Posted by GP on Twitter this morning: Game press commentary on RE5 issue perplexes me. Can a white guy even have an opinion on whether something is offensive to black people?
The controversy over whether there is racism in Resident Evil 5 continues to bounce around the media.
Variety’s Ben Fritz pens a review of the game (he didn’t like it so well) and, near the end, touches on the race issue:
The racial imagery is disturbing at times. No, that doesn’t mean the game is "racist." Racism is the belief that race is a determining factor in human capacity and that some are superior to others. That’s a tall order for a game and certainly not one "RE 5" fulfills.
But the game does contain some disturbing imagery reminiscent of the violent colonial past… you’re the white solder, walking through their villages, murdering every single one of them…
Does that mean you can’t make an action game set in Africa, even with a White protagonist and Black enemies? Of course not. It just means you have to address the issue in some way because it’s real and unavoidable…
Is it unfair that you have to address the race issue differently for a game set in Africa than for what was essentially the same game set in Spain? Sure. But, you know, colonialism was unfair too. Such is the reality of the world in which we live.
Meanwhile, in a lengthy post, Stephen Totilo of MTV Multiplayer writes that his concerns about the RE5 race issue have faded:
Watching the [E3 2007] trailer again, it still made me feel uneasy. I still didn’t like the fantasy it portrayed…
In the game, however, I saw something different. The white vs. black racial dichotomy was gone. The infected people looked infected. The characters who once looked like poor Africans whom I didn’t want to shoot now looked like undead menaces I needed to stop to stay alive.
I don’t know if I have changed. I don’t think I have. But what I’ve seen of the game has changed. The game gives a different feeling than the trailer. It uses race and color differently. That’s worth more discussion, and I hope people will engage with it.