Saturday, August 17, 2013

'Tropes vs Women:' A female gaming perspective! (Part 1)

Hey lovlies!

I wanted to write a post about this since I found out about it, about a month ago. It's my view on a Youtube video by an Anita Sarkeesian, AKA 'Feminist Frequency.' It's actually her videos on her channel concerning video games.

Now, I am a girl, obviously. But I am also an equality advocate. I want equal rights for all! And Miss Sarkeesian is a feminist, obviously. Miss Sarkeesian is what I, myself, classify as a radical feminist. Miss Sarkeesian currently has three videos 20-30 minutes in length discussing these 'tropes' as she calls them.

In her first video, she starts off talking about 'Dinosaur Planet' being turned into part of the 'Starfox' franchise. Simply saying that it was because of the patriarchal society. Though, if you were to ask me, it is simply because a major developer had a better idea and it would make more money with a bigger franchise title.

And then she would go on to define 'damsel in distress' as a plot device in which a 'woman or female character put into a perilous situation to be rescued by a male character.' Hold up. This isn't completely true. Whereas in most games it is, considering a good majority of developers are men and the gaming industry is male dominated, can we look at Final Fantasy XIII? Where Claire Farron, AKA Lightning, strives to save both her home planet of Cocoon and  her sister, Serah. So while, yes, Serah is considered the 'damsel in distress,' by Anita Sarkeesian's own definition, her sister is not a male character. Would that still consider her a damsel?

She brings up the 1913 film, 'Barney Oldfield's Race for a Life,' where the cliche of a woman being tied to train tracks was debuted. However, this may be seen in her second or third video, but we'll get to that eventually. The train track cliche, in modern times, can be seen in Taylor Swift's music video 'Mean,' wherein, Swift gets herself out of the ropes and walks off.

Miss Sarkeesian then goes on to discuss King Kong and eventually alludes that Donkey Kong was just like it. You know, because a woman gets abducted by a large ape? Well, I believe that's all well and good, but Donkey Kong (the very first) was inspired by King Kong. Ya know, Donkey Kong, King Kong? But I digress.

Going on from Donkey Kong, Miss Sarkeesian then sets her sights on Mario and Princess Peach/Princess Toadstool. Miss Sarkeesian discusses how Princess Peach stars in 20+ games, where Miss Sarkeesian states she has starred in 14 and is kidnapped in 13. But then again, she calls these 14 the 'core platformers.' But if I must be honest, if you are going to talk about the Mario franchise, you need to count the 'spinoffs.'

Miss Sarkeesian goes on, discussing how women are viewed as objects while the protagonist (dominently male) are seen as subjects; Thus making the female to be acted upon. Though, if I may point out, the women that are shown to be kidnapped are almost always the lover of the protagonist (Serah Farron is Snow Viller's lover; Peach is Mario's lover; Kat from DmC: Devil May Cry is considered among the fans as Dante's 'love interest'; And Zelda as Link's love interest). Miss Sarkeesian goes on to say that the damsel is seen as 'an object or reward in a competition between men.' Miss Sarkeesian then states that the damsel in distress plot 'taps into the adolescent male power fantasies,' in order to sell more games to young straight boys and men. ...Though that may be a good way to describe it (from a hardcore feminist POV), I would like to point out that I, personally am female and I love the action games where I can play as a male and save the princess/love interest. As is my cousin Em, my best friend Kitty, and several other girls that I am friends with. Actually, a lot of males I know do not hold up to Miss Sarkeesian's hardcore views on men. My own boyfriend rarely plays games that you 'save the damsel' in. He prefers Sonic the Hedgehog games. When was the last time you had to save a damsel in Sonic? The only thing I recall is collecting rings and losing the bastards because you hit something dangerous to your health. Oh, and falling off the godforsaken rails in Sonic Heroes. Keep in mind, folks, I don't play Sonic.

Miss Sarkeesian then states 'while our damsel may not play the victim for the whole game...' and say later says 'all she needs is to be reduced to a state of helplessness and be rescued by a typically male hero.' Though above she never said typically male hero, she stated 'male hero.'

Miss Sarkeesian brings into the argument one of my favorite franchises, The Legend of Zelda. She mentions that Zelda has been kidnapped. Well, duh. Of course she has. She also claims that this is all incarnations of Zelda. There is one exception to this rule with The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, where Zelda becomes Sheik. This is also where she is most helpful to Link, helping our green tunic-ed hero along in his adventure. But again, Sarkeesian admits this, and mentions Tetra as well, though it is hypocritical to her earlier statement 'all incarnations of Zelda.'

Miss Sarkeesian then speaks out about how in the game Double Dragon, the female is punched and thrown over the baddie's shoulder. Well, okay. She then says that the female is battered. Let me get this straight, you call it regressive because a man punches a woman in the stomach and throw her over his shoulder. Now, I never played Double Dragon, but I doubt the woman would've gone peacefully if she was not incapacitated. I know I wouldn't have. Miss Sarkeesian then begins to wrap up her video speaking about how 'backwards sexists attitudes' paint women as a 'weaker gender.'

Whereas, I personally play a ton of games where woman can easily beat the snot out of any man, granted in skimpy clothing or in full armor. It's no secret that the video gaming industry is male oriented. And a lot of the demographic is male (aged 13-25) But I can take a look at Mortal Kombat and choose to play as Sonia, Kitana, Mileena, Jade, Scarlet, or Syndel and beat the shit our of my boyfriend when we play together. There is also Dead or Alive, which is highly sexualized, but the females can still fight, and fight well. Yes, if Kasumi or Ayane kick too high you can see their panties. A few more recent games, there is Lightning Farron of Final Fantasy XIII (2012), her younger sister takes the stage in Final Fantasy XIII-2 (2013), and Lightning Farron again takes the stage in Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII (2014). And they are not the only females to be protagonists, there's Yuna, Paine, Rikku, and Lulu (Final Fantasy X/X-2), Juliet Starling (Lollipop Chainsaw), Princess Peach (Super Princess Peach), and the biggest franchise addition that Miss Sarkeesian did not mention along with the Final Fantasy franchise, Aveline de Grandpre of Assassin's Creed III: Liberation.

Basically, I see what it is Miss Sarkeesian is trying to do, and I have to admit, she failed. She's trying to make it seem as though women are only seen as objects in video games. But, I have only played very few like that. The females are almost always love interests, so the male will want to save his lover, and even so when they aren't 'officially' lovers and there is an emotional connection between them. Remember when I mentioned Kat from Devil May Cry above? That is the perfect case to argue with the not 'offically' written as lovers, but there is that emotional connection.

*SPOILERS FOR DmC: DEVIL MAY CRY BELOW*
In Mission 12 of DmC: Devil May Cry, Dante has reached the Octagon, where his twin, Vergil, is barricaded trying to get data from the central servers. Dante much go through a series of tests and at the end he finds out that the resident psychic of the group known as The Order cannot follow him and Vergil out through Limbo. He tells his twin brother, literally telling his brother, "Give me a second!" And he turns back to Kat, he tells her, "Get on your knees. Put your hands up. Do NOT fight back." Kat tells him, "I'm scared. What will they do to me?" Dante tells her, "All you need to do is hold on for as long as you can. I will come back for you." Kat yells as the SWAT team breaks in, "Don't shoot!" And they do. Dante yells no as they beat her unconscious and drag her body away. One of the most touching scenes of this game is when he, from Limbo, hold her hand. He escapes from Limbo. And he risks everything his brother has worked for, to save this girl. He in turn, kidnaps the main baddie's fuck buddy (and mother of the baddie's spawn), and proposes a trade: Mundus' spawn for Kat's life.
*END SPOILERS*

So, in the end, the 'damsel' is just a plot device, not the gaming developers trying to find a way to 'disempower' women like Miss Sarkeesian says. And most of the time, the male protagonist is saving a lover, or a person with a deep emotional connection with (such as Dante and Kat).

That would be it for now,
Nana Ren

P.S. Look out for part two sometime in the next few days. I am going to be replaying the Devil May Cry series (the originals and newer game) to back up that series because Miss Sarkeesian uses it in her introduction in one of the newer videos. And several other games where feminists would have a shit fit. I will also be addressing the 'Eva the Whooooooore!?!' reference from Mission 5: Secret Ingredient of DmC: Devil May Cry when Miss Sarkeesian addresses demeaning names.

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