Square Enix Responds to "Racist" Deus Ex Character

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grammarye:
I've witnessed & experienced a fair bit of racism (I have worked in Bradford, for those that know the place), and sure, some people will always be bigoted & prejudiced - you think that's unique to racism?!? - but it cuts both ways, and if you give airtime to the problem, you make it something that's attributed nationally, instead of 'that jackass down the road who hasn't got out of the 19th century'. Racism does happen - but if you create & perpetuate a culture where it's always highlighted, always worried about, it will never be marginalised in favour of everybody just getting along and seeing fellow human beings; similarities not differences.

The problem is that in America and around the world, racists are not "the jackass down the road." They're politicians, businessmen, preachers, cops, lawyers, judges, school teachers, plumbers, etc. Racism is pervasive; you can't marginalize something that you can easily find in every sector of American culture. You're right that a society where racism is relegated to a few idiots per thousand might not need to focus on it, and you'd even probably be right to assume that it's actually doing more harm than good. But that's not the reality of the situation. The fact is, clearly racist sentiment is found in every group in every strata of my society and "ignoring it" has been the strategy for 100 years at least - obviously it hasn't worked. As long as we pretend that racism isn't inherently a part of American mass culture, we let it grow and fester instead of confronting it.

This character is a clearly racist stock persona from the days when "stupid negro" was an acceptable definition for a character. So we have two options, ignore it (and along with it, all the other obvious racist overtones that pervade our media) and let people pretend it isn't there, or say "hold the fuck on for a second" and point out the truth, mainly that this is clearly racially insensitive and absolutely inappropriate. Saying that we shouldn't focus on racism is essentially demanding that we pretend racism doesn't exist when it clearly does. To see something that is clearly offensive and then ask people to not discuss it is to demand that you sweep a real, important problem in our culture under the rug.

Here's a thought for you - you used the phrase 'special kind of white, conflict-free existence' about my post. I could report it for being racist (racism isn't unidirectional), because it's as racist a statement as what this idiot in the news is peddling, but I don't have to. I can choose to be better than that. So have plenty of others in the civilized world. Why does the US feel unable to join us in this (since you are alleging it's an American problem)? Is your country simply not long lived enough yet to have moved on? If it's a problem where we just have to wait for it to go away, then fair enough, but don't ask me to change my viewpoint when our methods have mostly worked and the US still can't go a week without someone alleging racism over something.

First off, saying that statements like "race doesn't matter" require ignorance of racial issues almost always brought on by membership in the oppressor class is not racist. It's the truth. Period. Now if I said that white people are genetically inclined to hate black people, or that white people are just evil, that's racism and it's indefensible. What isn't racist, however, is to speak to the reality of the situation.

But let's get something straight: People in the US can't go a week without alleging racism because black people in the US can't go one fucking day without serious abuse based on the color of their skin. Every day in this country, 400 years of deeply imbedded racism rears its ugly head to the detriment of millions of minorities. You are not being "better" by refusing to confront such a serious problem. Pretending that our cops don't beat blacks for no reason daily doesn't change the fact that they do. Pretending that our jails aren't filled with innocent people of color doesn't change the fact that they are. Whether it's housing or healthcare or the job market or our justice system or anything else, blacks and Mexicans and Arabs and Asians and Jews in this country are at a serious disadvantage through no fault of their own because of the racist attitudes that many whites in power have towards them. And as long as that is the case, you have no right to tell them that they are overreacting or whining or "refusing to move on." The only ones we should demand move on are the racist whites in this country who are stuck in the 1700's. And until that happens, blacks have all the right and reason in the world to demand the purging of racist stereotypes and cultural memes.

And I don't mean for this to be a low blow, but coming from a country that has surprisingly high rates of hate crimes, I don't think you have the right to say that somehow your society has transcended race. In 2009, more than 30,000 racially-motivated hate crimes were judged to have merit (of the 49,000 reported) in the UK. Take a look at that figure and then ask yourself why minorities might be a little sensitive about being dehumanized like they are.

People are so overly sensitive. They really need to calm the fuck down. Not everything is racism and an attack against your race or what ever.

nope, not seeing it, looking like any cop show I've ever seen actually

Treblaine:

Deimateos:
given that literally every other black person in the game speaks normally (NPC and Main quest), I fail to see it as racist.

Normally? What's normal?

You mean speaking like a BBC newsreader? What is "normal english"?

Way to not read my post and play the cherry-picking game.

Did I ever infer that? I'm pretty sure nowhere in my post did I say "RP ams normole". Deus Ex is set in America, so the fact that you even said that makes me think you're just trolling my post.

If you haven't noticed, she's using slang. Slang is not normal English, nor is it an English accent. >>It is slang<<. Get over it.

Am I allowed to comment that the guy's last name being Narcisse (as in Nacissus, the Greek mythological figure who fell in love with his own reflection) is rediculously appropriate for the guy who threw a hissy fit over the prospect of a zombie game set in Africa having African zombies? I haven't actually played Deus Ex, but I've seen my brother playing it, and from what I can tell (there is therefore margin for error) the game's cast is a veritable racial rainbow notably lacking substancial reliance on stereotype.

Also, While I agree with the assertion that the portrayal of more that one Eurasian ethnicity is terribly unfair, it's worth remembering that the type of person who registers complaint like Narcisse's is also the kind of person who sees all whites and white, all blacks and blacks, all asians are asian, et cetara, so don't expect any of them to be swayed by that kind of retort.

Wow I am amazed because until I read this thread I really did not even think of her as a stereotype, let alone racist. I mean walk the streets of any city, there are homeless people and beggers of all races, colours and sexes. I have to say I think this says more about the people making the claim of racism than it does about the character.

Think about the South Park episode where the kids were against the depiction of the person being hanged in the SP history drawing. In the end everyone thought they were upset because the stick figure being hanged was black, when they were really upset because he was being hanged.

Same thing here for my money. Why arnt we worried that homelessness and street vagrancy has become such a part of our basic city culture that we have it depicted in video games??

Del-Toro:
Am I allowed to comment that the guy's last name being Narcisse (as in Nacissus, the Greek mythological figure who fell in love with his own reflection) is rediculously appropriate for the guy who threw a hissy fit over the prospect of a zombie game set in Africa having African zombies?

Agreed, though I remember the more valid point others brought up after his histrionics being that it was a post-colonial African village without any minority groups present (Middle Eastern, British, etc). In villages of that kind, it's very rare for them to be 100% African tribes.

Seriously dude. Stop the political correctness.

How about you start addressing the fact that most of the bums that were asleep in the street were White. Are they implying White people are lazy, how horribly offensive. I will have you know that that is not true. Even when broke and homeless White people diligently squeegee cars and bother people for money.

But wait a second. They also had 100's of Chinese NPC's voiced by horrible accents, not to mention that the head of TYM is called the Dragon Lady, how horribly offensive. Insinuating that because she is a Chinese Multinational Business Woman and International Crime Lord she gets associated with dragons.

Get of your fucking high horse. Get a job so you have less time to waste on something this trivial.

I never for one second thought of her as a racist caricature. I just saw her as one of many homeless, simply drunk of her ass. Seeing as you can feed her beers like they are candy. People like you are doing more damage than good. Constantly on the watch to point out exactly why something should be racist because the person performing the act doesn't belong to your ethnic group.

Ever thought about the fact that if people all over the world played this game and none of them perceived this as racist it would be a milestone? That people no longer draw lines between races and simply see people as people? To about 90% of all the gamers she was nothing more than a crazy bag lady, had she been white, black or hispanic-asian mix or whatever.

"Narcisse" is a really unfortunate name for someone who seems determined to inject their own name into discussions of new, popular games by claiming they're racist.

I won't even try to address whether the character is racist or not, except to say that Narcisse needs to spend less time criticizing strangers, and more time meeting them.

This just in: a game titled Deus Ex includes questionable voice acting.

In other news, water still wet.

You know what causes problems? People who have NO FUCKING CLUE about these things claiming that they're offensive.

Broken English? Her English is largely perfect and representative of a huge chunk of English speakers.

You know what's fucking damaging? Saying that these people don't exist or that there's something wrong with their speech.

So the fact that there are plenty of black people in the game with personalities varying wildly gets overlooked by this guy because there is one person who fits some stereotype? Stereotypes exist because there are people who fit them, but the reason they're wrong is that nowhere near the entire demographic fits the stereotype. So having one person who fits some stereotype in a sea of totally different people is not racist, because the devs clearly don't think all black people act that way.

Why do we even give this crap the time of day?

MILD SPOILERS
By the way, let's just ignore the black female cop trying to dig up dirt on a corrupt white cop, or the black couple who thank you for saving their lives, or the smooth talking black hacker. Or any of the other various nationalities sprinkled in the plot.

Yeah, these people are ku klutz, for sure.

oktalist:

Cain_Zeros:
Except Irish isn't a race, it's a nationality. Yes, it would be nice if there were portrayals of Irish people other than Leprechauns and drunkards, but even if you were serious it wouldn't be racism.

What term do you propose instead? Nationalityism? Not a word. Nationalism? Something different. Xenophobia? That's fear of all people of a different nationality to your own, not of one specific nationality. Hiberniphobia? But we're not talking about the fear of the Irish, only their inaccurate characterisation.

I'm happy for racism to refer to the discrimination of more narrowly defined ethnic groups that are not necessarily races, where the discrimination is of the same sort usually referred to as racism. I don't understand the reluctance to allow the meanings of words to change over time, as they have always done; it seems like an apologist move to me.

When anyone makes a point similar to yours ("Islamophobia is not racism" is a common one) it seems to me like their implication is "it's not racism, therefore it's not as bad as racism."

Just "prejudice" seems to work fine for me. Letting racism refer to more than just race isn't allowing the language to change, it's allowing people to be fucking lazy. "Race" is the root word of "racism". As such, it makes sense for it to refer to discrimination due to race.

Cain_Zeros:
Except Irish isn't a race, it's a nationality.

Irish is also an ethno-cultural population group. (edit in: also, if you ever read any of the government writings of the time dealing with their policy in Ireland, for most of the time the UK occupied Ireland they did consider the Irish to be a 'race')

Of course, being a socio-cultural construct with no scientific basis, 'race' is a nebulous concept. Any group arbitrarily decided on my similarity of broad physical characteristics can be a 'race' if the people bent on keeping them down say they're a race.

Post-Federation Australia, especially post-WW2 Australia, is a case in point. Everybody knows how shitful Australia has treated (and still does to an extent) it's indigenous population... Most people have at least an inkling about the White Australia policy... but what most people have no idea about is that most 'racism' in Australia from the late 40s until the early 80s was aimed at Southern and Eastern Europeans. Local Aussies did not consider them 'white'... they didn't consider anyone not of north-west European origin to be 'white'... much to the outrage of certain southern and eastern european racists who found themselves in Australia finding themselves to be told 'fuck off, wog!" by local racists... which is a pretty lengthy way of explain that what defines a 'race' is in the eye of the 'racist'.

edit to continue:

Letting racism refer to more than just race isn't allowing the language to change, it's allowing people to be fucking lazy. "Race" is the root word of "racism". As such, it makes sense for it to refer to discrimination due to race.

'Race' may be the root word but it's very nebulous because, at the end of the day, it's a very stupid concept. Which set of definitions are people using? The 'classic' Caucasoid/Negroid/Mongaloid model? The "well that bunch of people all look a bit similar so we'll just group them together under one name because the 'classic' model misses a huge chunk of people" school? The 'one drop' rule? The paper bag test? How about skull measurements? Very popular in late 19th century Europe for (ahem) 'determining' all sorts of things, from 'race' to 'criminality' to 'mental illness'.

peruvianskys:
This character is a clearly racist stock persona from the days when "stupid negro" was an acceptable definition for a character.

Out of curiosity, just how exactly is Letitia 'stupid'?

Not racist. Not at all.

As a young (educated) black dude here's my take of the game:

It's epic.

I also love seeing this many different races in a game, it's a great representation of the megacities of the present and the future. The world is integrating, and that's an unavoidable and very good thing IMO.

When I saw Leticia, I didn't even think about the race issue. I was just interested in what she had to say to me.

The game is full of colourful characters, and I'm not going to let a few square people ruin the experience for me.

Deus Ex:HR is GOTY so far. Only Batman Arkham City and Skyrim can topple it now.

Here's the thing. Her more stereotypical method of speaking came during her energized greeting to the main character. And honestly, it did sound terrible to me. Not racist, mind you, just awful in the writing department. But that sort of over-the-top charicature-esque way of speaking is a typical greeting I've seen and been given from close friends in the South. If you'll notice, she was much calmer and sounded better while being questioned. Yes, her grammar was sub-par, but there's a word for that: Dialect. I know people who talk just like her all the time, and others who switch from speaking "Proper American English" to that particular dialect depending on who they're with.

... Did I fail to mention her voice acting is horrible anyway? Most of the time it didn't match the expression on her face/animation of her body language.

LadyMint:
Here's the thing. Her more stereotypical method of speaking came during her energized greeting to the main character. And honestly, it did sound terrible to me. Not racist, mind you, just awful in the writing department.

Agree. Race never came to mind. What did, how ever, was the horrid writing and just overall "meh" scene.

I fucking love when this happens. Remember in mafia II, the italians got pissed because they thought that the game made it seem like all italians are mafia members? No, it is simply portraying italian mafia members. Just because the game represents a black person who sounds like that doesn't mean that it is implying that all black people sound like that.

LadyMint:
Here's the thing. Her more stereotypical method of speaking came during her energized greeting to the main character. And honestly, it did sound terrible to me. Not racist, mind you, just awful in the writing department. But that sort of over-the-top charicature-esque way of speaking is a typical greeting I've seen and been given from close friends in the South. If you'll notice, she was much calmer and sounded better while being questioned. Yes, her grammar was sub-par, but there's a word for that: Dialect. I know people who talk just like her all the time, and others who switch from speaking "Proper American English" to that particular dialect depending on who they're with.

... Did I fail to mention her voice acting is horrible anyway? Most of the time it didn't match the expression on her face/animation of her body language.

Well, welcome to Deus Ex: HR. Everyone makes way too many unnecessary movements whenever they talk, and always the same ones. One of the few complaints I had about the game.

I'm constantly surprised as to the visceral response of a bunch of privledged white people on the internet when questions like this come up. Not in a good way either.

Anyway, for me, I find the entire character very uncomfortable, because as it has been pointed out, it seems so dead on to an old Amos 'n Andy, shuck 'n jive, sort of racial stereotype. I also know that not many people who are watching this will have that same context to call back on, so they won't have the same visceral emotional response.

Suffice it to say, for those of us who do make the connection, it's offensive. I don't really know if people (especially journalists) should keep using the term "racist" in cases like this. It's hard to say what the game developers were trying for. As other people have pointed out some of the asian cast voices from the original DE were so bad they bordered on racial stereotyping as well. At what point does ineptutude and insensitivity just remain that and when does it turn into racism? It's hard to say.

Jake Martinez:
At what point does ineptutude and insensitivity just remain that and when does it turn into racism?

According to the internet, it's when a white Australian gives KFC to black West Indians.

I was more offended by the amount of credits she wanted for some simply information. Hey lady, you are digging through the trash. You should be lucky to get 5 credits for information I can find on my own. Perhaps that is why she is digging through the trash. She priced herself out of the market.

holy shit, ok ill just make my point short and sweet,

it isnt racist, why?

people actually talk like that now
it could have been how they where raised my guess is that in 2027 people about my age would be in their 30s or so like Laetitia, some people i know actually talk like that and are black so it isnt a stretch to say that perhaps they retain that essence of their life and continue to talk like that
a portrayal of a fictional future having real elements that are inherit to a certain race doesnt make it racist it makes it less fiction and more realistic and for the most part immersive in most cases, i wasnt even phased by this

calling something racist to me means that you are A: offended B: attention whoring C: too immature to handle facts of life

why?

A: the only reason people get pissed when i call some "mentally challenged" kid a retard is because they are trying to be PC, see bob's big picture on this, look its quicker and its true im sorry but retard means slow they are--in their thinking processes of any/some kind-- slow

B: attention whoring is probably the odd of the 3 in that it requires the person to not be insulted by it but rather pretend to be insulted to make themselves look better and have the eyes on them, these arguments are generally flimsy and easy to see through but sometimes the attention whores deserve to be acknowledged, this is one of those cases because it calls them out on their massive insecurity in themselves

C: alright this is a pretty easy one for me to rattle off, jinx was originally black, black people have dark skin, obviously racist right because jinx is fat and has a lot of make up right? no jinx was actually a social commentary of the overly western Japanese sub-culture (cant remember name its on cracked)but people had to get so fucking butthurt they had to reskin jinx, people cant just accept somethings deserve to be made fun of and have to make them about themselves (see B) this is a mixture of a lack of knowledge so ill provide another argument

the word nigger is a good example here, white people are so fucking afraid of the word for the most part they refuse to even think it with out putting some self guilt in their head for good measure, but black people say it all the fucking time, so is it really insulting if the people it refers to use it themselves? no it isnt and claiming it to be is just an example of B, shit happens people die words are said, get the fuck over it and focus on what really matters for a change and dont just think because a game resembles something in the real world that it is racist, a black woman could possibly talk like that who are you to stereotype an entire skin tone and gender combination out of a way of talking i think that would be a little bit more racist than one voice actor reading their lines, after all the person who read the lines seemed to not have an issue with it because they read the damn lines.

plus2exp:
A quick google search on Evan Narcisse reveals that he went to high school and college in New York. Obviously he hasn't spent much time down south, like Alabama for instance, which just so happens to be where I live. There is nothing racist at all about the character's portrayal in that video. I encounter people who talk like that every single day here.

QFT

I'd love for someone to explain to me how her accent is hateful or discriminatory in any way, shape or form.

He is free to be offended, doesnt mean its a racist issue. That game had Chinese talking bad english and sterotype black gang members. All the prostitutes i saw where white, apart from one black woman who turns out to be a police woman. An when you think about it, all the major baddies were white? Dont see white people bitching about that. So until a black character is talking about chicken and watermelon and calling your character "master" then their is no racism.

The game had different races in different parts from street people to business people. An stop seeing racial stuff in every little thing, this will just hurt the game. An will make other real racist stuff taken less seriously. Think of it like PETA and the animals, they moan so often about dumb animal stuff that when they have an important issue.....no one listens as they have made their group a laughing stock.

Since when was people not talking in your standard American accent racist? Not everybody has to be a gravelly voiced white man.
People overreact to the stupidest things.

I'd just like to clarify something to those dozens upon dozens of you using the defense that essentially boils down to, "Well I know people who actually talk this way so it's not racist." This argument does not in ANY way, shape, or form qualify something as not being a racist stereotype. Stereotypes emerge BECAUSE there are a large number of people fitting the given epithet. What, do you think people make up random character qualities about a group of people and then HOPE they come true so they can all laugh at it later? Really now. Lots of people from all races enjoy fried chicken and watermelon, are good with math, and try hard to save money, but that doesn't mean that these aren't stereotypes aimed at SPECIFIC groups of people. Please, please, PLEASE stop making this ridiculous counter argument. It's utterly baffling to me.

That being said, while this is the first jarring racial stereotype you run into in this game, it's far from the only one. I was initially impressed by Hengsha when the first few NPCs I ran into were speaking Chinese, then immediately broke out into hysterical laughter at the onslaught of horrible "engrish" accents I was assailed with shortly thereafter...especially from the local prostitutes. And in fairness, it is important to point out that while there are quite a few eyebrow raising accents in the game, the game also has more than its fair share of respectable people in those same races.

When I saw that this was written by one of the many jackasses who claimed that having black people in Africa is racist (None of whom ever made mention of Sheva's overtly racist AND sexist "Clubbin" and "Tribal" outfits), I was almost immediately dismissive, but he makes a good point here. And in fairness to him, he actually reviewed the game very highly overall, so while he does take time to point out that this is racist, he's not trying to start a protest or even dissuade people from buying the game.

Jeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeez.

It's a fucking accent. Fuck that "narcisse" guy.

Why do creators put Afro-Americans in games when they always complain about racism. Shoot a black zombie racism. A black woman bum that talks is also racism. What's wrong people with you???

Ghengis John:
Okay, so an easily offended lack man was just offended. It's not like I can't understand where hes's coming from but I live in california and I encounter people who speak like Letitia almost everyday. I was unware that I had traveled to another planet or utilized a time-machine. As a mexican american I'd say the game has a remarkable tact for displaying people as they really are, Cabron.

Of course the real damage here is that his rampant hyperbole is going to misrepresent the game to thousands of people who'll have no idea just how wrong he really is. Oh well.

Yeah, I think this is total bullshit. Yes there are people like her, as long as every African American wasn't portrayed as her, it's not racist.

After all, look around Detroit some time, pretty much EVERY hobo is white, hell, if anything, having only ONE Letitia is underrepresenting the realistic population of African American homeless that would be in Detroit.

I hate when people overcompensate for racism

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