A picture being spread across the web has drawn criticism from French military officials. On January 20th Issouf Sanogo from Agence France-Presse was on hand in Mali where French forces are aiding the fractured government in an attempt to stop an Islamist insurgency. While there, he took photos of an unknown soldier wearing a peculiar bandanna as a face mask.
With the mask on, the soldier in the photo bears a striking resemblance to the fictional SAS soldier Ghost from Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2, and it immediately became an internet sensation as gamers swapped the photo on Facebook and Twitter. In response French Colonel Thierry Burkhard responded by saying wearing the mask was “unacceptable behavior” and “not representative of the action that brought France to Mali to help.”
French military officials have not taken action to identify the soldier for disciplinary action. The photographer, however, has expressed no interest in revealing the identity of the soldier. Issouf said of the incident on his blog for AFP:
“I found myself alongside French troops stationed on some wasteland near the Niono prefecture. A helicopter was coming in to land and churning up tremendous dust clouds. Instinctively, all the soldiers grabbed their scarfs to avoid getting a mouthful of sand. It was evening, and rays of sunlight were pushing through the trees and into the dust clouds. It was a lovely light. I spotted this soldier wearing a strange scarf and took the photo. At the time, nothing about the scene seemed especially unusual or shocking. The soldier wasn’t posing and there was nothing staged about the image. He was just standing there, protecting his face from the dust, waiting for the chopper to land. No one tried to stop me shooting the picture.”
Video game’s role in militarism and violence has captivated the news lately. Criticism was drawn to Britain’s Prince Harry saying that video games were useful to his role as a helicopter gunner. The National Rifle Association also asserted that video games play a larger role in school shootings than commercial firearm sales in America, which has rekindled the dormant debate in American politics about the effects of video games on society, culminating with an upcoming House bill to regulate the sale of video games to minors.