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Resident Evil 5: So not-racist it's shocking

4:00 PM on 03.15.2009 // Jim Sterling

We all knew it was coming, but the absolutely retarded "Resident Evil 5 is SO RACIST" debate has reached the mainstream press, who are likely incredibly aroused at the thought of being able to blame racial prejudice on videogames, as well as murder and rape. Huffington Post writer Earl Ofari Hutchinson makes his position clear, in an article that blatantly headlines itself "Resident Evil Racism."

"... It was no surprise that Jun Takeuchi yanked out that script to defend his video game brainchild Resident Evil 5 from the charge that it's racist," claims the reactionary whiner. "But what else could one call it? It features a white male (modern day Bawana) mowing down a pack of poor, primitive disease challenged Africans. The white killer is on a search and destroy mission to stop the spread of a deadly virus. The racist game reinforces the worst of the worst ancient stereotypes against and about Africans."

Meanwhile, over at CNET, Lou Kenneston remains on the fence, but sadly claims he felt "uncomfortable" as he was "shotgunning a path through a crowd of feral Africans." He does not display the ignorance of Hutchinson, but he says that many players will "find it disturbing for the wrong reasons."

I am a player of Resident Evil 5, and have been shotgunning feral Africans all weekend. Am I disturbed? Am I like Hutchinson, now filled with hate for Capcom and its "racist" game? Well, I'll confess one thing. I played RE5, and I was actually quite shocked by what I experienced.

Shocked? Yes, this game is shocking. It's not what you may think, however.

Unlike Hutchinson, I have actually played Resident Evil 5, as I'm sure most of you have. I have maintained for a long time that Resident Evil 5 is not racist, but I must admit I had some preconceptions about the game. First of all, I was expecting to be able to laugh at the out-of-context nature of a white man gunning down African villagers in a mainstream videogame. As longtime readers may have already gathered, I've something of a morbid sense of humor, and pretending the game legitimately was some sort of KKK propaganda amused me greatly. 

However, while the game has amused me greatly, it's not because I could take the game out of context and laugh at it ... but because I couldn't.

While playing, I couldn't stop laughing -- the game is so UNracist that it's hilarious thinking about all these crybabies who are stomping their feet over it. I played the game and I couldn't even pretend I was playing an ethnic cleansing sim for a joke. The "poor primitive Africans" are so very clearly zombie-like monsters that I could not reconcile their appearance with actual African villagers. Maybe it's simply because I'm not constantly looking for racism, like these other people clearly are, but as much as I did look, I found a very unracist game that was not laughing at black people. Not that all the Ganados/Majini in the game ARE black people. There are quite a few infected white folk, too.

This doesn't even go into the fact that the real villains of the game are evil white men, who exploit the native Africans. The African monsters, incurable as they are, deserve sympathy for being, in essence, victims of an evil white company that is fulfilling the acceptable stereotype of the warmongering, exploitative Westerner. The game goes at great lengths, unnecessarily so in my view, to point out that the monstrous Majini were once peaceful villagers, who were lied to and tricked into infection because they just wanted to protect their families and accepted an "immunization" from the evil white man. 

Resident Evil 5 can only be construed a racist by those who have not actually played the game, and really, those people have no basis for their argument until they actually sit down and take the time to experience the thing. The fact that Hutchinson can sit there and viciously attack not just Capcom, but the entire games industry and its supporters, based on second-hand knowledge and a videogame he clearly knows fucking nothing about, is quite disgusting, and ironically bigoted

If anything, Capcom's latest in the Resident Evil series proves only one thing -- that we can never have something involving black people that won't cause a race debate. That's pretty fucking sad if you ask me. If we lived in a world that these anti-racist folks claim to want, then we would be working towards having a game like Resident Evil 5 that could be released without the controversy. If only we were mature enough and capable of seeing a game set in Africa without clicking our heels together and hoping to find some juicy racism to be upset about. 

Even if we don't find that racism, we'll invent it. That's what has happened with Resident Evil 5, a game so not-racist it's betrayed the ignorance of everybody who deems it thus. Anybody who calls RE5 racist from this point forward is officially a fucking moron who didn't play it and/or can't tell the difference between a monster and a real black man (which makes them totally racist). I'm not going to pull the overplayed "nobody complains about white zombies" card, because we don't even need to go that far. The simple fact is that the villains of RE5 are so obviously infected and inhuman killers, that only someone who's trying really hard to see racism could compare them to real people. 

Hell, I already said that I tried to see the racism, and even through trying I couldn't see anything. Even attempting to pretend that the game was racist, the imagery of the infected Majini was just too monstrous to conquer. Later in the game you meet the Majinis who follow the traditions of their human ancestors, donning tribal paint and even throwing spears. Even with that kind of imagery, the thought of racism was far from my mind. I was too busy concentrating on the terrifying fucking monsters that were coming to kill me. Not the black monsters ... just the monsters

Perhaps some would argue that I am being naive, that I am just too insensitive to black struggles to be disturbed and affected by the racial element to this game. Perhaps that might be true to some extent, too. But you know, I'd rather be naive than unable to enjoy harmless things like movies and videogames because I'm afraid that there might be some racism in them. I'd rather be insensitive than so sensitive that everything upsets and hurts me. I believe I've only got one life on this rotten little planet, and it's too short for me to not try and enjoy it. When I play Resident Evil 5, I'm too busy having fun to bitch and moan about a subtext that isn't even there. If my ability to have fun is a product of my naivety, than I am naive and fucking proud

As for people like Earl Ofari Hutchinson? Stop being a fucking moron, play the game, and maybe, just maybe, you'll find something more important than racism ... you'll actually find some fucking fun for once in your life. 

Jim Sterling, Former Reviews Editor
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