Welcome to 2017, when you can track the steady, civilization-sinking-into-the-mud decline of American politics by the number of people angrily shouting, “Hey, what gives?!” about a video game where you take back America from actual, genocidal Nazis. That’s the reaction that’s met the trailer for Bethesda’s latest shooter, Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus today, with YouTube comments and 4chan posts filling up with people protesting the game for its “anti-white” politics, which involve such offenses as suggesting that the KKK and Nazis might have gotten along—given their shared mutual interests—and having a black character call the hero “white boy.”
Because this is the internet—a melting pot of ideas, irony, and creative expression that now seems increasingly like a mistake—the comments on the trailer have now descended into a mix of “Hey, get a look at these comments,” people calling each other snowflakes, and actual vitriol and right-wing memes. A number of people have logged on to suggest, for instance, that the Nazi-controlled America—full of happy, cheering white people and absolutely no minorities—shown in the trailer seems like a pretty nice place to live, while others are angry that Nazi-slaughtering protagonist B.J. Blazkowicz teams up with communists in his efforts to start a new American revolution. Many are decrying the game’s designers for “politicizing” Nazi murder or trying to push a particular political viewpoint, an argument that falls a little flat when applied to a series that once asked players to bust out of a literal Nazi labor camp in a robotic golem powered by Jewish science magic.
In the age of Trump, creating and marketing a video game that lets you run around in America and kill Nazis is just the marketplace talking to the consumer. In the words of the immortal Jello Biafra, Nazi Punks Fuck Off.