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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Seen but not heard, or, "Introducing 'Quiet'."

So the Metal Gear Solid series has an interesting history with female characters. For the most part it has been around the middle of the pack...or at least, it has not been among the egregious offenders. I think generally Hideo Kojima has good intentions with his design, but...

At E3 we have the official announcement of Metal Gear Solid V, and among them is one of the main female characters, named "Quiet". Kojima himself describes the character as a strong and silent type, a personality trope that thus far has been the territory of male characters. I think it's great that he wants to explore that...there is just one problem...take a moment and guess, feel free to use the below gif.

1980's era Ghille Suit Prototype
You see, Quiet is wearing basically some suspenders, torn leggings, and a bikini top. The camera makes sure to sweep at a low angle and offers a fantastic view of her breasts and bare midriff...her head even gets cut out of frame.

What Hideo doesn't get, is that instead of creating a "strong, silent" character, he has created a "silent, sexy" character, which unfortunately harkens back to phrases like "Women should be seen, not heard," and damaging inferences that a sexy woman is a silent one. If he wants to do "strong, silent" give her some freaking clothes or armor. I'm not about to suggest she don a burqa, but there is a reason people in Afganistan tend to cover up...that sun ain't friendly.

Perfect makeup and hair too! Sorry, nothing here says "grizzled", and those backpack straps would chaff to hell...
This woman is apparently a soldier, and yet has perfect skin (despite prancing around mostly naked in the desert in the 80's) and the only indication is her weapons. Take a picture of just Snake's head and you'll immediately realize "This guy is grizzled as fuck," which explains someone like him being silent and strong. Instead, with Quiet, we get the idea that this sexualized image should stand there and be admired. Yes, it is possible that she'll do lots of talking through the barrel of a gun, but with what we know RIGHT NOW it is kind of concerning.

It's especially notable when the rest of the characters the video introduces usually have the camera focused on their face, and their pose is more characteristic of their personality...Ocelot waves dismissively, Boss looks like Boss...with Quiet, the camera focuses on her body and silence.

So while I admire him wanting to help women into tropes that men have previously dominated, I think Hideo needs to be wise to other tropes he might be pushing them towards. A trope does not exist in a vacuum. This could still be fantastic, just avoid making her a "Sexy soldier" while also making her "Silent" and you avoid the "Seen, not heard" inference.

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