Melissa sent in a trailer for the video game, inFAMOUS2. The game features a white male protagonist who is advised by a bad influence and a good influence. Melissa notes that these are a black woman dressed skimpily and a white woman dressed (relatively) modestly, respectively. So here we have, again, an affirmation that black is bad and white is good.
Trailer (2 minutes):Lisa Wade, PhD is an Associate Professor at Tulane University. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture; a textbook about gender; and a forthcoming introductory text: Terrible Magnificent Sociology. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram.
Selidor — February 27, 2011
I think the 'good influence' character is actually Asian rather than white (there are clearer images of her here: http://infamous.wikia.com/wiki/Kuo) although this plays into the stereotype of Asians as a 'model minority' so it doesn't make things any better.
Mantis Toboggan, MD — February 27, 2011
I don't want this to be comsidered a personal attack, but Melissa appears to be crying racism where there is none to be found.
I see nothing posted to indicate that the company has a history of making only black characters "bad", so right now, we need to accept that this one instance of a "bad" black character is racism.
If we said that blacks could not be used as "bad" characters, wouldn't that be even more racist? I find this alternative to be far worse - a predetermined video game social code that would make it so that only white charaters could play the role of villain.
So unless there is some proof, or background with the videogame company that I am unaware of, that shows a pattern of racism, this appears not to be an issue.
Sara — February 27, 2011
Uhm. The fuck.
iliketurtles — February 27, 2011
In the first Infamous one of the main characters that assists the protagonist and advocates for the "good/help humanity" ending is a black man and the Judas betrayer type is a fat white guy.
Not saying anyone's interpretation is right or wrong, after all there's a bit of the exoticized-tribal-ish-sexualized-black-woman thing going on, but there's a bit more context.
And generally speaking, none of us should really judge a 30 hour narrative from a trailer.
Casey — February 27, 2011
This post is offensive.
Anonymous — February 27, 2011
Of course I agree with you, Melissa.
If I recall well, there's in Economics some term to denote when a seller, merchant, vendor, uses an already established consumer pattern. For example, from about 33 world wide cola soft drinks, about 29 have the surname "cola" or its equivalent phonetic, notwithstanding that currently the kola nut is not used anymore in the concoctions at all, but following the pull on the consumer of the term impulsed, merchandised and extended and imposed by the two big one oligopolistic brands in the mind of said consumer.
Well, as long as there exist countries with high consumerism where the major religions have impulsed, merchandised and extended and imposed the notion of that their majority's god is "Light", white implicitly, or so, and "evil" is "the forces of darkness", and the "curse of Ham" has been seen as appliable to dark skinned peoples, there will be a lot of products maintaining the archetype of white, caucasian or caucasian-ed = good, dark, and black = bad and evil to sell better, using that free already made publicity.
Valerio — February 27, 2011
AGAIN an affirmation that black is evil. AGAIN? There are countless white villains, haven't you noticed? From movie-nazis to Lex Luthor, from The Joker to Baba Yaga, white villains outnumber black (or asian) ones 100 to 1. This is a fact. Have you ever been to movies? Have you ever read a comic?
Valerio — February 27, 2011
They are overvhelmingly white because done by generally white culture. Take a look at the "negritos fiesta" of peru: the evil is white (a spanish).
Valerio — February 27, 2011
The assertion, here, is in the post: "again an affirmation..." where is the fact here? and take a look to the market destination. Again, negritos fiesta in peru.
m — February 27, 2011
You could also see that it ciocides with class; the white woman dresses and talks in a way that has associations with the middle class, while the black woman dresses and acts like a stereotypical slum woman.
Valerio — February 27, 2011
@Lance. By fact i mean something that's real and that you can verify: go, and try my affirmation.
Does black villains outnumber black heroes? Not in marvel nor in DC comics, for example (verify). Nor in this very game. So, my friend, i am afraid that your argument isn't well built, as the premise of this post. That is very offensive to the videogame maker, and without a reason.
FarMcKon — February 27, 2011
I find it interesting to watch how quickly accusations of racism/sexism/stereotype-ism are being thrown about based on a 30 second video clip, or on a 3 sentence comments on this page. In general this weblog so often does a good job of research and backing thoughtful commentary with solid information. Unfortunately this post and it's comments so far, are not living up to that standard of quality.
Willow — February 27, 2011
Also present: modesty (chastity) = good; exposure (sluttiness) = bad. Of course, this assumes nothing mysteriously "happens" to the good character's clothing over the course of the game.
As for the people saying "Oh, it's not racism, it's just how societies all are"--may I direct you to Dark Is Not Evil, particularly the mythology and Real Life sections, and Light Is Not Good.
Eneya — February 28, 2011
I am not American, so my point of view is highly limited to music, movies, tv series, comics and video games.
There are lots of stereotypical villains in movies (mainly in old action movies) but a lot less in games (maybe because they are a lot newer and thus, a lot less made in the spirit of casual racism that brought us stuff like "24").
In books... and in comics, I would criticise comics and supernatural orientated stories because they rarely research other cultures before exotising them.
But in games... and this particular game, I do not agree with you.
I mean... because women in culture were used to symbolise chaos and evil or used as moral compas, not presented as humans, are we also supposed to be offended by the fact that both good and evil are women?
I think that in order to be critical here, it would have been better if someone has played the game.
There are outrageous racist thins out there for sure. But not always and not everyone.
Ronan — February 28, 2011
Without knowing the game, in this short trailer I saw less "evil vs good" than "fun vs your mom". With this in mind (and having read this blog for only a few month) I found your conclusion rather contrived.
Bannef — February 28, 2011
Oh for goodness sake... You guys, this is what sociology IS. Taking lots of small examples and showing something larger with them. Did the poster say that this proves this company is a super evil racist? Did anyone say that? If you want more examples comb through the African American or race tags on this blog, or just read pretty much anything written on race and stereotypes.
KE — February 28, 2011
First of all a pattern of racism isn't needed to justify a racist act. The problem with this video game is that it perpetuates an already looming stereotype. No it wouldn't be fair to only have one race as the heroine/hero all the time but that is what happens in society. Very rarely do you find a black person in any media depiction that is seen in a positive or an "in control" light. The best you usually get is sidekick and the most common depiction is violent and uneducated. This is the stereotype that this video game displays prominently. This video game is indeed racist and it adds to an already prominent racist media image. I am in no way arguing that the people who created this are racist (they may very well just be victims of media misinformation) but what they created is racist and needs to be recognized as such. Please don't respond to this with example of black characters being the good guys, I know they're out there but the point is that the depictions of black people as violent and ignorant far outnumber them.
Links That Will Change Your World | Ted Paulson -- Sociology blog — March 5, 2011
[...] TheSocietyPages.org Good eye opener on seeing racism in everyday items. [...]
Tim — June 29, 2014
Having actually played the game, if anything it's actually worse than the picture implies, with the "white" woman a stereotypically businesslike Chinese woman who gets ice powers in a way that's described in incredibly rapey terms (lol Asian ice queen do you see) and the black woman is a colossally dim and irritating person who lives for pointless destruction and controls what appears to be crude oil or tar (lol tar baby do you see). This is "solved" by having the bad guy a ludicrously overblown strawman racist capitalist so all the inanactivists playing can slap themselves on the back for not being him.
Anthony — February 1, 2015
Actually, in inFamous, as with most games, the developers found that the "evil" choice was the most popular option by far. I don't know if there's a corollary there, but it would seem that by placing the black character in the more popularly chosen category, the developers could have been subtly forcing their target audience (predominantly 20-35 year old white males) to interact in a meaningful way with a person of colour.