Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Brown Women In Video Games: La Mariposa (Lisa)- Dead or Alive

I've always had a casual interest in the Dead or Alive series, having caught my attention in the doa2/Ultimate era with its obscene amount of costumes and expansive environments. I eventually bought it and unlock-whored my way through +100 costumes while complaining about Hitomi's general existence.

My interests waned as the costumes did, but by chance I heard about DOA 4 coming out and I was like 'why not?'- I wanted to mess around with another fighting game and it was getting a lot of hype as the first fighter on the 360. I didn't rush out to get it, but I eventually pawed it, not knowing that I was going to be pleasantly surprised. I was curious about the cover but it wasn't until I started playing before I realized what I had.

I remember thinking "A dark(er) woman?? Here?!?" It floored me, and to be honest I still don't get it. I mean, let's face it, Dead or Alive isn't out to champion variance in the female form. They play into the Western stereotype of female beauty to a T- huge boobs, slender bodies, no butts to speak of, delicate features, tendency towards long flowing hair, and until now, tan or less. A white man's (and others) winter wonderland.

I have no clue what happened to get Lisa on the board for Tecmo. I would have guessed the first fighting game to have a ethnic girl darker than cinnamon would be Namco, if not some weird new bust-out company championing diversity. Or maybe Mortal Kombat. But Tecmo beat everyone to the punch- I just hope they don't take it back.

But of course Lisa isn't a complete overhaul of beauty norms- she still has the exact same body type as everyone else, and even though her skin is brown her face isn't- her lips are a tad fuller (tad) but God help her if she had a wider nose or non-straight hair (I'm kinda not joking- people dislike her enough as is). But somebody must have had some sort of non-stereotypical checklist, because they didn't get her once, they got her in a few areas- she's brown, she has very short hair, and she's excelling in the male-dominated field of science. They sexified a woman that is stereotyped to be masculine in a few areas. Someone in Team Ninja is curiously aware and open minded.

And you know she's pushing boundaries when the Common White Male (*sigh* and others) pooh-pooh on her. I just hope their "I'm not racist but _insert racist remark about markedly unwhite women here_" doesn't get her reneged. Because as much as I like her I'm fully aware I'm not Tecmo's target audience to land the big bucks. And I'm real hesitant to try to rely on the Japanese crowds being any better.
*sigh* They way I've seen her handled is not remotely surprising. Actually, things could have been a lot worse, but still, I wished she wasn't ignored so much and gained a bigger fanbase. Mainly because I'm always wanting for (non-whitewashed) Lisa fanart.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Freedom of Speech =/= Freedom from Judgment Speech

Yeah, it seems that some people get confused. It's very unfortunate, but on the bright side, I'm just glad that most of them can read.

Like most people, I am a pretty big fan of freedom of speech. Humans can not move foreword if different opinions, complaints, and ideas can't be heard due to legalized threatening and silencing of non-traditional thought.

But some (too many) people are mistaking this for something, well, a bit off-

That part of the First Amendment was towards the government, saying that a person can not become legally criminalized for (non-threateningly) running off their mouths, because historically governments have not been known to handle that very well: people start to magically disappear when someone says something negative about a regime or ruler. This was put in to stop governments from getting heavy handed and impeding social progress because they don't feel like changing it.

But in conversations where the free speech fallback is normally bandied about is when a defensive person asserts that they can say what they want and not have any negative repercussions for it, ever. Like their opinions became sacred and untouchable (more than others) and never reflect on them as a person. The Constitution does not cover that.

Yes, you are showing off a part of your character when you voice an opinion. If you have a sketchy opinion (that you apparently willingly shared) it is up to you and only you to save face if your character is called into question and you are not cool with it. Saving face, mind you, is fully optional (I've said many things without a slightest care what anyone thought of me), but it is no one's place to demand that others not think less of you just because you are legally safe to voice just about any opinion. Not to mention it's impossible for someone to not gain an impression of a person by their beliefs.

And also, free speech does not end with the sketchy opinion untouched. The people that called that person out, surprisingly enough, manages to have that same Constitutional right. Go figure. So their anti-you and your sketch beliefs are, unfortunately, equally valid in that sense. Their opinion that you should not say those things are valid, since virtually no one ever says that one should be legally prosecuted for saying anything. "Can" and "should" are not always the same thing.

The original reason of freedom of speech is to create an on-going dialogue to know when things are going wrong and when, why, and how things need to be changed. Too many times it's instead used as a tool to end conversations and to subdue non-traditional thought by shutting down the topic, and it warped so people can be heavy-handed and impede social progress because they don't feel like changing things.

I don't know if we went full circle or if we just never left the original point.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Term of the Day: Pop Science

Pop Science(n)- A form of research or experiment that always manages to coincide with prevailing cultural opinion. Commonly mistaken as objective since it tends to confirm societal beliefs, biases, and stereotypes, it is best taken with a grain (mountain) of salt. Mainly found in laymen science magazines and/or the Internets, pop science is most normally caused by unexamined biases in the researcher combined with varying mid- to high levels of stupidity.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Problem Term of the Day: Reverse Racism

I for one find the term "reverse racism" very problematic, and I think it can confuse/derail topics in which it is used (abused).

For one, I think the wording is misleading on how and why "reverse" racism occurs and the circumstances that help cause it. The word 'reverse' gives it a sense of something that has stopped moving in one direction and has begun to move in the completely opposite direction. In alleged acts of reverse racism this is not the case. The act of racism has certainly not ceased, and "reverse racist" actions are normally responding to the just as active "original racist" occurrences that has prompted the event. I believe so-called "reverse racist" situations will quickly die out around the same time as "original racist" situations do.

It also gives the impression that the thoughts and emotions of people who do reverse racist things are the same as those who do racist things, which is not the case. The emotional hangups and anger issues are coming from two separate places. I am not saying that one of either one of those situations are better than the other, but they should be treated as things that has different causes and different cures.

Another common mis-use is that reverse racism is just as pervasive and destructive as the original. It has the potential to, in theory, but in reality that is just not the case. Based on pure numbers alone that doesn't really work, and almost nothing of reverse racism as been normalized nor institutionalized in society, and it never will. *thoughtful* If that ever occurred it will probably just become racism again.

There is also a secondary issue with some in the use of 'racism' in the term because it conflicts with the form of racism that is defined as "prejudice + power", of which a vast majority of those normally called on "reverse racism" tactics simply do not have.

This term should be renamed, : D I have a few ideas:

Recoil Racism
Response Racism
Backwash Racism
Inferiority Complex Racism (actually this term is also problematic and has . . maybe even a better potential for malicious use, but I still think it more accurate than 'reverse')
Defense Racism
Disillusionment Racism
"OMG Hush!", or Exasperation Racism
"Well It Wasn't As If You Were Giving The Best Example" Racism

*sigh* And sometimes it manages to be absolutely nothing other than "What People Just Don't Want to Hear" *snort* Racism.