Friday, October 29, 2010

Cause It's Not Worth Signing Up To Deal With Idiots

Today's example of "The Micro-Aggressions Of Life" - The Escapist's Extra Credits. Episode: Symbolism.

Despite their recent Diversity Episode, I'm more than a little turned off Extra Credits right now. They've just done their Halloween episode, and given how near the diversity episode just was, I find this shit fucked up and annoyingly predictable.

Yeah yeah yeah, you can only say so much in 6 to 7 minutes. But they CHOOSE the topic AND what they're going to say. And what they said this week was telling.

This week in choosing symbolism, they talk about horror symbolism and 'The Self', 'The Uncanny' and 'The Other' and apparently no one involved thought about the symbolism and unconscious message in the episode's art.

They made/make the choice to be educators, instructors, conversation and discussion starters, to put forward a voice and make an impression. They made the choice to bring up they'll be pointing out issues of diversity and it's complexities in the future. And then what do they do?

"The basic idea is that there are certain fundamental symbols that are deeply ingrained in us at subconscious level."

Really? Ya think?!

My first moment of huh/grr was in their choice of red= fire & blood. That's their idea of a 'universal' symbol. And I felt smacked in the face with the hubris. They didn't say red = life. Oh no. Fire & Blood. It's universal! So I guess me thinking red = life, and red = bridal colour, red = wealth, is just me being.... non universal? Exotic maybe.

But I brushed that aside and kept watching with only mild tension. Because they do say almost every culture uses it as a warning or cautionary colour. So there's wiggle room. Even though I was now dealing with the mental association 'caution - BRIDE AHEAD' and thinking it was kind of EuroColonial.

"But oddly enough we tend to be just as frightened or at least unsettled by things which are similar to us but not completely."

There's no little stick people of colour in this episode, not even when they bring up the concept of 'bigotry'. So when they're talking about 'expectations of the self' and 'things that are just a little bit off', there's no darker than pale-beige image associated with what's right and normal. And then comes the gibbering transient - with a picture of a dark skinned african descended man with locks.

- * -

Aside: Note the phrase voiced with that picture? "Have you ever felt unsettled with a gibbering transient or an amputee?" So at this point I'd also like to point out my wtf at the 'celebrating bigotry in horror' with the image of an amputee and the '...that feeling, is the uncanny'. Dark skinned people and disabled individuals = THE FREAKING UNCANNY.

The 'gibbering transient' image, is the only dark faced image in the piece. This is yet another overwhelming penny on the side of whiteness (and being able bodied) as default for all that is good, pure, normal and true.

Hellooooo Halloween/ Horror Isming! :End Aside
- * -

"...It happens most often with human beings, because we're all hardwired to have a very specific, well established expectation for how a human being is supposed to look and act."

And then there's the comments about the Japanese and Japanese games under the sub-heading THE OTHER. "They are utterly foreign to us as a Western audience".

They do mention a lack of cultural comprehension, touchstones and markers as to why things seem so different. But this is a segment named 'The Other' and it's pretty fucking light on even a passing mention of xenophobia, privilege and willful ignorance as to why the other is other and unusual, foreign and unknown.

In fact, they SAY: "An element of otherness that is in and of itself - unsettling." WITH A PICTURE OF AN ALIEN. Japanese culture is so OTHER as to be associated with NON HUMANS.

And what the fuck was that crack about Japan: - "With enough thought and diligence, Western developers can capture that same unsettling otherness in their own games. Japan just has it a little easier. They don't have to make up anything new to get that affect."

Not having to make it all up new? That little 'other people have culture and history and white people don't' mixed with 'they have this primitive, atavist, lizard brain activating past'.

I realize that Extra Credits and it's creators have nothing to do with activism. But again, they want to start dialogue. And the people who're generally listening, already think things like this:

I do have to analyze the idea of alienation occurring from racial incongruity between the player and protagonist: "What does that say to the Hispanic boy, the Arab teen, the Indian woman, who wants to try just such a game? Will they feel alienated? Disconnected from the experience?"

This idea reinforces the idea that there are inherent differences between races, that the small difference of appearance creates more differences in a chain reaction. This concept is just not true.

The small difference of appearance; as if ethnicity and gender wrapped in social conditioning, white supremacy politics, misogyny, conquest mindset (aka imperialism, colonialism & justification for dehumanizing) - the whole freaking Kyriarchy - along with so much more, is really just the difference on 'white shirt' / 'brown shirt' skin.

Privilege is the ability not to consider just how much you're reinforcing the status quo - which already puts you on top - with 6 minutes of words and images; It's the ability to make 'diversity' a special interest topic. Privilege is the ability to exclude and hurt a large swathe of humanity that is not just like you, while patting yourself on the back about your open mindedness.

ETA: Pics, 1, 2, 3 or it didn't happen. Also my mistake, there is an apparent non-white stick person. A possibly japanese game maker who 'doesn't have to make up anything new'.

ETA: Oct 30. Link fixed. Also typos.