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The Kim Jong-Un Video Game: An Exercise in Lazy Satire

Satire and snark is a good thing — if it wasn’t, then this website wouldn’t exist and I’d still be selling cigarettes and lottery tickets to smelly drunks at the local Kwik-E-Farms. But more importantly than that, satire can be the best, and oftentimes only way to convey an important message. Not everyone responds well to hammer-to-the-head outrage and sincerity, even if they agree with the person wielding the hammer, but just about everybody enjoys a clever, humorous take on something that’s pissing them off.

But if you’re going to go this route, you should at least put some original thought into it. Too often, we just repeat somebody else’s jokes and ideas and expect it to be enough. It’s not — it’s the satirical equivalent of sharing an inspirational macro and typing SO TRU in the text box.

I wish the people behind the upcoming Kim-Jong Un video game realized this. Yes, this is a real thing. Glorious Leader is a Contra-style side-scrolling shooter where you play as North Korean despot Kim Jong-Un, on a mission to destroy America. Based on the trailer, you start in North Korea and end up in the United States, mowing down soldiers and destroying monuments throughout.

There are some legitimately ballsy moments here, like the destruction of the Statue of Liberty and at least one burning of the American flag, but as a satirical takedown of a cruel, cruel man, Glorious Leader is far tamer than it should be. The reason: we’ve heard these jokes before, and with much bitter delivery.

Because this is an American company creating this game and not Jong-Un himself (though commissioning him to do the sequel might make for a nice counter-argument), our protagonist is naturally a cartoon character. And that’s fine, since he apparently IS one for real. But where Glorious Leader could have created a whole new cartoon for us to enjoy, they’re sadly content with airing rerun after rerun.

Remember when Jong-Un had his pop star girlfriend executed by machine gun? Well, here he is, wielding one through level after level. Remember when Glorious Regime claimed they had found a unicorn lair? Looks like Jong-Un tamed himself one of the mythical beasts, as he rides it into battle during various points in the game. And of course, you get to play as honorary Korean Dennis Rodman, mowing down capitalist devils with what I presume are the same magical basketballs Michael Jordan used to save his teammates during the infamous Chaos in the Windy City Incident of 1994.

The game’s certainly cute, and it’s always good to remind the dang whippersnappers of today that two-dimensional gaming can still be a thing, but come on now. Unicorns? Machine guns? Rodman? This is all the same crap that the Internet meme and mocks everyday — this game adds squat to the conversation. It’s like your drunk uncle telling the “orange you glad I didn’t say banana” joke and acting like he wrote the damn thing.

Besides, if you’re going to go this route, at least make sure you’re accurate. The unicorn thing was a bullshit translation error. That murdered girlfriend of his just showed up on live TV, so that marks the end of that rumor. And mocking Dennis Rodman for doing Dennis Rodman things got old in the late-90s, a decade the game designers are clearly stuck in since Rodman’s wearing his Bulls jersey the entire time.

We mock people like Jay Leno for never updating their material, and yet here we are, heaping praise upon the video game equivalent of that. I’d have actually preferred no satire to lazy satire in this case. Luckily, since Glorious Leader isn’t out yet, there’s time for the developers to start from scratch and think of new things for Jong-Un to do. Yes, creating new ideas is hard, but it’s also incredibly satisfying. Trust me, you’ll love it.

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