Mainstream Media Considers the Resident Evil 5 Racism Question

March 15, 2009 -

While the video game press appears to have reached a consensus that Resident Evil 5 is not racist in its portrayal of blacks, non-gaming media outlets do not seem quite so sure.

Lou Kesten, for example, who covers games for the Associated Press, straddles the line between games and the mainstream. In a syndicated column which will be reprinted across North America, Kesten clearly is uncomfortable with RE5's racial vibe:

Even longtime fans of the horror franchise may find themselves wondering: Is this game racist?...

 

Yes, the vast majority of monsters in "RE5" are infected black men. Does that make it racist? I believe producer Jun Takeuchi's claim that the story led naturally to Africa, and it's obvious that a zombie-creating virus unleashed there would lead to hordes of African zombies.

Still, there were plenty of moments where I felt uneasy after shotgunning a path through a crowd of feral Africans. Even though "RE5" makes some points about colonialism and capitalism... the racial imagery is more loaded than its creators probably realized.

Judged purely as a game, "RE5" is undeniably entertaining. But many players are going to find it disturbing for the wrong reasons.

At left-leaning political blog Huffington Post, commentator Earl Ofari Hutchinson pulls no punches. For Hutchinson, RE5 is clearly an exercise in racism:

The well-worn script reads like this. A protest group blasts a video game manufacturer... for dumping a game on the market loaded with racially insulting and demeaning stereotypes. The video game team yelps that the game is pure entertainment, has some blacks or Latinos in on the design and production, and gets high marks from the industry...

So it was no surprise that Jun Takeuchi yanked out that script to defend his video game brainchild Resident Evil 5 from the charge that it's racist. But what else could one call it? It features a white male (modern day Bawana) mowing down a pack of poor, primitive disease challenged Africans... . The racist game reinforces the worst of the worst ancient stereotypes against and about Africans...

GP: When video game controversies flare, there is typically lag time between the gaming press's more immediate coverage and the issue's crossover to the mainstream media. Now that RE5 has been released, it's likely that the racism issue will be receiving a new round of attention from mainstream outlets in coming weeks.


Comments

Re: Mainstream Media Considers the Resident Evil 5 Racism

I heard a lot of people got pissed over a line from Vice City taken out of context "kill all the haitians"

In context you were working with a gang that was rivals with a Haitian gang. There was a shootout and someone on your side said "kill all the haitians".

I wasn't paying attention to it though so I had no idea how bad it got.

The only other racist games I can think of were isolated incidents that barely got any coverage (Jynx being a stereotype of blacks for example).

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Debates are like merry go rounds. Two people take their positions then they go through the same points over and over and over again. Then when it's over they have the same positions they started in.

---------------------------------------------------- Debates are like merry go rounds. Two people take their positions then they go through the same points over and over and over again. Then when it's over they have the same positions they started in.

Re: Mainstream Media Considers the Resident Evil 5 Racism

I remember the Jynx controversy.

That was rather sad because I liked Jynx in her original Black skin. And no I did not find it anything to do with racism.

To me, racism is not by the color of skin, but it is more of how you USE that color of skin against another different color of skin and give it a negative genalization.

I know that racism has been a word that has been used allot since the 80s, but perhaps we should think carefully about what it stands because even the innocent can be caught out by racism or being labled as racist when in fact the issue might not be as bad as everyone thinks it is like the Pokemon example.

 

TBoneTony

Re: Mainstream Media Considers the Resident Evil 5 Racism ...

Do we have anything to disagree on here? (Asides Hutchington)

Onward to 100+ repeated comments... (But still entertaining)

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Re: Mainstream Media Considers the Resident Evil 5 Racism

Most people seem to forget this main point, and such a point that I think we might have all learned from the recent Change4Life ad.

If you don't want something to sell well or become popular, then DON'T try to talk about it.

Sadly mainstreem media, and even sometimes in the gaming media, usually try to provoke some strong mixed up story to make their news sell.

Also for the record, it is rated M17+, 18 or MA15+ where ever you live. And if you look at the classifications, there is no real link to any racist images or gameplay that includes racism. And this is coming from the people who HAVE played the game. (ESRB, BBFC and OFLC)

 

TBoneTony

Re: Mainstream Media Considers the Resident Evil 5 Racism

The ESRB doesn't have a tag for racist images, and they don't play the games, they are sent clips of the most violent/sexual/whatever parts of the game from the makers.

----------------------------------------------------

 Debates are like merry go rounds. Two people take their positions then they go through the same points over and over and over again. Then when it's over they have the same positions they started in.

---------------------------------------------------- Debates are like merry go rounds. Two people take their positions then they go through the same points over and over and over again. Then when it's over they have the same positions they started in.

Re: Mainstream Media Considers the Resident Evil 5 Racism

Ok, I stand corrected.

But I am sure that the PEGI have the racist tag and also the BBFC might too.

Also it is hard to play though all of the games submitted in for classification, so that is why the classification organisations are given videos of the games to view them for classifiction.

 

TBoneTony

Re: Mainstream Media Considers the Resident Evil 5 Racism

Both PEGI and BBFC do point out Racist imagery in the games that they rate. PEGI have a little picture of a black guy and two white guys to represent discrimination, BBFC use the more tried and tested English language approach.

PEGI gave R5 a fist and @*! meaning violence and bad language. They didn't even give it a spider (fear), let alone discrimination.

BBFC publicly stated that the game isn't racist. http://www.gamepolitics.com/2009/03/02/bbfc-sees-no-racism-resident-evil-5

 

Re: Mainstream Media Considers the Resident Evil 5 Racism

First off bad Earl Ofari Hutchinson, its so damn clear you haven't even played the game to know whats going on.

Secondly if a black man was coming after me with axes, bowguns, chain saws, huge ass hammers, and all the other crazy weapons in the game zombie or not I'm gonna defend myself.

 

http://www.magicinkgaming.com/

Re: Mainstream Media Considers the Resident Evil 5 Racism ...

What message is being sent over this controversy?  How do you explain that in a game/movie killing white people is good but killing black people is bad? Why were Spainards not offended when RE4 came out? 

 

I've always been wary of people who get offended at everything with even a hint of racial undertones- they are often the same types who wear their "not racism" on their sleeve.  To me, they are just another type of racists- folk who try to find racism in EVERYTHING and use it to cover up their own obsession with skin color.

Re: Mainstream Media Considers the Resident Evil 5 Racism ...

'' mowing down a pack of poor, primitive disease challenged Africans... . The racist game reinforces the worst of the worst ancient stereotypes against and about Africans...''

 

 

'disease challenged...'

THATS what you call zombies now is it? that hes not a zombie, thats not PC, hes 'disease challenged'. Well you can shove your PC terms.

they are NOT 'disease challenged' they are crazed parasite infected monsters eager to smash your body to tiny pieces. Not once does the protagonist stop and say. 'hey caucasian zombie, you have a great day, im going to selectively choose to kill your black friend over there'. not ONCE.

it isnt a 'black person'.

it isnt a 'white person'.

it isnt a 'PERSON'.

when its charging toward you trying to smash out your brains, the colour of its skin is the LAST thing on your mind. It could be yellow with pink spots, if it wants to kill you, it gets shot before it can.

 

God this racism argument is SO lame. I got RE5 friday, and completed it. Not ONCE did i find the game 'disturbing' or 'racist'. I enjoyed it.

The game REALLY isnt racist. The people LOOKING for racism where there is none, are racist, assuming that there must be some negative statement being made about africans. There isnt. Its a game about a virus infecting humans.

Does the Progenitor Virus care if somebody is black / white / yellow? No. It doesnt even care if they are human or animal. Look at the other SIX games (not even including the on rails shooters or remakes or the 2 online outbreak games) besides this one. all infected. All killed if they try to attack.

Why suddenly in the SEVENTH game is it suddenly racist. What about all the races in the other six games (plus the other spin offs)?

Its no more racist than RE4 dressing up all the spaniards as a small village of grubby farmers. But no one cried out about that?. When it was americans in the first 3 was that racist? No.. so why is this?

If there was even ONE incident in the game that was racist fair enough, just ONE occasion when a black person is treated differently than any other. But there isnt. not ONE OCCASION. so its pretty hard for me to agree with the critics when they cant even name one paltry specific incident in the game.

 

Re: Mainstream Media Considers the Resident Evil 5 Racism ...

THATS what you call zombies now is it? that hes not a zombie, thats not PC, hes 'disease challenged'.

That's not what he's trying to do, he's basically saying AIDS or something like that, he's trying to link the zombies with the millions of people in Africa with AIDS. He's trying to say that zombie infection is an allegory for another disease and basically the point of the game is to slaughter innocent AIDS victims. In many ways he does have a point, I know that zombie infection has been used as an allegory for AIDS and such in films, but he's decided to see this game as racist from the start and no matter what will be said to defend the game he won't have any of it. Essentially he's going out of his way to find racism where it doesn't exist.

Re: Mainstream Media Considers the Resident Evil 5 Racism ...

Hmm well.. unless the entire res evil series has been about AIDS then he fails.. the very act of him saying this particular one IS whereas the rest are not is actually racist in itself. I mean that would be saying that

To be fair, i dont think creating super soldiers for sale to the highest bidder (the story behind the RE games)  would do to well if it were really representing the sale of super soldiers..infected.. with..aids...

Not having a go at you here btw. Just that its frustrating that, like you said, someone would go out of their way to find something to enable them to say they have spotted racism. Its frustrating that we cant ever move past racism, if people always force it to exist.

Re: Mainstream Media Considers the Resident Evil 5 Racism

The moral of the story is that black people can't be villains (sounds kinda racist doesn't it).

I really think Capcom should release a patch to make all the black zombies white, because then it would be interesting to see what the response from the critics would be, wouldn't that make them feel rather uneasy about the whole racist issue? It's okay to kill loads of white people but not black people. Essentially the content would be the same, but it would force these critics to ask some serious questions about the perceived racism. It's not going to happen (arguably it shouldn't happen), but I just can't but feel that the whole racist argument is actually racist (ie it's only racist if it's against black people).

Re: Mainstream Media Considers the Resident Evil 5 Racism

I agree here. It's been okay for countless games and movies to kill Caucasian zombies for years, but all of a sudden if you change the color of the zombie's skin, it's racist. There is hypocrisy there.

Re: Mainstream Media Considers the Resident Evil 5 Racism

I've actually seen a few well-thought-out arguments that RE5 could be construed as racist. Still disagree, but made me reconsider, at least. Hutchinson's type of argument = not thought out at all.

My personal opinion, of course.

Re: Mainstream Media Considers the Resident Evil 5 Racism

I've seen well-thought out arguments as well on scenes that could be construed as racist.  However, I'm about halfway through the game and I've see nothing so far that would make me consider it racist.  The scene where the white woman was grabbed has been changed; instead of an black African, she was grabbed by a white African.

It's a fun game.

Re: Mainstream Media Considers the Resident Evil 5 Racism

I'll take your word as someone who has played the game over someone who is just twisting in the wind about this any day. I haven't played it and don't intend to; not my type of game. I don't know why people are labelling it as racist without actually playing it.

Re: Mainstream Media Considers the Resident Evil 5 Racism

And immediately following that scene you fight the woman who is now a zombie and everyone in the room with her are also zombies. Soooo in context, it's nothing special.

Re: Mainstream Media Considers the Resident Evil 5 Racism

I get the feeling that all the "OMG ITS TEH RACIST" people haven't actually played the game... or Resident Evil 4 for that matter.

---You are likely to be eaten by a Grue.

---You are likely to be eaten by a Grue.

Re: Mainstream Media Considers the Resident Evil 5 Racism

While it's incorrect to say that Capcom intended to make Resident Evil 5 racist, it's more accurate to say Resident Evil 5 will offend people as it touches a sensitive subject for them.

Remember, just because something offends you and you see some message that others may not see doesn't mean it was made with that message in mind. I may be going out on a limb here, but it's like saying you see the Virgin Mary on a glass wall when other not-so-pious people just see a wavy pattern.

GameSnooper

Re: Mainstream Media Considers the Resident Evil 5 Racism

Agreed. They have no right to speak about racism because they missed their chance with RE4. Too late guys.

Re: Mainstream Media Considers the Resident Evil 5 Racism

The never do play the game though do they? They never have before so I don't see them starting anytime soon.  I think this is going to lead to another beating of the video game industry by the media, with little to no defence of the game.

 
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