I wasn’t aware that strong, sexually empowered women are in fact a demeaning social trope.
If you had ever played the games, or even mildly researched them, you’d know that Bayonetta is both highly sexualized for the benefit of the viewer AS WELL as being sexually empowered for herself. If you want to hate the former, you have to hate the latter, and that’s rather misogynistic, don’t you think?
Also, just gonna toss this out there: Bayonetta’s designer, Mari Shimazaki, has said that she designed Bayonetta as a power fantasy for herself and that Bayonetta’s personality and attitude is “what she aspires to be more like” because she wants to feel sexy for her own sake, not society’s and also she’s tired of women being both expected to and being shamed for trying to look beautiful. She simply wants to feel powerful, but also beautiful.
See thing is this shit is actually pretty complicated.
In the same way that we have to be mindful that games are designed by people (someone designed, scripted and coded all those scenes shown in Tropes Vs Women, whether you think they’re ‘cherry picked’ or not); we must also remember that multiple people work on a single title, and the politics of a game can come from many sources.
I LOVE Shimazaki’s work. You can tell that she works in a lot of love for high fashion as well as her own preferences of what it means to look cool, sexy and dangerous.
There are some very convincing readings of Bayonetta 1 that represent Bayonetta the character and the game’s plot as something feminist and empowering (you are, after all taking on a patriarchal cult using the very tools that were used to oppress you and your kind); but that reading requires death of the author to work.
Because (unfortunately, IMO), Hideki Kamiya is a thing. For all that Mari Shimazaki says, for all of the empowering academic readings you can find, Hideki Kamiya has pretty much never talked about Bayonetta as a character without mentioning how much of a sex object she is. That’s sex object, not like, sexual force of nature or anything.
Any designs or opinions Shimazaki has are filtered through Kamiya to appear in the end project. His opinions are almost literally final.
If you’ve looked through the Bayonetta 1 art book (It’s called The Eyes of Bayonetta, it has like, 50 pages of Shimazaki costume design and SMH if you’re a fan of this game and don’t have it), there is a notable discord between Shimazaki talking about her design decisions, and Kamiya talking about why he asked for certain design decisions.
There’s a particularly gross part where he talks about how he insisted that there be an alternate costume for Bayo that’s Japanese school gym clothes (y’know, those super anime short-shorts that real JP schools no longer have students wear because it’s too pedo), and roped the 3D modeller to make a whole bunch of renders of it for Kanmiya to wear on t-shirts.
The funny side of this being the 3D modeller also states in the book that he had to break model’s rigging to get Bayo into the poses Kamiya wanted. Escher Girls was right, yo.
Then there’s that whole thing where Kamiya in an interview said that the Vs Joy scene in Bayo 1 was there because he thought that women, even strangers, were inherently competitive against each other. Oh boy.
I REALLY like Bayonetta. It’s one of my favourite games ever. I wish I also had those glasses and gun heels. But it would be a bald-faced fucking lie to think that aesthetic design decisions aren’t heavily grounded in what gives straight dudes (or at least what gives Kamiya) a chubby.
^^^ these are the types of conversations we should be having, all this commentary is spot on. This is how I feel about the Tropes vs Women videos, I think it should open up conversations about how the industry treats its female audience and its female characters. I can think of so many examples of female characters I find three dimensional, empowered/empowering and well-rounded without being treated as sex objects … however I can see the flaws and mistreatment hefted u[on them by moments in the plot, by certain decision makers, by designers making tehir clothes skin tight, etc etc. Its an industry-wide problem that needs THESE KINDS OF CONVERSATIONS in order to evolve and grow.
I think Anita’s commentary is very important to get the ball rolling, but I dont think what she says is inherently correct or as simple as she presents it. But the people opposing her are doing it all the wrong way (and I mean the people -verbally- opposing her, not the psychos with bomb threats) because this shouldnt be seen as an attack but as a opportunity to grow and evolve gaming.
I don’t completely agree with Anita and I don’t completely disagree with her! It IS complicated and this recent spate of harassment has made it impossible to have healthy, diverse, feminist discussions because we all feel forced to agree with Anita on the basic opinion of her being a human being versus our disagreement being part of normal, diverse feminist discouse.
I like Bayonetta for a lot of reasons, just as much as I don’t like her for others.
I am really happy to see some conversation about this stuff pop up on my dash. Not just about Bayonetta but gaming in general. It often feels disheartening to see how quick people jump to fight instead of just having a discourse and comparing notes.
Anita and Tropes vs Women is nothing different than you find in any other art form. As a former student of both film and literature, we had entire courses designed around discussing things like feminist critiques of famous works or discussing how a film can be viewed as various political schools of thought. Tropes Vs Women doesn’t exist to create some kind of dogma, it’s there to create discussion. To point out new views about an artform we love and ask the questions about it. This isn’t a bad thing! This exists in any form of art, and in my opinion it strengthens media for it.
After all, I spent years working around a workshop group of writers giving feedback and comments. Are they always right on the money? No. I won’t say that. But many - lots - pointed out ideas, faults, interpretations, and tropes that I didn’t even think of. As a result, my work improved. My writing in general grew stronger as I started thinking about all these things that I would have never considered if I worked in isolation.
And just because someone isn’t 100% on the money all the time doesn’t mean their feedback isn’t worth considering. This conversation goes to show that there were many sides to the concept of Bayonetta. All of them valid but conflicting. That’s why discussion is important. That’s why I think Tropves vs Women is important. That’s why I think Gaijin Goomba and Game Theory is important too (If you don’t know who they are, look’em up on youtube. Awesome stuff.)
Thanks for reading. ^_^