Not what you would’ve expected.
Back before Far Cry 5 released, you probably noticed a number of articles from various games media sites and blogs reflecting on the marketing of the game. How it’d be a game about the state of America, and it’d be a critique of modern conservatives, racism, and religious extremism.
Those people were wrong. Far Cry 5 doesn’t stand as the scathing commentary that so many were hoping it to be, but in a way, it still could be applicable to modern American politics. Just not in the way they thought it would.
What Happened In Hope County?
Looking back through the history of Hope County, based on what can be gleaned from the story, things started going sideways as American politics became more and more partisan. When Ubisoft hinted that it would be linked to the modern political stage, it seemed to be taken that the bad guys would be the epitome of Trump supporters. Instead, I think Ubisoft meant that they’d be setting Far Cry 5 in a divided America, much like the one we know today.
Joseph Seed gained followers by capitalizing on people’s fears. Fears that the world would come crumbling down; that society would break apart. He didn’t foretell events perfectly, but he knew the way things were heading, and he found himself being proven right. By the time the protagonist gets involved, Joseph had carved out a kingdom for himself in Hope County, to the point where the local authorities were afraid of him.
People like Joseph don’t gain power on their own; they’re given that power by their followers. His preaching of doom played on the fears of those who were listening, and while Ubisoft might’ve played heavily on the idea that the cultists were not only brainwashed, but also drugged, it isn’t entirely far-fetched. Many cults have used fear as a means to convince others to join their ranks, and that tactic extends beyond religious extremism too.
Our modern political system seems to operate off of fear. The fear of others, whether our fellow citizens or other nations. Fear of the lack of resources, food, water, or oil. Fear of nuclear war. So many politicians manipulate their constituents with fear. We see attack ads on election years, telling you all the scary thing that the one in the crosshairs of the ad will inevitably do once their gain power. We buy into those attacks because we’re easily scared, and with good reason. We have families, friends, and lives to worry about after all.
Manipulation through fear is what drives partisan politics. Like with arguments on social media, people become entrenched in their beliefs, refusing to give way to opposing viewpoints, regardless of merit. As issues continue to crop up, our politics become more divided. Where before a compromise might have been struck, now we’re treated to stalemates as people refuse to budge on anything. It becomes easy to paint your opponents as enemies, further dividing people.
People like Joseph prey on those fears, and use them to manipulate us. He may have believed what he told folks, but it doesn’t change the fact that he used the division to give himself credibility. If there’s a message to be found in Far Cry 5, it’s that divisive politics serve only to empower the ruthless and power hungry.
It may not have been the political statement that people thought Far Cry 5 would have, but it’s a far more meaningful one in my opinion.
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