Dress Up Your Xbox Live Avatar Like a Confederate on July 4

Illustration for article titled Dress Up Your Xbox Live Avatar Like a Confederate on July 4

While I don't read any statements or endorsements of historical viewpoints behind this, Microsoft had to figure someone would notice that it's now selling a Confederate Army uniform for your Xbox Live avatar's virtual dress-up and call it out as a borderline offensive gesture. One of our readers saw it, and did.

Listed generically as "Civil War Uniform," the outfit is part of an "American History" series of avatar costume items that went on sale this weekend, and in the context of the entire collection, it all seems rather benign. The collection offers British redcoat uniforms and hats, for example, and that army's rifles and bayonets spilled plenty of American blood, and its government did some things we found oppressive and horrible, at the time, too. We've still patched up most of our differences, except the ones concerning football, of course.

Some might wonder why a Confederate gray uniform is offered and not a Union blue with it. Perhaps the Revolutionary War uniform (which is blue) is meant to represent the nation, a vastly different union from what it was 75 years later. Who knows.


July 4 celebrates the American Declaration of Independence. I suppose it's as good as any national holiday to reflect on American history, but the Civil War came 84 years later. (An Abe Lincoln hat and beard set is also in the collection).

Out of context, it's also curious because a gray "Civil War uniform" is recognizable Confederate symbology. I'm not sure what Xbox Live's policy is on this particular emblem but it would seem using a Confederate flag as your gamer picture would invite moderators' attention, as that symbol is taken (and has been historically used) as a racial provocation. At minimum, someone would probably report you.

I've invited a Microsoft representative to comment on this but being that it's the July 4 holiday, of course, we may not hear anything about it for a while.

The uniform is 160 Microsoft points (two bucks) and there's also a gray soldier's cap for 80 points (a dollar).

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You know how you can also buy things for your avatar, like little RC cars that drive around you on the screen? Or floating robots from Star Wars?

Well I think Microsoft, if it's going to include a Confederate soldier outfit for your avatar, should really go all out and throw a whip and an a barefoot, terrified African that you beat unmercifully.

Seriously, that whole "Moonlight and Magnolias" nostalgia for the South and what it really stood for(Because it was NOT about slavery thankyouverymuch) is such bullshit.

When I see a Confederate flag, I don't see mint juleps and cotillions and spanish moss and wonderful manners and hospitality and honey-dripping accents: I see pain and suffering and brutality and rape and torture.

And when someone tries to tell me the Civil War was not all about slavery, that's like someone telling me the Holocaust was not about killing all the Jews because there were homosexuals and gypsies and political prisoners in the concentration camps as well.

Feel free to call out my prejudice on the subject. I will at least admit mine.

And one more thing...

I've posted this before, and I'll post it again:

Last year I went on a road trip with my father. He had had a liver transplant a few months previously, and was finally well enough to travel again after almost three years of medical hell.

We were going to drive from Florida back to my place in LA, after which he'd take a flight back. However, the first day of the trip we hit and killed a deer in Georgia. The body shop said it would take a week to fix, which meant two, and my father was all set to just give up and go back home and wait for my mother to return from her first vacation in three years.

Since I was his interim caregiver I wasn't too happy at the thought of leaving him alone. He was on a huge cocktail of Meds, and had to get bloodwork taken every week, and is not known for taking care of himself(Hence the liver transplant).

So I suggested we rent a car and continue our road trip, but would just see the South instead. That way we could still have our father/son bonding moment, and my mother could still have her worry-free vacation.

So for two weeks we drove through Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Kentucky, Tennessee, all the usual suspects.

I've never spent much time in the South. I was born and raised in Europe, move here by myself when I was sixteen to go to school. I'd always wanted to live in America, and was kind of disappointed when I did to find out how racist it can still be.

I'm now your typical West Coast Atheist Leftie, but I'm not Bill Maher smug about it and now I'm driving around the South. In January, while the healthcare debate rages on in the media.

My dad likes NPR, but every time he'd touch the radio dial, we'd always have to cycle through stations full of racist cockgobbling crackers bitching about how the Black Man in the White House was going to lead us all into a socialist hell. Huge Confederate flags line the highways, Obama Hitler posters everywhere. I'm grinding my molars to nubs.

Like a lot of his generation, my father is fascinated by war, and America's involvement in it. So we went to a lot of Museums, Civil War battlefields, etc. You know how the South prides itself on its' military involvement. All I could think of was the George Carlin quote about how he doesn't trust Southerners because they respect authority so absolutely. I believe he referred to them as "A bunch of Cop-Lovers and Soldier-Sniffers".

So we wind up in Richmond, Virginia, and my dad wants to go see the Museum of the Confederacy. Through gritted teeth I mention how I'm not sure how I feel about giving these Klan creeps my cash, but my father insists.

So on January 17th we walk over to the museum, which is right next door to Jefferson Davis' home, AKA The Confederate White House, and go in.

Cannons line the entrance, huge Confederate States flags hang from the ceiling, and the man taking our tickets has a full-on Civil War General beard, even though he's probably in his early twenties.

With great regret in his voice he tells us in his soft Southern drawl how while the museum is open today, "I'm afraid Jefferson Davis' home is closed for a federal holiday." He looks at us mournfully with sad doe eyes and continues, lower lip a-tremblin': "You see, it's Martin Luther King Jr. Day"....

...And I just lost it. I just started laughing in his stupid bearded fucking face, the past two week's tension booming out of my mouth, echoing around the cavernous hall of the museum.

I realize how bad this looks and try to stop it, but that only makes it worse. A security guard comes out to see what the commotion is, and when I see his wannabe SWAT team black kevlar uniform, it just makes me laugh even harder.

I turn away to try and grasp some small semblance of composure, and see the only the Lynyrd Skynyrd T-shirt of the man standing in line behind us, which sets off a fresh jag.

Tears are beginning to stream down my face, I can't breathe I'm laughing so hard, oh god, am I having a heart attack?

But it eventually goes away, slowly. Silence fills the great hall. I mumble some false apology and we purchase our tickets.

In the year since then, I've watched this country continue to listen to these fucktards as though they deserve a seat at the grown-up's table.

I've watched the Tea Partiers insistence that we return to the original interpretation of the Constitution, which means for them that Obama is only worth only three-fifths of that of a white president.

I've watched all this and more.

And whenever I start to get depressed or angry, I think of that moment, and I start to laugh all over again.

So keep living the dream, Hee-Haw. We've got a black president, the Confederate White House is closed on MLK Jr. Day, and your grandchildren will probably be mulatto. And gay. And hopefully Atheist.

And until that day happens, you can Suck It. And Suck It Hard.