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You Filthy Gaijin...
April 12th 2008, 02:05 CEST by Greg

The Japanese are at it again, showing they have no idea how to broach racially sensitive topics in games.

Recently, Capcom released a trailer for Resident Evil 5. In it, Chris Redfield is in a town which looks to be Caribbean, populated by black people who apparently turn into zombies. Which he then has to kill, or something.

The imagery from the trailer is controversial. Is it meant to reflect history? Is it yet another example of Japanese game developers playing off of racial stereotypes (ala Barret in FFVII, hell the topic name "filthy gaijin" is yet another Japanese stereotype)?
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#43 by Funkdrunk
2008-04-12 04:22:36
jflavius@bellatlantic.net
Lucid has a very overly strong anise taste (which they do use as one of their herbs), which I'm not a huge fan of.  So the water and sugar help.  And after a few swigs, I stop caring about the taste.

Funk.

#44 by Greg
2008-04-12 04:23:05
Caryn - I really had the same reaction as you watching the trailer, on first glance with my worldview I didn't see really much "wrong" with it. But it was "white guy vs black zombies" and really, they should take a step back and ask "is there anything wrong with this?" And given Japanese development history, I'm guessing they did not.

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#45 by Funkdrunk
2008-04-12 04:23:05
jflavius@bellatlantic.net
Why does the black man have to smoke a blunt?  

Funk

#46 by FoRmaT
2008-04-12 04:25:38
You racist! I thought the point of drinking Absinthe is to get high? Blunt = works for sure, is cheaper. I've smoked quite a few in my youth without being black.

"Action stars of two decades ago shot .44 bullets out of their cocks. Honestly, if me and Charles Bronson were in the same room I'd kill myself just to make sure he didn't hurt me."
#47 by CheesyPoof
2008-04-12 04:27:01
You said you were of Caribbean decent...

<Hugin_len> Basically, cheesy doesn't have awful taste in music, he's simply very white.
#48 by Ergo
2008-04-12 04:27:20
Absinthe does not make you high. That is a myth. It does get you very, very drunk, though.

Invention is the Green Goblin of Necessary Lemonade.

--Flowers
#49 by Funkdrunk
2008-04-12 04:27:21
jflavius@bellatlantic.net
More specifically, why does the black man of caribbean decent have to smoke a blunt.

Funk.

#50 by Ergo
2008-04-12 04:27:50
BECAUSE THAT'S THE RULES, MAN!

Invention is the Green Goblin of Necessary Lemonade.

--Flowers
#51 by Caryn
2008-04-12 04:28:03
carynlaw@pacbell.net http://www.hellchick.net
One of my favorite texts that deals with race from the last ten years is The Wire.  A show where half, if not more of the black characters are criminals, created and written mostly by white people.

I often wonder these things while watching The Shield, another show in which a huge majority of the black characters are criminal. I sometimes wonder as I'm watching what the black actor playing the criminal thinks about his role on the show, and if he has any reservations about playing what is a racial stereotype on one hand but also an unfortunate demographic reality in the setting of the show.

Bellydance!
#52 by Hugin
2008-04-12 04:28:07
lmccain@nber.org
You know, I mentioned Stormfront earlier as a joke, but just as an aside, it's not uncommon for folks like that to talk about how they'd defend their neighborhoods from race riots of nonwhites went out of control, and one of their memes for describing these scenarios is how to fend off "zombie attacks" or "packs of zombies".

"Bioshock, sadly, is no Painkiller." - BobJustBob
#53 by CheesyPoof
2008-04-12 04:28:28
I don't know, trying to lighten the situation a little bit.

Are you a mean drunk?

<Hugin_len> Basically, cheesy doesn't have awful taste in music, he's simply very white.
#54 by FoRmaT
2008-04-12 04:30:52
Hey, I'm not saying you are Afroman :P

But people think Absinthe is some kind of wonder drug that will make them fly, and it's not. So if the goal of drinking Absinthe is to get high, it's not going to work. Hence = Want to get high? Smoke a blunt!

"Action stars of two decades ago shot .44 bullets out of their cocks. Honestly, if me and Charles Bronson were in the same room I'd kill myself just to make sure he didn't hurt me."
#55 by Funkdrunk
2008-04-12 04:32:08
jflavius@bellatlantic.net
Oh, and since you asked me where, I got it from Morrell Wines over by Rockefeller Center.  They do ship anywhere in the US, however.


Funk.

#56 by Funkdrunk
2008-04-12 04:36:11
jflavius@bellatlantic.net
As Ergo said, it doesn't get you high.  However, only Wray and Nephew overproof rum comes close to how quickly I feel it.  Acutally I think I feel the absinthe faster than the rum.  I will have to conduct some tests to find out.

Unfortunately/Fortunately, BSG is coming on soon, so I will have to hold off testing for another time.

Funk.

#57 by FoRmaT
2008-04-12 04:36:20
You can buy Absinthe of any colour in Spain. 24 hour stores have it in plastic bottles, I remember seeing one brand that had green stuff with a hemp leaf on it, plus red, blue and yellow. If that stuff doesn't make you blind, you are a tough sunnovabitch!

"Action stars of two decades ago shot .44 bullets out of their cocks. Honestly, if me and Charles Bronson were in the same room I'd kill myself just to make sure he didn't hurt me."
#58 by FoRmaT
2008-04-12 04:38:31
Oh, yeah. Already there are assholes pasting fake S04E02 and 03. And still people don't have any common sense and post shit like "PLYYY GUYS THIS FAKE OR REAL PLSSS TELL ME URGENT??" in the BT sites' comments sections. We are doomed!

"Action stars of two decades ago shot .44 bullets out of their cocks. Honestly, if me and Charles Bronson were in the same room I'd kill myself just to make sure he didn't hurt me."
#59 by Gabe
2008-04-12 04:38:44
http://www.dartpublishing.com
I looked up Lucid. "Alcohol Content:   124%" No wonder it gets you really, really drunk! I assume it's proof, and yeah, absinthes have a ridiculous alcohol level and that's what fucks people up.

I'm still saddened that Aunt Bailey's Pickling Juice was intercepted by US Customs.
#60 by Squeaky
2008-04-12 04:38:47
#49 by Funkdrunk

More specifically, why does the black man of caribbean decent have to smoke a blunt.

Funk.

I bet you've got dreads, too!

#61 by FoRmaT
2008-04-12 04:41:25
How can there be 124% of anything? *scratches head*

"Action stars of two decades ago shot .44 bullets out of their cocks. Honestly, if me and Charles Bronson were in the same room I'd kill myself just to make sure he didn't hurt me."
#62 by Hugin
2008-04-12 04:41:43
lmccain@nber.org
My other thought is that, most good videogames set up a loop where the thing you do..whatever that is, gives you a little burst of pleasure.  Most videogames are inevitably going to be repetitive, so the thing you're doing a lot has to be fun or satisfying or rewarding.  In shooters, or combat heavy games, clearly blowing away, chopping down, blowing up, etc the monsters is supposed to be fun.  (And in a horror game, some of the tension must inevitably come from the designers using imagery and situations they know will make us tense and play on our basic fears.  It's basic craftsmanship in a horror story.

So, while I intellectually know they're zombies, and I enjoy killing zombies as much as the next guy, you've still got this sort of situation set up, this...sensory circuit, where "masses of black people"= scary monsters --> Killing scary monsters (who look like black people)= fun.

What people yell at the sceen in the privacy of their own living rooms as they play it...I can imagine in some cases it'll be...not great.

"Bioshock, sadly, is no Painkiller." - BobJustBob
#63 by FoRmaT
2008-04-12 04:44:38
White zombies scare me just as much!

"Action stars of two decades ago shot .44 bullets out of their cocks. Honestly, if me and Charles Bronson were in the same room I'd kill myself just to make sure he didn't hurt me."
#64 by Funkdrunk
2008-04-12 04:45:24
jflavius@bellatlantic.net
What people yell at the screen in the privacy of their own living rooms as they play it...I can imagine in some cases it'll be...not great.


Oh I agree.  My upstairs neighbor had a college age kid that used to yell all sorts of profane racial slurs out all the time when watching sports.  It was a good day when he moved out. I can imagine him and his friends if they were playing this game.

Funk.

#65 by FoRmaT
2008-04-12 04:46:40
Why didn't you confront him about it?

"Action stars of two decades ago shot .44 bullets out of their cocks. Honestly, if me and Charles Bronson were in the same room I'd kill myself just to make sure he didn't hurt me."
#66 by Gabe
2008-04-12 04:48:24
http://www.dartpublishing.com
Hugin prefers to shoot whitey.
#67 by bago
2008-04-12 05:19:15
manga_Rando@hotmail.com
He was only armed with a headblade.

Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want and deserve to get it good and hard.
#68 by m0nty
2008-04-12 05:34:08
http://tinfinger.blogspot.com
FoRmaT (#61):
How can there be 124% of anything? *scratches head*

That means 124% proof, where proof goes up to 200% because you divide it by two to get the actual alcohol content.
#69 by Gabe
2008-04-12 05:42:06
http://www.dartpublishing.com
Minus the percent sign, of course.
#70 by Shadarr
2008-04-12 07:16:34
shadarr@gmail.com http://digital-luddite.com
I think what Hugin said about it being problematic is spot on.  It's entirely conceivable that a good game could be made with Darfur or Haiti or a concentration camp as the setting, but it's unlikely to ever happen because videogames only ever have one character.  Everyone besides the player is basically an object which exists to be acted on by the player.  There's no possibility of moral complexity because there's no real distinction between NPCs and vending machines, jumping puzzles or keys.  They all exist as either obstacles or aids to the player.

And I think this relates back to the good and evil discussion.  The fundamental problem is that the way "good" and "evil" are portrayed are as effects on the player, not the world.  When given the choice to help someone or kill them, the only consequence that matters is that it will move your good/evil slider.  Which is a fundamentally amoral and narcissistic worldview.

Witnesses in the house heard Jones say "why did you pee on me Pooh Bear?" A few moments later, the witness heard the son say "Mama you done stabbed me."
#71 by Funkdrunk
2008-04-12 07:20:37
jflavius@bellatlantic.net
I just checked my bottle of overproof, it's 63% ABV.  So it's a little stronger then the Absinthe.  Not enoough to be more than a statiscal blip, however.

Anyways, to answer format, I wasn't sure which of the kids that lived upstairs (there are 6 apartments) belonged to my upstairs neighbor.  I did know which adults lived above me from residents meetings, and I dropped hints that the walls were thinner than they thought and they should be carefult because I could hear things that should be private.

He moved out a few months later, after he got out of school, so it stopped on it's own.

Funk.

#72 by eggbert
2008-04-12 07:28:39
http://www.stuffresearch.com
Yeah, I never got that. If proof is just the percent times two...why not use the percent instead?

I sometimes wonder as I'm watching what the black actor playing the criminal thinks about his role on the show, and if he has any reservations about playing what is a racial stereotype on one hand but also an unfortunate demographic reality in the setting of the show.

I've had that conversation before. The answer from the actor is usually along the lines of: most parts for minorities are racial stereotypes, and I need to pay this crazy California rent before I get evicted. It would be nice to only play well rounded, complex and interesting minority characters, but there aren't enough out there to sustain a career unless you're Denzel or Will Smith or Morgan Freeman.

It's either that, or a variation of the rationalize any actor has for taking a "commercial" role, it'll help them pay for their personal arty projects.
#73 by Funkdrunk
2008-04-12 07:36:44
jflavius@bellatlantic.net
From Wikipedia

Britain originally specified alcohol content in terms of proof spirit, originally defined as the most dilute spirit which would sustain combustion of gunpowder. In this system, spirit of 100 degrees proof contains 57.1% alcohol by volume or 49.28% alcohol by weight at 51 °F (10.6 °C) and is equivalent to 114.2 proof in the USA. Pure ethanol is 175.25 degrees proof, or more strictly is 75.25 degrees over proof.


It's just a historical thing now.  And most spirits come marked with ABV nowdays, which makes so much more sense.

My bro is an indie film director, and he echoes what Eggie just said.  He adds that also there is the thought that some exposure, no matter how distasteful is better than no exposure.  Lawrence Fishburn played Cowboy Curtis with Pee Wee Herman at one point.

Funk.

#74 by Ergo
2008-04-12 07:55:20
The last bottle of absinthe that I (illegally) imported from Spain was 160 proof, according to the label, so that's some seriously strong shit. It was some Swiss brand, the name of which I forget, probably of the brains cells it killed during its consumption. The reason why absinthe was banned had nothing to do with the so-called "high" it supposedly caused--it had everything to do with how strong and how cheap it was and the amount of competition it was giving to French vintners at the time.

Anyway, absinthe is good stuff when taken in small doses. Unless you don't like the flavor of liquorice; then it's moot.

Invention is the Green Goblin of Necessary Lemonade.

--Flowers
#75 by Funkdrunk
2008-04-12 07:59:19
jflavius@bellatlantic.net
160 huh?  I have a friend who may be going to spain, perhaps I should ask if she can do me the favor.

Funk.

#76 by McBain
2008-04-12 08:26:02
#70 by Shadarr

Agreed.

#77 by Ergo
2008-04-12 08:29:40
Yes, Shadarr's post was spot-on.

Invention is the Green Goblin of Necessary Lemonade.

--Flowers
#78 by m0nty
2008-04-12 08:31:34
http://tinfinger.blogspot.com
And thus doesn't belong on this site.
#79 by Dingle
2008-04-12 09:41:36
mylifesazoo@gmail.com
I want to see a game that stars a pathetic, racist-murderer Nazi who has to survive making his way through a concentration camp full of returned-from-the-dead innocent Jews with only a Swiss army knife and a rock. Spend forty hours on the survival horror, and in the end there's no way you can win. You only end up in hell, as it should be.

I'd fork out about $18.77
#80 by BobJustBob
2008-04-12 10:11:27
Sounds like I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream.

"I don't like story in games." - Soren Johnson
#81 by None-1a
2008-04-12 10:25:08
#17 by Caryn
Also, the Japanese seem to be notably completely ignorant of racially charged issues that weren't part of their history, as exemplified by Nazi imagery apparently being popular as fashion items not too long ago in Japan.


While this maybe true with in Japan it's no excuse for it here. A good number of Japanese companies have a nasty habit of using racially charged imagery just to create controversy then playing the 'we have nazi bars and robojesus asskicker manga we don't get this stuff sorry" card as soon as it gets out of control. Second the RE series is one of Capcom's major US releases and the trailer is from E3, you just wouldn't release something like that with out approval from at least someone well versed in american culture and frankly it'd be more likely the whole thing would be funneled through the american offices anyway.

Funny enough the Biohazard 5 trailers have none of this imagery. Granted they are very old and they likely didn't have much in the way of assests to work with for them.

All of that said the only imagery I have to question in the trailer is the inclusion of the megaphone screen. Since there's no context for that it clouds how the rest of the trailer looks a great deal (makeing it look like a call to violance aimed at the outsider rather then a zombie virus infection).
#82 by Dingle
2008-04-12 10:50:34
mylifesazoo@gmail.com
I played that game, and I'm still using the mousepad for it!!! LOlsolollllalaala!!!

I'm of the mindset that the actors who portrayed the villains in Schindler's List could actually be the finest Christians you'd ever meet. I remember Sir Anthony Hopkins' comment about playing villains: "As a Christian man, I play villains to make sure that everyone that walks out of the theatre hates evil."

Thank God we don't all buy into Hollywood stock morality.
#83 by McBain
2008-04-12 10:51:17
All of that said the only imagery I have to question in the trailer is the inclusion of the megaphone screen. Since there's no context for that it clouds how the rest of the trailer looks a great deal (makeing it look like a call to violance aimed at the outsider rather then a zombie virus infection).

I thought the same thing about the guy with the megaphone.

#84 by gaggle
2008-04-12 13:32:45
I remember when I first saw the trailer and, immediately after read about it being racially charged, my knee-jerk response was of the "No I don't see that" and "Jeez way to see racism where it isn't" variety.

That changed as I thought about it though… by now I'm basically just agreeing with Shadarr, Hugin, etc., it obviously is problematic imagery. But then what? It's all good and fine if we agree the setting is problematic, that Capcom is treading into potential hot water, but what's the next part of this discussion? If there is one. Do you ban the game because of the trailer? That'd be way over the top right? What if the game ends up being entirely about whitey slaughtering black zombies exactly like the trailer? Ban? Anything?


Basically I'm asking if you can imagine any sort of physical repercussions for the charged racial theme they've shown? Because even agreeing that it's a tricky position Capcom is placing themselves in I don't feel like wanting to do anything about it. But if it were literally about shooting evil black people (not zombies), or if the game was about shooting Jewish children in concentration camps or gleefully aiming planes into buildings, I'd more ready to more actively shun the game.

"the accusations are such nonsense that I have found it difficult to treat them with the contempt that they deserve." - Clarke
#85 by FoRmaT
2008-04-12 13:40:22
Why do they automatically place themselves in a tricky position just by having a mob of black zombies?

No American complained because the previous installments of this japanese game was set in America and had white zombies.

Remember the Southpark episode "Cartman's silly hate crime"? This reminds me of it.

"Action stars of two decades ago shot .44 bullets out of their cocks. Honestly, if me and Charles Bronson were in the same room I'd kill myself just to make sure he didn't hurt me."
#86 by FoRmaT
2008-04-12 13:42:27
Ok, so Cartman IS a racist, but he wasn't being racist when attacking Token, he was "only" being a bully.

"Action stars of two decades ago shot .44 bullets out of their cocks. Honestly, if me and Charles Bronson were in the same room I'd kill myself just to make sure he didn't hurt me."
#87 by mgns
2008-04-12 13:47:51
I haven't seen the trailer, and I'm not thinking I'm going to either. But if you sit down and think about how X might be racist, or sexist, aren't you pretty much going to come to the conclusion that, yeah, X is pretty racist?

Should we analyze what we see, and put it in a context and reflect? Sure. Should we over-analyze it? I don't think that is very healthy of productive. And I believe the over-analyzing of all kinds of stupid shit is why my brain hurts and my eyes bleed whenever I watch the news.

I'm not saying that's what we've been doing here, in regards to this trailer, we're a few hundred posts short of it - but how do we know when we go from productive discourse to liberal navel gazing?

but watching changes every fact
and your curves are best described
by mathematical approximation anyway
so I use fingertips to trace our play
#88 by FoRmaT
2008-04-12 13:52:51
Oh, so they are going to censor Heath Ledger's scene in the upcoming movie. Apparently it's about a scene where he plays dead and crawls inside a body bag, and potentially every other scene where he's painted in a "bad light". I can see there's a morbid element in these shots now that he's dead, but I find it hurts the art to edit those things out.

What did you think of the WTC being edited out of Spiderman?

"Action stars of two decades ago shot .44 bullets out of their cocks. Honestly, if me and Charles Bronson were in the same room I'd kill myself just to make sure he didn't hurt me."
#89 by FoRmaT
2008-04-12 13:53:39
Agreeing with Metal Gear.

"Action stars of two decades ago shot .44 bullets out of their cocks. Honestly, if me and Charles Bronson were in the same room I'd kill myself just to make sure he didn't hurt me."
#90 by gaggle
2008-04-12 13:54:01
#85 by FoRmaT
Why do they…

If N'Gai, Hugin, Funk, Shardarr and others haven't made sense yet I don't think anyone can make you see it. The original article has a perfectly adequate quote imo:
"It depicts a white protagonist going into an apparently poverty-stricken village (the location is unspecified) and killing throngs of black zombified men and women... That imagery still has a history that has to be engaged, that has to be understood.


I don't see it as whether or not you or I think the trailer is racist, because the answer to that is a simple yes or no opinion. It's about acknowledging that the trailer shows scenes that are racially charged, scenes that you probably want to handle with a bit of care and finesse out of respect and out of a simple business model of not pissing off your customers.

If you don't think the scenes in the trailer are in any way racially charged then that's fine, I think you're objectively wrong or deluding yourself, but you can think that. My question was for everyone else, because obviously you won't feel like there's anything more to the discussion.

"the accusations are such nonsense that I have found it difficult to treat them with the contempt that they deserve." - Clarke
#91 by FoRmaT
2008-04-12 14:06:38
Does that make me a bad person that I don't find this to be racist?

Images of a white protagonist killing black zombies in a poverty-stricken village have no history. At least I don't remember hearing about it.

Is it racist to depict your typical African village as poverty-stricken? I don't think so, because they really are, usually.

And as I said, the game is about killing hordes of zombies, not hordes of black people. I swear next time there is a game where you have to kill white zombies I'll make thirty posts complaining the game is similar to American civil war and it's about North vs. South and it's horrible!

The German version of Carmageddon had robots instead of real people. Why? Because it glorified killing innocent people.

The German version of Resident Evil has no robots. Guess why.

"Action stars of two decades ago shot .44 bullets out of their cocks. Honestly, if me and Charles Bronson were in the same room I'd kill myself just to make sure he didn't hurt me."
#92 by gaggle
2008-04-12 14:08:17
but how do we know when we go from productive discourse to liberal navel gazing?

By talking about it until we realize we crossed the line? We can't not talk about stuff because we might go overboards with it in a thousand posts can we? When it comes to Save Anywhere and religion there are larger patterns we can rely on that shows when we're going down a stupid-hole, but this seems new to me.



For what it's worth, just make it clear, I don't think the trailer is racist. I don't get the vibe from it that Capcom is making a racist statement, which is how I judge racism at least. But that doesn't change that the scenes in that trailer are racially charged, regardless of that being intended or not.

"the accusations are such nonsense that I have found it difficult to treat them with the contempt that they deserve." - Clarke
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