Arkham City: As Good as it is Sexist

October 30, 2011

Playing Arkham City is an experience that is both incredible from a gameplay perspective and disappointing if you look at the sexist choices they’ve made. ComicsAlliance gives a great breakdown of the problems found in what is admittedly an amazing, immersive game.

The Batman: Arkham City video game is out, and the consensus, from all indications, is that this is a very good game indeed. While a fuller review is on the way from our own Senior Batmanologist Chris Sims, a recent article by the gaming website Kotaku pointed out an interesting issue with Arkham City involving — wait for it — the character of Catwoman. Notably that when you play as her character, the game spends a disproportionate amount of time calling her a “b*tch.”

At Kotaku, Kirk Hamilton breaks down his issue with the dialogue, and why it stands out to him even in a T for Teen-rated game that features torture, murder, and all manner of violence:

It starts at the very beginning of the game, when players (who have downloaded the Catwoman content) assume the role of Catwoman. I noticed that characters almost universally referred to her as “b*tch.” I went back through the Catwoman missions and recorded some lines.

“That’ll teach the b*tch to screw with Two-Face.”

“B*tch deserves it. You saw what she did to him in the court. It was only a matter of time before he got a little payback.”

“”I’ll make you meow, b*tch,”

“He sent Paulie B over to blow that b*tch’s secret hideout sky-high.”

“She’ll come straight back here… And when she does, I want you guys to blow that b*tch apart!

“He had her just where he wanted her and that b*tch broke free.”

“Ha, I only took half. The rest I gave away. I win, b*tch!”

“Help us decide if we should kill the b*tch who tried to steal from us, or let her go to do it again.”

“Two guns, b*tch!”

Hamilton continues, “I like the game. A lot. But there’s a fine line between edgy dialogue and forced, angry overkill.”

Part of the problem is simply the rote and limited nature of these character interactions; as any gamer knows, they end up looping during the course of the game so that you hear the same lines over and over… and over. This isn’t some sort of revelation, though; the creators wrote the dialogue for these games fully aware of the perils of repetition, and the fixation with calling female characters “b*tches” nonetheless stands out. And it just seems… weird.

As Film Critic Hulk said, in his distinctively caps-locked Hulk voice:
TO REITERATE: IN THE FIRST HOUR OF ARKHAM CITY WE HAVE A SCANTILY CLAD HIGH-HEAL-NINJA-ING CATWOMAN GETTING BEATEN BY TWO-FACE AS HE CALLS HER A B*TCH. WE HAVE A GROUP OF MUSCLE-BOUND HOODLUMS ALL STANDING AROUND EXCITED TO DUMP HER INTO A VAT OF ACID. BATMAN COMES TO THE RESCUE AS CATWOMAN ESCAPES. SHE FLIRTS WITH HIM MERCILESSLY AND MAKES NOT JUST DUMB, BUT NOT-FUN SEXY PUNS. BATMAN THEN GOES OUTSIDE AND YOU OVERHEAR A BUNCH OF GUYS TALKING ABOUT HOW CATWOMAN AND AGAIN THE WORD B*TCH POPS IN. THEY ALL THINK SHE SWINGS BOTH WAYS (CAUSE THAT’S THE KIND OF THING ANY SEXY GIRL MUST BE UP FOR). AND THEN THEY’RE BASICALLY TALKING ABOUT THEIR MASTURBATORY FANTASIES OF HER… YOU KNOW, ABOUT THE SAME ONE THEY WERE CALLING A B*TCH. BATMAN THEN GOES OVER TOWARD THE JOKER’S TOWER AND YOU HOPE ALL THIS SH*T IS OVER BUT THEN YOU OVERHEAR A BUNCH OF THUGS TALKING ABOUT HOW HARLEY QUINN IS A DUMB B*TCH…

LET’S MAKE IT PRETTY CLEAR: REFRAINING FROM SEXISM DOES NOT MEAN THAT YOU CAN’T HAVE CHARACTERS IN REVEALING OUTFITS, OR THAT YOU CAN’T USE THE WORD “B*TCH,” OR THAT YOU CAN’T SAY BAD THINGS ABOUT FEMALE CHARACTERS, OR THAT YOU HAVE TO BE SOME PARAGON OF GOODNESS AND PROVIDE G-RATED POSITIVE ROLE MODELS FOR EVERYONE. YOU CAN TOTALLY DO THOSE THINGS. IT’S JUST A MATTER OF HOW YOU PRESENT IT.

SEE THE REAL ISSUE IS NOT THE THINGS THEMSELVES, BUT THE TONE. WHICH MEANS IT’S ABOUT THE CONTEXT. IT’S ABOUT THE PRESENTATION AND THE FEELING. IT’S ABOUT THE REASONS FOR DOING SO AND WHY.

Hey, that’s the same thing we’ve been saying! I think the most obvious counterargument is that since the characters constantly calling Catwoman and Harley Quinn “b*tches” are mostly villainous henchmen, it’s simply in character; they’re evil men saying evil things. However, if they’re just bad, angry guys who like to shout profane insults at their antagonists, you’d expect to hear similarly harsh insults shouted at Batman. Except that you don’t, really. He gets called a “freak” a lot, which isn’t nice, but also doesn’t carry the same weight as “b*tch,” especially in the cultural context of men speaking to women. If it’s ok to call Catwoman a b*tch, why aren’t we at least hearing Batman get called an a**hole?

And the problem, as most people seem to be articulating it, isn’t that salty (and really gender-specific) language gets used at all, it’s that the “b*tching” (if you will) gets used so much. Here’s yet another list of dialogue directed towards Catwoman and Harley Quinn, as compiled by Film Crit Hulk:
“Don’t come any closer or this b*tch gets a hole where her head used to be!”

“That crazy b*tch!” (said by a good guy)

“She scares me. Fortunately I saw the crazy b*tch leaving!”

“Did you hear the noise that doctor was makin’” / (giggle) “I like hearing her scream like that.”

“I don’t know what Joker sees in that crazy b*tch.”

“Yeah the boss had the Cat all chained up, but that b*tch broke free.”

So yeah, it just seems… excessive.

If I were going to try and defend the dialogue in the game, I’d say that if nothing else, it’s an accurate reflection of the fact that men really do tend to be jerks to women in very different ways than they are jerks to other men. And that when jerks are creepy and violent with women, it takes on a very different tenor, which very often focuses on gender and is very often sexualized. That’s not to say men’s insults towards other men are never sexual, but when they are it is more often about diminishing their sexuality by comparing them to women, which in and of itself is pretty sexist. Hence, one of the few truly harsh insults directed at Batman: when a character says he is going to “make [Batman] my b*tch.”

In a way, I suppose you could argue that the game holds a mirror up to this gross, unpleasant truth, and is in that sense more “realistic,” although I don’t really think it’s a nuanced social critique of gender relations so much as it is a reflection of people’s innate inclinations to do and say these things. And it’s very easy, particularly as throwaway dialogue in a video game, for it to fade away into the background as something ambient, unexamined or even accepted as normal, rather than something worthy of notice or reaction.

And personally, I’m a little less comfortable with playing a female character who gets called a b*tch over and over by random, creepy a**holes on the street, because like a lot of women I really have been called a b*tch by random, creepy a**holes on the street and it’s just not something I’m looking to simulate in my limited recreational “me” time. In that regard, I wish this otherwise very enjoyable game about costumed heroes and their incredible adventures had involved a little more fantasy, and a little less unpleasant reality.

What did you think about the dialogue in Arkham City?

Update: Film Critic Hulk offers a strong follow-up and rebuttal to detractors who took issue with his criticisms of the dialogue.


KYLE RAYNER – RETRO-ACTION GREEN LANTERN

October 29, 2011

The Exclusive KYLE RAYNER GREEN LANTERN Retro-Action Doll Figure is more than just a mouthful–he’s a fantastic addition to the nostalgic line of toys.

The plush stands about 8 inches tall and features a plastic mask and a nice little bonus in the form of a lantern battery–after all, you wouldn’t want him to be without a power source, right? You never know!

It comes in vintage-style packaging that makes it ideal for display!


The Classic Thor Exclusive

October 28, 2011

Straight outta Asgard and looking every bit the hero, The Mighty THOR joins the Marvel Select collection as this Classic Thor Exclusive figure. It was made just for the Disney store, which you might recall is now also technically a Marvel store since the House of Mouse scooped up your favourite heroes and villains a little while back.

He stands about 8 inches tall, sized as a deluxe item, and comes with the great hammer, Mjolnir. Grab it now!


Coming Soon: RED FACTION Figures!

October 27, 2011

If you’re a fan of any of the RED FACTION games, then these figures are probably a long overdue tribute to a franchise that’s been around for over a decade, now. Check these out!

The first series of 4” figures can be purchased individually or as a complete set for anyone looking to stage some pretty awesome toyshelf battles. You’ll find fully-articulated renderings of Darius, Hale, Winters and a Marauder Officer, Creeper and Ravager. They look great and feature some details and accessories all the more impressive for the size. If you enjoyed the best-selling game, you’ll definitely want to get your hands on these! Pre-order now and they ship out in December!


Pre-Order: Marvel Select GREEN GOBLIN

October 26, 2011

The GREEN GOBLIN is Spider-Man’s arch-nemesis and though there have been a ton of different versions of the character throughout the years, there’s a classic look that he always seems to return to! Take a look at this great new figure celebrating a very classic GG.

It’s a Diamond Select release designed by Art Asylum for Marvel Select and brings Spider-Man’s greatest villain to life in the most awesome of ways. He’s got 16 points of articulation, stands 7 inches tall and is perched atop his Goblin Glider. He comes in oversized packaging that makes him perfect for those in-the-box collectors!


Pre-Order: DARTH MAUL w/ Mechanical Legs

October 25, 2011

Standing an impressive 25 inches tall, this new Sideshow figure features Darth Maul standing on brand new mechanical legs, recovering nicely from his Phantom Menace bisection and ready to take on Obi-Wan Kenobi for round 2 in “Old Wounds”.

The piece boasts a real fabric costume and the signature two-ended lightsabre, plus the smooth black display stand. It’s one of the items celebrating the STAR WARS: VISIONARIES graphic novels and if you’re a fan of the expanded universe, you’ll definitely want to snag these! Pre-order now and it’ll arrive in the last quarter of this year!


SAM KEITH’S BATMAN BLACK AND WHITE

October 24, 2011

The insane style of Sam Keith brings something truly unique to this new addition to the Batman Black & White collection. Take a look at this!

From the brilliantly twisted mind of legendary illustrator Sam Keith comes the latest incarnation in the “Batman: Black and White” line of figures. Based on designs by Kieth himself, this unique figure measures 5.5″ high x 6″ wide x 5″ deep and matches the previous figures in this series with its moody, monochromatic color scheme.


Arkham City : The Reviews Are In!

October 23, 2011

With a couple days since the release of Arkham City, most hard-core fans have already made up their minds–and the response, it seems, is very, very good.

Check out this review from Attack of the Fanboy

2009′s Batman: Arkham Asylum brought new hope to gamers everywhere. For one, Rocksteady proved that video game licensing could be successful commercially and resonate with the fans. And two, they proved that it is indeed possible to harness the power of a super hero, and have that power translate on the screen. If you’ve been gaming long enough you’ve likely experienced your fair share of bad uses of licenses. Some memorable failures in the Spiderman, Superman, and Transformers series’, have proven to be little more than a quick cash in to generate extra revenue upon release of a big movie. Though somehow, Arkham Asylum managed to shake these stigmas with a game full of passion and personality, while staying true to its comic book roots. I guess the real question is, does Batman: Arkham City capture the same magic?

Batman: Arkham City does for the most part have that same magic as the first game. For good, and for bad. Rocksteady has taken their core infrastructure of Batman: Arkham Asylum and really ran with it. Opening up the world for a greater sense of exploration, they’ve given the player all the tools necessary to really get immersed in the the prison that is Arkham City. While Batman: Arkham Asylum was a much more linear experience, this time around, Batman will have many more opportunities to dig deeper into the lore of Bob Kane’s world. Depending on which side of the fence you sit, this deviation from the more linear formula of the previous game will either be good or bad. The good part about it, is that there is so much more to do in Batman: Arkham City than there was in the first game. Side missions include picking up Riddler trophies to foil Edward Nigma, a mini game where you’ll be in a race against time to stop Victor Zsasz from killing innocents, among many others that are introduced along your way in the form of villains that don’t really play into the actual main quest. While none of them feel forced, the bad part about having so much do, is that you can get side tracked from your current objectives. Arkham City is a time based game, that relies on you feeling a sense of urgency to eliminate a threat to the city of Gotham. While all of this new gameplay is welcomed with open arms, it’s certainly not incorporated without taking some steam out of the story.

It’s extremely easy in Batman: Arkham City to just go off and get lost on some of the challenges that don’t have anything to do with the main story. AR challenges will have you proving your gliding prowess, other side missions will give you both additional experience points and unlockable weapons, there’s really a wealth of content to unlock in the game. You’ll see that, as soon as you enter into the UI hub that acts as your guide. The map of Arkham City will constantly be updated with new side missions to explore, each with a specific explanation of the task at hand, should you choose to set it as your waypoint and embark on the mission. As you do complete these missions you’ll be able to spend your earned points on equipment modifications that increase any number of things for the Caped Crusader. Digging into the Wayne-Tech vault you’ll find that enhancing the Batsuit, upgrading gadgets, new combat combinations, and predator takedown moves are all viable options to equip on your character as you progress through the game, as well as upgrades available for the Catwoman portions of the story.

What hasn’t been changed is the hard hitting combat of the previous game. In my opinion, Batman: Arkham City is easily one of the best beat-em ups out there today. In a gaming landscape littered with button mashers, Arkham City won’t let you get by that easy. While in the early goings you may be able to get by with little thinking, like the previous game, as you progress you will be facing a wide variety of enemies that require precise combinations to disarm and defeat them. So many varieties that you could say Arkham City can be downright cerebral at times, forcing you to commit to memory five or six elaborate combinations that must be strung together to keep you alive. In the latter stages it’s not for the faint of heart, especially on the upper difficulty levels. Enemies will come at you with a number of weapons: shields, boxes, fire extinguishers, guns, knives, stun batons, sniper rifles, you name it. Each have a specific way to circ*mvent the attacks, and with many enemies on the screen at one time, it can get a bit hectic. Though you aren’t without your own weapons.

Batman’s utility belt returns with all the goodies that you would expect from the world’s greatest detective, and some cool new weapons that you’ll uncover along your way. The famous batarangs, smoke bombs, batclaw, explosive gel, and line launcher return and are complimented with many other weapons that you’ll pick up from characters (no spoilers) that have serious implications on the gameplay in the latter portions of the game. Which is where things again get a bit muddled. There are so many different weapons in Batman: Arkham City, that can be used in so many different situations, that it’s hard to keep track of them all. With many of them having quick use button combinations, it adds onto the already difficult to remember list of options you have when faced with a group of enemies. This usually only applies when facing a group straight up. If you played the first game, you’ll know that Batman: Arkham City is as much about stealth and strategy as it is about brute strength. Hiding in the shadows to pick your enemies off one at a time, is a much more viable approach for Batman, as he is mortal after all. But there are many instances when mobs just can’t be avoided. While the combat is rewarding and very well executed, it can be somewhat overwhelming. Throw into that equation a camera system that sometimes obstructs your view of your enemies and you can have a downright frustrating experience on your hands.

Though many of the small and minor annoyances that can arise are soon forgotten when you take one look at just how beautiful Batman: Arkham City is. Inside and out, Arkham City is full of character. The criminals that now inhabit this cityscape bring it to life with each area having a distinct flavor and personality. The attention to detail not only in the indoor portions of the game, but the outdoor portions as well, is quite honesty, staggering. Once again though, I fell into the same trap with Batman: Arkham City as I did with Arkham Asylum. Detective vision is Batman’s advantage in combat and when surveying the world. You can see enemies, and areas of interest, and because of that I tend to keep it on too much. Batman: Arkham City is such a good looking game, and I’m afraid that a solid 20% of it was wasted on detective mode, at least by me. Not so much a complaint as it is a reminder, just remember to turn it off once in awhile or you will likely miss some very good artwork in Batman: Arkham City.

Which is just another reason on top of the long line of reasons to get this game. It’s been awhile since I couldn’t wait to do it all again in a video game. Arkham City and it’s New Game Plus mode will likely pull you in immediately for a more challenging playthrough, equipped with all your gear from the first run. That is, if you managed to see most of what there is to see in your initial playthrough. For me, my first game ended the main storyline with just over 30% of the game completed. And that took me roughly 12 hours to complete. If that tells you anything about the size and scope of Batman: Arkham City’s story mode, it’s that it’s massive. When or if you finally throw in the towel on the story mode, having seen all there is to see, you’ll have more content still, as the challenges are back and better than the previous game. Collecting Riddler challenges will unlock new boards from the single player story, and with 72 Ranked medals to achieve and 108 Campaign medals to nab with Batman alone, you’re going to have your hands full.

So if the question was, “Does Arkham City have the same magic”? The answer is no, it doesn’t have the same magic, it’s a new powerful brand of magic that dwarfs the original in nearly every aspect. If you loved the original, this one’s a no brainer, if you’ve never played the franchise, welcome to comic book video game heaven.


THE WALKING DEAD – NEW FIGURES

October 21, 2011

The first set of Walking Dead figures has arrived and another is on its way later this month! The set that’s already in is the COMIC version of the action figures and features Rick Grimes, Michonne, a zombie lurker and a zombie roamer. Check these out:

Each figure is about 6 inches tall and the heroes come armed to the teeth, ready to take on herds of the undead.

Later on, look for Rick Grimes, Daryl Dixon, a zombie walker and a zombie biter! Take a look at what’s next:

The show’s back in action and we absolutely loved the first episode of season 2, so you can definitely count on these being pretty popular with fans. Order or pre-order now!


Best places to buy your Halloween Costumes

October 20, 2011

Where can you buy Halloween superhero costumes online? I have purchased from two places….Walmart and 80s Tees.

Best Halloween Costumes

Costumes online


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 353 other followers