Thursday, June 25, 2015

Regressive Progressivism and Fallout 4

There's a Bush and a Clinton fighting for the white house. Jurrasic Park is killing it at the box office. Mortal Kombat is being blamed for a massacre and DOOM is getting heat from cultural critics for its violence. I feel so very old and so very young at the same time.

The outrage du jour following E3 this year was accusations that Fallout 4 is 'transmisogynistic.' A word I don't understand (and that spellcheck doesn't recognize, but then spellcheck doesn't recognize spellcheck either), and I'll explain why later. All of this sparked over a second-long part of a clip of combat and features in Fallout 4, previewed at the pants-darkeningly exciting Bethesda event, their first ever major showing at the yearly trade show.

The clip, as you can see, features a man wearing a dress. This is big news for several reasons:
  1. Just taking into account the last couple of Fallout games, there were some really excellent outfits and armor sets that were gender-specific: The Merc Charmer outfit, for example, had a bulky steel collar and coat for male players, but placing it on a female character it had a miniskirt and leggings. Similarly, the Stylish Gambler's hat in New Vegas for men was a replica of Indiana Jones's fedora (found on a skeleton in a 50s-style refrigerator) for men, but for women it was an ugly veiled pillbox hat. 
  2. The appearance of a man in a dress in Fallout 4's trailer signifies that you are no longer restricted by gender as to what clothing you wish to wear. For immersion and gameplay, this should be a huge step forward. You would think progressive-minded folk with a penchant for gender activism would be celebrating this. You would even think they'd go so far as to realize that you can now play as one biological sex that identifies as another gender.
But no. The logic is that Bethesda was using the imagery to express 'lol man in a dress is funny.' Nearly the exact words.  Meanwhile, actual trans people are pretty happy about this. (For example, the editrix of this blog. -- Erin)

And even if we're looking at this as just 'man in a dress,' one of the more irritating aspects of this particular outrage is that activists have a habit of erasing the progress that the drag queen/transvestite community has had in making things like breaking gender roles, homosexuality, and transgender more acceptable to the mainstream. Back in my teenage and early 20s, I had friends in the drag community, both gay and straight, and I saw the shit they put up with from ignorant and bigoted people, and it seriously rubs me the wrong way when people claiming the moral high ground shit upon them from a very great height.

And transmisogynistic? To borrow a phrase of theirs, the word itself is problematic. I believe this should (theoretically) fall under 'transphobic', as the word transmisogynistic a) excludes female-to-male transition and b) smacks of one ideology co-opting another group's concerns for their own. That's right, hashtagtivists, I speak your language. Fluently. I'd tell you to check your privilege, if I were capable of doing it with a straight face.

But it comes down to this: Fallout did it first. Those same slacktivists throwing a ticker-tape parade over Fire Emblem having same-sex marriage? Fallout 2 had same-sex marriage. A gay character? Go talk to Arcade Gannon in New Vegas or Carol and Greta the Lesbian ghouls in Fallout 3. Or Flak (and possibly Shrapnel) in Rivet City. I'm only surprised it took so long to ditch gender-specific clothing, and I'm happy it has, as there are some snazzy suits that Justine will look totally badass wearing. 

Fallout has a long history of being open to new ideas, and attacking it for making progress in an area like this isn't progressive, it's regressive.

Also, as a sidenote: I'm sick of hearing about flags, too.

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