Resident Evil 5 Trailer

Can you spot what’s wrong with the trailer? Hint: it’s not the cg or the cinematography.

Via Iris forums.

ETA: For all the racist-apologist fanboys who are offended at the very thought of people engaging in criticism of their beloved Resident Evil series: criticism doesn’t equal “the only thing the game’s about is a white person killing hordes of black people!11eleven”. Criticizing the trailer doesn’t mean that we hate the game, or think that it couldn’t possibly have anything of merit in it. Nor does it mean that we won’t be buying the game. It just means that it’s being advertised in a highly problematic way that deserves criticism.

I’ve published the dissenting opinion in the comments. Further comments that say the same thing will not be published because there’s no need to rehash the same misreading of the criticism over and over again.

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This entry was posted in Privilege, Racism, Video Games. Bookmark the permalink.

29 Responses to Resident Evil 5 Trailer

  1. Darth Sidhe says:

    Eep. Oh, dear.

    One can only hope that the reasoning behind this is that the action is set in Africa. I recall RE0 was supposed to be set somewhere in Spain or another Spanish-speaking country, with our American heroes being…well, the heroes.

  2. tekanji says:

    It is set in Africa. But, like RE4 (which was in Spain, I believe), the storyline centres around a white guy going into save the day in a non-white country. Oi.

  3. Richie says:

    What freaked me out most was that, after all the rapid cuts between shots of brown people being killed, the audience applauds.

    I remember reading some reactions to the (unmade) George Romero Resident Evil Movie script, where he’d re-written the original game’s cast to be more racially diverse. “OMG REVERSE RACISM!!!”

  4. Sara says:

    *shudders*

    Reminds me uncomfortably of this ad from Intel.

  5. tekanji says:

    That ad makes baby Jesus cry.

  6. Darth Sidhe says:

    Right, RE4. I wonder why I put RE0. Meh.

  7. ulma haryanto says:

    that is so disturbing :| will have the chance to be most wanted game of the decade KKK version.. geez

  8. Stephen Dann says:

    Why is Karl Urban’s marine from Doom (the movie) in RE5? Since I only know RE from the cinema, all I know is that there’s supposed to be a female lead.

  9. tekanji says:

    Stephen Dann: Sorry to disappoint, but they moved away from a female lead a couple games ago. It’s possible that Jill or Claire might make a comeback in RE6 or RE7, but I wouldn’t hold my breath.

    It’s kind of sad, though, that most games are regressing instead of progressing in these areas, though. Then again, I’m overall seeing a continuation of the trend where as graphic capabilities increase meaningful plot and interesting characterization decreases. It’s rather annoying if you ask me.

  10. Jo says:

    I watched it without the sound, so I really just saw it. I was, to be honest, expecting a female hero with impossible clothing or summat. (You know, SSDD.) This is, well, scary. (I almost wrote “spooky” but School of Racial Awareness: My Life, Southern U.S. edition wouldn’t let me. It wasn’t a pun in my brain, but when I recognized it as potentially such, it got cut immediately. I’ve gotten in trouble before for, well, mimicking my relatives without knowing what the hell they were talking about.)

    Okay, back to What I Saw in Teh Trailer:
    Brown people == zombies == bad == must be destroyed; White man == badass killer == good.

    I may listen to it next time, to catch the applause/audio propaganda, although it’s interesting that I got the point sans audio.

    p.s. and the Intel ad *does* make the baby Jesus cry. I heard it from here, and we’re not all that close.

  11. 01d55 says:

    “It is set in Africa. But, like RE4 (which was in Spain, I believe), the storyline centres around a white guy going into save the day in a non-white country. Oi.”

    Spain is a European country. Spaniards are white people! Just because America views Latin America through the lens of predominantly white-indian immigrants doesn’t automatically make anyone whose native language is Spanish non-white, especially when they’re Spaniards.

    One might worry that Americans would forget this, and treat Mexicans (or rather, the ethnic subset of Mexicans which tend to be driven to emigrate to the U.S. by dire economic circumstances) and Spaniards as interchangable, but this did not happen in RE4.

    This RE5 thing is vile, though.

  12. tekanji says:

    01d55: Whiteness is a fairly fluid concept, actually.

    For instance, I am part of the white demographic, and I benefit from white privilege. But, in certain contexts, I am an ethnic minority because I am Jewish, with a Jewish last name, and noticeably Jewish features. While I, personally, haven’t been discriminated against because of this, my father, uncles, and grandparents have. They were not seen as “white” and in that case did not benefit from white privilege.

    In this same way, while Spaniards may be part of the white demographic and benefit from white privilege, the context of RE4 was clearly Othering and clearly painted them as (as Nashiko said on Iris) inhuman. They were not, and I will argue with fair certainty that the Japanese team who made the game did not see them as, white like Leon was white.

    And, as for the distinction between Spaniards, Latinos, and Mexicans; I am not one to get them mixed up, as I grew up in Miami and had first hand contact with the cultural divides (not to mention the cultural sensitivities about one being mixed up with the other two). However, when it comes to prejudice and discrimination, (again, as Nashiko pointed out) there is no distinction. When employers are discriminating, or people are harassing, no one stops the person to ask, “Are you from Spain? Yes? Okay, good, you’re white like us so we won’t bother you.” People see the external difference, hear the accent, spot the name… and it all blurs into the category of “Hispanic” which in America and Japan means Other.

    So, no, I don’t believe that the “white” category applies in this case, even though it applies in others. And I stand by my reading of the game as a valid one.

  13. The whole “set in Africa” thing is bugging me. That’s like saying that RE4 was “set in Europe”. Kind of reminds me of How to Write About Africa.

    Everything about this makes me want to smack my desk repeatedly with my forehead, actually.

  14. Sage says:

    I know nothing about gaming, and I didn’t read the title, so I was guessing part way that it was a trailer for The Last King of Scotland, which I haven’t seen yet. Then I puzzled over the problem with it. Whoops.

  15. Roy says:

    Godless Heathen: Ah, but see, Europe is predominantly “white” so if something is set in Europe, it’s important to know where. We wouldn’t after all, want to get French culture mixed up with German culture. But, the rest of the world? It’s totally acceptable to think of them as just big chunks of non-white people who are more alike than different. Things are “Asian” or “African” or even “South American” in ways that we would never think of them as being “European.”

    Head desk, indeed.

  16. Lloyd Webber says:

    Hmmm…There’s a reason I stopped playing most video games except sports games, and this is it. But this is pretty vile even by the (quite low) video game standards

  17. Kuaz Omega says:

    Yeah…I was blessed to have all three cultural negatives; 1 young,2 black, 3 male;(I love my race). I fill no racial opinion can really be made until the full storyline for RE5 is released. If there is a deep plot behind a white male killing africans its OK, after all hollywood does it in there movies all the time. With all the recent FPS’s set in the middle east, no one is saying anything about islam haters in games. Capcom go for it. There’s a reason its set in africa, there’s a reason its a white guy, and after all- there’s mostly black people in africa.

    We live in a consumer driven society, If Capcom releases it and the public rejects the white guy killing black people there’ll most likely change up in RE6.

    This is the Perfect example of FREE SPEECH at its best.

    1Hunned……….

  18. tekanji says:

    Kuaz said:

    I fill no racial opinion can really be made until the full storyline for RE5 is released. If there is a deep plot behind a white male killing africans its OK, after all hollywood does it in there movies all the time.

    A trailer is the way that a company presents their game in order to get people to buy it. This trailer depicts a white character (the protagonist, Chris Redfield) killing hordes of black zombies. While undoubtedly the plot justifies why Chris is in Africa killing zombies, that does not change the fact that the game is utilizing the racist trope of White Man Saves the Savages From Themselves.

    And “holywood does it too!” is not an excuse. Hollywood, like most popular culture, is at worst racist and at best blinded by white privilege.

    With all the recent FPS’s set in the middle east, no one is saying anything about islam haters in games.

    Actually, I have heard many gamers criticize the propaganda and racism in those kinds of games. But there wasn’t much talk — either way — on the internet. I’d talk about it, except I don’t play FPS’s and therefore I can’t review the games.

    We live in a consumer driven society, If Capcom releases it and the public rejects the white guy killing black people there’ll most likely change up in RE6.

    Except that 1) Capcom is also releasing it in Japan, which isn’t affected by what people say about the game in English, and 2) despite a growing focus on racism by gamers, the majority are still white people who don’t understand (or want to understand) racism.

    Capitalism, like most systems, is a tool that works in favour of those with power, not in favour of those who are being trampled on.

  19. Great Daitokuji says:

    If you think that this game is about a White man Killing Black Zombies and that’s all that it is there is something definitely wrong with your thinking. Why can’t it be set in Africa? Why can’t people become infected with a virus that has been attacking White people for the last 4 games? So If it was set in Japan and there was a White guy killing Japanese people would you even thing twice about it? Obviously not because no one did when a White guy was killing White people… It’s a shame… BTW I’m not white.

  20. tekanji says:

    Great Daitokuji:

    If you think that this game is about a White man Killing Black Zombies and that’s all that it is there is something definitely wrong with your thinking.

    Well, then it’s a good thing that no one here is thinking that!

    Seriously, let’s look at the incorrect assumptions you made about the discussion here:
    We claim that this game is about a White man Killing Black Zombies

    Nope. I specifically mentioned that, by having an American protagonist battling primarily black zombies, it uses the “White Man Saves the Savages From Themselves” trope. Pointing out that a game is using a trope isn’t the same as asserting that the trope is the main theme, or thrust, of a work.
    We claim that the game can’t/shouldn’t be set in Africa

    The problem with it being set in Africa is twofold. 1) See above; 2) Godless Heathen was pointing out that the other games are set in a specific place (“USA”, “Spain”), but RE5, at current, is “Africa” as if a continent is the same as a specific country. No one is saying that a game can’t be set in Africa, but rather that if a game is set somewhere in Africa that it needs to be handled properly.

    We claim that black people can’t people become infected with a virus that has been attacking White people for the last 4 games*

    First off, it’s been a while since I’ve played through the games, but I’m pretty sure that not all of the zombies were white. Secondly, no one is saying that black people can’t be zombies, but rather pointing out the problematic way that Capcom has handled it, as discussed in #1 and #2.

    If it was set in Japan and there was a White guy killing Japanese people we wouldn’t thing twice about it

    If you had read any of my other articles, you’ll see that nothing is outside of the scope of criticism. If a game came to my attention that was a white guy killing Japanese people — or people of any nationality/ethnicity/race — I would, in fact, comment on it.

    A White guy killing White people (in America) is an analogous situation

    A white American killing white Americans is not remotely the same as a white American killing the natives in another country. The racial dynamics in the first case are equal, whereas in the second instance they come with a continued history of racism, imperialism, and a global discourse of white supremacy. There are even less issues that overlap there than there are for the other popular related argument where a white American killing the natives in another country is analogous to a a non-white American killing other white and non-white Americans.

    Being non-white means that you can’t employ a racist argument

    Sorry, I don’t accept the “I’m a woman and I don’t think that’s sexist” argument as valid, and I’m not going to accept the “I’m non-white and I don’t think that’s racist” as valid. A racist argument/statement employed by white people against non-white people becomes no less racist if people from the targeted non-white race adopt it for their own use. This applies to both the use of it on one’s own race as well as other non-white races.

    * Just a note, but RE4 wasn’t Umbrella’s zombie virus. It was a parasite.

    Now, I’ll give you (and everyone else reading here) a piece of advice: don’t insult the critical thinking skills of a person if you aren’t 100% sure that the place you’re arguing from is stable. It doesn’t do a thing to help your credibility.

  21. Kyle Schuant says:

    Now if it were an African guy killing white Americans, would… hmmm, no, that probably wouldn’t be that good, either. It’d be a different message, yet so much the same.

  22. tekanji says:

    Kyle said:

    Now if it were an African guy killing white Americans, would… hmmm, no, that probably wouldn’t be that good, either. It’d be a different message, yet so much the same.

    Agreed. Simple turnabout is not the way to combat -isms like racism. It doesn’t bring any useful insights onto the table, doesn’t challenge the racism inherent in the original message, and just adds fuel to the fire of racists who say, “Look you have the reverse now, so shut up and stop complaining!”

  23. Actually, it wouldn’t be turning the racist message on it’s ear in any way, because you’d still have the stereotype of the violent black man with a gun, which is why you can’t point to the GTA games and say “ZOMG reverse racism.” It’s all the same racism isn’t it, the othering of people of color to be scary scary monsters.

  24. Pingback: Official Shrub.com Blog » Blog Archive » Resident Evil: White people killing white people?

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  26. Pingback: Official Shrub.com Blog » Blog Archive » Video games and the usual amount of racism

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  28. itsrainingkarma says:

    Tekanji, I just wanted to point out a flaw in 2 things.

    1) In reference to your response to Great Daitokuji you said that that RE4 was located in Spain when in fact that distinction was never made. It is implied because they speak Spanish but it is not in fact ever stated. If you were to ask an individual from the Basque region of Spain if they were Spanish they would tell you no, they are Basque. So in this instance RE4 falls into the same paradigm as your complaint regarding RE5, White man Saves the Minorities from themselves.

    2) Would it be possible to garner good from this game in the sense that it brings to light American Corporate involvement in other countries affairs? American Oil companies in Africa and the Middle East or Diamond Mines in Africa? How about some good from the fact that it could (although not necessarily from the trailer) show the plight of African’s in a region where AIDS is claimed to be cured by garlic and the governments of the region respond slow and poorly to the epidemic?

    While we’re looking for flaws I think it’s equally plausible that the creaters are attempting to increase awareness of a serious problem and hope that their median, Resident Evil, will help? While we’re making assumptions that the game is racist, which I feel takes a conscious effort when working on a piece of fiction, we should check and see if there’s any good to find in it and if that isnt’t their goal.

    3) Do you really think that a Japanese game developer is promoting a white American global supremacy as you claimed in response 5 to Great Daitokuji.

    I apologize for my statement on your other post claiming it was a stretch but I do feel we are jumping the gun and basing assumptions on a short clip that does not encompass the goals of the writer, director, producer, or staff working on the project or even the rest of the game experience.

  29. tekanji says:

    itsrainingkarma said:

    So in this instance RE4 falls into the same paradigm as your complaint regarding RE5, White man Saves the Minorities from themselves.

    Sorry for the confusion; I’m not actually in disagreement with that point.

    Would it be possible to garner good from this game in the sense that it brings to light American Corporate involvement in other countries affairs?

    Yes, of course. We obviously don’t know the content of the game, and no one here is saying that it is irredeemably racist and can never be anything beyond the trailer. Most games, in fact, have both good and bad in them. And, frankly, if games were only racist, misogynist, homophobic, etc. drivel then I wouldn’t waste my time with them, and I certainly wouldn’t be preparing to study how to design them.

    But, no matter what they do or don’t do in the game, it can’t change the racist imagery they used in the trailer. Footage that, unless they take it out, will appear in the game as well.

    While we’re making assumptions that the game is racist, which I feel takes a conscious effort when working on a piece of fiction,

    That, I think, is where most of your problem is coming from. Most racism isn’t, in fact, intentionally done. Especially, from what I’ve observed, the racism that thrives in Japan. Most people don’t sit up and say, “I think I’ll oppress [x group] today!” But when we live in a culture of privilege (please see my Privilege 101 link list on the right and my privilege in action category for more information), we end up doing oppressive things without meaning to. Lack of intent, however, doesn’t make those actions any less oppressive. And our lack of knowledge about the oppressive nature of those acts doesn’t make us bad, or evil, or whatever, but it does mean that we have a responsibility to educate ourselves and be as aware of these issues as possible.

    No one is claiming that Capcom has made this game in an effort to keep black people down. That would, indeed, be a far-fetched and unsupportable claim. In all likelihood, however, Capcom made this game without being fully aware of the race relations, history, and current events at work in the setting and characters that they chose. And, in doing so, utilized racist imagery in a way that has hit home with many of their fanbase.

    Do you really think that a Japanese game developer is promoting a white American global supremacy as you claimed in response 5 to Great Daitokuji.

    If you’re asking do I think that the developers were like, “Let’s create a game where we exalt whiteness as the ideal state of being, and imply that white people should be everyone’s overlords!” then the answer is no.

    If you’re asking do you think that the developers accidentally invoked tropes that are tied into a history of cultural imperialism and white supremacy, most likely because they didn’t do their homework well enough, then the answer is yes.

    I do feel we are jumping the gun and basing assumptions on a short clip that does not encompass the goals of the writer, director, producer, or staff working on the project or even the rest of the game experience.

    And expressed like that, it is you airing a concern and not dismissing the statements of others. The way that we phrase things does matter, and it can be the difference between someone writing you off — and tossing out anything important that you might have to say — and someone listening to you even when they disagree. Sometimes it’s a crap shoot either way, but on this blog at least if you voice things the way that you did in this post, you will at the very least be heard.

    And, as for the content of your concern, I would just like to point out that my assertion of intent not being linked to racism applies here: none of us are assuming anything about developer intent, nor are we saying that the clip is the sum of what the game can be. We’re only saying that, as the current representation of the game, it paints a racist picture that will most likely lose Capcom some of its otherwise loyal fanbase.

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