Thursday, January 14, 2010

Bayonetta: In Control

Inspired by a recent Sexy Videogameland entry, and sorta reposted from a comment I made.

I've seen the word "leering" used a lot in criticism of the more sexually-charged camera angles. I think that word is far to strong for what's going on in this game. Bayonetta is a sexy game, and Platinum wants you to know it. Bayonetta herself certainly knows it. There's the blowing kisses to break barriers, the hair thing, the fact that she's dropping innuendo in her dialog left and right, and the fact that almost all of these sexually suggestive poses the game puts her through end with a coy wink at the camera. She's aware of her sexuality, and she certainly seems aware that we're watching. To put it bluntly, she wants it. She's in control. She's not being victimized. To me, that's not leering.

Imagine if in, say, Half Life 2, Alyx Vance was sexualized in a similar way, but was still the same person. Put her in skimpy outfits (even skimpier outfits to be unlocked upon completion of the game), upgrade her breasts to TITS (as Penny Arcade put it), put her in sexually suggestive poses, have her get tentacle-raped, what have you. No winking at the camera, just same old Alyx Vance with some tarting up. I think this would be what I would call leering. Sexuality isn't part of her character. Other than Eli joking about her and Gordon makin' grandkids, it's almost never brought up. The game would be effectively forcing this "strong female character" into becoming a sex object. Bayonetta isn't being forced into anything. Bayonetta is titillating, but I really feel like it's an entirely different thing.

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