In a fantastic example of the importance of checking your work, a Russian documentary about World War I has used a piece of Team Fortress 2 Fan-art as an example of early 20th century anti-German propaganda.

The 51-minute Russian-language documentary, entitled “Первая Мировая” (“The First World War”), was published on YouTube on Sept. 2 by Star Media. Soon after its debut, Russian blogger Nikita Likhacehev noticed that, at the 9:58 mark, a piece of Team Fortress 2 fan-art was used as an example of an American propaganda poster alongside actual posters from the era. The poster, entitled “Pro-Demoman Propaganda Poster,” was made in 2009 by DeviantArt user TankTaur as part of his entry in Valve’s Team Fortress 2 Propaganda contest. TankTaur’s other entry, “Anti-Soldier Propaganda Poster,” was a runner-up in the contest, winning the prestigious “Most Convincing Argument for Evolution” award.

TankTaur did a great job of re-creating the look, colors and overall feel of early 20th century propaganda posters, but the documentarian’s use of the incongruous artwork is inexcusable on several levels. The use of the word “Demoman” in the poster should have been a red flag to someone in the Star Media organization, even if they are not native English speakers (Google Translate; do you think I knew what "Первая Мировая” meant?). Additionally, the use of an artist’s creation without permission or credit is illegal and unethical. A boneheaded mistake like this is enough to make viewers question the validity of the entirety of the film.

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