Veteran calls out “crass,” “hideous” MW3 advertising

Tuesday, 3 January 2012 00:47 GMT By Brenna Hillier

US Army Special Operations Command paratrooper D.B. Grady has poured scorn on Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3′s live-action TV ads.

In an article entitled “The Hideous Marketing of ‘Modern Warfare 3′” for the Atlantic, Grady described the “tastelessness” of the commercial series starring Sam Worthington and Jonah Hill as the Vet and the n00b.

“The advertisement trivializes combat and sanitizes war,” he said.

“After ten years of constant war, of thousands of amputees and flag-draped coffins, of hundreds of grief-stricken communities, did nobody involved in this commercial raise a hand and say, ‘You know, this is probably a little crass. Maybe we could just show footage from the game.’”

Himself a veteran of Afghanistan, Grady said the ad’s timing is particularly poor given escalating conflict.

“As Afghanistan intensifies and we assess the mental and physical damage to veterans of Iraq, is now really the time to sell the country on how much fun the whole enterprise is?” he asked.

“Here I point to the giddy howls of one supposed soldier in the commercial as he fires a grenade launcher at some off-screen combatant. War is great, see? It’s like a gritty Disneyland.”

Activision was also criticised for its 2010 Black Ops marketing, which also used the tagline “there’s a soldier in all of us”.

Thanks, GoNintendo.


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  1. HeavyD-Love

    Thank you. It’s about fucking time.

    #1 3 years ago

    Somebody missed the point…


    #2 3 years ago
  3. LOLshock94

    @2 ikr

    #3 3 years ago
  4. typok

    I’m really glad he came out and said this, and that somebody listened. Im a veteran who was injured overseas and I despise these tasteless commercials, as well as the internet spin-offs. Hopefully Grady continues to speak out.

    #4 3 years ago
  5. Erthazus

    “It’s like a gritty Disneyland.”

    Ahahaha. Thats right. Call of duty: MW2, MW3 and etc is a gritty disneyland :D

    He has a point, especially with this one.

    #5 3 years ago

    The ad is set in an invaded New York. Why don’t we complain about that?

    And the bouncing betty? Is that ok? Not realistic enough to mention, eh?

    While we’re at it, why don’t we start complaining about getting points for kills in games, too. Rewarding killing, I suppose…

    I think people are more than capable of differentiating between the brutal reality and a game where you can quick-scope your way to a “MOAB”.

    If you’re silly enough to be fooled into thinking that war is fun, because of this single ad, then you probably shouldn’t be watching TV in the first place.

    #6 3 years ago
  7. Clupula

    War is sexy
    War is fun
    Iron ego
    Red dawn

    #7 3 years ago
  8. osric90

    Call of Duty used to be a war “game” full of history and values and now (after Modern Warfare with the GREAT exception of World at War which depicts a crude, bloody and painful war in which you really feel the suffering of the fallen and injured) it’s totally bang, boom and fake manly tears. When I play a game, I want to learn something… I want it to be like a good document, photograph, novel, movie… not just shit to kill time, but something different. Videogames are the most powerful and complex (artistically speaking) medium of expression and they are living their own art’s adulthood right now. It’s an important time to tell good stories that will live on forever and that are really worth it. We have many, we want more… and when moral-intellectual shallowness invades, videogames are back to dangerous toys for the general audiences’ thoughts.

    #8 3 years ago
  9. marioporfirio

    Fuck the U.S. Army and the industry of war that the United States created!!!
    This is just a game, this is fiction and the TV Ads talk just about the game, not this fucking war that US created for make money through its weapons industry.

    #9 3 years ago
  10. polygem

    he has a point there…i am having more and more problems with these modern war shooters too. i didn´t buy bf3 or mw3 yet becaue of all that patriotic stuff in it that makes me puke. it´s not only these ads (which i have never seen but i get the idea), it´s about game developers involving army vets in game development for authenticity, the us army using videogames for training purposes etc. I HAVE SEEN comercials of the us army which totally made the connection between war and fun games for recruitment. this is sick. i love shooters but i really don´t want this patriotic crap in it. we need more shooters but they need to be more intelligent. i am saying it here again. i hope bungies next thing will be exactly that… i also really like scifi shooters like gears but i really don´t think they need all the gore. actually this is retarded imo, well it´s for the kids to pretend they are adults already…but other than that noone needs executions with a chainsaw. i´d prefer the game without that.

    #10 3 years ago
  11. Erthazus

    @osric90, “Call of Duty used to be a war “game” full of history and values”

    I’m not sure that you can call that. sure, it was about WWII but it was not a real history, but it was fun.

    #11 3 years ago
  12. KrazyKraut

    thats why I like the reboot of Medal of Honor.It honored the soldiers and was more authentic than any other war game. That game was awesome and I cant wait to get my hands on the new one.

    #12 3 years ago
  13. YoungZer0

    Grow some balls. Really.

    What next? Is he going to complain about Transformers not representing the war properly? Oh, wait, that one had giant robots in it.

    It’s fictional, douchebag. They have the right to do what they want with their property. Just because you served in the war doesn’t mean you have a say in any of this.


    #13 3 years ago
  14. viralshag

    Good for him that he’s standing up for something.

    Good for the world and entertainment because it’s just his opinion and the fact that him saying “I DON’T LIKE IT” means next to nothing.

    Bring on more war games, thanks.

    #14 3 years ago
  15. BraveArse

    “grow some balls”

    Really? You think someone who has almost certainly seen the realities of war firsthand hasn’t already got a pair? This comments thread pretty much shows gamers up for what the majority of them are: selfish, immature twunts who have no idea, literally no idea.

    Yes it’s fiction. That doesn’t stop it being fucking crass.

    #15 3 years ago
  16. Joe Musashi

    @15 Hear hear!

    “Just because you served in the war doesn’t mean you have a say in any of this.”

    So many levels of wrongness in so few words.


    #16 3 years ago
  17. strikkebil

    i completly agree.,

    #17 3 years ago
  18. viralshag

    Gamers are getting so serious we’re in danger of boring the industry to death.

    Yes, war is bad and vets and soldiers deserve respect. But come on, it’s an advert for a game. They weren’t trying to send a message other than it’s a fun game.

    Lighten up.

    #18 3 years ago
  19. YoungZer0

    @15: That’s the interesting part about the story. Someone who has seen the face of war should’ve a thicker skin.

    “This comments thread pretty much shows gamers up for what the majority of them are: selfish, immature twunts who have no idea, literally no idea.”

    That is such a stupid comment, really. Still acting like gaming is something special and not something you’ll find everywhere.

    @16: Actually absolutely right. If the game was about iraq or afghanistan i might understand him. But it’s complete fiction. He never was in Hamburg, NY or Paris fighting off Russian soldiers, so why does his opinion matter? It doesn’t.

    #19 3 years ago
  20. Deacon

    I find it pretty tasteless that anyone would voluntarily sign up to be a part of the US army, which is itself pretty hideous.

    #20 3 years ago
  21. Freek

    War has been a source for entertainment for centuries. We use it for comics, books, movies, tv, cartoons. Some of them use it in a seriouse manner but allot also use it for popcorn action or even comedy.

    If this is acceptable and continues to be acceptable, why should games be held to a different standard?

    #21 3 years ago
  22. Da Man

    I feel sorry for people who thought Cod was at any point in time a relevant representation of war, or took any videogame seriously in that sense. Let’s just hope you don’t play too many Virtual sex videogames.

    #22 3 years ago
  23. YoungZer0

    @22: You mean to tell me that Battle Raper 2 is not a serious representation of fighting?

    #23 3 years ago
  24. Joe Musashi

    @19 His opinion carries as much (actually more, given his profession) weight as anyone’s. That ‘gamers’ can point the finger and say “You have no right to express your view” is mind-blowingly selfish and insular.

    You know that people, for many years, fought in wars for people to have freedom of speech. So watching some gamer who probably thinks war is “Hold LB to aim, tap RB to shoot” dismiss anyone’s right to express an opinion is pretty tragic.

    Don’t base your real life principles on what you see in videogames, folks.


    #24 3 years ago
  25. YoungZer0

    @24: “His opinion carries as much (actually more, given his profession) weight as anyone’s.”

    But nobody writes articles about my opinion, why is that?! Again if Call of Duty was about iraq/afghanistan, his criticism would be legit. Since it’s not, it’s not. It just shows that he unable to comprehend the ad.

    “You know that people, for many years, fought in wars for people to have freedom of speech.”

    Yeah, but today we need to fight for that right on our soil. What people did back then doesn’t apply to the people of today, just because they share the same profession.

    And please, don’t make this about freedom of speech. This has nothing to do with it. It has however to do with the fact that people seem to think that his opinion matters more just because he’s a veteran. Again it’s fictional, so it doesn’t.

    “So watching some gamer who probably thinks war is “Hold LB to aim, tap RB to shoot””

    Aha, yeah right. That’s exactly what people think. *rollseyes*

    “dismiss anyone’s right to express an opinion is pretty tragic.”

    Nope, don’t think so. Every person has every right to dismiss someone’s opinion. Are they right? Dunno. That’s a matter of opinion.

    #25 3 years ago
  26. GwynbleiddiuM

    I can’t see why a lot of you complain? Can’t a man have his opinion expressed these days without being flamed? He has a point in what he’s saying, and what he’s saying is people trying to make war beautiful and fun, while it’s not a fun experience especially for those who have been to war. He despises the concept behind the advertisement not the game itself. He despises the way gaming industry tries to copycat and make profit out of WAR and BLOODSHED the way that film industry did with horrible and plotless and tasteless 80s action movies. That right there is the point that I believe he’s trying to make and blind sheep enrages and rend-rages, mighty dumbass of ya’ll.

    #26 3 years ago
  27. viralshag

    “film industry did with horrible and plotless and tasteless 80s action movies”

    If anything I wish they would go back to making movies like they use to. The 80s has some of the best action movies, ever.

    And what should we do then? Make nothing based on war or combat in films and games? The ad is like a bad/spoof action movie, what makes it any different to The Expendables?

    #27 3 years ago
  28. Joe Musashi

    @25 “But nobody writes articles about my opinion, why is that?!”

    Maybe because, in this instance, the relevance of your opinion is seemingly insignificant to that of this person. Or perhaps they have a better agent than you. Or – and this is a crazy one, but bear with me – “Grow some balls” doesn’t engender much empathy with its audience.

    You’ve both had your say – but I don’t see him trying to silence or dismiss your view.

    @26 – Very good points. It seems many haven’t made the distinction between the game and the advert for the game. They’re too busy telling others they have poor comprehension. Ironic, no?


    #28 3 years ago
  29. BraveArse

    Well said Joe.

    This not about being unable to tell fact from fiction. I have happily played military shooters and enjoyed them, the point is whether he has a right to say anything about it, which he emphatically does.

    To say “grow a pair” anonymously on the internet is hypocritical and utterly cowardly. Email him, tell him yourself and let him know where you live. Then you might have a “pair” of your own.

    And if any of you think that you’re not being sold the ongoing wars when you buy a CoD or BF game you are absolutely deluding yourself. Go away, read up about semiotics and advertising, possibly even Ways of Seeing by John Berger, then come back and explain to me how these games don’t capitalise on the crass myth of the glory of war.


    #29 3 years ago
  30. ManuOtaku

    #26 “He despises the concept behind the advertisement not the game itself.” +1, my thoughts exactly, really well said .

    And i agree with Joe Musashi comments too, on all this tread, pretty spot on.

    #30 3 years ago
  31. Da Man

    80s action movies were entertaining, I hope noone actually thinks The Running Man or Red Sonja were ‘tasteless’ or ‘plotless’.

    Quite the contrary, I wouldn’t want to see videogames follow in the footsteps of Surrogates and The Air I Breathe…

    #31 3 years ago
  32. YoungZer0

    @28: “but I don’t see him trying to silence or dismiss your view.”

    I doubt he read my reply.

    @29: Why should i write him an email? How does this make me less anonymous? Sorry, but if that’s the way you deal with people, than you’re nothing more than a bully. If i tell you to grow a pair, you want my address and beat me up, or what is it you’re trying to tell me here, tough guy?

    He can have his opinion all he wants.

    I don’t think he would react differently if i would tell him in person. If he would react violently, then he’s an idiot. I wouldn’t bother anyway, I understood long ago that people won’t just change their opinion that easily. And i’d love to use my strength for other, more important things in life.

    But hey, if a 40 year old woman would say the same thing he does, would you even care? Would it be worth an article? Would people call you selfish if you disagree?

    I disagree with him, plain and simple and that makes me selfish? How? It’s just fucking advertisement. Nothing more.

    “And if any of you think that you’re not being sold the ongoing wars when you buy a CoD or BF game you are absolutely deluding yourself.”

    I actually enjoy it for the fast and fun gameplay, the interesting, while sometimes absolutely stupid story, the different scenarios, i was really interested in seeing what they do with europe as a battleground.

    So how does this have anything to do with the ongoing war, exactly? I don’t play it for the same reason i play Medal of Honor.

    #32 3 years ago
  33. GwynbleiddiuM

    #27 Again, you and people like are clueless of what is the issue here, clueless people cannot be helped, so, whatever.

    #28 Exactly!

    #31 Well I didn’t exactly meant ALL OF THE LOT were in the said condition, few goods and some greats doesn’t mean the whole package was exceptionally good. It was just hugely profitable for the industry, I love Arnold Schwarzenegger, I love Jean-Claude Van Damme, I love Dolph Lundgren, and I certainly enjoyed most of their work, but that doesn’t make their movies great, they were just good entertainment, for people that had no idea how it is to take a life, let alone 2500 of it per second.

    #33 3 years ago
  34. viralshag

    @33, How am I being clueless? What difference is there between a concept for a commercial and a concept for a movie or a game?

    If anyone is missing the point here it’s this guy and his article. He is baseline comparing the actions in a video game ad to the actions of real life soldiers… Which is a little on the ridiculous side.

    “As Afghanistan intensifies and we assess the mental and physical damage to veterans of Iraq, is now really the time to sell the country on how much fun the whole enterprise is?”

    ^^ It’s not an ad for the army, if it was, he would be totally correct. BUT, it’s an ad for a GAME… The whole point of the ad is to give you an idea of fun.

    Whether the advert be crass, bad or unfunny; comparing it and real life situations like he does in his article is pointless.

    #34 3 years ago
  35. Da Man

    #33, I do think it’s fair to be profitable when you make great entertainment. On the other hand, Xenosaga (not the Squaresoft one) did it wrong, Titanic did it wrong, and many others did it wrong. They were tacky platitudes.

    That’s like saying wrestling was bad because Stone Cold didn’t represent the harsh texan reality well enough. What you’re doing is pretty much like analyzing Bret Hart vs S.Michaels argument as an emotional sports drama. Didn’t you notice how similar WWF was to those movies?

    Actually it does make them great, since they were all centered on the main guy.

    All of these comparisons are very off to begin with though, since you can’t play a movie, but anyway.

    #35 3 years ago
  36. YoungZer0

    @34: Ding, ding, ding, ding. + 1 for viralshag.

    #36 3 years ago
  37. viralshag

    #37 3 years ago
  38. OrbitMonkey

    Personally I didn’t think the ad was anywhere near good enough to elicit some of the impassioned defense of it I’m reading here…

    As for the connection to it and real world conflict? Well maybe if the American Army didn’t go round highschools with the games set up for the kids to play in the back of a recruitment tent, the connection wouldn’t be so strong… But that’s another issue.

    #38 3 years ago
  39. YoungZer0

    @38: Nobody is defending the ad. It is stupid. We just defend the right for it to be stupid.

    #39 3 years ago
  40. ManuOtaku

    #34 ^^ It’s not an ad for the army, if it was, he would be totally correct. BUT, it’s an ad for a GAME… The whole point of the ad is to give you an idea of fun

    Ok so if this was a Dantes inferno commercial were an actor personifies dante killing a bunch of kids that personifies those baby mosnters to give an idea of fun, because is a game you know will be good too, i dont know for you but for me it doesnt look good, i have kids and i dont want to see something like that on tv advertising a product in this case a game, so were we do cross the line in advertisement, the people that does advertisment need to see if this will strike other peoples way of views and believes, they have the right to do it becuase they are selling a product, but they need to take this into consideration in order to sell more products, i mean the way all the people will recieve this add on the emotional level, and maybe is because this is a thing of opinion, what i do find insulting becuase of my personal believes doesnt insult you or affect you the way it does to me, thats why we can all state our believes on the matter even if they are quite the opposite, i dont mind if the things that do affects me doesnt affect you, what i do mind is why i dont have the privalege to said so, he did feel affected it did stroke a cord on his personal feelings, he has the right to say so IMHO, the same way as do you too.
    P.S we need more empathy, we dont know how much did it affect him?, how much he did remember of his personal vivid scenes looking that add?

    #40 3 years ago
  41. viralshag

    @38, 39 is right, it is a stupid ad and I personally didn’t think much of it myself. I’m not even bothered by this guys opinion of the ad, I just think it’s a bit much over some silliness and wording of ad.

    To take offence from an over-the-top advert and the term “there’s a soldier in all of us” just because there is a war going on and, surprisingly, soldiers fighting in it… seems a little bit of an over-reaction.

    #41 3 years ago
  42. DSB

    It might be tough for a guy who’s lived an actual war, but it’s completely missing the point. I think the worst thing you can say about those ads is that they’re fundamentally bad, and unfunny. I don’t think anyone is going to confuse them with actual war, though. They’re obviously representing a videogame, and a videogame that is quite obviously set in an alternate reality.

    If you want a glorification of military life, all you have to do is watch a recruitment ad from the US military.

    I can see how veterans might be pissed off that their work gets made into a action movie like Medal of Honor, before their comrades are even done spilling blood on the battlefield, just to make money, but this looks like a case of one guy taking offence where a lot of others wouldn’t.

    #42 3 years ago
  43. viralshag

    @40, And I’m not saying he isn’t entitled to his opinion, I just don’t think it’s a fair one. And frankly, I just don’t think his article is very good to be perfectly honest.

    #43 3 years ago
  44. DSB

    Should you listen to a veterans opinion? Yes.

    Are you allowed to judge it on it’s merits? Also yes.

    The basic argument of the article is ridiculous, and it runs completely contrary to the sensible notion that he himself establishes early on. Veterans are worthy of respect, but they are not pitiful, and they are not victims. They’re professionals, who do a pretty hard job on behalf of the government and their people. Nothing less, and nothing more.

    The idea that you can’t make irreverent, fictional war movies or games, simply because September 11 happened, and triggered a series of wars is ridiculous. If someone was making games based on those wars and turning it into entertainment without any sort of respect for the people involved, that would be offensive.

    I think it says it all to compare his article to this one, from the Medal of Honor debacle:

    One is nuanced and well argued. The other is an emotional tirade saying that everybody should shut up because we’re living in a “post September 11 world”.

    It is a bad ad, but it’s bad because it’s stupid and halfassed, it never tries to profit on actual wars or the achievements of actual soldiers.

    The guy has every right to feel the way he feels, and I’m sure it looks a lot different from his point of view. Just as Burnout looks terrible to someone who’s lost somebody in an actual carcrash.

    #44 3 years ago
  45. polygem

    problem is: they sell war off as something cool. this is not cool imho….that being said. i just got a copy of the game borrowed from a friend today and played online a bit now (didn´t touch the sp yet): I CAN´T BELIEVE HOW SHIT THE GAME IS. seriously. i played all the cod´s. i even enjoyed black ops (definitely more than mw 2). this game looks and feels totally wrong to me. i will continue playing for a while but atm i am really shocked about how crap it looks and plays. can´t believe it…

    #45 3 years ago
  46. OrbitMonkey

    @DSB, that last paragraph nails it. Well said.

    #46 3 years ago
  47. phaleg

    ok, what´s wrong with the ad?? it´s cool

    #47 3 years ago
  48. alaris

    My son is 6 and can tell the difference between fantasy and reality. If you are having difficulty, you may be suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

    #48 3 years ago

Comments are now closed on this article.

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