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On GTAV and Misogyny.

Grand Theft Auto, since San Andreas, has been a series dedicated to rendering the implicit ideological assumptions buried within affluent Western (primarily American) culture nauseatingly explicit, but spoken with the PR straight-smiling face with which those attitudes are obfuscated in real life. Hence, its surrealistic charm. This is not so much intended to make us laugh (although it often does that), but rather to horrify us by the degree to which such manifestly hyperbolic and contradictory speech corresponds to elements within the cultures of the real world which fail to render manifest these contradictions, present and disguised. 

Speaking of surrealistic charm, I vote Jonathan Holmes to cameo as a time-travelling H.H.Holmes in GTA VI. 

Thus, in GTAV, we have PR spokespeople who, speaking plainly about the dangers their products pose to consumers, nonetheless attempt to sell it by appealing to the consumer's desire to participate in certain experiential narratives (see Zizek's 'three types of marketing' speech); these are symbols for the notion that those who hold the keys to the means of consumption will adorn literal poison in targeted rhetoric so as to sell it to those who can't afford its repercussions. Thus, talent shows which frankly admit that they are exploiting the desire of the naive, talentless and starstruck to achieve ratings by way of mocking them on live television. Thus, conservative politicians who openly proclaim their desire to achieve a monoculture through the militarization of borders, the reinforcement and propagation of WASP-supremacy through local ideology (thereby ensuring that no official agency can be targeted with anti-discrimination legislation) and the removal of social critics from the sphere of legitimate political discourse by rendering them cultural non-citizens, 'un-American'. 

I'm Australian, and this is our new Prime Minister. The fact that he's virtually indistinguishable from GTAV's Jock Cranley makes me weep into my Jonathan Holmes love-pillow. 

It is unsurprising, therefore, to note that the representation of women in such a work is misogyny unbridled; that's the point. Works of satire demand, as necessary conditions for their success as works of social criticism, an audience both empathetic and liberal in socio-political temperament; these are precisely the people who would be horrified by such a perception, and who are calling GTAV out on it in droves. Such a work could not lay bare the noxious misogyny latent within American popular culture (and bro-culture, which I was so happy to see get a good beating) and then, within its own textual confines, negate the disgust it presumes in its audience by reassuring them with anti-sexism. The ethical response to the representation of misogyny, racism, transphobia, etc., in satirical works is a relation between the audience (horror/disgust) and the text (unbridled grossness in whatever form you like, misogyny, etc.), not between the text and itself; to bury egalitarian reassurances within the text itself would stifle the critical import of the frank, brutal representation of all that is foul in contemporary affluent-West ideology. 

The authors who brought 'Red Dead Redemption's Bonnie McFarland to our screens do not then turn around in GTAV to negate that message, po-faced, with the intent of that negation to be taken as genuine authorial intent. Red Dead Redemption, as a work of genuine drama, had the room for well-developed female characters, and so Bonnie turned up; my only criticism of that game's representation of women is that there weren't more of them, and that Mrs. Marsden didn't get enough exposition. GTAV, as a work of satirical criticism of contemporary ideology, then, has no such room; such characters would be at odds with and actively contradict what they were attempting to achieve, which is nothing less than an assault on popular culture/values and modes of evaluation (which is arguably even more important) in a manner similar to Nietzsche's assault on Christian values throughout most of his corpus. 

GTAV, then, while expressing misogyny on a frequent basis, is not itself, on my interpretation of its intent (which may, of course, not represent accurately the work from which it sprung; please don't hesitate to inform me if you think I've misread it) a misogynist work. The critical project Rockstar embarked on with this is entirely negative; exhausting itself in bringing to the cold light of judgement the follies and repugnance pregnant in the American political scene, the narcissism and meaninglessness of celebrity obsession and those who cultivate it, the underutilisation and banality in the present use of social media, and the modes by which capitalism and government engage in reciprocal cycles of generating and annihilating their own antagonists among many other things, GTAV has left the task of providing alternatives to its gloomy portrait of modern America to its successors and critics. 

While GTAV is not a misogynist work, then, it's damned important that we have the discussions that it impels us to have about misogyny and the narratives which the privileged use to dismiss women (the 'hysterical feminist' in Franklin's aunt, the 'upwardly-mobile alimony chaser' of MRA mythology in the liberal candidate for governor (I've forgotten her name, oops), etc) as well as a repetition of the discussion San Andreas attempted to ignite concerning gang tribalism as a defence mechanism against alienation from institutionalised racism in the government and, more locally, the police force.
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About VampIronyone of us since 8:00 AM on 05.12.2013

I'm a 21-year-old B.A student, double-majoring in philosophy and literature (soon to be film studies); currently on break from study due to health reasons, but I hope to be back at uni next year.

I've been a lifelong gamer - unsurprisingly - and adore games criticism/Let's Plays, what have you. I'm very much an advocate of 'games-as-art'.

I generally prefer Western RPGs, FPSs and action-adventure titles, although I'm growing steadily more fond of the spate of platformers indie developers have been crafting since Braid.