A conservative icon may have just infiltrated the mainstream culture — and American progressives are incensed.
Triple-A video game studio Activision Publishing, Inc. has revealed, in partnership with developers Treyarch and Raven Software, that former President Ronald Reagan will play a feature role in the latest highly anticipated installment of its blockbuster series “Call of Duty.”
The development came Wednesday, as the companies involved gave fans a taste of the debut narrative trailer for “Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War” by way of an interactive in-game event conducted in the series’ most recent installment, “Call of Duty: Warzone.”
The trailer not only featured all the explosive war montage cinematics that have grown synonymous with “Call of Duty” over the course of the game’s roughly 17-year life span, but also a glimpse at the new installment’s plot, which will center around previously introduced series protagonists engaged in a spy thriller spanning the Cold War’s most notable conflicts.
WARNING: The following video contains vulgar language that some viewers may find offensive:
It was also revealed, however, that an uncanny computer-generated likeness of Reagan will be a major shot-caller in the new game, briefing and encouraging the main characters on their globetrotting mission to track down a Soviet operative and, you know, save the “free world.”
This was apparently enough to poison the well with progressive consumers and video game journalists, many of whom expressed their disappointment and disgust on social media or in the pages of prominent technology blogs.
In no time at all, The Verge had published a response, accusing the computerized “Gipper” of sending players overseas to “do war crimes” throughout the game, which is set to be released Nov. 14.
— The Verge (@verge) August 27, 2020
“Incorporating a real-life historical and political figure — one whose tenure still has controversial effects on modern-day politics, including the imminent 2020 election — is definitely a move,” reporter Nick Statt wrote.
“It’s an even weirder one when you consider what the trailer has Reagan doing: ordering you, the player, and your fellow clandestine operatives to essentially break the law and commit potential war crimes in order to save the ‘free world.'”
“It’s a good thing Reagan is here to reassure us, the players, that what we’re doing is in fact Good, or else Call of Duty fans everywhere might get the wrong impression about America’s role in geopolitical conflicts around the globe. Can’t have that happening!” Statt added.
The Verge was not the only outlet with with an author seemingly opposed to Reagan’s inclusion in the game.
Bryant Francis, contributing editor to prominent community video game blog Gamasutra, also chimed in on the controversy, writing in a more than 1,500-word blog post that he worries Reagan’s inclusion indicates “the more noxious elements of his legacy are again being whitewashed in favor of reviving the myth of Reagan as a Cold War hero.”
Call of Duty giving us the Reagan propaganda we apparently need in 2020 pic.twitter.com/D3ffS8KZFb
— Carli Velocci ➡ 🛌 (@velocciraptor) August 27, 2020
“It isn’t so much that I’m saying Ronald Reagan shouldn’t be portrayed in the Call of Duty series, it’s that his inclusion, especially as a mission briefer, creates a set of values that are informed by his legacy,” Francis wrote. “The violence of Call of Duty, which has always struggled to contextualize less ‘moral,’ post World War II conflicts, now is ordained by conservatism’s patron saint.”
Now Francis is, of course, one of many left-wing video game journalists to advocate for the politicization of the industry in recent years. The author admitted as much in his post, noting that he has often “egged developers on” to introduce social justice themes and modern political issues to their games.
The inclusion of modern conservatism’s most prominent and beloved founding father, however, was apparently a bridge too far.
From his escalation of anti-Communist proxy wars and increased regulation of American welfare to his handling of the AIDS crisis, Ronald Reagan’s policies supposedly served to tear “apart the lives of real people.”
If “Call of Duty” was going to include the man, Francis argued, the game could at least show audiences the “values he stood for were a fig leaf for awful, often race-driven violence, and the America he was defending was not necessarily a country all Americans have gotten to live in.”
I was glib here on Twitter yesterday but Ronald Reagan being “your briefer” in Call of Duty kind of sucks! Here’s why: https://t.co/TO0MNzRoL9
— Bryant Francis is isolating on Ahch-To (@RBryant2012) August 27, 2020
Forget a video game, I guess. Let’s just have a left-wing history lessons instead, shall we?
How ridiculous. Not to mention none of this even begins to account for the numerous blue checkmark and average Joe social media users who spouted off at the mouth when Reagan’s computer-generated likeness stepped into the frame.
If you listen closely enough, you can almost hear the pathetic conversations carried out behind closed doors in left-wing households and newsrooms nationwide the moment it happened.
“Wait … Ronald Reagan is in the game … and they aren’t even making him a caricature of an evil or senile old man? I guess I’m not playing.”
Well, good riddance. I’ll take two copies.
It isn’t every day Republican icons gets a fair shake in a widely acclaimed pop culture mainstay.
In fact, quite the opposite. Conservatives who pay attention to this sort of thing find themselves disappointed more often than not — forced to watch as their favorite films, television programs and video games are injected with all manner of anti-conservative propaganda and praise for progressive social justice.
Heck, when was the last time you watched a modern movie or television show through to its conclusion without being subjected to a joke or one-off line at the expense of President Donald Trump and his Republican supporters?
It’s probably been a while.
So, by all weights and measures, this is a step in the right direction — an opportunity for countless young people to see conservative leadership faithfully represented on the screen for what may be the first time.
“Call of Duty” is the quintessential video game of the early 21st century.
According to Forbes, the franchise sold at least 15 million units for each of its annual releases between 2007 and 2015, and saw its 2019 iteration, “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare,” pull in roughly $600 million in sell-through revenue in its first 72 hours on the market.
Such data leaves little up to the imagination.
Whether progressives like it or not, independent and irresolute right-wing video game audiences are about to come face to face with the compassionate and charismatic conservatism of old.
Let’s hope the introduction leaves a lasting impact.
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