August 7, 2007

It is not racist for a white man to shoot a black man.

Think on that for a minute. Now, stop calling me a racist and listen.

Capcom recently released a trailer for the sixth main storyline installment of their Resident Evil (BioHazard in Japan) franchise. RE5 takes place in Haiti. Haiti is populated predominantly by black people. Now, if some crazy zombie-virus making company were to “accidentally” create a zombie-virus breakout in Haiti, what would most of the zombies look like? If you said “Haitians” you deserve a gold star. Logic dictates that the zombie population of an area will be primarily composed of the rotting corpses of the old population of an area. To prove this we need to look no further than Resident Evil 4. When Las Plagas (that’s Spanish for “The Plague”) infected an area of Spain, the vast majority (if not all) of the zombies were originally Spanish people. That game wasn’t racist either. It was internally consistent.

Kym Platt, a contributor to the Black Looks blog, thinks that the Resident Evil 5 trailer is racist. The problem with this view is that it is formed from ignorance. The trailer isn’t examined in the proper context – that of the Resident Evil video game series. Regarding the trailer she writes this.

“This is problematic on so many levels, including the depiction of Black people as inhuman savages, the killing of Black people by a white man in military clothing, and the fact that this video game is marketed to children and young adults. Start them young… fearing, hating, and destroying Black people.”

The black people in the trailer, as far as I can tell, aren’t depicted as inhuman savages until they are inhuman savages: zombies infected by the Umbrella Corporation’s zombie-virus. The white man in military clothing she mentions is none other than Chris Redfield – a now-recurring character in the series. Undoubtedly, Capcom took notice of Leon S. Kennedy’s popularity in Resident Evil 4 and sought to recreate their success. See, Leon is also a recurring character in the franchise; RE4 wasn’t his first time encountering the zombie hoards. As a matter of fact, Resident Evil 5 looks like a set and main character change for Resident Evil 4. The combat looks the same, the story (so far) feels similar (RE4: Spain has been turned into zombie country; clean it up! – RE5: Haiti has been turned into zombie country; clean it up!), and it features the same over-the-shoulder viewpoint as its predecessor.

What I really want to talk about, though, is racism in general. I said it at the beginning of this piece, and I’m saying it again now. It is not racist for a white man to shoot a black man. The act only becomes racist when the white man is shooting the black man because that black man is, in fact, black. Viewing the RE5 trailer it is painfully obvious that something isn’t right in that little Haitian village. One man is bleeding from his eyes. A crowd of people seem to be rioting and throwing things at a stage. And a few seconds later everybody is attacking the player character. Common sense says “if the best weapon I have is a rake then I shouldn’t attack the man with a gun,” but that’s exactly what the infected Haitian population is doing to Chirs Redfield. He’s not shooting at them because they’re black. He’s shooting at them because they’re trying to kill him.

Now that that’s out of the way, I have never felt more ashamed of my hobby than when I read the comments directed at Ms. Platt on the Black Looks blog. Disagree with her opinion. I know I do. But there is absolutely no reason to call her a nigger, a bitch, a whore. She is a human being, and she is entitled to her opinion. If you disagree with her then engage her in intelligent conversation. Bring up your points in a calm and rational manner. Race relations are a touchy subject, and getting riled up because somebody else is riled up isn’t going to help anything. Education is what will fix this; not seeing who can yell the loudest over the Internet. Ms. Platt may be wrong, but so are those that left racist comments for her. She may be ignorant of the Resident Evil series of video games, but that’s no reason to throw racial slurs.

I have only one thing left to say:

Ms. Platt, I am deeply sorry for the comments left to you on your blog post. They were inappropriate, racist, hateful, and it makes me sad to think that people would use that kind of language today. I hope that you read this, and I hope that even if you don’t agree with my opinion that you give it a fair shake. We’re not all adolescent punks looking to ruffle one another’s feathers, and you deserve better than to be treated that way.