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Playing Soldier

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Have you seen the new “Call of Duty: Black Ops” commercial? The violent video game came out this week and the only reason I know anything about it is that my eyes nearly popped out when I saw the ad on tv. Average everyday Americans pretending to fight, strapped with ammo and blasting anything that moves. Hollywood style explosions in the background as what appears to be a short order cook reaches his arms out on either side and fires away indiscriminately.“Call of Duty: Black Ops” took in $360 million in its first 24 hours on sale. Clearly it is far easier and more popular to be entertained by warfare, rather than participate, or sometimes even acknowledge and appreciate those who actually defend our country.

On Veterans Day, I’ve been thinking a lot about this “game”. My husband served 8 years in the Marine Corps, and I waited at home for word he was okay. His first tour of duty was before we had the capability of e-mailing each other, so literally months went by before I was reassured by his words. Thankfully, I was among other military families, so we supported each other through the experience of having loved ones volunteer to lay their lives down for their country.

When I traveled, though, people seemed to be unaware, unaffected and even uninterested. I was once in an airport sitting next to someone who saw coverage of a military mission play on the tv screen suspended over the waiting area seats. He he looked at me, disgusted, and complained “It’s too early in the morning to see that on tv”. Would he rather have seen bubble-gum chewing starlets behaving badly “caught on tape”? Or bubbly tv personalities bantering about the weather? Anything maybe, instead of watching something so disturbing – so raw and real.

So, how is it that our society seems to have an insatiable desire to “play soldier” with shoot-em-up, blood and guts video games?

I won’t be playing violent video games, and I’ve made sure my kids won’t either. I don’t see anything of value in them and I do worry about them becoming de-sensitized to real violence. However, I cannot even stop them from seeing these ads. One friend told me he had to tell his kids to look the other way when one aired in the middle of a football game. Another emailed me to say he was letting his 3 year old son watch “The Littles” on hulu.com while he made breakfast and was shocked to see an ad for “Medal of Honor” (rated 17+) being advertised with a children’s’ cartoon!

Really? We choose to censor Katy Perry wearing a low-cut top on Sesame Street but let them soak in violence with their morning Cheerios? Something’s wrong with this picture.

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