Jumping, as is my habit, on a year-old bandwagon, I’ve started playing the app game Angry Birds. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this recreational masterpiece, here’s the premise: you’re the commander of a group of cartoon birds, who, as the name suggests, are angry. They’re angry because a bunch of green pigs stole their eggs, so you have to slingshot your feathered subordinates towards various pig-built structures to destroy them and kill the inhabitants, although the birds are slain in process. Sound familiar? It should, because it’s one of the core strategies of international jihadist terrorism.
Like Paul Hogan’s bank accounts or Barnaby Joyce’s liver, the more closely one inspects Angry Birds the more the sinister details become apparent. The player acts as an invisible, string-pulling Bin Laden figure, sending brainwashed minions to certain doom while evading all consequences. The birds are not merely angry, they’re hateful extremists bent on annihilating the pig establishment. Each level you recruit a new cell of disenfranchised avian radicals, all willing to throw away their lives for their deluded cause. As for the pigs, never has so transparent a political metaphor been used since the ABC’s infamous antisemitic caricature, “The Rat in the Hat”. The porcine purloiners are an obvious allegory for America and the west, “Imperialist Pigs” in every sense of the phrase. They have a clear neoliberal hierarchy, with little pigs, big pigs, helmet-clad GIs, obese moustachioed capitalists and indulgent kings with a born-to-rule contempt for the sovereignty of Birdistan. The fact that the capitalist swine steal the bird’s precious eggs is a crucial element of the Angry Birds propaganda narrative: the children of the Middle East are taken by the West both literally – through undiscerning slaughter by the Coalition of the Willing – and figuratively – from the culture-devouring encroachmen
t of globalisation.
Yet despite the Goebbelsesque machinations of Al Qaeda’s iPhone app division, even this inflated depiction of the joys of fanatical Islamism can be can be punctured with close analysis. The pig’s initial egg-stealing antics are callous at best and genocidal at worst, yet these bird’s response to the imperialist assault is not Gandhian defiance or heartfelt revolution. Rather, they fight back with mindless terrorism, pure obliterative destruction sans hope of freedom or betterment. In their zealotry, the exploding penguins and triplicating bluebirds kill not only enemy soldiers but also innocent piglets frolicking in their homes. The Angry Birds ideology is one of subjugation, hatred and blood, a grotesque parody of a loving religion that the vast majority of birds practice peacefully. What began as a utilitarian gambit to rescue a threat
ened generation has quickly decayed into a sociopathic moral nihilism; and nowhere is this more chillingly apparent than in the case of the “White Bird” aerial raiders. In their desperation to destroy the emerald hogs of modernism, these elite pelican shock-troops actually drop eggs on their foes like bombs. The monstrous irony of this is shattering – so corrupted is the Angry Bird mission that what began as an attempt to rescue innocents ends with them used as actual weapons, infants sacrificed at the alter of retribution until the talons of their fathers are stained with yolk.
If you don’t mind be being brainwashed by a virulent brand of radical Islamofascism, this game is for you. But if you believe that that h
ouses should be built, not torn down; that fighting for freedom is different to dying for terror and that birds should be able to fly on their own without being unfathomably fired from a giant slingshot, then maybe it’s time to delete Angry Birds and break free from this ham-fisted propaganda . Me, I’m sticking with good old wholesome tetris, a game of Russian aesthetics, Stalinist efficiency and lines of blocks that vanish like bothersome KGB targets.