U.S. Spec Ops Veteran: Modern Warfare 3 Commercial a "New Low"

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U.S. Spec Ops Veteran: Modern Warfare 3 Commercial a "New Low"

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

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Uh... why does EA keep coming up in this article? EA has pulled their share of stupid marketing stunts and ran afoul of the US Government with the Medal of Honor/Taliban controversy, but this article seems to attribute Modern Warfare 3 with EA. I think the tags need to be fixed to include Activision, which isn't mentioned here at all despite being Modern Warfare's publisher?

The commercial's fun-tastic atmosphere is right for the general experiences you tend to find when playing Modern Warfare 3 online, but EA'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.

Surely you mean Activision.

OT: I find it interesting that no Vietnam or Cold War veterans complaining when Black Ops pulled the same "There's a soldier in all of us." ad campaign. I'd imagine something like that would piss off quite a lot of soldiers. I wonder why that wasn't brought up too.

But I agree with the statement that they're making. A lot of marketing for war games such as Call of Duty or Battlefield bring the impression that war's fun, and that's not the depiction that they should bring out. That's a problem you expect to run into when you market your game the same way you would an action film. And besides, it's Call of Duty, and at this point, the series is about as artistically bankrupt as a vending machine.

xyrafhoan:
I think the tags need to be fixed to include Activision, which isn't mentioned here at all despite being Modern Warfare's publisher?

buy teh haloz:

Surely you mean Activision.

Yes, yes I do. It should be fixed now. Sorry about that.

He has a point. But overall, his point doesn't matter in the slightest.

RoseArch:
He has a point. But overall, his point doesn't matter in the slightest.

True and too damn true.

OT: While I completely agree with him that the commercial was a little bit much when it comes to that, but I feel that point was not even considered or even cared about since that game makes Activision money.

I think at this point it's more of an observation rather than a point of concern that will most likely be ignored seeing as they already did this with Black Ops.

--

I totally agree with the guy, war isn't something to be trivialized. But the commercial isn't about real war, it's talking about the virtual soldier in all of us, the ability to go online and kick ass in all of us, not about real war. Sure, the imagery is of real-life soldiers, but it's like the Black Ops commercial, it's not meant to be serious.

Why is he OK with game footage showing how fun war is, but not two celebrities (or Sam Worthington and that idiot)? His upset words dont really explain that...it just seems like he has a problem with that particular advert and is using half-formed ideas about people not making light of war to hide that. Or, hes completely against all forms of entertainment that depict war as being fun, but he doesnt want to come off as a grump, so he is claiming not to like actors to mask that. Its just a very strange opinion that he claims to hold...

On a related note, I hate the advert too. Its terrible, but not because it makes war look more fun than any other war game advert.

WTF

The advert is fine, the punch line - Ok that, that I can see the offense in, I do not have the inclination nor quite frankly the balls for the real job, and just not the inclination for the pretend game....

Reduce it to plastic miniatures rolling D6's on a 4" x 4" table and suddenly I'm firckin' Ceaser, pixels and n00bs online, nah....

The only thing I payed any attention to was the fact that the Vet was using Akimbo Skorpions at one point. It reminded me of xcalizorz, who is coincidentally a CoD commentator among other things.

What? Something relevant to the thread? Ok, hold on a second...OH, oh, this will do.

I don't really see the problem. Not like MW3 is all that realistic in the first place. Besides, I have to admit I kinda liked the video. The music was pretty cool and the dialogue amusing.

buy teh haloz:

The commercial's fun-tastic atmosphere is right for the general experiences you tend to find when playing Modern Warfare 3 online, but EA'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.

Surely you mean Activision.

OT: I find it interesting that no Vietnam or Cold War veterans complaining when Black Ops pulled the same "There's a soldier in all of us." ad campaign. I'd imagine something like that would piss off quite a lot of soldiers. I wonder why that wasn't brought up too.

I did have to agree with the one 'Nam vet you was upset about Black Ops being released on Nov. 11th last year.

This one's REAL this time right?

Not like the Black Ops guy?

Glad someone said it

Slightly tangental this, but I find these adverts nicely representative of Acti-bliz's hostile take over of Infinity Ward.

In three games it's gone from a pretty un-subtle anti war message running through Modern Warfare to A-Grade douchebags proclaiming war to be great fun with plenty of Bay-splosions in the background for punctuation.

Kind of sad.

I get his point, and that's a good discussion to have. But another good discussion could be about commercials for the armed forces. They portray it more as a stepping stone to your future career, but then we hear so much about soldiers struggling to find jobs once they are back. And then there's the fact that you might actually have to go out and fight in a war. Wasn't there a commercial that made it out like being in the army is just as awesome as playing a war video game?

Not that my point dismisses his, but I see those commercials as being worse than the Modern Warfare one (and I've never even played a Call of Duty game).

I'm not sure I agree with Grady in this scenario since the commercial seems to emphasize the growth of skill in the game--not the 'glory of war'. Okay I know that is a thin argument, but I'd point out that Hollywood or authors that write stories related to war may be no different from glorifying it--fictional or not.

Activision's actions does seem odd to use real actors portrayed in the commercial than in-game footage (what, does Machinima have copyright on using in-game footage for movies?). I cannot fathom what kind of horrors Grady and other soldiers might encounter in real war, but how is this reaction different from a PETA member's reaction to a Mcdonalds commercial?

The glorification, trivialisation and commercialisation of war isn't a video game thing, it's an American thing.

The advertisement is supposed to convey what an experience playing MW3 is like, not what war is like. People are just too damn touchy.

I found it funny. Of course there is shit that is offensive and I do understand this from the veteran's perspective. But from my point of view, I just found it funny, it was intended to be "set" in a video game. The noob gets killed at the beginning right?

Besides, at the end of the day, its just what you make of it. I found it relatively funny. Though, I do find masterpieces like this awesome:

Speaking of which I met THE Glenn Beck at a starbucks, when I brought up what he thought about games he said he saw this commercial and said it looked really cool. No joke.

The sad part is that the commercial is actually a fairly accurate depiction of what the average MW battle would look like if it was done in live action. So in a way, Grady has said that MW3 in general is offensive towards the efforts of soldiers. That said though...

The Plunk:
The glorification, trivialisation and commercialisation of war isn't a video game thing, it's an American thing.

Exactly. Has Grady seen Army recruitment commercials? At least the MW3 commercial can fall-back on the fact that it's meant to depict a game's deathmatch mode. Army recruitment commercials are just as over-glorified as the MW3 commercial, except that they ARE claiming to be a depiction of what it's like.

DustyDrB:
Wasn't there a commercial that made it out like being in the army is just as awesome as playing a war video game?

Not only that, but it's a video game. For entertainment. For fun. OF COURSE it trivialises the subject matter.

Eh. The commercial knows it's target audience: grade a clowns who would like to think there's a soldier in them.

SirBryghtside:
Ugh. It's not depicting real-life events, it's depicting made-up events that are made-up in the made-up portion (multiplayer) of an already made-up videogame.

This. So much of this.

Sorry Vet, I thank you for serving our/your country, however get over it. It is a commercial. From a fake reality. This isn't depicting real life, this is depicting the Good CoD Players and the New CoD players working together, showing that they can get better through teamwork (haha, teamwork in CoD).

Once again, GET OVER IT.

GreatTeacherCAW:
The advertisement is supposed to convey what an experience playing MW3 is like, not what war is like. People are just too damn touchy.

Once again, THIS.

Why just single out this one commercial? What about GI Joe? Or RED? Or Battlefield 3? Was he pissed at Battle L.A.? Mission Impossible? What about the live action Black Ops commercials?

CoD never claimed to be a honest depiction of war - it's always been a power fantasy for people to run around like they were on a Michael Bay set. While there is an argument to be made on how society has downplayed the real tragedy that is war, a commercial poking fun at the multiplayer aspect of a game isn't really the best starting point.

I agreed with half of his statement but thing is COD or Battlefield etc are not real simulation of war. (Do we experience fear, panic or loosing our breath when we sprint into safty?) Beside we all know what real war is like from the film portray of it.

Well, the bloke comes across as a bit of a twat. If it is ok before Sep 11th then it's ok after, nothing's changed except how aware people are. If that is a legitimate change then we're all fucked, the stupids are in charge.

Maybe everyone else is a complete moron, but I can tell the difference between a war game and actual war. One is fun, one is shit.

I feel like a lot of people are agreeing with Grady just because they don't like Call of Duty. I really don't care for MW3, but I don't buy his argument at all. MW3 is not simulating real war any more than Mario Kart is simulating real go-kart racing. The single-player campaign is trying to give the player an action movie experience, and the multiplayer is just a competitive version of that.

I feel like a lot of people are disagreeing just because they don't like criticism on video games or don't get how things can be offensive to people with different backgrounds than themselves...

I personally don't feel anything from the trailer, but I can see where the guy's coming from- it *is* trivializing war, even if it's "just a game". Heck, I clicked on an LRR video in the other tab and a "Marines" recruitment ad came up... It's nowhere near as long, has some catch phrases, but that's different because it's part of the moral and general feel of the marines. And they're footage showed people having to do real work/difficulty rather than the MW3 commercial which just turns lots of shooting/explosions/etc. into an arcade game... yeah, it is a game, it's based on a game, but you're showing live-action footage with army gear and how it's just walking around having fun... I think the issues isn't really people being too sensitive, it's people not being sensitive enough =/

I guess its alk down to personal oppinions on this, no its not a real portrayal of what war is like, but I do know and have encountered plenty of morons who do take it way to serioulsy.

Not saying this guys wrong with his views on it, but he is entitled to them and I guess hes seen the real side of war in order to make a full judgement on the issue.

Hevva:
U.S. Spec Ops Veteran: Modern Warfare 3 Commercial a "New Low"

I'll half-agree.

Let's start with what I don't agree with: I don't think the action in this commercial trivializes war... in any unique way, that is. It's no more than action films or TV shows, or other commercials, or even the games themselves do. They're all guilty of romanticizing the act of blowing things up -- but hey, at least this commercial doesn't show them blowing up people. There's just explosions and shooting, as though they're in a giant "shooting and grenade range."

Where I do agree: There's a soldier in everyone. The tagline is where I'm seeing the (unintentional) disrespect and trivialization. Yes, people often use these games to play out their fantasies of what they believe a soldier does. But that doesn't mean the ad has to focus on that aspect of the game. It'd be like Trauma Center having an ad that said, "Anyone can be a doctor!"

In contrast, there might be a commercial in which an older brother points out something to his younger brother on homework, and the tagline is, "Anyone can be a teacher." It doesn't trivialize what I do, it simply encourages people to be a constructive part of the process. It encourages an aspiration.

This commercial doesn't encourage any aspiration. It doesn't even say anything about activity in the game itself -- like 'Save the world - it's up to you!' or something. It just equates "soldier" to "FPS player." I know it doesn't do so in any overtly or intentionally disrespectful way, but there are many better taglines that could have been used. Even "There's a hero in all of us" would be better, because "hero" isn't an actual profession, just a description.

That said, I also think there's a tendency we have to overstate disrespect when we feel the relative weight of a profession is "higher." Being a soldier is sometimes life-and-death, so we can find offense very quickly... but what about media that trivializes other professions? Janitors don't defend our freedom, but they make nearly everyone's lives a whole lot better.

Modern Warfare is a bad commercial for the US Military.

I dont see the problem, it is a commercial for what the game is (XPLOSIONS EVERYWHERE) not for what war is. And it does feel like a game since the "Noob" character isnt even scared when he dies, only disapointed.

If this was trying to imply that what we see in the video is what war looks like then I could understand but it is not the case here since it is just showing what the game looks like.

Cousin_IT:
Eh. The commercial knows it's target audience: grade a clowns who would like to think there's a soldier in them.

This describes the subject exactly. Yes, that commercial is tripe and Activision paid way too much money for it. No, D.B. Grady and his fellow soldiers are not its target demographic. Modern Warfare 3 is for nobody else but wanna-be's. It is not for the will-be's.
It makes me sick that cheap games like MW3 and BF3 are accepted by the Republican loudmouths, but games like 'Six Days in Fallujah' are tore down by those same people; "We love war games, but God forbid we should let it actually be portrayed as it really is."

I definitely think they did could have handled this a little better (see: Black Ops commercials), but I actually like the general message behind the commercial: everyone can be a hero. That's all I think they're trying to say.

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