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Member since May 2011 · 2485 posts · Location: Brisbane
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Subject: Resident Evil Five: Racist?
A post I made on another forum where people were quite vehement about the 'racism' in Resident Evil Five:

Seriously, are we reading the same articles?

You guys are off looking for racism, and boy howdy, you've found it!  What's next, a crusade against vegemite as an evil sandwich spread concocted by white men guilty about the atrocities their ancestors committed, and who have made this spread black to atone, but made it taste vile because they really hate the black man!?

Seriously, have you got nothing better to do than wank your teacups into tempests, brandishing your new-age sensitivity as if it means something to people who've really suffered from racism?  You think a guy who was dragged behind a pickup truck give's a flying rat's ass how Capcom portrays a ficticious African country filled with ficticious people?  Go on, ask him.  I'll bet he doesn't.

Shed your collective guilt over the oppression people you never met laid down on other people you've never met! 

You didn't see any black people forum-posting incessantly about how RE4 was racist against whites, why the fuck are you making such a big deal of it?

I've played every RE game (more or less) and for me there's one enemy: zombies.  I'm out to kill zombies, and their skin colour means nothing to me.  They're basically the undead and they're trying to kill me, so I'm killing them instead.

Now, if you want to start a zombies-rights thread, knock yourselves out, but really seriously, this shit ain't any more racist than space invaders was xenophobic.

--

I should point out that, having never lived in the USA, I seem to have a very different view of 'race' than you lot seem to.  I've never experienced racism except what I see on the news.  Racism, to me, is your problem.  I've already moved on, there is no racism in my world, just stupid people.

And hey, maybe you guys aren't as stupid as you come across, maybe you're trying to fight a good fight, trying to wipe out something that is a real problem for your society.  I don't see the thing you are fighting, I've never seen it, all I've ever seen are stupid, short-sighted, ignorant, stubborn assholes.

And they come in every colour.
BLEARGH
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Member since Oct 2007 · 316 posts
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I can't speak for every yank, but living in America does make me specifically more sensitive to issues of race. The election of Barack Obama notwithstanding, there's fresh memories of marginalization and mistreatment in everyone's mind. I'm not talking about historical record, I'm talking about living memory. It was barely fifty years ago that murder in the form of a lynching was socially acceptable and not followed by any consequences. I've personally had run-ins with white supremacists who don't believe I have the right to exist, being of eastern Asian descent. In the face of people like that, it's not hard for me to sympathize with people who see racism in Resident Evil 5, even though there was none intended.

Most will see the oversensitivity as the problem. I'm inclined to go one level deeper and see cultural context as the problem. I remember a commercial for microwave food that had to overcome the stereotype of African or South American tribal behavior in a humorous depiction of cannibals. They got around the problem by painting some fat Caucasian people bright orange, so that there was no context to tie them to any real stereotype. Any reason why RE5 couldn't still be set in Africa, but have green Zombies a la House of the Dead, so that there was no unintentional racial subtext? The game would have lost nothing except the ability to inflict pain.
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Member since May 2011 · 2485 posts · Location: Brisbane
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It's the hunt for ever increasing levels of realism that brings us to this place, a game that's so real it suddenly begs us to ask 'is it racist?'  It's damn near a real place with real people...

But we had the same argument over LocoRoco, where the bad guys were black blobs with red mouths.  Realism isn't the problem.

Perhaps I've never seen racism because I'm a 6'2 115kg white man.  No one fucks with me 'cause I look massive and mean...  But no one fucks with my friends either, and no one fucks with my wife, whether I'm around or not.  Racism is just not something that we ever see, which is why I tend to believe it's a uniquely american problem.  It's not, I've been told, but they're the ones bleating about it all the time.

That they've still got a legitimate racial problem really saddens me, TBH, but I guess decades of cowboy logic and fundamentalist bullshit is bound to keep people in the dark ages.
BLEARGH
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Member since Oct 2007 · 316 posts
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L, you lived in Japan and didn't encounter racism? Well, there's a problem with the vocabulary there now that I'm typing it out and thinking about it. Racism in Europe (and in Commonwealth nations) is a bit less hard-edged than the American variety, in that it's more about thoughtless stereotyping. Scots are cheap, the Dutch are perverts, the French are smelly, and so on. In America, racism is very much about relationships and positions of authority or superiority. I should be first in line because I'm a particular color, I should be paid more because my grandfather wasn't paid at all, and so on. Racism in the eastern hemisphere doesn't have the economic and opportunity costs that it did in the western hemisphere, and that's what's driving American hurt and misunderstanding.
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Member since May 2011 · 2485 posts · Location: Brisbane
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I certainly did encounter racism, but it wasn't really a negative influence.  There were very few instances where I was treated negatively because I wasn't Japanese, for the most part I was probably treated BETTER. 

I don't really consider stereotyping to be racism, rather it's a shortcut to certain truths that can be misused.  The best Indian jokes come from Indians, but if you use the stereotypes in anger or in an attempt to cause pain, then hey, that's not cool.  But that's not really racism, that's assholery, and there's no way to stop people being dicks.

I'm from Canada.  I get my share of abuse from people looking to stereotype me, but I shrug it off and sling back australian stereotypical comments and we all have a laugh and move on.  The people whinging about racism in RE5 are the same people who are outraged when I crack jokes about bundy-swillin' flouro-shirt-wearin' ute-drivin' neanderthals in Australia.  Get over yourselves.

Be tolerant, it's all good.
BLEARGH
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Member since May 2011 · 2485 posts · Location: Brisbane
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Someone in the other thread said:

I guess that's my problem with the whole RE5 fiasco. The people who ought to be most offended by it (Africans) are most likely too busy dealing with real problems to give a shit about perceived racism in some video games, and I highly doubt anyone else is going to be persuaded into racist behavior by said game that wasn't already inclined to act that way. So what's the problem?

Why can't I be that succinct?

I actually asked the only black guy I know about this:

<NFG> Hey
<The Guy> hi
<NFG> Need a quick answer from an authority
<The Guy> heh
<NFG> and you, as the Only Black Guy I Know, are that authority.  =)
<The Guy> HAHAHAHA
<NFG> RE5: racist?
<The Guy> no
<NFG> thanks.
<The Guy> its just press bullshit
<NFG> I reckon.
<The Guy> no one complained when it was white people in RE4
<NFG> you sound like me now, I used that argument too.
<The Guy> of course now maybe you'll find black people complaining, but thats only because they were 'brainwashed' into it.  case closed
BLEARGH
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Member since May 2011 · 2485 posts · Location: Brisbane
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There's a gamasutra article up that talks of the racism in RE5.  The money quote for me is this one.

Quote by gamasutra:
This may be explained as “how that version of the virus is,” but it also happens to fit conveniently into popular, old, stereotypical visions of what unpredictable, violently traditional African people are.
This is in the context of discussing the actions of the people.  Capcom says "The virus makes them act this way".  The author of the article, unable to separate his own history and knowledge of the issue from anyone else's point of view, believe's capcom intentionally linked the virus' symptoms with the way people think those crazy Africans behave.

Once, during a conversation with a person I didn't know was black, I mentioned watermelon.  He immediately jumped all over me for racist stereotypes 'cause 'everyone knows' watermelons are racist fruit when black people are concerned.

I didn't fucking know! 

And it really pisses me off that this gamasutra author thinks everyone else shares his own 'stereotypical visions' of Africans.

It's YOUR problem, dickhead, not Capcom's.  Stop projecting.  Of course, he anticipated my response:

Quote by gamasutra:
The argument that Capcom and the gamers who see this game as being perfectly acceptable just doesn’t understand or are ignorant of these stereotypes is a problematic one. If this is the case, why would Capcom carefully construct Sheva in the way that they have?
So he's moved on from projecting his own views on Capcom, and is now suggesting he knows how carefully they prepared the sidekick character? 

This guy's the same sort of person who, in school, found all kinds of symbolism in Lord of the Flies, where I read it and found only a dull book filled with mean kids.  Racism, like symbolism, is always there if you want to find it.
BLEARGH
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