Would anyone be complaining about misandry if Lara was a man?

#201 Posted by Kierkegaard (603 posts) -

@MuttersomeTaxicab said:

@rebgav said:

@MuttersomeTaxicab

There is very little reasonable female representation in entertainment media at all, these are industrial endeavors attempting to attract the widest audience possible without inviting commercial or critical controversy, given the storm in a teacup around this game it's not difficult to see why commercial creators would shy away from attempting to depict their vision of a strong female protagonist. When clearly lumbered with the concept that any depiction of a female character is a statement on all women for all time, it must be a revoltingly restrictive prospect for an author in any medium. If creators aren't allowed the freedom to explore the ramifications of gender or race or sexuality on their individual fictional characters without being expected to carry the torch for an entire segment of society then there can be no equality in media representations, there can only be Generic White Males because you can do as you please with that character without fear of controversy or reprisal.

Creators have to be able to try to tell stories with female protagonists without every moment of their attempt being put under some socio-political microscope - more importantly they have to be allowed to fail, perhaps spectacularly, in their attempts otherwise there is no way to learn what sort of approach will be satisfying or interesting or pleasing for their audience. Hell, they have to be allowed to take completely unpopular approaches which don't paint their subject in a positive light, without fear of their efforts being decimated by populist thinking or their careers being harmed by torch & pitchfork mobs. Otherwise we simply have to make do with nondescript white male protagonists fighting nebulous conflicts against generic malevolent forces until the end of time, brought to us by an industry of cowards.

Except in other mediums, there are reasonable female characters. Agreed, they're still not the norm. Neil Gaiman, for example, has expressly said that he prefers writing female characters. "Revoltingly restrictive" seems like an odd word choice, but given Lara Croft's prominence, I imagine this isn't exactly the discussion that Crystal Dynamics wants to have.

At any rate, I'm all for creative freedom on the part of the designers to do what they want, but that doesn't preclude the audience, arguably part of the target demographic from voicing their concerns. Yeah, it's conceivable that this may just give rise to more homogenous nondescript white male protagonists in AAA titles, but consider the business that Tomb Raider did. I think any moneyman worth their salt would probably say it's worth the internet hand wringing if they can pull it off.

Exactly. It sucks that most game developers identify as male while half of the people who play games identify as female--it creates this feeling of hopelessness on both sides as conflicts of storytelling and characterization like this happen.

Fact is, there is no trap here. There's just common decency. Resident Evil 5 is a worse game because Capcom did not remove its needless racist overtones. Batman Arkham City is a worse game because Rocksteady decided that its inmates and its cops would call women bitches and talk about riding them.

There is no moral relativism. Some things are simply wrong to do. Using sexual assault and male violence as an impetus for a female character's growth is wrong--it's icky and it's lazy.

This isn't about censorship. This is about responsible creativity. I'll be happy to teach kids in a media studies course about misogyny in games through Tomb Raider 2012 in 2020, but I'd be happier to teach them about respectful representations of gender, sexuality, and race in games in 2013.

There's nothing stopping the games industry from growing up besides itself. Portal 2 sold. Uncharted sells. You can have feminist representations of people without losing sales or gamer interest. Just make good games with cool stories. Yeah, that's hard to do, but doing the right thing is always hard.

#202 Edited by TentPole (1858 posts) -

@Kierkegaard: Fuck anyone who still claims Resident Evil 5 is racist.

#203 Edited by Kierkegaard (603 posts) -

@rebgav said:

@Kierkegaard said:

There is no moral relativism. Some things are simply wrong to do.

If you can't separate the act from the depiction of the act or you believe that there is a legitimate reason to assert a moral overtone in all fiction then your position is clear but wrong, and poisonous to artistic endeavor.

People can express whatever they damn well please in art--racist, sexist, homophobic, black power, female power, gay power, whatever. Should is a different question. Yeah, I think every person has a moral duty to treat people with respect, in artistic depictions and otherwise. That's way different than saying that I believe we should have laws that censor offensive art.

Crystal Dynamics can make the game however they want. And I can criticize what they say and make however I want. And you can criticize me. We have those abilities. The more important bit is how we respond to each other.

Crystal Dynamics can make a game about something way more interesting than a woman fighting a bunch of creepy men. I can respond to your post without insulting you as you have done for me.

Fact is, no one gains anything from hurting other people. Not in the long run. And, yes, promoting a misogynistic culture causes real harm, as does defending it.

@TentPole: That's a whole other issue entirely. It's laughable that people think the debate doesn't still exist just because the opposition was silenced and the game ended up being a kinda crappy action version of RE. Sheva's "native" costume, the zombies who have, for a contrived reason, started dressing like their tribal ancestors. It's in there. And it sucks.

#204 Posted by TentPole (1858 posts) -

@rebgav said:

@Kierkegaard said:

People can express whatever they damn well please in art--racist, sexist, homophobic, black power, female power, gay power, whatever. Should is a different question. Yeah, I think every person has a moral duty to treat people with respect, in artistic depictions and otherwise.

I think I've already stated that I disagree and why, I really don't have much more to add. I'll say this; the moment that the discussion turns to what should or shouldn't be depicted through art it is no longer a conversation about art.

How can anyone argue with this?

#205 Posted by Kierkegaard (603 posts) -

@rebgav said:

@Kierkegaard said:

People can express whatever they damn well please in art--racist, sexist, homophobic, black power, female power, gay power, whatever. Should is a different question. Yeah, I think every person has a moral duty to treat people with respect, in artistic depictions and otherwise.

I think I've already stated that I disagree and why, I really don't have much more to add. I'll say this; the moment that the discussion turns to what should or shouldn't be depicted through art it is no longer a conversation about art.

So art is a dangerous wild west of free expression at the expense of being caring toward others? Art is 4chan? Like I said, people can express whatever they want in art, but if they express bad stuff, it's bad art. You paint a beautiful picture with great lines and composition of a person in blackface with a speech bubble decrying race-mixing, I'm not gonna burn your painting. But I will ask you why you painted it and question its purpose.

Art inspires discussion. That's a good thing. Doesn't save it from moral judgment, though.

#206 Posted by TentPole (1858 posts) -

@Kierkegaard said:

@rebgav said:

@Kierkegaard said:

People can express whatever they damn well please in art--racist, sexist, homophobic, black power, female power, gay power, whatever. Should is a different question. Yeah, I think every person has a moral duty to treat people with respect, in artistic depictions and otherwise.

I think I've already stated that I disagree and why, I really don't have much more to add. I'll say this; the moment that the discussion turns to what should or shouldn't be depicted through art it is no longer a conversation about art.

So art is a dangerous wild west of free expression at the expense of being caring toward others? Art is 4chan? Like I said, people can express whatever they want in art, but if they express bad stuff, it's bad art. You paint a beautiful picture with great lines and composition of a person in blackface with a speech bubble decrying race-mixing, I'm not gonna burn your painting. But I will ask you why you painted it and question its purpose.

Art inspires discussion. That's a good thing. Doesn't save it from moral judgment, though.

Is Tomb Raider bad art?

#207 Posted by Kierkegaard (603 posts) -

@TentPole: No way to know yet--you can't judge a game, or any creation, before it's fully created.

This isn't really about artistic expression anyway. If games want to grow up (and surpass a lot of older media), they need to tell better stories with better characters through better game mechanics. They don't all need to be Portal 2, but they need to learn from how that game treated its characters.

#208 Posted by TentPole (1858 posts) -

@Kierkegaard said:

@TentPole: No way to know yet--you can't judge a game, or any creation, before it's fully created.

This isn't really about artistic expression anyway. If games want to grow up (and surpass a lot of older media), they need to tell better stories with better characters through better game mechanics. They don't all need to be Portal 2, but they need to learn from how that game treated its characters.

Fuck! I strongly agree with everything you just said.

#209 Edited by Kierkegaard (603 posts) -

@rebgav said:

@Kierkegaard said:

So art is a dangerous wild west of free expression at the expense of being caring toward others?

Yes. I can't imagine why you would try to impose a moral obligation on expression.

@Kierkegaard said:

Art inspires discussion. That's a good thing. Doesn't save it from moral judgment, though.

Judgment according to whose morals? And when? Saying that good art must be moral art is like saying that good buildings must be constructed on shifting sands.

I'm saying expression has a moral quality. I believe there are clear lines of moral/immoral actions in the world, and I know that many do not. I do not believe that good/bad art has clear lines that all should agree with.

I'm arguing that arguing about art on moral ground is not the same thing as saying that all art must fit certain moral criteria. I can pull up a picture of Barack Obama or George W. Bush with Hitler mustaches. I don't think making those images does anyone any good, but stopping people from doing a bad thing does not fix anything.

Why is it controversial to say that nothing is gained, and many are harmed, when people make depictions that are, in 2012, objectively offensive? What merit is there not in depicting sexism, racism, and homophobia, but in propagating them? We know those things are bad. Yeah, people can make whatever they want, but I encourage not to make bad stuff. This is controversial?

@TentPole: Ha! Welcome to civil debate between human beings who often agree on more things than they disagree.

#210 Posted by TentPole (1858 posts) -

@Kierkegaard said:

@rebgav said:

@Kierkegaard said:

So art is a dangerous wild west of free expression at the expense of being caring toward others?

Yes. I can't imagine why you would try to impose a moral obligation on expression.

@Kierkegaard said:

Art inspires discussion. That's a good thing. Doesn't save it from moral judgment, though.

Judgment according to whose morals? And when? Saying that good art must be moral art is like saying that good buildings must be constructed on shifting sands.

I'm saying expression has a moral quality. I believe there are clear lines of moral/immoral actions in the world, and I know that many do not. I do not believe that good/bad art has clear lines that all should agree with.

I'm arguing that arguing about art on moral ground is not the same thing as saying that all art must fit certain moral criteria. I can pull up a picture of Barack Obama or George W. Bush with Hitler mustaches. I don't think making those images does anyone any good, but stopping people from doing a bad thing does not fix anything.

Why is it controversial to say that nothing is gained, and many are harmed, when people make depictions that are, in 2012, objectively offensive? What merit is there not in depicting sexism, racism, and homophobia, but in propagating them? We know those things are bad. Yeah, people can make whatever they want, but I encourage not to make bad stuff. This is controversial?

I think we can agree that there is value to movies, books, and film that concern themselves with these topics. But what is the line between depicting sexism, racism, and homophobia and propagating them?

#211 Posted by hoossy (939 posts) -

@Dallas_Raines said:

Or would we just treat it like Die Hard, The Edge and The Grey and praise it for being so 'manly'? Apparently a man getting fucked up, but still finding the strength to fight on is badass, but if you change the man to a woman, then suddenly it's gross and misogynistic.

Yeah, the double standard is a bit strange, but that's society for you. It's not an issue I'm especially engaged in, but one might argue that the people freaking out about it and calling these things wrong and misogynistic are no better. After all, aren't they _also_ attempting to shackle females and fit them into their own world view? - Jeff on formspring

I think Nathan Drake should get rapped... then find the strength to carry on.

#212 Edited by Kierkegaard (603 posts) -

@TentPole: Yeah, should have written "promote" instead of propagate. What I mean is you can have something that has a racist character but does not agree with them like American History X or you can have something that has a racist character and agrees with them like Birth of a Nation. I can go and rent both, but the latter is promoting ideas and beliefs that do harm to others and are founded on false notions. They can both exist, but one is better than the other.

#213 Posted by zityz (2360 posts) -

meh it doesnt bother me. The fact they make her more human and the fact she can take that kind of pain and still do what she's doing is still pretty badass to me. Like in the game she's 20. 20 years old? Male or female regardless if you were getting the shit kicked out of you by mother nature and other shit in the game like she's doing, I'd think most people would be doing more than "moaning and groaning" more like "whining, crying and shitting their pants"

Honestly though. It's a fucking videogame. Have we honestly gotten to the point now in this medium where people are nitpicking and concerned about polygonal characters THAT MUCH? if so then seams like developers have reached their goal in conveying emotion through the meduim pretty well then.

#214 Posted by hawkinson76 (376 posts) -

To answer the OP: It is the kind of violence. Sure Nathan Drake, Batman, even the original Laura get the shit kicked out of them, maybe even tortured, but they are never been threatened with rape. Or even taking the (overt) sex out of it, a bad guy hasn't slowly slid a knife over Indiana Jones's bare skin , maybe drawing a little blood, while cooing/growling in a low voice, describing what he is about to do to him.

Think of all the male action characters in films and games. What the percentage of them have faced the threat of rape? Now think of every a female in those movies and games, and how many have them have been sexually threatened. The difference is vast, huge, division by freaking zero.

Why is it so different? It certainly isn't because of reality, sexual assault of males is common enough. This is where sexism, probably unconscious sexism, comes into play on the part of both game designers and gamers.

Why is the threat of rape so rarely used on male characters? Rape isn't something you want your avatar to be threatened with, you won't come away from that situation feeling empowered, so designers leave it out, including the kind of punishment that is empowering, like getting punched in the face and showing you can take it.

And so we are left with the question: Is this game pushing the boundries by confronting (mostly male) players with the threat of rape (that would be neat), or is it that Laura isn't meant to be an avatar for male players at all, but rather an object, a device to keep the game moving forward, like Elika in Prince of Persia? If it is the latter, then I'm with Jeff, Fuck that game.

That said, I think there is room for that kind of grittiness in both film and video games with male or female avatars. I'd like to see it in a game like Yakuza, where I could be compelled (as the player) to accept torture, sexual exploitation, etc as a matter of honor. But that is pure genre fiction, not aiming for the mainstream (although they sometimes break through, like Kill Bill).

#215 Posted by Alkaiser (366 posts) -

I'm intensely curious now. Has there ever been a game where a male character has been sexually molested or threatened? Or moreover, a game where male nudity was used as an eyecandy factory and not for a gross-out or a goof?

#216 Posted by WarlordPayne (705 posts) -

You can kinda get molested in Alpha Protocol.

In Saints Row: The Third you get drugged, stripped, and sold as a sex slave whether you're male or female. Zimos wasn't a player character but he was held hostage and abused for an extended period of time, like a year I think, which at the very least involved having a horse tail shoved up his ass.

#217 Posted by Alkaiser (366 posts) -

@WarlordPayne said:

You can kinda get molested in Alpha Protocol.

In Saints Row: The Third you get drugged, stripped, and sold as a sex slave whether you're male or female. Zimos wasn't a player character but he was held hostage and abused for an extended period of time, like a year I think, which at the very least involved having a horse tail shoved up his ass.

But how do they spin it? Is it played for laughs?

I'm not trying to talk down on it since I haven't played any of the Saints Row games, but they seem completely comical from the footage I've seen.

#218 Posted by WarlordPayne (705 posts) -

@Alkaiser: It is absolutely played for laughs in SR3, but you just asked if it has ever happened in a game, not if it was presented seriously.

The protagonist in Alpha Protocol played it somewhat comically but that scene was still kind of uncomfortable until you realize you can put a stop to it.

#219 Posted by Alkaiser (366 posts) -

@WarlordPayne said:

@Alkaiser: It is absolutely played for laughs in SR3, but you just asked if it has ever happened in a game, not if it was presented seriously.

The protagonist in Alpha Protocol played it somewhat comically but that scene was still kind of uncomfortable until you realize you can put a stop to it.

Ah, my bad dude. Didn't mean to seem like I was taking a jab at you, I probably could've phrased my response better. Thanks for giving me a couple recent examples.

#220 Posted by Deusx (1910 posts) -

Jeff´s answer right there has been the best answer I´ve heard about this issue.

#221 Posted by jakob187 (21755 posts) -

Women can get fucked up and have respect given to them just as much as men can. It's just that we live in a society where women and minorities are STILL fighting for equal rights. That's not just American society - that's the world in general. In America, women have far more chances than most other places, but the fact still remains that women are generally paid less, given lower responsibilities, and generally treated more poorly by fellow co-workers and such.

Therefore, you cannot say that it is completely a double standard. I mean, let's look at this in another way: why is it just now okay to use sexual violence with Lara Croft in this game as a way of showing her struggles...yet it's never happened to a man in a video game before?

But whatever. Just let an action hero be a fucking action hero.

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