On RE5 and claims of "American-centricism"

In this past week I’ve gotten an influx of commenters on my Resident Evil 5 posts decrying me and my posts as “American-centric”. I did consider writing a detailed post debunking this, but I’m very busy with school and there are better things to spend my time on than engaging with commenters who are trying to use the tools of anti-oppression activists to silence activism.

So, I’m going to make this brief and say it once, and once only.

Deconstructing something from an American perspective doesn’t automatically make it American-centric. Nor is it American-centric to work within a frame that happens to involve American history where American history is relevant.

That there are other racial issues with this game does not invalidate the fact that there are also issues that involve America. Picking certain issues that I find logically or emotionally relevant to the point I am trying to make is not the same as denying the existent of other, equally relevant, issues. That I don’t mention every single possible problem with Resident Evil 5 in every single post I make on the issue does not mean that I am not aware of other issues. Indeed, a simple search on this blog for “Resident Evil 5” would produce my link roundup which links to posts addressing those issues and more.

Lastly, while I do believe that there is a valid conversation to be had regarding American-centricism and RE5, that conversation is not to be had with people who are leaving comments with no other purpose than to try and silence me by labeling me a hypocrite. It doesn’t work with the “no, you’re racist for seeing race!” arguments, and it won’t work simply because you’ve changed the language into something that hasn’t already been debunked by a thousand other anti-oppression activists.

I don’t know where y’all are coming from, but your playtime on my blog is over.

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5 thoughts on “On RE5 and claims of "American-centricism"

  1. I don’t understand how the black/white relationship would be particularly american-centered. I think at least america, europe and africa are directly concerned with this history (which goes back to slavery, I guess). Which doesn’t mean that there is not american specificities (for example it took me time to understand what you found offensive with a knot in http://blog.shrub.com/archives/category/companies-behaving-badly/disney ).

    And I don’t think there is only a race problem with the last two resident evil (and I didn’t see the problem as race in RE4; I think the spanish-speaking/english-speaking relation ship *is* an american specificity), but also an imperialist problem: in the last 10 years, US (and some other imperialist countries) has bombed Kosovo, Afghanistan and Irak (and these are only the ones I remember) to “fight the baddies” and has bases and in a lot of countries.

    So, showing a good US soldier saving alone the poor natives who can’t do a thing has resonance with an imperialist behaviour that concerns most of the world (either as accomplice or as victim).

    And I think it is linked to the race problem but not totally dependant : if the hero of RE5 was a black american guy saving white peopple from, e.g., eastern europe, it would still be a problem for me.

    (I must say that as a western european I didn’t see RE4 as much problematic on this side, since (occidental)Europe is also quite imperialistic and the implications are not exactly the same (seeing ‘Europe’ presented as a country and the scenarists resurrecting pesestas make me laugh more than scream angrily))

    So, well, are the critics of RE5 american-centered ? I would say that in a sense, yes, but on the other hand you have to face that the rest of the world IS ALSO american-centered (“We are all living in america”), so the critics still stand.

  2. Elly: I pretty much agree with you, although I would say that the critiques stand because they’re relevant to a game that has a American protagonist, involves an area that has a long and sordid history with America that’s invoked because of said protagonist and his mission, and is marketed, in part, to an American audience, rather than because the world is US-centric (personally, I think we could all stand to be less focused on the US).

  3. What I mean by saying that the world is US-centric is that at least the international politics of US concerns and triggers reactions in the whole world (see e.g., Irak anti-war demonstrations), so even non-US people may have problems with the game because through e.g. the news these american actions are a part of their life. Americans going to save the world in a “thirld world” country has a resonance with these facts.

    Actually it may not just be a question of being US-centered, but of internationalisation: if a game portrayed a chinese hero killing budhist monk zombies, I think it would be a problem for people not just in China, but nearly everywhere (at least, where there is international news, but when you can get a playstation 3 you probably have a TV).

  4. Elly: Ah, I gotcha. And, yeah, I agree than more than just the issue of US-centrism that there is also the effects of globalization at work.

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