11 April 2008

N'Gai Croal on RE5...

Reading through an interview with N'Gai Croal he talks about the racism that's inherent in the Resident Evil 5 trailer and released materials.

The thing that gets me is that this is only an issue when it's against a 'minority'. If there was a stereotypical English or Scottish village, say, where we knew something bad was happening and thus all the characters were demonised or villainised before finally turning into those villains that we knew were coming from the start.... oh, wait, Village of the Damned and The Wicker Man did that already. Read this:

There was stuff like even before the point in the trailer where the crowd turned into zombies. There sort of being, in sort of post-modern parlance, they’re sort of “othered.” They’re hidden in shadows, you can barely see their eyes, and the perspective of the trailer is not even someone who’s coming to help the people. It’s like they’re all dangerous; they all need to be killed. It’s not even like one cute African — or Haitian or Caribbean — child could be saved. They’re all dangerous men, women and children.

I find that to be the same thing that was in both of those films i mention above.

He talks about history of the images. Why is it okay to take things from the far past and change/adapt them in various ways and no one cares? (That's a rhetorical question) The reason is that people have emotional attachments to more recent events.
The question is whether those people should learn to accept that these events have happened and that by using these events, historic images etc, they are not diminished by their use in non-academic or information senses.

It’s not as simple as saying, “Oh, they shot Spanish zombies in ‘Resident Evil 4,’ and now ‘black zombies and that’s why people are getting upset.” The imagery is not the same. It doesn’t carry the same history, it doesn’t carry the same weight. I don’t know how to explain it more clearly than that.

And i know that it's not true. I know that some Spanish/Hispanic (is that a racist term? I don't know.) people will feel just as bad about being maligned as he does because it's his race, his history. He cares about the use of that imagery. I think it's just as bad as him saying the above quote for the Spanish people in RE4 as a non-black person is for saying that a black person shouldn't get upset... or a Jewish person shouldn't get upset about Jews being portrayed in a WW2 era. It's hypocrasy and it's funny that he doesn't see it - not that i think he's being racist in his intent... but in the same way the people who made the game aren't being racist.

Everyone brings to it their own history, their own perspective. Some people are engaged in it, some people aren’t. I think some people are concerned because some people think there is a double standard. Some people say that when it’s images of only black people then people get concerned.

So he even acknowledges it himself? I don't think it's only when it's black people involved. As i said above, i believe that it's relevant to the person of the race that's represented.

That’s the whole thing where only Chris Redfield appears to be human before they turn into zombies; the humanity of other people is in question. It’s like you barely see their faces, he doesn’t really interact with them, he sort of walks through this thing and it’s sort of, “Is he there? Is he not?” It’s a very strange thing, and it taps into sort of this very racist iconography.

It's a shame that he views it like this. If he has any knowledge of gaming/cinema or writing then he should know that heroes and protagonists are always humanised and the enemies are always dehumanised as much as possible - even extending this to foreshadowing before the twists. You can even see this in the above films i mentioned. The exceptions to this are when a character will be 'turned' or lost to the enemy or the environment - i.e. their humanity is built up so that their 'fall' is that much more poignant.

If i'm really going to analyse this then i have to say that i think that his 'taught' social radar for racism is interfering with his critique. The reason why the other people don't see this problem that he's talking about is because they are not taught about the same history in the same way that he has been. They are not black, they haven't received racism against black people.

I understand that outright racism is a big problem. But sectioning off minorities or whole wedges of people from being used in media because of some history and a perceived problem isn't addressing that problem and is instead leading to further segregation in society today - not only because those people who don't see the issue in the same way believing that those outcrys are just people whining but also because less people understand those people who are crying out against the events due to lack of interaction.

This is my opinion. Maybe i'm wrong, maybe i'm racist and i don't realise it. Maybe i just don't have a heart or soul and am some sort of unfeeling abomination. Perhaps that's the best way to be...

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