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.

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