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Thread: Skullgirls sexism free pass
06-08-2013, 10:25 PM #21
Or is it just the internet being the internet? I'd say Skullgirls also has a fair amount of publicity. It was a popular console fighter on the PS3, then had a big enough Kickstarter and Greenlight campaign. It's similarity of having overly sexualized characters should have only served to increase it's publicity around the time DC was getting a lot of flak."Halo is designed to make the player think "I look like that, I am macho sitting in my undies with my xbox""
07-08-2013, 12:28 AM #22
I realize how ridiculous these designs are, but I would rather we just had absurd dress & proportion for males as well, along with more titles which exhibit good / nuanced / sensible sexuality. If we as a culture are going to tolerate hypersexualized romps of games we ought to have the self-awareness and gumption to dole them out fairly, yes? The problem here is I don't know if a male Fighting Fuck Toy is analogous to a female FFT; they don't magically cancel each other out, in any case. But still, I think the following reasoning is painfully stupid:
1) I see men as animated suits of plate and women as jello bound by leather
2) I suggest we fix this imbalance by turning everybody into animated plate
That's also known as Taliban Logic.
The problem isn't sexualization itself but being singled out as especially, predominantly or firstly sexual. Naive reduction of silly proportions, female FFTs and outright porno games won't fix anything. I'd say we need more better female sexualization, more in the way of male/queer sexualization (both comical and serious), and more frank discussion of proper social behavior & etiquette vis-a-vis sexuality. Our species won't lose its desire to have and fantasize about sex, so we'd best work it into our critical and normative frameworks or nothing will improve.
If we're being New Puritans I say screw the whole endeavor; I'd rather be decried as a hateful boor than accede to moralistic absolutism, especially vis-a-vis sex and body-image.
07-08-2013, 12:49 AM #23
I have no interest in either game. However I really like the animations in Skullgirls. They're very creative and very difficult to create. DC's art style blew me away despite my general dislike of manga/anime/whatever the fuck its characters are drawn from. I'm grateful for the controversy because it made me discover something genuinely beautiful. It's also more thoughtful than the vast majority of "let's clone Tolkien" / add spikes / Uwe Boll tier art usually found in games.
But hey, you find hot helpless women in dungeons. Surely that never ever happened IRL!
On a related note, it's hilarious how sites like Polygon and Eurogamer assign female reviewers to games with women and/or sex. Does anyone actually believe Ellie Gibson has any credibility when she claims that Alan Wake is a sexist game because his wife is kidnapped?
07-08-2013, 09:50 AM #24
There's nothing wrong with sex, and we certainly need better female reputations of it, I'm just yet to see how that remotley equates to a hyper sexualised lesbian fantasy. Again, I know nothing of the overarching narrative but what's on show in what I've seen is girls who are dressed in a classic kinky soft porn fashion with physics to accommodate that, beating each other up. I don't get why that's cause for celebration or exemption from the criteria that games that use such tropes usually get from RPS and other similarity socially concious journalists?
A truly sexual identity isn't just about how much or how little you show or reveal, in my experience, it's about your overall personality and personhood.
One of the major issues with the whole sex in games dialogue if you ask me is that it falls into the trap of assuming sex is primarily about genitalia and erogenous zones. Any good sex therapist will tell you that it's about far more than that, and that to reduce sex to the purely physical is very unhealthy. It's a very "summer of love" interpretation i.e naive and over simplified. You want more sexually accurate and relevant characters then you need to write better people, not more sexually aggressive or knowing or ironic ones. Sex exists in a context, like everything, but it's a context which is rarely written in, and that's where the damage comes, because people without context aren't people, they're objects and things. Sex isn't something you can just detach from your being and display in isolation without consequence and without compromising the rest of you that it has detached from.
It's a wider problem in the medium too. War games for example are about blowing shit up, whereas that's only a tiny part of war. But it's the fun bit, the digestible bit, the bit we want to see and do, so that's what we get. War without the guilt. Likewise with sex in games. Titilation and access without effort, without personality, without feelings, T and A without having to worry about the need for companionship or considering someone else . Its a commodity for the audience's amusement.
I'm not saying that Skullgirls is wrong or bad, but I'm pretty sure its not an impressive or progressive female or sexual representation either, which seems to be the implication given by a lot of press and individuals who are otherwise very critical of this sort of portrayal usually. I do wonder whether it's just that so few women, indeed lesbians, enjoy this sort of creative success, there it's a felt that there is a need to defend and support them on that grounds alone. But not approaching something critically on that basis is patronising more than anything else I would say.
Last edited by sonson; 07-08-2013 at 09:57 AM.
07-08-2013, 04:02 PM #25
While nothing to do with sexism, I'd like to see RPS tackle this whole furor over Tribes. It's a game they enjoyed, but apparently it's in absolute shit order at the moment, shutting down their forums, banning people for being...too good...etc. It's something that seems the sort of thing most companies couldn't get away with. Obviously it's not just up to RPS, but they're usually pretty decent at asking hard questions and so forth.steam: sketch
07-08-2013, 05:20 PM #26
That must not be the case with these examples, so I'm off.
07-08-2013, 07:15 PM #27
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God of War gets some press regarding the general regard towards woman but it usually is short lived.
And well most Korean MMO are grindy and horrible and no one cares enough to fret about their art style for very long.
08-08-2013, 01:25 AM #28
The rest of your post was agreeable-ish. I don't know if your talk of lesbian fantasy was rooted in my post or if it was unrelated musing. I thought the understanding was that "Female Fuck Toys" are a hetero male fantasy and thus are unrepresentative of hetero female fantasies and/or those of other orientations.
To be clear, I don't want Skullgirls to go away, I'd just rather it exist in a broader, more upfront and socially-accepted soup of culture. So more well-written, diverse and interesting relationships and sexuality alongside more diversified cliches and titillation and exaggeration, and a more earnest and sustained cultural role for sexuality.
Toward the end you seemed to get into a pop culture vs niche culture issue. I don't expect loads of people to get deep into Crusader Kings 2 nor do I expect an avalanche of avid hotrodders or straight pool enthusiasts. Cynics claim plebs and pop-culture consumers are all uncultured turds, but that's more like petulance than wisdom.
08-08-2013, 02:55 PM #29
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Skullgirls is problematic and the fact that the lead animator is a women doesn't mean anything. Women can internalize and/or perpetuate/perpetrate misogyny. Skullgirls has a particular look that tends to appear less offensive than portrayals that attempt to be more realistic, but that is not an excuse.
I'm not sure its possible to police every single game, so I can only say that the coverage of misogyny should be proportionate to the total amount of coverage of a game. So a game no one heard of doesn't need a ton of articles while this game clearly needs more.
09-08-2013, 01:01 AM #30
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09-08-2013, 01:58 AM #31
Ideally cliche, stereotype, exaggeration, fanservice, porn etc would be understood as such and would be facets of a more diverse and frank culture. We may or may not need less lowbrow art & media, but surely it should have less cachet; it should be treated as the schlock it is.
Tangentially, we have socially-engaged fitness models in McDonald's and Samsung ads and in TV and films and we have physically-exaggerated socially-engaged persons in animation and games and comics. Isn't that all a glaring mixed message? "Aspire to be physically and socially healthy by vegetating to best CONSUME our processed carbs and CONSUME our electronics and CONSUME our media."
The antidote is moderation. The lifestyle we're being sold is self-contradictory; one can't have the idealized spoonfed cake whilst eating it. One can either be subsumed by gear and food and entertainment in which case one will bloat and socially decay, or one can moderate such malaise and instant gratification with community, DIY, ethical consumption, sparser environmentally-conscious living, etc.
I genuinely think consumerist conditioning is central to misogyny, the obesity epidemic and the rise of eating disorders and body image distortions. It's all tied up with the popular glorification of violence, decontextualized titillation and moneymaking as ends-unto-themselves. The more you have, the more you want, the more you fill that omnipresent void, the better. Right?
Censuring certain things may be necessary given their prominence but it's such a boring endeavor. I guess misogyny is a cliche so critiques thereof will be samey throughout the ages... maybe that's why I prefer curt description of crap as crap and more in the way of promotion & creation of better, nuanced things. To her credit, Danielle Riendeau did that in her Dragon's Crown review. She more or less said "the exaggerated anatomy is dumb and off-putting" which was all it deserved as far as she seemed concerned, and she praised other aspects of the game and reproached its grindiness.
On that note, I dislike people bsing about objectivity wrt such reviews as if they are amoral LogicBot5000s who know the structure of the equation describing Good Reviewing and have determined the correct quantities to plug in for x_game. Naked arrogance and lack of empathy drips from their words as a noisome tar.
09-08-2013, 09:16 AM #32
I agree with pretty much everything you just wrote, but I have to congratulate you on your use of words in doing so.
09-08-2013, 12:39 PM #33
I was reading something the other day about feminist theology which I think was very presicent in regards to this debate. Here’s a quote:
The traditional doctrine of sin as largely based on testosterone-induced self-assertion and self-aggrandisement demands a reconsideration which includes a woman’s experience of loss and the negation of self.
I’m not sure if I’m going to express this adequately but I think that notion is sort of at the heart of the matter. One of the ills of patriarchy is that it has enjoyed such power to even assert the terms of goodness and virtue, and I guess what I’m trying to say above is that Skullgirls falls into the trap of defining it’s empowerment (if indeed that is what it is doing) along these typically masculine lines. Now the point is not that men are x, and that women are Y, or anything of the sort. True equality is the belief that men and women are people, not types or species.
That said unless it is very inverted one of the more identifiable ways of challenging patriarchy is to examine what it lacks and present an alternative, and underrepresented counterpoint in order to bring greater roundness to the whole. Patriarch is unquestionably very lacking, and non-presentive of the whole of humanity, and needs correction. The values it espouses whether they be in favour of man or woman are incomplete and dis-empowering, whatever garb they choose. Even if that garb is one of dynamic kick-ass sexually aggressive girls. The values seem the same to me.
Skullgirls can be whatever it wants to be. It doesn’t need to be a rallying cry for feminists, lesbians, anyone at all, on any basis. That said I don’t see sufficient critical subtlety on show to suggest that it is inverting the typical masculine viewpoint from within the parameters it is using, and it doesn’t appear to be offering much of an alternative to it either.
Given that, I’m failing to see why it’s being heralded as this especial feminist piece on the one hand, or exempt from the criticism a game offering the tropes it does usually would either. That’s my issue. I don’t think people are calling it out for what it is. I don’t know what it is, or really have a problem with it I either, I just know that it really doesn’t appear to be what people are claiming it to be, but the critical reaction to that fact is essentially mute.
So I guess my problem is with the reporting on the issue rather than Skullgirls, even though it's not my bag personally.
Last edited by sonson; 09-08-2013 at 12:47 PM.
09-08-2013, 01:41 PM #34
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I do think that the 'because a woman did it' is a big factor here - and it's confusing and contrary, sadly.
09-08-2013, 06:15 PM #35
I could've missed RPS giving that aspect of the game such treatment, ofc. If they're all happy with it, though, I'd be puzzled. I don't actually think they would be given their track record; maybe it's just a slip.
10-08-2013, 02:47 PM #36
RPS isn't about attacking each and every game out there, despite what some of the moral crusades in recent times seem to suggest. Notably it seems like the AAA industry are only capable of this kind of thing, despite Anita Sarkesian's latest video showing that the indie sector is guilty of similar sins. To my mind Skullgirls can be tossed into the same category as every other game with ridiculous female character designs, particularly if you buy into Anita's ideas that parody/satire or acknowledging the sexualised image is no excuse or defence. Yes, everything should be considered in a broader context, but by my way of thinking if Anita can pick out and extrapolate on elements of games to turn it into an argument supporting misogyny, then Skullgirls isn't immune.
That said, RPS can report on whatever its writers like to report on, there's no requirement for them to condemn every single element or game. Do I think it's a little odd that Skullgirls gets a free pass but a misconceived bloody female torso is like waving an inverted cross in front of a church? Perhaps, I mean with all the crusading against sexism I'd have expected an argument about it, but RPS can do as it pleases.
On a side note, indie games seem to get off a little easier with RPS, to the point where absolute rubbish "games" with 5 minutes of effort end up getting coverage for christ knows what reason. Most of them are made in Unity with almost no effort and are totally incoherent. When considering that, it doesn't surprise me that Skullgirls gets a free pass.Nalano's Law - As an online gaming discussion regarding restrictions grows longer, the probability of a post likening the topic to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea approaches one.
10-08-2013, 04:35 PM #37
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It bears mention that the designer of Skullgirls' characters is a straight guy and the lead animator is a straight lady who just likes drawing boobs (like the many straight male artists who love huge rippling biceps?).
Oh, and I have this spare beta key if anyone wants to see what the fuss is about (sexiness aside, it's a pretty brilliant fighter with thorough, basic tutorials): WJP66-24PG2-N7YCL
10-08-2013, 08:31 PM #38
I'm not saying it doesn't have bad effects; I also know people who seem to think women are best ravaged in pursuit of fleeting ejaculatory zen, and they tend to be self-aggrandizing turds who flaunt old-world machismo and chivalry like badges of honor (as is so often done in trashy porn).
What I am saying is that the bottom-rung aspects of our culture should be treated as trash. Trashy shit can be worthwhile, though; it's just another aesthetic. We should want objectifying, decontextualizing titillation-focused media to be widely understood as lowbrow fluff and for it to exist in a more diverse market, not for it to be wiped from our culture. I think "let's have less of a thing!" is not as effective as "let's have more of a thing!" and I think the former could follow from the latter (less shit could be the result of more non-shit, I mean, so rhetorically "more good porn" > "less bad porn"). Humans like to think they're creators, after all; we should probably leverage that delusion.
Beliefs about innate good/bad are definitionally absolutist and thus are rhetorically counterproductive to people like me (I'm a moral error theorist of sorts) but they're also incompatible with basic honesty about the nature of knowledge. Philosophically, beliefs about innately-negative tropes are no better than the Westboro Baptists' are, even if the intent is commendable.
11-08-2013, 01:45 AM #39
Nalano's Law - As an online gaming discussion regarding restrictions grows longer, the probability of a post likening the topic to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea approaches one.
11-08-2013, 02:27 AM #40
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Theres nothing wrong with imagination and dreams or fantasies.
Don't let anybody tell you different (feminist or religion, etc.. )
Last edited by Tei; 11-08-2013 at 02:49 AM.List of other gaming sites - thread