[Marxism] "Invasion of Venezuela Video Game", or "Yet Another Reason to Call Bono a Pretentious, Hypocritical Asshole"

Jeffrey Thomas Piercy, El Pato Comunista mqduck at sonic.net
Fri Jul 14 14:37:46 MDT 2006


http://www.venezuelanalysis.com/articles.php?artno=1770


U2's Bono Backs Videogame with Venezuela Invasion Theme
Thursday, Jul 06, 2006

By: Venezuela Solidarity Network

WASHINGTON D.C. - U2's Bono, well recognized for his campaigns to reduce 
poverty and treat AIDS in Africa is backing a videogame which promotes 
the invasion and destruction of Venezuela in order to check "a power 
hungry tyrant" who has "seized control of Venezuela and her oil supply." 
  Bono has failed to respond to concerns raised by the Venezuelan 
Solidarity Network about his funding of this project.

"Mercenaries 2:  World in Flames," created by Los Angeles based 
Pandemic/Bioware Studios, simulates a mercenary invasion of Venezuela in 
the year 2007. Pandemic is a subcontractor for the US Army and CIA 
funded Institute for Creative Technologies, which uses Hollywood 
techniques to mount war simulations in California's high desert in order 
to conduct military training.  "Mercenaries 2: World in Flames" 
simulates destruction in downtown Caracas, and promises to leave no part 
of Venezuela untouched.

Elevation Partners is an investment firm that Bono helped create in 
order to exploit marketing opportunities between U2 and its fans, 
including projects from Pandemic/Bioware Studios.  Pandemic states that 
as a partner in Elevation Partners, Bono "has visibility into all 
projects at Pandemic and Bioware."

Pandemic's target market is young men of military recruitment age and 
indeed this is not Pandemic's first military adventure.  MSNBC reported 
that the videogame “’Full Spectrum Warrior’ was created through the 
Institute for Creative Technologies in Marina Del Rey, Calif., a $45 
million endeavor formed by the Army five years ago to connect academics 
with local entertainment and video game industries.  The institute 
subcontracted work to Los Angeles based Pandemic Studios." 
(http://msnbc.msn.com/id/3131181#storyContinued)

One cannot escape the irony that today, July 5, Venezuela celebrates its 
independence -- just one day after the US celebrated its own.  The most 
enduring aspect of an independent country is assertion of its 
sovereignty and demand that the world recognize international laws 
protecting that sovereignty.  Yet, amid relentless US threats against 
Venezuela, a US-based company, Pandemic, which collaborates with the US 
Army to promote war, plans to market a videogame which advocates a most 
violent violation of Venezuela’s sovereignty.

Although Bono remains silent on the matter and Pandemic insists that 
"Mercenaries 2: World in Flames" is "a work of fictional entertainment" 
and "Venezuela was chosen for the setting of Mercenaries 2 (because it) 
is a fascinating and colorful country full of wonderful architecture, 
geography and culture," members of the Venezuela Solidarity Network are 
appalled by the game's openly racist, interventionist attitude.  Says 
Chuck Kaufman, of Alliance for Global Justice, "if it's 'just a game' 
and it's all about selecting fascinating and colorful locales, why 
didn't Pandemic select Dublin or Washington, D.C.?  Because people would 
be outraged, that's why.  Pandemic is simply capitalizing on negative 
and inaccurate U.S. press stories about Venezuela and its leader, Hugo 
Chavez, in order to make a quick buck.  It's another piece of 
anti-Venezuelan propaganda that serves only the U.S. military, pure and 
simple."

Gunnar Gundersen of the Oregon Bolivarian Circle says, "We have family 
and friends in Venezuela and many of us have walked and stayed in the 
places featured in the war game.  To us, these are not just clever 
abstract pictures.  They are scenes of a place we consider our second 
home.  Please try to imagine how Venezuelans must feel viewing a bulky, 
blonde, military man laying waste to their country, a country that is 
finally rising above a 500-year history of oppression and exploitation 
by foreign powers."

The Venezuelan Solidarity Network calls for Bono, who has appealed to 
the world on many occasions for peace and poverty reduction, to apply 
those same values to block the manufacture and distribution of this 
videogame.

For more information contact: Shirley Pate at +1-202-277-8252

Fact Sheet on Mercenaries 2 (PDF File)

Letter from Chuck Kaufman, Actions/Emergency Response Committee:

Bono (of U2) c/o Principle Management 250 West 57th Street New York, New 
York 10019

Dear Bono,

On the “Hearts & Minds” page of your website, you open with an appeal to 
others with a quote from Mahatma Gandhi, “We must become the change we 
want to see in the world.” Your appeal goes on to highlight the many 
philanthropic efforts of U2 over the years. These have included benefit 
concerts and other worldwide campaigns for issues such as human rights, 
sustainability, debt reduction, AIDS, poverty, disease, militarism, and 
political oppression.

Given this background, many people around the world have been shocked to 
find out that you are a part owner, through Elevation Partners, of 
Pandemic/Bioware, producers of “Mercenaries 2”.

As you must know, “Mercenaries 2” is a war game that simulates the 
invasion of Venezuela in the year 2007. Of course, at this point, we 
have only been able to see the web-based sample of the game. However, 
even this is enough to see that the game is designed to demean the 
Venezuelan people, to undermine the democratically elected government of 
Venezuela, and to strike fear in the hearts of ordinary Venezuelan 
citizens who, through this game, can witness their very neighborhoods, 
villages, and capital being blown up and their virtual selves being 
massacred by a band of marauding mercenaries, who are clearly working 
for foreign interests who want to take control of the country’s oil 
industry. Please note that in one of the scenes in downtown Caracas one 
of the buildings being blown up belongs to the state-owned Petroleos de 
Venezuela. This building is amongst a group of easily recognizable 
residential buildings, in which it is presumed thousands of innocent 
people are being burned alive. You may also want to note that this oil 
company (PDVSA), which owns CITGO, is the only oil company to offer 
discounted heating oil to residents of poor neighborhoods in the United 
States.

We have family and friends in Venezuela and many of us have walked and 
stayed in the places featured in the war game. To us, these are not just 
clever abstract pictures. They are scenes of a place we consider our 
second home. Please try to imagine how Venezuelans must feel viewing a 
bulky, blonde, military man laying waste to their country, a country 
that is finally rising above a 500-year history of oppression and 
exploitation by foreign powers. To them, this game is simply another 
sign of the racist, interventionist, arrogant, and uncaring attitude of 
the United States and Europe toward Venezuela.

Clearly, this issue goes beyond Venezuela. As you know, your company, 
Pandemic, has developed video games with military applications for the 
Pentagon and the CIA. “Full Spectrum Warrior” is one example of this. 
“Mercenaries 2” is obviously an offshoot of this Pentagon/CIA funded 
development. Here is a web reference about this: 
http://msnbc.msn.com/id/3131181#storyContinued.

In addition to the concerns we have expressed, it seems that you would 
want to give some consideration to how this “game” will be received by 
people in Venezuela, Latin America, and throughout the world. We can 
only imagine that the general impression will be very negative and this 
negativity will reflect on you and on U2. Is there any “upside” to the 
release of this game, other than some shortterm profits in the U.S. and 
European markets?

Potentially, all of the work you have done for the causes mentioned on 
your “Hearts & Minds” page could suffer because of your association and 
ownership of this game. One would think that you might also give 
consideration to how this video game, like many others, may be used as a 
recruiting tool. The game is targeted to teenage and 20-something males, 
the same target market for military recruiting. Bono, are you now 
joining the recruiting efforts of the U.S. military?

In addition to impressionable young people who may be stimulated by this 
to join the military or become mercenaries, it is clear that another 
side effect of such a game is that it contributes to the process of 
desensitizing people to the horrific violence of war. In the case of 
“Mercenaries 2,” it also could help people rationalize the invasion of 
countries by the United States and its allies for the sake of 
controlling natural resources. Given your “public persona,” it is hard 
to imagine that you think this is a good thing.

We realize that for you this may seem like a smart investment and you 
may not even be aware of the nature of this video game. That said, on 
behalf of reasonable people everywhere, we appeal to you to re-think 
your association with this game and your ownership of this company. 
Please take steps to stop the release of this game.

Our hope, and that of many, is that you will do the right thing and stop 
the release of this virtual rape and devastation of a small, developing 
country. Would you see fit to release a version of this game set in 
South Africa, Haiti, or Ireland?

If that would be objectionable to you, then why are you singling out 
Venezuela? One can only conclude that there are motives beyond the 
immediate profit that may be gained by selling the game. Thank you for 
your attention to this matter and we would appreciate a response.

Sincerely, Chuck Kaufman Actions/Emergency Response Committee




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