Feminists cry foul over Fat Princess, says the headline. Gee. I wonder why. Maybe is has something to do with the fact that “the colorful Fat Princess is a capture-the-flag game with a twist: you can thwart capture attempts by locking the once-thin princess in a dungeon and stuffing her full of cake, thereby increasing her girth and making her harder for your enemies to haul back to home base.”

But Ben Silverman, who brings this little item to our attention, responds to the fact that the game was apparently designed by a woman with a dismissive “Hmmm...hope the game's detractors don't mind eating a bit of crow.”

A bit of crow? Right. I get it. It’s okay to exploit society’s dysfunctional views of women’s bodies because the concept artist who designed the game’s look is female. Or maybe Silverman is totally missing out on the notion that a woman playing into the whole helpless-ugly-fat-girl stereotype is herself part of a social pattern of misogyny. Yeah, that’s more like it. Collaborationism.

What really tickles me about this whole thing is how okay people are with video games embodying nasty ideas. I’m talking about violence, of course, with games whose purpose is explicitly to murder characters in the goriest ways possible. Sure, there is no proven “direct link” between games and real-life violence. Maybe there’s no causal link between real life and the way women are portrayed in games – and men too, really. But the relationship between games and reality goes two ways; they reflect and influence each. Games, at least, we can really control; we don’t have to have games whose point is to stuff a woman to make her too fat to carry. We don’t have to have games that involve hacking limbs off. Life may have its misogyny and violence, but if we deliberately keep that shit out of games, we can at least break that cycle of influence.

Oh, but it’s all fantasy and entertainment, right? Well, what does it say about us that overweight women getting made fun of, or people dying horrible deaths, entertains us?

That’s one reason I really liked “Get Smart”. In one of my favourite scenes, Smart gets it in his head that he’ll show up Agent 99 for dancing with a suave baddie. He goes up to a group of pretty socialites and asks that fateful question: would you like to dance with me? The head pretty girl looks at him and turns him down with a sneer. But Smart isn’t bothered; she’s not the one he was talking to. The socialites part and there, looking lovely in an evening dress, is the last woman the stick insects believe would get asked to dance. Yet, despite not being a sickly toothpick, Smart not only dances with her, he kicks ass. I loved it. A movie that doesn’t make fun of characters’ because of their physique.

As one of the feminist bloggers pointed out, Sony could have come up with any number of ideas that would have preserved the gameplay mechanics without resorting to hateful imagery. But they didn’t so I say: pox on them.

1 comment:

Nick said...

The whole body image thing has been a real interesting point to me in the recent years. I've often wondered where exactly this over fascination with being a toothpick has derived from. Woman are not naturally thin, this is obvious. Why the mainstream has picked up this idea that a woman should be tall, skiny and male looking is beyond me. I prefer my women more curvey and I can guarantee that most men do too.

Not sure about video games and the motive behind them. Then again any form of entertainment is a rather questionable thing. We don't have to look too far into the past to see what we viewed as a form of entertainment and what we have today. Funny how things haven't changed much. We still find violence "cool", we still find others who are different "funny" and we still get a kick out other's failures. Even though we are supposedly advanced I'd say mentally we still have a far way to go.