Sunday, May 07, 2006

Control, Alt, SHOOT!

The United States has long been accused of a marketing based on stereotypes. In the past ten to twenty years Hollywood and the gaming industry have pumped out product after product vilifying Muslims as nothing more than rogue terrorists with a mindless agenda. From the early Chuck Norris Delta Force films, to True Lies, to the hit television series 24, Arabs are often portrayed in a negative light. This pattern has transcended itself into video games too, as children can now play as courageous American soldiers fighting against the forces of evil in….the Middle East? Now it appears, though, as if the tables have turned.

“Tech-savvy militants” in the Middle East have actually gotten their hands on these new video games and have modified them so that you can play as the Arabs fighting off an invading, imperialistic American force. Much like the US army created a free video game simply entitled ARMY, Islamic militants are probably hoping that new youths will become attracted to the idea of fighting against “infidels” for real.

The usual American reaction to games such as this (or the Turkish blockbuster about the villainous US army in Iraq) is one of shock and horror (very different from the catchy “shock and awe”). However, we should not be surprised by such attitudes. All great blockbusters and video games depict a classic American hero fighting against a classic, not-difficult-to-hate villain who usually ends up portraying a stereotype. If anti-American games and movies are such a success in the Middle East, is it really that difficult to comprehend that our presence there is not one which will be welcomed with rose petals?


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