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Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Fear Of A Black Zombie

OK - so I'm not wed or really back in action yet. But I wanted to comment on this brewing storm.

The problem, imho, is that most people will spend their time railing against the knee-jerk paranoia angle without really reflecting on the cultural implications. The knee-jerk response is, quite honestly, not worth the debate. For one thing, it hinges on the fallacy that video games are a product for children and therefore disqualifies itself from even understanding the medium.

The Village Voice article touches on something a bit more keen, however. For the sake of argument - let's dismiss the conspiracy. Let's assume Capcom had no racial intention. Let me put it this way, I come from pretty hillbilly roots and I certainly didn't get any such gist from RE4 ... and folks that was hillbilly. Capcom wanting to change the scenery to Africa and hosting a black cast is certainly not without ration.

Can you imagine the outcry if they had set in Africa and used nothing but Caucasian models?

That's not, though, to say that the response isn't without merit. As the Voice very aptly points out - the trailer digs up something cultural we are all familiar with and is very, very disturbing. Whether Capcom is intentionally playing off that - it is really hard to say. Blacks are dying in Africa, they are dying in the thousands, and they are dying from a blood born disease. I don't really buy completely into the article's assertion that the trailer assumes they're all zombies ... but I don't think you can deny that there is a deep subtext here beyond a quasi science fiction plague.

The question is - what to do with it from here? I quote Leigh here:

People bitch about whether or not games are art. But the one thing many games have in common with art is the idea of subjective experience; the game can influence you to feel afraid or euphoric, but the way you interpret that experience is highly personal. Whether or not people are uncomfortable, offended, or utterly unmoved by this game will probably have more to do with their own opinions and attitudes than any content, no matter how much suggestion is (or isn't) there.
Sexy Videogameland

At the heart of a controversy - it's not actually imperative for one side to beat the other to a pulp. At times, it might be acceptable to simply allow for both perspectives. If a game can make a tragedy like the AIDS epidemic more tangible to Americans ... a culture in dire need of feeling something tangible for other nations if there ever was one ... then so be it.

Course, if the game is just capitalizing on the tragedy, that would kinda suck. Thing is - I don't think that is up to Capcom. I think it is up to the reader. If the trailer strikes a chord with you - I would question why.

And maybe wonder what constructive thing you can do with that feeling.

OK, true believers. I'm out until I return from the country. Have a good couple of weeks.