OK I said I was staying clear of this but with no sign of Tropes vs Women part two I decided to broach this subject again and ask what is a very difficult question.
Should artistic vision be censored due to perceived sexism ?
What triggered this article were recent controversies around gaming and one game I tend to pay some attention to still. Smite.
The initial trigger point was the introduction of the goddess Neith to the game, this led to a number of people calling sexism from the roof tops. Calling for Hirez to apologise and for them to stop. For those who arenít aware Smite is based on Gods fighting. Here is a depiction of Neith found in actual art next to one from smite (on the right).
Note: to make sure no-one gets offended by nudity I've inserted boobies in appropriate places again in any picture that displays them.
Another such one being the representation of the goddess Kali† again hereís the art and the Smite versions.
The one on the left is actually apparently a depiction found in some temples†
Now while Iíll happily say that the case for Remember Me highlights an issue with people being asked to compromise an artistic vision to gain perceived better sales. Thatís obviously wrong however people are calling objectification from the rooftops and with the latest Jimquisition deciding to tackle the half naked male idea and put forward that it was idealistic and no objectification I realise one slight argument which hasnít been brought out yet.
If we take the idea that games are a form of art as such artistic freedom should be allowed with them then can we truly claim that art should be changed because of its potential objectification. A running joke on the comedy series Allo Allo is a painting named the Fallen Madonna with the big boobies. If I went down to my local art gallery itís quite possibly they would have nude female forms on display in the paintings and those nudes would be of that times perception of female perfection. The big stumbling block this claim of objectification now has to face is not that itís equally done but that in a way its asking for a form of censorship to be placed on art. However if you wish to claim video games arenít art then they actually lose the protection the idea of art gives them in terms of themes and narratives and as such no longer being creative expression can and will be censored by anyone interested in pushing their agenda.
So while some moral crusaders will claim that removing the perceived objectification is worth it the question must be what cost will it be to remove the objectification they see as present. Will it create a precedent for anyone trying to censor and remove any content they deem inappropriate or offensive?† †
So while the argument being made is that men arenít being objectified because they are being shown as targets or goals but that by reducing them to a simple set of goals meant to be our own goals or to use the approach of the ideal man. Male characters are just as objectified as a set of characteristics then a physical representation of these. The idea of objectification is youíre turning something into an object but with male characters youíre reducing them to a list of desirable ideals. The difference between male and female characters the female characters are being turned to display physical ideals while male are displaying psychological ideals......... to an extent as this breaks down when you look at essentially a crazed serial killer in the form of Kratos. The argument goes that those traits possessed by male characters are positive traits. Now look at the media, is not the idea of physical ideals present too ? Pick up any gossip magazine and I can almost guarantee there will be a story on a Celeb who has either had work done, doesnít look good or who has let themselves go or got back in shape either publically ridiculing them or praising them. Down to a point the difference is the form the ideals take in the expression of them, be it physical or mental.
So relating this back to art as such characters are a physical or mental expression in part of their creators. If someone is forever drawing boobs then the response of ďdude you need to get laid or somethingĒ seems a fairly valid one. A response that doesnít is to turn to that person and tell them they canít produce their art anymore because it offends someone.
So if we are to consider videogames as art Iíd encourage you to happily defend the Fallen Madonnaís big boobs. However if games arenít art as such then Iíd encourage you to defend any attempt to censor them. The big twist as such being how well this was shown up in the Dragon Crown controversy, the artists explained the reasoning behind the character models and suddenly the issues wasnít such a huge issue. You see hereís the funny thing, art is subjective, I have mentioned before how I hate Damien Hursts work (His work is presently on at my Local art gallery as the featured exhibit of all things) however because I hate it doesnít mean I should be calling for his head on a spike, like with many who disagree with female character models I actually brush off my objection to an extent. The reason is hey itís my opinion if people want it then Iím not stopping them throwing their money at it. I donít find the generic ideals put forward by society as to the perfect woman to match my own opinion on this, for those who know me in reality they can attest to this no doubt however when expressed in art Iím not going to be calling for a ban on them.
Now this may come off seeming like Iím completely against the debate, Iím not as just like any form of art its meant to be discussed and trying to impose an arbitrary set of rules is actually removing the creative freedom, so while Iíll defend an artistís right to draw overly busty female characters Iíll also defend artists rights to draw characters such as Helga from Clayfighters
Heck Iíd even defend an artistís right to draw this guy.
It doesnít mean I agree with the drawing but that it shouldnít be locked away, the idea behind the debate being that some artists will realise itís ok to draw differently and express different things in their chosen art. We donít need every female character to be the same as if you do try to apply an arbitrary set of rules youíre actually simply reinforcing the problem youíre trying to prevent as saying no character can be sexualised would remove the idea of different artistic expressions and again force artists to be working within a box after fighting to destroy the previous box because it didnít match your specific taste in cardboard.
So I say let the Fallen Madonna have her big boobies because if thatís the artists vision then thatís them making exactly what they wanted. Sure it might not appeal to our specific taste but then again, its art itís not meant to. If you want to argue then kindly put out your point without calling for the artists balls and or ovaries, comparing them to the Devil or claiming they are the scourge of gaming.
If you want art thatís tailor made I suggest you commission the artist yourself next time.