Since Sarkeesian decided to abandon all the promises that she made with the Kickstarter-funded project “Tropes vs. Women,” Anita has started a new series of videos, that she also asked money for. Now, I’m not one to point out the fact that it’s so hypocritical that she asked for money for a new thing, when she didn’t finish the old one (that she got $160,000 for) and keep a single one of her Kickstarter promises. It just adds fuel to the never-ending fire that Sarkeesian is a con artist and a terrible person. And that’s as objective as it gets. How your endless apologists can rationalize this is beyond me. Oh, right, the “research” she did for her videos. I hear that one a lot. Like when she took people’s Let’s Play footage without asking them or crediting them, making us think that she played these games? I see some holes in that story. The first of the new series of videos has debuted, and Sarkeesian has decided to make this series of videos (the next of which I’m assuming we’ll see either at the end of this year or the beginning of next, because Sarkeesian can’t keep a schedule to save her life. Doesn’t hurt her bottom line, what with the money that now constantly flows in) where she lays out what is a positive female protagonist. Alright, Anita. I’m all ears. Give me your best shot.
First, I am actually legitimately shocked that you do have characters who fit your criteria of positive. I always assumed that you had impossible standards. After all, pretty much every Puritan Feminist does. It’s one of the reasons that I tell people not to play the game of trying to please your type. Lara Croft’s breasts are too big! That’s objectifying! Now they’re too small! That takes away from her femininity! See what I mean? So yeah, this does surprise me.
I can already tell who several of your choices are going to be, based on your intro. One is going to be Faith, from Mirror’s Edge. No surprise there. You’ve already talked about how much you like that game. You know, if you were an actual gamer, which, by your own statement, you are not (Santa Monica 2010 lecture). Then there’s the protagonist from Beyond Good and Evil. Another game whose praises you’ve sung. But I am kind of annoyed that you picked Ellie, from The Last of Us. Especially since I’ve already heard feminists decry Ellie as a girl with “daddy issues,” who is only strong until she needs to be saved. Though I’m sure that you picked her because she’s revealed to be gay. Or maybe you picked Riley. That would be a neat twist. In fact, I am betting that’s where you’ll go. Especially since you had that little talk where you said that one of your inspirations was “queer women of color.” When you’re not busy ignoring the sexual attractions of lesbian and bisexual women, it’s nice that you will still use them as a prop to sell your bullshit message. Oh well, whatever. It just gives me more ammo to use against this garbage and what a total hypocrite you are.
It’s interesting that your choice is a character in a 16-bit (or 8-bit. Correct me if I’m wrong) game. If you look at this character in-universe, she really could be any gender. The only major identifying feature of her femininity is the way other characters speak to her. But, just replace pronouns and it’s pretty obvious that this character could go either way. In fact, you admit that a lot of players did believe that she’s a guy, throughout the game.
Now, this is a solid game, regardless of this character’s gender. The fact that the gender is so nondescript makes me think that this was a point that makes it so that the player can identify with the character easier. Or rather, so the player can use the character as an avatar. After all, most players don’t see video game characters the same way the see film characters. They see them as being a body for them to inhabit to immerse themselves in the game’s world. I should note that this is NOT how I game. I’m a story-seeker by nature. When I game, I do so with the intent of seeing a narrative play out. So I see myself as an omniscient overseer. It’s a dichotomy.
Wait, did you just admit that, yes, she is a blank slate for the player to project themselves into? I got that right? That this character’s gender really has no bearing on the character herself, because of the fact that she is silent and that it’s all open to what the player thinks, and that the perspective of the player that she’s a guy isn’t technically wrong. At least not entirely? Did I get that right? Wow. Good for me! But this does blow open why any argument for the character’s merits means nothing.
If you are saying, Anita, that this character is literally just an avatar for the player, and that she has no real personality, outside of what the player does – then how the hell is this a character that is admirable, by your feminist standards?! Is your ideal of a good female character a blank slate that has no real personality? Don’t say that I’m putting words in her mouth. This is by her own admission! Your brand of a positive female character is a person with no character at all. How can anybody who calls themselves a feminist stomach that?! I mean, come on! A strong woman who is able to look after herself and do her own thing? Fuck that! I got this female character who has no describable personality and is who you are!
Maybe that’s the secret to this. Maybe it’s pro-women because it is the woman who plays her’s personality. If that is an argument that you are putting forth, then I can pretty much just call bullshit on every single other selection you make with positive female characters. Because any character who has any personality at all doesn’t fit this archetype of a positive female character, by your standards. This is interesting. The more I learn about the way you see feminism, the more I realize that, underneath it all, you are full of shit. I put a bunch of Puritan Feminists in a room and tell them to tell me what a positive female character in a video game is like, you know what I bet won’t be on the list? A character with no personality, outside of the player’s.
Whenever the next in these series of videos does get made, Anita is going to have to REALLY reconcile how all these other characters are able to fit into her archetype, when her first example of a feminist-approved character is a blank slate, with no motivation, no personality and no back-story. I can’t see how she’ll do that. Probably won’t even bring it up. She’ll just ignore the elephant in the room. She does that habitually, with every single one of her giant flaws in the things she has said and done lately. This wouldn’t surprise me. Unreal.
As for me, I need characters in the games I love to have, you know – character. The only game I have seen give a silent protagonist character is Journey! It really is kind of weird that the positive representation of women in gaming is a woman without any identifiable characteristics at all. Probably says a lot about you, actually. Though wait, I vaguely remember a game you pitched with a character much like this. A Mary Sue, who can do no wrong and is just awesome, and has no real character, outside of doing stuff. I guess we’ll see where the next video goes.
Until next time, a quote,
“As you said, Professor Price, a hero always needs a sidekick.” -Max Caulfield, Life is Strange