Resident Evil 5 Coverage Reignites Racism Debate

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Resident Evil 5 Coverage Reignites Racism Debate

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New impressions of Resident Evil 5 from Eurogamer and others have reignited the debate over whether or not the game's portrayal of Africa and its people is racist.

Just when Capcom thought it might be able to release Resident Evil 5 without seeing this debate rear its ugly head yet again, Eurogamer has published a preview of the game that makes some pretty alarming claims about the game's arguably racist imagery. Writing that "there's imagery in here that goes beyond the general air of foreign menace that caused a ruckus in the first trailers," Eurogamer's Dan Whitehead goes on to describe a scene where protagonist Chris Redfield comes cross a gang of men beating something in a sack. These men are not the "infected Majini," they are "ordinary Africans, who stop and stare at you menacingly as you approach...where Africans are concerned, the game seems to be suggesting, bloodthirsty savgery just comes with the territory."

Whitehead goes on to describe a moment later in the game where a white blonde woman is violently dragged off by black men, a scene he says is completely irrelevant to the plot, that plays "so blatantly into old cliches of the dangerous 'dark continent'...you'd swear the game was written in the 1920s." Later on, Whitehead says, there are even more "outrageous and outdated images." He also remarks that the image of Sheva, Redfield's partner in the game and a light-skinned, English-speaking African, fits into accepted Hollywood standards for black heroines, and "compounds the problem rather than easing it."

Eurogamer isn't alone in its reactions. Posting on the NeoGAF message board, Gamasutra's Chris Remo wrote that "Nick [Breckon, of Shacknews] (who played the same stuff as Eurogamer) independently had similar reactions."

Reactions to Whitehead's impressions, as to be expected, have been decidedly split. Some argue that it's entirely a non-issue and that the debate stems for over-sensitivty. "Man if this game was taking place in Canada and had white people doing this, no one would complain," GAF poster Pedobear said. "It seems every single time there is something related to violence in Africa it's automatically racism. It's a f***ing videogame. Give me a break."

Others seem to be more upset that Capcom would be ignorant enough, even after the initial controversy, to keep such insensitive material in the game. "What's most offensive about this to me is that there are so many ways to do a zombie game in Africa in a manner that either skirts the obvious racial types or that cleverly exploits them," sonicmj1 wrote. "This news seems to show that Capcom had no idea what they were actually doing when they were including these sorts of images in the game."

Whatever the angle you take on the debate is, there's no doubt that it's a complicated one. What do you guys think?

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I think this is an old, BS argument that needs to die already. Look around, the world is full of racial stereotypes and things that could easily offend. The bigger a deal we make of this crap, naturally the harder it is to make it go away. Not to mention, the age old argument that when you were killing white zombies, no one cared. When you were killing mexican zombies, no one cared... why should we care when the focus has been shifted to the originating location of black people? What else would we kill there? And I don't know, I haven't played the demo yet, but in regards to the "ordinary Africans, who stop and stare at you menacingly as you approach".... what the fuck would you expect when some foreigner comes waltzing in carrying a ton of guns? Maybe the air of the environment due to what's going on around the world, and with the zombies, might have something to do with the characters not feeling too overly welcoming with your presence in the game? In any case, people are taking this way too seriously. And I find it pretty ridiculous. Let it go already, people.

People just need to shut up and remember the first amendment. Even racists like the KKK and Neo-nazis have a right to distribute anything they want in the US. I personally don't see anything wrong with what I have seen and played in the game. They need to just STFU and get over it. The game is coming out and will still sell millions of copies.

It's damn Zombies, it doesen't matter if they're white or black, it's damn Zombies!

I don't find this issue to be complicated. In every field except car keys- literature, sociology, history- people always find what they are looking for. I could rant all day on this subject, but I find this outlook on race relations quite disturbing, especially in regards to literature, new and classic.

I will say this much, though: All the races of humans have virtually identical DNA. They are indistinct. We're made of the same stuff, and history demonstrates we are all capable of the same savagery or goodness. So why can only whites be portrayed as evil? I'm tired of being the punching bag, to be quite honest.

I just noticed your date of join is September 11.....

ANYWAY, I am so sick of the whole "It's a fucking video game" excuse. Books, Movies, TV shows, and Music songs do not get that kind of excuse because "It's just a book/movie/show/song."

If it wasn't "just a video game" it wouldn't be getting this kind of attention.

AnyAnyWay, my view is that RE5 is unintentionally racist. BUT it's racist in a sense that it's just kind of there, like how Fat Princess wasn't intended to insult fatties but the feeling of that is kind of there.

It's not "intentionally" racist, but it can leave that feeling on some people who just see it as a guy shooting black people.

It's funny to that some people say that the game is racist because you kill africans but nobody cared about Resident Evil 4 or every other Resident Evil and called it racist.

Jumplion:
I just noticed your date of join is September 11.....

Yes, yes it is. There's probably a way to change that, but I honestly think it's kinda funny.

The only reason that people even care about this is that video game releases have commercials and ads. But still, I didn't hear a thing when they were making the movie and there was a scene they showed where a BLACK zombie got his head freakin' blown off! It's total hypocrisy to let a scene like that slide and then go overly noble when it happens in a video game.

First of all, the existence of stereotypical cases isn't the same as a blanket statement of "all x are y". Also, this game never claims to be true at all, it's not giving a serious opinion unlike actual racists who believe what they're saying.

Why is that African Americans think everyone hates them? Per se RE 4 where their were mexicans. NO ONE MADE A BIG DEAL ABOUT THAT DID THEY? This is maybe one reason why some people are still racist to them, because make a big deal about everything and we always need to help them. THAT IS NOT HOW I THINK. I was IMAGINING what racists see. I personally treat blacks as human beings. My good friends are black.

..Why does that man have my last name as his last name.
Doesn't he know there can only be one?

Thunderheavyarm:
The only reason that people even care about this is that video game releases have commercials and ads. But still, I didn't hear a thing when they were making the movie and there was a scene they showed where a BLACK zombie got his head freakin' blown off! It's total hypocrisy to let a scene like that slide and then go overly noble when it happens in a video game.

A scene...compared to an entire game? I dunno, there's a little bit of unbalance to that statement ;P

Killclave:
Why is that African Americans think everyone hates them? Per se RE 4 where their were mexicans. NO ONE MADE A BIG DEAL ABOUT THAT DID THEY? This is maybe one reason why some people are still racist to them, because make a big deal about everything and we always need to help them. THAT IS NOT HOW I THINK. I was IMAGINING what racists see. I personally treat blacks as human beings. My good friends are black.

In Resident Evil 4 you were in spain not in mexico.

Hmmm... Who saw this one comming???

A game where you kill black people in Africa!!! That's just racist. How dare they portrait realistic populations (unlike Far Cry 2 Africa which is filled with white people).

Jumplion:

Thunderheavyarm:
The only reason that people even care about this is that video game releases have commercials and ads. But still, I didn't hear a thing when they were making the movie and there was a scene they showed where a BLACK zombie got his head freakin' blown off! It's total hypocrisy to let a scene like that slide and then go overly noble when it happens in a video game.

A scene...compared to an entire game? I dunno, there's a little bit of unbalance to that statement ;P

Look the basic point is that if you're gonna get upset about someone going around creating a blood tornado with bullets and you get upset over something that isn't real, you better get upset over the 3 second image of somebody getting killed as well. And that if any RE games tells us, these people are dropped in these situations. If someone gave you a 9mm, ammo, and a health spray and people start trying to munch your insides the last thing you're thinking of is "take this you person with a different skin tone than mine!"

That Dude With A Face:
Hmmm... Who saw this one comming???

A game where you kill black people in Africa!!! That's just racist. How dare they portrait realistic populations (unlike Far Cry 2 Africa which is filled with white people).

They don't even do that, about a quarter of the "zombies" in this game are white, asian, or some other minority. An attempt to appease bleeding hearts that seems to work as well as you'd think it would.

Comparisons with RE4 would work, so the article seems to say, if RE4 had a sequence involving a family of ordinary human villagers that turn out to be a bunch of inbred cannibal psychopaths. The game itself isn't necessarily racist, but if it does contain racist elements, people shouldn't handwave it as "just a game" or "oversensitive PC gone mad".

look, the main problem this time isn't that the zombies are black, its the scene wherein ORDINARY black people were being brutal. Then again, thats just humans no?

Vlane:

Killclave:
Why is that African Americans think everyone hates them? Per se RE 4 where their were mexicans. NO ONE MADE A BIG DEAL ABOUT THAT DID THEY? This is maybe one reason why some people are still racist to them, because make a big deal about everything and we always need to help them. THAT IS NOT HOW I THINK. I was IMAGINING what racists see. I personally treat blacks as human beings. My good friends are black.

In Resident Evil 4 you were in spain not in mexico.

They spoke with a Mexican accent for god-knows-what reason, which probably confused a lot of people.

People are calling this one racist because zombie behavior fits in perfectly with stereotypes of Black Africans but not Spaniards. The present and past imperialism of 3rd world countries doesn't help either.

My main problem is while it makes sense for the zombies to be Black; but why the hell is the protagonist white? It gives the game a much more imperilment feel to it. (Read Tintin in the Congo to see what I mean.) It would seem way less racist if the protagonist was a native and it would probably be scarier too. Imagine have to shoot all your friends and see your entire town go crazy. Imagine watching people go from friendly villager to cannibal would be scary and a good way to deflect racist accusations.

The scene were they were dragging a white women off is literally reminiscent of Birth of a Nation as is much of the zombie behavior. The whole "it's just a game/book/movie argument" never made sense to me. Ethnic Cleansing was a video game too. Birth of a Nation was a popular movie and The Bell Curve was a popular book. These images have effects on the public conscious.

I'll be getting the game but I'm going to buy second hand so Capcom doesn't get any money.

Whether or not the game is racist, what sticks to me is that Capcom actually made it not fun to play, making the racism a sort of irrelevance as I'm not going to play it.

Zippy1313:
People just need to shut up and remember the first amendment.

No, people need to stop equating criticism with censorship.

-- Alex

So let us recap.

On the continent of North America in the country of the United States where a majority of the population is white. It is NOT racist to kill white zombies.

On the continent of Europe in the country of Spain(I think it is Spain for RE4 please correct me if I am wrong) where a majority of the population is spanish. It is NOT racist to kill spanish zombies.

On the continent of Africa in a country that we still do not know the location where a majority of the population is african. It IS racist to kill african zombies.

I'm sorry but Moviebob's gameoverthinker piece had it right when it came to this game. The game is not racist, it is the people who decide to make it racist. When I saw RE5 the first thing I thought was "Dear god almighty zombies in africa!". I did not even care about the color or ethnicity of the people, to me they were zombies and freaky zombies since I have no played since RE3.

This is just the politically correct crowd trying to push their morals and values upon others and that is the real crime here.

Besides, zombies are zombies. The legion of the undead that needs to be put down as quickly as possible before they spread and destroy mankind. Doesn't matter what they were when they were living, once you become a zombie you are dead and lose all ethnicity.

P.S. Prediction of RE5. Jill valintine will be a boss and be that other blonde guy's trinity because he is neo in the matrix.

Tenmar:
On the continent of Africa in a country that we still do not know the location where a majority of the population is african. It IS racist to kill african zombies.

RTFA, man:

Writing that "there's imagery in here that goes beyond the general air of foreign menace that caused a ruckus in the first trailers," Eurogamer's Dan Whitehead goes on to describe a scene where protagonist Chris Redfield comes cross a gang of men beating something in a sack. These men are not the "infected Majini," they are "ordinary Africans, who stop and stare at you menacingly as you approach...where Africans are concerned, the game seems to be suggesting, bloodthirsty savgery just comes with the territory."

Whitehead goes on to describe a moment later in the game where a white blonde woman is violently dragged off by black men, a scene he says is completely irrelevant to the plot, that plays "so blatantly into old cliches of the dangerous 'dark continent'...you'd swear the game was written in the 1920s." Later on, Whitehead says, there are even more "outrageous and outdated images." He also remarks that the image of Sheva, Redfield's partner in the game and a light-skinned, English-speaking African, fits into accepted Hollywood standard for black heroines, and "compounds the problem rather than easing it."

Whitehead is arguing that the game is racist because it regurgitates long-standing racist tropes in its depiction of not zombies, but regular people.

-- Alex

Look at it this way,
The game might be the dream game for a Raciest Texan (Its a joke) we all don't get pleasure of killing zombies just because their color of skin is different of they speak Spanish, it is because our brains are in danger!
The game is suppose to be giving you the discomfort, It was discomforting for my white friends to play RE4 because they didn't know Spanish. But I am Dominican so every time they spoke It was like i was back home, Just that everyone is white and trying to eat your brains. But I digress, The whole idea of RE4 was discomfort because español no es algo que tu entiendes! Now the idea here is because of their different culture (not skin color) that the game becomes discomforting Truly delivering some Action Horror!

I haven't actually played the demo myself yet so I can't comment for definate, but from the sounds of it, it seems that the game is not racist. I just watched a video today for my psychology class in which a substantial part of it was about the rwandan genocide. I'm pretty sure that was pretty violent and that it was black people killing other black people in that....

And also, if it was white people in the game then no one would give a flying f*ck. If you look at Africa today, I'm pretty sure that it's still filled with god knows how many civil wars and a ridiculous amount of imcomprehensiable inhumane violence. So from what I've heard, RE5 actually portrays a pretty accurate picture of Africa - and most definately not a racist one.

People really need to grow up, only when it's African people do people start calling out the race card what about RE4? You were killing Spanish people then, why was there no controversy then. There is only a problem if you make one, and if people can't mature enough to see the world as a bunch of racial classicism, then we'll always have this argument looming behind us, it's just a game, they are zombies, quit bitching.

Tenmar:
So let us recap.

You think you could... Y'know, read? Instead of seeing "Resident Evil 5" and "racism" and immediately writing it off as knee-jerk nonsense. It's not just "black people being killed" that's troubling people.

Writing that "there's imagery in here that goes beyond the general air of foreign menace that caused a ruckus in the first trailers," Eurogamer's Dan Whitehead goes on to describe a scene where protagonist Chris Redfield comes cross a gang of men beating something in a sack. These men are not the "infected Majini," they are "ordinary Africans, who stop and stare at you menacingly as you approach...where Africans are concerned, the game seems to be suggesting, bloodthirsty savgery just comes with the territory."

Break:

Tenmar:
So let us recap.

You think you could... Y'know, read? Instead of seeing "Resident Evil 5" and "racism" and immediately writing it off as knee-jerk nonsense. It's not just "black people being killed" that's troubling people.

Writing that "there's imagery in here that goes beyond the general air of foreign menace that caused a ruckus in the first trailers," Eurogamer's Dan Whitehead goes on to describe a scene where protagonist Chris Redfield comes cross a gang of men beating something in a sack. These men are not the "infected Majini," they are "ordinary Africans, who stop and stare at you menacingly as you approach...where Africans are concerned, the game seems to be suggesting, bloodthirsty savgery just comes with the territory."

Okay okay sorry please do not bite my head off. I misread the article and came to the wrong conclusion. I'm on hour eight out of 11 working in the retail store and I still have yet to eat because I cannot afford food. I'm fatigued.

I think people are missing the whole point of the horror genre altogether.

The whole point of horror is to put somebody in a difficult situation doing undesirable things. Whilst killing black people in Africa is not racist in any concievable way, as the majority of the population are black there, there is however something vaguely unsettling about plowing through groups of random black people who aren't intentionally doing something wrong.

However yes, the whole controversy is the people who aren't infected doing strange things (like beating people with sticks, and acting aggressively towards you.) This isn't fantasy land. These are normal human things to do. In a panic situation, people do not act rationally 100% of the time, especially when it's likely that most of your family and friends are being mutilated in some way by these 'zombies'.

Acting aggressively towards you? No shit. In a place where there's mass violence, you're wandering around with a whole gun store on your personel, the locals JUST MIGHT feel quite threatened.

All the developers are trying to do is show these people as human, to add a sense of realism, which contributes towards the horror.

This game is not racist in any way, any person with a ration of common sense could see this.

Isn't it supposed to be in a war torn part of Africa? African people committing atrocities against their own people? That's such bull it's not at all like it could be based on current events sensationalized a bit (ya know.... zombies) like most hollywood movies and things like that.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/20038999/
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/7852086.stm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darfur_conflict

A problem that's as old as society itself. I'm Mexican, so you know all the kinds of racist stereotypes we get. But it really doesn't bother me too much, sometimes it's funny because it's not true or sometimes it sparks self analysis (not a bad thing). I don't get disturbed by it because racist stereotypes just capture one fraction of the whole population. In the game, Resident Evil 5, it's said that there's a moment in the game of violence being carried by non-infected Africans (e.g. normal people). Who can say there's no violence in Africa, or the US, or Mexico, or anywhere in the world for that matter. If a game showed a scene in Mexico City where a guy is being robbed and then executed, that could happen and it does happen. But it also could happen in New York, Paris, and any city in the world. I think we shouldn't take a game that is not trying to be political (it's a survival shooter, for crying out loud!) too seriously. Will it make people who play it more racist? Will it make people who play it less racist if CAPCOM takes those parts out? I think the answer to both is no. Videogames, like any human expression is flawed and will hurt someone's feelings, it's practically unavoidable. For parents out there who are concerned, just take your time to explain the situation to your children, and don't let them play the game (it has a Mature rating anyway).

I am 29year black man. I saw the game trailer and knew that it was going to spark some controversy. I personally saw no problem with demo or trailer, I could understand all the hoopla if this was the first RE and they decided to put in Africa and some white guy was running around killing black people with some kinda virus. That I could have understood; but it isn't the first resident evil - they have done several and have gone global with type of zombies they kill. People need to not be so quick to pull out the race card when ever something goes down that offends them. If the game would have been set in Africa and had nothing but white people living there, there would have been an uproar. I wonder if the people who are writing these articles about the racism in RE5 are really offended by what is shown or depicted OR if they are just concerned what other people might think or feel. Until the ambassador or representative of Africa comes out and says that he is offended, the poeple who are saying they are offended need to shut the FU and stop trying to spark beef.

Here we go again...and thus worrying about everyone's feelings at once spawns another stupid controversy...

These revelations are worrying but certainly not unexpected. I completely agree with Whitehead about the characterization of Sheva.

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