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Breaking the Narrative Episode 10: Skintight? Holy Speedos Fatman!

Hello once again!
Let’s keep on with dealing in male representation video games, which we talked about last time by showing the consistency of positive minority role models throughout history. Now we are going to show how male forms are equally and consistently sexualized in the medium of video games. Our ‘favorite’ feminist likes to keep saying that this ‘does not real’ because of capes and long coats, but I’m here to show that this claim is categorically bullshit. The most common examples used at this point are Solid Snake of Metal Gear Solid and Voldo of Soul Calibur. However, I think we can find some more interesting examples. Let me hammer this in.

So why don’t we start with Metal Gear Solid since it has come up already? We’ll go with a protagonist but not necessarily Snake, I think we can do one better. Raiden, the androgynous and curious lead for the bulk of MGS2. First and foremost let’s give ourselves a look at the example here:
Raiden00000

This concept art inked by series character designer Yoji Shinkawa gives us a clear idea how this character is meant to be viewed. A powerful but questionable character that could quite clearly pique the interest of those who may be questioning their own sexual tastes. This is also quite reinforced with a particular instance in the game in which all of Raiden’s equipment, including his skintight sneaking suit, is stolen by the enemy and he has to get through an ice cold hanger completely in the nude which we will show lovingly right here.Naked-Raiden-Cartwheel-MGS2

Of course, if you haven’t played the game I will not give away WHERE or WHEN this happens because as always I want you to play it for yourself. But I think this more than proves that Hideo Kojima sees no issues in sexualizing either men or women if it helps his vision come to pass. He sees it as natural and necessary to elicit empathy and understanding of his primarily gray morality characters.

So how do I follow up showing a naked man doing a cartwheel? By showing you one of the most uncomfortable game series ever made: A side scrolling shooter named Cho Aniki! How is this uncomfortable? Well let me show you the box art of the SEGA Saturn version:choanikisaturn
I could say “Where do I even begin?” but I am sure we ALL know where we want to begin, two bald happy men wearing speedos and none of them looking at the one female in the art. Its like they aren’t even interested in women as much as they are interested in the other man. That’s right, the main reason you probably haven’t heard of this game is the mostly male homoerotic tones of the work. Don’t believe me? How about an in-game screenshot?
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Oops, I meant to put in game play… Hold on a second. Here we go!

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Yes, that image is exactly what you think it is… and I realize that because I remember this so clearly that I’m probably a very mentally disturbed person. However, we are here not to question my sanity but to question the concept of a patriarchy. Now so far we’ve been concentrating on Japanese games. But are there any American games that deal in this? Well, of course there are!

For this, we need to go no further than Johnny Cage. For starters its obvious to anyone that he is modeled after Jean Claude Van-Damme who was considered not just a great action hero of the day but considered by a lot of women from the era to be the sexier of the muscle-bound action stars.

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So what makes Johnny here particularly arousing, more so than any other character from the same series? Well, how many do you see pulling off complete splits?
mk_i___cage___split_punch_by_schmitthrp

Yes, he is also doing a nut shot in this image but that is what adds to the sexualization in the imagery. He is not only showing his own flexibility, virility, and stamina in this act but he is emasculating his opponent at the same time. Last time I checked that was a key way to gain favor with a lot of women because this means he will be willing to do anything to be the protector, even go for the low blow.

I realize quite a few of you lovely readers must be rather uncomfortable at this point realizing how easy it is to actually find this level of sexualized male imagery in games. However, I’ve been nice up to this point. If you’ve read all of my articles until now then you might realize something. I don’t like to pull my punches or hold back. So how am I going to get even more uncomfortable than nut punches and splits? Well, how about a character you play as in Streets of Rage 3 in the form of Ash? Now this isn’t the Ash from Evil Dead or Ash Ketchum. This Ash is well….how about we look at his sprite sheet?
AshPlayer

Yeah, needless to say, he is fairly sexualized, even to the point where he is wearing pumps, stockings, and a very tight leather speedo. In fact, you could call him a token gay stereotype if you so wished. But at the same time, he is considered a strong character because you have to beat him as a boss to unlock him as a playable character.

Now this wouldn’t be a Breaking the Narrative if I didn’t give a fifth example. 5 seems to be my good number here so how do I top uncomfortable gay stereotypes, bust a nut jokes and casual androgyny? We get blatant! God of War’s Kratos! If Kratos is not the epitome of the virile male sexual stereotype I don’t know what is. I don’t even need to provide a picture here because chances are you understand what I’m talking about just from the first five minutes of gameplay of the first game. If an overly buff demigod who fucks and kills within minutes and is guided by almost pure berserker rage to overthrow Zeus isn’t the most sexualized male in all of gaming then I’m off my rocker. Then again this is something that can be said about many deified characters, to be honest. (Source: http://godofwar.wikia.com/wiki/Kratos)

Well this time around it seems we’ve started to really push our comfort zones huh? With all this knowledge and information that I have one may think that I’m either homophobic or closeted homosexual. Funny thing is I’m neither, I’m completely straight and comfortable enough with that sexuality and the sexuality of others to be able to appreciate the artistry of everything shown in this article. If this whole thing makes you doubt that then you might really be scratching your head after next time, but you’ll have to read the article to find out why! So as always if you have your own things you wish to add please post them in the comments and remember to always Game Freely!

Alex Tinsley
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Alex Tinsley

A student of Fine Arts and Japanese culture of six years at Murray State University. Having never graduated due to difficulties with a specific teacher has gained a unique perspective upon the issues being faced by men and boys. A father of a young boy and loving husband.
Alex Tinsley
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Alex Tinsley

A student of Fine Arts and Japanese culture of six years at Murray State University. Having never graduated due to difficulties with a specific teacher has gained a unique perspective upon the issues being faced by men and boys. A father of a young boy and loving husband.