How do I even begin with this one? Well, I suppose I could start with a statement of my intentions. I’m not responding to the crying over white phosphorus or any other such nonsense I’m sure is getting everyone’s attention. In this article, I’ll be responding to a specific Youtube video. One that comes from the sort who claims to be on the side of reason. The side that puts a spotlight on the blatant hypocrisy and lunacy that’s often seen from so called “progressive” outlets. The side that… Let’s be frank here, is only ever referred to as a “side” as more of a formality. It’s a statement of reason and logic, and a rejection of lies and contradiction. A distinction I’m sure to make, as the first thing this person would likely respond with is, “I’m not on anyone’s side.” The fact of the matter is: They’re on their own side. They can say whatever they please, but they’re content provably revolves around pro-consumer topics, and anti-SJW statements. I don’t feel this person would disagree that this is the stance they hold. However, I’m here to tell you it’s not. Not because I think I know the person better than they know themselves, but because actions speak louder than words.
People can say anything, but they only do what benefits them or their goals. Those goals can land anywhere on the moral compass, but a person’s actions will almost always indicate their tack. If they don’t, the person will always address the discrepancy when it’s brought to their attention, rather than ignore it. They would only be hindering themselves by continuing, after all. This is my hope for anyone I address in the way that I’m going to here. Unfortunately, I’m typically disappointed.
It can be easy to forget that a perjurer is just as likely to hide in wolf’s clothing, as a sheep’s. That’s just my overblown fancy way of saying: Liars and hypocrites will be liars and hypocrites. They don’t care about right and wrong, fact or fiction. They have no beliefs of their own. They will say and do whatever they think will get them ahead. Sometimes we get so caught up combating the irrational, we are blind to the fact that the same people who take advantage of the willfully ignorant, will try the same thing on us given the chance. Therefor, it’s just as important to call out hypocrisy and gaslighting on our own “side”, as it is to do to “theirs”.
For the sake of transparency, here’s a link to the full video I will be responding to. No context loss here.
So our friend here “Upper Echelon Gamers” (I’ll be calling him “Upper” for the sake of brevity) put out this video pretty recently. An attention grabbing title and thumbnail to be sure. Full disclosure, I was a semi-regular viewer of this channel. I disagreed at times. But unlike those times, it now feels as if he’s reaching comically far in the name of clicks. I couldn’t take his content seriously anymore. Now I could tell you out of the gate what this man has said here, but I may look to be reaching myself if I don’t fully explain my reasoning. Or maybe you actually have a life, and aren’t familiar with the online shenanigans of late, so this might sound at least somewhat reasonable to you upon a passive viewing. For all of those reasons, I’m gonna break these points of his down in chronological order here.
To Upper’s credit, he starts his video by stating his intention with the video, and by stressing that the game is still well crafted despite his misgivings. Unfortunately after this point, any semblance of logic dies. For those of you who didn’t watch the video for whatever reason: He opens by stating that he believes the game’s story to be “actual propaganda, deeply rooted in social justice ideology”. He hadn’t lost me at this point. First, because I had yet to play the game. And second, because any point can be proven if you have the facts and evidence to back up your claim. So let’s get into what he brings to the table.
When speaking about why this hypothesis of his bothers him enough to make a video, Upper says this: “I’ll say again, from a purely tactile, gameplay perspective: I believe the campaign is fantastic. However, when you examine historical references and extrapolate motivations behind overarching narrative choices, it becomes harder and harder to give the game such glowing praise.”
Here we have our first red flag. He immediately admits to completely guessing the motivations of the game’s developers. To be clear: Extrapolation is to infer based on known information. But it is still a guess. This information is not known, it’s inferred. Extrapolated data, is not fact. It’s interpretation, pure conjecture. Everything he brings up in this video, is meant to prove the factual basis of something he’s already admitted is an assumption. Let’s bear that in mind going forward. An assumption might I remind you again, that’s being presented as proven truth. He started this video stating that this game’s story is, “actual propaganda”.
He also immediately contradicts his statement about the story having no effect on the gameplay. It is his presented belief here that the narrative choices are bad enough that it ruins enjoyment, and his ability to positively represent the gameplay.
“Modern Warfare takes place in a somewhat fictional reality. What I mean by this is that while many elements do in fact re-create actual real world locations or factions, many others do not. However, even when the names or locations differ, they do not differ very much, and are easily connected back to their ‘root’ or better put, their ‘inspiration’.”
So it’s fiction. The game’s story is fiction. Just because there’s a CIA agent in the game with an amazing mustache, does not mean that he represents a real CIA agent with a slightly different amazing mustache. This may be rooted in reality with familiar concepts, but so is literally every fantasy and fiction. Another obvious thing it probably seems pointless for me to point out, but I promise this is relevant. These are the exact same distinctions between reality and fantasy I find myself having to explain to every other moronic Twitter user. They seem to think that just because something is portrayed or slightly altered, every single fan and creator must believe these things to be absolute fact. That’s just not how human psychology works. That’s not how fiction writing works. If this was meant to be fact, it wouldn’t be presented as fiction.
This isn’t a Battlefield V case where it was presented as an honest to god World War II game, but hid behind the veil of “pure fantasy, alternate history” after everyone called them out. Or replacing groups of real life men with one woman in their story. It is, and always has been a World War III scenario, total fiction. To my knowledge, this is the first Modern Warfare game to so much as mention a real life event (bear in mind I haven’t played MW3). None of these people are real. None of these things happened. Propaganda is real, or at least presented to be. It’s information (or misinformation) intended to further a goal. Propaganda doesn’t have a “not rly tho” caveat. It’s not for telling dumb action movie plots. It’s revisionism, not storytelling. It’s Disney telling everyone that every German is raised to be an evil, despicable human being from childhood.
“As an example: During the campaign, players are made aware of an extremist group called ‘Al-Qatala’. But this group is not some vacuous construct purely designed for the sake of a fictional narrative, it’s quite clear that inspirational blueprints were drawn from the real world terrorist faction named ‘Al-Qeada’. There is nothing inherently wrong with that by itself. Many other games utilize a similar tactic.”
Not just other games Upper… Everything. Every fictional work draws from something real. This group is absolutely a vacuous construct purely designed for the sake of a fictional narrative. It’s leadership, is not real. It’s goals, are to free their country from Russia. You may not know this, but Russia is not in their country right now, because their country doesn’t exist. It is completely made up. The only thing real about this group, is the tactics it uses. This group is not real. Al-Qatala is as real as the Empire from Star Wars. By your logic, I can get a primo alien waifu any time I want because we use jet propulsion in real life.
This is fictional writing at its most basic. Have you ever had a creative thought in your life? Is Batman real because utility belts and detectives exist? People use these things all the time, clearly Batman is no vacuous construct designed to serve a narrative. There’s a real dude out there right now, fighting crime in the streets of New York dressed in a Halloween costume. Wake up!
No really Justin, wake up, please! You’re two minutes into this video and you’ve already got three pages in the text document. This has to be a nightmare. Somebody shoot me.
“It’s a very long list of possible explanations, but that’s not what is important.”
Please, God Upper. Tell me what’s important. Please explain to me how the long list of other possibly valid and reasonable explanations you just admitted exist, don’t matter at all. I’m dying to hear this.
“What is important for Call of Duty, is that almost everything you see (aside from individual instances of combat) is loosely based on real world events.”
What, the fuck, isn’t? I’ve only gotten seventeen seconds farther, I’m dying laughing. Someone please kick this stool out from under me, I can’t take it anymore. This is a twelve minute video.
“I don’t think this video is the right time or place to discuss the intricacies of geopolitical conflict, especially as complex as what has been transpiring in Syria.”
What in the finger fucking Christ does this game’s plot have to do with Syria? What do geopolitics have to do with the fake Russians in this game having one rogue general? Did you say that to sound smart? This isn’t the only time I’ve seen someone insinuate that Urzikstan is some kind of stand-in for Syria, but I have yet to see anyone so much as mention where they’re getting this from. It’s like they think Syria is the only middle eastern country anyone could ever take inspiration from, just because it’s the only one in the news right now. Bear in mind, I didn’t follow the press releases like an addict. So maybe a dev mentioned it somewhere.
And even if it is a stand-in for Syria… The game is called “Modern Warfare”, the series has always involved it’s story in topical conflicts and tensions. Shit’s going down in Syria right now, and Russia is likely to end up being the opposition. This is like complaining that Black Hawk Down takes place in Somalia, or that past Modern Warfare games took place in Afghanistan. It’s a non-issue. It’s proof of nothing. That’s what the story is based on, that’s all there is to it.
“However, the game does not just take existing events and depict them with a nationalistic bias. It takes entire sections of motivational history, and revises them to be completely different. There are a few examples of this, but for today the most important one is ‘The Highway of Death’.”
Okay so barring the revision part we’ve already hit on a few times: This guy just dead ass told us that he’s not going to present most of his evidence. In the goddamn twelve minute video that’s all about proving his accusation and literally nothing else. This would be, the time to talk about every single one of those things Upper. Don’t give me that “but for today” shit either, we all know this is probably the only time you’re going to talk about this. Because it was a gamble for clicks and it backfired. Or at least it backfired enough that you felt the need to post a little comment about how controversial (you wish) it was. If you go to the video now, it looks like everyone’s tossing his salad. And a lot of people are, make no mistake. There are thousands of idiots that bought this. But if you look a little deeper, not only are there plenty of comments calling out the hypocritical reach, but the dislike ratio is actually much larger than his usual video.
Now this is just what I can extrapolate but: I think he figured his viewers would eat this up. I don’t think he expected any kind of backlash. So when there was even mild discontent, he pulled the classic SJW “backpedal but reaffirm” tactic. You know the one. “Okay maybe you’re right about this, but…” That’s just what I can extrapolate from his actions though, so it’s obviously true.
I would love to say more about that, but we just hit the point of no return and I’m really excited. He’s gonna talk about the Highway of Death now.
Okay so I’m not even gonna bother copying the exact wording of his very long winded and very incorrect history lesson. Yes you read that right, incorrect. We’ll get to that, because that’s where he used the backpedal tactic in the comments. So I’m gonna sum it up for you.
Basically, the Highway of Death refers to an event and place where American military forces conducted an ambush, and it was a complete mess. There was a ton of collateral. And his reason for bringing it up, is that in the game’s story, it was Russia. That’s it. That’s literally the entire basis of his “propaganda” argument. There’s a couple other little things he mentions (and we’ll get to those), but remember this is his smoking gun evidence that he disregarded all of his other evidence to discuss, because it was just that good. He is upset that this fictional story altered the one and only real event it ever references to fit it’s narrative. What’s more, is that he fails to mention that this information comes from an extremely biased source. A character named “Farah”… Who’s home was invaded by the Russians. Who’s parents were murdered, by Russians. This is a character who is surprised, fucking shocked when a Russian helps her later in the story. A person who would probably believe you if you told her a Russian pissed on her cat.
I couldn’t write a better comedy if I tried. Let’s take a look at this comment before we talk more, because he explains a few things for me. By the way this is a copy/paste, the typos are his. I’m not gonna bother correcting them.
“Ok, it’s pretty clear after a few minutes this is going to be a controversial one. All I ask is that people listen to the whole thing before responding. I don’t expect everyone to agree, but it’s worth discussing how when some things are changed, everyone is happy about it, but when others are… it creates backlash. My intent is to try and avoid the typically blinding bias of favorable historical revisionism.
Also, People are rightly correcting a mistake. My notes were mixed up, the referenced Highway of Death ambush took place during the Gulf War, not the Iraq war.
People are absolutely salivating over the fact I said 2003… get over it. It was literally a skipped line in my pages of notes so I referenced the wrong year… it invalidates nothing, and changes nothing… and people comparing it to CoD itself are completely off base. CoD didn’t make a small mistake, they CHANGED the events deliberately in a totally unnecessary and slanted way. Focus on things that are relevant instead of cumming in your pants that a youtube got one fact wrong.”
Okay so the first thing that comes to my little PI brain… If your one and only point in this entire slapshot video was what took place on the Highway of Death, how in the fursuit humping fuck did the Iraq War and the year 2003 get into your notes? Also: Were your notes mixed up, or did you skip a line? I’m gonna let that sit.
This is not a case of “agree to disagree”. This a case of you presenting something as fact and not only having zero evidence to back up the claim, but also screwing up your own presentation.
Upper, I can’t think of a single instance where the gaming community has been okay with any kind of revisionism. In fact, they’re way too goddamn trigger happy sometimes. People cried “revisionism” over Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey. The game with fuckin’ minotaurs and a cyclopes. From a series that literally built itself on changing the events of history to suit it’s narrative. These kats would call Xena: The Warrior Princess propaganda if it aired today.
Getting that date wrong invalidates your entire video. The whole fuckin’ thing is you bitching they got one detail wrong, one. The sheer absurdity of you insisting that you know for an absolute fact that they are deliberately revising history because they got one detail wrong, is completely changed by you yourself getting a detail wrong. It is ludicrous that you can go through the process of researching. writing, recording, and editing a video where you get something wrong, and then cry “propaganda” when for all you fuckin’ know the developers made the same kind of mistake you did. You have absolutely no proof of the developer’s intentions. All you have is one off detail, that you yourself admitted could’ve been changed for any multitude of reasons. Incorrect information is not only relevant to your video, but the entire fucking point of it. The manic nerve you have to piss and moan about your viewers doing the exact same thing to you, that you just did to all of them.
The trap boyfriend the boss promised me for this article better be fuckin’ lit, or I swear to God Walgreens is next.
After a few minutes of blatantly repeating himself over and over (saying the exact same thing in as many ways as he can think of), he then goes on to say this: “I should clarify right now I am a proud citizen of the United States. But historical revisionism and offensive fabrications that are based on a tragic real world event are unacceptable no matter how or why a development team arrived at that decision.”
Folks, the “horseshoe” effect is real. This man stretched so far to cry “SJW”, he has become one. He just told everyone that fictional games based on any war are not allowed. Fictional games based on crime, are not allowed. Where do we draw the line, Upper? You’re saying that Infinity Ward making one change to one historical event, is unacceptable no matter what. Because you don’t like it. Not because you can prove there’s anything wrong with it, but because you don’t like that they changed it for this game’s narrative. That’s not even mentioning the fact that you just admitted once again that it’s entirely likely this wasn’t propaganda at all, that there are other reasons these changes might’ve been made. You have bent over backwards to make it look like this game has committed some unforgivable offense, and it’s quite frankly a pathetic display.
But our boy keeps going. During the speal where he repeated himself a lot, he also snuck his first mention of how Russia was being painted as the villain. On top of that notion making basically every 80’s action movie SJW propaganda, it also completely ignores that this is a timeline where Russia later invades the United States and starts World War III. If you have a problem with Russia being depicted as an antagonist in any capacity, the blame factually does not lie with the game you’re lambasting for it.
He then goes on to act like war crimes don’t happen. No I mean it. He suggests that a later segment where one single Russian soldier is attacking your character’s family is somehow implausible and ridiculous, made even worse by the “previous revisionism” that took place. This fuckin’ ingrate, thinks bad shit doesn’t happen during war. This astounding moron thinks that psychopaths never get recruited. This absolute man-child, thinks that because one random no-name character from one faction did a bad thing, that means that the developers think that all real life Russians do those bad things, and expect their players to believe it just because it’s in the game.
Now I know what he would say. “It’s not any one thing that proves it, it’s all of these things together.” And yes, that’s how proving something with evidence works. The more the merrier. The problem here is that absolutely nothing you’ve provided is evidence to your claim. It’s all pure fantasy, guesswork. It’s assumptions you’ve made that you for some reason seem to expect everyone to accept as fact. A part of the story made you feel icky, so you think it must be some SJW conspiracy to make Russia look bad. It can’t simply be an innocent decision you don’t like. It’s an organized effort to spread anti-Russian, pro far left propaganda. You fucking weapon.
He spent this entire section about the flashback with your character’s family saying, “Yeah the gameplay and tone is fucking stellar, but you can’t enjoy it because of this thing I made up.”
I pray, to any fuckin’ thing that will listen, that the people reading this article don’t need me to explain to them why this is a complete joke. He somehow managed to come to the conclusion that the only reason Russia is an antagonist in this game, is because it’s the only politically correct choice. Nevermind the fact that this is a game where you kidnap a middle eastern guy’s family, and threaten to fucking off them right in front of him. Clearly shootin’ for those brownie points. Somehow the culture of victimhood also plays a role. You wanna know the best part? He’s still not finished. Oh he repeats himself again for another few minutes, but there’s more.
We’re about eight minutes in guys, it’s almost over. I mean I’d take a little love tap to the brain with a bullet at this point. I wanna be a real life ghost girl rockstar.
The next tangible thing he says is that the Russians are the only true villain of the game. That they don’t commit to the middle eastern antagonists. You know, the ones that open the game bombing civilians, the ones you spend the majority of the missions pursuing. Yeah no the Russians you barely hear about are the real threat. They pull so many punches when it comes to Al-Qatala. I didn’t see a single civilian execution or bomb vest in the whole campaign. Could’ve really done with a mission where you had to defend an embassy from a city full of terrorists. It was really disappointing how you spent like two missions completely dismantling a terrorist organization, what non-threat. Stories can’t have more than one antagonist.
He also complains that they don’t commit to giving Al-Qatala a “true morally grey decision making pattern”. Is irredeemably evil not good enough for you? I thought you wanted them to commit, not have the terrorist leader give me a sob story about how his puppy got sick once and that’s why he murdered countless innocent people and children. Which is it? Pick a fuckin’ narrative.
Upper then goes on to explain how Russia is like one of two or three superpowers that could actually take the U.S, and one of the even fewer that might have a reason to. No words in the English lexicon can describe the seething anguish my body is in right now.
Among the baffling cognitive dissonance we just witnessed, Upper managed to slip in a little jab about the game having “as diverse of a cast as possible”, specifically citing Farah (the woman) as a strong character. Stop being a pussy and say it, we all know what you were getting at. There are two new characters in the main cast, one of them is the whitest motherfucker I’ve ever seen. The other is Farah. You see his problem is that they added a single competent woman to the main cast.
Whatever alternate universe I was dropped into: I want out.
This character is well established, well flushed out, and not overbearing. She has a personal connection to both of the antagonists, and it’s thoroughly set up that she lived most of her life fending for herself in harsh conditions. She was forced to kill motherfuckers as a child. And no, it wasn’t exactly easy. I would know, I had to play it. And so did you. If all of those are not good enough reasons to have one single halfway useful female character on the team, then congratulations: You are the petulant child who’s afraid of having vaginas in his Call of Duty that every SJW complains about. Developers are allowed to make whatever character they damn well please without it automatically being a part of some agenda. It’s fine, you’ll live I promise.
One last little thing he managed to slip in before the end, is that the maps are designed to have “safe spaces” for “newbies”. He’s talking about choke points and vantage points. He’s talking about proven real life tactics working in the simulation. On top of everything else, he is one of those people that complains because he can’t figure out how to stop sprinting into corridors and open fields.
So in conclusion: Modern Warfare is SJW propaganda because the Russians are the bad guys, creative writing is a thing that happens, women exist, and real world strategies are effective.
I honestly don’t know how to properly end this one. I was thinking of making another one of my edgy jokes, but I just can’t muster the effort to think of something. This drained me. I feel like I’m dumber for having dissected this. Upon rewatching the video for this article, it somehow managed to simultaneously be one of the most hilarious things I’ve ever seen, and one of the most depressing.
The moral of the story is: Keep your wits about you. Check people’s facts. Check mine, watch the video to see if I’m misrepresenting. You never know where one of these idiots is hiding until they try something. Above all else: Stay consistent and true to your beliefs.