Damsel in distress
Welcome to PSU.com's hit series on the world of gaming. Join our hosts Skip Williams and Max Platinum as they give you the inside scoop on a myriad of topics in gaming. From how to catapult up the Trophy rankings to debating about the current console war, don't change that channel as there might even be some broken tables, because the debates get so hardcore!
Disclaimer: All likenesses used are for parody and/or satirical purposes.
Max: So there I was, staring down a handful of scarred up yakuza thugs with my hostess date hiding behind me. The streets were well-lit, and more than an ample amount of trash cans in reach to make easy work of these street toughs who thought they`d be blooded by picking on some gaijin on the streets of Kamurocho.
Skip: You`re making this sound like you`re just playing Yakuza.
Max: I deftly dodged the first blow, dodged the second, and countered into the third to send one of them through the window of a store. At this point my date is cheering me on so I am feeling even more psyched up for this showdown.
Skip: Did a triangle pop up in real life to let you perform a HEAT finisher?
Max: Taking a bicycle that a friendly onlooker lent me I slammed it onto the frame of the last yakuza, his blood painting the cement. To say my date was impressed and grateful was an understatement as we casually walked away to enjoy the rest of our night.
Rebekka: You`re a pig, you know that right?
Max: In real life we don`t have heart meters to check how much a girl likes you but I`m certain her`s was maxed out for me.
Rebekka: Do you ever listen to yourself. Why are we listening to your male power fantasy?
Max: It wasn`t a fantasy. This happened on the weekend. Do you think I pine away in a depression because you rejected my offer to see the baseball game? Would you rather I say to her `good luck, you`re an empowered woman. You can fight off a group of men despite the 80 pound difference each.`
Skip: Welcome to this week`s episode, fans and viewers. As always I am your host with the most, Skip Williams and with me as always is the doctor of trophinomics, Max Platinum. On today`s show we breakdown the damsel in distress and how video games enjoy portraying women as weak and helpless.
Max: Why are we discussing this again?
Skip: You know, that crazy woman who did the kickstarter released her newest video.
Rebekka: And it is important to take down the male patriarchy a peg or two.
Max: What male patriarchy? Didn`t we have this debate before, until you burned down my soap box. Nothing is preventing women from entering the video game business, creating their own companies, and making whatever games they want. Don`t blame men if the rich women of the world have better things to spend their time and money on that form a video game company. Can`t I just have my fantasies and not feel like I am supposed to feel dirty? Do you see men complain how sexist Danielle Steele books are?
Skip: Rebekka, why does the damsel in distress trope cause so many problems in video game narratives? Hasn`t it been used for thousands of years?
Rebekka: The problem is female gamers have no one to look up to and feel proud by saying `I want to be her`. Who would want to be Princess Peach and wait for her man to come and rescue her, or Zelda, or that princess from Ghosts and Goblins, or a lot of them. The modern woman is not weak and helpless and is just as tough as any man. We have female police, fire fighters, and soldiers but in video games they are prominently still regulated to the damsel role.
Skip: How about it, Max? Would you be proud if Master Chief was waiting for Master Chiefess to come and rescue him?
Max: It is all about context which is the huge problem with this trope. The context is being excluded in this discussion. Princess Peach is a princess, not a knight, a soldier, or even an Amazon princess, just a normal woman with no special powers or abilities. Mario is a hero, and heroes have powers or that something special to make him save the day. There is no story or reason for the hero to rescue the damsel in distress if she can easily escape herself. It is a rescue story and a rescue story needs someone to rescue.
Rebekka: That is the problem. It is always the man rescuing the woman. Give me a game where Peach is rescuing Mario from Bowser or Zelda is rescuing Link to even out this unbalanced skew of storytelling.
I need a hero to save me
Rebekka: In the middle of live TV? Now?
Max: Hi, yeah, sure I`m free…uh-huh, yeah I had a fun time too…No, I wasn`t scared I fight yakuza for a living…
Skip: What would you recommend to help fix this issue, Rebekka?
Rebekka: Break his cell phone.
Skip: About this damsel in distress problem.
Rebekka: Stop making women damsels in distress, it is really that simple.
Max: Really, thanks, I know I look good on TV too…Her? Just a co-worker…I don`t know why she is being so aggressive, maybe she is PMSing.
Rebekka: I`m not PSMing, I am not even 30. It is this fratboy attitude that pushes women away from wanting to join companies or make their own. Where is the strong female lead that screams girl power? When a company does give a woman a shot at being the lead she is either a bimbo in Lara Croft, a Dominatrix in Regina, or doesn`t is faceless like that girl in Mirror`s Edge. See, I don`t even know what her name is.
Max: Sure, I can do that for you. Hi mom from Cebu, your daughter says hi…uh, I think I have to go, I`m getting the PMS stare.
Rebekka: She only wants you for your money?
Max: What money? Why are you so cruel and assume she just wants me for my money instead of my charming personality? Comments like that are why I can`t take feminism seriously when it tries to decry the video game industry as sexist. Being the star is never enough, women have to be the perfect star in some unrealistic world where she is pretty enough not to be decried as being sexist ala Fat Princess but ugly enough to not be considered a male sex fantasy ala Lara Croft, while being strong enough to kill men ala Jill Valentine but not too strong or else she`s just a man with long hair ala Female Shepard. No one can win, not even women because what one woman wants can be completely different than what a different woman wants and somehow that is wrong and against the feminist rules.
Rebekka: You can`t deny that Lara Croft is a male sexualized fantasy.
Max: Why would I deny that she is sexually appealing and a fantasy? What is wrong with that?
Rebekka: It turns women into objects and playthings instead of real living beings. The average woman does not look like her or act like her so it gives men some grandiose and wrong impression of how women are.
Max: It turns men into objects and playthings just as much. Going back to the original topic of the damsel in distress, people only focus on the end goal actually being achieved; the man saves the woman. What is not focused on is the millions of failed attempts at trying to save the damsel, leaving the hero dead or otherwise wishing he were dead. If anything the trope is just as bad for men because it turns men into mindless lemmings, going unthinkingly into danger without any regard to their own inevitable demise.
Skip: What do you have to say to counter that argument?
Rebekka: No one can deny that this trope has been used far too often in story telling. Even if what Max says is true, it is still the writers who create the narratives used for the games. They need to be more creative and think outside the box and not be lazy. It is easy to create a story based entirely around saving some princess, but it takes someone more creative to write a refreshingly new story or even expand upon the tired plot line of I`m a macho knight needing to save the weak princess. A little balance is all that is being asked for. Is that too much to ask?
Skip: Hello? Why are you calling me? No, call her yourself.
Max: Crazy girl?
Skip: I won`t dignify that question with a response.
Max: Crazy girl.
Rebekka: Why are you denigrating your ex by calling her crazy?
Skip: Because she is, you should know that.
Max: What happened to you, Rebekka? You used to not be a militant feminazi.
Rebekka: Ask Skip.
Max: What did you do to her?
Skip: Nothing, I did absolutely nothing to her.
Rebekka: That is not what your ex has told me, about the shrines and the chanting. I knew you two were twisted but now I`m really glad I play for the other team.
Skip: There was no chanting, no shrine, just the delusions of some crazy girl off her meds. You better be careful, Rebekka, or she`ll turn on you too.
Max: Coming to work everyday is exciting. I never know what kind of drama will develop every week.
Skip: Join us next week fans and viewers when we discuss something. I don`t know what yet because our director is out drunk and brooding in misery.
Max: What did happen to Stan? He used to be like Superman, getting everything organized for us; a real go-getter. It is probably why he got promoted so fast.
Skip: He saw the new Superman movie.
Max: Oh, yeah, I forgot that came out. I take that back. His self-worth was totally demolished.
Skip: I`m sure the hostess club you sent him too will pick his spirits back up.
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