Tuesday, March 10, 2009

RE 5, Racism, Poverty

Yesterday I reached a threshold with this Resident Evil 5 discussion on race. I'm extremely frustrated that everyone is talking about RE5's racist imagery, and essentially ignoring what I'm calling 'perpetuation factors' of African stereotypes.  And yes, the trailer itself does have racist imagery, and being able to see it doesn't make you a racist.

The Game Overthinker said it really well in his take on the RE5 issue

[Africa is] "...a region that's often scary enough what with all the wild animals, crippling poverty, near-constant civil wars, and an omnipresence of AIDS so thick that the local warlord's roving death squads can cut it with their machetes."

I highly recommend listening to it, as it's an essential side of the discussion.  Here's another article which further highlights the viewpoint of privileged youth.  Here's a good interview with N'Gai Croal (may he consult in peace) where he clarifies his take on the situation.

So yes. Capcom messed up by taking a baseball bat to the anthill instead of a decidedly more tactful approach.  Even though the anthill is gone, all the critters are now everywhere and really mad.  (It's not a perfect analogy, but I think it's close enough.)

Now, a lot of folks are arguing here and there that gamers as a whole need to start taking this discussion seriously, if games and games journalism are ever going to be taken seriously as a whole.  I think that means we need to broaden the conversation from just racist imagery, to include perceptions of Africa.  

Let me make this clear: I'm not saying that racism and understanding racist imagery is not important, or any less important. 

It's a good idea to teach people that yes, a white guy shooting only black people appears racist, and this is why.  I also think it's a good idea to teach people that yes, many parts of Africa do in fact brutally kill each other on a regular basis, and this is why.  (Tribal law, religious tradition/superstition, lack of education, suppressing economic factors, etc.)

And, naturally, not all of Africa is like that.  There is in fact some good in Africa.  Probably.  Somewhere.  I would expect.  I hope. 

I'm not an expert on African history or culture, otherwise I'd feel much more comfortable going into the points I brought up.  I'll see if I can cobble a companion post together, soon.

If you're still apathetic on why all this matters, or vehemently think it doesn't, than I invite you to take a look at the following two links, courtesy of Brinstar's fantastic blog: Acid for Blood.

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