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Community Discussion: Blog by random j03 | A counterpoint to the arguments in tropes v women damsels in distressDestructoid
A counterpoint to the arguments in tropes v women damsels in distress - Destructoid

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i like to play games and depending on which version of myself makes an appearance, i can wax philosophical or ramble like a moron. i apologize in advance if a moron shows up
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so, watching the tropes v women damsel in distress videos. and here are my thoughts as it goes.

Star Fox adventures: Yes, it does suck that a new character took a back seat. Thing is, 1) you don't know if the original title would of sucked, 2) you don't know how much the selling of Rare played into the decisions, and 3) publishers almost always go established IP over new IP. Also, while she took a back seat and became a damsel in distress, she only did so after trying to save the day. Yes, sexy sax sounds and change of clothes were a horrible choice, but instead of talking about how it under minded the type of character she was established as in the game, lets just add "insult to injury" and act like she had no character at all.

History lesson time! Really, i would of liked a look into what made this trope work and resonate or how it was forced on people. There are mythologies where women held their own or were the hero of the stories, they would of been a nice contrast here. Instead all I'm getting is this trope exists, it was successful, and people keep using it. Even her argument against Miyamoto's pre-mario brothers work boils down to "A video game copy of something popular" with Donkey Kong being a cross between Popeye and King Kong and Sheriff being a copy of old westerns. 

Now, the Mario franchise may use the trope, but i think its more indicative of a different set of problems. Outside of the sports and party games, a Super Mario game's story is basically just the same story ad infinitum. It's like complaining that in ever film version of Frankenstein a little girl gets killed. The damsel trope stays because they make the same game repeatedly, and every character in Mario staple get just barely enough to make them different. And usually that something is a stereotype or an exaggerated character trait. Hence Peach's spin off basing her powers on the stereotype that women are fueled by their emotions. Which is messed up when you think about how much the sports/party games not only make her skills on par with Mario, she can beat him. Also, the "New" Mario games are actually just remixes/remakes of the originals, so its disingenuous to say she was replaced when she was never a playable character to begin with. I feel that Peach being a damsel in the main series is more to do with them recycling the story and the stereotype that princesses are weak and only there to be saved.

Also, her attempt to clear up the misconceptions of the trope seems to be more about opening it up to the point where if the hero is male, then if there's a woman involved she's immediately the damsel regardless of her actions before and during the story. Its unfortunate that Anita strengthens her own argument here by reducing Zelda's importance and bravery in the Ocarina of Time and turned her into an object. The same object that she accuses the ad of turning her into. There is never a hint of Zelda's inability to rule, if anything she's painted as a competent, or successful monarch. Even with the first game, Zelda split and hid the triforce to try and stop Gannon. As for her change in Wind Waker, you could argue that she stays put not bc she was reduced, but bc she was coming to terms with her new role and the importance of it. In most of the franchise, Zelda is the character that calls the hero and sets things in  motion. Just like any King or ruler would when they are concerned for their people. While a full blown Zelda game staring Zelda (this would be awesome http://dresdencodak.com/2013/04/11/the-legend-of-zelda-clockwork-empire/  by the way) to reduce her to just a damsel limits the character far more than saving her in the game ever could.

Now, i will give you Double Dragon. There is no explaining that one away. That's where this conversation and look at how this trope is used should truly be starting. Ghost n Goblins is another good spot. Same with the source material that brought you King Kong and countless other stories. These are true Damsel in Distress. Games where the woman is just a McGuffin and nothing more. The women at the center of those have no personality nor do they get fleshed out. There a woman is truly treated as an object that can be replaced. I think that's where the meaningful conversation can start. Right now, i think we're just chasing ghosts of that conversation.



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