Modern Warfare 2 Trailer Imagery Questioned

The trailer for Activision’s Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 premiered on national television Sunday night and it didn’t take long for the question to be posed of whether the game’s environment—a destroyed Washington D.C.—goes too far.

While a story on The Christian Science Monitor website asks just that question, it fails to connect COD:MW2 with Fallout 3, an obvious link given the post-apocalyptic setting (in the same city) of Bethesda’s title and the flack it subsequently received.

The author does attempt to include Grand Theft Auto IV in the conversation however:

And with what’s coming out of the gaming industry these days (Grand Theft Auto IV, anyone?) is this any worse? Maybe not. But this is one of the first times such striking imagery has surfaced since 9/11, when the idea of widespread destruction on US soil was suddenly thrust into reality.

Furthermore, while the story’s sub header states, “Some say the images of destruction on US soil are too much for a post-9/11 audience,” no one in the article is quoted or referenced as saying any such thing. To be fair, the story did generate a number of comments; perhaps this was the ultimate goal of the piece.

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  1. cpu64 says:

    This is just me but in all seriousness…

    I don’t think any videogame, current or yet to be made, can display any more shocking imagery than obama becoming president.

    I consider that worse than 9/11. I wasn’t directly affected by the terrorist act. But the poor decisions made by mr. Hussein affect me, my family, my friends and neighbors…

  2. mootyslayer says:

    I am American and find them to be hilarious as well. Of course I have been told I am Anti-American due to my athiest beliefs. But also due to I see no problem with the trailer.

  3. Wormdundee says:

    Ah another person making an ass out of themselves for not investigating what Christian Science Monitor is all about. CSM is generally considered a reliable source of news and many many people link to them as a source. CSM has even popped up multiple times on Digg as a top story, which is one of the most liberal leaning anti-religion places on the internet. So yeah, way to go.

  4. hellfire7885 says:

    Also, if we do begin to sterilize art for these reasons, then the terorists have won, because they caused us to stifle art by their actions.

  5. Skillz817 says:

    No offense to anyone who’s christian I practice islam myself and most of my family and close friends are  christian but I stopped taking this artice seriously when I read "christian" in the title

  6. Ryno says:

    War of 1812 and Civil War – no one alive experienced them, so they don’t really count. Plus a bunch of wars with Mexico.

    Pearl Harbor is an iffy one, since it was a territory and not a state, so there were mostly military personnel there, not civilians; at least the ones who were most affected.

    Oklahoma City, totally agree.

    Not to mention the first attack on the WTC, which was supposed to knock that building down (don’t remember which tower), but luckily failed.

    So, yeah, the article is looking through a very thin lense. But it was probably written by one of the people who though 9/11 was one of the most important events in human history, right up there with the invention of farming, movable type, etc.


    Saying that Jack Thompson is impotent is an insult to impotent men everywhere. They’ve got a whole assortment of drugs that can cure their condition; Jack, however…

  7. Zero Beat says:

    "…the idea of widespread destruction on US soil was suddenly thrust into reality."


    War of 1812.

    United States Civil War.

    The attack on Pearl Harbor.

    The bombing of the Oklahoma City Federal Building.


    There are most likely more, but I’m too tired to think of any others.


    "That’s not ironic. That’s justice."

  8. Necromancerxd says:

    Can we all just agree that it’s not just only in America where these incomptent dipshits live? There all over the world. So stop Bashing on the States it’s not so bad. Well Texas isn’t atleast. We have guns.

  9. ZippyDSMlee says:

    How mnay consprcy laden books lay waste to parts or the whole of the US and no one bats an eye…I think tis ture…not many people read anymore…. that or complaining about a book being thought prokeing or shocking kinda went out of fashion…

    Until lobbying is a hanging offense I choose anarchy! Stop supporting big media and furthering the criminalization of consumers!!

  10. Sporge says:

    Personally I think these provacative games are often the best ones.  Those that draw emotions simply from its scenery.  It is meant to be a troubling image, but should compel people to want to prevent this from ever happening.  This is supposed to show why we shouldn’t want war.  There has not been a war on US soil for a long time, 9/11 being the only thing in my lifetime I would consider close.  But war itself is extremely destructive, and far too many Americans don’t realize what it is really like.  War is much worse when it is on your own soil.

  11. OzCueball says:

    Incompetence runs deep in America.  Anti-Video Game advotates stand up to titles like GTA IV but fail to see the level of criminal activity already in America today.  Was it all caused by GTA?  No.  Did Hitler need video games to commit mass genocide?  No.  Did Genghis Khan need video games to alter his intensions and slaughter hundreds of people?  No.  The fact is, most people feel that children are going to go out and reinact these sequences they see in the games.  If that were true then the same could easily be said about a child watching a football game.  Through his eyes, to get the ball from the other guy you have to go and tackle ’em real hard and get the ball.  Next thing you know that kid is on the play ground with every ball possible to play with and the other kids are on the ground crying.  

    The point i’m trying to make is people like Jack Thompson (who i’m suprised hasn’t already mentioned something about the trailer) who fight against the game industry, do so because he/they don’t understand the medium, and you always fear what you don’t undertand (batman begins, i know).  As apossed to embrassing new and inovative technology and ideas, they boycott and picket.  We release a movie about D-Day and people rave about it and aplaud it.  But you turn around and a release story just as engaging and thrilling, but set in the U.S., people freak and say it’s going too far.  

    I’ll close with these last thoughts.  If your offended by the sight of a war torn D.C. that’s fine, cause no one is making you play the game.  I feel that eventually technology will be the death of us.  Not like Terminator where machines rise against us, but where technology has gone so far that many will be torn between whats right and wrong.  Things that were once black & white will be an ever bleak smear of grey.  People will revolt for their strong beliefs and the dawning of a 2nd Civil War will be apon us.  This country will tear itself apart and those ever so stricking images of D.C. will become far too real.  I just hope i’m wrong or dead before it happens.      


  12. CyberSkull says:

    Wanna know what the real problem with the trailer is? There are no women soldiers anywhere!

    And you know what? I thought it was cool when the aliens blew up the White House in Independence Day, and I will think it is cool when the White House gets blown up in Modern Warfare 2. No one raised a fuss then, so why now?

  13. DarkSaber says:

    Did anyone?


    I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

  14. Flamespeak says:

    Friggin’ Dante. If he didn’t write that retarded poem then people would still be confused as to what hell is.  Up until that point ‘the lake of fire’ was Gehena, the perpetually burning trash pile outside of Jerusalum where they would also burn the corpses of people that commited suicide or were executed. The Jewish belief was that people would spend a maximum of 11 months waiting in the afterlife to ascend to heaven if their souls were pure. After 11 months the pure parts of their soul went to heaven the rest went back to Earth to try again.

    I have no idea how the whole ‘God will let demons poke you with flaming sticks forever’ mindset started up, but Dante basically made up the common concept of Hell.  I guess you get more converts that way instead of telling them ‘If you don’t join our faith, you will be inconvienced for a couple of months after you die and might have to go through life all over again.’

  15. Flamespeak says:

    Here in the Bible Belt it was rather common to see people straight up refusing to let children see the movies or read the books. The phrase that had most of them uptight was ‘Hogwart’s School for WITCHCRAFT and Wizardry.’  Apparently they thought their kids would be exposed to witchcraft or be convinced to try and learn it to get powers represented in the films and books.

    The only Wizard named Harry that I have any desire to read about goes by the last name of Dresden and not Harry, personally.

  16. DarkSaber says:

    ZOMG call the World Poilce!


    I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

  17. Ryno says:

    Well, I was trying to stay within this decade.


    Saying that Jack Thompson is impotent is an insult to impotent men everywhere. They’ve got a whole assortment of drugs that can cure their condition; Jack, however…

  18. JDKJ says:

    And D.W. Griffiths’ "Birth of a Nation." Although it took about 50 years after its release for the controversy to ensue.

  19. Ryno says:

    For movies there was Birth, I think it was called. The one where Nicole Kidman had sex with a 12-year-old. That got a LOT of flack everywhere, even France and Italy.


    Saying that Jack Thompson is impotent is an insult to impotent men everywhere. They’ve got a whole assortment of drugs that can cure their condition; Jack, however…

  20. Ratros says:

    Remember, its not discrimination when you offend everyone.

    I once had a dream about God. In it, he was looking down upon the planet and the havoc we recked and he said unto us, "Damn Kids get off my lawn!"

  21. chadachada321 says:

    Harry Potter isn’t controversial in the US. It’s controversial for a few religious nutjobs. The vast majority of Americans (or at least, anyone that I interact with save for my ex’s parents, who are religious nutjobs) think that Harry Potter is just a book/movie series. It’s just a book, just as MWII is just a game, and everything else.

    -If an apple a day keeps the doctor away….what happens when a doctor eats an apple?-

  22. vellocet says:

    Well anything by Dan Brown.  Anything my Salman Rushdie.  I could probably name more, but I can’t off the top of my head right now.

    And, why does it have to be recent? Nobody ever dismisses anything in the Bible because it’s "just a book".  

    And I think I have to completely disagree with your last point.  What I was saying is that nobody says that a book is just a book, because they know that there are different types of books.  That they are judged on their content, not their medium.  "Just art" I don’t think that anyone dismisses any message in "art" based on that.

    The point is, that we should never say that "it’s just a game", because it should be judged on it’s content, not it’s medium.  Super Columbine RPG is "just a game", but so it VTech Rampage.  One’s message is to try to understand two disturbed teens, the other is "I did it for lulz". To dismiss them both because they’re "just games" is completely missing the point.

  23. Ratros says:

    I once was told I’d go to hell for reading a fantasy book, I spent two seconds to look up with a smile and say "that’s nice" before going back to better and more interesting things.

    I once had a dream about God. In it, he was looking down upon the planet and the havoc we recked and he said unto us, "Damn Kids get off my lawn!"

  24. Necromancerxd says:

    I make it a habit of ignoring Evangelist. Jehova’s winesses on the other hand. Now they are fun to talk too. Well atleast the one’s i have met.

  25. JDKJ says:

    That wouldn’t explain why he’s a "prick" to the Irish, Scottish, and English, though. I’m more of the school of thought that his prickliness doesn’t recognize national boundaries.

  26. JDKJ says:

    "Harry Potter" isn’t surprising. Anything involving "sorcery" qualifies as a target for the flak guns of the American Christian Right who, I believe, equate it to advocacy of Devil worship. Not even Disney’s "Fantasia" was immune, as I recall. 

  27. DarkSaber says:

    If Harry Potter is "controversial" in the states, it just further reinforces the perception of how ass-backward retarded people are over there. Aside from that non-entity, anything from even thise DECADE?

    EDIT: Then again, here in the UK we are much less retarded when it comes to being ‘offended’ by words on paper, so most of these genuinely aren’t controversial to us. Or even banned.


    I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

  28. E. Zachary Knight says:

    Name the last time a book came out that was TRULY considered controversial.

    Not sure if that is what you would refer to as a TRULY controversial list, but the examples there are just as controversial as Modern Warfare 2 if only addressing other subject matter.

    E. Zachary Knight
    Oklahoma City Chapter of the ECA

    E. Zachary Knight
    Divine Knight Gaming
    Oklahoma Game Development
    Rusty Outlook
    Random Tower
    My Patreon

  29. Geryon says:

    Yes, but those are the creators.  Many people would say "it’s just a movie" not so much because they think that since it’s a movie it isn’t really saying anything but rather as a simple and quick way of disregarding the annoying angry person.  Average people have that luxury, creators don’t.  If we were talking about game developers saying "it’s just a game" then yes the analogy would work, and they frankly should be using that defence if they do, but as people were talking about gamers then the reactions of a movie viewer would be far more appropriate.

  30. olstar18 says:

    Personally I never say its just a game unless its poor quality. I usually respond with a comment about them only hating it because they didn’t grow up with the art form the same way their grandparents hated the music they liked as a kid and just like their grandparents grandparents didn’t like their music.

  31. chadachada321 says:

    I’m pretty sure that the majority of people pass all of those controversies off as "immature" or "stupid." Anyone that’d get pissed at those movies is either retarded, delusional, crazy, or a combination of those. lol. And for all of those, I’d give the same answer, "It’s just a movie."

    -If an apple a day keeps the doctor away….what happens when a doctor eats an apple?-

  32. mdo7 says:

    Oh yeah, thanks for bringing that up.  I remember the Vatican and the whole Christian group attack the book because of claims of inaccuracies in the book and also they said it insult Jesus.  Also, anybody watch The Nostradamus Effect, because there was an episode about Da Vinci can predict a disaster.  I wonder if Dan Brown was aware of that also.  I also like to bring up Harold & Kumar escape from Guantanamo Bay had a small controversey.  I read it that Amnesty International USA hand out fliers at movie theater screenings to promote awareness about the treatment of detainees and said "Guantanamo is no joke".  So yeah, I like to back that up.    



  33. RavenMitah says:

    As someone else already replied, "The Da Vinci Code."  There was also "The Golden Compass" (OMG!  It makes our kids become Aethists!) and of course everything "Harry Potter," whether book or film, even if that one has died down a bit.

    EDIT: And of course HP was mentioned further down, too.  I still got one though.  Not surprising since the controversy didn’t happen until the movie was made, and it sucked, ironically because director completely butchered it in an attempt to not piss off the kind of people who ended up protesting.


  34. DarkSaber says:

    And when was the last time anyone even had to do that?


    I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

  35. Hevach says:

    Actually, when a controversial movie comes out, it’s defended by it’s makers under artistic terms – they argue that critics aren’t understanding the message, aren’t seeing the meaning, or that it simply was for the controversy as a means to force people to question their own values or their pre-held concepts and beliefs.

    They don’t say, "It’s just a movie," because that’s saying it doesn’t matter. And if it doesn’t matter, why defend it? Why care? Why make it to begin with?

  36. DarkSaber says:

    The last time a controversial movie came out, I imagine. The only point you’ve really made there is that it’s been quite some time since ANY movie coming out was considered controversial, whether it was or not.


    I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

  37. Brokenscope says:

    Burnt and Destroyed Eastern European town: Hey! Totally cool with us.

    Arab Towns Reduced to Rubble: Totally Kosher, hell you can even nuke one of those and no one gets to upset.


    That is the basic message of the article, and an attitude that is far to common.

    Hey and lets ignore the narration of the trailer.

    Also, they failed to even do the necessary fact checking to get the name of the game right.

  38. mdo7 says:

    I don’t think they’re aware of that in the first Modern Warfare.  I mean in Modern Warfare 2 in the trailer, where they were going to eletricute and interrogate the bad guys. 

  39. T5 says:

    I’d also tack on the World at War "controversy" in regards to Japan (theres an article on GP somewhere about it)


    Of course though this issue is only an issue to bored protesters and gamers who waste time responding (myself included)

  40. Ryno says:

    Not really true. Books get as much pre-release as games. They go to reviewers, just as games do, get hyped (sometimes even on TV, though very rarely) like games, though in select circles, much like games. So books can be controversial even before they hit retail, we’re just not the ones in those circles, just as they’re not in the gaming ones.

    The only controversial books the general public hears about are tell-all (auto)biographies that air the dirty laundry. Then again those generally fall under the "truth" umbrella rather than art.


    Saying that Jack Thompson is impotent is an insult to impotent men everywhere. They’ve got a whole assortment of drugs that can cure their condition; Jack, however…

  41. Ryno says:

    Not to mention when they nuked part of LA in the previous season.


    Saying that Jack Thompson is impotent is an insult to impotent men everywhere. They’ve got a whole assortment of drugs that can cure their condition; Jack, however…

  42. CodeMonkey76 says:

    Such a load of crap.  ‘Too much’ for a ‘post 9/11-audience’?  Did anyone watch the last season of 24?  They had terrorists taking over the White House, bombs going off in the White House, and they even shot a US Senator.  Don’t give me this ‘too much for a post 9/11 audience’ crap.  

  43. Monte says:

     Y’know part of the problem is that fact that the video game isn’t even out… With books, the controversy usually hits after the books come out at which point everyone with a sense of taste is able to defend the artisitc merits of the book… As such we have no context for the destruction of DC; we can not bring up the artistic defense for the depiction of DC without that context. So really, the most we have until the game comes out is what the developers say (who i do not think have weighed in on this), the "it’s just a game", and explaining why it’s stupid to complain about works of fiction. 

  44. DarkSaber says:

    Name the last time a book came out that was TRULY considered controversial. Or a movie. Bet you can’t. I certainly know movies like Saw or Hostel "get away with it" (for lack of a better phrase) because they are "just movies".

    But when Manhunt 2 came out, it wasn’t "just a game" to the controversy mongers, it was the corruption of all things innocent and the downfall of civilization as we know it. Why? Because the majority of the world still do not accept games as "just games" but they DO accept books as "just books" and comics as "just comics" and art "just art" etc etc ad nauseum.


    I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

  45. vellocet says:

     I went over to that site and read a lot of the comments.  Most of them seem to be along the lines of "it’s just a game".  I don’t think that’s a valid argument.

    If there’s a controversial book out, do people say that "it’s just a book"?  Movies?  If we want to consider our past time as a valid form of art, we have to start defending it as such.  With that said, my argument was:


    The fact that 9/11 brought the reality of destruction on US soil is exactly why this sort of thing exists. Fiction (whatever the medium) tends to reflect the spirit of the time. And 9/11 makes the topic of domestic attacks perfect subject matter for contemporary fiction. Controversial? Probably, but some of the best fiction is.

    EDIT: yes, I know I basically said the same thing as the last comment.


  46. Monte says:

     Yup, the usual double standard of nationalism… it’s ok to destroy a national landmark or kill people as long as it’s not your own, the people who complain about this game would not give a second thought to most any other target… I mean, remember Resistance, it’s depiction of a cathedral in the UK earned the game a lot of controversy in the UK, but i doubt anyone from the states speaking now about WM2 was really saying much back then; and visa versa, i doubt those who complained in the UK would say anything about this game… Really, if these people want to complain, they need to at least drop the double standard and treat everyone in the world with equal treatment instead of giving themselves special treatment. 

    Though then again… considering this is the christian science monitor, it might have had a word on the resistance thing… after all, such double standards apply to religion as well

  47. Canary Wundaboy says:

    Got no issues with buring US cities or dead US citizens.

    Just like I had no issues with burning Arab cities and shooting Arabs in MW2.

    Just like I had no issues with burning German cities and shooting Nazis in WAW.

    Just like I had no issues with burning Japanese villages and shooting Japanese soldiers in WAW.

    I could go on….but basically you arent immune from this just because you were born under the Stars and Stripes people.




    Check out my blog –

  48. mdo7 says:

    As soon as I saw the MW2 trailer showing Washington DC being destroyed, I knew somebody was going to bitch and moan about it.  Looks like my prediction was right.  But I’m glad they fail to connect this game to Fallout 3 since they don’t know anything about video game.

    Can I ask any of you a question.  Remember the first trailer of MW2 had a torture scene in there.  Were any of you worried that somebody would complain and compare that scene to Guantanamo Bay and Abu Gharab?  I was worried at first someone might.  It hasn’t happen yet, but somebody might.

    (cue possible bitching and moaning over the torture scene and comparing it to Guantanamo Bay and Abu Gharab torture in 3…2…1)  

  49. Brokenscope says:

    Don’t worry, there is always one person on GP who makes an ass of him/herself with that exact comment when a CSM article gets linked.

  50. SeanB says:

    "The Christian Science Monitor website"

    I’m sorry, but you lost me the moment you used the word "Christian" and "Science" in the same sentence.

    Dinosaur Adventure Land? The Creation Museum? I dont want to get started.

    EDIT: I see now i may have been a little hasty in my comments, CSM is a religious publication, but it’s not for evangelizing.

  51. vellocet says:

    There is definitely a double standard, but it’s not like gamers help the matter.  Every time there’s controversy with a game, most gamer’s defense is that "it’s just a game".  I don’t remember the last time someone said "it’s just a movie"

  52. black manta says:

    Just goes to show the current double standard in popular entertainment today.  If this were a movie, no one would complain as much or not at all.  Look at the trailers for the upcoming 2012 where you see both D.C. and the Vatican both get destroyed.  No one’s been complaining about that…at least not yet (I’ve noticed the outcry usually comes after the movie’s come out; as if somehow they failed to notice it in the trailers prior to release.)

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