Call of Duty seems to be getting a lot of flak from the press these days. Photographers Issouf Sanogo of the Agence France-Presse and Yann Foreix of Le Parisien stumbled across a French soldier in northern Mali who was sporting a bandana over his face with a skeleton face, made to resemble the Ghost character from the Call of Duty games. While you can’t fault a soldier for wearing a cool bandana, well, apparently the French military can.
Col. Thierry Burkhard stated, “This is unacceptable behavior. This image is not representative of action by France in Mali.” If you’re not up to date on what’s going on in Mali, the French military is currently trying to take the area away from Al-Qaida soldiers. The goal of the action as stated by the defense minister of France is “total reconquest of Mali.”
Sanogo, the photographer who took the picture which is making waves around the internet, pointed out that he didn’t see anything strange about the image when he took it. “Rays of light filtered through the trees and the clouds were lifted by the helicopter. It was a pretty light. I saw the soldier wearing an odd bandana and I took the photo. At the moment I didn’t find it particularly extraordinary or shocking. The soldier wasn’t posing.”
It’s interesting and strange that something as simple as a soldier wearing a Call of Duty bandana would cause so much controversy. And we would argue it’s perfectly representative of any military action. Even a soldier on a mission of liberation is also on a mission of death. Otherwise he wouldn’t be carrying an assault rifle. It’s interesting that the image of a soldier with a rifle wouldn’t bug the French military, but an image of a soldier who looks like a skeleton would. Both are images of death and destruction, which is a price paid in any war.