By William Chandler
This thread on Neogaf came to my attention sometime last night and really got something going in me that I haven’t felt since the Hotline Miami 2 “rape” fiasco. The thread is entitled “Far Cry 4’s art is racist and the antagonist is (potentially) gay”. A quote from the post:
A few months after the Far Cry 3 writer said “we won’t see gay protagonist in AAA game for a while over sales fears” comes the announcement of Far Cry 4.
The moment I saw the picture below, I felt my heart sank. An evil character, wearing all purple, having an edgy stylish modelesque haircut, hand resting on a guys head…I instantly thought they could be making a gay antagonist.
Okay, for a game that really only exists to us in box art form thus far, this is quite an assumption to make. I mean, perhaps he’s just an intriguing fellow who appreciates grooming and personal style. To the author’s credit though, he does say “could be making a gay antagonist”, and I agree on that front. They certainly could be. But why would it matter?
While there is nothing inherently wrong with a gay antagonist, it worries me that it might not be done right. Also if the only time we have gay characters in games as main characters that are bad guys, what message does that send to people? All gay people are bad, or it will just fuel their hatred they already have towards gay people. I can see it now, people thinking “Finally, I can call a character in a game a faggot and he will actually be one.”
This is where he really loses me. Gay people have been portrayed in games numerous times already, albeit in a way that was not flamboyant, meaning that rather than being gay characters, many of them were regular ol’ characters who just happened to be gay. To me, that is more realistic in many contexts as the fact that a character is gay would not be of the highest importance to the plot in most games, making it just another aspect of the character of a person. Bioware games were great at proving that just about any “type” of personality could also be gay. And the type of person that already harbors ill will towards gay people would not be swayed even with the presence of a gay protagonist, or a ‘properly done’ gay antagonist.
Frankly, I don’t see why this matters at all even if the protagonist were overtly homosexual. It is merely the way that character is written and in no way is expected to be representative of an entire culture or group of persons. You see, I wasn’t aware it was the responsibility of the games industry to create the picture perfect ideal of every single human being or human collective on the face of the planet, just in case someone might get the wrong impression otherwise. Artistic interpretation is, by the way, a thing that exists. A body of work in an artistic medium should be respected as such, rather than some sort of hidden anti-(insert sensitive thing here) agenda.
But, the worst aspect of this post is the part near the bottom where a bunch of people on twitter call the box art racist because a relatively light skinned man is treating another human poorly. One guy even tweeted it directly at Ubi and and the FarCryGame twitter account. I mean, I may be subconsciously submitting to the patriarchy here, but the stylishly dressed man looks like a light skinned asian fellow with bleached hair to me. And would that fact make it more okay? I don’t get how violence against other humans is okey dokey as long as a potentially gay, white man isn’t inflicting it upon the innocent, dark skinned natives because that makes gay people look bad and furthers the white agenda somehow.
The blowback from the aforementioned Hotline Miami 2 scandal was so immense that it forced relatively small time company Devolver Digital to make some changes to the scene in question, altering their original artistic vision in an admittedly small way just to make concessions to some internet bullies. A fact that bothers me to this day. I doubt a major publisher like Ubisoft will need to do the same, though, which pleases me greatly. To be honest, I doubt they ever even needed to, because all of these claims are baseless presumptions.
But even if the worst fears of the SJW community come to bare in Far Cry 4, they could always simply abide by an ancient consumer proverb.
If you don’t like it, don’t fucking buy it.