Sunday, January 24, 2016

CRES's Thoughts On: Anita Sarkeesian's Strategic Butt Coverings or Is Anita REALLY Going to Spend 5 Minutes Talking About Character's Asses!?

Are you F*&^ING KIDDING ME!?
Well it's that time again, It's been 4 months since Anita released her previous video in her "Tropes VS Women in Video Games" series and it's high time she released another video before she disappears into the aether of public awareness. So what is it this time Anita? Half an hour about the Sexy Sidekick like what was promised during your Positive Female Characters video? A multi-part series about how "Unattractive Equals Evil" or about the likewise contradictory "Sexy Villainess"? Or will you finally bit the bullet and give us what we are REALLY after and do "The Fighting F*&K Toy"? What is this new video?... STRATEGIC BUTT COVERINGS!? ARE YOU F*&KING KIDDING ME ANITA!!??!? This wasn't even on your original video list, and now you are going to talk about "Butt Coverings"? And this is only 5 minutes long.

Okay, it seems that Anita realized that taking over THREE Years to finish a project that was suppose to be done in six months is just a LITTLE slow, and so she "promised" to complete the series this year. However, this means that her videos are going to be completely different from what she had promised and each will only be a few minutes long. Anita said that it's taking so long because of the amount of "Research" she has to do, but I highly doubt that any amount of research that can be dismantled in only a few minutes after listening to the argument can't have taken that long. But anyway, since this is another short video I'm going to have Anita talk and then I will try to destroy her points as she spends the next 5 minutes talking about a bunch of asses.

"That's right, I'm being paid to talk about men's asses."
If you want to get to know a character, learn about their interests, goals, or desires, their butt is probably not going to give you that information. It won’t tell you much about who they are, or what they’re thinking or feeling at any given time.
Agreed. And so does 99.99999999999999999% of the population, staring as someone's ass isn't going to tell you much about that person's personality. Why does this need to be said?
But video game designers often choose to put tremendous focus on the butts of certain characters, while going to almost absurd lengths to avoid calling attention to the butts of others. These carefully crafted choices developers make about camera angles and clothing significantly impact how players think about and relate to these characters.
Are you SURE about that? Do you really think that most gamers look at the prevalence of T and A shots of female characters and think "Oh I get to see Lara's ass; therefore, the entirety of her character must be her ass." or "I can't see Batman's ass; therefore, Batman is a complete and complex character with a deep lore and personal conflict." Do you realize how dumb this sounds?

Oh no. Lara's back is in front of me. I am see a full view of her ass!
Third-person games with female protagonists typically display those characters in a way that gives players a full-body view.
Third-person games typically display characters in a way that gives players a full-body view ANYWAY! Because the better you can see the character the EASIER it is to play them, and this is true regardless of the gender of the protagonist.
A classic example of this is the original Tomb Raider games, which are presented from a third-person perspective wherein protagonist Lara Croft’s entire body is visible. In these early Tomb Raider games, Lara’s butt is typically right in the center of the screen, a camera orientation which, along with the sexualized clothing the designers chose to outfit her in, places a tremendous amount of emphasis on that part of her body.
Her butt is also a square block that only takes up a small portion of the screen, as you can tell in the above screenshot. Seriously, you are more taken in with the entirety of Lara or the environment around her than you are of Lara's square pointy ass.
In dozens of third-person games with playable female characters, the character’s butt is brought to the forefront and that’s where the player’s focus is directed. In Batman: Arkham City for instance, the player’s gaze is drawn to Catwoman’s behind, which is emphasized by her costume and exaggerated hip sway.
First of all, Catwoman. Catwoman is a comic book character who uses her sex appeal to enthrall her opponents. She is suppose to be sexualized in more everything she does, and as Thunderf00t pointed out criticizing Catwoman for moving like a cat is like criticizing Spider-man for moving like a spider. Secondly, "In dozens of third-person games with playable female characters." "Dozens"? Doesn't really sound like a wide spread phenomenon when you phrase it like a small percentage out of a small percentage of games. In fact, let's go through these games as they come up shall we?
Golden Axe: Beast Rider makes extremely sure that we notice the protagonist’s butt just before we take control and start playing.
Okay, who actually remembers Golden Axe: Beast Rider? You know, that crappy God of War clone that tried to revive the legendary Golden Axe franchise from the 80s? Yeah, I didn't think so. This game was terrible and no one is even wasting brain cells trying to think about it so how is this game influencing the medium?
And here in Tomb Raider: Underworld, to say that Lara’s butt is being emphasized would be putting it mildly.
Just because YOU are focusing on Lara's butt, doesn't mean the game is or anyone playing the game is. Stop talking about your own personal experiences of looking at fictional character's rear-ends.
And this happens all too often.
How often? Because thus far you've only talked about, Golden Axe: Beast Rider, Wet, Remember Me, Tomb Raider, X-blades, Lollipop Chainsaw, and Bayonetta, several of which are either terrible games no one even remembers, or require the player to move the camera to get those shots, and Bayonetta which I must remind you opened like this. In fact, you yourself stated that only a dozen of third person games do this? So less then 12 in a industry of millions of games?

Dante's coat. Keeping his ass covered since 2001.
Let’s contrast the way that women’s butts are emphasized with the sometimes absurd lengths taken to cover up or hide men’s butts. If some of this footage looks jerky, that’s because in some games, trying to get a glimpse of male characters’ butts can feel a bit like wrestling with the camera.
That's right. Anita is being PAID to look at men's asses.
Common ways men’s butts are hidden are by preventing the player from seeing below the character’s waistline, or employing a more over-the-shoulder camera angle, which has the added benefit of keeping the character’s butt safely out of the frame.
That's because when you are trying moving the camera below the character's waistline, the game thinks you are trying to see what is above you, no because it thinks you want a full frontal shot of the character's posterior. In fact, if the game DID give you a full view of the character's tush, it would likely obscure what is above you (this is the same for male AND female characters). As for the "over-the-shoulder" camera angle, that because those are third-person SHOOTERS rather than third-person ACTION games. It's like comparing apples to oranges. In Action games you need a full 360 degree view of everything around you so you can react to enemies coming in. In SHOOTERS you need more focus in front of you in order to aim. Hence why there are different camera angles for these games. It has NOTHING to do with hiding a male character's buttock.
The most amusing solution is to simply include a cape, tunic, long coat or very conveniently positioned piece of tattered fabric which actively prevents the player from getting a clear or sustained look at the protagonist’s butt.
This is silly. Does Anita really think that the only reason Dante, Nero, and Vergil wear long coats is to keep the player from looking at their bottoms!? No the reason why these gentlemen from Devil May Cry wear long coats is because it LOOK COOL AS HELL! That's it!
For the purposes of this video I tried to get a glimpse of Batman’s rear end, but it’s as if his cape is a high-tech piece of Wayne Industries equipment designed to cover up his butt at all costs.
Remember these words every time Anita or some one else claims these are "academic" papers. Also Anita here is more than just a glimpse at Batman's rear end thanks to the capeless Batman Beyond costume. LOOK AT THAT ASS!

I bet Anita will find some way to dismiss this piece of male derriere.
I like to jokingly refer to this aspect of a male character’s costume as the strategic butt covering.
Apparently it isn't QUITE a joke if you are going to make a video about it.
Of course, not all games with male protagonists keep the character’s butt obscured or out of frame like these games do. The real issue is one of emphasis and definition; a significant portion of third-person games with female protagonists call attention to those characters’ butts in a way that’s meant to be sexually appealing to the presumed straight male player.
Yes Anita, straight male gamers like looking at female butts. And guess what the target demographic for these games are? That right, male gamers and a overwhelming portion of them happen to be straight. So of course, straight male gamers are going to be more interest in looking at female asses than male asses. Just like you seem to be far more interested in looking at male asses, even when you are suppose to be doing research.
In this regard, the way that women’s bodies are depicted is significantly different from the way that men’s bodies are depicted.
*GASP* The horror. Men and women are being depicted differently because one is sexually attractive to the target audience.

*GASP* An uncovered male ass! Oh wait, Anita can rationalize this away.
There are a few examples of male protagonists who are wearing clothing that calls attention to their butts but for the most part, men’s butts, even when visible in the frame, are deemphasized. Plenty of male heroes wear baggy pants or jeans, Uncharted’s Nathan Drake among them, but nothing about his visual design or the jeans he’s wearing encourages you to focus on his butt as some sort of defining aspect of his character.
I don't know. There seems to be a lot more detail on Nathan's tush then there was on Lara's that you showed earlier.
By contrast, the emphasis placed on the butts of female characters communicates to players that this is what’s important, this is what you should be paying attention to.
I disagree. I forget about Bayonetta's amazing ass the moment I have to start eliminating angels. Apparently, the emphasis on the butts of female characters completely disappears when the actual GAMEPLAY starts.
It communicates that the character is a sexual object designed for players to look at and enjoy.
And once again Anita retreads the Women as Rewards territory. Just because YOU think the sexualization of female characters translates to them being nothing more than a sexual object for players to look at and enjoy, doesn't mean actual GAMERS view such characters in a limited and derogatory way.
And by explicitly encouraging you to ogle and objectify the character, the game is implicitly discouraging you from identifying directly with her.
Again, just because YOU do this to female characters in video games, doesn't mean EVERYONE does. I for one CAN identify with the struggles of say Bayonetta, especially in Bayonetta 2 where her quest is simply to save the life of her best friend. I identify with the struggles of the cast of Senran Kagura, even though all of them show off their tits and asses every chance they get. Just because there is fanservice doesn't mean there can be actual character.
Strategic butt coverings and camera angles that obscure or de-emphasize male characters’ rear ends are not an accident; they are a conscious decision made with great care, and the flipside of this is that designers often do the opposite when the protagonist is female.
HOW DO YOU KNOW THAT!? Who did you interview to get that piece of information!? Which game developer said as much!? Batman has a cape not to cover his ass, but because it is an iconic piece of his costume. Dante has a long coat not because he needed a Strategic Butt Covering, but rather because on of the designers of the original Devil May Cry thought it looked cool (you can see elements of Dante's original design in the in-game move descriptions). This is another instance of Anita talking out of her strategic butt covering without a shred of evidence.
This difference in how male and female characters are framed often extends into the advertisements and box covers. Women’s butts are front and center, and it’s even become a depressing joke that their bodies are twisted and contorted in uncomfortable or unnatural ways so that their breasts and butt can be visible in the same shot. In contrast, when men are depicted from behind, there is great effort taken to cover up their rear end, often with other images or shadows.
*GASP* The horror. Fictional character are being contorted in order to appeal to their targeted demographic. Seriously Anita, Comic Book are FAR worse in this regard, and after several months you STILL don't get advertisements. Also, the games you are demonstrating happen to have female characters who use their sexuality as weapons. Of course this element of their character is going to be displayed in some way.
Of course, female characters can also be framed in ways that aren’t objectifying. A good example of this is the episodic adventure game Life Is Strange, in which the protagonist’s butt isn’t emphasized or centralized; the camera angles work in conjunction with the story to encourage us to identify with her as a human being.
And I identify Bayonetta as a human being as well. What is with you and believing that as soon as we see a person's ass, the remainer of their personality evaporates into a puff of sexual objectification. Characters can show their rump and STILL be a complete person. Life Is Strange differs because it is NOT an action game. Once again Anita, you are comparing apples to oranges.

Jade's well defined ass. But it's okay, because Anita likes the game.
Sadly, the box art for the third-person action-adventure game Beyond Good & Evil emphasizes and sexualizes Jade’s butt.
Oh my god. I guess Beyond Good & Evil is on the naughty "Not Safe For Feminists" list.
The game itself, however, demonstrates that the Nathan Drake approach of outfitting a character in clothing that doesn’t emphasize their butt and not having the camera center it or focus on it can work just as well to humanize female characters as it does for male characters.
Okay, so you can ignore sexualizations if it applies to a character you LIKE, because let's be fair, Jade's fanny is about as defined as Lara Croft's and if Lara gets thrown into the fire for showing off her behind, then Jade has to be destroyed for the same reason. But no, Anita chose the game as her personal savoir and thus it is immune to criticism. Much like Anita herself.
So to be clear, the solution here is not to simply show more butts of male characters. Equal opportunity butt display is definitely not the answer.
Rather, the solution is to deemphasize the rear ends of female characters, so that players are encouraged not to ogle and objectify these women, but to identify and empathize with them as people. This is not an impossible task given that game designers do this all the time with their male characters. It’s time they started consistently doing it with their female characters, too.
 People has asses Anita. It's just some of us don't talk out of them like you do. And most people can identify with characters regardless of how much their ass is shown to us or not.

It took her this long to talk about Bayonetta, and all she focused on was her ass?
Anyway, The problem with this video is the same problem as her "Women as Rewards" video. Just because some female characters have elements of fan service to their design or personality, doesn't detract from the character as a whole. Bayonetta is a character designed to appeal to a male audience and that isn't a problem, unless you have a problem with sexuality in general. The other problem this video has is how LIMITED it's criticism actually is. There are only about 10 games in her reference list (Three of which are Tomb Raider games) that actually portray what it is she is talking about, and of those game only a handful are actually well regarded in the gaming community. And THOSE games (Tomb Raider, Heavenly Sword, and Bayonetta) are popular more for their GAMEPLAY. Sure, Tomb Raider was highly praise for having a female protagonist, and Bayonetta is beloved by fans all over the world for it's sheer over-the-top action. But more than that they are all highly regarded because they are FUN GAMES TO PLAY! The presence of female asses play very LITTLE in the actual enjoyment of said games (except for Bayonetta and that's only because it is SO ridiculous).

Once again, Anita doesn't understand games. These games have sexy heroines because male gamers like PLAYING as sexy heroines, and male gamers are the vast majority of people playing THESE games. That doesn't mean female gamers are not allowed to play these games, hell female gamers might even enjoy playing as Bayonetta in-spite of or maybe even BECAUSE OF her sexualized nature. But let's be honest, Anita doesn't play these games. She doesn't WANT to play these games, and she wants to make sure no one else can play these games. Anyway, according to her there are 7 more videos to go through before this series is over. Will she actually finish within the year? Probably not.

Source of this Atrocity:

Until Next Time.

-CRES, you knew I had to.


  1. I feared you were losing your sanity when you would have review this video.

    I saw her video through Margaret MacLennan's one, I reisted to bang my head against the wall. The stupidity in this video is baffling,she argues designer are shy to show men's but Metal Gear Solid 2 with Raiden's being naked and are his and snake's suits are very skintight. Deadpool's video games you have a full screen of his crotch and ass, can we mention spider-man game or any third. I can add Final fantasy 14 or DC universe where you can dress your male avatar with very skintight suit and see their butt.

    It's obvious she has no fucking knowledge about the games she speaks about, she just spiting her propaganda. It's more obvious when you make a comparison between her early videos and now.

    This video is a fucking insult to any sane person, she violate Kickstarter's TOS, it's not new but now it's up to eleven.Labelled as academic or educational is moronic. Any debate about sexism in video games valid or not cannot be taken seriously from now.

    1. You'd think she would have had some self-awareness when she had to write a script where every sentence out of her mouth would have the word "Butt" in it. But hey, this is the same woman who thinks achievements are sexist, and that the less you think you are affected by media the more affected you are.