|MY GOD! She is wearing a different plaid shirt!|
|It was love at first sight, unfortunately Pacman has no eyes.|
But regardless of why she chose to create a new trope name when a pre-existing and far more prevalent name exists, Anita begins with the story of Ms. Pacman and later asks, in regards to Pacman and Ms Pacman up top, the question: "How do we know what gender a particular character is? Other than their names, how do we know that the collection of pixels on the right signal male while those on the left indicate female?" She goes on to state that Ms. Pacman is merely Pacman with feminine iconography paste all over her, The lipstick, the mascara, the beauty mark, and of course the bow on top. Which she isn't wrong that is pretty much what Ms. Pacman is, but what I disagree with is the notion that Pacman by design is gendered male.
"Other than their names, how do we know that the collection of pixels on the right signal male?" They DON'T, and this is my primary point of contention with Anita's video, she goes on and on about all these female signifiers, but pays NO ATTENTION to any and all MALE SIGNIFIERS! In the case of Pacman, there are no male signifiers. He is just a yellow circle with a chunk removed, the only reason why we know he is male is because of his name and Anita for the purpose of this example told us to ignore their names. In fact, the only reason anyone would think that Pacman is male in the picture above is because Ms. Pacman is obviously female and that they are in love. Then again Pacman could be a lesbian.
|Little did everyone know that Nana was the boy all along!|
|Male? Female? How the Hell should I know?|
|With 100 agents, I'm sure there is at least one other girl somewhere.|
|The ONLY Female Toad? Anita, can you at least TRIED to pretend to have done your research?|
There are several other small nonsensical points she makes in her video, such as talking about the Adam and Eve story for some reason, and complaining about Mass Effect using the male Shepard in all of their promotional material, forgetting or ignoring the fact that the generic "John Shepard" was created for promotional material and for gamers who didn't want to go through the process of character creation, and that it wasn't until Mass Effect 3 where they had a default "Jane Shepard" and where used her in promotional material as well, but largely these are irrelevant tangents, neither aiding nor even expanding her initial topic. But what I want to make clear in this closing is not just that she doesn't do sufficient research on her topic that is the problem, nor that she ignores the game's context and tone to make her point even when in it's proper context and with recognition of the game's tone her complaints ring hollow, nor that all of her arguments have easy to destroy counter arguments, it's the fact that she contradicts herself FREQUENTLY!
She complains about gender signifiers like makeup and earrings, while wearing makeup and earrings herself. She lists several characters who "Don't use gender signifiers to identify them as female" ignoring the more subtle gender signifiers such as facial features and even overt signifiers like the presence of breasts that she routinely makes a deal about portraying. And most baffling of all she has frequently said, in her Tedx talks and in various interviews that the gaming culture at large are AND I QUOTE: "trying to maintain the status quo of video games as a male dominated space and all of the privileges and entitlements that come with an unquestioned boys club." BUT at the start of her Ms. Male Character video she not only said that: "Toru Iwatani, the creator of Pac-Man, has stated in numerous interviews that the game was designed to appeal to women" but also that Midway created Ms. Pacman "in an effort to continue appealing to female gamers." (I added the emphasis.) So Ms. Sarkeesian, which is it? Are we trying to keep women out of gaming, or are we trying to appeal to female gamers?
In closing, FINALLY, Anita Sarkeesian's video makes no sense on the basis that she never made her complaints clear. Sure she complained about female characters having bows or a heart motif to their design and or weapondry, but never explained why that is a problem. Some girls like the color pink, some girls like being girly, if such people exist in real life what's wrong with portraying characters like that in fictional media like video games, especially games that target younger demographics like the Sonic games, Ice Climbers, and even Pacman and Ms. Pacman? It might be a problem if this was the only representation of female characters but it is not. And so what if the female character originates from a male template. Sometimes the female variate becomes far more popular than the male variate. More people love Ms. Pacman than Pacman, Toadette is far more interesting a character than Toad, and people where genuinely excited to see Dixie Kong return in Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze. Just because a female character has female icons to identify their gender, or, as inspiration, was made off of the template of an existing male hero, doesn't invalidate a female character's popularity or influence. And lastly, please stop using Thomas Was Alone as an example of female characters. Don't get me wrong it's a great game and the story is charming, but the characterization and story in that game exists SOLELY in the narration. Change or remove that narration and you wouldn't be praising that game as much as you are now.
Sorry for the long post, Until next time.