Not to get too "political" on you, but I watched this six-part video series recently, and I thought it was really well-done. It may seem like a typical anti-GamerGate video at the start, but it isn't. It isn't even truly about Anita Sarkeesian. The analysis is very logical and even-handed, and I appreciated the way that it recast the whole feminism issue (or any social progress issue, really) by framing it from the perspective of the people whom it irritates. Honestly, it almost single-handedly repaired the damage done to my judgement by thousands upon thousands of strident internet-liberals.
Try to go in without any pre-conceived expectations and watch it with an open mind.
I'll give you the Cliffs Notes, in case you don't want to watch right now. Essentially, the video series analyzes WHY people like Anita Sarkeesian produce such a strong negative reaction, and it goes beyond the usual simplistic "They're taking our games!!" rhetoric. This guy posits that the REAL, underlying reason why Anita makes many gamers uncomfortable is that she causes them to question their way they've lived their life to this point. Ignorance is bliss, and the aim of people like Anita is to remove that ignorance. Like the term "privilege". A lot of people hate that term, and it's always rubbed me the wrong way, as well. But it doesn't mean that your life is peaches and cream or that every person from a minority has it tough. It just means that a minority person in the same position as you would have it harder, solely due to the way they were born.
That's an uncomfortable thought, as most people think of themselves as fundamentally good people, and acknowledging that you've never questioned your advantages or thought to help the less fortunate would call your own morality into question. And we're ALL guilty of that, to be honest. It's almost unnatural behavior to revolt against a system that personally benefits you. I mean, I don't like the thought of killing living creatures. I find the thought of hunting utterly revolting. I don't even swat mosquitoes or gnats. If I really considered the fact that animals had to die just so I could enjoy a hamburger, I'd probably be a vegetarian. So I don't WANT to consider it. Because meat is delicious!
Similarly, look at freaking FoxConn. All of our consumer electronics products are basically made of Chinese children. Who the fuck wants to think about that?! What's the alternative?
I'm not saying that I'm necessarily going to change my behavior based on this video series. I still believe that ignorance is bliss, and if you spend all of your time thinking about the evils of the world, your life's probably not going to be very enjoyable. But I still think it was worth watching. It kind of brought stuff that has always been floating at the back of my consciousness to the forefront. And what I most appreciate is that it did so in a non-judgmental way. It might make you a bit uncomfortable, but it definitely won't single you out.
It's pretty hard to find a female games media figure that hasn't been called a geeksploiter at some point, but let's say there is someone who had unassailable credibility. Call her Gamer X, in honor of her two X chromosomes. Let's say she announced the same series and made the same points, only from the position of a well-known expert.
I doubt Gamer X's reputation would survive with the core section of gamers who opposed Anita. To believe they'd have had a different reaction, you've got to believe that they were open to the feminist criticism of games, but only if it came from someone they already trusted and liked. Personally, I doubt that. I think it was the content more than the feeling that Anita was an interloper, though I do think calling Anita an interloper was one way to avoid listening to her points.
@DapperDave I dunno man. The thing about the way you describe it above makes it sound like it's just some random angry 12 year old trolls here and there sending her hate and for the most part her detractors are acting civil. I'd say it is more the reverse. She got massive walls of hate from day one (back when, keep in mind, no one knew much about her other than she was a feminist and was going to take on sexism in games.) She shut off the comments on most of her Youtube stuff (for good reason) but people can still comment on her Twitter... go check out the response to pretty much anything she says there, it can be brutal. And that's just the stuff people are saying in public. She gets a lot of shit sent to her. Often very vile shit. Someone made an actual "beat up Anita" game that was just pummeling her face and making her bleed... it got thousands of plays. I can't see any reasonable way to look at the response to Anita and not say we have a problem in our industry.
It's also a bit unfair to paint it like she is some outsider "bursting in" uninvited. Obviously many people in the game industry were open to her, or she wouldn't have found such a positive reception in the gaming media, and a lot of the widespread support from a variety of gamers that she has seen, which helped contribute to her overwhelmingly successful Kickstarter. She's only bursting in uninvited if we assume that the angry dudes represent the entire game industry. But they don't. A lot of people were more open to or even specifically wanted her in.
This clubhouse mentality though yeah, that definitely exists, and needs to be shut down. Actually it's not just about feminism versus anti-feminism, etc. either. Ask a lot of the members of my Nintendo site how often the TRUEGAMERS tried to make us feel like supporting the "baby / casual" Nintendo was somehow ruining the game industry by opening it up to non-traditional gamers who didn't belong. Hell half of why I built this site was to give Nintendo fans a "safe space" to be Nintendo fans and not have to deal with the bullshit the rest of the game industry was giving us for daring to like different things than they did. I'm not trying to paint us as victims or anything, compared to the shit a lot of these women have gotten what we got was very mild, just pointing out that this clubhouse shit has been around in a variety of forms and it's not always about keeping "fake gamers" out, it often tries to exclude people like me and others on this site who have been playing video games for 20-30 years or more just for not liking the "right" games. I'm all for shutting down those mentalities whenever and wherever they appear.
Angry dudes don't get to decide the course of an entire industry. There is room for a variety of gamers of a variety of types giving a variety of perspectives. And even people whose gaming "cred" might be limited. Maybe especially those people, so gaming doesn't end up an enclosed echo chamber where sexism in the game industry is fine because that's just how it is and no one ever made us think twice about it.
To believe they'd have had a different reaction, you've got to believe that they were open to the feminist criticism of games, but only if it came from someone they already trusted and liked. Personally, I doubt that.
I kind of doubt this too, considering how fast a lot of these people turned not just on Anita but basically the entire game press they grew up with for starting to talk more about sexism and such in games. Reading Gamergate boycott lists is kind of hilarious, they pretty much boycotted the entire game press outside of a small handful of sites. You get shit like this where they're pretty much trying to ruin a journalist over suggesting a video game might have some racist elements in it.
So she gets captured once, but how many times does she ask Link to basically go solve problems? There's when she first meets him, all the interactions she has as Sheik are basically asking him to go in to temples and sort it out, and the game ends with her just kind of standing around while Link sorts out Ganon. Your list of cool things is kind of weak to be honest:
Cool things she does: 1) Is the only one to know Ganondorf's evil plans (before all the diplomats of Hyrule and the KING HIMSELF) and conspires with Link to collect the Stones of Time to help stop him.
I'll accept this one even though it means she depends on Link to do anything about it.
2) Gets the Ocarina of Time to Link to help save Hyrule even while she's being directly pursued by death on a horse.
She runs away and throws the Ocarina off a horse.
3) Devotes seven years of her life going undercover as Sheik to keep the Triforce of Wisdom out of Ganondorf's hands.
Sheik is presented to the audience as a man. To this day people still argue about that.
4) Teaches Link (as Sheik) multiple different melodies to help him get around; gives Link the item necessary to defeat Ganondorf.
Teaching a song is a pretty low barrier to entry to the Zelda series. That baby Goron and that old frozen guy taught you a song. Same thing with giving you an item. Dampe gave you a pretty sweet item and he was dead.
5) Opens locked doors with her magic to help Link and herself escape from the crumbling tower.
Has a key
Since we are talking about Ocarina specifically think about this. Pretty much any female acquaintance (aside from Navi) of Link's needs to be rescued during the game. Malon is working under Ingo at the ranch and is miserable, Ruto is taken away by that platform, Saria needs saving at the forest temple, Nabooru is taken down by a spell from Koume and Kotake, Impa is saved at the Shadow temple. That's a lot of times to rely on that idea in one game.
Zelda as Sheik was pretty badass, and I can roll with her disguising herself as a man, because that'd be the most logical way to throw the tracks off of someone looking for a woman.
I think the issue I would have of bringing up Sheik as Zelda as powerful is... from the perspective of playing a GAME it mostly all happens in the background in things you don't even really see, let alone get to play. I mean maybe she did some super heroic stuff over those 7 years, but as gamers that is just background to our current quest where we actually get to be Link and do the heroic Link stuff ourselves.
So I guess what I'm saying is we need a Sheik game. What happened in those 7 years? LET'S FIND OUT!
BTW I did sort of get through the most of the first video up above and it kind of reminded me of the fact that the massive Anita hate started when she announced her project. Over the years a lot of the hate has evolved to people picking apart her details, but we have to remind ourselves that it wasn't initially about the details, because the details didn't exist... it was about the existence of the project, period. People just plain did not want to see a feminist take on our precious video games, and were willing to attack the one planning to do so, in massive numbers. That's scary.
There is a fierce debate among some people as to whether or not Sheik was Zelda simply disguised and thus still a woman or if using some kind of magic Zelda was turned in to a man.
It is stupid but what annoys me about the whole thing is that the second Sheik is revealed to be Zelda she instantly gets captured and doesn't even fight back. So even if you are like 'wow Zelda did a bunch of cool shit as Sheik' you'd be lucky to finish the thought before the game comes in and immediately disempowers her.
[ref=id=12413&pagenumber=3#455741]Why can't you extend some courtesy to Anita and just assume that she sees things differently and isn't failing at the basics of her job? When someone writes a game review you disagree with do you assume they didn't actually play it?
Because she hasn't given me a reason to believe otherwise! Full disclosure, I've only seen a couple of Anita's videos, and since I'm a Nintendo guy, I can really only comment about the Nintendo-related games. I'm fine with giving people the benefit of the doubt, but in my eyes, it seems like she largely ignored or handwaved away like 95% of OoT Zelda's involvement in the game to focus on the last 5% when she gets kidnapped. It comes across as disingenuous to me, as if she's only looking for elements to support her argument, however minor they may be. In other words, she may be aware of all the stuff I've pointed out in disagreement, but decided to mostly ignore it and cherry-pick the small things that support her.
Maybe unrelated, but an example from another game: she talks about how Krystal used to be the star of Dinosaur Planet, but then when it was repurposed into StarFox Adventures, it became a Fox-only adventure with Krystal getting kidnapped. And you know what? I don't think that's a bad argument for her video at all, actually. However, the way she presents it is factually inaccurate, with the Dinosaur Planet logo only including Krystal each time she talks about it, and her heavily implying that it was a game that only starred a female character. The fact was that there were two playable characters in SFA, Sabre and Krystal, and Miyamoto noticed how similar Sabre was to Fox, one thing led to another, and we had a GCN collectathon on our hands.
The point is that to strengthen the example she was making (which IMO wasn't actually a bad one), she deliberately (or mistakenly?) left out some pretty important information that made it sound like a worse situation than it actually was. A female-only game turning into a male-only game is just a stronger case to rile people up than having one of the characters turn into Fox and the other getting a reduced role.
Game reviews sometimes get me worked up if I strongly disagree with their assessment or feel like they didn't back up their opinion enough. I actually did wonder if GameSpot played through the entirety of Jungle Freeze, which they described as having bland level design. That's the exact opposite of how I'd describe the game. So I guess the answer to that is...sometimes? At least in terms of playing enough of the game.
I dunno, maybe we're just talking in circles. I'd hate for us to get riled up at each other over all this, but I guess I'll leave you with this: even among all this insistence, I'm still pretty ambivalent about Anita. I'm not going to go send her gross messages or post on BitF about how we should ignore her or even email her a polite disagreement letter or something; I'm just expressing my reaction to these videos in this thread.
I still feel like there's some sort of weird elephant in the room since you left some idea hanging awhile back. This dealie: The fact that you can't just accept that Anita has another perspective and it angers you that these videos exist says something.
Not really sure what you're implying but it doesn't sound pleasant.
Thing is, Link is the player, and his role in the story has always been directly involved in combat and exploration. That kind of stuff goes hand-in-hand with his Courage attribute. Zelda's always possessed Wisdom, and her actions are generally more tactical and plan-oriented than stuff that would actually work from a gameplay perspective. Zelda, for the most part, doesn't really get involved in direct combat, and that's okay! One of the issues I take with Anita's vid is the implication that females are weak if they aren't fighters, and it's one that I strongly disagree with. Women can have moments of weakness just like men do--a character having a weakness is absolutely not the same as a weak character.
In short, Zelda's typically the brains while Link is the brawn.
I don't really buy the complaint that Sheik is presented as a man. I mean, yeah, she obviously is in disguise and is meant to be masculine (or ambiguous), but that doesn't make her actions null any more than Mulan kicking Hun butt when she was in disguise. Also, Zelda doesn't just stand around in the final battle (most of which is due to N64 limitations)--she blasts a beam of light at Ganon so that Link can finish the beast off for good. Or at least until the next Zelda game.
To address the rest of your post...
"She runs away and throws the Ocarina off a horse"
I don't want to repeat myself, but I've already mentioned how this act is actually very forward-thinking and brave for ten-year-old Zelda. To phrase it like that kinda removes the dramatic weight from the scenario.
You mention moments like rescuing some of the other female NPCs, but Link rescues and/or helps out quite a few characters in the game. He directly rescues a bunch of kidnapped Gorons and carpenter workers from two different prison compounds, he also helps out Darunia, Jabu-Jabu and the Deku Tree when their lives were in danger. He's a hero--it's part of the job! I think "Damsel in Distress" doesn't apply very well when the hero is regularly saving/rescuing people throughout the game; saving/helping people is a more rewarding element of gameplay than simply "reaching the end." It gives the player more of an emotional investment in the adventure. I remember Majora's Mask, Wind Waker, and Skyward Sword having a similarly varied group of people to help out throughout their journeys.
Saria, Ruto, Nabooru, Malon, Zelda and Impa all directly help out Link in their own ways, even if it's not necessarily saving him from immediate danger.
EDIT: @Stephen Sheik has been confirmed female by Aonuma and Smash Bros (and NOA I believe).
I don't see the issue with her being kidnapped after she removes her disguise that prevented her from being kidnapped. Who cares if she looks more feminine, really? Who are we to say what femininity is defined by? And having the game's most beloved NPC in danger raises the stakes for the final battle and simply works better from a narrative standpoint.
Dang, did no one watch the video from last page? You should check it out! Even if you don't agree with it, I think anyone (as a Nintendo fan) would at least find it kinda sweet and charming. It's not Angry Jack ranting about Anita. Here's a link to help you out.
Wrong, she said and I quote, "The game was to star a 16 year old hero named Krystal as one of two playable protagonists."
You said yourself you were indignant about the video's treatment of Nintendo games. I don't think it's a far leap to say you were annoyed by them. And the point of this thread is about the psychology of people reacting to these videos. So I'm saying that the uncharitable view you gave these videos right off the bat probably says something. I mean, you're being so uncharitable that you are seeing inaccuracies that don't exist (see above). Would you have the same reaction if it was a Negative World poster saying these things?
Zelda, for the most part, doesn't really get involved in direct combat, and that's okay! One of the issues I take with Anita's vid is the implication that females are weak if they aren't fighters, and it's one that I strongly disagree with. Women can have moments of weakness just like men do--a character having a weakness is absolutely not the same as a weak character.
This is one of your main issues and yet it has nothing to do with ignorance whatsoever. You do not deny the basic facts that she points to, you just have a different perspective on them. And yet you're still fighting tooth and nail to say she is ignorant.
The things you point out about Zelda are worthwhile aspects of her character, and I do think they matter if the question is asked, "Is Zelda an irredeemably sexist character?". That's just not the question Anita was asking. The question is whether she fits the trope of the "damsel in distress". And of course she does. She's a fairy princess locked in a tower by the bad guy who has to be rescued by a dude. It can't get more straight forward than that.
The whole reason Zelda exists in every Zelda game bar one (and that exception doesn't count, because it's the terrible Zelda's Adventure) is to motivate Link to save her. That's a classic, by-the-book damsel in distress and it basically trumps any other argument. Is Zelda more than just that? Yes, I think they've done a good job making her a fleshed out character in many of the games. You've pointed out some nice character beats in this thread and I applaud that. She's not irredeemably sexist. I think everyone in this thread likes Zelda. But it's pretty hard to argue against the damsel thing. Her primary reason for being in these games is to give Link, and therefore the player, a motivation to defeat Ganon at the end.
Compare her to Samus and you can see what I mean. Samus is another beloved female Nintendo character, but she's distinguished because she actually makes things happen. She's the driving force of change in her games. She makes most of the consequential decisions in Metroid games. She's the most competent person in those games. Her role isn't to enable a male character to have his own triumphs. Her role is to triumph, herself. That's the kind of thing Zelda is still largely missing.
And, to be honest, a lot of that is simply because Zelda hasn't starred in her own games. I think some of the points you've made about her time as Sheik would resonate more if that wasn't just a story told in the background of Link's more-important story. So... if you want to start a petition at change.org to get Zelda her own game, I'll be the second signature. I've wanted that for awhile.
I'll say this, I do agree that there's an ironic tendency in many of these feminist arguments to elevate classically masculine behaviors over classically feminine ones, as if things like fighting and destruction are inherently more empowered than things like dancing and horseback riding. I do sometimes wonder if the burning desire to expand freedom for women sometimes has the knock-on effect of souring some feminists on things that are classically seen as a woman's purview, creating a preference for the so-called masculine things they can't have over the so-called feminine things they can. I certainly don't mean that to dismiss a woman's desire for equality. I think it's perfectly reasonable to want a fighting game with a female character that isn't a product of horny male artists. But, as I mentioned in the previous thread on this topic, I think one of the problems is that a lot of feminists accept the "boys things are cool, girls things are lame" attitude of young boys. But the older I get, the more I wish boys would simply throw all their toy guns away and play tea party with the girls, not vice versa. I think we'd have a better society if we went that direction.
@kriswright I kind of agree with some of that, though part of the rise of feminism in gaming has included trying to diversify beyond the testosterone-fueled action games. Stuff like Gone Home, Life Is Strange, etc. Hell it also includes games made by teenagers about the menstrual cycle which is probably the least typically male game ever. Just trying to promote these type of alternatives to the norm and such is something I'm seeing a lot more lately in the feminist gaming circles and such.
Then again, depending on which feminist you talk to, feminism can also include supporting / promoting games like Bayonetta so... there you go.
Hahaha. I freaking love that little rundown of Tampon Run. Male squeamishness about the menstrual cycle is one of the most pathetic things on Earth. More power to those teenage coders.
Yeah, and I think that's one of the major strengths of the feminine/feminist voices in gaming - different types of games. But, as you say, it depends on who you talk to. I have no opinion on Bayonetta, pro or con. If a woman sees Bayonetta or Lara Croft or those boobie jigglers from Dead or Alive as empowering characters that they want to play as, more power to them. There are a thousand options to play embodiments of male power fantasies. Why shouldn't they have the option to live out their female power fantasies?
I mean, as for me, I'll stick to playing Kirby or something. But I don't really begrudge them for liking different things.
@Jargon Admittedly, I misheard that line when I rewatched that video, but I do think my initial point still stands. That single line implies there are two characters, but that's all that Anita ever mentions of it. Sabre himself is deliberately never mentioned by name, never seen in any of the gameplay footage or art, never even referred to outside of the solo mention of "one of two playable protagonists." Anita later mentions Krystal as previously being "the protagonist" of her own game.
Heck, the turning point in development was Miyamoto remarking that Sabre looked a lot like Fox. Anita avoids this turning point by simply saying "Miyamoto joked about how he thought it should be the third installment in the Star Fox series instead."
So, from an outsider's perspective, it sounds like Krystal was replaced by Fox McCloud entirely. The truth is more nuanced--Sabre was the link between the games due to his similarities to Fox, and he completely got the boot while Krystal actually remained in the game (albeit in a much reduced role). And technically, she is playable at the beginning.
If it was a NW poster, I'd probably disagree with them or just drop it or whatever, but these are videos from someone who's gotten a ton of media coverage and gone on, like, Colbert and stuff. I certainly hope she has her ducks in a row if she's going to represent (Nintendo) games for a large amount of people otherwise. It has nothing to do with "a girl" playing "our hobby", and has everything to do with someone being some sort of emissary for news-watching non-gamers to learn about problems in games, while giving (IMO) simplistic and cherry-picked examples that makes Nintendo look worse.
It'd be like if Jack Thompson showed the bloody finale of Ocarina of Time as an example of there being too much violence in games. I mean, yeah, it's violent, but it's not a good representation of the game at all, just as I feel Zelda's sole kidnappings aren't great representations.
Jargon, you make me type a lot. But I still love you. This is hard and you're a lawyer.
It feels weird to discuss SFA so much 15 years later.
From a strict definition of a damsel in distress being "a girl who gets kidnapped and must be rescued by a man," sure. I just think many characters are far more than that and I feel that a lot of people watching these vids are going to get a one-sided example of characters who do some pretty awesome things from a feminist viewpoint.
Here's a quick question since my fingers are getting tired: Tetra directly saves Link from Ganondorf halfway through Wind Waker (Ganondorf is about to kill a stunned Link with his sword and Tetra shows up and kicks him in the chest). Why is it a problem for Link to return the favor when Tetra's in trouble at the end when she's already come to his rescue? Why does no one ever talk about moments like this where the "damsel" saves the man?
@TriforceBun Well Anita does point out some of the most positive aspects of some of these characters. But she is focusing on tropes, and damsel in distress is a trope. So is the depowering of a strong woman, which is what happens to Tetra at the end. So these things still fit. And even if we say yeah, but Tetra was still a great character... well, fine. Doesn't hurt to call attention to the tropes and maybe try not to do that the next time though.
As an aside, anyone who thinks Anita is only about "complaining" should make sure that they have watched this video first. The funny thing is you still see people saying "Anita has all of these negative things to say but she never says what a good female character would look like!" and such and it is like well, I know who hasn't actually been following her video series.
I really think you're describing that example in the worst light possible. I completely forgot that Krystal was going to be one of the characters in Dinosaur Planet so I basically was an outsider with regard to that section. When she mentioned two playable characters, I just assumed that the other one was male or else she would have talked more about it. I really don't think anyone came away misled by that in the way you suggested.
You also are accusing her of cherry picking and yet your examples of Zelda as a strong female character are almost entirely for a couple of games, which happen to be the two that Anita identifies as "Zelda at her best" and her critiques of those games are quite nuanced. You're not defending Zelda in Adventures of Link because there's pretty clearly nothing to defend.
Also, just rewatching, that part where Zelda is riding away on horseback is shown as part of a blatantly sexist ad, so I'm not sure she's really using that scene in the way you've characterized it. You're not going to defend that ad, I assume. In general, watching it again, I really see a big disconnect from your complaints and what's actually there. You might want to consider re-watching the Zelda section (13:30 to 17:00) and see if its maybe its better than you remembered.
Anyway, I'm sure we could keep going back and forth but I've made my point, so I'll read any response you have and bow out of this one for now (until something gets me riled up again )
And we ARE products of our environment. I always wonder how different I would've been if I had grown up in a different environment. Like, if I were raised ... by racist parents. ... We always want to think that we'd be the same person no matter what, but that's a naive viewpoint.
You'd grow up a racist yourself, and then everyone would tell you how you're such an awful person, even though you weren't in charge of the way you were developed. And God forbid you made a sex tape; 8 years later your racist comments are discovered on it, and then you're stripped from the WWE's website as if you never existed.
That said, some of it is highly presumptuous and some points should be absolutely obvious (oh, really? People hate Vegans because they remind them of their own meat-eating assumptions? Tell me more!)
I don't like Vegans because they come off as uber-elitist. I was sitting in my local shoppes (thats how they spell it....not a fan of that either) recently waiting to buy my comics, and someone came in asking for Gluten-Free bread. I....blah. --And I'm aware that there are Gluten Allergies. I just spent a few days in the hospital, I know all about special food for special people. Elitism is no good. And per the taxi driver in Seinfeld; "Smugness is not a good quality!" You said it, cab man!
I'm way behind on this thread, way back on Page 1, haven't watched any videos yet. Who knows when I'll catch up. This'll be on Page 7 by the time I get to my own comment here.
He has a sex tape that just came out where he's banging his best friend's wife and saying some undeniably racist shit. I doesn't bother me that he got fired over that, but they went pretty extreme. Like Joseph Stalin extreme, acting as if Hogan didn't exist. And it's not like the WWE has some glowing record when it comes to not-doing-racist-shit.
@kriswright I'm sure the WWE doesn't really give a shit, in terms of moral outrage. They just don't want it to affect their brand. Lots of people are racist. The problem is when it becomes a matter of public record.
Still, this is going to be pretty hard to recover from. Best friend's wife, eh? Oh, Hulk...
On the other hand, he could come back as the ultimate heel!