Delayed Responsibility

I Shouldn't Be Gaming Right Now… But I Am!

Resident Evil 5… Don’t Surprise Me Then?

Posted by deckard47 on February 7, 2009

So I was checking out a RE5 preview at the behest of Guillaume, and eventually came across this section.

Later on, there’s a cut-scene of a white blonde woman being dragged off, screaming, by black men. When you attempt to rescue her, she’s been turned and must be killed. If this has any relevance to the story it’s not apparent in the first three chapters, and it plays so blatantly into the old clichés of the dangerous “dark continent” and the primitive lust of its inhabitants that you’d swear the game was written in the 1920s. That Sheva neatly fits the approved Hollywood model of the light-skinned black heroine, and talks more like Lara Croft than her thickly-accented foes, merely compounds the problem rather than easing it. There are even more outrageous and outdated images to be found later in the game, stuff that I was honestly surprised to see in 2009, but Capcom has specifically asked that details of these scenes remain under wraps for now, whether for these reasons we don’t know.

There will be plenty of people who refuse to see anything untoward in this material. “It wasn’t racist when the enemies were Spanish in Resident Evil 4,” goes the argument, but then the Spanish don’t have the baggage of being stereotyped as subhuman animals for the past two hundred years. It’s perfectly possible to use Africa as the setting for a powerful and troubling horror story, but when you’re applying the concept of people being turned into savage monsters onto an actual ethnic group that has long been misrepresented as savage monsters, it’s hard to see how elements of race weren’t going to be a factor.

I can’t say I’m surprised, the demo wasn’t exactly hope-inpiring. Really though, it worries me that there’s later stuff, stuff that Capcom asked Eurogamer not to talk about, that Eurogamer was even more worried about. It must be pretty bad to be worse than the stuff they mention above. Sure, it could be that they just want to avoid gameplay spoilers, bt I’d be willing to bet it will be a big fucking deal when it drops, and rightfully so. Unless some smart people advise me otherwise, this won’t be a must-buy, or an ever-buy.

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2 Responses to “Resident Evil 5… Don’t Surprise Me Then?”

  1. Well it IS a game written by the Japanese, the most insular, xenophobic culture left on Earth. I’m frankly astounded that anyone writes games which take place in Africa at all, given how little most people understand the various ethnic, cultural and historical problems of the continent and how easy it is to generalize (ahem, Far Cry 2, anyone?) and/or simply misunderstand them, but if you’re going to do it, then you need to bring a lot more tact to the party than I think Capcom is capable of. For example: force your player to play an African hero in the game. Then again, if they did that, it probably wouldn’t sell in Europe, or in half the states of our union, so I can see their problem with that choice.

    Still, it’s sad to read of the type of sequence you mention above… it reminds me of some of their previous bigoted work, such as the stereotyped evil bull dyke mall guard in Dead Rising. I wonder sometimes if their work is ever seen by American eyes before they put it into production… they’d probably save themselves a lot of trouble if it were.

    • deckard47 said

      Yeah, that mall cop was one of the most blatantly stereotyped caricatures I’ve ever seen in a game (and I’m starting to play Saints Row 2 right now…). I’m worried that they might do it again in DR 2, but we’ll have to wait and see.

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