*Mild/Moderate Trigger Warning* This discussion of misogyny and the damsel in distress trope may inevitably be triggering for some readers as it discusses power-imbalances and some violent or abusive scenarios. That said, there is no use of graphic descriptions nor any reference to sexual violence.
The post below is going to analyse some bigotry against Anita from Feminist Frequency. She has released the first of her "Tropes Vs Women" series about videogames now. Personally, I was unsure about some of the stuff about Starfox Adventures (since I cannot help but imagine that the character change in that game must be somewhat related to Microsoft buying Rare - since it would be harder for Nintendo to keep hold of a game not starring one of their copyrighted group of characters), but asides from that I was mainly reacting with "ah, I guess that's right".
Inevitably there's been some backlash. One of the videos criticising Anita (and undoubtedly NOT one of the best critiques she'll receive) comes from a Youtube user called Thunderf00t....
Now it's been a while since I've been made really angry by some bigoted ranting. I've reacted to some news articles, sure, but I've generally not been chasing down internet idiots. I've been a lot better off for it though.
The last idiot I really thought I needed to alert people to was Pat Condell. Condell was seemingly only known on the internet, but he seemed to have a wide following. So when his videos went from annoying and crass to all-out hate-mongering, I felt the need to expose precisely why people shouldn't support him. (He's still up to the same old tricks it seems. One of his latest videos claims that it's racist not to consider all Palestinians, every man, woman and child of them, to be evil terrorists. That's pretty typical rhetoric from him sadly.)
But the recent dodgy internet hatred doesn't seem to come from a single person. Instead it seems to be embodied by a large gang of mostly libertarian internet users who are strangely opposed to feminism and demand protection from criticism if they post offensive comments (on the grounds of 'free speech' apparently).
"Thunderf00t" seems to be a pretty big ringleader of this group. By this point Thunderf00t is pretty well known to be someone your average decent supporter of feminism will be upset by, but he attracts a lot of attention so I feel like he's probably as good a representative as any for this disgusting internet misogyny recently.
First of all some background...
Thunderf00t and Freethoughtblogs
Thunderf00t had a run-in with well known pro-feminism atheist blogger P.Z. Myers (who runs the blog Pharyngula) who is disinclined to accept misogyny, racism, homophobia, etc. on his comments threads. When Thunderf00t was offered space in Freethoughtblogs and decided to use it almost entirely to dismiss women's rights the other bloggers on Freethoughtblogs decided that he wasn't fitting in. He was alienating their female audience and conveying bigoted views with which Freethoughtblogs bloggers did not want to be connected.
Anita's "Tropes Vs Women" series
Anita used Kickstarter to get funding for her project to analyse the history of gaming and the portrayal of women within videogames. The comments at Kickstarter began to fill up with misogynistic comments from utter scumbags and the response by decent human beings across the internet was to donate huge amounts of money to her project. The misogynist comments had made it very clear to everyone just how much of an idol videogames were to these horrible individuals and just how sorely the world of videogames needed to be analysed from a feminist perspective.
Thunderf00t's video "Feminism Vs FACTS (RE Damsel in distress)" and how it completely misses the point of Anita's original video at Feminist Frequency, feminism as a whole, and plain old common sense.
I only came to watch Thunderf00t's poor attempt at a critique because I stumbled on someone showing one of his old videos "The Internet: Where Religions Come To Die". Not knowing it was from Thunderf00t I approached it with a pretty open mind. There were parts that were well-argued and other parts where it was more obviously labouring the point. I noticed that the video seemed to have a very "us and them" stance which appeared to represent the vlogger's genuine stance rather than being a rhetorical tool.
1- Double Dragon Neon
Thunderf00t's latest video begins by questioning Anita's research for her videogame critique. He argues that she is wrong to claim the damsel in distress of the game "Double Dragon Neon" is portrayed as weak, ineffective or ultimately incapable because the game finishes with her punching the villain in the crotch.
While this might seem like a reasonable argument to someone who had never watched the original video, already Thunderf00t is showing a clear failure to understand Anita's argument. Anita's concern with "Double Dragon Neon" mainly focusses on the opening which, as an update of an older game, rejigs the 8-bit classic by showing the damsel in distress character being punched in the gut and carried away in deeper colours, pristine 2D graphics with her cleavage clearly visable as she is punched and her knickers clearly visible as she is carried away. This update of the older classic begins straight away with an utterly demeaning image for women, right before introducing the two MALE playable characters.
The ending where she gets to help beat up the villain in the end is earned after the two male characters have spent the entire game trying to save her, while she sits and waits for them. There's even a part of the game where the two playable MALE characters (since Marian herself is NOT a playable character) can fight for her affection, while she cheers them on in the background. This all serves to back up the idea of women as objects the male characters compete for. Yes, even if the unplayable female character gets to help deliver the finishing blow at the last minute, she's still been completely helpless for the whole game and used as a woman-shaped trophy by the game designers.
( Read more... )
Thunderf00t simply doesn't understand the topic he is trying to discuss and yet there are internet misogynists rallying around his video which now has over 10,000 likes. Meanwhile Anita has had no choice but to disable ratings and comments because of an over-abundance of misogynistic trolls. Check out her excellent analysis of the Damsel In Distress trope in videogames below: