I felt uncomfortable:
Problem Issue: Consider it
Media: Video Game
Series/Installment: Gears of War 1
• when Commander Kim died early in the game
• by John Coltrane’s (Cole) very existence
• because Dom’s A.I. never wanted to comply
• by Baird being the only technologically knowledgeable member of the unit
I must note, however, that Dominic was actually my favorite character - from a canon perspective. He wasn’t a stereotype (subtracting the obvious minority second-banana role that most coc are so often marginalized into), always had your back (again, canonically-speaking) and was an all around good guy.
Unfortunately, I can only speak from my experience, which is only limited to the first GoW. That doesn’t excuse the racially-problematic elements of the game, though. I think it just exacerbates it. I say this because we are now in 2014 and one would think that the prospect of a new year might compel some people, some developers, some artists, some publishers to perhaps open themselves to the idea of appealing to a non-traditional (non-white/heterosexual/male…let’s not be shy about this, okay?) market. Not niche, mind you, as in virtually commercially-nonexistent. Just a broader audience. Back in 2008, I’m pretty sure many people were thinking the same thing. I’m thinking the same thing now, but I sure as fuck am not holding my breath.
Anyway, back to my discussion… I had a lot of respect for Commander Kim, which isn’t to say I hadn’t any for Marcus (I enjoyed that, for a hyper-masculine character, he never shied away from verbally expressing his emotional vulnerability), it’s just that I had a far greater appreciation for an Asian character who held a position of leadership.
Originally, this post was just supposed to be about Cole, but I simply couldn’t ignore my feelings - and subsequent criticisms - regarding the other characters of color that comprised the game. Now with Cole, I think the issue is a bit more blatant, albeit significantly (ironic, much?) more ignored within game culture. Cole is obviously a racial caricature. I pointed this out to both an older male friend of mine and my eldest brother (both of whom are black). The former was highly conscientious of the skewed racial display, but tried to be casually dismissive about it, as I was. We even tried to joke about it, and even congratulated Dom for not falling in the same pattern.
My brother held a much more nihilistic attitude. Generally-speaking, racial perception (and by extension, misconception) is not something that you debate over or attempt to change. It’s more like a historical tool that should be researched, analyzed and objectively considered, but not to the point of, say, social activism. Cole is the kind of character that he laughs off and walks away from. Stereotypes of this nature do not affect him. He is an overly-sensitive person by nature (to the point where he’s been recently experiencing anxiety attacks), don’t get me wrong, and it is this kind of social apathy that gives him an extra layer of emotional hardness/control. It’s protection for him. Naturally, I wouldn’t expect him to care about such depictions of black men (even he secretly does care), but that is what troubles me the most.
My oldest brother is not the only one…
Tagged under →video games and race →gears of war 1 →misrepresentation →i will be doing more of these →fan meta