Minority Report

Minority Report
Gangbangers, Victims, and Whores

Christina González | 13 Jan 2009 12:00
Minority Report - RSS 2.0

Gears of War 2's Maria Santiago is the latest Latina victim. After suffering the loss of her children and watching her husband go to war, she disappeared. Her plight, and her husband Dom's search for her, adds depth to his story, but her character feels slightly shallow - the game's emphasis isn't on her disappearance, but rather how her fate affects Dom.

Silent Hill 2's Angela is sexually abused by her father and later murdered him. She feels like she deserved what happened and has a deep mistrust of men. She ends one boss fight by slamming a TV onto the head of a creature representing her father in the act of abusing her. Angela finally disappears up a burning staircase, suicidal, her ultimate fate unknown. She is one of the few Latinas that wasn't sexualized.

Most of these women are, however. Isabela Keyes' character art for Dead Rising shows her legs apart, back arched, chest puffed forward, straddling a huge gun. Her lips are parted, and she's dressed in a cropped top that laces up the front with strappy heels and cropped pants. Just what I'd wear to a zombie massacre! The game's protagonist, Frank West, on the other hand, is fully dressed. There's nothing there to objectify him or draw attention to his body.

image

By now, the discussion of female objectification in games is somewhat tired. But it's still relevant to note where progress has been made. The stereotype of Latinas as spicy "spitfires" is older than Carmen Miranda. Even the casting ad for Crackdown's Violetta Sanchez (a gang recruiter) asked for a "fiery" type. Sure, there's a fantasy element to game characters with perfect physical attributes dressed in unrealistically unsuitable gear. But when it comes to objectification, the "games are fantasy" excuse has limits. We're living in a time when characters like Alyx Vance are not merely possible, they're popular. That said, Bujans brought up an important point: "Some people think of Latinos in general as being very strong, crazy, fiery, passionate characters - good qualities for a videogame hero." It isn't always negative to project a fiery or even a sexy image.

It was an interesting discovery for me that Lara Croft was originally going to be a South American named Laura Cruz. Designer Toby Gard was pushed to change her name and background on request from Eidos to make her more "U.K. friendly." Lara Croft is arguably the ultimate double-edged sword of a female character: She's clever, athletic and extremely capable, but also quite idealized with an emphasis on her physical attributes.

RELATED CONTENT
Comments on