I'm sure most of you know that I have a geek side to me but I'm not sure if you guys realize the extent of my geekdom. I like alot of geeky things. I collected D.C and Marvel cards when I was younger, read comic books and manga, watched anime, and most of all play videogames. I'm sad to say I haven't changed much (but I don't collect cards anymore). Most people are shocked when they find out how much of a nerd I am because I guess I don't really exude that vibe but I am.
Now because of my nerdyness I feel like I have a pretty good handle on the next topic. But first I am going to share a story with you.
I was recently playing a video game called Mass Effect (It's a sci fi rpg on the 360 that is freaking awesome. If you haven't played it you should and if you have, get the 2nd one too!) and my little cousin was watching me play. In the game, you can create your own specific character design. I created a character that was a black female (naturally since I am one). My little cousin took one look and asked me, "Can you make your own person in this game?" I replied 'yes'. He nods and responds "I thought so because there is no way they'd have a black girl as the main person"
I was shocked by how astute his observation was. This led me to think of black people in videogames/anime and they're existence in the virtual reality world.
I always wondered why in anime, specifically the ones in the 80's-early 90's (Think Sailor Moon, Revolutionary Girl Utena, The Roses of Versaille,etc) ,featured people with very Caucasian features as major characters and yet these cartoons where created by Asians? Or even video games. If you've ever played any of the games in the Final Fantasy franchise, (specially final fantasy 12), most characters have fair hair and fair eyes.Now, there is nothing wrong with that but I've always noticed it. Perhaps its because popular media from the Western world (which admittedly is dominated by whites) would be a huge influence on these people. So add that on top of the fact that most of the media I indulge in is produced by Asian/white developers and the representations can get sort of screwed.
But I'm not just blaming them-I'm blaming us too. We allow ourselves to be portrayed stupidly on television (example-watch an hour of VH1 reality television or Maury). Sure, we can blame the media for only showing this side of us and not the affluent African Americans we never hear about, but there comes a point when maybe we have to put the blame on ourselves to allow these images to be circulated through out the world then be surprised when a foreigner depicts us in such a way. Also-unfortunately, (I can say this because I'm black), a lot of black people have a stick up their butt for no reason. I'm not saying other races don't but if my boss, who's a black woman, tells me that she loves black people but sometimes we can be just plain mean to others as well as each other-something is bat shit wrong.
I'm so afraid now that these stereotypes and depictions are so far ingrained in our culture that we can't even dig ourselves out of it. It's a double edged sword. Because if we act ghetto, mean, and uneducated it's expected but if we act normal, educated, nice, then we are being weird and assimilators. But I digress.
In the typical video game and/or anime we are usually either portrayed like Mr. Popo in DBZ (completely black, featureless besides for bright red/pink lips and white eyes ala black face) or some jive turkey cool cat gangster type. *sigh*. And its considered okay and not offensive.We mainly fit into these roles:
*Tough, big, slightly imposing, but loveable black guy (Think Barret In FF7)
*Funny, comic relief sidekick
*Hyper sexualized, tough, power bitch (Afro Diva-Cowboy Bebop)
*Dark skinned, light haired, not really sure if they are black but we'll just throw them in there so we can have someone ethnic looking-girl.
*Jive turkey Villain
I mean, Nadia The Secret of the Blue Water, the main characters (who's name is central African) is black and the writers/developers originally drew her with kinky hair but they instead made it wavy because they didn't think Japanese people would take her as a main character.
In the upcoming FF13, one of the sidekicks-who is a black guy-carries around a little bird in his 'bird nest' hair and is the comic relief. Maybe I'm taking it all too seriously but c'mon!
I attribute all of this to plain simple lack of exposure. But it IS getting better. I've started to notice a lot of newer anime/manga has a more positive representation of blacks which makes me think we are going in the right direction. (Which may make future cosplaying easier. Although I haven't had the guts to cosplay yet...might be too nerdy).
I'm definitely going to make a pt. 2, probably regarding the Princess and The Frog and other animations I wanted to cover but I ended up not getting to. This was really just skimming the topic but I would like to go more in depth. Anyways, I want your opinion. White or Black, offensive or not. Talk to me.
(BTW-if any of you have a 360 you should totally give me your GT and I'll message you)