As a blog focused on criticism, there’s something we come across regularly in responses to our writing – insistence that we’re “never happy” no matter how much better a particular example is than most media we feature on BABD.
Readers (though mostly detractors) question why we can’t qualify something (mostly games) as 100% positive example if it does one thing better than the rest in its medium/genre/etc.
- Samus Aran is a formidable fighter and legendary female game protagonist, so it’s totally not a big deal that with every iteration of the character she gets designed as daintier, more conventionally feminine and runs around in skin-tight undersuit and impossible heels rather than her classic power armor.
- Metal Gear Solid has some fondness towards displaying male bodies… somehow that balances out every disgusting thing done to female characters?
- Overwatch has cast with diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds, therefore we should ignore how, despite that, most of its female characters are a very slight variation on the same “pretty” character mold and have costumes and poses that put gratuitous emphasis on their boobs and butts.
- For Honor’s character creation is equally divided between female and male warriors, so we shouldn’t point out how subtle differences in design and framing of female-only classes establish that the setting is still a (mostly white) men’s world.
- NieR Automata’s creator admits the main character is another skinny chick in high heels and with boob window, because of his personal preference instead of some convoluted lore-specific excuse… and that honesty means her design is beyond criticism?
It’s quite disheartening to have the audience insist that we should settle for media to be tiny bit better than mediocre and call it a day. That a game or its creator not being as bad as they could deserve to be awarded and held up as an example for the rest of the industry.
We refuse to set our standards so low that “her battle costume isn’t a literal bikini” or “has characters who are female in it” or “shows a male butt/chest sometimes” qualify a title as good, equal gender representation with no room for improvement.
Being better than a random asset-flipping game with stolen artwork in their web ads isn’t hard. Being better than your last project and learning from its mistakes should be a given. Simply not making asinine excuses for poor representation shouldn’t be applauded.
No-one is asking for perfection, but all creators should be held accountable for the product they’re selling, with its good and bad sides.
Popular media, especially video games, has a huge problem with fan backlash against lesser-than excellent reviews scores*. And this is not much different – expecting negatives not to be acknowledged because positives exist.
BABD in particular, instead of doing comprehensive reviews, is focused on female costume and character design compared to male ones. Yet even such specific topic can’t be talked about from both angles without someone decrying unfairness.
Does it really say more about us being negative and cynical or the fans being entitled and blind to any challenging point of view?