Monday, May 4, 2009

EPISODE TWENTY-THREE: "Mississippi Pwning 2"

The trailer for "Resident Evil 5" caused a fervor over scenes of a white uniformed hero battling waves of poor Africans infected with animalistic feral rage. The actual RELEASE of the full game was supposed to calm the tensions and mitigate the loaded imagery. THEN we found out about Sheva's "tribal" costume, and the Native Village. Why is this still a problem, and what does it say about this business?

Y'know what I don't like about this issue? The fact that people insist on being "offended" by OTHER PEOPLE'S OFFENSE. The same (mostly) white gamers who go - justifiably - insane when a TV show or a book portrays gamers as stereotypical lazy manchildren somehow can't imagine why other people MIGHT take offense at being stereotyped - even if unintentionally - by a Resident Evil game.


The Prodigy said...

Don't know how you do it, but you made another great video. You sure you shouldn't be a professor on this stuff or something? I really hope we don't get a Tyler Perry type video game. Just can't deal with it.

Great vid, Bob.

P.S. Thanks for the review on Xmen Origins. You gave me more reason to look into the film and not want to see it, other than the fact that I just don't dig Wolverine as a character.

P.P.S. Yankees suck? We're gonna have to have a talk, my friend...

Funkeh said...

I really do hate you opted for a blogspot page rather than a real page due to my avoiding it like the plague but FUCK IT lets continue.

I for one am proud to say that i am subtly racist but i don't find it impossible for me to identity with a character from a different ethnicity. Though i have been known to boot up saints row 2 and make a black man in a suit accompanied with an arsenal to make America shit its pants.

I find it annoying as fuck though the homophobic xenophobic racist community you find on many gaming platforms ( i am primarily a pc gamer though so i can say that their is at least a slight bit of maturity within its ranks ).

Also on the whole video games come from japan thing remember many games can also trace their roots to classic pen and paper rpg's. ironically those games tend to to pretty badly in the Japanese market.

Matthew said...

I can see your point MovieBob. But on the otherhand I do have to wonder if this in fact the case or if your just aruging it that way. I mean I kinda took your Sexism review at point blank only to find out talking to my little sister who is a female gamer she didn't feel the same way. And in fact, was insulted that the ending summary was "Girls must make the change!" when she doesn't feel that way at all.

Anonymous said...

Full Disclosure: I haven't played RE5, nor to I plan to. Horror games are not my thing.

When it comes to your female sidekick's unlockable costume, I have to agree with you. I also agree that black character portrayal has been lacking. Have we learned nothing from the Cosby Show? (And why the Tyler Perry hate? What's wrong with wholesome entertainment? Again...Cosby. Show.) Black characters in games and comics (my usual domain) are few, and if we get them, they're usually the gangsta or near gangsta type stuff, all "grim and gritty" (read most Milestone comics), as if all black people agree with 50 Cent and his crew.

On the other hand, the African village? Those villages and villagers exist, and although I don't know the in-game context, I just figure the Japanese developers watched the wrong National Geographic program. But they do exist, the stereotype comes from somewhere. Where the bad stereotype comes in is when the stereotyper treats the stereotypee like the stereotype (last time I write that word) is the rule rather than the exception, or there was a reason that no longer exist. Some black people do eat watermelon, too. It's just not a genetic trait, as it used to be portrayed.

There also have been black superheroes in full costume. I point to Milestone again (this time positively) or other DC heroes. You properly give Bruce Timm props for using John as something other than token black guy (watch Smallville), which I feared he would become. I still think they should have used Kyle Rayner, but that's me. John was an awesome character.

But yeah, there's still work to do in portayal. I'd also like to see more interracial romances in fiction that doesn't start lampshading "jungle fever". Just let them date. Skin color is no different than hair or eye color, and people mess with those all the time.

Anonymous said...

An incredibly well-written, insightful and intelligent video.

Many of your points sound like Peggy McIntosh's idea of the invisible knapsack. There are certain aspects of being white in American culture that most of us (as I am also white) take for granted. We take these aspects for granted because we never witness first hand what it's like to be without these privileges.

Moreover, I completely agree that most whites view their ethnicity as the "default" and other ethnicities as "different." From a cultural relativism perspective, a more accurate view would be to view one's culture as just one expression of a way of life not "better" or "worse" than others.

I think this all feeds into your point in this manner. White gamers never have to think about why they aren't represented because they are nearly ALWAYS represented in the games they play, and this is just one (albeit a more superficial example) of the way in which white privilege works. There aren't many sufficient examples of minority main characters in gaming that aren't overly stereotyped. The main offenders in mind from the games I've played: Barrett (Final Fantasy VII), Wakka (Final Fantasy X), Drebin (Metal Gear Solid 4), and Carl Johnson (GTA: San Andreas) among others.

We, as consumers, should demand diversity in our games. Not just along race but gender as well. We should be able to have a female protagonist that isn't just the love interest or the eye candy or the helpless victim. Game creators and publishers are creators of culture, and as such have an obligation to create that culture in a way that reflects reality. No, women's sole purpose in life are not to be stared at and saved, and minorities are more than capable of filling more fulfilling more substantive roles in a cast other than the "angry" guy. We all should be consuming games that reflect our potential as a society. We don't do a very good job of that now.

Why is this a problem? Two reasons. Firstly, the point you make about providing protagonists for all races is completely accurate. I'd add that there is a segment of white gamers who see Barrett and Wakka and DON'T SEE ANYTHING WRONG. Be it nieve ignorance or purposeful racism, they may hold a stereotyped view of minorities or women and this view never is challenged by the video games they play. While it's important to have all ethnicities represented in games so that not just while males can identify with the main protagonist, doing this also provides white males with positive imagery of minority or women cast members in non-stereotyped roles to challenge any misconceptions they may have about other cultures.

Are video games the right medium to be teaching children (and adults) about ethnicity? To avoid the topic and saying that video games are meant as a means of "escape" and "entertainment" is like Charles Barkley saying he's not a role model. Whether game developers and publishers like it or not they're creators of culture and that comes with a responsibility to make games that are socially conscious.

Finally, I really don't think having a black (or woman) protagonist that is non-stereotyped would have a large effect on the sale of that game. I would hope that gameplay and marketing account for more of the variance in game sales than the ethnicity of it's main character, but there goes that idealism again.

This post is way too long, but I just wanted to say good work moviebob on a excellent video and share my opinion was well.

The Video Game Addict said...

Funny video.

Shallow commentary.

The idea that this is about race is completely ludicrous to me. It is set in Africa where there are black people, strangely. Further, in the events that would have transpired in RE 5 there would have been people trying to kill you with spears, not that all Africans have spears, but to claim that none of them would have spears is as stupid to me as saying that no American can kill you with a knife. Simply not true.

The costume is not about race, although maybe it was a bad choice. The costume was about an attempt at authenticity coupled with shallow sexuality. (It's about showing her tits in a way that makes sense).

The race card is stupid to use in this context. Would you prefer that this black woman be dressed as a schoolgirl, and that we shoot white people in Africa instead?

Or maybe we should just quit talking about black people altogether: maybe then the problem will go away.

Black people live in Africa. If you set the game in Africa, black people will attack you. Pretty girls in this kind of game get slutty outfits. If it's an African girl, she's going to get an African slutty outfit. Simple as that.

Jeff said...

I think Game Overthinker is spot on the money here.

The bone-through-the-nose, grass-skirt wearing, spear-chucking tribal is a stereotype that hasn't seen the light of day in like 70 years.

The worst part is, of all the people who are justifiably offended and those who balk at the offense, the people who have felt nothing are the actual Africans.

This isn't like Africa is just some country somewhere. It's an entire continent full of little countries, most of which are in turmoil constantly and are economically crippled by the remnants of colonization.

While Game Overthinker does say there was no evil intent, look at what was unconsciously done. They exploited the worst parts of Africa's perpetually dire situation as a backdrop while that shit's still going on over there. Say what you want about game's love affair with World War II, at least the Holocaust is over.

And what's really bad is that Capcom has repeatedly stated their desire to get more in line with American tastes (due to lagging sales in Japan of things and this weird ignoring of the Wii, but whatever). Now what does that say when they think that RE5's almost overt racial tones and ludicrous stereotypes are acceptable to America?

Brandon said...

It's weird considering that Capcom also made Dead Rising a game with a strong African-American Character Brad Garrison

Blake said...

Another fantastic episode Bob.

Certainly not the best choice for Capcom, especially with all the hype surrounding the game months before its release.

I completely agree that the video games we play need to be more diversified and I know just who to turn to. Two companies who have proven that they can think outside the box about dealing with race and have interesting main characters who aren't white:

Valve and BioWare.

BioWare has a track record of being able to pull off this kind of stuff, going back to Jolee from KOTOR to an entire game that was built as an Asian RPG (Jade Empire) and one of the best supporting characters I've seen in a while, Captain Anderson in Mass Effect.

Valve of course has their blockbuster franchise, Half-Life with two main characters who are both black and both incredibly popular and well done; Alyx and Eli Vance (PS: Valve, where the FUCK is Episode 3? The premise of episodic content is defeated if you take 5 years between episodes).

So... Valve... you've already done well with Half-Life; Alyx is still awesome.... but whenever you decide to make whatever is coming after Half-Life 2... keep Bob's thoughts in mind.

And BioWare... I know it's too late to change Dragon Age: Origins... and if you change Commander Shepard in Mass Effect 2... let's just not talk about that... but some diversity in SWTOR would be a good idea... and in whatever console/PC venture is coming after DA: O...

Valve and BioWare; when it happens, you can say, you heard it here first.

Mike Ralls said...

Oh, and I actually rather like the non-Madea Tyler Perry movies; Why did I get Married and The Family That Preys were melodramatic, but interesting none the less.

Mark said...

First of all, excellent work. This is what we wanna see, Overthinker.

I thought the tabula rasa thing was interesting. It's sad that it's so unconcious. Say I went to a party and met some friends of my brother. If I could remember one of the white one's names, my brother might say "Oh, that's Roger, the one with the red shirt." or "the funny one." But, if he were black or something, inevitably my brother would say "oh, the black guy." Thus, he is and only is black - the shirt escapes notice.

To those who use the "it's set in africa, of course they're black" explanation are missing the point. It's not that they're black - it's how they're portrayed. One of the other posters suggested that spears are analogous to knives - not at all. KNIVES are analogous to knives - an accepted weapon. A spear is superloaded with racial stereotype, a knife is just a knife. A spear is like if an Australian was armed with a crocodile, or you fought Americans armed with lassos, or Irish armed with beer bottles.
One interesting thing I think warrants mention is the fact that many people view the stereotypes as OK because they are often "positive". Most people don't leave a stereotypical action movie thinking the black player was dumb or anything. Usually, people come away thinking "man, that guy was BADASS!" It's like the whole issue with people assuming Chinese kids in school, or kids with glasses, are smart. People are ok holding "positive" stereotypes, even if they are stereotypes.

Case in point - Sheeva's costume is HOT, so people don't get offended by it. If she was Aunt Jemima or something like that, people would start to feel guilty about it. So I don't even think strong, prominant lead characters of minority gruops will help, they have to be *different* from the stereotype, or somehow "tabula rasa" like white people.

sorry if this is a tad long...

Eric said...

Very good episode this time, and after your first part I was actually expecting something along the lines of "it's still not racist". I'm not going to lie and say that most of what you said isn't something you can't find in a second-year university sociology class, but then I guess that sort of thing doesn't get transmitted to the Average Idiot.

In fact, while normally I'd say these issues need to be communicated in ways that can hit a wide variety of people, at the same time I don't think you explored them nearly enough. After the bikini costume photos first leaked I was prowling message boards and posting that it was indeed both sexist and racist for a variety of reasons, yet almost every single person (most of them either white or minorities who have bought into the ideology of whiteness) was quick to jump at my throat, some even asking me for sources - which I gave in spades, but of course they went unread and ignored.

The point I'm kind of making here is that even though you can argue that games need more positive depictions of non-normative races, ethnicities, genders/sexes/sexualities, differing levels of dis/ability (though you have to steer clear of the whole ornamentalising and whitewashing problems, which unfortunately still plague is even in more "progressive" media), at the same time you can bring a horse to water but you can't make it drink; that is to say, when a huge population segment has an absolutely astoundingly disgusting view of the world that it buys into as an unconscious premise of its very existence, well, you have a very uphill battle on your hands. The first things that meet you when presenting a contrarian statement are fire and vitriol, and when even the "better" members of our society do not want to concern themselves with issues in a way that is even the least bit demanding on their intelligences, ideologies, or whatever other paradigms, I fear for the battle that is to come.

This is of course compounded by the fact that "we, gamers" are at best a very small group of what is ultimately the general consumer audience for videogames. Time and time again, for those with an ear to the ground, the "gaming community" as it currently exists on the Internet, including its more educated and informed niches, tends to represent such a small fraction of the total populace as to be almost entirely dispensable. This is why Deus Ex didn't sell well, this is why Beyond Good & Evil went very much ignored; and this is why Call of Duty, a game franchise which is close to being contemporary xenophobia incarnate, and why Grand Theft Auto, quite possibly the ultimate purveyor of stereotypes, consistently sell millions of copies with every release.

In a sense, it all goes back to Plato (as it usually does). You can always see the good, but never quite attain it, and bring it to the masses is a very, very difficult problem, one whose solution is, while not unattainable, much more likely going to fall on deaf ears than it is to succeed. We are making progress towards social responsibility in media, but I highly doubt we will see truly significant changes within any of our lifetimes. All you can do is grab on to the hope that the world can be made better, and in your own way, work towards that goal.

Anonymous said...

Then again, japan has a history of racism longer than USA and which is still in sorta in effect. And since they have no such history as USA has with racism, if they released this only in japan, nobody would think it is racist.

So no, I don't think R5's problem is with the issue you talked about, I think it is simply a product from a country where you can still depict such racist cariactures and people won't mind.

Bob said...

By far my biggest "facepalm!" moments of this has been how many people want to defend the costume as "traditional African garb." Do they HONESTLY think that's something that anyone has ever un-ironically worn there? This is where this problem comes from - it's the 21st Century and we're STILL viewing Africa through the eyes of Allan Quartermain.

CrunchyEmpanada said...

I really don't believe that you can't find me a smattering of isolated places in Africa where people still wear such things.

Further, I hear tell there's an explanation for why they were wearing those things. But I haven't played it so I can't say. And from the looks of it, neither have you. You sure you're actually right on this point, Bob?

Anonymous said...

I agree with you for the most part on this whole issue, but I think your conclusion is lacking.

Do the "right" thing and get serious about getting everyone into the game?

Game designers injecting black characters into their games or even creating games around black characters for the sole purpose of "getting everyone into the game" is a terrible idea for the same reason that a black person using the n-word and then getting offended when I white guys uses it is terrible.

You can't expect to gain acceptance and be treated the same as everyone else if you treat yourself different from everyone else.

If someone injects black characters into a game or creates a game revolving around black characters just to push them into the mainstream, they're treating black characters different from every other kind of character.

A character should fit a role in a natural way, not be forced in to work towards an agenda. As long as we have majority of game designers being white and Asian males, we'll have majority of our lead game characters being white and Asian males.

Think about a character-based game YOU would make if you were a game designer. Would you include a black character because it's a natural fit for you, or would it a stretch for you to include a black character because of where you grew up or how you were raised?

There's really no solution to this other than to get a more diverse crowd of game designers. Ranting that current designers should include "everyone" in their games isn't the answer.

Still, I agree that the ignorant use of old, black stereotypes was a horrible move on Capcom's part.

untravaersil said...

---Completely Unrelated---

I just heard the Game Overthinker got a spot on screwattacks "my vids don't suck" contest! See todays sidescroller!

First The Escapist, and now Screwattack? Mr. Moviebob, you are made of awesomeness and win.

Luckzeh said...

Yeah, chasmang is remarkably spot-on.
There's really no solution to this other than to get a more diverse crowd of game designers. - A politician would now think it smart to instate quotas. 25% of game design students need to be one-legged black lesbians with speech impairment. (Discriminating against The Evil Majority for the good of your minority of choice will only make said majority feel resentful for in turn being discriminated against

Would you prefer that this black woman be dressed as a schoolgirl, and that we shoot white people in Africa instead?White nazis please. At least Red Storm's Tom Clancy games told us that if we're making a videogame based on a book with muslim terrorists, we gotta turn them into fanatical white nazis. Those then can be German or Russian or from the USA.
And school girls are hot. Japanese schoolgirls. They squeal as soon as you look at them! I'm not sure what the stereotype for African schoolgirls says. Probably that, due to war etc, there are no schools, especially not for girls.

Game creators and publishers are creators of culture, and as such have an obligation to create that culture in a way that reflects reality.Whose reality though? If I worked at GSC Game World, the makers of STALKER, I'd hardly ever see a black guy in my life, no? The same probably goes for Capcom employees. You can only then make games that reflect your reality, not the reality somebody else would like to have.
Speaking about wishful thinking and all, enough gamers (typically more those of the female persuasion based on anecdotic evidence and minor bits of common sense) tend to favour non-realistic games, and really only want to play games that give them a fantasy world that's completely detached from their reality.

But, if he were black or something, inevitably my brother would say "oh, the black guy." Thus, he is and only is black - the shirt escapes notice.Aaaaand if your brother had thirty black friends, this would not happen. (I don't know about you, but I can memorise somebody's facial features, hair colour, skin colour, voice etc better than what's on their shirt)

A spear is like if an Australian was armed with a crocodile, or you fought Americans armed with lassos, or Irish armed with beer bottles.The Irish are known for beer now? I thought they had 'cooler' things. You're forgetting the whole leprechaun thing too. I'm sure this insightful article would provide all the inspiration you need.

I'm not going to lie and say that most of what you said isn't something you can't find in a second-year university sociology class, but then I guess that sort of thing doesn't get transmitted to the Average Idiot.Don't you mean can instead of can't? Because this way you *seem* to say that it is far above the level of second-year university sociology classes. Don't play with double or even triple negations, kids! Unless you're from a cultural background where that is acceptable, anyway. It's perfectly okay if your mother tongue is Russian, for an example.

Andrew said...

Excellent video Mr Game Overthinker. I would even have to say it's better than the previous Mississippi Pwning episode.

There is something getting me though. What exactly does a correctly done, racially sensitive game look like exactly? Have there been any games that have at least tried to rise to this standard? We can all list a few games with racially insensitive characters in them. But are there any games that actually give good back story and character to their ethnic characters?

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas at least attempted to give a good story to a strong ethnic character. Even if the entire game was steeped in American black stereotypes.

How do we avoid the stereotypes as well as give meaning to particular ethnic characters and their plot lines? Perhaps there is a movie you could reference that has done this well in that type of media.

Overall a good episode, though I don't particularly see what you think the solution should look like.

heh. On the other hand, I could just be blind. :p

Bob said...


That's the catch: If you do this RIGHT, nobody notices ;)

FWIW, I don't know that stereotypes ought be avoided outright - one of the most enduring forms of character-design is CARICATURE, and race can certainly play into that. It just oughtn't be the only thing out there.

Shawn said...

Not going to defend the whole spear chucking and tribal thing, but there was an in game explanation for it in one of the files that you find somewhere in the village about the virus umbrella tested on the natives causing them to "start wearing the tribal outfits that no one wears anymore." and revert to the stereotype that they are in the game.

So in a way Capcom is saying that White American Companies are the ones keeping the stereotype going, but its doubtful how many people are actually going to think that hard about the game.

The Abhorsen said...

Bob, I usually love your vid's and I can understand your reasoning here, but I have to disagree with you big time here.

First of all I think your entire viewpoint is exceptionally American on this issue. I'm from Europe and your entire "white's think they are the state of normality" thing really is not how it works here. You can racists of course. But not like that in such an over the top way as you bring it.

Also I think everbody always in general looks at things from their standpoint. If something is targeted at a white male, it's from their perspective. If it's targeted at a black male it from their perspective. But I do think such things as black vs white for example must live a lot stronger in the US then where I'm from. (main thing even the racists here care about these days is not black people, it's muslims).

I think the irony is in your plea to not look at things from just ones own limited perspective... you did just that ;) But I can understand where your coming from. For example your "proud to be an American" start of all your movies is something that actually bothers me a great deal (I find it highly insulting and I find it arrogant). But I ignore it since I love your movies and I don't think your some dumb sterio-typical redneck (which is pretty much the main view Europians have of Americans in terms of steriotypes). But I think you've never realized this in your movies since from your standpoint patriotism isn't a bad thing. While in my "culture" patriotism and racism are pretty much seen as the same thing!! If you wear a dutch flag on your jacket you identify yourself as a racist here for example. I think you kind of forgot that there are more white people out there then just Americans and they all have very different sets of values. Just as some Europians sometimes forget not all Americans are Rednecks but there are also liberal free thinking people (like yourself) living there. Big country, massive amount of differences between people. You've just done what you accuse Capcom on... steriotype and generalise white people (and Japanese people as well actually).

Also about the game. I have a sneaking suspision you've not played it (much) or know much about africa. Not only do such villages really still exist (it's not a sterio-type. they are there) but it's explained in the game as well as being very deep inland and not the standard way. They (both the urban blacks and the tribal ones) are also always protraed as being victims! Both Shiva and Chris are quite upset and pissed of about how there people are all turned into monsters by the big evil white dude. Because all the main villians are... WHITE! they hurt the africans. This is the overal theme of the game. Which I guess you'd have know if you'd actually played it ;)

And you'd also know that aside from Sheva youre quite often also helped by a third char who again is black.

The entire thing about her outfit? It's just a dumb attempt to make her look sexy. I doubt it has much to do with either racism or anything you talked about. Aside from half naked girls being aimed at young males perhaps.

The funniest thing is, of my friends who are black not one of them who has played it has seen it as racist. Nor does my girlfriend actually think Shiva is threatening her with her over the top looks. She just found it nice to be able to play a girl, and wasn't worrying about issues of race or sex appeal.

Bob said...

The Abhorsen-
"While in my "culture" patriotism and racism are pretty much seen as the same thing!! If you wear a dutch flag on your jacket you identify yourself as a racist here for example."See, that strikes me as rather a pity. I've not had the pleasure of spending time in your country, but I do understand that there is a big "situation" there right now between (what I take to be) opposing sets of extremism either outright-rejecting assimilation of immigrants or wishing to 'enforce' it by edict; but I'm inclined to find it slightly depressing that so many would allow the symbols - like a national flag - that ought unite all of them to be co-opted by one "side." (I imagine it would be the political allys of Geert Wilders wearing the flag pins, yes?)

I mean, speaking as an outsider, Dutch culture has a lot to be proud of itself for. It's contributions to art, culture, politics, philosophy and science are of staggering importance in both Western history and the history of the world at large. To my mind, it's sad to think one would be disinclined toward pride in that. But, then, this could just be an American thing. We are, after all, the 'baby' country ;)

Anonymous said...

Shawl's post made me remember some other points I had to make, so here goes.

As you might have noticed, european people don't see racism in the same way as say, your aberige american person will. Take for example case Blaise Zambini from Harry Potter, when he was revealed to be black, people wondered why Rowling hadn't mentioned it when she introduced him. In truth, she simply didn't think it was really worth mentioning. I am sure in a lot of american book such thing would have not been presented that way, if a character were black, he would have been instantly mentioned as such. Also, a alot of americans must have missed that Rowling took a stand against a more local racism, towards red haired people and throught that, the irish.

I guess we europeans hold a vastly different view towards people of african origins since our history with slavery has been vastly different from the one america had. You might be aware that slavery, especially in africa, was far from the clear cut 'white people steal poor black people from their homes' cliche you usually see. In truth, slavery was a business and a tradition to many of the tribes living in africa. And when people from outside the continent began to have trade with them, they traded slaves like any other goods. And the black slaves went pretty much everywhere around eurasia. And in some european countries they even gained freedom to live as free men. Britain was one of those.

Now, I'm not saying there hasn't been racism from europe's side, faaaaaaar from it. I'm simply noting that the situation of the black people living in europe was vastly different than the one in america, and that has seeped into the culture too.

And sometimes when you look at the movement in america, it seems really bizarre. Innocent children's books like little Sambo, which was even originally not about a black child, being banned along with books that historically tried to better the lives of the black people in america ( Unle Tom's cabin) makes it seem that even the slightest negative thing said historically about blacks is bad. Look what happened to poor Disney when they tried to go along with history in Princess and the Frog. And sad to say, that makes it seem almost annoying to atleast in my opinion, because it takes one good thing and twists it into a ever going war.

Sorry if I'm rabling, just had to say these points

Ari said...

As a black, male, adult gamer (look, I cover 3 different demographics at once!)

I find absolutely nothing wrong with Resident Evil 5. It always disturbs me that more white people are always more offended about contextual "subliminals" and reach at straws more than Al Sharpton reaches for the box of Relaxer.

I'd like to call the pretense of caucasians viewing certain things as offensive, as "White Liberal Guilt".

Let's get this straight. Stabbing, and rocket launching white people in Raccoon city- well and good.

Blowing off Spaniard peasants infected with Las Plagas- Cool.

Shoot insane, Uriboros infected African people? SOMEONE HIT THE PANIC BUTTON.

It's not as big of a deal as you'd think. A little thing called logic comes into play here.

"Things coming to kill me"

Do you

A. Reason with them

B. Shoot them.

C. Call a Non Profit Organization and attempt to build a foundation for them.

I'm going to go with B.

I agree with what you said about our gradual inclusion into primary roles in many fields, but your perspective is a bit skewed in my opinion.

As far as your Madea hatred goes, either your sarcasm is at Defcon 5, or you don't understand the appeal of a non-holier real character to the (primarily) black, Baptist Christian audience (Aka the South)

Repetition in his own storytelling withstanding.

I'd love to know your personal thoughts about these things, as I feel they lead to progressive discussion.

Felix Tatman said...

Great video!

Sean said...

Great video. I live in South Korea at the moment, and whiteness is also promoted in the media and pop culture here, an issue of enormous importance. I found this video via, and I was surprised to see something of such academic caliber there. Keep it up!

Sean Aaron said...

Nice video; though I don't have much interest in the full RE games (bad plot and overlong in addition to the control issues), I have to agree that the "RE5 is racist" stuff is overblown.

Your point is definitely taken on the rest, though and I completely agree. Things like casting in films without regard to race (Shawshank is a great example of what can happen) where it's not a central element of the story is a big step forward.

As an expatriate American who's lived in Scotland for the past 8 years I can also say that this skin colour obsession is pretty unique to the USA. In the UK tv is replete with images of people from many backgrounds; our tv personalities and actors are often also real people, unlike the USA where even news presenters look like fashion models.

Of course everything isn't perfect; there are few non-white MPs and in several centuries have had only one woman PM -- forget about a non-white one (there was a Jewish one though, which still amazes me).

Still I understood you're coming from the perspective of a US citizen; it would definitely help if you leave the country, though. Even Canada would give some much needed perspective. The USA has a long way to go baby!

e said...

Being a gamer whos not racist (how can you be racist if you hate everyone equally?), it kinda irks me when stuff like RE5 is used to represent the whole of the game industry and to be honest, me and my friend had a nice chuckle at the infamous village sequence (IOW, we acted like redneck racists the whole section), Okami, is a beutiful game but no one I know of at my school plays it, or has at least but everyone talks about the new 50 cent game. On the subject of that I really can't take the video game as an art movement seriously when for every okami we have at least 10 madden 08's, and when relatively few games are considered art (or maybe its soulja boy getting his own game)

Rena said...

I am going to be either brave or stupid here (most likely both :) ) and say something considering I should put up the disclaimer that no, I have not managed to make it out of the country. So white American girl here sharing her thoughts.

While I do wish we had the same views on some things as Europe, you need to also think of context and the other side. Patriotism is a very good example. You think of it the same as racism apparently, but that's not what it is at all to us. So before being disgruntled at Overthinker having proud to be an American at the start of his videos, stop and think what he means when he says that. Despite the fact we share an understanding of English, your background certainly colors how you view the message versus how I do!

And with video games, you need to think of where they are made. While you might not find it offensive, that doesn't change where it could be coming from. Just like I don't take offense to the stereotypes women are put in with Japanese comics and animation, that doesn't change the fact they are stereotypes and honestly it's more of a tolerance then a acceptance for me. While part of the equation is certainly the target audience a lot will be affected by who made it.

And as for why Africans are mentioned so much, that certainly is because we do have such a history with them as well as the fact this started with Resident Evil 5. We certainly have issues with lots of things, racism that Muslims face now for example from some people.

PS. ....Okay, Barrett? I agree there, and we'll have to wait and see how Square handles Sazh in FFXIII. (Chocobo living in his afro. Cutest thing ever, so um I was certainly focused more on the bird there.) But Wakka? I didn't really think of him as black, I thought of him as more a islander and while not your normal surfer stereotype, still one of them. Just like Tidus was a jock and surfer stereotype of sorts.

NathanS said...

Just a little point on the Manga characters look Caucasian point, that only because for you Caucasian is, as you noted, tabula rasa. However one thing that you didn’t take into account, not because or evil or stupid, but rather because it an unconscious act that you’ve had no reason to think about. That is when you see someone with some degree of light skin you assume that there Caucasian unless something tells you otherwise, in the case of Asian the eyes tend to be the tipping point for a lot of people. However for the Japanese it he opposite, they see them as Asian unless current features are there, features that most Manga characters don’t have.

First lets talk colored hair. The fact that some character have blond hair isn’t always to make them more Caucasian, no more then blue hair makes them, well whatever. Its just another way to A) let the character stand out, and B) sometimes say something about their personality. With that covered lets move onto what makes a character look Caucasian to the Japanese, as for the round eyes, I’ll get to that at the very end, when I connect it to body hair. There that should keep you reading!

First here’s a pic ( of the characters from the Manga Monster, which takes place in Europe. The guy in the middle is the only Japanese character. Here’s we get the two main futures that make someone look Caucasian. The first is the chain and jaw line. Now Manga and the art derived from it is famous for amongst other things having pointy chins, now this is a more naturalistic art style so no chins are pointy. Now notice who comes the closest to having a pointy chin, that right the Japanese character, because so by giving characters pointy chins the Manga artist are just stylizing the slimmer chins and jaw lines that the Japanese tend to have, and thus giving a charter a more fully developed chin or is a way of saying Caucasian, if the character is missing it they can be assumed to be Japanese.

The second feature is right under your nose, in fact it is the nose, sorry couldn’t resist that. Now there are a few reasons that Manga tends to all but drop the nose out, for one thing it's a non-expressive facial feature taking up room that could be made for large highly expressive eyes. The reason that matters her however is that Japanese tend to have smaller noses then Caucasians. Well Caucasian noses come in all shapes and a fair number of sizes that all tend to be more prominent, even if thin they have a good chance of jutting sown with a hook or something. Now take a look at the pic. Who has the simplest least noticeable nose? That’s right once again it’s the Japanese character.

Now we come to the last feature that isn’t on display in that pic, body hair. Caucasian’s we got a lot of hair, not just on out head like most normal people but also on our chests and legs and even our arms! Now think about something, when a Caucasians draws a Caucasians how often do they put hair on the arms outside of close ups? As a reader of comics from all over the world, it’s not often. Why? Because we just assume you know it’s there, it’s so trivial why bother going out of your why to draw attention to it? See where I’m going? It’s the same thing with the Japanese and eyes in Manga, everyone knows what eyes really look like, and super huge eyes, that no group of people really have, help in communicating is a visual way that the idea of putting “realistic” Japanese eyes seem as silly to them as always drawing body hair is to us.

Thus, for instance, Goku with his pointy chin small nose and lack of body hair says Japanese to Japanese readers, and the idea that he looks Caucasian would liky be seen as silly.

Lyn said...

Your article does make sense. As a black woman I thought the character was kind of hot and that adding some dude running around with a spear does seem a bit racist.
But, it's probably one of those games that will make me motion sick.
It is true there needs to be more diversity, but the guy above and his points about anime characters is kind of true. No offense to Japan who has given birth to the best swords ever, the best band ever and some good video games, might have a bit of an inferiority complex which is deeply depressing. You can't deny how Eurocentric things tend to be. Non-stereotypical characters of all races done in a non-hokey way in comic books, video games and other medium would be awesome.
Also, I kind of like Diary of a Mad Black Woman. But OSC eats that guy's movies with a spoon. Some of us blacks are heathens said...

Awesome video Bob! Keep it up. I still love RE despite everything though - even the live action movies.

-Mike B (chippa's bud)

Deavas said...

Well thought out aside from being off-topic 60% of the time. I found myself getting frustrated when it took you forever to get to the point even when it's blissfully obvious. There's one thing I want to point out though, and I'm sure some agree with me on this. The African bikini was not at all a stereotype. Name one instance where we see this type of costume outfitted on a black woman in Africa. Seriously, people are getting their panties in a wad over what.. masturbatory aid wrapped up in novelty and comedic relief at most? I'm actually a little sad that the first conclusion that a white male(being one myself) comes to after seeing this outfit is "Oh wow where is society going! You see that's just what everyone thinks when they see a hot African tribeswoman!"(and really are there realistically enough of them in existence to argue about?!)The point I'm trying to make is that we are too quick to call something a stereotype. Sure some things like black people eating watermelon and white people not being able to dance well are definitely widely considered to be stereotypes (however even these are seen as purely comedic devices and not really seen to be true by anyone.) However... hot African tribeswomen wearing feline striped bikinis? Who the fuck has ever heard of that before? Anyway.. I agreed with the point you were trying to make and hope to see more videos from you :D.

christopher said...

great video... just wondering have you seen the video for left 4 dead 2 I thought that shit was really racist

Russell I. said...

How do we avoid the stereotypes as well as give meaning to particular ethnic characters and their plot lines? Perhaps there is a movie you could reference that has done this well in that type of media.

Just to name a few lead black characters that I think Bob would agree with that go along with this criteria: Spawn (comics), Blade (films), Robert Neville (from I Am Legend film).

It's really not that hard to do. These characters were received well with the audience. I don't see how that same reception can't translate well into video games. Seriously, how bad could inFamous have turned you off if the lead character ended up being black (while nothing else changed from the game besides maybe a different voice actor for the lead character)? It's nothing that changes the major plotline, it just so happens that you have a black guy who doesn't follow stereotypes, is the lead character, and is introduced in the gaming world.

Derrel B. said...

Very Very Very Well said. I've been thinking the same thing about many of these characters for years. I'm glad you've decided to shine some light on this topic.

Daud said...

Great episode bob, you hit on some really crucial stuff about race that people need to hear way more often.

Mysterious Mango said...

Bob makes some good points about race, in particular the fact that white culture is seen as the norm. However, I still think both he and other people attacking RE5 are being too sensitive about race. This is nothing new though. By and large I think people are too sensitive about race.

Where was the racism in RE5? Where? Is it racist, period, to set a game in Africa if it has a white protagonist?

larrykwil said...

you may not be completely right about the Japanese perspective on whites.

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Dylan said...

I do sort of agree with you on certain points, and I can see where you're coming from in every respect, but I'm still going "what's the big deal?"

I mean. I see nothing wrong with showing an African tribal in a grass skirt and war paint throwing spears because that's what the actually did. It's the same reason I have no problem with an image of white people living in their own shit and tossing it out the window, because that's pretty much also what's happened. Likewise, I have no problem with the typical "gangsta black guy" stereotype, because that's one that, while often exaggerated for comedic effect, is based entirely on reality and nothing else. I also see no problem images of leprechauns and potatos, black people being criminals, white people being stuck up middle class closet-racist, italians being greasy mario rif-offs, Asians being stuck-up corporate minded suits and perverts, the British having bad teeth, Americans being fat and power hungry, humans being inferior to terminators, earth being an overall shitty planet, constant war games that are just there for exploitation of vietnam and world war 2, or any other video-game or otherwise media-based stereotype that is not actually racist, but called so because it's a comedic exaggeration of stereotypes grounded in truth. If they're used aggressively meant purely for offense, then yes, I'm totally against it. But showing Africans living in shanty towns, or in grass skirts throwing spears doesn't bother me because guess what - Africa is a shit-hole for the most part, and they used to wear grass skirts, dance around in war paint and chuck spears. Just the same as the British were power-hungry tea-sipping bastards until America took over.

The point you made about black heroes and costumes, I think you used a bad example. I mean, it's entirely based upon the character. Suppose they just don't like wearing a costume. Blade never work a costume. And he was the first black superhero [who wasn't a stereotype just there to fill a race quota.]

And that's all I'm gonna say.

Malevolent said...

They explained in the game "why" they're in grass skirts throwing spears, that they reverted their culture in some sense due to the virus impacting their minds, and even so, Africa does still have tribes like that, why are you having a cow saying Capcom dropped the ball? That we went down to the mat for Capcom, and they did this? I see nothing wrong with it. What is expected? Business suits? A plain cammy cheesecake outfit for Sheva? I think you're just appeasing to the crowd with this. There are still tribes like that in Africa, Sheva's outfit represented part of the culture. Frankly you're just talking out of your ass once again Overthinker, reaching for some sort of race thing to gain said more popularity, like a politician reaching for more voters.

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