Backstory made to fit a sexualized design vs. a design made to fit a backstory requiring a character to wear minimal clothing.
Thank you, shattered-earth!
It is crucial to understand that a character design has to be informative of who the character is. And that sexualized designs do not inform us of it, just break the immersion.
Quiet’s a mercenary with a fictional condition that requires her to uncover as much skin as possible? Fine, then either make her totally nude or give her minimal clothing that is actually comfortable for her job.
Princess Zelda is royalty and a magic user, so her armor has to be fancy rather than simplistic and practical as Link’s? Sure, then make it gown-like and ornamental, just don’t leave out random patches of skin where she can be conveniently stabbed.
Charlotte is a gold-digging seductress who pretends to be innocent and demure? Then maybe instead of a boob-flaunting bikini give her a child-like costume that matches that persona?
Jim Sterling’s take on Quiet from Metal Gear
Amazingly~*~, we’re not the only two people in the world
who do not “feel ashamed for our words and deeds”
and don’t think Quiet’s design is justifiable in any possible way.
Not with “she HAS to uncover her skin, because narrative reasons”, not with “Hideo Kojima can do no wrong”, not with “MGS is a silly franchise, so ANYTHING absurd is acceptable”.
Here are some of my favorite things Jim says in the video:
I’d have been so much cooler with the situation if [Kojima] just said “The secret reason for her exposure is that I just wanna get a gigantic fucking hard-on with my big Kojima cock.”
Indeed. If you guys were wondering why BABD is so hung up on Quiet compared to many similarly bad designs, it’s because how straight-up disingenuous (and inconsistent) her creator is about the character’s conception.
What Kojima promised would be the “antithesis to the women characters appeared in the past fighting game who are excessively exposed” is instead the embodiment of characters in the past who are excessively exposed.
As we covered before, the “it’s criticism of harmful status quo” argument doesn’t apply when the status quo is simply reproduced. “Kojima is trolling everyone” also falls under this.
If you explain away everything with “It’s a Metal Gear game, it’s always silly and you’re stupid if you criticize it”, then you ultimately do Hideo Kojima himself a disservice as a writer.
Interestingly, another baffling excuse we’ve been hearing again and again since we started criticizing Quiet is “The Boss is awesome, therefore every MGS heroine is just as good”.
And while Jim agrees about Boss being great, he knows she’s just one character, and therefore should be upheld as a model for women in the franchise, not as a proof that female representation is okay already in MGS.
Also, predictably, this is the sort of replies the video gets:
Apparently not being able to go back in time and complain about two characters in military uniforms with absurdly deep cleavages, while he currently complains about another military-themed character clad literally only in a bikini and fishnets makes him a “hypocrite”.
Well, I’ve been looking into all the official information on why Quiet has that ridiculous outfit. It’s been a wild ride. I can confidently say that I am not ashamed and have not changed my stance. The bingo above applies only to official information – with elaboration in the cut below.
For those not familiar with the Metal Gear series – I highly recommend this educational video.
For those already typing up a response to tell me I’m a terrible person, here’s a few quick preemptive responses for the people who will tell me I can’t judge the game without providing notarized proof of having played 400 hours of each game in the series but won’t bother to search the tags of this blog:
- We are aware there are some cosplayers who love Quiet’s outfit, we are very supportive of cosplayers right to dress how they want – particularly since they are real people with agency and not on battlefields.
- The existence of The Boss does not mean Hideo Kojima’s work is excluded from criticism. That’s not how reality works on any level, there are no Get Out of Jail/Criticism Free Cards outside of Monopoly.
- Neither does his taste in music, status as an artist, situation with Konami, his talking about who he consulted with about military experts, etc.
- Theories about how this might be a sneaky commentary on society also don’t protect from criticism as these are not responsible commentary.
- Yes, there is an (optional) Naked costume for Snake that is similar enough to Quiet’s (standard) Naked outfit that it would be awkward if they showed up to the same function. Even the developers say it’s doesn’t make sense when it’s Snake wearing it and rush to change him into something better when they want to be taken seriously.
Warnings: Due to this involving information delivered in the game, the following contains spoilers. Due to the nature of the game the following and the sources linked to will contain references and imagery relating to torture, rape, graphic violent, mutilation and (hopefully fictional) political rhetoric.
Men are sexualized too!
Kojima actually managed to take this a step further than usual by justifying his requesting a “sexy” design for Quiet claims that not only can we argue the guys are sexualized too, but so are the military equipment. Yes, tanks are sexualized too… apparently. (source – article)
This is particularly ridiculous since as the recent femfreq video pointed out – MGS games have a history of recognizing just one kind of person as “sexy” to the viewer – often to ridiculous extents:
She CHOSE to dress like that!
If the player chooses to take Quiet captive, it is advised that even though she somehow has no problem with being tortured and kept on display in a cage – she responds violently to anyone who tries to put clothes on her.
More information on why in the next two points. (Source – video)
Her strength comes from her uncovered skin…
During the same section, it is discussed that Quiet eats (via photosynthesis), breathes and drinks through her skin – so she could suffocate if she wore clothes. (No explanation is given for her latex glove, fishnets or why her bikini is so ridiculous).
Later you do see Quiet struggling to breathe while wearing long sleeves and long pants, but she and is able to access all the air she needs to do a wuxia-esque grindhouse revenge killing sequence when her pants are removed and her shirt is ripped open. (The scenario is at least as terrible as you’re imagining, actually probably worse)
Also, anyone with a basic understanding of clothing or science knows that there’s a wide variety of fabrics that “breathe” and hence wouldn’t get in the way of her skin getting access to air. Certainly not any more than say a shower or rain would. Speaking of…
It’s just fantasy/scifi! Magic/science protects her!
You were probably thinking it sounds pretty weird that Quiet uses her skin for everything we have specialist organs for, and you’d be right! Quiet is first introduced as a normal human (and spectacularly incompetent) assassin who is sent to kill Snake but ends up on fire instead. She is then given “parasite therapy” where some sort of insect microbe things transform her body in a way that conveniently preserves her sexiness and forces her to show it off.
This makes so little sense that basically nobody can agree if it’s scifi or supernatural – it just works because they say so. Oh, and in case you’re wondering – yes there are men in the game who’ve been “enhanced” with parasite therapy – this is what they look like:
Girls are SUPPOSED to look sexy.
According to Kojima, part of this design idea was he spent a lot of time thinking about how characters might be effected by early life, fashion, etc. Yes, apparently he thinks this is how Russian women her age in the 80s would have been thinking of dressing.
Another early reasons given by Kojima himself to explain that sexy costume is that he wanted to encourage cosplay of the character. He also admitted that the character might not be cosplayable – so female cosplayers are supposed to automatically gravitate towards the most over sexualized costumes even if they’re not possible.
That’s the best way of marketing to men…
Kojima also stated that the heavily sexualized design was there to promote figurine sales. I’m not sure if he’s aware there’s really no shortage of heavily sexualized figurines or that some people may find this one a little awkward to have around the house… just like he was surprised to learn that Metal Gear Solid has a large female fanbase.
It fits her fighting style!
Kojima stated that his core concept for this one was a “naked sniper” – as opposed to the previously just boob flaunting female snipers…. and the fully dressed male snipers (who also use photosynthesis)
When not sniping though, Quiet simply uses her super powers to dodge bullets, throw people like dolls and leap spectacularly into the air.
She’s indestructible, she doesn’t need any protection!
Right when the character was first released, Kojima himself confirmed he understood that it would be ridiculous for someone to be dressed like that in the desert and that he wanted the player to wonder why. The reason of course, as covered above: Quiet eating breathing and drinking through her skin somehow makes her immune to the hazards of exposure.
(Never mind that baking in the Sun would mean she’d need to be guzzling water constantly for all the carbohydrates she’s producing. That’s a minor detail)
She’s so badass that she needs no armor!
When Quiet is first introduced she is wearing BDUs, has no super powers and fails in her assassination mission. Upon gaining her super powers, she suddenly dresses in… that, and becomes incredibly effective against… everyone in every way.
Great story makes up for those ridiculous designs!
Kojima started with a bold, assertive stance. Later he would state that he understood why people have concerns but they just wait and experience the game it will explain everything. Complete with reassurances!
(ht: petrichor-rains for reminding me The End used photosynthesis too)