OPINION: Representation In Video Games (And The Wider Media)

OPINION.

If you weren’t already aware, two AAA games, Assassins Creed Odyssey and The Last of Us Part II, have been revealed to have same-sex attracted characters, with Odyssey allowing the player to romance certain characters of the same sex for both Alexios and Kassandra and Last Of Us featuring a returning lesbian character. More and more game companies are moving away from the majority-population protagonist template of white-man-with-brown-or-black-hair-in-his-thirties, and more towards diverse casts and characters. As a member of the LGBTQI community, this is brilliant. It’s the response to it that really disappoints me.The day after Playstation had it’s press conference, I heard two separate people complain.

The first about Assassins Creed, who said that it felt weird and not quite right for the series to go in that direction. I have two problems with this. First, as much as people are entitled to their views and beliefs, given that they do not force it upon each-other. In following that ideal, People who are straight, are not compelled to follow same-sex relationships in most mainstream games. Assassins Creed will presumably have many straight romances, and there will always be the possibility of ignoring all romancing options. Secondly, This is Ancient GreeceSure, not many other older civilisations would have allowed it (Hell, Australia only legalised same-sex marriage last year), Ancient Greece is well known for having allowed same-sex relations. This is the country that has an island named Lesbos in reference to a famous greek lesbian icon. Sure, they never legalised same-sex marriage, but they also had slaves.

The second person, complained about that kiss in the trailer for The Last of Us Part II, saying it felt unnatural and forced. This really made me want to screech. Firstly, the character’s homosexuality has already been looong established in the first game’s DLC Left Behind:

So this development in the trailer makes sense with the character. Secondly, how is it any more forced than a straight kiss? There is nothing different about it than how straight romances are conveyed in both mainstream media and marketing. So yeah, as a gay guy, that straight up pisses me off when people say it “doesn’t feel right” to have those romances in the game.

But it’s not just the LGBQI community that have this problem is it? When Ghost Of Tsushima was announced, in a replayed chat log I saw on the side from when it was originally live streamed, some of the viewers made it loud and clear that they didn’t want a game set in asia, and shared quite a lot of racist comments.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Theres more from where that came from, unfortunately. Heres the recorded live-stream it’s from, you can toggle the replayed chat on the side.

All of this highlights a recurring problem in our day and age when it comes to representation. Implementing more diverse characters into mainstream media, when people like these commenters, are constantly putting these games down, spurting abhorrent and utterly revolting remarks about an otherwise good, or average game.

Sure, we can have the white american man in his thirties as a protagonist, but it doesn’t need to be more common than any other homosexual woman or a japanese man.

Films are a little better, but still have their pitfalls. Recently Star Wars cast member, Kelly Marie Tran, got given hell, and was defended by John Boyega after she quit social media due to the abuse. Hell, the entire Black Panther film had a group plan to barrage them with racist reviews on rotten tomatoes.

Theres also sometimes white-washing controversy when a book or graphic novel is adapted into a film. Such as the live-action Ghost In The Shell Film, which starred Scarlett Johanssen in the role of what was originally a character who was Japanese. Some other examples are the Prince Of Persia movie, which cast Jake Gyllenhaal as the titular prince, instead of an iranian actor or even Disney’s The Lone Ranger, casting Johnny Depp as Tonto, when the character is Native American.

Some films have gotten into the habit of having a character be revealed as LGBTQI in an interview rather than on screen, such as Harry Potter’s Dumbledore, which I’m sorry, but is such a cop-out. If the character doesn’t show, mention, or is even referenced in the actual material to be LGBTQI, then that is just trying to please an audience to be considered inclusive, when really you’re just lying to appear as such. Sure, you could argue that there may have been a thing with him and Grindlewald in the books, but it is never confirmed, and the closest they get in the books to being referred to as such, are simply as close friends.

And by the way, when it comes to established original movie characters, don’t gender-bend them for Reboots. We know you’re just doing that to appear inclusive, and it really shows. Instead, why not make sequels that add new female leads and characters like the new Star Wars trilogy, or hell, make another series that has all female leads, balance out the market considering the amount of films with all male leads.

Another problem is when they are overly feminine, like LeFou in the live-action Beauty and The Beast. South Park at least treats everyone at the same level, including the creators themselves, making it fair. It’s not fair, when you single out one or a few groups, whilst not making jokes about others, especially when you don’t joke about yourself.

I know I’m probably rattling on too much in particular about LGBTQI stuff, but two more things really annoy the crap out of me. Firstly, when films have an off hand comment in a mainstream film like “Oh I’m lesbian and have a girlfriend”, or have a single scene with a couple, that doesnt provide anything to the plot, and isn’t ever referenced to again. From what I’ve heard, the last Power Rangers film is guilty of this.

Secondly, when films follow the “Kill your gays” trope. For those not familiar, the “Kill your gays” trope, is a trend in LGBTQI romance films, that always have the LGBTQI characters in depressing circumstances. Such as having drug addictions, being the victim of abuse (physical and/or mentally), not getting a happy ending or like the majority of films in the genre: having the LGBTQI characters killed off at the end. Hence the name. Practically all LGBTQI films I have seen, bar one, have followed this trend. The only exception is Love, Simon.

In short, I’m disappointed in all of the intolerant fans, some of the rather un-encouraging straight fans, mainstream media, in how it treats minority groups at the moment.

Image Source: Ghost Of Tsushima’s E3 Gameplay Trailer

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