This opinion piece is going to seem like a bit of a rant. It is. It’s also a response to a whole load of responses about Zero Suit Samus being given an alternate costume that is just short shorts/tikini hot pants outfit. So, here goes.
Zero Suit Samus
Now, don’t get me wrong, I was aware of the furore behind the original design of the Zero Suit, and I was okay with it. I saw what people were saying, but I was okay with it being just a shape-hugging suit. Then I did get a bit irked by just how shape-hugging it was, especially around the breast area (i.e. it wasn’t supporting anything, and just seemed to be more like body paint). Then comes the alternate costumes for Zero Suit Samus which was shared by the Smash Bros Facebook page.
If you start off with a piece about how “feminazi’s” are going to come and rage about a piece of content, chances are you already know what’s wrong. But that’s what went on with the Smash Bros official Facebook page. Unfortunately it is not an isolated incident.
Second of all, see Godwin’s Law. Yep, this actually starts out a fail.
Then of course there’s the actual problem of dismissing any argument that feminists have – which only goes to prove a major point of why feminism is needed (i.e. for women to actually have a voice to be heard). You don’t have to agree with it, but to reject even the concept of it is not only disrespectful but also harmful to everyone (imagine you have a female family member and she tries to report something serious to male police officers who don’t take her seriously, because she’s a woman who is “probably doing it for attention”. I’m pretty sure you’d be wanting them to take her seriously then!).
Comments from bad arguments
If you read some of the fanbase respond to this, you’ll begin to see a pattern emerge. First and foremost – It is not YOUR game. It wasn’t built specifically for you. Others CAN have opinions on it. Women play Smash Bros too. You don’t have to listen to others opinions, but when you start devaluing them by being hostile and nasty, you’re not doing anyone any favours.
Then you’ll have those that repeatedly post the same reply on virtually every detractor’s comments “well, it’s canon, because it’s been in the games before”. This is a non-issue. People aren’t angry because it’s not canon. It’s because Samus has always been one of the more powerful female characters out there and people who like her for that feel betrayed that she seems to be changed to satisfy a young male audience, rather than being the kick-ass character that she is.
Stemming from the argument that “it’s okay because it’s canon”, is when people respond (seriously or not) about getting a shirtless Link or Ike. After all, if you’re going to do fan-service, at least do it for your female players as well. Alas, this idea has been attacked as well. “It’s not canon” as the excuse. Fact of the matter is, is that they didn’t HAVE to put a skimpy outfit for Zero Suit Samus any more than they didn’t HAVE to add Dark Samus (for which, they haven’t as of yet).
What I’m getting at with this point, is that it’s not all about you (the young male gamer). You can’t have it both ways – welcoming of content that suits your privilege while deriding ideas that other groups would enjoy.
Oh, and then there’s “funny” comments like these.
Attack of the young male gamers!
I wouldn’t be so perturbed if it wasn’t for the fact that it seems like it’s once again the male dominant commenters that make it impossible to actually have a reasonable discussion (in certain places at least). How do they do this? By making it a hostile environment – swarming at dissenting voices, personal abuse and using derogatory or inflammatory language about another group. And why do they do this? Is it because they feel “attacked” by an outside force? I can’t really see how that is possible…
One of the reasons why feminism is still an issue is because people refuse to believe that it is. There’s often a dismissal in a range of subjects from both consumers and creators. Consumers echoing “the creators can do what they want, leave them alone”. Funny how that doesn’t work the other way around though. As soon as it’s a piece targeted towards girls, for example Twilight (yes, I know it’s bad because of reasons to do with writing quality and representations of abusive relationships, etc…) then all of a sudden people feel that not only is it okay to criticise, but also okay to be abusive to the author, to the fans and to the text.
But in the end it doesn’t even matter
It’s done. The outfits are in the game. Do I dislike it? Yes. I think it is unnecessary and paints Samus in a way that is more objectified than previous incarnations of the character. Am I going to boycott the game? No. I’m still going to buy it and play it. So what’s the problem? The problem is that we need an environment which is open to discussion, not hostile towards other opinions. We need fans to be as critical of the choices we like as we are the choices we don’t. We need to see things from other’s perspectives, because this isn’t just a problem with videogames, this is a wider problem of our society.
There have been some that have tried to have an actual discussion on the topic, and I applaud you for doing so (on both sides of the debate). You’re what the internet and our society in general needs. Keep at it, and lets actually get some good stuff out of debates.
I should have updated this from when Shulk was first announced, but well, it’s here regardless.
It’s actually quite refreshing that we have now a male fighter which is just as ridiculously under-clothed. Despite the fact that I don’t think it really meets the tone of Smash, I think it’s actually a fairly good thing that (whether intentionally to quell allegations of sexism or whether it was planned from the start) we seem to not be just focusing on female scantily clad characters – it’s an equal opportunity semi-nude battle. Even though I don’t think the female gaze is equal to the male gaze (the male gaze seems far more predatory – say for example, the image to the right).
While I don’t think it’s a good thing that the fan service has steeped quite this low, I do find that the general comments from users on social media to be alarming – not just in regard to objectification of women, but also the support they receive from their peers. The pics to the right are on the Smash Bros Miiverse community under popular posts. And likewise, they’re from the past few days.