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Tyler Wertsch. Still Fighting with Echoes and Ghosts: Collective Memory, National Identity..."

Tyler Wertsch. Still Fighting with Echoes and Ghosts: Collective Memory, National Identity and the New Frontier of Popular American Films and Video Games


Historically, memory studies has had a fruitful relationship with cinema. However, one area that has been neglected by memory scholars until very recently is popular video games, many of which (like the Call of Duty franchise) regularly outsell even the most popular films. This paper explores the ways heavily consumed American popular media (popular films, video games) help to both create and meet the demands of a mnemonic community, particularly with regards to American national memory and collective existential anxieties. More specifically, there has been a pattern of resuscitating Cold War anxieties (i.e. anti-Russian) for use as generic narratives in many American popular media texts, despite there being no recognizable historical base for such stories. The production of such texts taps into American collective memory and raises demand for more such texts, resulting in a mnemonically-aided feedback loop with potentially dangerous political and ideological repercussions.

Keywords: Memory, collective memory, memory studies, video games, games studies, Call of Duty, film studies, cinema, memory industry, America, Russia, violence, narrative, consumption studies

Authot Bio: Tyler Wertsch is a PhD student in the American Culture Studies Program at Bowling Green State University in the United States. His primary research interests are the intersections between collective memory, war/trauma, and popular media (primarily video games and film).


To be human is to be bound by the story, and this study will highlight ways in which contemporary video games, films, and televisions shows target unconscious American attitudes toward former Cold War enemies, and are crafted for maximum consumption by American audiences. While there is a very real and growing danger of Islamophobia in American media and politics, this study will focus on modern portrayals of former Cold War enemies to the United States precisely because of the anachronistic nature of such narratives. While there are arguably more contemporary and exigent threats to American identity, such as so-called “radical Islam,” fraught diplomatic ties with Iran, and terrorism, there seems to be a stubborn market for Cold War antagonists, particularly in digital games. My goals are threefold: to cite memory theory applicable to media analysis of how these stories change over time; propose new tools to use in such analyses; and identify recycled collective narratives that are used as mnemonic triggers for American audiences.

Human identity is a multifaceted notion, but here I will approach it in terms of the many narratives to which we owe allegiance. Indeed, as Alisdair MacIntyre states in his seminal work After Virtue, a more complete answer to the common anxiety “who am I?” can often be found in answering the question “of which stories am I a part?” (216). In response to the difficulty of such an undertaking, the highly compact metaphors of marketable narratives are useful tools. When examining these narratives, it is critical to dissect which patterns are most prevalent, what specific forms of media these narratives occupy, and how these modes of entertainment are delivered to consumers. In a country where citizens annually spend more than $13 billion on video games[1] and $11 billion on films[2], interactive digital games and popular films have become serious entry points for investigation into cultural anthropology, the semiotics of mass communication, and, now, collective memory.

I use American media forms as the focus of this exploration of memory because they are, by their very nature, experiments in experiencing or re-experiencing a frozen slice of memory, a fantasy that resonates with us, or enacts some form of wish-fulfillment. Popular media forms are an especially useful phenomenon in that they need to not only present a story in a compelling manner but also do so in such a way as to cast the widest possible net for consumers. The end result is a particular sub-genre of media that attempts to be universally appealing, and thus must address the highest possible number of mnemonic triggers in order to achieve high cultural saliency, thereby selling the highest possible number of units containing these narrative structures. In effect, in order to appeal to a large American audience, films and games need to cash in on commonly shared anxieties, as well as present material that is different enough to be received as “new” while formulaic enough to be recognizable and consumable. This process can be perilous, however, as the push for higher profit margins causes producers to call upon more and more visceral mnemonic signifiers. Frequently these media forms compartmentalize groups and motivations to a level that occludes the “real experience” of the group, a phenomenon that Amartya Sen labels in his book Identity and Violence “the miniaturization of identity.”

Theoretical Framework

In studying collective memory, scholars must confront the reality that human memory is a profoundly imperfect tool; in fact, this is the very reason why memory is a fascinating field of study- we remember differently as imagined communities because we need to do so, resulting in the phenomenon Eviatar Zerubavel labeled the “mnemonic community.” Human memory does not function as a photograph or chronicling of events. Rather, we link events by imposing narrative value onto historical events, adding and editorializing motivations, philosophies, and denouement. Historiographers call this phenomenon “emplotment,” though many in memory studies use the term “narrativization.”

In American media, narrativization is pervasive. There are readily identifiable, highly marketable narratives that retain high mnemonic saliency in the American mnemonic community, and these narratives make for compelling products. Although collective memory theory is involved in this exploration, the act of repurposing media to have a more powerful impact on audiences is not inherently or directly an act of remembering. The stories and their film adaptations are, of course, fiction. That fiction, however, is grounded in the mnemonic realities of the consumer base—in effect, we are “remembering” events that have not occurred through the diaphanous metaphor of a popular narrative. In order to understand the salience of these narratives, however, we must first investigate a model of memory for dealing with repeatable and reproducable shared cultural tools.

When considering collective memory, it is essential to observe memory structures not as monolithic, but as part of a multivoiced conglomeration of identity and ideology. In effect, no single psychological, narrative, political, or philosophical account can be held as wholly representative of a collective; rather, these memory structures represent varying patterns in the collective. The origin and longevity of these patterns is a topic of some debate, though for the purposes of this study I will employ generational memory theory as presented by Jürgen Reulecke. Reulecke posits that there are mnemonic “generations” bound together by shared experience, a process he calls “generationality.” An example for Americans might be the shared memory of the Vietnam War, which, though involving millions of people in numerous capacities, left an indelible mnemonic mark upon its observers. That shared generationalty cannot be directly passed on, of course, as those born after the war’s end could not, by definition, have observed or participated, though this particular bolus of collective memory can be ideologically transferred to a younger generation—a process Reulecke calls “generativity.” Thus, while many Americans were not alive to participate in the war itself, many still hold abstract mnemonic conceptions about what that war meant and how it felt, a set of interpretations that are unique to particular mnemonic communities. Through generativity, we can collectively remember that which we were not alive to witness, and through this process collective memory is given mobility to traverse generational gaps. This is not an especially new concept in psychology as a study, of course, as texts like Freud’s Totem and Taboo explored the potential inheritance of neurosis in some detail. The importance for this phenomenon in memory studies, however, is that mnemonic narratives or parts of narratives can survive the extinction of direct remembering, allowing mnemonic salience to exist long after the event has passed. Indeed, there are a variety of methods by which memory, through the process of generativity, is attached to the larger shared consciousness of national identity.

Furthermore, memory, as discussed in Carol Gluck’s theory of chronopolitics, or the response of mnemonic forces to realign due to later societal need, as explored in her article “Operations of Memory: ‘Comfort Women’ and the World”, is an immensely powerful factor in forming structured identities for ourselves and our groups. Gluck asserts that memory is a plastic and protean collection of perceptions subject to existential requirement and national anxiety rather than adherent to the antiseptic retelling of chronicled events. Essentially, when we evaluate memory we perform a complex (but usually subliminal) mental calculus by which we determine the usability of a memory based on its relevance to our identity as a group and the placement of that group in the context of other mnemonic communities. This process is quite common, and our ability to measure the past through memory truthfully and objectively is often not questioned, especially in the context of presenting historical or mnemonic ideology in fictional narratives designed for American entertainment and consumption. This tension in the use of memory as both a cultural identity marker and a cultural tool for recounting events is at the heart of this investigation. For many of the following media examples the concept of American exceptionalism is ubiquitous, building on a long mythology of American historical heroes acting on behalf of morally superior American ideological values. In the broadest possible terms, these stories, which I call “generic narratives,” access American mnemonic anxieties across chronopolitical shifts, reinforcing the legitimacy of American interests while simultaneously reframing classic political antagonists as worthy of the role of villain.

Generally speaking, generic narratives can be viewed as cultural tools for mnemonic rationalization. These tools nearly always have the purpose of supporting the hegemony of the mnemonic communities in question, resulting in a reflexive phenomenon I call “defensive narrative structures.” The defensiveness of these narrative structures cannot be overstated—in his book Cultures of War, historian John Dower explores the phenomenon of defensive historiography in the ways Americans immediately linked 9/11 with Pearl Harbor, and presented both as cowardly surprise attacks without cause or rationale. The invasion of Iraq was similarly construed in the popular American imagination as an action that needed to be taken preemptively in order for a longer, most stable peace to be attained. In addition to the persistence of defensive structures in collective memory, there also seems to be a certain inertia with targets of violence in both consumed media and active remembering. Targets of violence often assume the role of a previous enemy of the mnemonic community, resulting in a confrontation that is both mnemonically salient and presents the veneer of being “fresh,” allowing us to relive shared mnemonic trauma while exploring new imagined spaces. In order to analyze the many examples of defensive narrative structures and identify their salient barbs in shared mnemonic experience, I propose two generic narratives for dissecting American popular media.

Defensive/Invasion Narrative Structures and Generic Narratives

American popular media is rife with defensive narrative structures- an example might be seen in the implausible but commercially successful narrative of foreign (specifically communist) forces invading and occupying mainland U.S. territory. The 1984 film Red Dawn, for instance, accessed American anxieties of Soviet invasion while simultaneously, through mnemonic generativity, comparing the conflict to that of the American War of Independence. Interestingly, this same concept was recycled in the 2012 remake, although the enemies of this later film, while still communist, represented a more modern anxiety in the form of North Koreans. The very premise of these films is both logically and logistically ridiculous- there could be no reasonable air or naval support for either campaign depicted, nor could the enemy forces hope to hold these areas without strong materiel support; the whole fiction is easily dismissible as a masculine fantasy and wish fulfilment. The fact remains, however, that both films were greenlit by major production studios, signed major actors, and managed to turn a significant profit in both cases, suggesting a kind of chronopolitical immediacy for the projects. What is most notable about this example, however, is that despite an updated enemy to match modern geopolitical landscapes, the antagonistic group was still a relic of the Cold War, an identity that may help target specific American cultural anxieties of nationhood being subsumed by another state actor.

The same basic premise of the 2012 Red Dawn remake was used in the 2011 video game Homefront and its 2016 sequel/reboot Homefront: The Revolution, each of which sold over two million units. Both games focused heavily on the “revolutionary spirit” of guerilla resistance, with frequent in-game allusions to War for American Independence heroes such as George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Paul Revere, and Samuel Adams. Through generationality, the game proposes a kind of mnemonic double-vision—we interpret the events of this fictional invasion through the lens of an older conflict, resulting in a net reinforcement of defensive narrative structures and American exceptionalism.

As such, these media examples provide a sort of triangulation for a generic narrative for American defensive narrative structures, the “Rebuffing of Invaders” narrative[3]:

  1. An initial setting in which America is peaceful and not interfering with others (pursuing justice and sustainable security)

  2. A foreign enemy attacks without (sufficient) provocation

  3. America is surprised, but stoic, taking many (civilian and illegal) losses

  4. Through heroism and exceptionalism, Americans fight back, resolving the threat by force/ingenuity, typically through individual paragons or actors.

Aside from the War of 1812 and a few scattered islands occupied by Imperial Japanese forces in WWII (neither of which are the subject of much remembrance in America today), there is no historical precedent for this generic narrative. Rather, this form of storytelling is a cultural tool designed to assuage anxieties regarding the perceived frailty of American national identity or as a stand-in metaphor for economic or ideological concerns. It should also be noted that the Rebuffing of Invaders generic narrative has a higher emphasis on the natural morality of the United States, since in order to fit the profile an invading enemy must be guilty of some type of abuse or war crime, as demonstrated in Red Dawn and Homefront by North Korean military violence towards civilians and prisoners of war. The American generic narrative cites the ingenuity, courage, and competence of individual actors, narrowing exceptionalism to a few choice paragons, functionally becoming, in the words of Guy Westwell in his book War Cinema: Hollywood on the Front Line “entangled with the audience’s own nationalist fervor,” (11).

The power and draw of this narrative can be more directly observed by comparing the 2013 films Olympus has Fallen (OHF) and White House Down (WHD). Both films depict a besieged Whitehouse with a president trapped inside and only a skilled sole actor to turn the tide of the situation. The thematic foci of the films are somewhat different, however. While OHF tells the story of a North Korean sneak attack on the president and cabinet members in order to attain nuclear launch codes, WHD’s conflict deals with a corrupt vice president and his immoral use of contractors and private military companies in warzones, effectively making him a face for neoliberal military industrial policy. Both films presented the same draw: an action-packed romp through the White House, the protagonist violently dispatching faceless opposition in an attempt to preserve the integrity of the American government. The films were received quite differently, however. OHF, with a budget of $70 million, took in nearly $99 million at the box office, while WHD, with a budget of $150 million took in only $73 million, a contrast made more startling by WHD’s PG-13 rating (a rating that is historically the most profitable in mainstream cinema and typically earns twice as much others, such as PG or R) as opposed to OHF’s R rating. Interestingly, in foreign markets, OHF did not perform as well, netting only $62 million, while WHD netted a staggering $132 million, suggesting that these slightly different film premises are inversely salient in their domestic and international markets. In his E-International Relations article, “International Relations on Screen: Hollywood’s History of American Foreign Policy”, Ian Scott attributes OHF’s domestic success to its reaffirmation of aggressive American foreign policy values and the spectacularly uncomplicated nature of its “America vs. foreign threat” plot.

The realm of video games helps to reinforce Scott’s point, particularly in the genre of military First Person Shooter (FPS) action games. The Call of Duty series is the best-selling FPS game series in the world, and the highest grossing story arc of the series (the Modern Warfare trilogy, which collectively sold over 73 million units and generated over $6 billion in revenue) focuses on a future conflict between Russia and the United States in which (predictably) American soil is invaded and occupied by Russian Federation troops. In fact, the series is quite revealing in that it accesses a series of American fears, anxieties, and misconceptions in a package that is violent, cathartic, and wish-fulfilling. In his 2010 article, “‘Invading Your Hearts and Minds’: Call of Duty® and the (Re)Writing of Militarism in U.S. Digital Games and Popular Culture”, Frederick Gagnon explores this very topic, stating that

The Call of Duty series elicit consent for the U.S. military, militarism and the wars waged by the U.S. and its allies abroad. [W]e start from the assumption that digital games are more than “kid’s games”; they are sophisticated vehicles inhabiting and disseminating specific ideologies (Leonard 2004). Accordingly, our goal is to conduct a content analysis (Sisler 2008) of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 to show how these games contain images and narratives that (1) resonate with and reinforce a tabloid imaginary of post-9/11 geopolitics (Debrix 2008); (2) glorify military power and elicit consent for the idea that state violence and wars are inevitable; and (3) encourage our myopia by depicting a sanitized vision of war and downplaying the negative consequences of state violence (Stahl 2006).

The single-player story of the Modern Warfare series, released between 2007 and 2011, contains a number of cultural constructions that highlight the dearth of American geopolitical fluency and act as a generative tool for American mnemonic communities. The games do hit the mark with regards to the intended (read: American) audience in its focus on preventative military action, a Russian invasion of Washington D.C., and a less than glamorous presentation of Russian wartime politics[4]. The games’ numbers set continuously higher records for release day sales, and the game still has massive political and cultural sway, perhaps even tipping the scales of policy decisions in the modern era, despite derision cast at such statements by many international relations specialists. Johan Hoglund, in his 2014 article “IR and the Future Wars of First-Person Military Shooters”, claimed that games are in fact a highly valuable tool in stimulating and gauging public understanding and ideology, stating

Central IR players such as the [Department of Defense] are deeply involved in the production of popular culture, and popular culture clearly informs the rhetoric of international politics. Even if [international relations experts] decide to disregard popular culture and the first-person military shooter, this genre will not disregard [international relations]. With the advent of proleptic military war gaming, popular culture will not cease to define and resolve current IR issues. In the process, these issues are commodified for a generation that is moving away from the traditional media forms where conventional IR debate typically takes place. IR ignores this development at its peril.

The proposed threat of invasion by former Cold War enemies is an alarmingly prevalent pattern in American popular media, all the more so considering the relative lack of academic research. While such media forms allow for escapism and power fantasy, they simultaneously access deeply held national anxieties and salient mnemonic trauma, creating the need for more such media to assuage the artificially constructed anxiety. This system creates a feedback loop that, while highly profitable, enables baseless narrative structures to influence American perceptions of modern geopolitics, as well as provide templates to outside observers that artificially represent how Americans perceive the rest of the world.

To this effect, the Call of Duty franchise, like many military shooter games, adheres to specific mechanics of narrative and design that some scholars take to be representative and reinforcing of hegemonic modes of control. Kevin Schut, for example, in his 2007 article “Strategic Simulations of Our Past: The Bias of Computer Games in the Presentation of History,” claims that many games, military shooters in particular, function in a predictable and expected bias. Schut argues that many games reproduce a stereotypically masculine view of history in which white men are the primary actors and agents of unilateral change, present history as a “clear chain cause and effect,” and reduce sprawling and complex processes of history to comparatively small spaces of extremely violent interaction (223). While games can be interesting and immersive supplements for historical education and exposure, they are not and should not be replacements for critical, multivoiced, and comprehensive explorations and investigations of history. Of interest in Schut’s, work, like the concerns raised by Hoglund and Gagnon, are the genre and medium-typical celebrations of ethnonational force and underlying imperialist narratives that are uncomfortably common in American military shooters. The genre of military shooters, then, seems to be fruitful ground for mnemonic schemas to take root, both in the way American political ideology can be presented as an interactive activity mediated by fictional violence and as the reaffirmation of official memory structures through said processes. Tracing the path of the Call of Duty series from less violent and more stable memory structures in WWII to more violent and less stable memory structures of the Cold War to imaginings of conflict in the near future can help illuminate this process.

Sleeper Agent Generic Narratives

The second generic narrative I wish to propose in this study deals with the anxiety of enemies already within the border of the United States. Films like 2014’s Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, for example, present a scenario in which foreign nationals enters the United States under false pretenses and use their position to wreak havoc on unsuspecting Americans and catastrophically damage the American economy, like a modern iteration of the Trojan Horse. This generic narrative preys on several potent American fears that are somewhat more present and exigent than those seen in the Rebuffing of Enemies. Certainly, immigration has consistently been an arena of fiery debate in American political history, particularly with the dual focus on undocumented immigrants moving to the United States and the separate and perhaps more distressing concern over terrorist attacks committed by immigrants, both of which have been highly present in the national zeitgeist for the last several decades. These fears coalesce into the “Betrayal from Within” narrative:

  1. Person or group welcomed in good faith

  2. Person/group has ulterior, ultimately un-American agenda, hides among us

  3. Person/group springs surprise/cowardly attack on target

  4. Through heroism and exceptionalism, Americans fight back, resolving threat by force/ingenuity (focus on sole actors)

This generic narrative too appears in popular American media with disturbing frequency, often in the company of other, overlapping narratives, such as the case of Olympus Has Fallen, in which a North Korean infiltration team, masked as South Koreans, infiltrates the White House. The concept of the Russian sleeper agent, as seen in Jack Ryan Shadow Recruit, can also be observed in such films as 2010’s Salt, in which a Russian sleeper agent program infiltrates the CIA and attempts to frame the United States by launching nuclear weapons at Tehran and Mecca.

Salt provides a particularly interesting telling of this pattern, as the plot to turn the world’s Muslims against America is halted by another Russian sleeper agent (the eponymous Agent Salt), who, through her relationship with her American husband and betrayal of her fellow Russian sleeper agents, subverts the plot and saves America from certain war. In this film, we see that even foreign provocateurs can be swayed by American values, not the least of which (compared to her fellow sleeper cells) are honesty and love. In addition, the possible threat of war between the United States and the Islamic world was not generated by American interests, but rather a conspiracy that exculpated domestic audiences from guilt. Angelina Jolie’s character, Salt, similarly functions as a anodyne for shared anxiety by functioning as a vehicle for vengeance and justice against those who dared try to infiltrate the United States. This particular filmic formula works on several levels, accessing the post-9/11 generational fear of internal threats destroying American values while shifting chronopolitical focus away from Islamic terrorism to the older, generative anxieties of Soviet infiltration. In effect, Salt, works as an imperfect metaphor, allowing inchoate fears to be transferred to a villainous force that, while recognizably archaic, still carries mnemonically atavistic terror.

The primal fear of being unable to trust fellow Americans is a compelling narrative tool that is hardly new to cinema, as seen in earlier iterations of similar plots, such as 1956’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers and 1962’s The Manchurian Candidate. Modern retellings of these stories, while frequently subject to chronopolitical forces of rewriting (the 2004 Manchurian Candidate remake substituted the 1962 film’s communist plot for a neoliberal corporate one), still exist in a political climate of recursive anti-Russian fear. In his book, Screen Enemies of the American Way, Fraser A. Sherman cited this phenomenon with a 2008 quote from then-presidential candidate John McCain, who said of the Russo-Georgia War, “We have reached a crisis, the first probably serious international crisis since the end of the Cold War,” which Sherman calls “Quite a statement for a period that included Bosnia, the first Gulf War, 9/11, and the occupation of Iraq,” (87). It seems that even in our political discourse, the Russian threat seems to loom overlarge in the American view.

While films like Salt and Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit offer mild escapism and entertainment, they also reflect a narrative fixation on a generic narrative with dangerous real-world correlations. The political consequences of these narratives are to strip attackers of their American identity in public discourse as to better excoriate them as “Other,” as seen in the case of the San Bernardino shooters (one of whom was a U.S.-born citizen), the Orlando Pulse Nightclub shooter (also a citizen born in the United States), and the Boston Marathon bombers (both of whom were naturalized U.S. citizens). In all three cases, American media sources distanced the perpetrators from their American citizenship, stoking fear and outrage that they had abused America’s noblesse oblige, despite the fact that in two of the three incidents the actors were U.S. natives. While there are of course no direct ties between infiltration thrillers and these acts of domestic terrorism, the repeated exposure Americans receive to the Betrayal from Within generic narrative serves to keep such anxieties highly present, even through the use of a separate category of villain.


The use of generic narratives that specifically target American anxieties is a marketing technique that, while lucrative in the extreme, presents several serious dangers. First and foremost, we can observe the Thomas Theorem (“if men define situations as real, they are real in their consequences”) in effect with real and terrifying political consequences. The use of torture in interrogations, which 58% of Americans still view as legitimate[5], is largely supported by visual media, such as the 2012 film Zero Dark Thirty and the 2001-2010 television series 24, in which plot development requires torture to be effective, despite the lengthy Senate report (and vocal opposition to torture from survivors like John McCain) that claimed it is not a reliable source of intelligence. Through media we, like Baudrillard before us, construct a hyperreality that confirms mnemonic biases. This is especially true in sustaining and (artificially) confirming mnemonic biases inherited through generationality, such as antipathy towards former Cold War enemies in the American mnemonic community. The nature of organizational mnemonics is to inherit or be taught the fundamental groupings and values of competing ideologies, a function that is increasingly relegated to media structures in the modern age; in effect, we are teaching ourselves how to remember, but the tools and narratives used in this pursuit are intrinsically artificial. The result is an artificially inflated mnemonic economy that produces real results—and real profits.

While American popular films and video games cannot by any means be held solely accountable for deteriorating political relationships or the formation of American mnemonic anxieties, they certainly can be held responsible for facilitating the longevity, and to an extent the severity, of these fears. This does not necessitate a moratorium on specific film tropes or the censorship of materials, however. Rather, it is necessary for Americans to gain fluency in the floes of memory that so radically color our global perception. Similarly, it is essential for Americans to break the feedback loop of media inculcating fear that requires (ironically) a media palliative. While none of the media sampled in this study are likely to be cited as aesthetic masterworks or creations of tremendous artistic value, scholars simply cannot afford to ignore products that generate tens of billions of dollars in annual sales. With the combined analytical tools of consumption studies, media studies, collective memory, political science, and game studies, these industries can not only be dissected for cultural value but perhaps even repurposed for more productive works.

Ultimately, we see that mnemonic analysis of popular media and the ways in which their representations are tailored to access shared anxieties, such as in the comparison of films like White House Down and Olympus Has Fallen, is a profoundly useful parallax in gauging public consumption of ideology. In aiming for wider audiences, studios often must make decisions that better resonate with larger swaths of the American public, and while these comics and films may be discarded by some as pop-culture pabulum, they are highly valuable cultural artifacts for measuring mnemonic salience and narrative. With the aid of new perspectives in memory studies, such as the rise of generational/generative memory and application of new and extant narrative patterns, we may more accurately measure the drift of what is most consumed by American audiences in such a way as to define tectonic shifts in mnemonic communities.

Works Cited

Dower, John W. Cultures of War: Pearl Harbor, Hiroshima, 9-11, Iraq. New York, W.W. Norton, 2011.

Freud, Sigmund. Totem and taboo; and other works: (1913-1914). London: Hogarth Press, 1995. Print.

Gagnon, Frederick. "“Invading Your Hearts and Minds”: Call of Duty®and the (Re)Writing of Militarism in U.S. Digital Games and Popular Culture." European journal of American studies5.3 (2010): n. pag. Web. 17 Dec. 2016.

Garagozov, Rauf R. Collective Memory: How Collective Representations about the past Are Created, Preserved and Reproduced. New York: Nova, 2015.

Gluck, Carol. “Operations of Memory: ‘Comfort Women’ and the World,” Ruptured histories: war, memory, and the post-Cold War in Asia. Eds. Sheila Miyoshi Jager and Rana Mitter. Harvard University Press, 2007.

Hoglund, Johan. " IR and the Future Wars of First-Person Military Shooters." E-International Relations. Creative Commons License, 9 Oct. 2014. Web. 29 Apr. 2017.

MacIntyre, Alasdair C. After Virtue: A Study in Moral Theory. 3rd ed. Notre Dame, IN: U of Notre Dame Press, 2012.

Reulecke, Jurgen. "Generation/Generationality, Generativity, and Memory." A Companion to Cultural Memory Studies. Berlin: De Gruyter, 2010. 119-25.

Schut, Kevin. “Strategic Simulations and Our Past: The Bias of Computer Games in the Presentation of History.” Games and Culture, vol. 2, no. 3, July 2007, pp. 213–235, doi:10.1177/1555412007306202.

Scott, Ian. "International Relations on Screen: Hollywood's History of American Foreign Policy." E-International Relations. Creative Commons License, 20 Oct. 2013. Web. 29 Apr. 2017.

Sen, Amartya. Identity and violence: the illusion of destiny. New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 2006.

Shaw, Tony, and Denise J. Youngblood. "Last Acts." Cinematic Cold War: The American and Soviet Struggle for Hearts and Minds. Lawrence: U Press of Kansas, 2010. 189-215.

Sherman, Fraser A. Screen enemies of the American way: political paranoia about Nazis, Communists, saboteurs, terrorists and body snatching aliens in film and television. Jefferson, N.C: McFarland, 2011.

Westwell, Guy. War Cinema: Hollywood on the Front Line. New York: Columbia University Press, 2006.

Zerubavel, Eviatar. Time Maps: Collective Memory and the Social Shape of the past. Chicago: U of Chicago, 2004.

  1. 24. Imagine Television / 20th Century Fox Television / Real Time Productions / Teakwood Lane Productions. 2001-2010.

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. Santa Monica, CA: Activision, 2007. Computer software.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. Uxbridge: Activision, 2009. Computer software.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. Los Angeles, CA: Activision, 2011. Computer software.

Homefront. Agoura Hills, CA: THQ Inc., 2011. Computer software.

Homefront: The Revolution. Höfen: Deep Silver, 2016. Computer software.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Dr. Don Siegel. Perf. Kevin McCarthy. Walter Wagner Productions. 1956

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit. Dr. Kenneth Branagh. Perf. Chris Pine. 2014.

Olympus Has Fallen. Dir. Antoine Fuqua. Perf. Gerard Butler. Nu Image/Millenium Films. 2013.

Red Dawn. Dir. John Milius. Perf. Patrick Swayze. United Artists. 1984

Red Dawn. Dir. Dan Bradley. Perf. Chris Hemsworth. FilmDistrict. 2012

Salt. Dir. Phillip Noyce. Perf. Angelina Jolie. Sony pictures home entertainment, 2011.

The Manchurian candidate. Dir. John Frankenheimer. Perf. Frank Sinatra. United Artists, 1962.

The Manchurian Candidate. Dir. Johnathan Demme. Perf. Denzel Washington. Paramount Pictures. 2004.

White House Down. Dir. Roland Emmerich. Perf. Channing Tatum. Columbia Pictures. 2013

Zero Dark Thirty. Dir. Kathryn Bigelow. Perf. Jessica Chastain. Sony Pictures Releasing. 2012.

[1] "Americans Spend More on the Lottery than on ..." CNN. CNN, 11 Feb. 2015. Web. 11 Apr. 2017.

[2] “Domestic Movie Theatrical Market Summary 1995 to 2017” The-Numbers. Nash Information Services. Web. 29 Apr. 2017.

[3] The use of the idea of “generic narratives” in this work is influenced by, but distinct from, the concept of “schematic narrative templates” in the work of James V. Wertsch. While schematic narrative templates are a rigid narrative tool that is unaltered and reused, generic narratives are ideological guidelines that speak to American anxieties rather than prescribe the manner in thich narrative must be formed. For fur ther readin on scematic narrative templates, see Voices of Collective Remembering. Wertsch, James V. Voices of Collective Remembering. Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press, 2002.

[4] Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is infamous for a level in which the player carries out a Russian-planned terrorist attack against civilians, and another in which an illegally-held British prisoner is freed from a Russian gulag through the heroic efforts of a joint American/U.K. military force.

[5] “Global opinion varies widely on the use of torture against suspected terrorists” PEW. PEW Research Center. Web. 29 Apr. 2017

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