothing to do with the real-life attacks.

Call Of Duty Has Stakes In You Believing Their Claims

Call Of Duty's Iraq Game Could Rewrite History As A Propagandist's Dream
Click to enlarge
Treyarch

Buried in the swathes of names (both problematic and otherwise) are hiding ex-politicians that have genuine stakes in the potential to rewrite the history of the Iraq war. This is a time period that if adapted, would be the most modern game that the CoDverse has based in the history of warfare. You'd think that this could deter Activision from trying to rewrite history with its storytelling 0 what with it still being in memory - but the American propaganda machine has done a pretty good job of smudging the US' presence in Iraq.

 

To make matters worse, politicians with a hand in smearing the truth and aiding those responsible for its violence are actively working for Activision, with roles powerful enough to give them a say in the game based on the war they'd deem better off hidden. Most notable is the welcoming of former George W. Bush-era counterterrorism appointee Frances F. Townsend to the role of Chief Compliance Officer, with a willingness to ignore or accept her comments to USA Today that have been deemed a defence for the act of torture of military detainees. It's ironic, too, that her role as the President of the Counter Extremism Project was designed to monitor the success of spreading propaganda.

There's also executive Brian Bulatao, who became infamous for telling staff to "consider the consequences of [their] signature" on union cards. He's an ex-member of the Trump administration, who stood by as Trump sought the pardon of four security guards who killed 14 civilians including 4 children in Baghdad in further conflicts in the country.

These staff members from Republican seats all stand to have a genuine interest in peddling the misinformation that Call of Duty is already comfortable enough to feed you - so why shouldn't they play to the rules of their inner circle?

The Call Of Duty Propaganda Machine Could Get Worse

Call Of Duty's Iraq Game Could Rewrite History As A Propagandist's Dream
Click to enlarge
Treyarch

Things aren't looking good for history in Call of Duty. Activision knows that its "any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental" spiel does nothing for those whose sole interaction with war is through their Xbox, and the willingness to blame anyone but America doesn't bode well if it comes to cover a war that some insiders at Activision watched a little too closely.

With this track record, it's incredibly hard to imagine that we wouldn't go deeper with a new entry that explores the war in Iraq, especially as it would draw the career choices of Activision staff into question. Obsession with the military and Call of Duty go hand in hand, and the further down the rabbit hole that the series takes us as consumers, the more it can get away with. And it could be about to get away with the worst bout of misinformation yet.

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