A "Boycott Atlus" due to representation of transgender characters

#1 Edited by metalsnakezero (2269 posts) -

Someone is protesting at Atlus for the way they treated the Character Naoto transgender.

http://boycottatlus.tumblr.com/post/26159538171/why-you-should-boycott-atlus

http://boycottatlus.tumblr.com/post/26730390874/persona-4-deals-with-trans-themes-and-handles-them

I feel that these people are miss understanding Naoto's story and are blowing it out of partition. At the end of her story, she became a strong women that is able to work at a job with mostly male workers.

What do you guys think of this silly protest? Is it someone misinterpreting the message of her story?

Here a article responding to the boycott

http://comicsbulletin.com/columns/4696/squinting-through-a-dusty-window-on-boycott-atlus-and-narrative-interpretation/

#2 Posted by laserbolts (5309 posts) -

Man people are stupid.

#3 Edited by believer258 (11043 posts) -

Wait, I thought Naoto was just a tomboy and not a transgender character?

There's a difference...

#4 Edited by Tylea002 (2291 posts) -

They are clearly forgetting also Kanji's story, how it paralleled Naoto's, and that P4 wasn't exactly saying it's own values were *correct*, merely that it's values were that of the society it was set it, and it was about kids learning identity within that society.

In the scheme of gaming stories, or even stories in general, Persona 4 actually handled this alright, to my memory. I might have a fuller read through the article and see what the exact points are, but this sounds unfounded. Also, boycotting is a stupid idea.

EDIT: Okay, so their main point is about how Naoto wants to become a boy for better acceptance, and the game story says THIS IS WRONG. That's not how I interpreted it. I thought that Naoto just wanted to be comfortable, to be herself, and it is a herself. I don't think the game was saying that change is bad, but that change for the wrong reasons is bad. She did not want to become a boy because she truly felt like one, but the motivation was to fit in better with society, with the eventual message being that one should be themselves. People said she was too boy like, and she got the impression that she'd not be teased if she was one. I'm not saying P4 is morally and ethically perfect, but I thought it was coming from that place, rather than the morally corrupt one the website proposes.

#5 Edited by mandude (2667 posts) -

That didn't really sell me on the idea of boycotting it at all. Granted, I don't think they did a good job of explaining the offending content in question, either.

#6 Edited by JeanLuc (3518 posts) -

umm 4 years late much?

EDIT: And yes I think this boycott is stupid.

#7 Posted by psylah (2153 posts) -

Persona 4 is stellar in how well it handles coming to terms with sexual and gender identities.

Those guys need to get their heads out of their asses.

#8 Posted by Hailinel (22708 posts) -

@psylah said:

Persona 4 is stellar in how well it handles coming to terms with sexual and gender identities.

Those guys need to get their heads out of their asses.

Yeah, I really don't see anything to complain about regarding Naoto.

#9 Posted by fox01313 (5033 posts) -

People are idiots at times, anime has been notorious of making a character in just about every series I know of where you think they are one gender then removing a hat/helm/clothing item to show they are the other. Hey if these people want to boycott anime/games then it's probably going to be a small list or they will just do what other 'boycott this game' attempts have tried only to have those people buy it anyway.

#10 Posted by BrockNRolla (1702 posts) -

The sexuality and gender identification of Naoto and Kanji are totally up for interpretation. They don't fit into nicely defined categories, just like real life, and I thought were really done very well as a result.

#11 Edited by mandude (2667 posts) -

@Tylea002 said:

EDIT: Okay, so their main point is about how Naoto wants to become a boy for better acceptance, and the game story says THIS IS WRONG. That's not how I interpreted it. I thought that Naoto just wanted to be comfortable, to be herself, and it is a herself. I don't think the game was saying that change is bad, but that change for the wrong reasons is bad. She did not want to become a boy because she truly felt like one, but the motivation was to fit in better with society, with the eventual message being that one should be themselves. People said she was too boy like, and she got the impression that she'd not be teased if she was one. I'm not saying P4 is morally and ethically perfect, but I thought it was coming from that place, rather than the morally corrupt one the website proposes.

Having never played the game, this is exactly what I gathered from that article even with it's obvious slant.

#12 Posted by Marokai (2636 posts) -

Boycotting a game that originally came out 4 years ago is completely stupid, but I can't say I disagree that I really hated how they handled Kanji's sexuality or Naoto's issues with her gender. 

#13 Posted by AngelN7 (2959 posts) -

Well Naoto is a girl she's not transgender so ... start a fire elsewhere.

#14 Posted by Trilogy (2569 posts) -

People like that are probably the reason that we don't see more developers/writers seriously delving into the world of transgendered or homosexual characters. People are too fucking sensitive and tend to knee jerk react to anything and everything that they could possibly wry something offensive from. It scares off writers from creating a story and characters that stray from the beaten path. This is especially stupid when we're talking about story and characters that can be interpreted in different ways.

#15 Edited by mandude (2667 posts) -

@JeanLuc said:

umm 4 years late much?

@Marokai said:

Boycotting a game that originally came out 4 years ago is completely stupid, but I can't say I disagree that I really hated how they handled Kanji's sexuality or Naoto's issues with her gender.

It's a call to boycott Atlus, not just one game they made in the past. They mention some things about Catherine as well.

#16 Posted by Marokai (2636 posts) -
@Trilogy said:

People like that are probably the reason that we don't see more developers/writers seriously delving into the world of transgendered or homosexual characters. People are too fucking sensitive and tend to knee jerk react to anything and everything that they could possibly wry something offensive from. It scares off writers from creating a story and characters that stray from the beaten path. This is especially stupid when we're talking about story and characters that can be interpreted in different ways.

I tend to agree with the sentiment but in defense of trans people, it is a very sensitive issue and someone in this thread has already made negative comments about it. If you think gays have issues in society, transgender people have it 10x rougher.
#17 Posted by Ghostiet (5153 posts) -

That is the dumbest shit I heard in at least a week and a half, to quote one Jeff Gerstmann.

#18 Posted by Trilogy (2569 posts) -

@Marokai said:

@Trilogy said:

People like that are probably the reason that we don't see more developers/writers seriously delving into the world of transgendered or homosexual characters. People are too fucking sensitive and tend to knee jerk react to anything and everything that they could possibly wry something offensive from. It scares off writers from creating a story and characters that stray from the beaten path. This is especially stupid when we're talking about story and characters that can be interpreted in different ways.

I tend to agree with the sentiment but in defense of trans people, it is a very sensitive issue and someone in this thread has already made negative comments about it. If you think gays have issues in society, transgender people have it 10x rougher.

I'm sure they do have a extremely hard time in a society that doesn't except them . But I'm not referring about trans people directly, rather irrational people in general. Irrational people come in all shapes, sizes, colors, creeds, sexes, sexualities, ect. I'm all for diversity in games and fiction in general so in my opinion, we should be embracing the writers who get it right instead of shunning them away or discouraging others. As somebody else has said, P4 maybe isn't the poster child for perfection in its social ethics but that doesn't mean it's outright offensive. I think people sometimes forget that there are shades of grey and I think that's what Atlus did well with the writing their characters. Just my two cents, anyway.

#19 Posted by fRAWRst (236 posts) -

What

how kanji develops as a character is probably the most anti homophobic arc in a video game

at first he shames himself because of what society tells him what a man is suppose to be. only when he comes to terms with who he truly is does he become confident. naoto is about the same, she beleives in a male driven police world, women are weak. only when she embraces her female side and accepts that she is who she truly is does she crack the case and become an ace detective

#20 Posted by Marokai (2636 posts) -
@Trilogy: Absolutely. Even I, as someone who doesn't like how either Kanji or Naoto were handled, am not offended by the game's treatment toward those characters. I just tend to think of the treatment toward them as a little bit cowardly.
#21 Edited by MasterRain (254 posts) -

I thought Naoto was just pretending to be a guy because society was sexist, and otherwise she'd never get anywhere in the police force? I don't think the game was saying that she was a man in a woman's body and that was wrong, she was just a tomboy. They were trying to get her to do more feminine stuff as she'd spent her whole life pretending to be a guy, but that wasn't necessary anymore.

Also this is a massive first world problem aha, I love sometimes just to look at these 'issues' on a bigger scale and they are just hilariously insignificant. Many issues in the western world just exist because we literally have nothing to worry about.

#22 Posted by metalsnakezero (2269 posts) -

@fRAWRst said:

What

how kanji develops as a character is probably the most anti homophobic arc in a video game

at first he shames himself because of what society tells him what a man is suppose to be. only when he comes to terms with who he truly is does he become confident. naoto is about the same, she beleives in a male driven police world, women are weak. only when she embraces her female side and accepts that she is who she truly is does she crack the case and become an ace detective

Pretty much what makes them great characters is that they accept who they are from interest, skills, and gender.

@JeanLuc said:

umm 4 years late much?

EDIT: And yes I think this boycott is stupid.

Thanks for pointing that out. After 4 years, someone got the balls to post this?

#23 Posted by Jeffsekai (7017 posts) -

what a dummy

#24 Posted by Vinny_Says (5630 posts) -

I've watched half the endurance run, and I'm pretty sure this is a giant troll. I mean that post says "oppression" like 900 times....

#25 Posted by msavo (7522 posts) -

Cool.

#26 Posted by Hailinel (22708 posts) -

Yeah, Naoto disguises herself as a male because she perceives that as her best means to fit in as a detective. It was never specifically about sexual orientation or sexuality for her. And in the novel, it's apparent that she's grown more comfortable in being herself in that while she still dresses in men's clothing, she's no longer trying to hide the fact that she's female. She just prefers to wear a suit rather than a dress.

#27 Posted by NoobSauceG7 (1210 posts) -

People are stupid. Naoto is a great character and there is no reason for people to bitch about the Persona 4 characters.

#28 Posted by Brodehouse (9370 posts) -

Atlus is about the only company in the world doing anything with transgendered characters, and they're doing it in very good faith from my perspective.

Is Kanji gay but just straight as far as Naoto is concerned? He never professes much interest in men, or women even, just Naoto. Is he just straight but confused because of effeminate tendencies? Is Naoto just a more traditionally masculine straight woman, or does she even have much of a sex drive at all (it doesn't seem that way)? Naoto doesn't seem like she's necessarily trans-spirited (I believe is the PC term), but that she just has extreme body issues (apparently she's packing some cannons but keeping them wrapped tight). Those are interesting characters.

You know, I think a thing that's going to happen more in games is that instead of dating characters yourself, you're going to be setting up matches more often. Being able to talk to Joker about EDI in Mass Effect, or seeing Garrus and Tali hook up is almost better than dating either of them yourself. I would rather talk Naoto into giving Kanji a chance than date her myself. Ultimately if you like the characters you kind of want to see them be happy.

And then there's Erica, which is probably the best representation of a trans person I've ever seen in media (spoilers!). It also solves the "why is there one woman in this crew of dudes known each other since high school" thing really excellently. That always sticks out to me when I see it in fiction, and they resolved it insanely well.

I'm sure trans people would agree that a boycott harms their interests more than helps.

#29 Edited by Animasta (14460 posts) -

why they didn't do this after Persona 3 I have no idea, I have to assume it's a troll because they brought up Erica in a negative light, and Erica is awesome

#30 Edited by mutha3 (4980 posts) -
@Marokai said:

@Trilogy: Absolutely. Even I, as someone who doesn't like how either Kanji or Naoto were handled, am not offended by the game's treatment toward those characters. I just tend to think of the treatment toward them as a little bit cowardly.

Yep. 
 
Well, Kanji's specifically. In retrospect, I don't think they were tackling trans themes with Naoto at all.
 
Erica was great, though.
 
EDIT: the anime was pretty bad with the way it dealt with Kanji, tho. I found his portrayal there very problematic.
#31 Posted by Gamer_152 (13974 posts) -

I think that in general games and the gaming community need to be more accepting of people who aren't 18-35 white heterosexual males, but that being said, Boycott Atlus makes a very weak argument, and one against the exact kind of people they probably should be praising. There are large sections of those blogs which are just poorly written, they don't do nearly enough to try and give examples of where Persona 4 goes wrong, and they seem to take the game depicting something as an endorsement from the game that that thing is morally okay.

I know the Comics Bulletin article talks about multiple interpretations of a story, but in many ways there seem to be obvious interpretations the game is trying to make that shine above all else. Naoto's story depicts an exact reflection of the kind of gender oppression Boycott Atlus is talking about, and shows Naoto's unhappiness and troubles with self-acceptance because she feels she has to act a certain way for society. In it Naoto finds true happiness by no longer hiding her true gender from the world, no matter what people may think of her, I think you have to go to some lengths to interpret that as a transphobic story. Meanwhile Kanji is one of the most intelligent explorations of sexuality I've found in games, he neither fits into the traditional macho male role, nor the stereotypical flamboyant homosexual role, but he exhibits significant insecurity whenever he's perceived to not be fitting into traditional male norms. Again, when he casts aside society's expectations and embraces his true self, he finds happiness.

I see that Boycott Atlus takes dungeons like Kanji's to be a metaphor for defeating flamboyant homosexuality or the idea of gender reassignment, but I believe the true meaning behind these dungeons comes into focus much better after the late revelation in the game that the dungeons in the TV world represent society's expectations of people. What happens in the TV world is intended to be a metaphor for saying fuck you to the outside world's perceptions and expectations. The characters in the TV obviously don't represent their true selves, that wasn't his "true side" of Kanji that they were vanquishing, it was the sometimes insensitive and stereotypical views the world has.

Finally, there may be some sexualised depiction of females in Persona 4, which games probably have more than enough of, but dare I say the way Atlus uses it is justified. A character like Chie may show some skin but I never feel like she goes too far with it, and when characters do show more skin, it's not because "game with pretty lady", it's usually to make a point. The swimsuit scene by the creek is used to explore Kanij's sexuality and the male characters actually get their comeuppance for sexualising Chie and Yukiko. The beauty pageant, again, explores the way Kanji sees women and actually shows it's Naoto, the more gender ambiguous character, rather than the females dressed in swimsuits who wins. What's more Ms. Kashigawa who has a preoccupation with being praised for her own looks is actually shown to be severely disadvantaged by her own vanity. And when they go into Rise's strip club dungeon, Rise is shown to be significantly distressed by her own sexualisation, it's a bad thing that gets ultimately rejected by the characters.

I think Boycott Atlus is way off and just recounting all this reminds me of what a fantastic job Atlus actually did in Persona 4 with their characters and the social statements they made.

Moderator
#32 Posted by SomeJerk (2969 posts) -

*Ahem* That's personcott, thank you very much.

#33 Posted by Cloudenvy (5890 posts) -

This seems super dumb to bring up now. Where was all this 4 years ago?

#34 Posted by triviaman09 (758 posts) -

Boycott Atlus does have a poor argument in that they want the character to be something she is not. But they do have one salient point in the game's portrayal of gender-reassignment surgery as some sort of horror in Naoto's dungeon. Certainly not worth boycotting Atlus over, particularly since Atlus is one of the few video game publishers willing to take risks in the US, but that part should have been changed or treated with more delicacy.

#35 Posted by SilvarusLupus (310 posts) -

@triviaman09 said:

Boycott Atlus does have a poor argument in that they want the character to be something she is not. But they do have one salient point in the game's portrayal of gender-reassignment surgery as some sort of horror in Naoto's dungeon.

Well, the reason it was treated like that was because her Shadow was going to pretty much kill her. I don't think it was trying to bash the surgery itself.

#36 Posted by Red (5991 posts) -

For the people wondering why it wasn't around 4 years ago, maybe they didn't want to spoil the game? Or hadn't played it enough to know about Naoto?

Anyways, this is total and complete garbage. I may get a lot of hate for this, but the practice within the LGBT community of trying to officially out completely straight characters (like Bert and Ernie) has gotten to the point of a weird, attention-starved insecurity.

#37 Posted by FluxWaveZ (19155 posts) -

@SilvarusLupus said:

@triviaman09 said:

Boycott Atlus does have a poor argument in that they want the character to be something she is not. But they do have one salient point in the game's portrayal of gender-reassignment surgery as some sort of horror in Naoto's dungeon.

Well, the reason it was treated like that was because her Shadow was going to pretty much kill her. I don't think it was trying to bash the surgery itself.

Precisely. It's a shadow. Naoto's shadow wasn't going to help her out and literally change her gender; the shadow's whole point is to kill her.

#38 Posted by Random45 (805 posts) -

I don't understand, Naoto isn't even transsexual to begin with, she just looks like a guy. There are a few things I can think of though that might offend people, like when I decided to romance her in a play through, I had to say the reason I was helping her was because she was a girl, and not because she was my friend. I just chalked it up to Japanese cultural differences.

" Atlus’ most recent big budget title, Catherine, is very insulting and problematic in how it handles the trans character it includes."

WHAT? I thought they handled it excellently in that game, s/he wasn't put into a poor light at all, and the only reason s/he was having the dreams at all was because s/he was leading the kid on, letting him think s/he was fertile and that they could have children. The teasing she got from her friends was just that, teasing - it wasn't hard to figure out that they went way back, and most of the stuff they said to her was what a friend would say to another friend. Seriously, you cuss out your friends all the time and say derogatory things to them jokingly that you wouldn't EVER say to a stranger.

"...in the Persona 4 Anime, wherein the cast actively wants to harm a person for being flamboyantly gay..."

Are they referring to Kanji here? The only person who ever really bothered him about his sexuality (if he's even gay to begin with) was Yosuke, because he's kind of a dick at times.

This is just freaking stupid, the person who wrote that probably hasn't even played any of the games he mentioned.

#39 Edited by Plasticstars (168 posts) -

As someone who's trans, the person writing that blog is a moron.

#40 Posted by casper_ (882 posts) -

loved p4 and i dont have strong opinion about naoto but atlus fucked up the kanji story so badly in really cowardly non-commital way. they could have told a story that related to what some of the problems real life kids are experiencing but no it was just some superfluous, shallow anime bullshit again and instead of real courage to do something unexpected just more boring mediocrity.

i wasn't personally offended by the characters just really disappointed

#41 Posted by SathingtonWaltz (2053 posts) -

I can't believe how many people get anal devastated over things that literally have no bearing on reality.

#42 Posted by stinky (1545 posts) -

@casperhertzog said:

loved p4 and i dont have strong opinion about naoto but atlus fucked up the kanji story so badly in really cowardly non-commital way. they could have told a story that related to what some of the problems real life kids are experiencing but no it was just some superfluous, shallow anime bullshit again and instead of real courage to do something unexpected just more boring mediocrity.

i wasn't personally offended by the characters just really disappointed

yeah i remember his story kind of petering out. thought it was going somewhere then it kinda gets swept under a rug.

been a long time, can't remember the details.

on topic of this person's rant, she/he is missing some points of the story where the group sticks together to help one another.

naoto had problems, but i think the game made you sympathize with her. same with kanji, the group was stuck with him to help.

those points seem to be lost.

as for the depiction of high school kids going "babe hunting" fits with what young men do. don't remember them raping anyone, just going through hormones.

#43 Posted by Phatmac (5686 posts) -

This won't be going any where. Just ignore it folks, we won't hear about this for long.

#44 Posted by JeanLuc (3518 posts) -

Ok reading though the article more thoroughly, it at one point mentions how Person 2 and Persona 3 include transphobic jokes and how Catherine was insulting in the way it handled Erica. I haven't played Persona 2 but I have played Persona 3 and I don't remember any transphobic jokes. I also didn't have a problem with Erica or the way she was treated, but I'm also not the best person to judge. The article never gave examples to support their claims. I'm all fine for someone wanting to point out something they think is wrong but arguements like this without evidince is a personal pet peeve of mine. Does anyone know about the transphobic jokes from P2 and P3 they are talking about? Also did anybody not like the way Erica was handled in Catherine? I would love to hear someone else's opinion.

#45 Posted by Superkenon (1191 posts) -

@SilvarusLupus said:

@triviaman09 said:

Boycott Atlus does have a poor argument in that they want the character to be something she is not. But they do have one salient point in the game's portrayal of gender-reassignment surgery as some sort of horror in Naoto's dungeon.

Well, the reason it was treated like that was because her Shadow was going to pretty much kill her. I don't think it was trying to bash the surgery itself.

It was portrayed as mad science, more specifically. I'd say largely because you're smack dab in the middle of Naoto's spy fantasy. Context is important. But moreover, it's a representation of Naoto's struggle. Because Persona. The thing with Naoto isn't so much that she desires to be a man, it's that she desires to be a detective, but she feels ensnared because she feels her gender is the only thing holding her back.

Becoming a man is a completely scary thought to her, because it isn't what she wants -- it's simply a thing she fears is the only answer. Her theme is about embracing that she is a woman, and that she won't let it stop her from achieving her dream, which I believe is a wholly positive message. It's a simple one: being who you want to be, and not letting society dictate your life based on your gender. To call this an anti-trans representation is ridiculous. It's just not who she is. In fact, if Naoto were to go and change her sex all for the sake of a job... well, that's the message that strikes as negative.

Being transgender is about being true to who you believe you are, yes? I'm going to go out on a limb and say it's not meant to be a work-around for societal standards, at any rate.

Well, there's my nonsensical two cents about that.

Anyway... even if they did have a point here (to which I say nope, but...), aren't there bigger fish to fry than ATLUS...?

#46 Posted by Animasta (14460 posts) -

@JeanLuc said:

Ok reading though the article more thoroughly, it at one point mentions how Person 2 and Persona 3 include transphobic jokes and how Catherine was insulting in the way it handled Erica. I haven't played Persona 2 but I have played Persona 3 and I don't remember any transphobic jokes. I also didn't have a problem with Erica or the way she was treated, but I'm also not the best person to judge. The article never gave examples to support their claims. I'm all fine for someone wanting to point out something they think is wrong but arguements like this without evidince is a personal pet peeve of mine. Does anyone know about the transphobic jokes from P2 and P3 they are talking about? Also did anybody not like the way Erica was handled in Catherine? I would love to hear someone else's opinion.

I think that the thing in persona 2 is that one of the characters crossdresses (really it's more homophobic than transphobic) and in persona 3, it's operation babe hunt.

#47 Posted by JeanLuc (3518 posts) -

@Animasta said:

@JeanLuc said:

Ok reading though the article more thoroughly, it at one point mentions how Person 2 and Persona 3 include transphobic jokes and how Catherine was insulting in the way it handled Erica. I haven't played Persona 2 but I have played Persona 3 and I don't remember any transphobic jokes. I also didn't have a problem with Erica or the way she was treated, but I'm also not the best person to judge. The article never gave examples to support their claims. I'm all fine for someone wanting to point out something they think is wrong but arguements like this without evidince is a personal pet peeve of mine. Does anyone know about the transphobic jokes from P2 and P3 they are talking about? Also did anybody not like the way Erica was handled in Catherine? I would love to hear someone else's opinion.

I think that the thing in persona 2 is that one of the characters crossdresses (really it's more homophobic than transphobic) and in persona 3, it's operation babe hunt.

How exactly was operation babe hunt offensive to transphobic's? Its just high school boys hitting on girls and get shot down horribly. That's pretty normal.

#48 Posted by FateOfNever (1758 posts) -

I just skimmed it and caught the part about Erica apparently being handled poorly in Catherine. What? Erica had her operation, all of her closest friends from high school stood beside her decision to do it and remained her friend afterwords, and even kept the truth of the matter a secret from the new kid in the group. They never put her down, abused her, or did anything truly offensive to her, and they also didn't even make a joke of it (aside from having Toby chasing after her only to learn the truth of the matter at the end.) If anything, Catherine probably handled it better than just about anything I've seen and they handled it well. These people clearly have no fucking clue what they're talking about and are just looking to try and cause a scene over nothing because it's the cool thing to do.

#49 Edited by Animasta (14460 posts) -

@JeanLuc: one of the ladies has a really stereotypical drag queen voice?

no wait, it's that it called her "beautiful lady?" I forgot it wasn't voiced D:

#50 Posted by YI_Orange (1071 posts) -

@casperhertzog: I don't think you really understand Kanji's character. I could try and explain what I mean, but I think did it best a few years ago.

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