Anita Sarkeesian Feminist Frequency Feminism video games games Nintendo
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She makes good points and is right in her analysis so I won’t argue about the validity of the “damsel in distress” as a common theme endemic in media that reduces some role models to uh… trophies, but my MAAAJOR gripe with it was vindicated:
Nothing has changed since her original series. It’s still that same lazy goddamn Youtube video blog format that is lazy in its research and analysis. AAHH They COULD’VE AT LEAST done interviews with academics and game developers, investigative research with the money or you know, not make most of the footage video of the narrator herself. What’s the fucking point of over half of the footage being focused on the narrator’s portrait speaking? Could’ve been mostly a montage that was information and cross referencing with a variety of sources but whatever.
IDK I’m disappointed. Valid points are made but this is not worth $158,992. For this video? $1000 maybe. $900 of it going to the visual effects in the video and $100 for her makeup or something. Repeat that $1000 for every video in the series and pocket the rest.
Almost the entirety of the video is focused on Princess Peach or Princess Zelda. It’s not a very IN DEPTH piece of research on Video Game culture or even the changing demographics that could have explained the persistent use of the “trope” in game, it’s more or less a scratch at the surface of the two titles with UNIVERSAL APPEAL due to their very lazy plot device that was initially produced at a time when the primary consumer of videogames were sexually frustrated nerds who sought escapism from their thirst. And there’s a point in that. The majority of the games she discussed are OLDER titles from generations with lower technological capacity that necessitated simple relate-able plots (fairy tales anyone?) and two console flagship titles that rely on rehashing itself over and over for the sake of Nintendo’s stubborn traditions (compare this to how another notorious video game icon, Lora Croft, has changed to appeal to a contemporary and broader video game audience). However, the next episode will be “modern” examples apparently, so I’ll have to wait and see I suppose.
But even so, in Nintendo’s list of flagship titles of heroines there’s Zelda and Peach but there is also [spoiler]Metroid’s Samus Aran[/spoiler] which was not mentioned because that primary nintendo Heroine stands in contrast to Anita’s argument. Then, in listing all the games where Princess Peach was the damsel in distress, she insisted that Peach was only playable and not a damsel in distress in Super Mario World 2 and for superficial reasons, which is incorrect as she failed to mention the game Super Princess Peach where Peach rescues a captured Mario. Or even Mario is Missing where Luigi repeatedly needs Peach’s help in order 2 find his bro throughout the game. But that is hardly Mario world canon so whatever. And the whole point of the video is to talk about EXAMPLES OF DAMSELS IN DISTRESS so it’s pretty much only cherry picking examples from the get go to prove her point no matter how flawed it is and ignoring points that compromise her argument. AKA: Bullshit
Additionally, she is attempting to unpack a JAPANESE cultural production with a WESTERN lens with assumptions that it represents western cultural references to western gender roles and that is faulty analysis at best, racism at its worst. In analyzing Princess Peach, the critique assumes that it is strictly sexual, with Peach being a sex token to be owned, despite everything in Mario canon suggesting that it’s strictly platonic. Peach doesn’t have a Prince or King. Mario is never considered in the series as doing the rescuing as an act of selfish, rapey motivation but as service to his kingdom’s matriarch. Then considering the religious metaphorical context of good versus evil where relatively satanic looking Bowser (and his little imp demon koopas… kappas… Japan, etc) repeatedly attempts to capture or subdue Peach, you can begin to see how Peach is the matriarch and idol of all the toadstools and by being so represents a position of power and respect. Peach is order and Mario must bring order back to their world. Bowser is capturing Peach to throw the mushroom kingdom into disarray and seize power for himself, so by that manner alone, Peach is an icon of power. Mario isn’t Bowser’s arch-nemesis, it’s Peach.
By looking at Peach so narrowly, you diminish the character herself. By criticizing the “damsel in distress” figure of Peach as if it is shameful, it suggests also that the only way to be a “good” female character in games is the kickbutt power fantasies like Joanna Dark, Samus Aran and Lora Croft. But even THAT is poor representation according to Anita, because you are basically making a man out of a female character, so what do you do here? Well… Also found in the Mario series is Princess Rosalina. In the Super Mario Galaxy Series, you could argue the Princess (Rosalina) sits in for being representative of gaia or even God as she is both a tremendous godlike power figure but also a impressively maternal one at that. In a way, Rosalina, the “Mother of the Cosmos”, represents a uniquely female position of power and respect. So if you are playing Mario and are turned off by Peach’s role, thankfully there’s another pivotal female character not too far off with HIGHER STATUS THAN ANYONE ELSE in the series that offers something a bit more respectable if gender roles is something you beef with. Rosalina is at the top of the hierarchy in Mario’s world.
Every female representation in video games is inherently problematic because that is the nature of characters, there will be flaws and it’s the flaws that make these characters exciting. Princess Peach will always be Princess Peach because… that’s Princess Peach. She may have a tendency to be captured by Bowser and be dainty about it, but she is in no way powerless and without agency. If that NPC bothers you, you can then look up to Rosalina.. or really any other video game character. Gamers aren’t morons, they most certainly don’t take the roles in games seriously because they are all readily seen as fantasy. IDK, characters as metaphors and personifications of ideas.
I urge you all to watch this video. It explains it way better than I: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9iNs5iG2h34
With that said, the BEST part of the first FF video was the initial bit on Starfox and Dinosaur Planet that slapped me with an OH FUCK, THATS BULLSHIT WOW WHY DID THEY DO THAT realization because that was the only part of the video that seemed like it required critical thought beyond foundation year community college gender studies level of research. It engaged me and made me emphasize with the argument. Even so, I have no idea why the premise is discussing video games in general if the episode’s major gripe is with examples specific to Nintendo’s franchises.
IDK, you get what you pay for (the original proposal was for $6000 to buy games to make another youtube series) and that was $160,000 that was donated to some wiener casual college grad out of a sense of SHOWING UP VITRIOLIC 15 YEAR OLD BOYS ON THE INTERNET FOR SAYING MEAN THINGS IN YOUTUBE COMMENTS!!!
2/10 would grasp for something thought provoking again.
It should be renamed “Lazily Critiquing three core Nintendo Franchises for shit we all already know about: The Movie”