The Walking Dead – A Case of Ableism

I love the Walking Dead Talltale games because to me, they represent better characters and writing than the show did until its third and fourth seasons.

All of a sudden, we have a story that focused on a black male protagonist doing what he can to keep a young, black girl safe from this world that has become even more dangerous for them. 

In various mediums of entertainment, not to mention the real world, and especially in light of recent events, we’re told that the lives of black people, let alone other people of colour, do not matter, and here was this Walking Dead game that said otherwise.

However, it’s not without its flaws, and season 2 has shown us this in an incredibly horrific way with the death of Sarah, a mentally challenged latina.

And what’s worse than the fandom calling for her death?

When the creators agree with them as well, which is discussed in this excellent post.

It’s disturbing and disgusting, and you can watch it here.Trigger warning as a bunch of asshats describe how happy they are that a disabled young girl of colour is killed off.

There are hardly any disabled characters that I can think of as of late, what with DC Comics getting rid of Oracle, and almost next to none that are people of colour to boot. While the Walking Dead has killed off plenty of characters, creating one simply to be fridged is nothing short of disgusting. 

Setting my eyes on: Assassin’s Creed liberation

Since the time when game creators in put a create “Your Own Character”, I’ve always created a female character. At times it was difficult to find a game that didn’t pander to making the female lead an eye candy.  I liked playing a female character and watching her fight. One point when I was playing Saints Row the Third, I puposely made the character look like a female James Bond (Black suit, with black slacks and black shoes). It made the game that much good. I know what you may wonder, what’s this have to do with Asssassin’s Creed the Science Fiction version of the Da Vinci Code? Well I tell you

From the game Wiki:

“The game is set between 1765 and 1780, and primarily features Aveline de Grandpré, a female French-African Assassin around the end of the French and Indian War.

Yes, a game with a female POC as the main character. Now I do find it funny how some movies (Le Comte De Monte Chirsto, Three Musketeers) never touched upon a Afro-French characters in that era.   Now from what I read about our character Aveline, she is the daughter of a wealthy bussinessman and African Mother. She joined the Creed after her mom disappearance. i got to say that this has my attention, I’ll be watching this for awhile. One of my concerns is that the backlash of gamers due to the fact that she is black. Then again it might be another Sheva problem from Resident Evil. “Like I hate her in the game, but lets make hentai pics of her.”-Random Fan

All that matters to me is finally a decent character.

Why do I fawn over GBLT computer games characters?

I am a gamer, I looove my computer games. I can merrily sink several wasted hours into my lovely shiny pixels, especially story-based RPG type games. Yes it’s the official seal on my geekery.Sometimes my slightly obsessive nature can require Beloved to physically pull me from my computer so I do things like eat and go to work.

And you know one thing that can nearly guarantee my leaping to the games shops (well Steam) with my money? Gay characters. Let me see a gay character inb that game and my wallet’s already in my hands. Yes, I’m thrusting my gay agenda into your games! Nothing is sacred, straighties.

See, I’ve actually bought games purely because they’ve had a gay character. That’s been enough for me. Does that sound pretty damn desperate? Probably – but it’s so damn rare to pick up any game that isn’t wall-to-wall straight folks that just once, just for a second, being able to escape into a world where I actually get to be me is precious.

And I know right now that there are people running to say how many computer games there are that don’t include any sexuality at all! That is has no straightness! That sexuality is just irrelevant! Or that xyz character could be GBLT.

Don’t. Really, don’t. That excuse is a poor one unless you come from a la-la land that doesn’t have heterornormativity. And you don’t. And heteronormativity bites us on the arse twice here.

First of all – if that character shows no inclination for any sexuality whatsoever? Congratulations – heteronormativity will render them straight. Because of the myriad joys of privilege, straight is the assumed, the default.  If you see someone with no indication of sexuality at all, they will be taken as straight. Unless there is an overt indication that someone is not heterosexual then that is what they will be assumed to be. And don’t tell me that the game designers and distributers and 99.9% of the game players won’t see it through exactly the same lens. And yes it’s annoying and no, we shouldn’t assume straightness all the damn time – but we do and that’s not likely to change any time soon – if ever, given how much straight folks outnumber us. This is why I’m less than amused by the *hint hint wink put on your slash goggles* pretend-inclusion people expect us to buy.

When “no sexuality until shown otherwise” is considered default then I’ll concede that a game/book/TV series has no sexuality (and even then, I doubt it) until then, let’s not fool ourselves or pretend we’re looking at something that is anything but straight.

Secondly, I can nearly guarantee that I can look at your “completely-sexuality free” game/book/programme and see straight sexuality somewhere. We don’t see straight sexuality because our heterosexist society presents it overwhelmingly as the norm. We are so bombarded with heterosexuality from the very moment we open our eyes that it becomes background noise. This is why the sight of 2 men holding hands is ramming our sexuality down your throat and worthy of someone throwing a bottle at us, while my having to watch endless hours of straight folk all but having sex on TV advertising everything from perfume to cooking utensils is considered quite normal. I can’t even watch them hock loans to me without seeing a happy straight couple.

So, there probably is straight sexuality in that “sexuality-less” game of yours. A family, a couple, a love interest, a crush, something – something that, were it a gay or lesbian relationship, would leap out from the screen, doubtlessly yelling “PC” “gay agenda” and whatever other whining I’ll have to hear from disgruntled straight gamers who have been traumatised by the dreaded gay.

So, why does this matter so much to me? Why would I buy a game I know nothing about just because it has a gay character, regardless of its other flaws? Well, I’ve said before again and again why it matters.

Gaming is escapism, in some ways even more so than reading – especially the story-based games I prefer. It annoys me to read a book and be expected to identify yet again with a character who is nothing like me and be transported yet again to a world where I don’t exist. But it annoys me far more to actually participate, to play a part in this story and have my role represented by a straight person as well! I’m not just supposed to identify with a straight person, but I have to play one as well.

I loved Mass Effect 2, I really did, I had to be physically dragged away from the computer.  But it annoyed the hell out of me that there I was, Sparky Shepherd, saviour of the galaxy, having to dodge Miranda and Tali’s constant romance hints (there’s no “actually I’m gay, stop asking” option) while at the same time Jacob and Garrus and Thane were there WITH romance scripts but for some reason they weren’t an option – unless I played a female Shepherd. And if I played a female character, I’d have a choice of aliens who don’t have a male gender at all – or one potential fling that doesn’t even count as a romance option. And those not-as-equal-as-straight-relationship-straight-gaze-lesbian-relationships still make this game more inclusive than 99% of what’s out there

And is it really that much to ask? Is it really so much to ask that I get my geeky escapism going as well? Is it that hard to have a gay man as the hero? Do I have to play it straight every time – I did enough of that in real life, I don’t need to do it in fiction as well.

Counting Colored Cash

You would think that with the economic climate being what it is, that the entertainment industry (which hasn’t been immune to the recession) would be all too eager to jump on the opportunity gain revenue.

But as people of color know all too well, many racist whites (both fans and industry shot-callers alike) would sooner cut their nose (or in this case burn their wallets), just to spite their face.

When cis straight white fans demand certain things in media: be it movies, television or comics—storylines or better characters or what have you—they’re lauded and praised as being outspoken, passionate and devoted fans. Yet when marginalized audiences, specifically POCs, simply ask for better representation (or any representation for that matter) and to have our stories explored, suddenly we’re being entitled, uppity, unreasonable and too sensitive.

Yet the racist white PTB have been left to their own devices: be it the erasure and whitewashing of POCs from the media, inundating the media with the white caucasian power fantasies, etc. and yet, they are still suffering economically.

And while they continue to hemorrhage financially, they still refuse to acknowledge that POCs can make an impact—even though we’ve proven it time and time and time again—and will make the flimsiest excuses to justify why POCs shouldn’t be visible in the media and why our dollars don’t count.

Excuses I’m about to debunk and with this post.

 

 

Eloquent privilege check by BioWare’s David Gaider

Here courtesy of Ars Marginal reader Immin! David Gaider of BioWare gives a refined smackdown of that whole “they’re the minority so why should they count?” argument. Here’s a taste of the awesomeness:

The majority has no inherent “right” to get more options than anyone else.

……….

And if there is any doubt why such an opinion might be met with hostility, it has to do with privilege. You can write it off as “political correctness” if you wish, but the truth is that privilege always lies with the majority. They’re so used to being catered to that they see the lack of catering as an imbalance. They don’t see anything wrong with having things set up to suit them, what’s everyone’s fuss all about? That’s the way it should be, any everyone else should be used to not getting what they want.

Read the whole thing and the post that started it here.