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Mata
There's a quick summary of the debate about accusations of racism in Resident Evil 5 here:

http://www.gamepolitics.com/2009/03/15/mai...racism-question

What do you think of the racism debate? I can see both sides of it, and I can understand how the Japanese developers really didn't understand why the game might be viewed as racist.

In their defence - they've blown away cities full of white American zombies, villages and castles full of European zombies, so when the game is set in Africa it's only natural that their characters will be blowing away hoardes of African zombies.

On the other side of things - some images have a cultural significance that is hard to avoid. A white gun mowing down black people is going to be incendiary for quite a while yet, and the transformation of the black population into mindless savages does feel a bit 19th Century in its representation of Africans.

... But should these kind of cultural sensitivities continue? If a white man hits a black man, or vice versa, on the street then it may have racist motivations, but the maybe longer that we think of racism as a significant cause of that kind of action then the longer it will continue?

Would the 1984-style of idea work, where removal of the language of racism from our knowledge-set actually remove racism too? If no child were taught about racism, then would it disappear in a generation? Or is the aversion to difference something that we must constantly educate people to overcome?
Yannick
I don't think unintentional racism exists. Well, that's going slightly far, maybe it does, but I don't see how it could. You either have blatantly racist intentions, hidden ones, slight biases, or none at all, which you, as the decision maker, are aware of. I've never played any of the games, but if it's a white shooter in every game, and you're blowing up zombies of every ethnicity in other games, then wtf? No, that's not racist. Would people cry and call racist if it was a black shooter? And yeah, it's kind of only natural for you know, zombies, black or white, to act like mindless savages. That's the definition of zombie, with a little flesh-eating thrown in.

Eh, I don't think 1984 would work. It might just be racism from the beginning all over again. "Gmoz, you look different than me. You're weeeeeird. Is there something wrong with you? Why do you look like that?" and then they either come to the realization that hey, they just come from different parts of the world so it's 'normal', or continue in a 5 year old fashion with "this is unfamiliar to me, therefore I don't like it."

And even if it would work, a lot of history would have to be omitted, and I don't think it's worth it to have a chance of getting rid of something that will eventually disappear anyway.

*edit* Haha, just thought how funny it would be if I told my mom she needed to buy me the game because I wanted to find out whether it was racist or not, and it working.
CrazyFooIAintGettinOnNoPlane
QUOTE (Mata @ Jul 22 2009, 01:43 PM) *
In their defence - they've blown away cities full of white American zombies, villages and castles full of European zombies, so when the game is set in Africa it's only natural that their characters will be blowing away hoardes of African zombies.
I always hear this role-reversal kind of argument in response to political correctness type things, and it just makes no sense to me - there is no history of racism against white people (in the west, anyway) so the two situations aren't comparable. In this case though it's only one game and I doubt there is any racism intended, so while it would be understandable for people to be offended I don't think we should make a big deal out of it.

QUOTE
... But should these kind of cultural sensitivities continue? If a white man hits a black man, or vice versa, on the street then it may have racist motivations, but the maybe longer that we think of racism as a significant cause of that kind of action then the longer it will continue?
I don't think so. Whether racism is the cause or not might be hard to determine, but I think it is important that we recognise it as a possibility, as the intent behind it matters just as much as the seriousness of the crime. In some cases I think even the perceived intent is important because if someone is a member of some minority group and they are made to feel that "their kind" is inferior in some way then there is more damage done than just the physical injury.

QUOTE
Would the 1984-style of idea work, where removal of the language of racism from our knowledge-set actually remove racism too? If no child were taught about racism, then would it disappear in a generation? Or is the aversion to difference something that we must constantly educate people to overcome?
I think as long as we have ways of expressing hate there will be hate towards those that are different in some way. The best we can do is to educate people and try to reduce institutionalized prejudices.
pgrmdave
We live in a culture with history. That might seem obvious, but sometimes people forget it. Treating everybody the same does not mean that it's not racist if it ignores that there are different histories. The images in RE5 were far too reminiscent of old racist movies (like Birth of a Nation). The same image we use for one race may be wholly inappropriate when applied to a different race, gender, ethnicity, religion, etc.

It may not have been intentionally racist, there may be no harm meant by it, but it evokes a powerful response because we are in a culture with history.

As for eliminating the language and thus eliminating racism, I don't think that would work. You'd have to change the whole culture - advertising, movies, television shows, literature, plays, dolls, toys. Things may be small and insignificant, but if they are consistent then it reinforces an inherent racism within the culture.
CommieBastard
"Intentionally racist" isn't that important a distinction for me - if you made something which reinforces racist stereotypes, the fact that you were clueless rather than actively malevolent doesn't really change that fact. The game can still be racist even if its creators aren't.

Come to that, I don't think "racist" is a particularly useful term when applied to people. Pretty much everyone is racist, having been raised in and indoctrinated by a racist culture. How could I not be racist, when I've been surrounded since birth by images of violent black people, black people with guns, black people committing crimes*... which isn't to let myself off the hook, just to say that it's more useful to debate whether a particular idea, institution, practice, movie or videogame is racist than to debate whether a person is.

On the game itself, the problem isn't just that it's set in Africa. There's nothing inherently wrong with setting a videogame in Africa, and the logical consequence of that is that most or all of the zombies would be black. I should point out that this has been a strawman set up by defenders of RE5 - nobody critical of the game has said "it's racist because the zombies are black", and it's lazy to suggest that.

The problematic elements of the game include: that a white man representing American power and aided by a black woman who is much lighter-skinned than the zombies is shooting much-darker enemies. That the trailer (which is what sparked the whole argy off) represented Africans as scary, threatening, violent before zombification was apparent (i.e. it's not just that zombies are scary, Africa is scary). That one part of the game has Leon defending himself against spear-throwing savages, seriously. And most importantly, that there is a long and unpleasant history of Africa being portrayed as filled with mindless violent barbarians whom white people are entitled to kill en masse if they feel threatened or if the Africans get in their way.

To try and make this problem a bit clearer, imagine if the latest GTA game let you walk into Virginia Tech, or Columbine High School, or Dunblane Primary School, and murder the occupants. The defence that "hey, GTA games have always let you murder people indiscriminately - what's the difference if you get to do it in these schools?" probably wouldn't hold much water. Treating Virginia Tech or Dunblane "the same" as Liberty City isn't possible, because Virginia Tech has a real history of horrifying violence and Liberty City doesn't. And it isn't possible to treat Africa the same way you treat Raccoon City, because actual white people actually did come to Africa and murder people.

*of course my society's prejudices are hardly limited to black people, I'm just taking this as an example.
froggle-rock
QUOTE (Yannick @ Jul 22 2009, 02:05 PM) *
I don't think unintentional racism exists. Well, that's going slightly far, maybe it does, but I don't see how it could. You either have blatantly racist intentions, hidden ones, slight biases, or none at all, which you, as the decision maker, are aware of. I've never played any of the games, but if it's a white shooter in every game, and you're blowing up zombies of every ethnicity in other games, then wtf? No, that's not racist. Would people cry and call racist if it was a black shooter? And yeah, it's kind of only natural for you know, zombies, black or white, to act like mindless savages. That's the definition of zombie, with a little flesh-eating thrown in.

Eh, I don't think 1984 would work. It might just be racism from the beginning all over again. "Gmoz, you look different than me. You're weeeeeird. Is there something wrong with you? Why do you look like that?" and then they either come to the realization that hey, they just come from different parts of the world so it's 'normal', or continue in a 5 year old fashion with "this is unfamiliar to me, therefore I don't like it."

And even if it would work, a lot of history would have to be omitted, and I don't think it's worth it to have a chance of getting rid of something that will eventually disappear anyway.

*edit* Haha, just thought how funny it would be if I told my mom she needed to buy me the game because I wanted to find out whether it was racist or not, and it working.



Prejudice. Stereotype. Discrimination. Kinda different. But the very attempt at trying to not be "a racist" makes you aware of the different colours and cultures and nationalities which could arguably make you treat different people in different ways making you a racist and defeating the purpose wanting to be an equal type.

It's a bit racist to me to be assumed that I come from a different part of the world than England. Where I have been born. And raised, and lived. It wasn't until I started (11-16) secondary school that I begun to be made aware of the fact that I wasn't just Frog, I was half caste Frog. Only thing I remember about people thinking about me in primary school (5-11) was my hair was different (think a two foot Diana Ross). Secondary school it was all about where my roots were from and all that kinda shit.


Mata, I don't know, mate. I think about it from time to time. I reckon knowing about racism means some people at some times see things through racism tinted glasses which just exacerbates it all, but at the same time, if left un-noted then it could just be a subconscious racism thing going on. It's a bit of this and a bit of that. Maybe I'll actually respond to your post another day.

Sometimes I CBA to even talk about this stuff because I feel like I am just making more of a mountain out of a mole hill by adding to the convo.
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