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  • eacaraxe 11:53 pm on September 8, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , feminism, , ,   

    Quiet but not Silent; MGSV and game journalist bullshit 

    I don’t think I actually need to link any articles to demonstrate the rather extreme criticism of Hideo Kojima, Kojima Productions, and Konami for the appearance of the character Quiet in Metal Gear Solid V. Instead, I’ll lead with what Kojima himself had to say on the matter:

    We all know Hideo Kojima is meta and modernist as fuck. The reason for Quiet’s exposure is hardly secret; the player is outright told in the game. The “secret” was out before the game’s retail release, due to leaks and street date-breaking. So, what is the “secret reason” for Quiet’s exposure? Well, unlike most game “critics” I did Kojima the favor of actually paying attention to the game, what goes on in it, and the social commentary being made.

    Let’s start with this:

    And, in this video, Joosten discusses the level of mocapping she did for the game (long story short, everything but the stunt work). So, the big question is “why?”. Well, “why?” beyond the realm of the technical. This video answers that quite succinctly, at least in my opinion:

    The central theme of the game is communication. More superficially, communication as expressed through spoken language, but lest we forget communication is also carried out (for the most part, even) nonverbally through expression and body language. So where does that leave a character who is effectively mute?

    One that communicates through nonverbally, that’s where (well, aside from her humming to indicate she has a target and is ready to open fire as a game mechanic conceit, that is). If the player actually watches Quiet rather than gawks at her lack of clothing, it becomes pretty damn clear pretty damn quick she’s easily the most communicative character in the game, especially contrasted against an entire cast of characters that talk at length but say little if anything (Ocelot, anyone?). The converse of that, of course, is that if the player gawks at Quiet’s lack of clothing rather than watches her, they’ve effectively silenced her as a character.

    I’d bet the farm that’s the “secret reason for her exposure”, as Kojima put it. To accept Quiet as a character means the player must first see beyond her (lack of) clothing, and to see nothing but her exposure is to negate her character entirely. Hell, Kojima dares the player to do it, for all the (superficially) gratuitous T&A Quiet brings to the screen. Without mentioning spoilers, it’s even something the character herself calls out in a subtly fourth wall-breaking scene later in the game.

    We know where critics of Kojima have placed themselves vis-a-vis Quiet. It’s bitter irony — and a rather blatant, but on Kojima’s part incredibly devious, display of hypocrisy — that in fixating on Quiet’s appearance, they’ve erased a very strong female character who is anything but silent.

  • eacaraxe 5:36 pm on February 25, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , feminism, ,   

    Thoughts on Mercedes Carrera, #notyourshield, and anti-Gamergate 

    Originally posted via Twitlong, 25 Feb. 2015


    I’ve noticed an uptake of “criticism” over the past few days regarding women supporters of Gamergate, whatever perceived attractiveness according to traditional standards of beauty they may (or may not) have, and what (if any) impact that may have on how seriously they are taken by their male compatriots and the level of signal-boosting they have received.

    I thought I would make a brief post on that. I mention Mercedes Carrera in this in particular, as an adult performer and quite outspoken on these matters — and as such, quite popular with Gamergate — she has become a lightning rod for these allegations.

    Let’s unpack these statements, first by examining the argument being made at face value: that male Gamergate supporters would not care if these women were unattractive, that we seek attention and validation from these women, in hopes of scoring sexual brownie points or whatever. No, anti-gamers don’t get to weasel out of that by making some “your biases are showing” statement. That’s the argument that is actually being made, whether or not they are honest enough to admit it.

    The connection is easily-understood and inferred by anyone with the slightest understanding of informal logic. If attractiveness is a sufficient condition for attention among male Gamergate supporters, there must be a reason for it; that is to say, attractiveness must be somehow valued. Value, in this case, is only relevant if these interactions are fundamentally transactional — attractive women leverage that asset for attention from men, who hope in turn to receive attention.

    In either case (women leveraging attractiveness for male attention, and engaging in quid pro quo), this is a statement reliant upon — and reinforcing — traditional gender norms, particularly in regards to interactions between men and women, and traditional standards of beauty. The underlying assumption — and hidden premise — is interactions between men and women supportive of Gamergate must be transactional.

    Completely lost, then, is any notion male Gamergate supporters may simply agree with or appreciate what these women have to say of its own merit, nor that the women involved may be persuasive divorced from physical attractiveness, nor that the women involved may have come to their own conclusions and are voicing genuinely-held belief.

    Demeaning women by trivializing their speech, regardless of content, is still demeaning women. It is, at its heart, a patriarchal argument based upon patriarchal assumptions, and any statements emanating from it can be said to be of the same nature. The funny thing about “subverting the system” as I am sure many Gamergate opponents would now retort they are doing, is one must do that from within.

  • eacaraxe 8:57 pm on February 16, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , feminism, feminist frequency,   

    Thoughts on Liana Kerzner's Feminist Frequency critique 

    Liana Kerzner’s recent excellent five-part article series on Feminist Frequency and the work of Anita Sarkeesian spurred me to think on previous writings, and I thought I would revisit some of them in the context of Kerzner’s work. If you, the reader, haven’t read the article series yet, I strongly urge you to do so as not only is it of great quality, but is illuminative of many of the inherent problems with Sarkeesian’s work from a feminist perspective.

    Though, personally I found part two to be the most compelling, and damning, of Feminist Frequency. I’ll preface this by saying my words are my own, are not reflective of Kerzner or her work, and are not to be construed as such. Though, I will be quoting from the article and adding my own perspectives. I am not as charitable as Kerzner when it comes to Feminist Frequency, Anita Sarkeesian, or Jonathan McIntosh.

    And, it is McIntosh, co-founder of Feminist Frequency and co-creator of the Tropes vs. Women series (as co-writer and producer), who would be the best starting point for my analysis. McIntosh is, sparing euphemism, a propagandist [and, in my opinion, a rather amateurish one at best, as propaganda is marked in quality by message exportability rather than simply exploiting extant internal biases, which seems to be the extent of his ability]. His use of “vidding“, that is to say “remixing” audiovisual content to change that message’s content (in McIntosh’s case, the simplification or disfigurement of conveyed political messages with a decidedly left-wing slant), is years-long and well-known:

    So is his trend of seizing on pop culture trends to gain notoriety, only to drop them as soon as they fall out-of-vogue (a phenomenon to which I will refer as “pop culture carpetbagging”):

    Perhaps this sheds light on why Feminist Frequency videos often depict violent or sexualized content grossly out-of-context, often contradicting the message intended by developers and publishers, in favor of the arguments made by Sarkeesian in the course of the video and the narrative presented by Feminist Frequency videos. Kerzner, in her article, refers to this phenomenon thus (emphasis and commentary in brackets mine):

    This is just one example of how Feminist Frequency oversimplifies its analysis by treating games more like films than interactive experiences [the rule of simplification being first and foremost in Norman Davies’ rules of propaganda, as set forth in Europe: a History]. […] But the idea that video games can cultivate a predictable change in the opinions of a player is central to Feminist Frequency’s critique. There’s no reason to show clip reels of a given trope unless the underlying concept is that the sheer volume of that content passes the threshold for long-term, cumulative exposure required for a cultivation effect, even though we don’t know that video games influence shared values the way television does.

    I would argue the underlying concept is vastly more pernicious than mere misunderstanding of cultivation theory. In fact, I would say the minds behind Feminist Frequency understand cultivation theory all too well:

    The implications on Feminist Frequency’s theories on that point alone are significant. If true, the concern shouldn’t be that sexually violent or objectifying content is going to make consumers mimic these behaviours. The concern should be that this content makes people more afraid of rape, abuse, and second-class status because our entertainment is cultivating this mindset.

    This is a very valid concern. Excessive fear will hold back entire portions of our society — in this case, women. But our current approach has not been fear reduction.

    For example, Anita Sarkeesian does talks where she displays horrid, vicious tweets and emails she’s received. According to cultivation theory and mean world syndrome, if exposed to heavy doses of this messaging, her audience will become more afraid that they too will be attacked. If Sarkeesian is cultivating fearful attitudes through repeated, systematic exposure to vicarious abuse, this is, to borrow the word, “pernicious.”

    This is precisely the underlying concept: to foster a climate of fear. Remember, one of Feminist Frequency’s co-founders is an avowed propagandist, and the appeal to fear is among the most powerful and persuasive of tools in the propagandist’s toolbox — a fact clearly not lost on McIntosh:

    “But, why?” one might ask. Perhaps this might shed some light on why. Or, perhaps this. Or, the nearly $160,000 donated to the Tropes vs. Women kickstarter, or the new multi-million-dollar partnership with Intel. It is clear there is serious money in Feminist Frequency’s unique style of propaganda (I refuse to call it criticism on the basis of its poor quality, which Kerzner’s five-part article demonstrates), and Sarkeesian and McIntosh have clear, personal, financial stakes in its perpetuation, which on its own calls into question their true motives, let alone when coupled with the points I have already made. Is it any wonder Feminist Frequency or its founders offer few if any solutions to the nebulous issues they claim to criticize? Doing so would endanger their meal ticket.

    Especially when what precious little prescriptive relief to be proffered by their “analysis” is easily left to audience conclusion, while maintaining plausible deniability on the parts of those behind Feminist Frequency (hint: it’s censorship). McIntosh is already on record as a supporter of censorship:

    Yes, that is in fact censorship, as the origin of the censorship (private or governmental) is immaterial to the adulteration or prohibition of artistic work. In Hollywood, the Hays Code was censorship; the Waldorf Statement was censorious; even the MPAA ratings code is employed to censorious ends (and the censorious nature of each and every one, despite being private and partially market-driven, is beyond dispute). Indeed, as Kerzner states, “either something is harmful or it’s not”; if sexism in games and the games industry is harmful to the degree of pervasiveness and depth Feminist Frequency claims, limiting consumption is insufficient to provide relief.

    So, there we have it. By my reckoning, Feminist Frequency and its founders are not considerable as feminist pop culture critics. They’re propagandists out to capitalize on the very real problems of gender in games and the games industry, to the detriment of women who actually play games and work in the games industry. This is the conclusion — in my opinion — that fits the evidence put forth by Kerzner’s article series.

    None of this is, of course, meant to muzzle Feminist Frequency or its members, either. Quite the opposite: I want them speaking, at as great a length as they desire. The longer they operate, the more people will wise up to their game, and either speak out (as Kerzner bravely, given the current climate, has to conclusions that are her own and in understandable accordance with Hanlon’s razor) or refuse to buy what they’re peddling; when Feminist Frequency ceases to be profitable, I’m certain they will move onto greener pastures (as they have done in the past) and the games industry can repair the damage done.

  • eacaraxe 8:09 pm on February 14, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , feminism, , , law & order   

    Tropes vs. Law & Order 

    Just a quickie, since I’m time-constrained. Let’s put Anita’s analysis to work on the recent Law & Order: Special Victims Unit episode about which “feminist” “critics” are crowing.

    Isn’t “rape as plot device to show antagonists as evil” deeply problematic in and of itself for trivializing rape, its impact on victims, and its prevalence in society?

    Then, there’s the Anita Sarkeesian stand-in being actually damseled, having been kidnapped by the “they’re evil because they’re rapists” gamer-terrorists to be rescued by the heroes…who just happen to be predominantly male.

    I say “predominantly” because there’s the character Olivia Benson, who spends — what? — a third of the episode as background decoration, a third of it as token “ignorant of (insert subculture here) exposition feed” (because she’s a woman, and obviously women can’t be gamers, am I right?), and a third of it as fighting fucktoy.

    …and at the end of the episode, the Anita stand-in quits gaming anyway, because she’s apparently disposable or something. Or, alternatively, in terms of her own career she becomes the “euthanized damsel”. In Sarkeesian’s own words,

    So when developers exploit sensationalized images of brutalized, mutilated and victimized women over and over and over again it tends to reinforce the dominant gender paradigm which casts men as aggressive and commanding and frames women as subordinate and dependent.

    Although these stories use female trauma as a catalyst to set the plot elements in motion, these are not stories about women. Nor are they concerned with the struggles of women navigating the mental, emotional and physical ramifications of violence.

    Instead these are strictly male-centered stories in which, more often than not, the tragic damsels are just empty shells, whose deaths are depicted as far more meaningful than their lives. Generally they’re completely defined by their purity, innocence, kindness, beauty or sensuality. In short they’re just symbols meant to invoke the essence of an artificial feminine ideal.

    The episode make zero effort to “explore loss, death and grief in more genuine or authentic ways”, and instead “sensationalize[d] [and] exploit[ed] victimized women”. I wish I could go on, but in the two-and-a-half years and hundreds of thousands of dollars acquired, these are the only tropes actually covered thus far.

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