10/18/2004

The medium is the message

Over the weekend, my husband was playing "Call of Duty." As an aside, that game has killer graphics but a discussion on visual effects is not the purpose of my post.

I was intrigued by a particular feature of the game. In between levels, quotes from famous people are displayed. A portion of Winston Churchill's "We shall fight them on the beaches" speech was given, as was a particularly good quote on war by John Stuart Mill (it has since become my signature). There were others, but those are the two currently impressed on my mind.

I began thinking about Marshall McLuhan's work "The Medium is the Message" this morning. What message do games like "Call of Duty" give us? More importantly, what do they say about our society? Many people of my generation, and especially my younger brother's generation, express a very strong anti-war sentiment. It is interesting to me however, that games like "Call of Duty" are always enormously popular. Movies like "Saving Private Ryan" and "Schindler's List," although very difficult to watch, are also popular. World War Two has been impressed on the societal consciousness as a pivotal point in our history, and with good reason.

And yet, as my husband and I were discussing last night, prior to the war, most people wanted to let Germany be. There was enormous pressure for Britain to disarm... and ironically, she did, much to her detriment later on! How is it that people assume that, were WWII to happen again, we would be able to fight as bravely as our grandparents? There is certainly that underlying hope that we would be as brave, but with the anti-war and peace at any price point of view being embraced so widely, how could we be sure?

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