French Politician: Assassin's Creed is "Propaganda Against the People"

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French Politician: Assassin's Creed is "Propaganda Against the People"

jean luc melenchon

Former Minister says Ubisoft's latest has "far right" view of French history, presents "an image of hatred."

The following may include SPOILERS for Assassin's Creed: Unity.

Assassin's Creed: Unity has been mocked for lack of female characters and trashed for bugs and glitches; but the latest volley to be tossed at the high-profile Ubisoft release has come from the realm of French politics.

Jean-Luc Mélenchon, France's former Minister of Vocational Education and onetime Presidential candidate for the Left Front, has fiercely condemned the French Revolution-set game for its portrayals of historical figures and events of the time. In a recent radio interview, he specifically cited the (in his view) depictions of Revolutionaries as "barbarians, bloodthirsty savages" versus portrayal of Artisocrats and Royals as "fine upstanding people."

Further quotes from the interview (translated by The Telegraph) included:

"The man who was our liberator at a certain moment of the Revolution - because the Revolution lasted a long time - Robespierre, is presented as a monster,"

[AC:Unity] "presents an image of hatred of the Revolution, hatred of the people, hatred of the republic which is rampant in the far-right milieux (of today)."

Mélenchon, who left France's Socialist Party in 2008 to found The Left Party and has served as Party President since. He received approximately 11% of the vote in the country's 2012 election.

Source: The Telegraph

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I haven't played the game nor seen Robespierre's portrayal, but the guy WAS a monster. Maybe not the cackling lunatic type, but a monster all the same.

heres the thing, there were a LOT of barbarias in the french revolution, look no further than robespierre

Also, I'll just go ahead and say: games != reality

It would have been nice to have had Robespierre be a character that spiraled to paranoia and villainy. Too bad this is an Assassin Creed game where the bad guys aren't real characters. So everyone is labeled a Templar and is consider bad even though you're killing more people than they are.

Oh for fuck's sake, someone makes an alternate interpretation of history in a WORK OF FICTION and some idiot...

...no, you know what, I'm not doing this. This is just some politician trying to score points with people who don't know any better, he doesn't really care about what he's saying and likely has no understanding of what Assassin's Creed is, what video games are in general, and likely needs help turning on his computer. Not worth getting annoyed over, best to just ignore it.

Serrenitei:
Also, I'll just go ahead and say: games != reality

Yes, but where else are we going to learn about historical figures? Books? Classes? I laugh at your suggestions, sir!

First it's Assassin's Creed, and then, the Hitler History Channel!

On a related note, remember when everyone was using historicity to defend ACU? Seems like only yesterday.

Parshooter:
It would have been nice to have had Robespierre be a character that spiraled to paranoia and villainy. Too bad this is an Assassin Creed game where the bad guys aren't real characters. So everyone is labeled a Templar and is consider bad even though you're killing more people than they are.

They should be required to grow a thin mustache and beard combo. Even if they already have facial hair. Or are women. That's how cartoony they are!

So did someone tell him about certain parts of the game, or did he investigate himself?
I'm always weary when a politician, who doesn't play video games, has something to say about video games.

To start with the Assassins Creed universe is a fictional one, one that draws on our history for sure, but one that remains 100% fictional.

Secondly, there were one hell of a lot of monsters during the French Revolution, in fact, every revolution has had it's monsters, whether they were frenzied Anarchists taking their chance to further fray society or a foaming-at-the-mouth political fanatic taking the opportunity to enforce their world view on everyone else, they have always been there. While a turning point for democracy and an event that shaped the future of the nation, the French revolution was a bloody, sordid affair during which thousands died, hunger and suffering were widespread, and it took decades for any benefit to be felt by people on the street.

It is possible to acknowledge that it was a time of terrible atrocity without loosing sight of that fact that in the long run a great deal of good resulted from those events.

The thing I liked most about AC was the portrayal of it´s villains. They all ended up doing terrible things, but they mostly had understandable reasons for it and sincerely thought they where doing the right think. Then in AC2 they just went "fuck it" and made every villain into a mustache twirling cartoon character, the game was better from a gameplay perspective but really suffered on the story and character level. I lost interrest in AC afterwards.

OT: Thats pretty interresting. The french revolution is a really cool subject, on one hand you have the nobles who oppressed the lower class for centuries so one could say they kinda got what was coming to them, on the other hand you have the lower class people who pretty much went form fighting the oppressors to being straight up tyrants themselves (well not all of them of course there where people who fought the jacobines). This whole thing also ties back into the whole games as art debate. If games are in fact art, then the whole "lol we´re just videogames, we don´t need to treat history responsibly" defense pretty much falls flat on it´s face. I also wasn´t aware that depicting the french revolution as negative was popular among french right wingers, I would say the revolution itself was a positive thing but the whole aftermath was pretty erm... fucked up.

Wow, what a surprise, a politician is using something completely unrelated to attack the opposing political party?

And he's using historical figures to do it?

Pour un second, j'ai pense qu'il etait americain, mais on ne doit pas etre un politicien americain d'etre un imbecile >.>

I can see that every country has people who can't separate fiction from reality, Screed games all have a disclaimer at the beginning stating that the events taking place are fiction and that they have a multi cultural team working on all of them all around the world.

I'm more disappointed that this guy's name is "Jacques Thomsonier"

I don't really see the problem with the examples the man gives.

The revolution gave birth to a lot of bloodthirsty barbarians and Robespierre really was a monster, a monster that seemed blind to the fact that he was one.

I never hear French politicians make a fuss when Napoleon get demonized into just a petty midget dictator even though he salvaged the disaster project that was the Revolution and spread its values across Europe....admittedly at a very bloody sword point.

Politicians being idiots? Not really news, it's like saying dogs bark & fish swim. But to touch on Robespierre: a nutter over his head, got head cut off for corrupting the revolution by just having good intentions.

Pretty sure the French Revolution was savage and some of the things done could be called blood thirsty (40,000 executions for being "enemies of the revolution" counts as blood thirsty I think). That whole period was a pretty dark and chaotic time for France, followed immediately by an imperialistic period where they set off on a Germany, cerca WW2, style attempt at concurring Europe. I could see an argument being made that the revolution was a net negative for Europe and France. This attack actually makes me a little more sympathetic towards that mess of a game.

...

Ok, on one hand, this is a stupid rant by a minor politician.

But, OTOH, this is a brilliant piece of meta advertising. Sort of.

Like when the US government made them change the ending of the film version of 1984 to something that suited the authorities better. Spin that right, and it ads to the story.

I'm still just utterly disappointed the game didn't let you play as Guy Fawkes.

That really would have been fun.

Is it just me or is he the spitting image of the villain from V for Vendetta?
image

Okay, kinda weird the comments here. I guess it might have to do with Americans and American history not being that long.
And maybe to do with this game being set in a country that is not America and is actually tied to reliable historical events.

Let's say this game (which uses a historical setting and tries to appear to be historically accurate) portrays George Washington personally torturing and literally crucifying captured enemy soldiers. Showing Abraham Lincoln as a deranged tyrant.
And so on.

You would be saying different things here then, wouldn't you?

Sigmund Av Volsung:

Pour un second, j'ai pense qu'il etait americain, mais on ne doit pas etre un politicien americain d'etre un imbecile >.>

Nice try :)
But the correct sentence would be : "Pendant un moment, j'ai pensé qu'il était américain, mais on a pas besoin d'être un politicien américain pour être un imbécile."

Newage:

Sigmund Av Volsung:

Pour un second, j'ai pense qu'il etait americain, mais on ne doit pas etre un politicien americain d'etre un imbecile >.>

Nice try :)
But the correct sentence would be : "Pendant un moment, j'ai pensé qu'il était américain, mais on a pas besoin d'être un politicien américain pour être un imbécile."

I'm learning + am too lazy to use the gtranslate keyboard :P

Thanks for the heads up btw! :D

On topic: still, the point goes across that the dude is an ass.

JenSeven:
Okay, kinda weird the comments here. I guess it might have to do with Americans and American history not being that long.
And maybe to do with this game being set in a country that is not America and is actually tied to reliable historical events.

Let's say this game (which uses a historical setting and tries to appear to be historically accurate) portrays George Washington personally torturing and literally crucifying captured enemy soldiers. Showing Abraham Lincoln as a deranged tyrant.
And so on.

You would be saying different things here then, wouldn't you?

If George Washington or Abraham Lincoln, after gaining power, took part in or allowed the executing tens of thousands of supposed political enemies, I would have a hard time arguing against that portrayal of them even if it were strictly apocryphal. Since none of that happened, I would call such a portrayal out of character for the person and the times.

Edit: Also, it seems to me that Bioshock Infinite did attempted to do something along those lines.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F_ouNRA1K-I
This is as good as a portrayal of period of the French Revolution known as 'The Terror'. It is an episode in human history that has repeated itself over and over again. Fear of very real threats descending into paranoia combined with seeing that the desire to 'work for the people' gradually become nothing more than simple self-aggrandisement.
The basic question however remains 'when does it become the case when a course of action can no longer be justified'?

If he actually played it and disagreed with the content then he can go right ahead and have his well informed opinions.

If someone just told him about it and thought he'd jump on the 'all video games are evil' bandwagon then his opinion isn't worth the time it took to type this.

JenSeven:
Okay, kinda weird the comments here. I guess it might have to do with Americans and American history not being that long.
And maybe to do with this game being set in a country that is not America and is actually tied to reliable historical events.

Let's say this game (which uses a historical setting and tries to appear to be historically accurate) portrays George Washington personally torturing and literally crucifying captured enemy soldiers. Showing Abraham Lincoln as a deranged tyrant.
And so on.

You would be saying different things here then, wouldn't you?

That analogy is off since neither of them took actually took the actions described while Robespierre did have thousands of people executed. A better example would be to have a game that had Andrew Jackson as the villain as he is a somewhat popular American President who did have thousands of people killed.

Unrelated note:
Actually that would be awesome, I now want a game where you play as a Native American who goes on a roaring rampage of revenge against Jackson.

Never posted here but I think this is the right time to begin because I feel quite concerned as a french man.

I remembered some people complained about the DLC in AC3 about George Washington while it was clearly said to be an uchronia.
Now AC Unity based a lot of its promotion on history and "oh see, we have historians on the team", they looked pretty proud about it. Sounds logical people backlash when the expectation isn't met. Exactly like when you have a hardscience fiction which does the physics wrong.

As for Melenchon, I'm french as I said and I really don't like him. I'm pretty sure raising the problem with AC Unity is basically part of his political agenda since he was regularly targeted for "hating France" (which is quite stupid also by the way). He also supported video game as an art form in several interviews after this "incident" and says that he should be allowed to criticise and debate its contents the same way he can do it for any other art form. Sadly I must agree with him on that. Though, it also looks like a way for him to show to everyone that he is "progressive and support video games", he likes to try to be the "cool" guy around. But I must admit he is probably one of the only french politics who did say that video games should be recognise as an art form.
STILL, Melenchon is mostly a formerly successful politician who tries to continu existing by trolling (I'm not joking, he trolls a lot). But he did start a big controversy in France with this.

As for the realism in AC Unity, its portrayal of revolution IS simplistic. History is not as simple as that. AC Unity just uses all the popular tropes about the french revolution. Believe or not, even in France these tropes are classics and many people believe that the revolution is as simple as :
King lacked skills => Revolution => Terror => Napoleon
This is just not as simple. Revolutionaries also wrote the the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, they abolished slavery, and much more. Of course you had terrible times too, like in most revolutions btw, but don't forget the Revolution was a 10 years event. You can't summarise it by the Terror.

Now, did Ubisoft did bad ? Probably not, the Terror must be the best period for an AC game. It's a really harsh, violent chaotic time in Paris and all France.
It still felt to me that if they didn't want problems about history, they should have said "this is an uchronia" the same way they said it for George Washington's DLC in AC3, though.

Is this controversy good for video games ? Surprisingly enough, I think it is in France. Major medias are talking about this debate, about games, not to say "games make you violent and are toys for kids" but to discuss if history should be taken seriously in games. It is a valid debate, a debate that movies, books, any art form is subject to. The fact that a politician, even if I don't like him, even if it is for political agenda, brings this debate on TV while repeating that he considers video games an art form... is a good thing, in my opinion.

Also: he admitted he hasn't played the game and was complaining about the contents in the trailers. Since people were asking.
Also again: the picture of the article is hilarious :D

chaostheory:

JenSeven:
Okay, kinda weird the comments here. I guess it might have to do with Americans and American history not being that long.
And maybe to do with this game being set in a country that is not America and is actually tied to reliable historical events.

Let's say this game (which uses a historical setting and tries to appear to be historically accurate) portrays George Washington personally torturing and literally crucifying captured enemy soldiers. Showing Abraham Lincoln as a deranged tyrant.
And so on.

You would be saying different things here then, wouldn't you?

That analogy is off since neither of them took actually took the actions described while Robespierre did have thousands of people executed. A better example would be to have a game that had Andrew Jackson as the villain as he is a somewhat popular American President who did have thousands of people killed.

Actually, George Washington was the leader of the nation's army during the civil war. So, exaggerate his personal involvement and mention the killing of soldiers. Army leader into a monstrous murderer.
Abraham Lincoln was the leader of a country. Again, exaggerate the reality. Head of state into a dictator.

JenSeven:
Okay, kinda weird the comments here. I guess it might have to do with Americans and American history not being that long.
And maybe to do with this game being set in a country that is not America and is actually tied to reliable historical events.

Let's say this game (which uses a historical setting and tries to appear to be historically accurate) portrays George Washington personally torturing and literally crucifying captured enemy soldiers. Showing Abraham Lincoln as a deranged tyrant.
And so on.

You would be saying different things here then, wouldn't you?

Sir, with all due respect, do you even history?

Robespierre was one of the prominent (if not the most prominent) figures in short-lived (only 10 months) French authocratic regime.

Jacobin political fraction (Robespierre was the leader of it), on the wave of popularity gained from lows of France during French Revolution, quickly ceased control over the country and created the system, where each and every act of opposition was met with death sentence.

My history knowledge is not what it used to be, so I can't give you the name of all instiutions established by them, nor can I give you the exact dates, but there is one fact that will present you with my point of view on Jacobinians: The Soviet Union leadership and other history-wise soviet higherups thought of Jacobinians as their prototype and supported (in retrospective) their every decision.

My read on the French Revolution (and the Russian for that matter) is the aristocrats were largely taking their lofty position for granted, ignoring very obvious problems facing the people, and not caring one bit about their lives (or deaths).

Historically speaking, it was the nobility's job to take care of the people, but as the world became a safer place the nobility's place in the world became one of undeserved privilege. The English monarchy managed to survive largely because enough kings and queens took their responsibility seriously and did their best to make life better for their subjects; but at the key points of their history, the French and Russians had decadent rulers and ended up being violently outed.

There's no denying the horror of The Reign of Terror. That the public was right in rising up against its rulers is indisputable, but it doesn't excuse what happened afterward.

Well... This is THE most obviously political comment I've ever seen, as it so happens, almost every time during school when you had to be taught about the French Revolution (yeah, some dumbass felt the need to have it taught in school more than three times) there was pretty much always the image of "are they not with us? GUILLOTINE" characterization.

So I don't see how a game doing it too is "the bad one".

As much as I believe a far-left French politician would get riled up by a less than rosy presentation of the French revolution in the same way that a far-right American politician would about the American revolution, it's The Telegraph. That automatically sets off alarm bells, especially if this interview has been translated.

Besides, the real propaganda against the French people in AC:Unity is that they occasionally float across the ground like they're possessed.

Really? A game series that is pretty much the propaganda against ALL governments and in favor of individual liberties is AGAINST the people? If anything, AC creators are trying not to romanticize and idealize historic figures too much.

So did someone tell him about certain parts of the game, or did he investigate himself?
I'm always weary when a politician, who doesn't play video games, has something to say about video games.

Kinda like when another french politician (I think it was Jérôme Rivière) called "Rules of Rose" child-molesting propaganda after one of his aid had mistranslated an italian article which itself was a mistranslation of an english review.

Anyway, this shouldn't be surprising coming from Mélenchon: being too lazy to do his job as an elected official, (among french european MPs, the only person who spend less time in Strasbourg's Parliament than him is Marine Le Pen, and she carries the fact that she's a parasitic heiress like it was a badge of honor: not someone one would want to be compared to), he tries to exist in the media by proffering outrageous statements. Kinda like a Tea-Party congressmen or demi-governors, except french, and hiding behind left-wing pseudo-populist jargon instead of the right-wing jingoism that american audiences are used to.

***

Then in AC2 they just went "fuck it" and made every villain into a mustache twirling cartoon character, the game was better from a gameplay perspective but really suffered on the story and character level

Well, the villains in AC2 were the Borgia: pretty much the real world's Lanister, except the Lanister won't end up with as big a kill count unless Martin resurrect Joffrey and give him a dragon.

***

I never hear French politicians make a fuss when Napoleon get demonized into just a petty midget dictator even though he salvaged the disaster project that was the Revolution and spread its values across Europe....admittedly at a very bloody sword point.

French Napoleon fanboys seldom are fluent in English, therefore only french-speaking audiences have to suffer from hearing stupid & dishonest apologetics in favor of the exiled tyrant.
Besides, Napoleon should never have been put in charge: Thomas Dumas was the real great revolutionary general: the job should have been given to him, not to the fucker who repeatedly backstabbed him.

***

Is it just me or is he the spitting image of the villain from V for Vendetta?

That's because he shouts a lot.

***

But the correct sentence would be : "Pendant un moment, j'ai pensé qu'il était américain, mais on a pas besoin d'être un politicien américain pour être un imbécile."

Or, in colloquial/vulgar french, you could use:
"Pendant une seconde, j'ai pensé que ça sortait d'un putain de Ricain, mais y a pas besoin d'être une raclure américaine pour être le roi des cons"

JenSeven:

chaostheory:

JenSeven:
Okay, kinda weird the comments here. I guess it might have to do with Americans and American history not being that long.
And maybe to do with this game being set in a country that is not America and is actually tied to reliable historical events.

Let's say this game (which uses a historical setting and tries to appear to be historically accurate) portrays George Washington personally torturing and literally crucifying captured enemy soldiers. Showing Abraham Lincoln as a deranged tyrant.
And so on.

You would be saying different things here then, wouldn't you?

That analogy is off since neither of them took actually took the actions described while Robespierre did have thousands of people executed. A better example would be to have a game that had Andrew Jackson as the villain as he is a somewhat popular American President who did have thousands of people killed.

Actually, George Washington was the leader of the nation's army during the civil war. So, exaggerate his personal involvement and mention the killing of soldiers. Army leader into a monstrous murderer.
Abraham Lincoln was the leader of a country. Again, exaggerate the reality. Head of state into a dictator.

That's a completely different level of exaggeration. You're talking a complete change in character and history, where the reign of terror was extremely brutal and Robespierre's involvement in it is in question, but is at best guilty by complacency.

But, By your line of exaggeration, you could make FDR and/or Churchill into Genocidal maniacs by nitpicking the fire bombing of Dresden and the Atomic bombs dropped on Japan.

Shamanic Rhythm:
As much as I believe a far-left French politician would get riled up by a less than rosy presentation of the French revolution in the same way that a far-right American politician would about the American revolution, it's The Telegraph. That automatically sets off alarm bells, especially if this interview has been translated.

I went back to the source, and it turns that Mélenchon did in fact go all conspiracy-nut on Assassin's Creed:

http://www.franceinfo.fr/player/resource/601293-1241439

It last ten minutes and only the last two are about the game itself.
A pet peeve of mine though: he also called Marie Antoinette "this moron", and here he was actually being historically accurate...

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