Saturday, June 30, 2012

the highway signs say we're close, but I don't read those things anymore

fxxxxx.rxxx changed their display name to νєηÕMÕÛş 乃αşイαя.

Are you kidding me? Those are not words! This is Unicode abuse!

Back on the 14th of this month, I covered a little of the Lara Croft controversy. I updated that by a bit on the 22nd. Now, the designers behind the Lara Croft reboot strike again, having this to say about their initial announcement that Croft gets raped in the reboot:
According to Crystal Dynamics global brand director Karl Stewart, there is no sexual assault or rape in the upcoming video game, despite executive producer Ron Rosenberg's statements to me in Los Angeles earlier this month. Rosenberg had said that island scavengers will imprison and attempt to rape protagonist Lara Croft. But Stewart says that's not true.

"He said something which is certainly a word that is not in our vocabulary and not in our communication," Stewart told me on the phone yesterday. "He did say it... It's his personal opinion and certainly... like I said, it's not something that we communicate."

Stewart says he doesn't know why Rosenberg used the word "rape." He continues to emphasize that the scene, which you can watch below, does not represent any sort of sexual assault. He calls it a "pathological situation." He says it was meant to evoke fear and intimidation.
Err. Let me just pull one phrase out of that mish-mash of backpedaling:
He said something which is certainly a word that is not in our vocabulary
A word that is "not in their vocabulary". Really? At all? That's incredibly badly phrased, and I can virtually guarantee will now irritate people more than simply going to Kotaku--and anyone else covering this--and saying, "We said it wrong. We meant this."

Another bit from the article:
There are undeniable sexual connotations, and Stewart even admits that if a male hero like Nathan Drake had been placed in the same situation, the thigh-rubbing wouldn't happen. But he says it's not sexual assault: it's "close physical intimidation."
That, also, is telling: if a male hero had been placed in the same situation, there would be no sexual interaction. Why does that change when the gender does?

Here's the grim dark heart of this entire thing: One in four women in America has been sexually assaulted. One in four. In 2000, that figure equated to 246,000 women who've survived rape or attempted rape (and no, this figure doesn't count the women who didn't live through the experience). That's almost a quarter of a million women every year, or twenty-eight every hour. That's both harsh and terrifying, especially with the figures on how often rapists are not convicted.

Seen in this (very dim) light, while they're absolutely doing everything they can to divorce the word "rape" (or even the words "sexual assault") from the Lara Croft reboot, think about it this way: what if, subconsciously, they're just reflecting the society they're in? Twenty-eight women an hour. That makes it within the realm of everyday experience. That makes it an experience that twenty-five percent of all women have had. Twenty-five percent of the gender who've been raped; who've had rape attempted; who've been sexually assaulted...and most of these women were raped or sexually assaulted by a family member, or someone that they knew. So it's not just random sexual violence; most of it is sexual violence perpetrated by someone they trusted (at least at some point).

Let's take this farther--the point at which the sexual assault takes place is not a cut scene. While it is pre-rendered (one would suppose to lessen the graphics burden and up the responsiveness of the controls for the console), there is a point at which control is restored. If the player does nothing, the sexual assault happens. It only fails to happen if the right commands are issued from the controller.

The Mary Sue post pointed this out:
Lara Croft will be punished with rape for failing to complete the game objective of not getting raped. The responsibility is wholly upon her to protect herself, it is not upon the scumbag rapists who are trying to hurt her. According to the producers of Tomb Raider, it is certainly not the fault of a culture that encourages depictions of sexualized violence against women. "The ability to see her as a human is even more enticing to me than the more sexualized version of yesteryear," Rosenburg states.
Let that sink in for a moment. This is victim blaming raised to wideband broadcast status, because as a section of the Lara Croft franchise, this will be highly advertised and--I think I can honestly state--widely bought by players looking for the Next Great Game, or wanting to see what all the controversy is about.

And let's also be brutally honest here--this is an industry that still widely sees itself as catering to men only. Which also ties in, uncomfortably, on that statistics level--because if one in four women have been raped by or after their fourteenth birthdays--that means one in four men have actually raped, or attempted rape. Which also makes that a common experience.

Maybe it's less about the game designers being blasé about rape, as much as it's about the game designers' subconscious understanding of our culture: namely, Lara Croft is sexually assaulted in the new game because everyone knows someone who has been. Sexual assault, in this light, is commonplace.

Forget the game; that's the truly outrageous thing.

In other news, Lego International is seeking votes on an upcoming game-tie in Lego set: namely, Portal. You'll have to register an account on the site to vote, but it's a painless, free process. If you want to see Lego-based Chell, a Lego-built Companion Cube, and Lego-designed orange and blue portals--go vote!

And not only will Warehouse 13 get a fourth season, but they've got a fun new guest star: Brent Spiner. Considering the amusing way Spiner met Rubinek in the first place, this pretty much brings both actors full circle.

A full-scale zombie wedding was planned--and executed brilliantly--in Colorado recently. If for no other reason, you should click the link and read the vows, at least: they're epic.
Finally, five years ago, artist Jason deCaires Taylor installed an underwater sculpture collection to highlight the problem of disappearing coral reefs. That video was shot in 2009, to show the initial two-year development of coral and sealife on the sculptures. It's both eerie and beautiful.

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