Monday, October 11, 2010

Medal of Honor: Trivializing Afghanistan

You know, you would think that the fact that the first generation to grow up with video games is already in its 40s would pretty much quash every controversy to arise over the latest video game. But I guess it's like when they used to tell our Baby Boomer parents that the "marijuana today is sooooo much more dangerous than what you smoked!!!"

Today's controversy is over EA's Medal of Honor, another one of those creepily realistic-looking, multi-player shoot 'em ups. Reportedly designed with the help of US armed forces, the game's furor is over the fact that it allowed you to play the game as the Taliban as well as US forces. Folks are basking in their own outrage (America's #1 reaction to anything that might just require thought), claiming that this multi-player option somehow "trivializes" what our troops are going through over there in Afghanistan.

Personally, I can't figure out how that can in the least bit be possible (they subsequently changed the "Taliban" to "Opposition Forces," or some such nonsense). When I used to fly my B-17 bomber missions over a digitized Europe with my old Intellivision, I don't feel I was in the least bit making light of what Jimmy Stewart, the Tuskegee Airmen, and the rest of our Fly Boys went through during WWII. But I don't think that's really the important argument in this whole broohaha.

I am more interested in the entire idea of what has actually trivialized our troops' struggles over there in Afghanistan. Just for the sake of a shorter post, I'll concede that Medal of Honor somehow does this. But I wonder what else may have had a larger "trivializing" factor in said conflict.

1) The invasion of Iraq. The fact that, pretty much as soon as we landed in Afghanistan, we were diverting our resources to Iraq, I would argue, was the largest triviliazation our troops could've ever possibly faced.

2) Saddam Hussein = Osama bin Laden. The Bush administration's constant innuendo that Saddam and Osama were indeed in cahoots. That they were perfectly willing to distort the truth (that Osama attacked the US) in order to pursue the lie (Saddam was the most dangerous human being on the planet). They were perfectly willing to abandon the hunt for the people who actually attacked America for some weird, Oedipal revenge fantasy that squashed international goodwill, American legitimacy, and turned the very idea of a "War on Terror" into simple, self-interested farce.

3) Torah Borah. The fact that our troops had Osama and al Qaeda in their sights up in Torah Borah and were told to back off and let them all go told them from jump that the entire mission wasn't something that our officials were taking seriously.

4) Non-Mission Creep. I'm thinking that our troops' landing in October 2001 only to receive a somewhat coherent battle plan (I'm being exceedingly generous here) in 2009 could be treated as a joke (by the non-sanctimonious).

5) Medal of Honor. Actually, I thought #5 should be the fact that SecDef Donald Rumsfeld decided to invade the country on the cheap and, instead of landing with overwhelming ground forces, decided to arm the Northern Alliance (who were rolling around with 20-year-old RPGs on horseback) with modern American weapons only to have those same "allies" turn our own weapons on us. But I wanted to throw all you outraged American patriots a bone. So, here you are: now, all those pimply-faced teenagers will stop dreaming about chasing girls only long enough to play this game and burn the American flag. I hope you're happy.

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