Modern Warfare 2 Ad Features, Condones Homophobic Slurs

(UPDATE: The ad has been removed; apparently IW didn’t notice the acronym, which I kind of think is bullshit, but I’m glad action was taken.)

Via Kotaku, a new ad went up on developer Infinity Ward’s YouTube page for the upcoming Modern Warfare 2. The ad features an in-game model of Cole Hamels from the Philadelphia Phillies “speaking out” PSA-style against grenade spamming multiplayer tactics. Along with using misogynist slur “pussies”, at the end of the ad is a caption saying the PSA was done for a fake organization called “Fight Against Grenade Spam”, aka FAGS. In one stupid video, Infinity Ward reinforces misogyny and homophobia and condones the openly homophobic atmosphere of online gaming where such words are used all too often.

Here is a transcript for those who can’t access the video:

[Video opens with in-game footage of a player named “BluntTrauma” (whose gamerpic is a pot leaf) killing another player with a headshot from a sniper rifle.]

Male Voice Over: Let’s take a break from the action to get a word from our sponsor.

[Cole Hamels game model, in fatigues, armor, and a red Phillies cap, closes the door on a Jeep and walks toward the camera.]

Hamels: Hi, I’m Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Cole Hamels. And I’m here today to talk to you about something close to my heart: random grenades. Have you ever found yourself just walking down the street, minding your own business, when BAM! You look down and see a deadly explosive device attached to your uniform? I have, and let me tell you, it’s not cool. So be cool, and avoid random grenades. They’re for pussies.

[A grenade thrown from off-screen sticks to the front of Hamels’s uniform; Hamels looks shocked; a ton more grenades cover him.]

Hamels: What the fuck?

[Hamels explodes. A black screen with white text reads: “Funding Provided By: Fight Against Grenade Spam.”]

VO: Brought to you by: Fight Against Grenade Spam.

And I’m pretty sure the joke about walking down the street only to be attacked by a grenade is totally hilarious to people living in actual warzones, who actually have to worry about being killed by explosives.

More at Hellforge, including an interesting quote from an Infinity Ward dev about how they take responsibility for their marketing. Oh, really?

ETA: Lono from Sarcastic Gamer speaks out, and some analysis from Brainy Gamer.

Vorpal Bunny Ranch has a powerful post about personal experiences with this word.

Deirdra Kiai has a related post about what is truly “edgy.”

ETA2: Sessler’s Soapbox on the issue; Adam explains the precise problems rather well, making the distinction between simple swearing and words that are bad because they marginalize groups of people.

ETA3: Another post on the issue by Amanda Phillips at HASTAC.

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9 thoughts on “Modern Warfare 2 Ad Features, Condones Homophobic Slurs

  1. Pingback: Tactical Facepalm « GSG

  2. Pingback: Deirdra Kiai Productions » Not Cool

  3. Your main point is pretty reasonable, except I don’t get the sentence saying how the joke about getting killed by grenades being tasteless. If it’s offensive to show someone in a war zone be killed by a grenade, then all of the TF2 videos must be ten times more offensive. Not to mention that this is a promotional video for a game that is all about killing people in a war zone, and has come from a long linage of games that are all about killing people in war zones. If that part was actually offensive then the entire FPS genre is at fault. (I’m not trying to say that no one has the right to be offended by violence, but if that kind of violence really is offensive then this video is the least of your worries.)

    • I didn’t elaborate because I don’t think it is nearly the most offensive thing about this ad, but my point was that the entire joke relies on the idea of being killed by a grenade while you’re walking down the street (minding your own business!) as something totally ridiculous and laughable, when this is something that people in some parts of the world actually do have to worry about (perhaps not grenades in particular, but certainly explosives in general). Does that clear things up?

      • It is clear. But I think in the context of the game, and the issues that many people are having with “random grenades” in the game, that the comment is not offensive. To me, it seems a little “reaching” to get offended by something that has that much context within the game to something very much not related. It’s hard, because the original post is really excellent, but that portion kind of dulled the knife a little.

      • It’s certainly a topic that deserves far more detailed and nuanced attention than I give it in this post.

  4. I think the idea behind the ad was “If we call the grenade spammers pussies and the fake PSA organization FAGS then everyone is insulted and it balances out.” The problem is of course that calling someone a fag or a pussy is distasteful so instead of nullifying it exacerbated the criticism.

  5. Wow. Just. Wow. The fact that Infinity Ward would produce something like that, with obviously little to no forethought about what really should have been seen as an inevitable backlash, has me reconsidering my intent to purchase this game.

    There’s nothing more frustrating to me, as a trans woman, than trying to deal with the “r u really a guy”-style questions that are applied to basically anyone and everyone who plays a female character in an online game, totally irrespective of their actual gender.

    This is precisely the same kind of male-cattle-feces. Deplorable does not begin to describe it.

    ^D

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