Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Your Freedom To Say What You Want, And My Freedom To Tell You You're Wrong

So apparently I'm not as late to the party on this one as I thought. Quickly to catch everyone up to speed, Dead Island: Riptide "Zombie Bait Edition" has a boxed version that comes with, wait for it, a statuette of a woman's torso whose limbs and head have been severed off.

(I'm not showing it here, but you can google if you want)

Needless to say this is all over the gaming news sites, (hopefully the story doesn't get picked up by any prime time news channels, cause we all know how that will help things), and on top of that we have people on all sides of the debate dropping in with their stance on the topic. For the most part it seems that people are outraged, disgusted, or at the very least not interested in owning this "piece of art." But of course this is news and like any other news there always has to be someone to rally the other side of the issue. Whether it be because they actually believe that way or just to bring in views and heat things up is an entire other issue. Enter this article here by Daav Valentaten over at venturebeat.com about the Riptide torso.

He points out his article is just a personal standpoint and that there are issues brought up by this that are wrong in the industry that go well beyond what can be covered in a reasonable amount of time. Through the article he admits the piece is tacky, and would probably, "burn in anyone's eyes." He makes points about equality and how the gaming community failed on this topic because it took offense to this instead of just merely disagreed with it and moved on. I think he's missing a few key issues and that we as a gaming community have every right to be offended and demand something different out of this.

(if you can't tell the difference between this and a severed human torso, please stay home)

For starters, he tries to play it off that this is just an "objectification" of a women's chest and no different than TV commercials or classical art pieces. I feel like I don't even know where to begin on this point, but really, you have to look at the context. Yes, I think we can all agree that objectify people, women, breasts, etc, is wrong, more so for the sake of a easy sell though it's all over the market. What I feel he fails to bring up is that this is a dead body, a mutilated torso of a woman. This isn't a model whose face we never see, or a zombie in a bikini running around a horror game. This is a plastic model of a human chest with gory details and tits. The body even seems freshly cut up with normal skin tone and blood coloring, suggesting a recent and brutal dismantling. How to name all the ways this is messed up? Violence against women. Reducing a woman down to her breasts. The fact that (as far as I can tell) actually this has nothing to do with the game besides being gory. Do we even need to bring up the fetishes this plays into?

On top of that it is an ugly piece that I can't imagine anyone displaying in a store front or in their own home where guests could see it. I don't know maybe I'm weird that I wouldn't want that thing in my house...

Here's the other bit that I think Daav gets wrong. He says,

"Whatever happened to disagreement? “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.” Isn’t that how the enlightened philosophers thought about equality? There doesn’t seem to be any defending of Deep Silver. There seems to be only offense." 

Working backwards, we can defend someone's right to say something, but that doesn't mean we have to agree with it. No one is calling for a ban on mutilated torso models. There are no laws getting drawn up to outlaw products like this. No, the right to say or do something like this is still being defended. What is happening here is that people are disagreeing with it, people exercising their freedom of speech to say, "You know what? I don't like that."

That's the other side of the coin that people don't seem to get about freedom of speech. One person says Obama is the greatest, someone else says he's the worst. Is the second statement attacking the first's right to freedom of speech or simply disagreeing with it? We all have a right to say whatever we want and everyone else has the right to say whatever they want about whatever we said too.