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Sunday, April 13, 2008

Racist Overtones in Resident Evil 5?

The release of videogame Resident Evil 5 is still six months away, but a new trailer for the game is causing a bit of a furor thanks to a write-up by Newsweek game critic N'Gai Croal. In his article, Croal pointed out what he considered to be disturbing racial imagery. The Capcom game takes place in Haiti, and the trailer shows a white protagonist mowing down black zombies.
Croal gave an interview to MTV's gaming blog Multiplayer. Here's a bit of what he had to say:

“There was stuff like even before the point in the trailer where the crowd turned into zombies. There sort of being, in sort of post-modern parlance, they’re sort of ‘othered.’ They’re hidden in shadows, you can barely see their eyes, and the perspective of the trailer is not even someone who’s coming to help the people. It’s like they’re all dangerous; they all need to be killed. It’s not even like one cute African — or Haitian or Caribbean — child could be saved. They’re all dangerous men, women and children. They all have to be killed. And given the history, given the not so distant post-colonial history, you would say to yourself, why would you uncritically put up those images?

"It would be like saying you were going to do some sort of zombie movie that appeared to be set in Europe in the 1940s with skinny, emaciated, Hasidic-looking people. If you put up that imagery people would be saying, ‘Are you crazy?’ Well, that’s what this stuff looks like.”

Here's the trailer in question, for those interested in making their own judgments:

First, let me get three things out of the way: 1.) I can't believe there have already been four Resident Evil games. 2.) Can we all agree that trailers for videogames are a bit ridiculous? 3.) Is anyone else disturbed that Newsweek magazine has a "game critic"? or that 4.) he sounds like he's about 14?

OK, now that I've gotten that stuff out of the way, I will say that I can see how someone might be a little put off by what they see in this trailer. Particularly, someone who may not be a fan of horror. Someone, say, who has never seen Lucio Fulci's Zombi 2--or almost any zombie film made prior to Night of the Living Dead, for that matter. There is the potential for this trailer to be viewed in racial terms, I'm not denying that. But I don't believe that was the intention of the makers of the game at all.

Race is a tough issue in these days of political correctness. There's a lot of overreacting that goes on, but that doesn't mean every complaint is an overreaction. I'm very curious to read how you fine readers feel about this, so please leave a comment if you can.


Unknown said...

This has actually been an ongoing issue since the trailer debuted back in the day, and im assuming the game hasnt been released yet because of it. I dont think for a second that the creators intended for the game to seem racist, and the insinuation that the game was created to be, is pretty insulting.

As for the trailer itself, im more than willing to give the creators the benefit of the doubt because im sure what they were trying to do was establish an atmosphere where something didnt "seem right" because Chris is obviously there for a reason, and it seems like the villagers might be hiding it or aware of it but dont want to alert the authorities? Hence an impending zombie outbreak. That shit isnt all cotton candy and lollipops at the county fair.

How much worse would it be if everybody was carrying on, having a great time, a newlywed couple walks by arm in arm, some little kids run by flying a kite, a newborn in a stroller is wheeled by, only for all of them to become zombies and get mowed down by gunfire. Im sure THAT would have went over MUCH better.

I think there are people out there who just want to create controversy to gain more attention for themselves. The only reason I care is because im a huge fan of the series and this could potentially be disastrous if capcom decides to shelve the game because of it.

*there are actually a few more than four games in the series, if you count the spin-offs :)

Anonymous said...

Personally, he sounds like a 14 yr old idiot who is desperate to get an article published and nothing works better than accusing anyone of racism or something else stupid. I am ask Newsweek to publish an article of mine where I accuse Capcom for being racist against "White People" in the first 4 capcom games.

GG Croal.

Garg Unzola said...

Wow! Another Resident Evil!
As for the racism issue, whatever. You would only pick something like that up from a video game trailer of you are racist yourself, running around with your race card and ready to shove it into everyone's faces.

The setting is Haiti. About 95% of Haitians are of predominantly African descent. How could there not be black zombies? But it's pointless to explain any other explanation than racism to someone with a race card.

Unknown said...

Yeah, I definitely agree that it doesn't feel racist to me. It feels like it's hearkening back to movies like White Zombie, and anyway, voodoo seems to be predominately based in Haitian culture. It would make sense that Haitians would be black zombies.

In Resident Evil 4, the townspeople were mostly all white that we had to kill. I didn't hear the Newsweek guy complaining about killing these people. And that guy should probably proof-read what he writes. When you read something like,

"There was stuff like even before the point in the trailer where the crowd turned into zombies. There sort of being, in sort of post-modern parlance, they’re sort of ‘othered.’"

you're really not obliged to believe anything that he says because of the grammatically incorrect sentences.

For shame, N'Gai Croal.

Anonymous said...

Serpent and the Rainbow is a racist movie.

Cmon, isnt there a large group of voodoo practices in haiti? doesnt some part of the zombie mythos come from that religion? is this scenario a good mix of reality and horror?

naw man, its racist.

Karl Hungus said...

Appears to me that there are a lot of people who are simply looking to be offended by, and to find offence in, some of the most innocuous things. It's utterly ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

Sorry all but as a black, horror fan, video game lover and someone who works in 'the entertainment business' i certainly see the objectionable in this trailer. anyone in 'the business' of creating content for mass consumption in our current climate of PCness really should of known better. i suspect the article will be only the first step in what will become a very protracted campaign to ban the game. it was probably not intended as racist but to our sensitive world it transgresses the acceptable limit.

Unknown said...

Where specifically do you see the trailer being overly racist?

Wonder Man said...

It's interesting...not sure what to think. But I don't think was meant to be racist.

Unknown said...

Setting the game in Haiti was not a good idea as far as marketing is concerned.

A white guy killing mass of black peoples (zombies or not) is sure to create objections and polemics., no matter the reasons for the slaughter. They should have known that.

Maybe they should at least used a black hero for this one.

But I really hope the game will be released anyway. I can't wait to play it.... I love to kicking zombie's butt no matter what race they are.

Acheter et entretenir sa tron├žonneuse

Anonymous said...

It's set in Haiti! Um hello! What do alomst 100% of people in Haiti look like?
So tired of everyone trying to bring in race to everything! Must we have political correctness injected into everything we see, hear, and do?!
Sick of it.
What's next? Mandatory Quotas?
(And Im sure if there was never a black zombie portrayed, there would be someone, somewhere blaming racism! sheesh)
I suppose this critic would have not a word to say if it was a black zombie hunter killing white zombies!
ARGH! The idiot.

Anonymous said...

Why does everybody keep insisting RE5 is in Haiti? The producer Jun Takeuchi has even stated that the game is set in Africa since Africa is consider by many as the "cradle of mankind" and this ties into the origins of the virus.

Which bring me to the fact that Mr. Takeuchi as well as the rest of the developers of RE5 or should I say BIOHAZARD 5, are japanese. If you're gonna play the race card, make sure you're even playing the same game as everone else. In my experience Japan isn't so anally PC as we try to make everything here in the states, it's like tip toeing through a damn minefield sometimes. I'm sure the intention isn't to make it seem like they think one heroic white guy could take out a whole village of evil black people or (in the case of RE4) spanish people.

Jeez, next we're gonna here some line of crap about since some of the zombies are women how it promotes violence against women.

It must be hard for some people to see for all the dust thier high horse is kicking up around them.

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