Activision Facing Call of Duty Lawsuit Over "Barbarian, Halfwit" Depiction of Historical Figure

Black Ops 2 depicted Jonas Savimbi as a "barbarian" who "wants to kill everybody," his family says in new lawsuit.


Activision is facing another lawsuit related to the depiction of a real-life character in a Call of Duty game. The Guardian reports the family of former Angolan rebel leader Jonas Savimbi has filed a lawsuit against the mega-publisher over objections to their father's appearance in 2012's Call of Duty: Black Ops II.

In the lawsuit, three of Savimbi's children argue that Savimbi--the former leader of the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola--is depicted in Black Ops II as a "barbarian" and a "big halfwit who wants to kill everybody."

The family makes the case that Savimbi was in fact a "political leader and strategist." The family, who now live in Franchise, is seeking €1m in damages from Activision Blizzard's French arm.

An Activision Blizzard legal representative told The Guardian that the lawsuit is without merit. The publisher contends that Black Ops II depicts Savimbi as a "good guy," portrayed "for who he was … a character of Angolan history, a guerrilla chief who fought the [People's Movement for the Liberation of Angola]."

As you can see in the video above, Savimbi does in fact appear in Black Ops II. He's shown in an early section of the game, in which he leads a group--including the player character--in a battle against MPLA forces. In one section, he belts out, "DEATH TO THE MPLA!"

No Caption Provided

The real-world Savimbi was killed in 2002 in clash against Angolan government forces. As The Guardian explains, Savimbi was a controversial figure; 500,000 people died in the Angolan civil war and millions more were displaced.

This isn't the first time Black Ops II, developed by Treyarch Studios, has spawned a lawsuit involving a real-life figure upset with their representation in the game.

A similar case was brought against Activision last year from former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega, who claimed in a lawsuit that Activision used his name and likeness without permission in Black Ops II. Activision fought this lawsuit vigorously, hiring former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani to help in its case.

The suit was ultimately dismissed, signalling a victory for Activision.

The publisher pushed so hard in part because because it claimed a win for Noriega could "open the floodgates" for other historical figures to sue over their depictions in games, movies, TV shows, and books. That's exactly what's happening here with Savimbi.

In the Noriega case, Activision never shied away from acknowledging that he did in fact appear in Black Ops II. But the publisher maintained from the beginning that the depiction of Noriega in Black Ops II represents "transformative" use, and is thus protected free speech under the First Amendment.

It seems likely that Activision could use the same argument in the case involving Savimbi.

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Avatar image for yellowsanchez


Avatar image for MaxBlaze

@yellowsanchez: It's fucking PROPAGANDA.

Avatar image for nurnberg

Someone should tell these dictators that just because their population bows to them in fear, doesn't mean that the rest of the world does.

Avatar image for nine-eight-nine

I'm gonna sue Nintendo for depiction. My late uncle Mario, who was a plumber, was anything but super. He didn't chase after princesses either and he hated mushrooms.

Avatar image for Thanatos2k

Hope they win.

Avatar image for cyborgvegita

@Thanatos2k: why

Avatar image for roman4545

@cyborgvegita: Thanatos2k is an idiot thats why...

Avatar image for stylest

Idiots will try anything to get money.

Avatar image for auberonfall

"The family, who now live in Franchise..."

Live where?

I'm assuming that should say France.

Come on, guys.


Avatar image for elessarGObonzo

@auberonfall: maybe they're making a jab at the family for trying to "live off of the franchise"?

Avatar image for elessarGObonzo

dumbass family

Avatar image for suppaphly42

@elessarGObonzo: yup, just standing there with their hand out. 1 million euros in damages, how exactly, do they have a book, game or movie that lost sales because of this o.O some peoples children .

Avatar image for olddadgamer

Another difference between the two cases is that this case is happening in France, it seems. Now, this case doesn't see a complaint in the US because you can't slander a dead person in the US, but France?

I don't know, anyone here a French lawyer?

Avatar image for d-man

Behind on the rent again?

Avatar image for Spitznock


Avatar image for deactivated-5a803cda1fb41

Wasn't this news years ago? I thought this was just brushed aside.

Avatar image for Brakkyn

@bernard978: There was a thing with Manuel Noriega a while back, also depicted in Black Ops II, and mentioned above.

Makes me wonder where Castro's people are.

Avatar image for MrFreehuggs

@bernard978: Similar but different case

Avatar image for NoahRoalson

If I were going to sue video game publishers or developers for not accurately portraying the world, particularly history, I'd be a millionaire by now.

Avatar image for Mevrick

@NoahRoalson: Imagine Christians suing Ubisoft for depicting Pope Alexander VI in Assassin's Creed 2 as an anceint technology seeking atheist.

Avatar image for dlCHIEF58

@Mevrick: Except for the fact he did much worse things in real life if you knew anything about the history of the church at that time.

Avatar image for Mevrick

@dlCHIEF58: I was just pointing out that the game depicted him doing things completely unrelated to the actual person. I wasn't making pros and cons about the life of Alexander VI.

Avatar image for NoahRoalson

@Mevrick: Yeah, tell me about it. Just look at any historical game, especially wargames. Look at how one side is the swashbuckling, lighthearted good guys while the enemies are always mass murdering psychopaths. That triggers me and I need money :P

Avatar image for nl_skipper

Too bad Savimbi never taught his family the value of having a spine before he was killed :(

I guess they'll just try another get rich quick scheme after this fails.

Avatar image for zintarr

I am sure the families of innocents killed by him and his wars would like to file something up the asses of his rich spoiled relatives. Lawsuits like this need to be thrown out sooner than later and the lawyers that bring them need to be disbarred.