War is Peace – The US Army Twitch Stream is an Ethical Problem

After a very contentious series of events, the U.S. Army is heading back to Twitch to do what people normally do on the platform: stream footage of some random guy who’s talking while playing a game. Outside of a now-failed attempt by New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to ban the military from Twitch, it turns out that there is no technical reason why the government organization can’t use the popular game-streaming site. For all intents and purposes, Twitch is treated the same as any other social-media platform when it comes to interacting with the public.

Of course, this wouldn’t be the first time that the U.S. military got involved in the entertainment business. A Freedom of Information Act request in 2013 revealed that the military was involved in the production of dozens of films since the early 1900s. There is little doubt that some of these films received such assistance in exchange for making the military look good to the general public. Top Gun for example had very pro-military themes, and it apparently did boost Naval Aviator recruitment numbers by some 500%. In fact, the Department of Defense called the military entertainment complex a mutually beneficial arrangement.

On the other hand, it seems implausible that anyone would want to join up because of Transformers. Quality of the movies aside, getting steamrolled by giant alien robots doesn’t seem very appealing. It’s also likely that some films simply needed access to historical records or other research materials. Films based on World War II or the Space Race would qualify as being research intensive, and thus they would need access to official government information. In such cases, the cooperation between Hollywood and the military could be seen as incidental. 

Regardless of whether it’s beneficial, the military isn’t beyond inserting themselves into all facets of American culture. Jingoistic displays at major sporting events, recruitment officers at high schools and colleges, countless ads on all forms of media, the list goes on. That this would expand to modern media, social or otherwise, is an inevitability. Case in point, the U.S. Army, Navy, Marines, and Air Force have esports teams and associated Twitter accounts that at one point posted “UwU,” which is definitely where things got a little too surreal.

army twitter uwu
Soooo, maybe the creation of Twitter was a mistake.

This invasion of culture (unsurprisingly) extends to games as well. Long before Twitch existed, there was a game series that was literally called America’s Army. As you may have guessed, it was developed and published by the U.S. Army. Even when there isn’t a direct link between the U.S. military and game developers, there’s still decidedly pro-war and or pro-U.S. military themes in games. Modern iterations of Call of Duty are likely the biggest offender, with almost every single-player campaign playing out like…

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