Thursday, September 4, 2014

Videogames and sexim (part 2)

So, in the folling posts, I'll try to go addressing some of the sentences and assertions I've heard on Anita's videos I particularly dislike or find not true. I'll start saying I don't believe everything she sais is bullshit, I just find some extreme opinions particularly troubling. I'm gonna try to go chronologically, so I'll start with the Damsel in Distress sentences.

"I've heard it said that in the game of patriarchy women are not the opposing team, they are the ball. So, for examplo, we could think of the Super Mario franchise as a grand game being played between Mario and Bowser where Peach's role is essentially the ball...". I don't know about the 'game of patriarchy' but I believe that's a bit of an stretch isn't it. She didn't try to look at it for what it is: a bunch of games where the main protagonist is given an (absurd) reason to enjoy multiple platforming levels, which is rescuing her love, princess Peach. No, instead she prefers to do an analogy with a supposed 'game of patriarchy' and twist an absurd theme because, let's be honest, Mario's story is quite absurd, into fitting her intended goal.

Mario and Bowser, the two men (sic!) playing Peach in their 'game of patriarchy'. If you want to bet I've got a tip for you, always bet on the plumber.

There's also another part of that video that bothers me a lot. When she explains the damsel in distress trop she says the damsel usually takes the form of a loved one or a love pursuit of the player. Then she goes on to explain the subject-object dicothomy and finally explains how women are then reduced to "a treasure to be found, a prize to be won or a goal to be achieved. The brief intro sequences accompanying many classic arcade games tend to reinforce the framing of women as a possesion that's been stolen from the protagonist." Then she goes on and shows some arcade intros where the damsel is kidnapped by the bad guy(s).

I don't see how showing you with your wife/girlfriend/bride and then she being kidnapped frames her as 'stolen property'. Only if you have the prejudice that women are property to be owned this is true. Otherwise it's false. She's also uninterested by the fact that with her logic not only the damsel in distress is objectified, but also the bad guy. He's just another challenge to overcome, not a real person. Actually, in videogames, everything that's not the main character is objectified using her definition since your character is the only one capable of 'acting upon' as such.

You may think that framing 2 people together and then taking one and leaving the other may be a way of showing one as a property that has been stolen. That's quite a twisted way of putting it. But it's also interesting to see how she is uninterested to find a more likely explanation. You know, there was a time where cutscenes weren't possible, and you had very few bytes to write your intro. Puting the 2 characters together (thus reusing the main character) to show they are a couple and she is kidnapped seems like a very straightforward way of doing it. Isn't it a lot more likely that was the reasoning behind it than a supposed sexist attitude of the game's developer(s)?

I must say it's very informative to hear her explain some of the history and triva of old games like Donkey Kong. I didn't know many of the things she mentions.

"A damsel woman is shown as incapable of escaping the predicament on her own and then must wait for her saviour to come and do it for her. In this way the damsel's ordeal is not her own. Instead, it's framed as trial for the hero to overcome (so far I do agree with her). Consequently the trope robs women in peril of the opportunity of being the architect of their own escape. And then prevents them from being architypal heros themselves". The second part is where the reasoning falls a bit short if you ask me. So the trope doesn't rob women anything because to do so they must have had it. The trope is robbing not only the woman in peril but anyone else but the hero from that opportunity. That includes her father, mother, uncle, and pet too. And that's so because they are not the main hero. The trope is used to give a hero (normally male) a goal to achieve. I agree with that. But saying it robs women from anything is absurd. It's more of an step to frame the trope from a lazy plot justification to an aggression to women. And in the process she just skips any logical reasoning behind it. She's not trying to be objective, she's using a biased view and interpretation of something to reach the conclusion she wants to. That's more akin to how you explain religious misteries than how you do honest research, isn't it?

"The game (she's talking about Double Dragon) has been remade, released, and ported to dozens of systems over the past 25 years. Ensuring Marian will be battered and 'damsel'ed' for each new generation to enjoy." Yeah, I suppose that's why they did it, not because the game is bloody fun... sigh!

This 'regressive crap' (quote literally) was one of my favourite games growing up. If only the 2012 reboot would have been any good...

There's a part of the first video that annoys me a lot. I'll go and comment only the last part which is probably the most annoying one. "Just to be clear, I'm not saying that all games that use the Damsel in distress as a plot device are automatically sexist or have no value. But it's undeniable that popular culture is a powerful influence in our lives and the damsel in distress trope as a recurring trend does help to normalize extremely toxic, patronizing and paternalistic attitudes about women". Ahm..., so the fact that one of the most used and simplistic tropes is used in videogames has helped 'normalize' sexist attitudes? Really? And this assertion is backed with all sorts of data, statistics, etc. Oh, wait, no it isn't!

Using a similar 'reasoning' you could say that the damsel in distress has helped raise awareness of serious issues like domestic violence toward women and help portray those acts as the heinous acts they are, made by (real life) villains, It has also served to normalize the attitude of those men that defend a woman on the street when they she her being abused by a man, since they were imitating their childhood heroes. I don't have any prove of that, but hey, who needs that? Anita certainly doesn't!

In fact I must say that from all the people I know, I've never heard a gamer any sort of patronizing attitude towards women. I've heard those attitudes from people outside this world (not very often tbh), but never a 'hardcore' gamer.

Just me wanting something to be true and saying it in a video doesn't make it true. Sadly. I really want to be rich, and don't mind putting a video on youtube saying it.

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