GODDAMMIT VIDEO GAMES: THE FIRST FEW HOURS OF ARKHAM CITY IS LOTS OF FUN, BUT SUPER-DUPER SEXIST

October 19, 2011

UPDATE: ARKHAM CITY COLUMN NOW HAS A PART 2!!!!

WHAT THE FUCK VIDEO GAMES?

EVERY TIME HULK THINKS WE’RE GETTING SOMEWHERE, YOU MANAGE TO TAKE ONE COLOSSAL STEP BACK FROM PROVING YOU BELONG AT THE BIG BOY TABLE.

2009’S BATMAN: ARKHAM ASYLUM MAY BE ONE OF THE GREAT GAMES EVER. SERIOUSLY. IT’S FUN, INVENTIVE, COOL, AND HAS BOTH A GREAT COMBAT AND A GREAT STEALTH SYSTEM (USUALLY IT’S ONE OR THE OTHER). THE GAME WOULD EVEN BE STELLAR IF IT HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH BATMAN. BUT LUCKILY, THE BATMAN STUFF IS GREAT TOO. HULK PARTICULARLY LIKED THAT THE DEPICTION WASN’T SINGULARLY REFERENCING ONE VERSION OF THE BATMAN WORLD AND INSTEAD COMES OFF AS A HYBRID OF THE NOLANVERSE, THE ANIMATED SERIES, THE BURTONVERSE, THE COMICS, AND EVEN TAKES SOME OF THE GOOD PARTS FROM SCHUMACHER’S ORNATE DESIGN SCHEME.

NEEDLESS TO SAY HULK WAS EXCITED ABOUT THE SEQUEL, BATMAN: ARKHAM CITY, WHICH WAS RELEASED LAST NIGHT

BUT AFTER A KIND OF NEAT LITTLE INTRODUCTION (THOUGH NARRATIVE-LY IT MAKES, LIKE, ZERO SENSE. WHY IS THIS BIG STRETCH OF CITY A PRISON? AND WHY IS IT LIKE DYSTOPIAN FUTURE WHERE INMATES JUST ROAM AROUND EXACTLY?) THE TONE OF THE GAME STARTS GOING IN A REALLY WEIRD DIRECTION… SPECIFICALLY WHEN CATWOMAN SHOWS UP… BASICALLY, THINGS GET SUPER-DUPER SEXIST AND NEVER, EVER STOP.

NOW, IT SHOULD BE SAID THAT THIS ISN’T SOME INDICTMENT OF THE SEXUAL FEMME-FATALISM. THAT IS ACTUALLY A BIG PART OF THE CATWOMAN CHARACTER AND ICONGRAPHY. BUT THERE IS A SPECIFIC WAY IN NOT ONLY HOW THE FEMME FATALE WORKS IN STORIES, BUT SPECIFICALLY HOW IT FITS IN THE WHOLE BATMAN THING. CATWOMAN IS MORE MEANT AS A FOIL FOR BATMAN, HIS SENSE OF DARK VENGEANCE GONE HAYWIRE AND MORALITY (EVEN MORE) SKEWED. PLUS SHE VAGUELY SEXUALIZES HIM.

BUT THIS CATWOMAN IS… UM…

BELIEVE IT OR NOT, THIS REALLY ISN’T ABOUT OUTFIT. THE OUTFIT REALLY JUST SYMBOLIZING THE SHIT THAT’S WRONG ON THE INSIDE.

TO REITERATE: IN THE FIRST HOUR OF ARKHAM CITY WE HAVE A SCANTILLY CLAD HIGH-HEAL-NINJA-ING CATWOMAN GETTING BEATEN BY TWO-FACE AS HE CALLS HER A BITCH. WE HAVE A GROUP OF MUSCLE-BOUND HOODLUMS ALL STANDING AROUND EXCITED TO DUMP HER INTO A VAT OF ACID. BATMAN COMES TO THE RESCUE AS CATWOMAN ESCAPES. SHE FLIRTS WITH HIM MERCILESSLY AND MAKES NOT JUST DUMB, BUT NOT-FUN SEXY PUNS. BATMAN THEN GOES OUTSIDE AND YOU OVERHEAR A BUNCH OF GUYS TALKING ABOUT HOW CATWOMAN AND AGAIN THE WORD BITCH POPS IN.  THEY ALL THINK SHE SWINGS BOTH WAYS (CAUSE THAT’S THE KIND OF THING ANY SEXY GIRL MUST BE UP FOR). AND THEN THEY’RE BASICALLY TALKING ABOUT THEIR MASTURBATORY FANTASIES OF HER… YOU KNOW, ABOUT THE SAME ONE THEY WERE CALLING A BITCH. BATMAN THEN GOES OVER TOWARD THE JOKER’S TOWER AND YOU HOPE ALL THIS SHIT IS OVER BUT THEN YOU OVERHEAR A BUNCH OF THUGS TALKING ABOUT HOW HARLEY QUINN IS A DUMB BITCH.

NOW THIS WAS WHERE HULK LEFT IT THE OTHER NIGHT AND TO BE SURE HULK WASN’T JUST REACTING OUT OF MOMENTARY THINGS HULK CAME BACK AND PLAYED A LOT MORE TO BE FAIR… IT DIDN’T GET ANY BETTER.

ACTUALLY IT GOT WORSE. THE FOLLOWING IS STUFF OVERHEARD BY A WIDE CAST OF CHARACTERS THAT INCLUDES PRETTY MUCH EVERYBODY:

“DON’T COME ANY CLOSER OR THIS BITCH GETS A HOLE WHERE HER HEAD USED TO BE!”

“THAT CRAZY BITCH!” (SAID BY A GOOD GUY)

“SHE SCARES ME. FORTUNATELY I SAW THE CRAZY BITCH LEAVING!”

“YOU DON’T FIND THE BOSSES GIRL ATTRACTIVE DO YOU?” / “IN HERE THEY ALL LOOK GOOD.”

“DID YOU HEAR THE NOISE THAT DOCTOR WAS MAKIN?”  / (GIGGLE) “I LIKE HEARING HER SCREAM LIKE THAT”

“I DON’T KNOW WHAT JOKER SEES IN THAT CRAZY BITCH”

CATWOMAN NEEDING MORE GADGETS (AND TALKING TO HERSELF): “I NEED MY TOYS. I’D JUST BE (INSERT MARYLIN MONROE VOICE) NAKED WITH OUT THEM (COO).”

“YEAH THE BOSS HAD THE CAT ALL CHAINED UP BUT THAT BITCH BROKE FREE.”

EVEN BATMAN, THE PARAGON OF GOODNESS ASKS HARLEY TO MOVE AT ONE POINT. WHEN SHE DOESN’T, HE SEEMS TO TAKE EERIE DELIGHT IN MANHANDLING HER AND THROWING HER OVER. NOTHING BUSINESS LIKE, THE EMPHASIS IS SO FUCKING WEIRD. BATMAN LIKED IT.

……

……..

SERIOUSLY, WHAT THE FUCK ARKHAM CITY?

THIS IS NOT OKAY.

DO YOU EVEN, LIKE, GET HOW SEXISM WORKS?

CLEARLY NOT. CAUSE THIS IS THE KIND OF BLATENT SEXISM THAT MOST 2ND WAVE FEMINISM MOVED PAST IN ORDER TO TALK ABOUT MORE SUBTLE THINGS LIKE “PAY SCALES,” AND “THE RIGHT TO GO TO THE SAME COLLEGES AS MEN.”

SO LET’S MAKE IT PRETTY CLEAR: REFRAINING FROM SEXISM DOES NOT MEAN THAT YOU CAN’T HAVE CHARACTERS IN REVEALING OUTFITS, OR THAT YOU CAN’T USE THE WORD “BITCH,” OR THAT YOU CAN’T SAY BAD THINGS ABOUT FEMALE CHARACTERS, OR THAT YOU HAVE TO BE SOME PARAGON OF GOODNESS AND PROVIDE G-RATED POSITIVE ROLE MODELS FOR EVERYONE. YOU CAN TOTALLY DO THOSE THINGS. IT’S JUST A MATTER OF HOW YOU PRESENT IT.

SEE THE REAL ISSUE IS NOT THE THINGS THEMSELVES, BUT THE TONE.  WHICH MEANS IT’S ABOUT THE CONTEXT. IT’S ABOUT THE PRESENTATION AND THE FEELING. IT’S ABOUT THE REASONS FOR DOING SO AND WHY.

WHATEVER COULD THE MEANING OF THIS BE?

DO YOU SERIOUSLY NOT GET THE BASIC FUCKING DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO?

FINE. LET’S GET AN EXAMPLE UP IN THIS SHIT: STRAW DOGS IS A MOVIE THAT FAMOUSLY DEALS WITH SOME VERY TABOO SEXUAL POLITICS (SPOILERS IF NOT SEEN, BUT GODDAMMIT THE MOVIE’S 30 YEARS OLD) THE FILM HAS A SCENE WHERE THERE IS A RAPE AND HALFWAY THROUGH THE HORRIBLE ORDEAL THE VICTIM SEEMS TO HAVE A MOMENT OF ENJOYMENT. NOW, IF THE EVENT OF THE SCENE IS TAKEN AT FACE VALUE, IT SEEMS LIKE THE MOST SEXIST THING EVER. RIGHT? ONE THAT PROPAGATES SOME OF THE MOST VILE MYTHS ABOUT WOMAN AND SEXUALITY ALONG WITH DISMISSING THE CONSEQUENCES OF A HORRENDOUS ACT?

BUT THAT’S NOT TOTALLY THE CASE. THAT’S BECAUSE THE SITUATION HAS DEEP CONTEXT, BOTH IN TERMS OF PLOT, CHARACTER, AND THEMATIC RESONANCE. FOR ONE, THE VIOLATION SETS UP A LOT OF THINGS TO SAY ABOUT SHAME CULTURE AND MAN’S ATTITUDES TOWARD SEXUALITY. IN FACT, THE WHOLE MOVIE IS MEANT AS A META COMMENTARY ON MALE’S SEXUAL POLITICS, CENTERING AROUND THE ATTITUDE OF THE WOMAN’S HUSBAND, PLAYED DUSTIN HOFFMAN. THE HUSBAND IS AN INTELLECTUAL, NON-CONFRONTATIONAL PERSON. AT FACE VALUE ONE WOULD GUESS THAT THIS IS YET ANOTHER HORRIBLE THING BEING SAID ABOUT THE PAINS A LACK OF MASCULINITY AND WHAT WOMEN WANT, ETC. BUT AGAIN, NOT THE CASE. THE FILM MAKES IT CLEAR THIS IS ABOUT GENDER ROLES. FOR ALL OF THE HUSBAND’S INTELLECTUALISM, HE ACTUALLY HAS A DEEPLY SEXIST AND RIGID ATTITUDE TOWARD TRADITIONAL ROLES FOR HIS WIFE. CONVERSELY HE DOES NOT ACCEPT TRADITIONAL MALE ROLES FOR HIMSELF THUS SHOWING HIS EMPHASIS ON THE DOUBLE STANDARD. MEANING IT IS ABOUT THE HYPOCRITICAL NATURE OF MENT. THE FILM DIRECTLY AND TEXTUALLY ADDRESSES THESE HYPOCRISIES WITHIN THE MAIN CHARACTER ACTING AS A SORT OF “HORROR FILM” FOR THE EMASCULATED MALE PSYCHE. THIS IS ONLY REINFORCED BY THE FACT THAT ONE OF THE RAPISTS IS THE WOMAN’S EX-BOYFRIEND.

BUT NONE OF THIS IS MEANT EXPLOITATIVE SENSE, BUT IN AN EXPLORATIVE SENSE. THE FILM IS ENGAGING THESE QUESTIONS DIRECTLY WITH COMMENTARY ON CHARACTER. SOME MAY ARGUE THE RELATIVE MERITS TO THIS, AND WHETHER OR NOT IT’S WORTH DEPICTING THE HARM AND SUBVERSION OF WOMAN TO STRICTLY ENGAGE HORROR OF THE MALE EGO (HULK CAN COME UP WITH A PRETTY GOOD EVALUATION OF HER JOURNEY TOO) AND THAT’S FINE. ADMITTEDLY, YOU CANNOT WRAP A NEAT BOW ON ALL OF THE SEXISM AT PLAY IN STRAW DOGS.

BUT WHAT YOU CAN DO, IS CAREFULLY EXAMINE THE CONTEXT AND ANALYSIS AND BE TREATED TO A RATHER INTERESTING DISCUSSION OF A MOVIE THAT IS HYPER-AWARE OF WHAT IT IS DOING AND INDULGING INTO SOME VERY BIG GRAY AREAS ON PURPOSE.

… SO WHAT THE FUCK IS THE POINT OF THIS SHIT IN ARKHAM CITY?

OH WAIT, THERE IS NONE. THERE IS NO FUCKING CONTEXT FOR THE THINGS. THEY ARE JUST PRESENTED AT FACE VALUE WITH ABSOLUTELY NO OTHER REDEEMING VALUE BEYOND TITILLATION AND SEEPING OUT OF THE WRITERS COLLECTIVE ID AS SOME SORT OF AXE TO GRIND WITH WOMEN.

REMEMBER, TONE IS ABOUT YOUR REASONS FOR DOING SO AND WHY.

SO WHAT ELSE COULD IT BE? IT IS THE DUMBEST AND MOST USELESS FORM OF SEXISM IN THE WORLD. IT’S WORSE THAN MERE “FAN SERVICE” WHICH IS USUALLY THE KIND OF THING YOU CAN SHAKE YOUR HEAD AT AND JUST HOPE THERE AREN’T 8 YEAR OLDS PLAYING IT (AND YES THERE TOTALLY ARE).  HULK IS GOING TO SAY IT’S DOWNRIGHT PORNOGRAPHIC.

OH DON’T LOOK AT HULK LIKE THAT, HULK KNOWS IT IS MISSING BOTH THE ACTUAL ELEMENT OF REAL-PERSON EXPLOITATION AND THE UTILITARIAN NATURE OF PORNOGRAPHY, BUT WHAT IT IS OFFERING IS NOT STORY-LINE BOUND CONTEXT FOR THE SEXISM MAKING SENSE. AND FUCK IF HULK HAS SEEN PORNOGRAPHY THAT AT LEAST HAS BETTER ATTITUDES TOWARD WOMEN.

“]SERIOUSLY, HAS THE BLATANT SEXISM ON DISPLAY IN ARKHAM CITY ACHIEVED SOME LEVEL OF COMMENTARY? CAN HULK EXPLAIN THE GENDER ROLES? NO. IMAGINE HULK GOING ON WITH IT, “THE PLUNGING V-NECK OF CATWOMAN COUPLE WITH THE NON-STOP VERBAL BERATING OF WOMEN AS BITCHES IS ACTUALLY A BRECHTIAN MECHANISM TO SHOW HOW THE REALITY OF SEXISM IS EVERYWHERE, A NON-STOP ANALYSIS AND OH FOR FUCK SAKE HULK CAN’T GO ON WITH THIS SHIT… UGH. THERE IS NO ARGUMENT TO BE MADE. NONE.

IT’S NOT A “HEIGHTENED WORLD.” THE STUFF ON DISPLAY IN THE WORLD OF GRAND THEFT AUTO SKIRTS AS MORE OF A TOTAL SOCIETAL SATIRE AND IS CAREFUL TO INCLUDE THE BACKWARD NATURE OF THESE SEXUAL POLITICS. IT MAKES SENSE IN THE TONE OF THAT WORLD. BUT HERE? IN A BATMAN SEQUEL WHERE THERE WASN’T ANYTHING LIKE THAT BEFORE? NOT AT ALL.

AND DON’T TRY TO JUSTIFY IT AS SOME “BUT CATWOMAN KICKS SOME OF THOSE GUYS’ ASSES! IT’S FEMINISM!” THING. THOUGH A LOT OF PEOPLE SEEM TO THINK SO, THE WOMAN AS ACTION HERO IS NOT SOME SHORTCUT TO GIRL POWER. SHE’S ENTIRELY VAPID. IT IS THE MOST BASIC OF MALE CONFIGURATIONS TO GET OUT OF THE RESPONSIBILITY AND MORE IMPORTANTLY IT FEEDS RIGHT INTO THEIR MASTURBATE TO / SLAP AROUND LOVE / HATE THING. SO NO WAY.

HULK BET THAT SOME PEOPLE MAY TRY TO DEFEND THIS HORSESHIT DISPOSITION BY SAYING IT’S OKAY BECAUSE THE ONES SAYING IT ARE THE “BAD GUYS.” WHICH ISN’T ACTUALLY TRUE BECAUSE LOTS OF THE SECURITY GUARDS AND A GOOD GUY FROM LAST GAME ALL CHIP IN WITH THE “BITCH” TALK JUST AS MUCH AS EVERYONE ELSE. (2) AND IS THERE ANYTHING ABOUT THE WAY BATMAN OR CATWOMAN RESPOND TO ANY OF THIS THAT MAKES HULK THINK OTHERWISE? IS THERE ANYTHING ABOUT THE WAY IT’S SHOWN TO MAKE HULK THINK IT’S ANYTHING MORE THAN SEXIST FUN MEANT TO ELLICIT A FEW PAINFUL LAUGHS FROM AN AUDIENCE WHO DOESN’T KNOW ANY BETTER?

NOOP.

SO WHAT THE FUCKING FUCK?

IT’S SERIOUSLY NO BETTER THAN THIS:

SERIOUSLY… THE FUCK?!?! IT’S NOT LIKE HULK CAN GET AWAY FROM IT EITHER, IT’S AN ALL-OUT ASSAULT ON YOU SENSES. BATMAN PICKS UP ALL THESE CONVERSATIONS AS HE MOVES AROUND HEARING “BITCH, BITCH, BITCH, BITCH” YOU BETTER FUCKING LIKE THAT WORD IF YOU WANT TO TRULY LOVE ARKHAM CITY. LIKE LOVE THAT WORD AND EVERY WORST THING IT MEANS. IT MUST DELIGHT YOU TO YOUR BONES. EITHER THAT OR YOU’RE JUST NOT THINKING ABOUT IT.

BUT HERE’S THE REAL QUESTION OF THE HOUR: IF THE LAST ENTRY ARKHAM ISLAND KNEW HOW TO BLEND THE LINES OF SEXIST STUFF WITH SKIMPY OUTFITS AND SILLY TONE, AND MORE IMPORTANTLY JUST CONCENTRATE ON MAKING AN AGE-APPROPRIATE BATMAN GAME THEN WHAT THE FUCK HAPPENED TO THIS ONE?

WHERE DID THIS COME FROM?

HOW DO THESE CHOICES MAKE SENSE? WHAT MAKES THEM VIABLE IN ANY OTHER TERMS BESIDES DEPLORABLE?

NOTHING. THIS IS BASICALLY THE OPPOSITE OF STRAW DOGS.

DON’T SAY “OH THAT’S A MOVIE, BUT THIS IS A GAME” AND THAT THIS SHIT IN VIDEO GAMES DOESN’T MATTER. IT MATTERS AND IT MATTERS MORE EVERY DAY. VIDEO GAMES ARE OFFICIALLY A MEDIUM FOR THE MASSES AND THEY ARE ABOUT 90 YEARS BEHIND ACTUAL SOCIETY. FOR INSTANCE, THIS GUY IS ABSOLUTELY WRONG. SAYING THEY ARE JUST JUVENILE AND “PANDERING TO AN AUDIENCE” IS LIKE GETTING UP IN FRONT OF THE KKK, CALLING FOR THE DEATH OF ALL BLACK PEOPLE, AND THEN JUST SAYING YOU WERE “PANDERING TO AN AUDIENCE.” SO NO DICE. [UPDATE: WHAT HULK HAS WRITTEN HERE CATEGORIZES THE ARTICLE AS SOME KIND OF PROFANE NONSENSE AND THAT NOT THE CASE. IT ACTUALLY RATHER NUANCED AND HULK BASICALLY ONLY DISAGREEING WITH ONE ELEMENT OF THE CATEGORIZATION/LOGIC. SO APOLOGIES TO THE AUTHOR. SINCERELY]

IT IS A BIG DEAL.

IT IS A VERY, VERY BIG DEAL.

WHY?

BECAUSE WHEN HULK WAS BUYING IT IN THE MIDNIGHT LINE THE OTHER NIGHT THERE WERE ABOUT 90 GUYS ALL STANDING AROUND READY TO BUY. AMONG THEM, A FEW RANDOM GIRLS INTERSPERSED WHO RIGHTLY LOVED THE LAST GAME AND ARE NOW GOING TO HAVE TO DEAL WITH A REALLY, REALLY STRANGE TONE. OH SURE, CHANCES ARE THEY’RE USED TO MOST OF THE SEXISM IN VIDEO GAMES, BUT THIS IS A SPECIAL KIND OF ORNAMENTAL. THIS IS STEALTH SEXISM. SOMETHING FAR MORE INSIDIOUS THAN THE NAKED PANDERING OF DUKE NUKEM.

MORE IMPORTANTLY THERE WERE, AT MIDNIGHT MIND YOU, ABOUT THIRTY CHILDREN AGED 9-12 ALL WITH THEIR MOMS. ALL JOYFULLY WALKING OUT WITH THEIR NEW BATMAN GAME ALL WITH A BEVY OF UNSUSPECTING PARENTS AS TO WHAT THEY JUST BOUGHT AND WHAT THE FIRST HOUR WILL UNVEIL.(2)

DON’T THINK FOR A SECOND THIS ISN’T HOW THEY’RE LEARNING MODES OF SOCIALIZATION. HELL, THEIR SEXUALITY IS LITERALLY BEING FORMED AS WE SPEAK. SO HULK ARGUE THIS WEIRD, ADULT AND ALL-TOGETHER SEXIST TURN FOR THE BATMAN GAME IS VERY MUCH UNCALLED FOR.

:MRS. LOVEJOY "PLEASE, WON'T SOMEONE THINK OF THE CHILDREN!"

AND HERE WE GO WITH THE MORALIZING AND GOD HULK REALLY HATES DOING IT, BUT WHOEVER WROTE THIS SHIT IN ARKHAM CITY AND WHOEVER APPROVED IT SHOULD BE ASHAMED OF THEMSELVES. SERIOUSLY, HULK SOMEHOW HOPES THIS MESSAGE IF LIFTED UP OVER ROOFTOPS AND INTO THE SKY AND IS HEARD, BECAUSE IT’S NOT OKAY. AND IF THEY’RE NOT ASHAMED OF THEMSELVES, WELL THEN THEY HAVE THEIR OWN ISSUES TO WORK THROUGH. HULK GUESS THEY MIGHT HAVE THIS IDEA THAT PEOPLE WHO COMPLAIN ABOUT SEXISM ARE ALWAYS COLLEGE AGE WOMEN’S STUDIES MAJORS / LESBIANS (THE NON-SEXY KIND OF COURSE!) WHO WILL OBJECT TO THEIR EVERY ACTION AND “HARMLESS” JOKE SOLELY BASED ON THE FACT THAT THEY HAVE PENISES.

AND MAYBE, LIKE ALL THINGS, IT’S A LITTLE MORE GRAY THAN THAT, BUT THE POINT IS THAT THEY DON’T GET IT.

… TOO BAD THE REST OF THE GAME IS FUCKING EXCELLENT.

LIKE SERIOUSLY, IT’S GREAT AND SO MUCH FUN TO PLAY IT ISN’T EVEN FUNNY… WHICH JUST PUTS HULK IN MORE OF A PRECARIOUS POSITION. THE AMAZING PACKAGING DISTRACTS YOU FROM THE HARFMUL CONTENT.

… GODAMMIT VIDEO GAMES.

AND IF YOU WANT HEAR MORE RESPONSES AND COUNTERARGUMENTS PLEASE CHECK OUT PART 2. IF YOU COMMENTED BELOW CHANCES ARE YOUR POINT WAS DISCUSSED.

 

ENDNOTES!

(1) ALSO THERE IS THIS REALLY WEIRD QUASI-POLITICAL POT-SHOT WHERE A BUNCH OF DOCTORS WONDER WHY THEY WERE ATTACKED BY THE PRISONERS WHEN THEY WERE JUST THERE TO HELP, THEN CALL THEM A BUNCH OF ANIMALS WHO DON’T DESERVE IT.

(2) THIS ISN’T TO IMPLY HULK NOT ONE OF THOSE PEOPLE WHO THINK KIDS SHOULDN’T BE EXPOSED TO SEX OR VIOLENCE. NOT IN THE SLIGHTEST. IT’S JUST THAT CONTEXT MATTERS MORE THAN ACTUAL CONTENT. A KID SEEING BOOBS IN, LIKE, THE GODFATHER OR Y TU MAMA TAMBIEN, IS NOT ONLY FINE BUT SOCIALLY HEALTHY. MOVIES WHICH PROVIDE CONTEXTS FOR THE SEXUALITY AND PEOPLE INVOLVED.

480 Responses to “GODDAMMIT VIDEO GAMES: THE FIRST FEW HOURS OF ARKHAM CITY IS LOTS OF FUN, BUT SUPER-DUPER SEXIST”

  1. Amanda said

    Thank you so much for writing about video games and sexism. I love video games and don’t think they receive enough serious attention in regard to the way they are written, considering they are just as influential to the attitudes of their audiences as are television and film—possibly more influential because they are interactive, which I imagine might exacerbate the potential for sexism by requiring the gamer to respond to these “crazy bitch” characters according to the game’s objectives. (Or not. I haven’t played it, and now I don’t plan to. But damn it does sound fun ugh.)

    The sexism is ridiculous not just in video games but in video game-related writing. I read a lot of gaming magazines and websites, which have significant female staff and readers, but whenever there is an article about top female video game characters or some such topic, there is always heavy emphasis on breasts. I’ve come to both accept it and expect it, and that’s just sad. I am sort of baffled by it. So I really appreciate you bringing attention to this topic.

    • FILMCRITHULK said

      THAT’S THE PROBLEM, HULK LOVES VIDEO GAMES TOO! REALLY AND TRULY, BUT THIS WHOLE TONE AND TREATMENT OF WOMEN MATTERS. SPECIFICALLY AS MORE AND MORE FEMALE GAMERS COME ON BOARD AND HAVE TO PUT UP WITH THIS SHIT.

      AND IT SEEMS LIKE ANY ATTEMPTS TO ENGAGE VIDEO GAME DEVELOPERS DOESN’T WORK.

      THEN AGAIN, HERE’S WHAT WE’RE DEALING WITH:

      • said

        That video was the scariest, most disturbing thing I’ve seen in a while

      • FILMCRITHULK said

        YUP.

      • Dren said

        ……….wtf…..I’m not….what’s this….I don’t even….What is their damage?! And the weird giggling….

      • Nar-Nar said

        Okay, I’ve been looking forward to this game for months and months and months. I’m going to buy it at the end of the month still, because I love Batman and I LOVED Arkham Asylum, but this – as a woman who believes that women and girls don’t get enough credit/respect in the geek world as it is – discovery about the game you’ve shared has disheartened me greatly.

        However, looking at this video, it doesn’t make me madder, it makes me shake my head at the pathetic lowlifes that exist in the game development world. Those assholes who go on and on about feminism probably don’t even know what the word means, and assume that it’s just pissed off women on their period, or going through menopause (at 35?? SERIOUSLY? Who are these tools?).

        I dunno. I look at the new Catwoman series, issue #1, and she is just a sex toy, and in fact just does nothing substantial but screw Batman in costume at the end. There is something fundamentally backwards in the whole geek world. Is it a rebellion against the fact that girls are now more prominent in the gaming culture? (By the way, have you seen http://fatuglyorslutty.com? It’s HILARIOUS)

        Thanks for this. Seriously. It’s nice to know that there are decent people out there who can recognize things like this and bring it to light.

      • Alex said

        I would have thought that years of playing D&D and rolling my eyes at the drow would have cushioned the blow of watching that video, but I guess not.

      • HULK is off basis by a long shot on this one. You do a really good job of supporting your view on the content in Batman, but I honestly think it is just over the top.

        Most of those phrases you mentioned in your rant, are about Harley Quinn, not Catwoman. As we all know, Harley is a crazy bitch. The city you are exploring is filled with the worst of the worst in Gotham, do you really expect those characters to have any respect for women what so ever? A convicted rapist/murderer/child molester is going to say ah heck that girl is respectable but i don’t like her much. No, if they witness Harley Quinn randomly killing people just for kicks they are gonna say damn, that bitch is crazy. If they get attacked they are going to say rude things, they do the same for batman, i don’t see you ranting about that. So ride the rage Hulk, when you calm down and look at the game again, keeping in mind what i’ve included, i think you will understand why the dialogue is where it is.
        As for those parents who bought their kid the game, it is rated M for a reason, 17+

      • FILMCRITHULK said

        YOU DIDN’T READ THE ARTICLE.

        THE GAME IS RATED T FOR ONE.

        AND HULK ADDRESSES ALL OF YOUR CONCERNS IN PART TWO.

      • FILMCRITHULK said

        BTW. IT’S PROBABLY NOT THE BEST THING IN AN ARTICLE ABOUT THE SHALLOW OVERUSE OF THE WORD BITCH TO SAY “WELL THEY ARE A BITCH.”

        FOR EXAMPLE, IF HULK WAS COMPLAINING ABOUT THE OVER-USE OF THE N-WORD IN A MOVIE AND YOU SAID “WELL THAT GUY WAS DEFINITELY A N-WORD.” WOULD THAT MAKE ANY SENSE?

        HULK GET THERE IS AN OBVIOUS DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE SEVERITY OF THE TWO, BUT THE REASONING IS STILL THE SAME.

        BUT AGAIN, IT’S ACTUALLY NOT ABOUT THE WORD BUT THE CONTEXT.

        YOU’RE MISSING THE CONTEXT.

      • Tyler said

        That video’s not so bad. It’s a few socially retarded boobs making inappropriate jokes, but you’re treating it like it’s indicative of the entire gaming industry. Besides, these guys are on Game Boss (or whatever the f it’s called) so it’s clear that they’re failures anyway.

    • Do you watch Extra Creditz on PATV? They have a couple episodes covering sex and diversity in games, from the perspective of a game developer, and how to take the industry in the right direction.

      If you haven’t seen it, check it out. Here’s a good episode to start:

      http://penny-arcade.com/patv/episode/sex-in-games

    • Okay, I understand that it’s sexist but they’re your enemies. The scum of Gotham are calling a woman who beats the crap out of them a bitch. If games aren’t able to make their characters actually act as they would in the real world it detracts from the whole immersion factor of the game. Its like watching a movie like Men of Honor. The movie is full of racism… but its about a time where people were racist and its just portraying what happened to a black man who wanted to be a navy diver.

      With respect to Catwoman’s appearance, her character dresses provocatively in order to distract her enemies and take advantage of their underestimating actions. Also she has slept with Batman on multiple occasions in the DC continuity.

      But seriously has anyone been around some shady areas of town and listened to some of the things people say? If this game was accurate there would be much more colorful vocabulary being used. Maybe if Batman or one of the “good guys” was the one making lewd remarks you’d have something here but its just nonsense. There are a lot of ass holes in this world that call people all kinds of things, and a lot of it isn’t nice. If you’re looking something neutral like a episode of dora the explorer maybe don’t look to a game where the main character is called “The Dark Knight.” You’re making a mountain out of a molehill.

      Also, if you want to play the game with out the extra catwoman stuff, just don’t download the extra content. It removes her from a majority of the game. Simple as that.

      • Paladork said

        I agree. When the context is taken into account it becomes, in my opinion, much more believable and to me, less sexist. These are the scum of Gotham saying these things, like you said Eric, and that tiny detail does have to be taken into account.

        I want to discuss is the idea that…maybe Catwoman and Harley Quinn are actually bitches? Like their actions and behaviors would in large make most us say, “Wow, she was a total bitch to me.” Like I’m guessing that is probably why the bitch talk comes up.

        Most of us have the discretion or good manners not to talk like that, but these guys are either criminals or guards working in Arkham goddamn City of all places.

        I guess the point I’m coming to is would men have a right to feel offended if it was a female lead, most of the cast/villains/thugs were female, there were a few provocative male characters thrown in, and then have people reference these male characters as bastards or dicks?

        The last thing I really have to say on the matter is and granted this point has caused much debate, but who is the target audience? I know I’ll catch flak for this and I know there are girl gamers out there and I even know a few of them, but by in large, at least by the last polls and statistics I looked at, who makes up the majority of gamers? Guys do and so much of what the industry puts out is tuned for guys. I liken it to the concept of certain shows out there like the main ones that comes to mind are Sex in the City or Secret Life of the American Teenager. These shows are geared for women and girls and tend not to pull punches when it comes to gearing it specifically for them.

        I think that is what it comes down to for gamers, the realize who they are gearing the media for and embrace it. Does it make it right, no, but will a majority of the target demographic complain or find much to gripe about with the content? Probably not.

    • stublore said

      It seems this reviewer is a bitch!
      If you want to bitch about the game fair enough, but what exactly do you imagine is the way in which hardened criminals refer to women, esp women who are a threat?
      Bitch STFU!!!

  2. Minic said

    Just had that blissful moment where the text you’re reading articulates for you something you feel like you always knew, but couldn’t quite express. Thank you.

  3. CWW said

    This has really taken the wind out of my sails. I was really looking forward to playing this game and now I’m not so sure. I probably still will but will feel very disgusted the whole time.

    Hulk, didn’t you think Harley’s sexy nurse outfit in the first game went on the wrong side of fanservice as well? Harley has never been too sexualized as a character. Sure, she wears a skintight leotard and is generally depicted as the most perfect female form. However, that’s never usually used as a means of seeing her as cheesecake.

    But in the last game they just went completely for cheap Halloween costume sexy. And now the comics are following suit in Suicide Squad.

    • FILMCRITHULK said

      HULK WASN’T CRAZY ABOUT THE HARLEY STUFF, BUT HULK COULD “LIVE WITH IT” BECAUSE THE TONE WASN’T AS INSIDIOUS. THE TONE IS SUPER INSIDIOUS IN THIS ONE.

      BUT THE BIGGER PROBLEM IS THE GAME IS FUN AS SHIT. SPECIFICALLY WHIPPING AROUND THE CITY AS CATWOMAN IS SOMETHING HULK COULD DO FOR HOURS… IT CREATES A REAL CONUNDRUM.

      • CWW said

        Hulk,

        I think this brings up an interesting point. At what point as conscientious consumers of pop culture do we have the obligation to stop buying/playing/watching/listening to something that we find morally repugnant? From all I’ve heard, this is one of the best video games in a while. So I feel like I would be missing out on a pop culture event AND depriving myself of some genuine entertainment if I decide to skip it. However, may I do it at the cost of perpetuating and even giving money to a system that generates such ugly things as the sexism you described?

      • FILMCRITHULK said

        IT’S DISTRESSING ISN’T IT? HULK THINK THE KEY IS TO ADDRESS CONCERNS DIRECTLY TO DEVELOPERS. BECAUSE THE GAME IS GREAT AND PEOPLE WILL PAY GREAT GAMES REGARDLESS OF CONTENT.

        AND THE ONLY PEOPLE WHO SEEM TO GET PISSED ARE UPTIGHT PARENTS WHO COMPLETELY MISS WHAT’S ACTUALLY GOING ON.

        IT’S TIME TO EXPECT BETTER FROM VIDEO GAMES. WE’RE AT THE LEVEL WHERE THE DISCUSSION MATTERS MORE THAN EVER.

  4. Chayzar said

    Hulk smash Batman! With sound logic.

    Even uglier than the sexism in games is the way a game like this one can get across-the-board raves from the critics without acknowledgement of this issue. Dissenters become the punching bags of hyper-sensitive “mature” gamers (like the woman flooded with hate mail after correctly calling Metroid: Other M on its bullshit).

    I’d held off on picking this game up because I felt the second half of Asylum was more tedious than fun. No regrets after reading this.

    • FILMCRITHULK said

      YEAH THE ONLY DAY TO REALLY DEAL WITH THIS IS JUST COME AT IT STRAIGHT ON.

      AND IN HULK’S OPINION IT’S GOING TO TAKE THE LEADERSHIP OF MEN THAT THESE KINDS OF GUYS AGREE WITH AND HAVE SIMILAR TASTES TOO. CAUSE HONESTLY HULK THINK THEY’RE JUST NOT GOING TO LISTEN TO WOMEN OR SOMEONE THEY PRECIEVE TO BE A NON-GAMER WHO “DOESN’T GET IT.”

      WHICH IS, YOU KNOW, HORRIBLE. BUT HULK JUST HAS NO OTHER IDEA HOW TO REACH THEM.

      IT’S NOT OKAY.

      AND DEVELOPERS NEED TO BE RESPONSIBLE.

      • It’s funny, I just posted about this on Facebook earlier today in reference to this blog post: http://paxvalkyrie.tumblr.com/post/11399537687/no-flat-girls-how-allies-are-born .

        I am a woman, and I work in the industry, and you are absolutely right that the industry will only listen to men on the subject of appropriate portrayal of women. I am a core gamer and have been in the industry quite a while, and am fairly middle-of-the-road in my viewpoints, and yet I have been treated like (and labeled) a “radical feminist” for things like questioning why we can’t randomly assign a gender and appearance to avatars, instead of always assigning a male gender.

        Sexist men will only listen to other men on these issues. Which is a shame, because these aren’t “women’s issues.” They’re *quality* issues. They’re *narrative* issues. Creating the same hackneyed female characters in every damn game out there is bad design and bad writing, and it’s depriving the industry of the money they could be making off the half of the population that overwhelmingly views console gaming as not for them.

      • FILMCRITHULK said

        BTW. HULK THANKED YOUR CONTRIBUTIONS VERY MUCH PART 2. THANK YOU AGAIN.

  5. Clarknova said

    Eh, I think you are right about basically everything you’re saying, but you’re going waaaay overboard calling it pornography. Also, and this is in no way defending the sexist content of this game, Batman comics have portrayed Catwoman this way for years and years. I would argue she’s an inherently sexist character. I also think that all the “bitch” talk is meant to make the thugs etc seem more “evil”, but the writers were so lazy they waaay overdid it. I don’t think you’re making a mountain out of a molehill, but I do think you’re blowing it a bit out of proportion. Good read (and god game) either way!

    • Clarknova said

      *GOOD game. Ugh.

    • FILMCRITHULK said

      YEAH IT IS A REALLY GOOD GAME AND THAT PART OF THE PROBLEM.

      AND HULK ACKNOWLEDGED THE “STRETCH” OF CALLING IT PORNOGRAPHY ALONG WITH THE OBVIOUS DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE TWO, BUT HULK’S POINT WAS THAT THE CASUALNESS OF THE SEXISM REMINDED HULK OF A SIMILAR KIND OF THINKING, SPECIFICALLY THAT THERE’S NO REAL CHARACTER CONTEXT.

  6. Steve said

    Isnt the game rated M? And even if it’s T, why are kids buying it? Either way, I really think the article has the right mindset, but is overreacting. My girlfriend is the one who pointed this article out to me at work, and said it was silly. Mind you, my girlfriend is not the main voice of women, but if she had little problem with the bad guys saying bitch, I’m sure those other girls wont as well. As for the good guys saying bitch, who honestly cares? It’s a bad word, but a helluva lot of people use it. Hulk, I’d really like to see your reaction on a game based in modern detroit. Would you complain about the explicit use of the “N-word” by both morally good and bad people? It’s a bad word, but it’s a part of life, people good and bad use it. I’m not denying that Arkham City went overboard with it, but I think your article is going overboard, especially with the implications that Rocksteady Studios is themselves sexist.

    • FILMCRITHULK said

      KIDS ARE BUYING BECAUSE IT’S A BATMAN GAME. AND THAT’S THE REAL POINT. EVEN MILLER’S UBER DARK COMICS HAVE A CONTEXT AND SEXUAL APPROPRIATION THAT’S AT LEAST INTERESTING.

      AS TO THE REST OF YOUR COMMENT HULK NOT SURE WE’RE GOING TO FIND COMMON GROUND ON THIS ONE. WE JUST HAVE RADICALLY DIFFERENT INTERPRETATIONS NOT JUST OF WHAT IS APPROPRIATE BUT HOW THOSE PORTRAYALS COME ACROSS ON SCREEN.

      KEEP IN MIND SOME OF HULK’S FAVORITE MOVIES ARE NON PC EXPLOITATION FARE, BUT THOSE HAVE A RADICALLY DIFFERENT CONTEXT THAN BLOCKBUSTERS. AND THESE GAMES ARE BLOCKBUSTERS.

      WHO HONESTLY CARES? HULK DOES. AND OTHER PEOPLE SHOULD.

      • Steve said

        I see your point, and glad to see you realize when a debate isnt going to go great. That said I agree that we have vastly different interpretations. I live in Detroit so language like this is common from everyone, though the use of the words may differ in their actual meaning.

        It wasnt right for me to ask “who cares”, as you made it evident in your article that you do. I guess I’m trying to imply that a majority of people, men and women, will be left unphased by this games portrayal of language because for a lot of places, it’s just very xommon.

        One thing I did forget to mention in my last post was that the fact that all the women are hypersexualized is a fault for the game, but as many have said, those are concepts from the MKvsDC game. And you have to admit that in the case of Catwoman and Poison Ivy, their designs do fit their character. Harley has no excuse though, and I do hate the fact that she says “who wouldnt like it” as if it’s trying to nod at the haters who hated it when first shown, me included. Harley has never had the personality of a sexual deviant. If anything, Timm made her to be child-like.

      • FILMCRITHULK said

        HULK THANK FOR YOUR COMMENT. HULK REALLY NOT WANT TO GET INTO ARGUMENTS AND BE DISSENTING BUT FIND COMMON GROUND. HULK GLAD WE COULD.

        HULK’S ARGUMENT IS BASICALLY CONTEXT.

        UBIQUITOUS USE OF THE WORD BITCH IS TOTALLY FINE BY HULK IN AN EPISODE OF OZ OR SOMETHING OR A CONTEXT THAT FEELS LIKE IT’S MORE THE SUBJECT. LIKE WITH THE GRAND THEFT AUTO HYPER-WORLDS IT WOULD MAKE WAY MORE SENSE.

        BUT IN A BATMAN GAME THAT KIDS WILL WANT TO PLAY? (IT’S ONLY RATED T) AND IN A WAY THAT FEELS SO CASUAL? IT JUST DOESN’T FEEL RIGHT AND COMES ACROSS WAY MORE INSIDIOUS.

      • Harry Manback said

        But Hulk, this game wasn’t MADE for kids. If not the parents’ responsibility to keep kids from buying or playing games which are rated for outside their age group, then who’s? I know I certainly couldn’t have bought a game before I was old enough to play a “T” rated game without my parents knowing (they were fine with it, I was a mature kid; however, I couldn’t buy without their consent/help, is the point). Beyond that, as others have stated, it is a bit of a flip-flop to say that you are fine with prisoners (who are portrayed as hard, and not good people) in Oz using the word “bitch” derogatorily, yet the equivalent group of people in Arkham City using it is sexist? It’s a matter of context, and in that context (sexist, murdering, raping, violent men), the word would certainly be employed in such a way. You can’t have it both ways, either you’re not okay with any accurate portrayal of harsh, yet contextually-appropriate language; or you’re simply okay with it. Anything in between is being a bit too wishy-washy, no offense intended obviously.

      • FILMCRITHULK said

        DID YOU READ PART TWO OF COLUMN? WE SORT OF TALK ABOUT A LOT OF STUFF YOU BROUGHT UP IN IT.

      • Harry Manback said

        D’oh! I found this via a link and somehow missed the big link at the beginning. Chalk it up to late-night surfing; I apologize, and retract any of my arguments until I have read part two. Regardless of your stance, I commend you for your willingness to debate civilly.

    • “Mind you, my girlfriend is not the main voice of women, but if she had little problem with the bad guys saying bitch, I’m sure those other girls wont as well.”

      That’s one hell of an assumption.

      • Steve said

        I meant to imply the casual female audience, at least the ones around my city won’t mind at all. There will of course, always be exceptions.

      • The fact that you refer to them as “girls” instead of “women” says a hell of a lot more about your attitude than all of the other words in your posts. I feel bad that your girlfriend seems to have bought into the mindset that it’s okay to let people address women as “bitches” because…it…doesn’t bug her. Good thing she, and you, don’t get to dictate what hurts others, and I think if you look into systemic misogyny a little more, you might get a clearer view of just what Hulk is saying here.

      • They may not come right out and say they mind–especially when so many people will respond with either a dismissal (telling them subconsciously that their opinions, feelings, and viewpoints don’t matter) or an outright attack–vis a vis the whole “feminazi” thing or “feminists don’t have a sense of humor” or other “woman with opinion is scary and must be shut up” response (whether they’re consciously aware of it or not).

        It is part and parcel of being a woman that plays video games for us to think twice before speaking up–we already know we’re only tolerated at best, exploited at worst, and all but ignored when it comes to actual input. But it diminishes women, men, and storytelling in the entire medium of videogames when it’s not either addressed or at least lampshaded.

        To me, Arkham City was more a statement on the US incarceration culture and attitudes about punishment vs. rehabilitation, taken to extremes and mixed liberally with psychotic personalities on both the bad and the good sides (you can’t tell me Batman doesn’t need a good long vacation in an asylum himself).

    • romanchukenator said

      I find the article a pretty good analysis of Arkham City and sexism. The thing is, women aren’t defacto feminists so when a woman isn’t bothered by blatant or insideous sexism, or doesn’t notice it, we can’t just file away criticisms under “overboard” or “crazy fema-Nazi.”

      The casual usage of bitch or nigger or other racist and sexist language isn’t indicative of its effects: the accepted status quo at one point was to geniunely enjoy black face, deny women full citizen rights and view worker’s rights as extreme Communist propaganda.

      We’ve moved beyond those injustices, changed the accepted status quos; the critical analysis of casual normal behavior plays a big part as to why we no longer accept blackface without satire or appropriate commentary.

      The use of the word bitch, the lack of respect for any female characters in Arkham City and the unaware casual (lazy?) attitude towards blatant and insideous sexism needs a strong analysis. Not to point fingers and say “you’re an evil sexist studio, Rocksteady!” but to educate and ask about intent.

  7. Maxmaps said

    I understand the point of the article, but I think part of the interpretation is lost. The only instance of the hero being sexist from your understanding is sadly only interpretation, everything else is bad, dumb guys saying stupid, dumb shit.

    Also this is a bit nitpicky, Hulk, but what you put up as ‘ACTUAL CONCEPT ART FROM THE GAME’ isn’t that. It’s a render from Mortal Kombat vs DC, a game where they treated the catwoman character almost as bad as the newest Catwoman comic.

    Still an interesting read and opinion though.

    • FILMCRITHULK said

      SORRY THEN THE CONCEPT ART WAS LABELED WRONG. HULK WILL FIX.

      AND THE POINT IS THAT WHAT YOU HAVE THE BAD DUMB GUYS SAYING MATTERS. SPECIFICALLY WHEN IT’S UBIQUITOUS AND THERE’S NO REAL CONTEXT. PLUS THE TONE AND THE MASTURBATORY QUALITIES THAT ACCOMPANY IT JUST MAKE IT SUPER SHITTY.

    • Harry Manback said

      I’m sorry for replying to two of your posts, but your comment here, Hulk: “specifically when it’s ubiquitous and there’s no real context”; how is this context any different than any other setting in a prison/prisoner’s society? How is it any different than a period piece showing people employing the N-word (no matter how wrong we may know it to be now, it was “ubiquitous” at one point)? I feel like you’ve attached yourself deeply to the idea that there is no context, which is a very facile argument.

      • Harry Manback said

        And since I can’t edit, I notice something in a post just below, which makes me raise a serious question: Why is it okay to call a guy an “asshole” but not to call a woman a “bitch”? Why is it okay to call a guy a “dick” but not a woman a “cunt”? Is THIS not a double standard which women wish to advance in their favor, despite all the claims of fair and equal treatment? If a woman friend wants to hang out with a group of guys with salty language, and expects to be able to lob insults–playfully or otherwise–yet expects a special treatment of “certain words are off limit in regards to me, or other women”, is that not sexism? And I direct this question to anyone who feels they have a satisfactory answer; I’ve posed it numerous times on a few message boards with intelligent people which I frequent, and further than “interesting question”, no one can really answer why such a double standard exists.

      • FILMCRITHULK said

        THIS MAY SOUND WEIRD BUT THERE’S A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN IN-GAME CONTEXT AND LARGER GAME-PLAYING / CREATION CONTEXT. THE LARGER GAME-PLAYING CONTEXT IS WHAT HULK WAS WORRIED ABOUT. AND THE MAINLY, THAT IT WAS A REALLY JUVENILE ONE. “THEY’RE BAD GUYS SO WE CAN DISPLAY A VERY SHITTY PORTRAYAL OF CASUAL SEXISM IN THIS WORLD” BEING IT.

        AS THAT, IT’S NOT AN EITHER / OR SITUATION.

      • To respond to your comment, since Hulk didn’t specifically address this part of it–

        Calling a man a “dick” relegates him to nothing more than a sexual organ. That’s, as far as insults go, fairly potent, dehumanizing, and a common resort. To call a woman by insulting names–well, I can list off half a dozen names that refer to women by their sexual organs, sexual proclivities/activities, or degrade them to lower than animals, and the only word you gave that was even remotely gendered for men was “dick”. That’s pretty clearly no accident in our society.

        There’s something called a power imbalance at work here. Men are a traditionally empowered group (and please take what I say as generalizations, not speaking to specific individuals, because everyone’s experience varies to some degree) and women a disempowered group, most often because of the societal structure which favors men. This is historical fact, easily provable, and for the sake of this comment (because this is a delayed back-and-forth), I’m going to assume from the writing in your other comments that you’re intelligent enough to recognize this and agree.

        Now imagine this is a discussion of racism (which has some wide, obvious parallels to misogyny/sexism, despite the distinct nuances and differences of the situations). “Why is ok for a black man to call white people ‘cracka’ but white people can’t call black people ‘niggers’?” The word “cracker” has not, historically, been used by an empowered group. Calling someone a nigger used to be the default to refer to anyone of a certain skintone (or social class). Someone so called could legally be killed in the streets and nobody would bat an eye. Though this has changed, the word’s connotations still tie it to a time when non-white people were seen as less than human. Calling a white person cracker has never implied that they could be picked up as a “runaway” and sold into horrific bondage for no reason other than someone’s word that they had “black blood”.

        Being a “nigger” was, and still is, a dangerous position in society. Being a “cracker” has never been dangerous. White people /as a whole/ have always held the power, and it is they who determine what happens to others, what labels others get or don’t get, and how words can be used to degrade.

        “Niggers” couldn’t vote. “Crackers” could. Do you understand, or am I talking in circles? I just want to be sure I’m making sense, haha, so I’m not wasting keystrokes going at it from the wrong angle. :)

  8. Sir Laguna said

    So, we have the evil guys calling “bitch” the female characters… THEY ARE THE BAD GUYS! THAT’S HOW IT WORKS!! and the good guys? Harley just came in and make them prisioners… I will call her “bitch” (or worst) too! and if it’s an guy, it’s an “asshole” (or worst).

    And about the kids… isn’t this game rated “M”? (ages 17 and up).

    Oh, and about the Catwoman outfit and dialogues? wel… Ok, there’s no excuse for that.

    • FILMCRITHULK said

      THE GAME ALONG WITH THE PREDECESSOR ARE RATED T.

      AND HULK EXPLAINED THAT NOT ONLY THAT THAT’S “NOT HOW IT WORKS” BUT THAT EVEN GOOD GUYS THROW THEIR HAT IN THE “BITCH RING.” AND THE FACT THAT IT IS SO FUCKING UBIQUITOUS AND UNQUESTIONED IS THE PROBLEM. NOT THAT IT HAPPENS. IT’S THE TONE.

      AND THERE’S A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A CHARACTER REACTING TO SOMETHING AND EVERYONE CALLING EVERYBODY BITCHES REGARDLESS OF SITUATION.

      THE POINT IS THERE’S NO REAL EXCUSE FOR ANY OF IT.

      • Sir Laguna said

        Yeah, I was wrong about the rating, and that’s a problem, I was absolutely sure that it was an “M” because of the tone of the game, I don’t think it should be “T”.

        I still think “That’s how it works”. The use of the word “bitch” and the tone in which is used goes right the context of the game. Well… at least that’s my opinion.

      • Rob C said

        There is one set of good guys in Arkham City, and that’s the medical team in the Church (and for the record, they NEVER use the word “bitch”).

        The security guards in Arkham City are NOT good guys. That’s sort of the point. The fact that you don’t seem to grasp this; which should’ve been obvious at the very start of the game when they kidnap you and throw you in Arkham City means that I simply cannot take any of your other criticism seriously.

    • If all the bad guys, and all the good guys (when referring to a bad guy), used only the term “douchebag,” you wouldn’t find that noteworthy?

  9. JONAH KEEL said

    Dear Hulk,

    It makes me sad that most people still don’t get rhetoric. (Even apparently some of your readers, who I’d have thought WOULD.)

    I had a fascinating discussion with two rather skilled writers at our monthly comic book club about how I can’t enjoy Garth Ennis’s writing due to the inherent sexism on display in how he treats his female characters, specifically in regards to context. These guys didn’t get it and they are TALENTED writers.

    Thanks for saving me the conundrum you experienced. And for trying to get people to grasp how the meaning beneath pop culture is powerfully shaping us.

  10. Alaska Boy said

    Amen Brother Banner!!!! Preach it!!!

    Seriously, I’m deeply pleased to see actual video game and comic books fans finally calling BS shenanigans on all the hyper-sexualization in the medium and the inherent sexism of the TONE and CONTEXT. It’s damaging and demeaning and it’s high-time people with cred call it what it is.

    Like this: http://io9.com/5844355/a-7+year+old-girl-responds-to-dc-comics-sexed+up-reboot-of-starfire

    • FILMCRITHULK said

      GREAT LINK. HULK GONNA TWEET THAT IF COOL?

    • Nar-Nar said

      LOVED that article.

      • Alaska Boy said

        Me too (obviously), but the other articles linked are also well worth the read. DC has a serious problem, and Marvel isn’t too far behind…

      • Harry Manback said

        Yes, the comics do seem to have a bit of a problem…people outside the intended age group partaking in the medium, and other media associated with it. But, as with all things in our society, it certainly isn’t the parents who let their children access such things; it’s the creators who are creating (whether well-written or not) adult-themed, or sexual, or violent characters and situations, right (despite, if I’m not mistaken, the publisher even issuing a statement that the Starfire comics are NOT intended for children, and they don’t want children reading them)?

      • Alaska Boy said

        You’re missing the whole point if you think this is about “appropriate ages”. The reader’s age is irrelevant to the argument, which is that the MANNER of portraying the content is what is so destructive–far more than the content itself.

  11. The fact that the “bad guys” say it IS the context. This sort of game is a very clear good vs. evil sort of story, so that anything the evil people say is automatically rendered wrong and immoral. In fact, I would say that this is the sort of game that goes above and beyond to make every bad character just about as evil as possible – not a single good or right thing can come out of their mouth. Now to be fair, I have yet to play Arkham City – BUT, I have played Arkham Asylum an embarrassing amount, so I’m basing my experience on the dialogue I heard in that game. Unless there’s been a drastic change in tone I think this still applies.

    Thugs in that game were constantly talking about wanting to kill innocent people, they were greedy, they were selfish, they turned on each other, they were mutinous, on and on. Not a single thing was meant to be taken as representative of the writer’s moral beliefs, and in fact you could simply look at the thug dialogue as a way to inspire the player to attack them. They were the worst of the worst. They were scum. They deserved to be beaten.

    I don’t see how this is different. I don’t see how their sexist comments are meant to be the only comments they make that reflect on the developers. The context of it coming out of their mouths is all that’s needed for the developers to clearly communicate to you “This is WRONG. This is BAD. These are BAD THINGS to say.”

    NOW. I am in absolute, 100% full agreement that sexism is rampant in the video game industry. I fully agree that the female heroine is not an automatic pass, and in fact I think it makes things worse sometimes (playing a role as male fantasy vs. female role model). I agree that the use of the word “bitch” is de-humanizing and offensive, so I at least agree that the use of that word by “good guys” is reprehensible. (However, I think we’re talking about a different level of sexism here. I think ‘bitch’ is a word that shouldn’t be used, but I don’t believe that everyone who uses it is sexist. Just a little insensitive.) I simply think you’re off base in your interpretation of the enemy dialogue.

    • FILMCRITHULK said

      YOU GOTTA PLAY THE GAME BECAUSE THERE HAS BEEN A DRASTIC CHANGE IN TONE. HULK AGREE WITH EVERYTHING YOU SAID ABOUT FIRST ONE (IT’S ONE OF HULK’S FAVORITE GAMES EVER) BUT THIS IS DOWNRIGHT FUCKING WEIRD.

      THE PROBLEM IS THAT THE OGLING IS FUCKING CONSTANT IN THIS AND THE MASTURBATORY TALK THAT GOES ALONG WITH IT COMPOUNDS THE WEIRDNESS.. AND THEN THERE’S THE FACT THE FEMALE CHARACTERS BASICALLY DO NOTHING TO COUNTERACT WHAT’S GOING ON. NEITHER DOES BATMAN. IT’S LIKE IT’S ALL ONE BIG FUN IN JOKE ON THE PART OF THE WRITERS. MORE IMPORTANTLY IT DOESN’T BELONG IN A BATMAN GAME (BATMAN DECONSTRUCTIVE COMIC? SURE)

      IF YOUR LAST PARAGRAPH IS TRUE THEN PLAY AND YOU’LL LIKELY AGREE.

      • Harry Manback said

        Why does it belong in one medium and not another? Has The Simpsons, South Park, Futurama, etc., not shown that cartoons, despite being for children, needn’t be solely for children? If Batman can be deconstructed in film, comic, or hell even text; then why not in a video game? Especially if video game players are skewing older than ever before. I really am not trying to troll by replying to so many comments, but so many of your arguments are incredibly facile and laden with straw men, and I’m coming across them one by one as I read the comments.

      • Harry Manback said

        ***cartoons, despite being for children INITIALLY***

      • FILMCRITHULK said

        THE CONVERSATION HAS MOVED TO COLUMN 2. PLEASE FOLLOW IT BECAUSE MOST OF THESE THINGS ADDRESSED THERE. HULK THANK.

  12. Jason Collins said

    I came across this article VIA movie bob’s Twitter and must say while your point is strong I feel what’s happened is the result of writing vs medium. See with regards to Arkham Asylum this in context is supposed to be full of not just BAD guys, but rather the WORST kind of people. We’re talking murderers and rapists. Now in context what kind of dialogues are these archetypes going to have with regards to the fairer sex who they
    A) already have a low opinion of
    And
    B) have been secluded from for years, resulting in years of a maintained opinion
    As such, it seems that the context of this type of dialogue could be the type of. “these aren’t just bad people but horrible people” tone the game wants to set.
    As to the almost enjoyment of Batman manhandling
    Am I supporting the pun using oversexualized catwoman, nope.

    • Jason Collins said

      Using phone to post bad idea…..
      As to Batman manhandling Harley Quinn, this is a character that has not really been written as particularly tough. So I feel in context, it sounds like Batman just taking a relaxed approach to an easy obstacle.

      Ultimately the only aspect I’ll agree with is the pun using catwoman. I’ve always thought of her as a professional their type character who mainly uses flirtation as a means to an end.

      Only thing I’m going to finalize with this is that I’ve taken arkham asylum (and when I get it city) as Dad’s or adults Batman. There are kid friendly bat games like brave and the bold to pull in that particular audience.

    • FILMCRITHULK said

      THE PROBLEM IS THAT’S NOT HOW IT COMES ACROSS.

      INSTEAD OF BEING DISGUSTED BY THESE GUYS IT COMES ACROSS AS SOME FUNNY IN JOKE WE’RE SUPPOSED TO LAUGH IT. THAT’S WHAT HULK IS TALKING ABOUT WITH THE TONE CHANGE. COUPLED WITH THE VAPID OVER-SEXUALIZATION OF CATWOMAN AND QUITE FRANKLY, A WHOLE BUNCH OF OTHER SHIT, IT IS FUCKED UP.

      HAVE YOU PLAYED THE GAME YET? IT ISN’T JUST SOMETHING HULK SEEING, BUT AN ALL OUT ASSAULT.

  13. Andrew said

    I wanted to read through this but the capslock prevented me.

    • FILMCRITHULK said

      SORRY. HULKS ARE JUST LIKE THIS.

    • Nar-Nar said

      Are you serious? Get over it dude. It’s worth a read.

      • craig said

        Caps lock + Talking in third person = Crazy person not worth listening to.

        I get it, I’ve played it a few hours, but its a game of a billionaire dressing up as a bat and fighting crime, how serious should it be? Both Harley Quinn and Catwoman are badass figures.

      • FILMCRITHULK said

        1. THE HULK THING IS A META JOKE.

        2. WHY IS A GAME THAT’S BEING SEXIST NOT WORTH TAKING SERIOUSLY JUST BECAUSE IT HAS FANTASTICAL ELEMENTS? THE ARGUMENT IS THE SAME REGARDLESS OF GENRE. IF ANYTHING THE CASUALNESS IS MORE OF A REASON TO BRING IT UP.

  14. Matt W said

    I totally agree with this. Started playing last night, and was embarrassed to be playing in the same room while my wife was working, which never occurred with the first game. The scene where Batman grins as he chokes Harley and flings her to the side is pretty disgusting, and the bitch thing is just way over the top. I think part of that is that society’s attitude toward the word ‘bitch’ has shifted subtly over the last few years. I never hear it used playfully anymore; it’s always mean-spirited and misogynistic, and as a result, much more rare than it used to be, at least in my circles. So it’s doubly jarring to hear it over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again in the game.

  15. that_guy said

    Here’s a little context, it’s a massive prison city full of rapists, murders, an social deviants. All together with virtually no female presence. If this took place in a normal area, with normal inhabitants, I might agree with you. But, it isn’t. If you take a bunch of rage filled thugs and listen to them talk about women, it’ll be “bitch this” “bitch that,” want proof? Listen to rap.

    • FILMCRITHULK said

      THEN HOW COME THE LAST GAME HAD NONE OF IT?

      AND AGAIN CONTEXT IS ABOUT PRESENTATION NOT LOGIC. AND THE PRESENTATION IS WEIRD AS FUCK.

      AND THE RAP COMMENT COMES OFF A LITTLE WEIRD.

    • FILMCRITHULK said

      ALSO IF THEY’RE DEVIANTS WHY IS IT MEANT TO BE FUNNY?

      • Michael said

        It… isn’t. And they are.

        Seriously, are you arguing that the inmates of Arkham City aren’t deviants?

      • Tania W said

        What? What Arkham City are you playing? I’ve almost completed the game and in no instance can I remember the thugs’ conversations being used for “humor”. They are supposed to be bad guys, and the conversations that Batman overhears only emphasizes that. The bad guys call Catwoman a ‘bitch’….they also talk about maiming the Penguin, mock the Joker because he’s dying, and discuss ways to kill Harley once the Joker dies. These thugs are the scum of society. They are inside Arkham City because they are murderers, rapists and god knows what else.

        I’d understand the complaints if if was Batman or Robin saying these things. But it isn’t. It’s only the villains who talk like this. Why? BECAUSE THEY ARE BAD GUYS.

      • that_guy said

        i have to agree with Michael on both points here. In the first game the only female the inmates had any interaction with was Harley Quinn, and all of the bad guys worked for Joker, so it wouldn’t make a whole lot of sense for them to be tearing her apart. In Arkham City, Joker is sick and his gang seems to be having many loyalty issues due to that, so you get a little more negative chatter.

        Second point, it’s not meant to be funny, or if it is, it’s in a very sadistic way. In their world, the torture and murder of ‘innocent’ civilians is a normal occurrence. Two thugs have a casual conversation about how they tortured a volunteer doctor, broke both his legs, and dropped him into a smelting pit.

      • It isn’t just the prisoners calling women “bitch”. Or have you not played the game?

      • They’re not talking about killing Harley, they’re talking about raping her. Way to miss the point. Sloppy, lazy writing that /just happens to be/ misogynist is as bad as /intentionally/ misogynist writing–I would even contend it’s worse, because it’s the difference between targeting someone and being so destructive that you hurt people /as a matter of course/.

        I have a feeling I’m addressing a lot of apologists, though, so I’m sure this point, like Hulk’s /entire fucking post/, will be missed and disregarded.

  16. Wow, this is disappointing. I had concerns about the way Catwoman was portrayed from the get go (I was disappointed at how cleavage-exposing her outfit is when the initial concept artwork that Hulk posted at the top doesn’t emphasize that), but I had no idea it was this bad.

    I think some people are missing the point here by saying that since it’s the villains saying “bitch” constantly, it’s not a problem. And I certainly think this is a point that’s usually worth making (I’m thinking here of the people who decry Harry Potter as morally corrupting and then quote Voldemort as proof), but not this time.

    I might be mis-understanding Hulk here, but I think what he’s trying to point out is that nothing in the context of the game warrants this view. Catwoman seems to be portrayed as nothing more than a walking pin-up figure, so how can we expect disagree with the villains for objectifying her when we, the audience, are all but urged to do so as well?

    Interesting side note: DC themselves have come under fire for the portrayal of female heroes in their “new 52″, with the relaunched Catwoman being cited as a particular example of pandering to horny teenagers. Do a Google search for “new 52″ and “sexism” and you’ll get tons of hits.

    It’s a shame, because I honestly think Catwoman is one of the very few superheroines for whom a bit of titillation and sexiness (is that a word?) would feel entirely appropriate, but only if it seemed like a natural extension of her character and not an attempt to get the audience to jerk off to her.

    Oh well. Maybe Nolan will get it right with his version of Selina Kyle.

  17. Dave said

    To be clear, the article over on Joystuck which you so eloquently call out concludes that in a wide range of cases, sexism in video games is an aspect of the juvenile origins of the games industry. Not that they are pandering to their audience.

    Just an FYI – might be good to read the article first.

    • FILMCRITHULK said

      FIRST OFF HULK OWES YOU AN APOLOGY.

      HULK’S COMMENTS MAKE IT SEEM LIKE THE ENTIRE ARTICLE IS A BROAD STROKE OF NONSENSE AND THAT IS ABSOLUTELY NOT THE CASE WHATSOEVER. HULK APOLOGIZE AGAIN FOR THAT.

      WHAT HULK ESSENTIALLY DISAGREE WITH IS THE IDEA THAT YOU CAN CALL WHAT THEY’RE DOING AS JUVENILE BUT NOT SEXIST. HULK WILL UPDATE AND CORRECT IN ARTICLE.

    • FILMCRITHULK said

      FIXED.

      • Dave said

        Cheers!

        It is an important issue within the games industry at the moment – the more discussion about it the better! Can’t wait to have a crack at Arkham City myself and see if I pick up on the same sort of issues.

        May actually be getting an interview sorted with one of the developers – may be something I can put to them.

      • FILMCRITHULK said

        YEAH. AGAIN. HULK APOLOGIZE. HULK WAS RESEARCHING THE OTHER NIGHT AND YOURS WAS ONE OF THE FEW HULK EVEN FOUND ON THE TOPIC.

        LET HULK KNOW WHAT YOU THINK WHEN YOU GET TO PLAY IT. AGAIN, THE SHAME IS THAT OTHERWISE IT’S A TRULY GREAT GAME.

  18. This is a significant problem of the weird hybridization of moving picture narratives and entertainment softwares that modern video games have become. What do you do when you have a rotten, repugnant piece of shit movie married to what otherwise qualifies as a great video game?

    • FILMCRITHULK said

      THAT’S A LOT OF THE PROBLEM FOR SURE. IN EVERY TECHNICAL ASPECT THE GAME IS GREAT, THE OBJECTIVES ARE SOLID, BUT IT’S JUST A NAGGING THEMATICAL ELEMENT. THAT INDEED THE PROBLEM. GREAT COMMENT.

  19. Michael said

    The game isn’t sexist, but it certainly contains sexist characters. This game is aimed at being a dark, gritty, semi-realistic potrayal of what life would be if Gotham City and Batman existed. It certainly shouldn’t reflect on the developers that the characters they create are racist: i.e., low life street scum call girls bitches, ecspecially if they mess up their operations. In addition, Harley Quinn is clearly a bitch. She’s a BAD person. Easy as pie.

    All of this up there? That’s what turns people off from the feminist movement: seeing enemies where none exist, and picking the wrong fights.

    • FILMCRITHULK said

      SOMETHING TELLS HULK WE’RE NOT GOING TO FIND COMMON GROUND ON THIS ONE.

      AND YOUR COMMENT ABOUT THE FEMINIST MOVEMENT IS KIND OF DISTRESSING. BECAUSE THE TRUTH IS THERE IS PART ABOUT 4TH WAVE FEMINISM YOU ARE ACTUALLY CORRECT ABOUT… BUT THAT IS NOT THIS. NOT BY A LONG SHOT. THIS IS OBVIOUS STUFF SO WHAT REALLY TURNS PEOPLE OFF FEMINISM IS WHEN PEOPLE DON’T SEE PLAIN AS DAY SEXISM AT WORK WHEN COMPARED TO THE “DARK/GRITTY” THING YOU’RE TALKING ABOUT. THIS IS A REAL CONCERN AND NOT A TRIVIALITY. BELIEVE HULK, HULK KNOW THE DIFFERENCE.

      • Michael said

        But Hulk, how is this sexism? This is realism – its actually how bad people talk! I don’t have any problems with gender equality, nor do I have problems with every person being treated humanly, and with dignity. However, I think its unfair to take certain characters, using dialogue that is, in all honesty (if unfortuantly) accurate, considering the context; and turn that into the developers of the game hating women.

        Help me understand! I promise I’m not hostile, nor do I want this to turn into an exchange of hostilities.

      • FILMCRITHULK said

        OKAY, COOL.

        THE FIRST THING YOU HAVE TO DO IS SEPARATE IN YOUR MIND THE IDEA THAT JUST BECAUSE SOMETHING IS LOGICAL / REALISTIC DOESN’T MEAN THAT IT IS THEREBY OKAY TO DO (AND OF COURSE YOU CAN SEPARATE THEM, HULK NOT IMPLYING YOU CAN’T WHATSOEVER).

        THAT’S THE THING ABOUT CREATIVE CHOICES, THEY INHERENTLY REFLECT YOUR OWN VALUES AND IT’S NOT THE MERE USE, BUT THE PRESENTATION OF THAT USE WHICH COLORS YOUR VALUES. WHEN YOU USE CERTAIN WAYS OF TALKING YOU HAVE TO BE SURE THE CONTEXT MAKES SENSE. THAT’S THE INHERENT RESPONSIBILITY OF THE AUTHOR (AND TO BE FAIR, A GAME HAS MANY AUTHORS)

        FOR EXAMPLE IN LARRY CLARK’S “KIDS” THE MOVIE HAS ALL IT’S YOUNG PEOPLE SAYING DOING / TERRIBLE THINGS IN THE NAME OF REALISM. BUT NONE OF IT IS MEANT TO BE FUNNY OR ENJOYABLE. IT’S AN INDICTMENT. IT’S MEANT TO BE HARROWING.

        BUT ARKHAM CITY? WHY ARE THEY USING THE GRITTY/REALISTIC LANGUAGE?

        MOST OF THE TIME IT’S TO BE FUNNY. AND THE IT COMES FROM ALL SIDES BY ALL DIFFERENT KINDS OF PEOPLE. AND WHEN YOU COUPLE IT WITH ALL THE MASTURBATORY TALK / DEPICTIONS OF CATWOMAN AND HARLEY THAT IT JUST SAYS EVEN MORE. AND WHEN YOU PROVIDE ABSOLUTE NOTHING THAT COUNTERACTS THESE IDEAS THEN IT’S AN EVEN BIGGER PROBLEM. THERE’S NO GRAY AREA IN ANY OFIT.

        WHICH THERE IS NOTHING ABOUT IT THAT CONVEYS THESE SEXIST ELEMENTS IN A WAY “WORKS.”

        STRIVING FOR REALISM DOESN’T DO IT ALONE. ESPECIALLY IN A GAME THAT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH REALISM. WHAT COMPOUNDS THE PROBLEM IS THAT “REALISTIC GRITTINESS” IS SO UBIQUITOUS AND CONSTANT THAT IT’S IMPOSSIBLE TO DISMISS AS A MERE BYPRODUCT OF REALISM. IT’S A CHOICE.

        AND MORE IMPORTANTLY DOES IT BELONG IN THIS GAME ABOUT BATMAN?

        HULK GLAD WE COOL.
        CHEERS

    • Nar-Nar said

      You are 100% wrong about the “feminist movement”. Feminists do not see enemies where none exist. The see enemies that do exist – do to personal experiences, and the only problem might be expanding those enemies to encompass an entire population (for example, men). But let me be clear – take a feminist class before you presume to know anything about the feminist movement, and DO NOT group all feminists into one. Not all feminists are lesbians, not all feminists are ugly, not all feminists hate men, not all feminists have anger issues, not all feminists hate sex. What we do hate is ignorance.

      • If you hate ignorance so much, why do you propagate it so much?

      • FILMCRITHULK said

        OKAY FOLKS, LISTEN UP. HULK HAS NEVER HAD PEOPLE ATTACK EACH OTHER ON THE BLOG AND HULK NOT ABOUT TO START LETTING IT HAPPEN. SO EVERYONE BE RESPECTFUL.

        AND IDEA THAT FEMINISM PROPIGATES IGNORANCE IS THE KIND OF STATEMENT THAT WON’T STAND.

  20. Carl said

    Is it at all possible that the fact that the player can take the role of Cat Woman might mean that all the sexism is meant to put you in the mind of a female who is on the receiving end of sexist behavior?

  21. Sean said

    Hulk,

    I have to say, I really agree with a lot of your comments. I have started to notice this sort of trend in other games, often sheathed in a ‘we make fun of everyone and everything’ mentality that is somehow supposed to explain the usage without actually providing adequate context. In many movies, as I’m sure you know, the ‘bad guys’ are generally shown to be bad, act bad, do bad things, and say bad words. By the time they are finished describing the character to you in context, the evil things that they say make you either embrace them or hate them as a villain.

    In Arkham City, the villains simply say bad things because you are expected to understand they are bad because the game tells you they are. The only depth most enemies are provided with is the fact that they are clearly sexist and, were they not about to be mangled by Batman’s fists, would be spending the next few moments saying and doing unsavory things related to Catwoman or Harley Quinn. Where is the depth in that? Instead of being disgusted by the enemies I am fighting and taking my dark vengeance out upon them (being Batman, after all), I instead feel a kind of meta-disgust that makes me feel like I am looking through the fourth wall of a cubicle at the studio where the game was made– it doesn’t make me feel more like Batman and it doesn’t facilitate any idea that Batman is making things better, because how could he? Batman cannot fight ideas with his fists.

  22. Dedwerkz said

    I was a little floored by the insinuation of Batman: AC being sexist… Until I replayed the first hour. Catwoman as a strong and wily thief is minimized. She never seems to really be successful at what she does, she is strung up and punched… a lot. I always saw her character as being sexual but on her terms in the best comics. She takes control of her identity and refuses to be controlled. Even her morality shows a gleeful lack of conventional morality, she is neither a villain or hero. (She is also great counter to Talia who is a “honey trap.” A walking stereotype that calls him beloved so that Ras, her father, can propagate his line.) Catwoman is one of Batman’s great nemesis. But again that seems to be lost in this game. I would like her costume if she was wearing it. It looks like the ultra-weave Batman wears but its like she forgot to to zip it up. I want her to be the female counterpart of Batman but they are placed in such unequal positions its laughable, but it really isn’t. The context of who the character is lost, she is just some smoky eyed broad that Batman has to rescue.
    No one seems to respect these women in the game nor are they given reason to. That is a sad mark against Paul Dini, the writer. He wrote the old Animated Series and seemed to have a better track record than this. This has been a real downer.

  23. Quatley said

    One of your pictures is not from Arkham City concept art, its from Mortal Kombat vs. DCU. Good read, glad you acknowledged you over-reacted at some parts. This isn’t the first game to do this, won’t be the last, let’s hope that something better comes out of it all in the end. Great game though.

  24. [...] like this, but it really sticks out to me. And that’s even while acknowledging, as has been pointed out elsewhere already, that Arkham City is, frankly, a fairly sexist [...]

  25. joe s. said

    I don’t disagree with how destructive this portrayal of women is. People shouldn’t be made to feel uncomfortable in that way when playing a video game, whatever the rating is. For the record, the b-word is my absolute LEAST favorite word in the English language. It’s often such with such an ugly tone.

    I just think taking a “what about us, you jerks!?” mentality never really works to bring about equality. I prefer a “let’s all agree to…” mentality. I really think we can often do damage to the argument for equality with the “us v.s. them” issues.

    I mean, how does it make you feel, as a woman, if I say, “How come the ubiquity of the ‘bag guys’ being actual GUYS (males) never gets called into question? Why don’t we see women doing bad things, and mistreating people in videogames? Is there any difference in calling a woman a ‘b**ch’ and a man a ‘pig’ (which men get called quite casually, even in g-rated movies)? You, yourself, make some striking generalizations about men in your argument…”

    Probably just starts setting up walls in your head between us, right? You start weighing how pervasive misogyny is in the general male population, and then try to push back against it without going too far (into misandry), but that’s a balance that’s nearly impossible to maintain. What we need to shoot for is to help each other relate to one another. If I see you as my equal, then it follows I will treat you as such.

    I can’t wait ’til my generation comes into power and position, and knocks our parents generation into retirement. My generation grew up among peers who genuinely get that men and women are different but equal. Ask a 55-year-old man what women can and can’t do. Then ask a 25-year-old man the same question. The difference in their answers is indicative of the way forward. I’ll see YOU, HULK, in the future. Hopefully we’re all playing for the same team by then.

    • The thing is, “misandry” isn’t an issue in society right now. Sure, there are people out there who /do/ feel antagonism directed at men, but in the case of many, many women who seem to have a problem with “men” in general, it’s not a /personal/ problem, but an anger at the way society overvalues men and undervalues women.

      Feminism isn’t simply about getting equal pay for equal jobs. That’s a great /start/, but it’s a larger sociological issue about how people are treated, especially women, and how they’re valued by society.

  26. Great article! I agree with pretty much everything you said.

    Here are my thoughts (desperate rationalizations?) on whether or not to keep playing it.

    Sexism is a rampant problem in videogames, and the reason is that the target audience is not concerned with it. It’s almost parasitically circular, too. Feminists don’t play videogames because videogames are sexist, and videogames are sexist because feminists don’t play them.

    If you’re concerned with the rampant sexism in videogames, the best thing you can do is play them. Become a part of the community and a part of the dialogue. This game is (otherwise) really well done and amazingly fun. It’s one of the biggest release of the year, and anyone who seriously considers themselves part of the “gaming community” is probably going to play it.

    I think that bringing these issues to the forefront is the most effective method of fighting them, but this might be a rationalization on my part. Maybe boycotting offensive media really would be more effective. I just think that, given how rampant of an issue it is with this medium, trying to avoid it would be impossible.

    Being a critic on the outside is less effective than being a critic on the inside. At least, that’s my excuse for continuing to enjoy this game.

    • FILMCRITHULK said

      YOU DON’T NEED AN EXCUSE TO ENJOY. EVERYTHING ELSE IS GREAT. WE DON’T NEED TO BE AN EITHER/OR SOCIETY, IT’S JUST A HUGE ETHICAL FLAW THIS IS WORTH NOTING AND TRYING TO FIX IN THE FUTURE.

      HULK AGREE ABOUT BECOMING PART OF THE COMMUNITY FOR SURE.

  27. Lun said

    Alas…. I haven’t played the game yet, but I remember to have seen the Catwoman trailer, and I was appalled. So… the whole game is like that Catwoman trailer? This is made all the more painful by the fact I loved the first game, Arkham Asylum….

  28. That’s unfortunate. It was on my list–it’s now off my list.

  29. I am sorry but one of your replies to a comment struck me as odd, you said that the reason you found such frequent use of the word offensive is because of a lack of context, is that correct? “UBIQUITOUS USE OF THE WORD BITCH IS TOTALLY FINE BY HULK IN AN EPISODE OF OZ OR SOMETHING OR A CONTEXT THAT FEELS LIKE IT’S MORE THE SUBJECT. LIKE WITH THE GRAND THEFT AUTO HYPER-WORLDS IT WOULD MAKE WAY MORE SENSE.” So are you suggesting that the setting plays a part as to the appropriateness of the language? As you suggested with OZ where the language is common place in a prison environment and a normal part of what is essentially their dialect? Is your problem with this that the setting is so abstract as to make it impossible to suspend disbelief, there by making the dialog real and personal as opposed to abstract and distant? And when has Batman ever been the Paragon of goodness? How did you come to the conclusion that Batman liked shoving Quinn out of the way? To me he seemed to be focused on *spoiler*
    Joker’s apparently dead body.
    *end spoiler*

    • FILMCRITHULK said

      GOOD QUESTIONS ALL AROUND.

      IT’S LESS A MATTER OF ACTUAL SETTING AND MORE, AGAIN, A MATTER OF TONE. FOR ONE, OZ IS A HYPER-DARK AND MATURE SHOW, BUT MORE IMPORTANTLY IT IS ONE THAT TAKES A VERY, VERY SERIOUS ANALYSIS OF SOCIOPATHY AND THESE SORTS OF BEHAVIORS. MEANING IT’S NOT A “LOGICAL CONTEXT” IE “PEOPLE ACTUALLY BEHAVE LIKE THIS IN PRISON” BUT WHAT ITS TRYING TO SAY ABOUT HOW PEOPLE ACTUALLY BEHAVE LIKE THIS IN PRISON. SEE THE DIFFERENCE?

      AND THERE IS NOTHING, REPEAT NOTHING, THAT MAKES IT SEEM LIKE ARKHAM CITY IS PLAYING THIS UBIQUITOUS SEXISM AS SOME SORT OF COMMENTARY OF SOCIOPATHY OR PRISONERS. TRUST HULK. HULK VERY, VERY GOOD AT FINDING SEMIOTICAL INTENTION. AND THE INTENTIONS OF THIS ARE AS BASE AS IT GETS (READ: COUPLING THE BITCH TALK W/ THE OUTFITS AND OTHER ISSUES).

      AND UNLIKE GTA, THERE IS NOTHING ELSE ABOUT THIS BATMAN GAME THAT WOULD CALL FOR THE CHOICES HERE. GTA ISN’T LIKE THE BEST EXAMPLE OR ANYTHING, BUT AT LEAST THEY OPERATE AS A CROSS-CULTURAL SATIRE OF EVERYTHING. IT’S PUNK ROCK PAN-CRITICISM, WHICH TO BE CLEAR HULK’S NOT THE BIGGEST FAN OF, BUT AT LEAST IT MAKES SENSE.

      AND AGAIN BATMAN’S MOMENT WITH HARLEY ISN’T ABOUT WHETHER OR NOT BATMAN WOULD DO THAT, IT’S ABOUT WHY THE AUTHORS CHOSE TO DO THAT AND WHY THEY SHOT IT THE WAY DID.

      THE INTENTION OF THE CHOICES IS WHAT MATTERS, NOT THE ACTIONS EXISTING IN A VACUUM.

      • kaisos said

        So, you’d prefer that violent prisoners don’t act and talk like violent prisoners?

      • But what about the fact that the way that the inmates in Arkham City behave is true to the view that society has of inmates in any prison? Is it not possible that the inmates are behaving in such a stereotypical manner to stress the fact that this is a prison city, so that one may show unequivocally that the people Batman is attacking are wrong and ‘evil’. In a sense is Batman not proving that such mannerisms are wrong and need to be corrected? The game shows a clear dynamic between what is right and wrong, the inmates of the game’s enemies is wrong and the actions of the player Batman is right. In the case of Batman shoving Quinn out of the way, is he not removing an obstacle that is preventing him from assessing and dealing with a crisis? As to the intention of the scene, I think it was to show that Quinn was acting in a manner befitting her character, she was acting distressed at the death of her lover, and Batman was needed to asses the situation. As to his smile, I thought it was a grimace, Hard to tell with the cowl.

      • Really though I think what bugs me most about your article is the people who after reading it say that they were looking forward to the game, and will now skip it entirely. It is background chatter, if it bugs you listen to music for anything that is not story related, or ignore it. If you think you might enjoy the game try it, please it is a great rendition of the Batman universe, with all the atmosphere and moral struggles found in the comics, and more.

      • Alex said

        People need to pull their heads out of their asses and realize that for all the darkness that exists in prisons it is not in fact a wall-to-wall misogyny expo.

      • FILMCRITHULK said

        THANK YOU ALEX.

      • However the fact remains that the ‘wall to wall misogyny expo’ is what society identifies prisons as. Which is the primary reason that the inmates of Arkham City behave the way they do in the game. So that they can easily be identified as prisoners.

      • FILMCRITHULK said

        LOOK SCOTT. HULK JUST THINK THERE TOO MUCH OF A DIVIDE HERE BETWEEN YOU AND HULK. HULK THANK FOR YOUR COMMENTS BUT THERE’S JUST SOMETHING NOT CLICKING ABOUT OUR DISCUSSION.

        CHEERS.

      • At least I am willing to try to bridge that gap ‘Hulk’. And with your permission I would like to continue to try, by reading others post and discussing the topic at hand.

      • Nar-Nar said

        “THERE IS NOTHING, REPEAT NOTHING, THAT MAKES IT SEEM LIKE ARKHAM CITY IS PLAYING THIS UBIQUITOUS SEXISM AS SOME SORT OF COMMENTARY OF SOCIOPATHY OR PRISONERS. TRUST HULK. HULK VERY, VERY GOOD AT FINDING SEMIOTICAL INTENTION. AND THE INTENTIONS OF THIS ARE AS BASE AS IT GETS”

        This is how I feel about rape being portrayed in movies. An example would be the recent remake of “Halloween”, where two guards at the mental institution rape a female inmate in the cell of Michael Meyers. Now, I liked the movie – it’s not as good as the original, but I liked the backstory that was given. But that rape scene was so unnecessary for the story – it had no context, it had no point, it had no affect on the main characters and their journeys whatsoever.

        I may be wrong, but I think this is the point you were trying to get across, yes?

      • Alex said

        “However the fact remains that the ‘wall to wall misogyny expo’ is what society identifies prisons as.”

        “So, you’d prefer that violent prisoners don’t act and talk like violent prisoners?”

        Apparently I’d rather they not conform to how you two expect violent prisoners to talk in a fictional work. We do not live in a monoculture and fictional works dealing with prison are actually quite varied because in fiction the creators have the power to include and exclude themes in order to better establish a tone that benefits the work. When the source material you’re working with is comic book fantasy I find grittying up your title and making it less inclusive is a pretty misguided move if all you have to show for it is a dubious claim of verisimilitude.

        Let’s contrast it with Arkham Asylum for a moment to show you what I mean. In Arkham Asylum, a lot of the henchmen banter emphasized the fact that they were probably the most “normal” people in the place. Oh, they were bad guys, to be sure, but they were also afraid of the nutcases that keep inexorably raising the stakes on what it means to be a criminal in Gotham City. It also served to highlight the fact that even female villains like Harley are supposed to be dangerous psychopaths and that from the outside looking in Batman is also dangerous and possibly crazy. Given that those three points are major, major themes of the Batman mythos I think it is safe to say that such a portrayal of the henchmen was a smart move even if it humanized them more than apparently some people are comfortable with.

        Now, Arkham City still has facets of that characterization present in the writing–which is part of why it’s still a good game, for all its faults– but the strong writing is fighting for elbow room with random comments about wanting to sex up Mr. Freeze’s frozen wife (whether she’s been thawed out or not) or talking about “taking the Harley for a ride.” Weird as it sounds, the latter of those two comments bothers me more: it helps illustrate how Harley and female characters aren’t taken seriously in this game even when they’re psychopath villains that previously were feared by their underlings.

        TLDR version: Forget about whether it’s “PC” or not, think about whether the tone helps the game. I think it hurts it.

      • Good points., But ah. . . . . what does ‘TLDR’ mean? you did a very good job clarifying your points and I appreciate that. Maybe it is just that I did not find the usage all that jarring, I thought that the usage was natural. In Arkham Asylum the breakout and everything else was immediate and they were in fear of their lives, but they regarded Quinn and Ivy as monsters that are also protecting them. In Arkham City the danger they represent are directly confrontational, they are from rival gangs and rob and assault them. The comments made by the criminals I feel are more appropriate in this setting because they are trying to degrade them in order to reassure themselves of their own power and masculinity. I still do not see how that reflects on the writers, or the game as a whole, it is not all encompassing, it is only specific segments, no one makes any comments about Talia’s Guard. (Though I was seriously disappointed with how the Demon’s Head segment was written.) Finally, you should not apologize, it was a well written and well thought out comment, that spoke directly to several arguments.

      • Alex said

        TLDR means “Too Long, Didn’t Read.” I was just summing up the gist of my argument.

      • Actually, the guards DEFINITELY talk about Talia’s guard. “That bitch ran right over me!” and “That crazy ninja bitch.” Yet, some prisoners just mention them as crazy ninjas (I didn’t give them much of a chance to talk further). Why the huge disparity, in the SAME GAME?

        This shit is really weird. It is consistent, yet shows that every now and then they can make normal comments.

    • Alex said

      I guess I should have read further down first because Hulk already kinda covered some of this. Whatever, it felt good to get it off my chest.

  30. crazyrabbits said

    It’s not even that the inmates of Arkham City are blatantly sexist towards all women – there are several female characters in the game (including a doctor and a nurse), and, aside from one instance (where I heard a guard talk about torturing a woman because she was incredulous about Joker being cured), there wasn’t really any suggestion that the inmates wanted to do anything more than hold them for ransom until they got what they want.

    Yet, with Catwoman, this was the first time in a while where I felt genuinely helpless as a playable character. It’s not even the language said by other characters. In her DLC, she gets tied up twice within the span of two missions (once by Two-Face, once by Ivy). In the final DLC mission, she gets blown away by an explosion after trying to enter her apartment, and wakes up to four thugs surrounding her asking if they should try to make sure she’s dead. She also dies after a handful of hits (even with maxed upgrades).

    Everyone’s also extremely pissed off at her, even in situations where she doesn’t deserve it (Poison Ivy tried to kill her with spore toxin and hordes of goons because…she forgot to water some flowers? Batman acts like a jerk towards her, even after she saves his life?).

    I don’t know – I think they kind of got the spirit of the character right, but it doesn’t sit right with me.

    • Hariet said

      “Batman acts like a jerk towards her, even after she saves his life?”

      To be fair, Batman is a jerk to everyone in this game. I was quite surprised with how harsh he was towards Robin too, after Robin saved his life. It left me thinking, “WTF? Why would you WANT to be Batman’s partner? He’s clearly an asshole!”

      • Well, let’s be honest. He had a hell of a time in Arkham Asylum, and EVERYBODY keeps getting in his way in Arkham City. He is one pissed off dude. But on a serious note, his crass treatment of Tim Drake was pretty ridiculous. “I dont NEED your help.” Yea, well, he did just save your life in a way…

        Yea, he has been an asshole in the last game, but this one ups the ante.

  31. kaisos said

    I don’t get why this is such a problem. This isn’t exactly something that is unique to Arkham City, or even to video games.

    I think you’re overreacting. You’re behaving as though the game’s developers have some sort of misogynistic agenda, when I don’t think they even considered that anyone would react in this way. Because screaming about sexism in a single video game when you live in a world where women are constantly objectified and sexualized, in all forms of media, is kind of ludicrous, you know?

    • Nar-Nar said

      Hulk, correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m not sure he’s saying it’s an agenda – I think he’s trying to point out that there are flaws in the game development world, and that attitudes need to change. Things like this need to be pointed out so that game developers can look at their storyline/quotes/context again with a different mindset.

    • FILMCRITHULK said

      THE IDEA THAT “HEY SEXISM IS RAMPANT IN ALL VIDEO GAMES SO YOU’RE OVERREACTING” DOESN’T EXACTLY HOLD WATER.

      AND HULK’S NOT SAYING THEY HAVE AN AGENDA. IN FACT, THE VERY THING THAT HULK IS SAYING IS THE FACT THAT THEY THOUGHT NO ONE WOULD REACT LIKE THAT OR THAT THERE WAS ANY PROBLEM WITH WHAT THEY WERE DOING, IS THE ACTUAL PROBLEM. AND THUS, IT IS THE SOURCE OF HULK’S ANGER.

      AND BY THE WAY. DON’T MAKE COMMENTS LIKE THIS. WHAT YOU’RE DOING IS A TACTIC CALLED “MORAL EQUIVALENCY” WHERE YOU DISMISS THE VALIDITY OF A COMPLAINT NOT ON ACTUAL GROUNDS, BUT PURELY ON THE GROUNDS THAT THERE ARE BIGGER FISH TO FRY. OF COURSE THERE ARE BIGGER FISH TO FRY AND WE HAVE A SHIT TON OF PEOPLE ALL OVER THE WORLD TRYING TO FRY THEM.

      AND AS FOR THIS MATTER, THE TACKLING OF SEXISM IN THIS GAME, IS RELEVANT BECAUSE AS OF LAST NIGHT IT WASN’T REALLY BEING DISCUSSED ANYWHERE AND ALSO BECAUSE THIS IS A BLOG WHERE SEMIOTICS IN MEDIA IS FREQUENTLY DISCUSSED. SO IT IS APPROPRIATE.

    • “I don’t think they even considered that anyone would react in this way”

      Then they’re doing it WRONG. The creators of this game, not just the writers but everyone involved, clearly did not bother to consider the further ramifications of their “dialogue”, the tone in which the lines are delivered, the tone of the game, the storylines and how they portray the characters, the reactions of players /including the very large and growing female gamer demographic/, etc. If those things weren’t taken into account when this game was made, then the creators are not very good at making a game that appeals to a wide audience (51% of the world’s population is female, and honestly, women gamers are nearly that percentage of the overall /gamer/ population, keep in mind).

  32. I haven’t read every single comment in this section so forgive me if this has already been said, but I think it’s important to acknowledge that the characters that are speaking in this manner are in prison (correct me if I’m wrong, I’m not that far into the game). They aren’t going to be the most enlightened individuals, nor should they be. They are criminals that do not have the same worldview as normal people which is apparent in both their criminal behavior and their speech. It’s not like the makers of the game has Batman/Robin or any of the other “good” male characters running around calling women bitches. When looking at it from this perspective, I can maybe see what the game creators’ thought processes were.

    That being said, the first time I heard Catwoman getting called a bitch in the game was jarring for me. It took me out of the game for a moment before I contextualized that we were listening to the rantings of what were supposed to be hardened criminals. I must admit that the characters’ free use of the word, “bitch”, coupled with the in-your-face sexuality of the Catwoman and Harley Quinn characters in this game, left me feeling somewhat uncomfortable a number of times during my playing experience.

    As a fan of comics, including Batman, I am well aware of how most of these characters have been portrayed in the past. I just feel that the game’s makers went a bit overboard with their sexuality and the male characters’ responses to these characters in this game. Do these aspects completely ruin the game for me? Absolutely not, but I could understand why other people might be turned off by the material (specifically female gamers and parents).

    • FILMCRITHULK said

      1. THEY DO HAVE GOOD CHARACTERS SAYING IT.

      2. YEAH HULK ADDRESSES IN SOME OF THE COMMENTS THE FACT THAT JUST BECAUSE “BAD” CHARACTERS ARE SAYING IT DOESN’T EXCUSE IT. IT’S ABOUT THE PRESENTATION AND INTENTION OF INCLUSION NOT THE LOGIC.

      • I have to admit, I did not get very far into the game or may have simply missed any good characters saying it.

        I agree with you about your statement that just because “bad” characters are saying the words does not excuse it, however, I don’t particularly object to the use of the word here or there in games. This particular game just happened to take it over the top.

        Additionally, the fact that this game is about Batman, a character that will undoubtedly attract a younger audience, the creators of the game should have had the sense to omit the objectionable material from the game. In my opinion, from a storytelling perspective, the use of the word “bitch” as well as the sexually provocative material really add nothing to the story or the gameplay and could be removed without harming the overall experience.

      • The last paragraph says so much about this game it is stunning. Does it add anything? NOPE. Do the characters even discuss it or change because of it? NOPE. So, it has no story element, and certainly isn’t necessary to form a great tone.

        Also, what you said about the creators knowing the NAME of the game would attract a younger audience is a big point. Creators have to be responsible. And again, why the hell is “bitch” used over and over not enough to warrant an M rating? What makes that word less worse than “fuck” or “shit”?

  33. GuyofGuyness said

    … Really? A bunch of convicts in a prison that is (with a few exceptions) almost exclusively male are going to talk about sex with anything remotely female they see. Fact of life. They’re also VIOLENT CONVICTS, they’re not going to refer to a woman who’s stolen from them, beaten them, and whatever else Catwoman does to them (haven’t played the game yet) in a respectful manner. Furthermore, the way Catwoman’s portrayed draws almost directly from comic book. Also, it was implied that female characters were referred not to as bitches in Arkham Asylum when in fact I can recall at least a handful of times the “b” bomb was dropped.

    As for Catwoman’s apparent failure at the beginning of the game… Well, the game isn’t called “Catwoman: Arkham Asylum” she’s there to play a supporting character to the big B, not be his partner or even his equal. If it had been a male character (say… Robin) getting caught and so-on, there would be no arguement which is… Sexist. If men and women can both do all the same things that means men and women can both be shitty at all the same things, Selena Kyle doesn’t have a percentage of the training Bruce Wayne does, therefore her being less adept than Batman has a pretty good grounding in the fiction as would Robin being less adept or anyone else who doesn’t have the sheer amount of experience as Batman. Her costume being mere fap-bait is actually supported by the fiction… I recall Selena Kyle herself mentioning once that she wore revealing outfits strategically. If a guy is oogling her body he’s not paying attention to other things and thereby is vulnerable. It’s can be said that the portrayal of Catwoman is sexist but it could also be said that a woman willing and able to use her sexuality as a weapon is empowering. All of that being said, there’s undoubtedly some fan-service abound in the game. The game is geared towards a young male audience who appreciate such things, if the idea of fan-service offends you then clearly most things in relation to comic-books must make you uncomfortable.

    You can call it sexism if you like, but I’m more inclined to refer to it as the writers portraying characters for what they are. I for one expected everyone and their mother to call catwoman a bitch throughout the course of Arkham City. Why? Because they’re angry and she’s a woman, meaning that that’s the simplest and most effective derogatory term with with which to refer to her. I for one am not going to let liberal use of the word bitch or sexualization of characters that were heavily sexualized in the first place keep me from playing what I hope to be an amazing game.

    • I agree with one stipulation. Bitch is not the most likely term they would call her, or the only thing. Perhaps it sees so much usage because the game is rated T, and the publisher, not the developer, wanted to ensure a low rating from the ESRB so that it could see more sales, making it so that it was the only option available. Or should the game have included a censorship option? Would that alleviate the concerns or exacerbated them?

    • FILMCRITHULK said

      OKAY. FOR THE LAST TIME…

      THERE ARE SO MANY LOGISTICAL HOOPS YOU JUMP THROUGH WITHOUT FOR ONCE REALIZING THAT IT’S NOT ABOUT THE IN-CHARACTER LOGIC OF SOMEONE DOING WHAT THEY’RE DOING BUT THE CREATIVE CHOICE BEHIND THE WHAT THE CHARACTER IS DOING. AND FROM THAT POINT IS ABOUT THE SUM TOTAL OF ALL THE CHARACTERS DOING WHAT THEY’RE DOING. THIS IS WHAT CREATES CONTEXT AND INTENTION.

      FOR EXAMPLE IT’S NOT THE FAN SERVICE ALONE BUT HOW THE FAN SERVICE COMBINES WITH ALL THE OTHER ELEMENTS TO PAINT A TOTAL PICTURE.

      IT IS THE MOST BASIC ESSENCE OF AUTHORSHIP. YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR WHAT YOU CREATE AND THE CONTEXT WITH WHICH IT IS PORTRAYED.

      YOU’RE DEFINITELY SMART ENOUGH TO REALIZE THIS, BUT YOU’RE MISSING THE FOREST FOR THE TREES.

      AND HULK LOVES THE GAME TOO. IT’S GREAT. WHICH IS WE HAVE TO MAKE IT CLEAR THAT THE SEXIST “BACKGROUND” STUFF IS NOT ONLY UNNECESSARY BUT UNWELCOME.

      • “IT IS THE MOST BASIC ESSENCE OF AUTHORSHIP. YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR WHAT YOU CREATE AND THE CONTEXT WITH WHICH IT IS PORTRAYED.” Actually the most basic essence of authorship is creating a story lives and breathes, with believable characters. How you rather the villians in the game acted? Let me make this simple, please to help me understand, detail how the inmates should have acted and behaved. I just do not understand how you assert that the actions the game shows as wrong enforce a misogynistic ideology.

      • FILMCRITHULK said

        HONESTLY. HULK GIVE UP. IF YOU THINK THIS IS BELIEVABLE OR ACCURATE OF ANYTHING IN ANYWAY THAN HULK JUST NOT KNOW WHAT TO SAY.

        HULK WOULD RATHER THEY ACT LIKE THE VILLAINS IN THE LAST GAME, WHERE MOST OF THE TIME THEY TALKED ABOUT BATMAN AND IT DIDN’T COME OFF AS HAVING SOME CONSTANT, RAMPANT AXE TO GRIND WITH BITCHES. CAUSE THAT’S HOW THIS COMES OFF. SPECIFICALLY HOW IT WORKS IN CONJUNCTION WITH SOME OTHER HEINOUS SHIT.

        YOU ARE SO HUNG UP ON THE LOGIC OF WHAT RAPISTS AND MURDERERS WOULD ACTUALLY DO.

        FOR ONE, THEY ALL WOULDN’T ALL BE MUSCLE BOUND CARTOON CHARACTERS. AND WHAT DOES IT SAY THAT THE ENTIRE POPULATION IS FULL OF JUST RAPISTS AND MURDERERS? MEANING WHY WOULD THE GAME DEVELOPERS MAKE THAT CHOICE?

        THE LOGIC DOESN’T MATTER. THE INTENTION MATTERS. WHAT DOES THE DEVELOPER ACHIEVE BY HAVING THE WORD BITCH THROWN AROUND EVERY FIVE SECONDS?

        THAT’S THE WHOLE POINT. THE LOGIC DOES NOT MATTER. WHAT MATTERS IS THE WORLD AND TONE THAT IS CREATED. THAT IS WHAT CREATES THE CONCEIT AND THE VOICE OF THE AUTHOR.

        AND FOR THE LAST TIME IT’S NOT JUST THE BAD CHARACTERS EXHIBITING SEXISM.

      • GuyofGuyness said

        You know what it says that the entire population is rapists and murderers? That the city is a PRISON. You don’t get sent to arkham for tax evasion or shop-lifting. Arkham is filled with the WORST of the WORST. And all things considered it’s actually pretty tame compared to what they COULD have. The developers wanted to make it pressingly clear that you were surrounded by the worst of the worst. They wanted characterization of these men as hardened criminals and the player to have no qualms about punching in their faces. Also “bitch” is a pretty common term in reference to men and women but that’s besides the point. The inmates are going to lament about their issues and go on about whatever is going on. Them mentioning ONLY Batman in their slurs and insults would just be another form of sexism and even further diminish catwoman’s role in the plot. But from what I garner it would be acceptable because it makes you feel less uncomfortable. Also regardless of whether it’s just the bad characters it’s still the lexicon that the guards/whomever else uses the phrase would be surrounded by. The idea that “logic does not matter” contradicts a lot of what YOU say in previous articles. So what I’m getting from this whole thing is that logic doesn’t matter if it makes you uncomfortable.

      • FILMCRITHULK said

        YOU DO REALIZE YOU’RE TALKING ABOUT BATMAN AND ARKHAM LIKE THEY’RE REAL PEOPLE / PLACES, RIGHT? AND NOT A NARRATIVE CONSTRUCTION?

      • GuyofGuyness said

        I wouldn’t say I’m talking about it like a real place so much as I’m talking about it like a well-characterized setting. The “rules” of what Arkham is are pre-established, it’s not like the writers of the game just randomly decided to fill it with psychopaths, murderers, rapists, and the like. The writers apparently did the setting justice. Also, not every character who uses the term bitch is being sexist about ti. Sometimes they’re just being insulting.

      • chikusho said

        Naturally the criminally insane inmates of Arkham will be horribly demeaning to catwoman. First of all, “bitch” is a pretty tame word compared to what language they could have been using. But also, them being male psychopaths they can never show any respect towards Catwoman, as that would be a sign of weakness in front of the other inmates.
        Batman is perceived as something of a myth, a force of nature that has bested the worst.
        Catwoman is a costumed thief serving her own needs, and even if the prisoners do actually fear her, trying to demean her in front of other people would actually be expected.
        Catwoman exists and acts despite of that, not just for kicking ass but while remaining unshackled from the rest of society as well. I really think this is a non-issue.

      • Tam888 said

        “HULK WOULD RATHER THEY ACT LIKE THE VILLAINS IN THE LAST GAME, WHERE MOST OF THE TIME THEY TALKED ABOUT BATMAN AND IT DIDN’T COME OFF AS HAVING SOME CONSTANT, RAMPANT AXE TO GRIND WITH BITCHES. CAUSE THAT’S HOW THIS COMES OFF. SPECIFICALLY HOW IT WORKS IN CONJUNCTION WITH SOME OTHER HEINOUS SHIT.”

        Seriously, what the hell are you even talking about? Have you even played past the first hour of the game, or are you just deliberately ignoring EVERY conversation in the game except for the ones that mention women? I’m about 3/4 of the way through the game, and I’ve come across maybe 4 or 5 groups of thugs who have called the female characters “bitch” or mentioned unsavory things towards the women.

        What do the rest talk about? They talk about killing Penguin, mocking the Joker for being fatally ill, maiming Two-Face, shooting thugs who are working for other villains, etc etc. They have an axe to grind with EVERYBODY because EVERYBODY wants them dead. Hell, even the people they work for don’t care if they die. The Riddler mocks his thugs for being dumb apes who deserve pain, the Joker suggests to Batman that he just kill the thugs instead of knocking them unconcious, the Penguin sends his thugs into dangerous situations knowing many of them won’t come out alive.

        Of course the thugs aren’t going to be talking about Batman all the time, like they did in Arkham Asylum. Batman isn’t their only problem this time around. They are trapped inside a anarchy-filled city with no rules or law, surrounded by people who want them dead.

      • hikikomorihime said

        “The Male Gaze” was overused in the game. I like a lovely lady as much as any lesbian, but I don’t need a camera to be trained on her arse or tits for extended periods of time. (Of course, I also see the lovely in a variety of shapes, sizes, & appearances.) This game caught me off guard, so I’m glad we just rented it first. I’d rather buy it used later.

        Also, I recommend everyone google “The Male Gaze” so the can better understand why it’s a problem. It’s so easy to post a knee jerk reaction comment, but understanding an issue first is so important to helping us communicate.

    • FILMCRITHULK said

      BY THE WAY, EXCUSING THE GAME AS “GEARED TO A YOUNG MALE AUDIENCE” IS THE MOST HORRIBLE OF ALL EXCUSES. BECAUSE

      1) THEY NEED MORE UNDERSTANDING THAN ANYONE ELSE. AND

      2) SAYING SEXISM IS OKAY BECAUSE IT IS MEANT FOR SEXIST PEOPLE IS NOT OKAY AND

      3) BATMAN DOESN’T BELONG TO ONE AUDIENCE. BATMAN BELONGS TO EVERYONE.

      • GuyofGuyness said

        Well lets start in reverse order.

        3. No, he doesn’t. While anyone can take an interest in Batman that doesn’t mean that the writers should cater to anyone outside of their core.

        2. Whether or not it’s sexism to provide fanservice is arguable.

        1. The intent of the game isn’t to invoke critical thought, it’s to entertain.

        0. The logistical hoops work both ways. My point is that they’re portraying the characters as they should be portrayed. A prison full of rapists and murders is going to be crass and vulgar, trying to portray it as anything but requires logical leaps and bounds and would ultimately result in bad writing. They could have dialed things down and still delivered a great game and a great story, sure. But there’s no reason that they should be expected to.

      • GuyofGuyness said

        Also, I’m not so much excusing the fan-service as providing a reason for it being there. The idea you seem to be trying to get across is that all of these elements have an overarching tone of sexism, what I did in my above statement is rather than address the concept as a whole, just pulled out the various supporting arguments you had for the game being sexist and gave reasons for them being there other than some sexist agenda or even insensitivity.

        I think the reason for your response is because a lot of the sexism is directed at a character that you’re playing so suddenly it becomes a lot more relevant and it’s not just some NPC calling some NPC whatever it’s someone calling YOUR character a ‘bitch’.

      • FILMCRITHULK said

        IF YOU THINK BATMAN ISN’T FOR EVERYONE THAN YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHO ACTUALLY LIKES BATMAN.

        FAN-SERVICE IS NOT ARGUABLE. IS IT PERMISSIBLE? SURE. OF COURSE. THERE CAN BE A CERTAIN HARMLESSNESS IN FAN SERVICE IN AND OF ITSELF, BUT AS HULK SAID MANY TIMES IT’S ABOUT THE WAY THE DEPICTION IS TIED INTO IT. IT’S ABOUT CONTEXT. AND MOST OF THE TIME FAN SERVICE IS ACCOMPANIED BY AWFULNESS.

        EVERYTHING IS SUBJECT TO CRITICAL THOUGHT. DISMISSING SOMETHING AS ENTERTAINMENT IS NOTHING BUT INSIDIOUS.

        ALSO COULD BE WRONG, IT SOUNDS LIKE YOU’VE NEVER, EVEN BEEN IN A PRISON.

      • FILMCRITHULK said

        BTW, BUT THIS WAS LINKED TO ABOVE BUT YOU SHOULD CHECK IT OUT http://penny-arcade.com/patv/episode/sex-in-games

      • GuyofGuyness said

        Yes, any and everything is subject to critical thought. But that doesn’t mean that that said critical thought ISN’T over-thinking it. Also, one can like something and not be the target audience the same way someone can be a part of the target audience and not like something. That doesn’t preclude the fact that there’s a target audience that takes precedence.

        As for never having been in prison. Not convicted no, but as a visitor (I have been to holding and that wasn’t particularly pleasant). Also I have family members and friends who have been convicted and have come out. they’re not the most politically correct of people (mind you they weren’t beforehand) but still it’s not sunshine and rainbows in prison.

        Your insistence that it’s about context but dismissing any claim that the context of the game supports the perceived sexism disturbs me. However I have come away with this discussion with the assurance that what may have been an actual concern about the game appears to be little more than the sensitivity of a critic. I wish you good luck in your future endeavors but rest assured that this is the first and last time I read you blog.

  34. Andy Rudd said

    I have not played the game yet but i will be doing and it sounds like some of the points you make are valid, especially the idea of direct contact with the developers as i think often the problem is people write about stuff like this online but don’t tackle it head on and it gets brushed aside as hypersensitivity.

    I do however question some of the points some people have made , in reference to costumes most specifically. I’m not a fan of over sexual female characters in comics , they often come across as unnecessary and sordid and i certainly prefer Harley quinn in a classic Bruce Timm outfit over the ridiculous ensemble she is sporting in this series of games. However the inherent sexual character of figures such as Catwoman i think is inescapable. Although im not a fan of her appearance in this game, you can’t change the character too much otherwise it becomes something altogether different. Then you may as well just write them out altogether, i think it treading that fine line as the basic problem is that most of these female characters where created by men in an age much more equal than our own.

    I am however a fan of characters such as Montoya as she does not follow many female archetypes . . . . . but then they made her lesbian so maybe its just wishful think on my part that the character represented progress (and they hadn’t just pushed into a whole different bracket of stereotyping.)

    On a lighter note i think the chaps in the video should not be scorned but pitied for it seems as though they have rarely caught sight of a woman , let alone ever spoken to one. So can we expect them really to depict them as well rounded actual people.

  35. Andy Rudd said

    oh and there are all kinds of things wrong with the apparent over compensating with Batman’s design i mean , the game looks awesome but the man is basically a walking box i mean really? did they have to make him look like steroid ridden tool for us to think he is badass? hes Batman for christ sake not the love child of the Hulk and Asimo

  36. Andy Rudd said

    last comment promise , i also disagree with the suggestion that Batman is for all audiences, Batman can be geared to all audiences but in reality shouldn’t be in most cases.

    Which raises the main issue , that being constant attempts to create ‘well rounded’ realistic and critically acclaimed games and films that people can be proud of whilst not accepting the financial sacrifice.

    The problem is that this game is eared towards adults , is meant for adults . .. . . but that doesn’t mean they don’t want kids to buy it and play it.

    I read an article about the Dark Knight where lots of (over sensitive in some cases) parents complained about the level of violence and in particular the Joker. This is a direct result of money. Money that talks when those who put an age certificate on it come knocking and money when the producers and developers omit certain things such as blood etc etc so they avoid a few boxes on a sheet.

    Much of the problems cause by in this case ‘sexism’ but in other similar cases violence and sex , are actually i think not about the things themselves but about those who are exposed to them. The problem is this sexism can be damaging when children are exposed to it and in some cases can affect how they mature and perceive the world especially if its in game after game. I couldn’t find it but i think Hulk alluded to it , that this ‘sexism’ has little affect on well adjusted adults and these are the only people who ideally should be playing this game if it is going to incorporate this ‘realism’

    I mean it bugs me , and the main reason it bugs me is when you get people complaining about this stuff being in films and games. I mean the Joker , Batman’s main adversary is a physcotic murderer but the Dark Knight is too violent?? and it goes for Arkham Asylum too its about dangerous criminals and a violent borderline physcotic vigilante who goes around rounding them up. Should your child really be playing this game? (apologies for the mini rant)

    My main point is this, that i don’t think it would be as big a problem as it maybe if there was simply a little more responsibility on the part of a few people. The developers as you quite rightly pointed out , but also on those who give rating certificates and last but not least the parents who inevitably buy this game for their children.

    I like to think when i grow up i will have the good sense if i have children to be a little more vigilant.

  37. Black said

    jesus you are retarded, do you even read the comics? Everyone in the game was acting in character to the comic. Catwoman is always flirting with batman and hell with basically every man she meets, most of the time just to get what she wants but still. She used to be a prostitute.

    And two face was acting exactly like in the comics. he is just a mean dude.

    • FILMCRITHULK said

      HULK CAN ASSURE YOU THAT HULK HAS READ MORE COMICS / BATMAN COMICS THAN YOU THOUGHT POSSIBLE.

      AND THAT’S NOT WHAT HULK IS SAYING. THERE’S A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SEXUAL FEMME-FATALE AND SOMEONE WRITTEN AS VAPID. A HUGE DIFFERENCE.

      • J said

        How is Catwoman vapid? I thought she looked pretty intelligent when she was trapped by Two-Face. The entire time she had a calm demeanor and was mocking her attackers. She escaped from the trap using her own claws. Later in the game you can hear the prisoners say how Catwoman humiliated him.

        SPOILER ALERT: At one point of the game, Catwoman saves Batman’s life. Literally, he would have died without her. So. Yeah. Don’t call her vapid. If you think that because she makes campy sexualized comics = her being vapid, you have your own sexist issues to work out. That’s the kind of stuff I would expect from sexist guys.

        And seriously, enough with the capslock. It doesn’t make you right, it just makes you louder.

    • Nar-Nar said

      Wait.. are you saying that calling her a “bitch” and making her a completely 1-dimentional sex toy out of context of the game is okay because she was a prostitute?

  38. [...] hey, so Arkham City is some sexist bullshit, yeah? Why anyone would contest such an obvious fact is beyond me, but what do I know, [...]

  39. I am sorry to hear about this and glad you wrote about it, all at the same time.

    I’ve just played through the original Arkham Asylum and was regularly sighing about what felt like a constant refrain of “bitch” (even from Commissioner Gordon himself, and guards presented as good guys). Batman announces that Harley Quinn “never was all that bright”. (Even in-game she has a PhD, which is more than you can say for any version of Bruce Wayne that I ever heard of.) The first good look you get at her is a close-up of her breasts, and of course there’s the way camera is forever crawling up Poison Ivy’s buttcrack. Dr. Young is established as evil by her strident voice and a bio that calls her “cold” –

    Anyway. Hulk knows all this.

    It’s weird to see how many people are defending the language as realistic. Why is it so important that this one particular thing be “realistic” – whatever that means – in a game that so relentlessly places realism second to player enjoyment? Patient interview tapes in the boiler room? Batman merely wincing at explosions that take out bad guys standing next to him?

    I’d say what drives AA is that the bad guys are so irredeemably bad that they deserve to be in this hellhole, and the good guys are as good as the bad guys are bad. But when the good guys start with the bigoted talk, and Batman himself isn’t bothered, they stop being heroic. And that’s not the game I sat down to play.

    (I wonder if some fannish type will cite the comics that showed Quinn as a poor student who slept with professors for passing grades … as evidence that her portrayal *isn’t* sexist)

    • FILMCRITHULK said

      THANK YOU FOR WONDERFUL COMMENT.

    • amiz said

      “I’d say what drives AA is that the bad guys are so irredeemably bad that they deserve to be in this hellhole, and the good guys are as good as the bad guys are bad. But when the good guys start with the bigoted talk, and Batman himself isn’t bothered, they stop being heroic.”

      To be fair, Batman isn’t really portrayed as ‘heroic’ in these games. He’s mean towards those he works with (Robin, Catwoman, he’s even sharp towards Oracle), he’s nasty towards thugs AND the hostages he saves from them, and he doesn’t care much for the feelings of others. He’s an emotionless vessel of mortality. He doesn’t let his emotions get the better of him, he doesn’t let slurs affect him. He’s the sort of character who is going to beat up a thug regardless of their opinions of women.

      Hell, the main point of having a radio to overhear thugs conversations is to:

      1. Overhear SOS calls from hostages or people who need help.
      2. Decide whether the thugs need to be beaten up, based on what they are talking about. (I beat up a lovely bunch of thugs who were bad-mouthing Harley and the Joker, just because I like Harley and the Joker as characters.)

  40. Gamerchick said

    The game developer’s whole purpose is to get money from their intended audience. Yes, the female characters are depicted sexually, and suggestively, and erotically. Doesn’t mean that they don’t hold doors open for women, help old ladies across the street or lay their jackets on puddles. The images are meant to appeal to audience the game is geared toward, which is primarily a male market. A male market that appreciates scantily clad, athletic women.

    Game developers aren’t sexist. The world is sexist. Mankind is sexist. It’s psychologically ingrained within us. We’re programmed to be sexist since the very first hunter/gatherer instance of the women being the child-bearing carers and men being the warriors. It’s not a bad thing. It’s not a good thing. It just is.

    Bottom line is, though, in this commercial, materialistic world, sex sells, and this game was made to sell. And YOU bought it. So the gamemaker’s job is done. Deal with it, or go return the game and live the rest of your life as a wholesome person without a single sexist thought, remark or idiom.

    Good luck.

    • FILMCRITHULK said

      WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT?

      IF THEIR MOTIVATION IS MONEY THEY HAVE MORE TO GAIN BY NOT DISMISSING 50% OF THE POPULATION.

      WHEN WOULD HULK EVER IMPLY THAT HULK A WHOLESOME PERSON? GO BACK AND READ HULK’S STRAW DOGS PART.

      THIS IS ABOUT MATERIAL THAT IS UNTEXTURED, NOT WHOLESOMENESS.

    • Eh, chicken vs. egg argument. Do developers make games that degrade women because that’s what audiences demand? Or is it simply that they’ve been doing this practically since the medium’s inception (because the vast majority of designers have been male and…well, the industry isn’t exactly famous for attracting well-balanced, mature personalities) and they’re confusing what they have done with what they must do to sell their product?

      As developers, we certainly have to make games that sell, sure. But TV, while it has its own gender problems, doesn’t come anywhere close to the puerile misogyny common to a good half of the games out there, and it seems to attract audiences just fine. We’re missing out on a large segment of potential customers because we insist on adhering to an ideology of “what gamers want” that isn’t even necessarily borne out by market data. Games that don’t degrade women, or at least don’t engage in the sort of over-the-top jiggly bimbo portrayals endemic to that video linked above, don’t seem to sell less copies than the ones that do.

      As for the whole MEN DOMINANT FOOD PROVIDERS, WOMEN SUBMISSIVE CHILD-RAISERS line of thought, I suggest you talk to an anthropologist, ’cause that construction is ancient and there’s plenty to debunk it. Evolutionary psychology is for reactionaries.

    • If you think that we bought this game because “sex sells,” you are out of your mind. We bought this game because, like so many others, we LOVED the first.

      Sequels and franchises have a snowball effect. The first can do well, but the second one will likely be a smashing success regardless of how good or bad it is. If you have a strong core audience that enjoyed the original experience, the second and beyond will likely continue to carry on a strong following. Look at the Modern Warfare games. Killzone. Halo. ETC ETC ETC.

      The original didn’t sell because it had Ivy in scantily-clad outfits. That wasn’t advertised as far as I can recall. The game was targeted as being able to BE BATMAN. You could sneak up or simply walk into a room full of thugs with bats and level it. But there were limitations. Batman can only take so much damage, and guns were a weakpoint for him. You, as a player, and under those limitations, had to live that “man without superpowers but unlimited funds” idea. Throw in a great story, great villains, and incredible fit and finish, and you have a success that lead me to buy the second game without question.

      Sex sells, sure. But this isn’t your best example of that.

  41. HULK, I think one of the major problems you are continually running into, despite your apt description of the lack of context, is that a lot of people coming here to comment have yet to play the game.

    They are talking about a book, or a movie, or a CD, without actually experiencing it. Additionally, they are jumping to conclusions despite your careful explanation that it ISN’T just inmates calling Catwoman and other females by the B word.

    As for the topic at hand, instead of the failures of the audience to follow closely, I think you bring up a tremendous point about this game being equally fun and disturbing. Do I recommend friends not to play this game? BUT IT’S SO DAMN FUN! Do I turn off the PS3 and turn away, never to play the game again because I disagree with some of the content? BUT IT’S SO DAMN FUN!

    It’s a moral dilemma that I don’t want to admit to, but have to. I signed up, day one, for this game. Rocksteady nailed the original. The sheer ability to kick complete and utter ass despite being surrounded by goons was infectious. Add in the touches of intelligent detective-work and stealth features, and you had an incredibly fun to play game. Add in the fact that it was Batman, with an intriguing story and great rogues gallery, and you had one of the best play experiences I can recall in my 25 years of existence.

    So, of course I bought the sequel without question. But before I read this article, and the Kotaku one that sent me here, I was disturbed by how frequent the word “bitch” was used. It was jarring. It was unnecessary. And more importantly, for me, it felt FORCED. It didn’t feel natural. I am playing a Batman game. This game is rated T for Teen. It is brutal, violent, and adult. But it doesn’t need to have the excessive use of that word.

    And, as you note, it also is invasive in the way that Batman and even Catwoman can walk above the city and hear the conversations of the characters. (Nolan-verse, indeed!). You can’t get away from it. It literally follows you around the city. And THAT
    ‘S distressing as a development decision.

    Did none of the testers make note of that? Did no one say, “Hey, how many times do we have NPCs say the word ‘bitch’ in the first hour?”

    • FILMCRITHULK said

      FANTASTIC COMMENT. CHEERS!

    • Gamerchick said

      You know what? You’re right. And I mean that seriously.

      I’m going to go pick up the game this afternoon and probably play it till I pass out from sheer exhaustion.

      So I’ll get back to you when I’ve completed my fifth or six playthrough and can finally tear myself from my TV.

      • I hope you enjoy the shit out of the game. I wish no ill-will on anyone that plays this game. But I think opening up dialogue on the game is important. Whether you can play the game with that in mind or not is up to you.

        It won’t stop me, but I will also talk about the flaws.

  42. bennie duncan said

    that crazy bitch (referring to the author)

    i mean i see you blog in the kitchen, but i dont see you making me a sammich….

  43. [...] the accusation of it being sexist. One of my friends and fellow gaming enthusiasts has pointed out this blog to me, in which the blogger posts all in capital letters in the manner reminiscent of the Hulk, [...]

  44. Ken said

    Stop dismissing the “they say bad things because they’re the bad guys” claim.

    You guys do realize, of course, that the “bad guys” here aren’t your typical street thugs?

    They’re all murderers, rapists and sociopaths of the worst degree – that’s why they’re in ARKHAM.

    I’m pretty sure the Teen rating is actually -limiting- their dialogue, as I’d expect to hear much more vile and inhuman things from -real- death-row-type prisoners.

    And the good guys say it because, well, a psychopathic woman just held them all hostage and was about to have them all killed. I’d be dropping way worse epithets than ‘bitch’ in that situation.

    As for the “Catwoman is a paragon of feminism because she kicks their butt” defense, it’s also valid, although not in the way you’re thinking.

    Look at her demeanor and dialogue. She’s tied up and being spit at and degraded verbally… and not a single fuck was given that day. The thugs and villains are so beneath her she isn’t phased in the slightest by their attacks. And -then- she proceeds to kick 8 shades of ass. Reminds me of Wonder Woman (the times she was well-written and not a walking bondage fantasy).

    Anyway this game is about a traumatized vigilante prowling the streets of an insane asylum, trying to save as many innocent lives as he can from the hordes of psychopaths within it’s walls. And you find the overuse of one particular insult, just because it has sexist connotations, to be the distressing thing here?

    • I think you are touching on one point and opening up another.

      First, I think most derogatory terms for females likely would NOT garner it more than a T for Teen rating. I don’t know how closely the ESRB follows the MPAA guidelines, but “fuck” is the one that makes them squirm as far as language. You can seemingly use any number of bad words and as long as you don’t go over three f-bombs, you are fine.

      A hidden commentary you opened up, though, is why is the excessive use of the word “bitch” not enough to garner an M rating? Quite a few have agreed with Hulk and I that the word is excessively used and doesn’t seem to have any real context beyond being used to add the mythical “gritty” feel. With so many matures themes at play in this game, how did it get away with a T rating? Is blood-gushing violence the only thing missing?

    • Nar-Nar said

      Of all the comments that give an explanation for why this game is the way it is, yours is the most level-headed, and well thought out. Actually, you’ve kinda made me feel better about playing the game. You said: “The thugs and villains are so beneath her she isn’t phased in the slightest by their attacks. And -then- she proceeds to kick 8 shades of ass.” I love that. It’s so Catwoman.

      And in pointing out that Wonder Woman used to be that way, before she became a bondage fantasy, you couldn’t be more correct – and the new Catwoman comics have stooped to that level as well, which is unfortunate.

      But don’t you think that it’s a little overboard, maybe even unnecessary to include this kind of behavior in a game? Sure, they are rapists and murders, and they are going to say all manor of nasty things. But why only towards the women?*

      (*I should say I haven’t finished the game, so I’m assuming this is the case.)

      • amiz said

        “But don’t you think that it’s a little overboard, maybe even unnecessary to include this kind of behavior in a game? Sure, they are rapists and murders, and they are going to say all manor of nasty things. But why only towards the women?*”

        But they don’t just say it towards the women. They say horrible things towards ALL the characters. Sure, there’s the added sexist streak in the conversations about the women because they’re mostly male thugs, but it’s only a handful of thugs who do this.

        Most of them just want to kill Harley and Catwoman, just like they want to kill Batman, Joker, Two-Face, and every other person who they feel is a threat.

  45. Tapajós said

    I, for one, am always wondering why aren’t the villains and thugs of every single movie, comic, videogame and TV series I consume NOT calling all the women bitches all the time. I mean, how am I supposed to know they are the fucking villains?

    So thank you Batman: Arkham City.

  46. Michael Shapard said

    Youre crazy. I mean wtf are you even talking about. Truthfully the game sucks. U
    Just hit x over and over and turn and hope to grapple onto something remotely in the area that you think you were aiming. Prototype was before its time and was 100 tImes better. But this isnt about the game this is about you. Your upset about the word bitch being used? Watch the story, they arent exactly on the same team. I dont see sexism at all. In fact you youself is more sexist than dc or rocksteady. Your identifying something nobody else sees or cares about so you are the primary cause of the problem and without you sexism would not exhist. Kinda like racism. Its racist to say nigger but your trying to say a word belongs to a certain race. Why are they any different to be allowed to say a word?

    • Michael Shapard said

      Oh and i mean its a fucking videogame! Of coarse theyre going to make everyone look sexy. They do the same shit in the movies!!! Was any batman movie ever rated r? I mean they made bruce aka batman jacked. Like chris redfield imma puch a boulder jacked. And its your choice to buy it too. Ha i mean its like u like the game or you dont. Turn the volume down and just play lol. Shit i didnt stop playing ff7 because i didnt want aeris to die and i couldnt control it. Your prude arent u? Ha u dont fuck u consumate dont you?

      • FILMCRITHULK said

        JUST CURIOUS BUT DID YOU READ ACTUALLY READ THIS THING?

        CAUSE HULK NOT THINK YOU GET WHAT HULK ACTUALLY SAYING. HULK DOESN’T CARE ABOUT THE USE OF THE WORD BITCH. NOT AT ALL. HULK’S TASTE IN THINGS IT SKEWS UBER DARK AND INTERESTING. LOOK UP THE MOVIE EL TOPO OR HOLY MOUNTAIN FOR EXAMPLE.

        HULK SAYING THE PROBLEM WITH ARKHAM CITY IS THE USE THE WORD BITCH CONSTANTLY AND LAZILY IT COMES ACROSS REALLY WEIRD ESPECIALLY IN A GAME WHERE IT’S UNNECESSARY.

        WATCH STRAW DOGS AND SAY HULK’S A PRUDE.

        AND IF YOUR’E READING THE COMMENTS MOST PEOPLE CARE ABOUT IT. YOU DON’T. EVERYBODY ELSE IN THE WORLD ISN’T “NOBODY”… UNLESS YOU’RE A SOLIPSIST.

        AND VIDEOGAMES MATTER.

      • Michael Shapard said

        /////”HULK DOESN’T CARE ABOUT THE USE OF THE WORD BITCH”///// This is that you just said to me. I mean that was your whole sexist arguement so what is the problem? Like i said before like racism, sexism is created by people who believe in it. By saying it exhists makes it so. I mean i dont bitch that at my job since i work with a bunch of girls my boss makes me take the trash out to the dumpster everytime because truthfully the girls state they are girls and should have to. So im going to accuse you or being a cause of sexism in our present society. I mean im assumin if ur offended u are in fact a women, sence u tend to bitch and bring up irrelivent point that u urself contridict. I mean shit if u got a problem with sexism and wanna be treated equal you try working and paying the bills and ill stay home with the kids. Because men have takn care of our families for thousands of years. And im looking for a response that isnt “did you even read this thing” because ya i did. You said the gane is sexist and im saying in fact you are sexist.

      • mudwizard said

        get back in your mom’s basement and fire up the hooked on phonics, will you?

  47. Josh said

    First of all I am not a fan of Hulk, as a superhero he is just not something I want to read about – the Hulk Smash thing is boring and I think the design is ugly (not even in an cool or meaningful kind of way).
    I am however; now a fan of you FILMCRITICHULK. Earlier today I started playing Arkham City with some friends. The game is very fun and I really think they improved playing as Batman. However I was struck by how weird the use of the word “Bitch” was, I actually liked the tone in the Twoface cutscene. Then I just started to hear the word more and more.

    I wish I could say that it was because they are badguys that they use the word, but HULK is right the game is incredibly saturated with the word. It becomes a form of the casual sexism. It doesn’t seem malicious, just unintentionally rude towards women. When I asked my friends about it they hadn’t even really noticed – which is the thing that I find even worse. It seems like a very “bro” attitude where as long as you are with friends it is okay to call any woman a bitch (especially a Sexy bitch).

    If they had kept the power in its usage made Twoface or the other criminals into real dirtbags because of the way they treat women, then you have a useful context. If you do that, but show that even the “good guys” have negative traits and can be pushed in extreme situations, that might even be all right. If every badguy says it every time he is hit, if that is the way women are just casual addressed because every woman is a “bitch” then there is no longer any context.
    Seriously, why is this game “T” rated when it seriously deserves an “M”. Not just for swearing, it’s extremely violent and the over and undertones are little much. Batman TAS showed us that Batman can be dark, serious and mature and not have any of that. Heck even Nolan’s Batman is PG-13 what is up with Arkham City?
    That next “GameBoss” thing was embarrassing and telling. Not that I didn’t know this already, but still. Also the latest Extra Creditz hits the nail on the head about lazy design. It’s about racism and propaganda games, but the same ideas apply:

    http://penny-arcade.com/patv/episode/call-of-juarez-the-cartel

    Finally, as a filmstudies student I am very pleased with the Strawdogs analysis for contrast. I will definitely be adding this to my blogrole and going through your backlog.

  48. Le_ted said

    Love this piece. Love your brains and guts in taking the time to address so many of these responses and clarify your points for maximum impact.

    Did you ever play any ‘Metal Gear Solid?’ Each of those games, for better or worse, had a kind of dopey, juvenile approach to sexualizing female characters (passing a timed challenge would let you see a love interest in her underwear, for example) that also suggested they didn’t take it too seriously. This exaggerated tone helped to draw the player in while also suggesting the boundaries of the game – i.e. emphasizing that objectifying digital characters is silly for players while the developers took pride in creating characters that someone’d wanna objectify.

    (they kind of went crazy with a plot twist in the second game about your sidekick being sexually molested by his stepmother, but the point still stands in terms of reinforcing the game’s limits while thinking about the effects/impact of its content).

    • FILMCRITHULK said

      HULK THANK!

      THIS GONNA SOUND ODD FOR HULK TO SAY IN A COLUMN LIKE THIS BUT THOSE WEIRD ASPECTS OF OF MGS LINE UP WITH A LOT OF OTHER TRADITIONALLY-WEIRD JAPANESE GAMING ELEMENTS. BUT OH WELL!

  49. Creevy said

    I GUARANTEE you that if it were being sexist against men (calling batman a dumb brute, promoting feminism, et cetera) we wouldn’t have heard a word out of you. You’re taking this far too seriously. People are so afraid of being sexist or “politically incorrect” that nobody can learn to take things at face value. Batman is a comic book character. This means the target audience is boys age 14-21. Of course it’s going to be a bit heavy on the boobs and the language.

    I swear, unless I see you picketing a feminist gathering, you have no right to say any of this. For the record, writing in all caps is hard on the eyes.

    • *headdesk* Promoting feminism is “sexist against men”? That’s like saying that promoting the idea that African-Americans aren’t inferior to whites is racist.

      • Michael Shapard said

        They arent. Were all people born equal. If u got a problem with sexism its womens fault for working more desk jobs than labor. I mean even at work women have problems with the color the walls are painted! As a man i dont give a fuck what color the walls are paintes just work lok

    • FILMCRITHULK said

      BUT BATMAN IS PORTRAYED AS A SMART AS ALL HELL GUY? WHY THE HELL WOULD HULK CALL HIM A DUMB BRUTE?

      MEANWHILE THE GAME GOES OUT OF IT’S WAY TO MAKE HARLEY AN IDIOT AND DE-INTELLECTUALIZE CATWOMAN.

      WHAT’S WRONG WITH TAKING SOMETHING SERIOUSLY?

      AND HULK HAS EVERY RIGHT TO SAY THIS. WHY THE HECK WOULD HULK NOT? DO YOU REALIZE HOW INCREDIBLY RIDICULOUS IT IS TO SAY SOMETHING LIKE THAT? WHAT COUNTRY ARE WE IN?

      AND WAIT, PICKETING A FEMINIST GATHERING? WHAT?

      AND NO PEOPLE AREN’T AFRAID OF BEING POLITICALLY INCORRECT. THERE’S TOTALLY A WAY TO BE POLITICALLY INCORRECT IN THE A WAY THAT IS INTERESTING (AGAIN. READ THE ARTICLE. STRAW DOGS. ETC). THE KINDS OF PEOPLE WHO ARE AFRAID TO BE POLITICALLY INCORRECT ARE THE PEOPLE WHO SAY DUMB THINGS NOT UN-PC THINGS.

      THERE’S A HUGE DIFFERENCE.

      • But let’s be fair here. You’re being an idiot. You picked the two dumbest females in the Arkhamverse.

        Oracle is also in this game and she is portrayed quite respectfully. She is almost Batman’s female equivalent.

        Arkham City will probably portray Huntress (when she’s added as DLC) as another feminist icon.

        All in all, just chill. Everything will be better when they expand the roster, either as DLC or the 3rd batman game where they’ll very likely reverse Batgirl’s paralysis.

      • FILMCRITHULK said

        RESPECTIVELY, DON’T DO NAME CALLING.

        ALSO YOU DON’T MENTION THE PART WHERE ORACLE DOESN’T WANT BRUCE TO GO TO TALIA (TO SAVE HIS LIFE) BECAUSE SHE IS JEALOUS OF BRUCE’S FEELINGS FOR TALIA AND THEIR RELATIONSHIP. THE TINGE GOES ACROSS THE WHOLE SPECTRUM IN THIS THING. ALSO SHE’S OFF SCREEN AND NOT INVOLVED IN THE GAME NEARLY AS MUCH AS THE LAST ONE.

      • FILMCRITHULK said

        ALSO HULK DIDN’T EVEN GET INTO IVY WHICH IS IT’S OWN BRAND OF NUTS.

    • Tony said

      “I GUARANTEE you that if it were being sexist against men”

      The Joker already covers that. :D

      He does a wonderful job of emasculating Batman and treating him like a long-lost lover throughout the game. ‘Tis great fun.

  50. FILMCRITHULK said

    THAT’S IT HULK CAN’T COMMENT ON ANY MORE OF THIS.

    NIGHT ALL.

    • Michael Shapard said

      I just gotta state that one more time, THIS IS A VIDEOGAME. IT IS NOT REAL. IT HAS A STORY FOR EFFECT. AND FICTIONAL CHARACTERS THAT DO NOT EXHIST TO EMPHASIZE THIS STORY. IF THEY WERE GOING FOR A DARK THEME LIKE I READ ABOUT FOR MONTHS BEFORE THE GAME CAME OUT MIND YOU (YOU WERE ALREADY WARNED SINCE I BELIVE YOU SAID SIGNED UP FOR THE GAME DAY ONE SO WHY WOULDNT YOU KEEP READING ABOUT IT?) THEY NAILED THUS DARK THING. SO NOW IN A VIDEO GAME ONCE YOU DEVELOPE STORY AND CHARACTERS AND MOVES AND GAMEPLAY (WHICH IMO SSUUXXXXX) YOU DEVELOPE DIALOGE OR “GAME SCRIPT”. NOW THIS IS WHERE IT GETS TRICKY. I THINK IF JOKERS THUGS REFERED TO SELINA AS BABE OR I MEAN WHAT WORD ARE YOU LOOKING FOR, PRINCESS? SO IF THEY REFERED TO HER AS BABE OR PRINCESS I DONT THINK GAMERS WOULD GET THE JIST OF IN ARKHAM CITY ITS EVERYMAN, “WOMAN”, and BABY FETUS FOR ITSELF. Ps off topic but prochoice dude. Why should a 16 year old without a job who hasnt even finished highschool be allowed to have a baby, and then mtv will exploit the fact, pay them them the least in all reality tv history and exPect their kids to have normal lives. THERE ARE BIGGER ISSUES OUT THERE THAN CATWOMAN BEING A BITCH, WHICH CANT EVEN BE ARGUED BECAUSENSHE KINDA DOES LIE CHEAT AND STEAL, KINDA A DEFINITION OF A BITCH.. Like watch southpark, the definition of bitch now days doesnt even relate to women in anyway, tell me whAt your definition of bitch is? Mine doesnt have anythig to do with women, if yours does i believe that makes you sexist.

      • hikikomorihime said

        A bitch is a female dog. I used to have an adorable Boston terrier bitch. Semantics games are extremely annoying from guys who try to mansplain what “isn’t really sexist”. “Bitch”, as an insult used against men, is used to emasculate men. It’s to hurt them, by comparing them to women, a perceived subhuman/second class citizen. When used on women, it’s to remind us that the one wielding the word considers our sex a lesser than, even if only on a subconscious level.

        Google “unpacking the invisible knapsack”, read the essay. It applies to sexism as well as racism.

        It’s amazing that Hulk is aware of these issues. I love it when men are self aware enough to start challenging sexism, because they first face the sexism within. Once that is beat, it’s easier to see what we’re talking about.

      • FILMCRITHULK said

        IN PART THREE HULK GONNA DO A WHOLE THING ABOUT THE WORD BITCH / WHY IT MATTERS ETC.

        HULK FEEL LIKE THERE ARE A LOT OF MEN WHO HAVE THE RIGHT DISPOSITION, BUT UNLOCKING THAT ABILITY TO GET THEM TO RECOGNIZE THE INTRICACIES OF GENDER POLITICS IS TRICKY. HULK HAS FOUND THAT A LOT OF LANGUAGE BOUNCES OFF THEM, SO HULK REALLY TRYING TO FIND THE BEST WAY TO TALK ABOUT IT WITH PEOPLE WHO MIGHT NOT BE THE MOST RECEPTIVE. IT HARD, BUT HULK WORKING ON IT. HULK ALSO WORKING ON SOMETHING BIG INVOLVING ALL THIS STUFF BESIDES PART 3.

        BUT MORE IMPORTANTLY THANK FOR YOU WONDERFUL COMMENTS. ESPECIALLY THE MALE GAZE. IT’S GREAT STUFF.

  51. [...] like this, but it really sticks out to me. And that’s even while acknowledging, as has been pointed out elsewhere already, that Arkham City is, frankly, a fairly sexist [...]

  52. Harkat said

    If I may be so rash;

    I’m pretty sure the frequent usage of “bitch” is just there to raise the edginess level a couple of notches, and has nothing do to with deliberate sexism. There are almost no culturally gender-irrespective derogatory terms, so they use “bitch” when cussing out the female characters. If “Bastard” or something like that was a derogatory term used equally for women and men, I’m certain they would have used that instead.

    Basically, many find it raises the grittiness and believability when characters cuss every now and then.

    I actually find it far more distressing that there are so many female characters like catwoman and so few female characters who are just characters who happen to be women. Sure, Catwoman’s appearance matches her character, but that character is just more titillation in and of itself.

    It would be refreshing to have a military shooter where you happened to play as a woman, but would play out exactly like one where you played as a man. No scene where the female lead leans on the shoulder of a strong male because she is a woman and war is extra taxing to her pour soul. I’d like to see a Modern Warfare 2 where Ramirez, the never-speaking soldier you play as during the US invasion, has a female first name.

  53. Andy Rudd said

    i think as i pointed out earlier one of the major problems is with the impressionable audiences that may be playing this. if the game was made as it should be and rated as it should be there would not really be a massive problem.

    I think its a combination of lazy writing and them altering a game so as not to exclude a younger market , and thus sacrifice financial gain but also creating a game that’s caught between the realism they wanted to present and the realism they can get away with whilst not removing the younger target audience.

    • FILMCRITHULK said

      YEAH NO DOUBT LAZINESS AT THE CORE OF THIS. BUT IT’S FUNNY HOW MUCH THIS LEADS TO UNCOUTH THINKING.

      BY THE WAY! ISN’T IT FUNNY THAT SO MANY PEOPLE ARE EQUATING “REALISM” WITH “GRITTY”? THOSE TERMS ARE NOT EXACTLY SYNONYMOUS

  54. Michael Shapard said

    Batman is geared to whoever likes it. Thats what these games are for. Truthfully batman is gay and not a cool superhero. But thats besides the point. Lets just talk about this sexism thing. Is it not sexist that women get paid more for less work because they are women? Is it not sexist that you want rights specifically for your sex? I mean jusy try living in china or the middle east. You wouldnt even be allowed to play or know what the game was. Shit you wouldnt be allowed to learn to read so u can look at the box art. Hahaha your name over there would probably mean bitch. :)

    • FILMCRITHULK said

      OH OKAY. HULK GET IT. YOU’RE TROLLING!

      HEY EVERYONE HULK HAS HULK’S FIRST TROLL! THIS KIND OF EXCITING.

      THE “WOMEN GETTING PAID MORE FOR LESS WORK” BIT IS YOUR GEM. ALSO YOUR USE OF THE WORD “GAY” MEANING BAD WAS WONDERFUL. KEEP IT UP!

  55. I know, it’s completely unbelievable that a bunch of hardened criminals would be disrespectful of women, especially strong women that secretly intimidate them.

  56. Harry said

    Wow, this is a lot of comments! I’d like to congratulate Hulk for engaging so politely with the individuals who vehemently, and often rudely, disagree with him.

    This is the big problem with the gamer community, really. As soon as any kind of blog post or article is written which calls any aspect of video-gaming “sexist,” then a whole brigade of gamers will descend upon it and start calling everyone “feminazis,” “deluded,” “retarded”, etc. I’m not saying all gamers are like this, but it’s a hugely vocal subset of the community and that’s hugely problematic. Of course, when abusive comments are deleted or the owner of the blog tries to avoid an argument, there are immediate cries of “censorship!” Mentions of feminism will be met with the same level of hatred and scorn as though they were mentions of Nazism.

    Furthermore, even the people who don’t go to such extremes, and at least ATTEMPT to understand this whole “sexism” thing, often will absolutely refuse to engage on any proper logical level with the person they disagree with, and focus on one aspect of the post or article which they then beat to death with moral equivalency, straw men, etc. This is less problematic, but still symptomatic that a lot of gamers will refuse to accept anything problematic about sexuality in their beloved gamez.

    Finally, there will be a certain subset of female gamers who will join in the discussion and say “I’m a girl, and this isn’t sexist because x.” The who agree with her will claim that their argument has been irrevocably proven right, because, after all, AT LEAST ONE GIRL IN THE UNIVERSE has agreed with them, and therefore there can’t be any sexism here, no sir.

    I don’t mean to start an argument, but I’m really fucking tired of this happening. Seriously – look up any blog post or article online that even mentions feminism in relation to video games. It will inevitably have been swamped by a huge number of comments which all conform to the general pattern outlined above. It’s so predictable and so, so depressing.

    I’m a gamer, and sometimes I worry about this group I find myself a part of. Not only are a huge number of gamers stringently anti-feminist, they will try to swamp any discussion of sexism in games by abuse and flawed arguments which fail to address the issue in hand.

    As I said, depressing.

    • Harry, well said! I hate that as well. It’s quite sad, and I think the internet and the idea of anonymity fosters a lot of hatred and rage that otherwise wouldn’t be present if this was a public setting in person. At least, that is my sincere hope.

      Yet, it doesn’t make things any better to know that.

      I love the fact that you bring up the girl example, because I saw that on the Kotaku comment section. Sometimes it appears that anything that supports an argument that something isn’t sexist, particularly if it is a female, becomes a shining example of “Hey, see, this CAN’T be sexist. A female agrees!”

      I think most people simply do not understand the basic, BASIC idea of feminism. That women should be treated equally. Should be paid equally for the same amount of work. She be afforded the same rights as anyone else. If you think that is wrong, well… that’s quite sad.

      It’s also sad to see ideas like this in a world that has the internet. When we can look things up and understand them before reusing the word in the incorrect way over and over.

      Get online and see how female gamers are treated. “Woa, CHICK! Show us your boobs.” Do they do this kind of shit in real life? ARG. Sometimes I just have to shake my head at the gamer community. I hate to paint with broad strokes, but it is increasingly difficult not to.

    • Sean said

      I understand how you feel, Harry. Myself, I’m thankful for Hulk’s “reppin’ the set” for us male gamers who don’t feel that rampant sexism is exactly realistic or acceptable. Sexists are people who are often not well-liked because their negative traits bleed into both genders– sexism trends into other social issues over time, with the sexist generally developing a sense of superiority not only over women but over men who do not consider women to be inferior. This is, I think, where the problem with socially-apathetic gamers intersects with true societal issues that we as people have yet to conquer.

      For example, the rampant use of the word ‘bitch’ being defended in the contexts above is laughable at best and, in any true debate forum, would be pushed out of the room as ‘argument’ rather than ‘debate’ because to claim that women either “deserve it” or “ask for it,” is such a logical fallacy in so many ways that even a master sexist debater would have trouble defending such a precarious and logically/rationally untrue position.

      Context vs. content is always trouble. Honestly, I think it is a concept that is above most people, in that most would not generally come to that kind of conclusion without being guided there and, increasingly true these days, most would not even want to come to that conclusion.

      Where does this fear of the elimination of sexism come from? Surely gamers and men in general aren’t afraid of women becomining dominant due to their own incompetence? Perhaps that’s the problem, like the kind of mentally-ill person that truly created their own problem and refuses to admit that it’s all a delusional construct designed to cause themselves and others pain.

      • FILMCRITHULK said

        THANK YOU ALL FOR THIS.

        HONESTLY HULK WAS REALLY DEPRESSED. EVERY OTHER DISCUSSION ON THIS BLOG HAS BEEN REALLY CIVILIZED AND INTERESTING.

        HULK DIDN’T EVEN SLEEP LAST NIGHT. UGH.

        HULK GUESS ONE SHOULD NEVER TRY TO BE ATLAS.

        THANK YOU KINDLY AGAIN..

    • SR said

      I’ve read all the comments (at least as far as this one) and Harry summed up just about all I wanted to say.

      Except this: I really hope that Hulk comes back tomorrow to tell us that as it progresses, B:AC turns out to be a critique of the homo-erotic subtext inherent in virtually all representations of Batman, thus making all that “bitch” stuff at the beginning contextually relevant.

      But I’m not holding my breath.

  57. Michael said

    Big, tough bad guys being emasculated by a much more capable and intelligent female opponent resort to sexism. And this gets translated as the videogame being sexist. Er.. Hulk is very, very stupid.

    You might have a bit more of a point with the costume, but I still reckon it’s fair enough for a hyper-stylized reality like the one being presented in this videogame, and considering it’s Catwoman, who has always been super comfortable with her sexuality.

    Your point that these are supposed to be all ages games are also off. The last game was rated 16 in my country. Had quite a few very creepy non-kid friendly moments. Batman is the least kid-friendly superhero around, and we’d be being shortchanged if they didn’t ackowledge some of the much darker source material for this character out there.

    • FILMCRITHULK said

      THAT’S NOT WHAT HULK IS SAYING AT ALL. LIKE WHATSOEVER. HULK IS SAYING THAT THE GAME IS USING YOUR LOGIC AS A EXCUSE TO GO OVERBOARD AND CREATE A REALLY STRANGE CONTEXT AND APPARENT VIEWPOINT. THAT’S IT.

      HULK NOT KNOW WHAT TO DO IF PEOPLE AREN’T GOING TO UNDERSTAND THE ARTICLE.

      REALLY, WHAT’S THE POINT?

      • Tony said

        If a large portion of readers don’t understand the article, then maybe it isn’t the readers that are the problem. Maybe it’s the article that is the problem.

      • Tony, you are suggesting that because a majority (which, is arguable in this point. We all know that voices of dissent are MUCH more likely to crop up than voices of agreement) don’t understand, it might be a problem with the content.

        Does a film like PRIMER have fault because it jumps around and fully explores the idea of time travel and all the crazy shit that goes on with it? Just because quite a few people don’t understand doesn’t mean what HULK said and how he said it is the problem.

        How are we to ever learn if we can’t be challenged? To THINK. THINK!

  58. Odd_Gamer said

    I might just add, that being a female gamer… I fucking love this game and wouldn’t change anything about it, if anything I was waiting for Joker to say ‘MAKE ME A SANDWICH’ to Harley Quinn. I can’t even say how many times this blog and its comments made me laugh. Its just.. unbelievable. I think Hulk need to calm down, sit back and drink a Piña colada.

    (Also, will you do a sexism blog for Gears of War for the males. Cause if I think about it the message we could take from that is that all men are meatheaded douchbags who enjoy slaughtering each other. But yes, I honestly just want to see how that would reflect on this blog in comparison.)

    Cheers.

  59. Dan said

    I just finished my first playthrough of the game yesterday, and while I did find some of the background chatter a bit sexist (“Ride the Harley?” Really?) I think there is one point of context that is missing here. No, not the “this is an asylum filled the dregs of humanity” one, that’s been commented to death on here already, though I do think its a point worth keeping in mind. First off, while they may talk a tough game when you show up as Catwoman the name calling stops and they react to you in normal combat sequence. Secondly during a significant (though probably less than half) portion of that background chatter where one thug is being the sexist a-hole, one will respond with skepticism showing either 1) fear of the woman in question or 2) dismissiveness of the other thug.

    Personally I felt that the thugs comments regarding catwoman (and the few regarding Poison Ivy) sounded more apprehensive. They were afraid of her and calling her a b*tch was the same as calling batman a freak (which they do repeatedly), bravado to try and make themselves less afraid. That may just be my read of it though.

    The one point that has come up repeatedly that I agree with is that the game does go a bit nuts on Harley. There is a lot more sexist commentary on her from the joker thugs and when there is the dissenting opinion usually isn’t present. When it is, it isn’t Harley that they fear, it’s Joker. Granted she is supposed to be a submissive character, she willingly tolerates her highly abusive relationship with the Joker after all, but it is over the top. It also doesn’t help that she is generally ineffectual as a villain.

    Also: one point I haven’t seen mentioned is that some of the most difficult mooks to fight were Talia’s female ninja squad, so there are competent female opponents in game.

    • Tony said

      “The one point that has come up repeatedly that I agree with is that the game does go a bit nuts on Harley. There is a lot more sexist commentary on her from the joker thugs and when there is the dissenting opinion usually isn’t present. When it is, it isn’t Harley that they fear, it’s Joker. Granted she is supposed to be a submissive character, she willingly tolerates her highly abusive relationship with the Joker after all, but it is over the top. It also doesn’t help that she is generally ineffectual as a villain.”

      That’s…not entirely true. While many of the thugs are indeed scared of the Joker, quite a few also mention that Harley is just as dangerous. One of the thugs (I think it was the one speaking to the “ride the Harley” guy) even says that if the Joker died, there’s no knowing what Harley would do, and that the thug who wants to “ride Harley” should keep his mouth shut and not “try anything” with Harley because she’s a dangerous woman.

  60. Dan said

    Orite, the one point I forgot. While I may not agree the language and sexism is quite to the degree you make it seem, I was very surprised after playing it to realize this game was rated Teen. I’m okay with this sort of thing in an M rated game, but I don’t think I’d want to see a 13 year old playing it.

  61. Songnar said

    SPOILER ALERT!!

    I suspect that the characters are all so terribly sexist and Batman is acting strangely because of the impression left on them all, therefore, we can surmise that our prime antagonist is a deeply misogynistic personality. Given his stage in the game, this is definitely supported.

  62. Neither Catwoman or Harley are portrayed in any way as weak, at least in any sort of context that you might have had in the first few hours. I’m going to get a little SPOILERY here so avoid reading this if you don’t want to know what happens in the beginning of the game.

    Catwoman’s initial run-in with Batman is the epitome of their relationship, him being unable to reconcile his subconscious image of her as fragile and feminine against the reality of her strength and self-reliance, and her willingness to allow him to continue to feel that way. To Batman, and the player through his eyes, it is clear that she is in imminent danger and if something is not done immediately, she is going to die. However, before Batman can save her, he is temporarily incapacitated by a bullet to the chest. Just as Batman (and the player) are thinking, “Oh no, who’s going to save her now?” she just goes ahead and saves herself without a second though. In reality she was never in any danger, but she let Batman put himself at risk and suffer personal injury, only to effortlessly accomplish his goal at the last second thus emasculating him.

    Following this, Batman saves Catwoman from a sniper’s bullet, not because she’s helpless but because that’s what you do when you see a laser sight pointed at someone’s head. It could just as easily have been Commissioner Gordon in the exact same situation. Catwoman then proceeds to act completely unmoved by his actions, sarcastically asking him if he wants a kiss as a reward. The connotation is clear, she is aware of his subconscious male desire to protect her, heightened by her exaggerated femininity wielded like a weapon. She relishes the effect she has on him, taunting him further before eventually departing.

    In the case of Harley Quinn, the key moment brought into question involves a lot of “reading too much into it” I feel. Batman has a history of being especially on edge around the Joker. The Joker brings out the most dangerous, violent aspects in Batman because of his uncanny ability to perfectly push all of Batman’s buttons. And now the Joker sits before him, dead. A situation that would already be incredibly emotionally charged is dramatically augmented by this discovery. He is unconcerned with snappy dialogue or pleasantries, he just wants to inspect Joker’s body and confirm for himself the truth. Harley, like any of Joker’s minions, is merely a thug in his way and he brushes her aside accordingly from her position weeping into the lap of her loved one. There is nothing sexist about this.

    And of course this soon turns out to all be a sham. When the trap is sprung it isn’t Joker that takes Batman down but Harley, with three well placed swings of her baseball bat. Another example of a woman underestimated by Batman, using her femininity and perceived weakness as a weapon.

    Now, I haven’t beaten the game and maybe there’s some ridiculous shit down the line, but in direct response to your article as it is written it seems that you are seeing sexism because you WANT to see sexism. If anything, the early interactions with these two iconic female characters reminded me that, not matter how pretty they may look or how fragile they may seem, the women in Batman’s life are strong, self-reliant, and DANGEROUS.

    In regards to thugspeak, they talk shit about everyone. They see the powerful men as people to be brutally conquered and the women (who are all powerful) as things to be objectified. These are the most violent, despicable ne’er-do-wells that have been selected by Gotham’s arch-criminals as their lackeys. Your average criminal isn’t represented because they’re not running around the streets of Arkham City. It’s the worst-of-the-worst. And with the sort of pack-mentality that these gangs have, it’s always the case that the members seek to emulate the behavior of the alpha-male, and it’s always the case that the alpha-male is the one with the worst attitude towards other people.

    But again, they talk shit about everyone. They do the most talking about Batman, then Catwoman, then Joker, then it’s probably a four-way tie between Two-Face, Penguin, Harley, and Bruce Wayne. It makes sense that Batman is #1 (main protagonist) and Catoman is #2 (secondary protagonist). And the content of their shit-talking makes sense within the paradigm of ultra-violent, roided out killers and lesser criminals seeking to emulate ultra-voilent, roided out killers in order to belong and survive.

    • Truly, I appreciate your comments. I genuinely wish more people would come into this discussion and speak their opinions without resorting to bashing, namecalling, and other things. You are attempting to discuss this in a manner that fosters discussion. Will reply when I get home.

  63. PsychoticDust said

    The criminals in Arkham City (of which the part the game takes place in is a a massive open air prison by the way Hulk) are low life degenerates and are mostly men. Given their personalities it makes sense that bitch is the primary word they use when insulting a woman. I won’t go into anymore detail than that but I’m sure some of you will understand what I’m getting at in terms of the social conventions of such a place dominated by almost all men of questionable character.

    For the record I’m not at all sexist and respect women as equals to men that can be strong and powerful without having to use sexuality.

  64. What do I find more patronising towards women?

    1) A game that uses the word bitch in an understandable context by characters against their antagonist?

    or,

    2) An man going off on a rant about sexism on behalf of women as if the poor, fragile little things aren’t perfectly capable of standing up for themselves.

    Hint: It’s not number 1.

    • FILMCRITHULK said

      OKAY. LET’S DO AN EXPERIMENT. GO ASK EVERY SINGLE WOMAN ON THE PLANET IF THEY FIND WHAT HULK SAID HERE TO BE MORE SEXIST THAN WHAT IS ON DISPLAY IN ARKHAM CITY.

      HINT: YOU WILL NOT FIND ONE.

      AND THE HILARIOUS PART IS THAT IS OBVIOUSLY NOT WHAT HULK IS SAYING EITHER IN THE POST ON IN TERMS OF SOCIETAL CONTEXT.

      BUT THANKS FOR YOUR COMMENT!

    • If MEN are (often) the ones creating the problem, and they are a dominating voice in the creative departments of games, doesn’t it behoove a man to call out those of the same gender for what he thinks is incorrect? For that matter, it shouldn’t matter what gender, race, religious affiliation, etc. If you feel something is wrong, there is NOTHING to be ashamed of bringing it up.

      Quit using the white knight idea. It doesn’t foster discussion.

      • Not to mention that, speaking as a woman in the industry, the very guys who are the problem, and need very much to be part of the dialogue about how video games treat women, are the same guys who will dismiss women for being “oversensitive” if we bring it up. They will, however, listen to other guys. Women can’t do this alone.

      • Wow, nice way to generalise all men,

        In fact, the irony is that it could be considered to be a sexist perception.

      • FILMCRITHULK said

        HOW THE HELL DID SHE JUST GENERALIZE ALL MEN? SHE JUST WAS LITERALLY TALKING ABOUT TWO DIFFERENT GROUPS OF GUYS WITH DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVES?

        YOU’RE NOW BAITING AND DANGEROUSLY CLOSE TO NO LONGER BEING ABLE TO PARTICIPATE.

  65. Phil said

    It’s really too bad Rocksteady fell into the same trap as the comic book industry here – it saw people liked “dark/mature/edgy” content and proceeded to skim off the surface level of that content without really trying to understand it (or the mindset that goes into creating it), reproduce it en masse, and shove it out the door. This thing was definitely present in the first game (the presentation of the female characters like other people mentioned – which was a crying shame, since Harley’s costume from TAS didn’t need modifying), but it’s fully formed in Arkham City, and it really needs addressing. Arkham City’s been ever better received than its predecessor, which’ll likely give the developers even freer reign when creating the third game. If we want to see the games’ attitude improve, rather than continue to regress, we have to speak up; things don’t change unless people speak up, and I’m thankful Hulk uses his soapbox to encourage critically thinking.

    And now, to stick my head in the lion’s den a day late… I think we’re all in agreement here that we’d know the population of Arkham City was on the darker end of the moral spectrum whether they took the time to tell us how much they hate women or not. The fact that they do, that’s a choice the folks at Rocksteady made, and when it’s this pervasive, without much variation, that says just as much about the people making the game as it does the characters in it. A person might contend that it’s a representation of reality, but it’s still a creative choice. That’s all any creation of fiction is, making choices. In those choices, creators reveal themselves, intentionally or not. In this case, what it reveals isn’t positive.

    That video you posted far above really says it all, Hulk, but maybe there’s a silver lining. Maybe this gets back to somebody at Rocksteady and they think about what they’re doing next time they’re doing it. And it really is a fucking shame, because the whole rest of the game *is* phenomenal.

    I’ve never wished for a dialogue filter in a game before, but I do with Arkham City.

    • FILMCRITHULK said

      THANKS FOR A GREAT COMMENT. MUCH APPRECIATED.

      HULK ISN’T TRYING TO SPEAK OUT AGAINST ARKHAM CITY OR VIDEO GAMES IN GENERAL, JUST A BOTHERSOME CHARACTERISTIC OF THEM. TO LET THE DEVELOPERS KNOW THEY CAN DO BETTER.

      AND QUITE FRANKLY, IN THE FUTURE, SHOULD.

  66. Shift key is better said

    I understand its easier to type in all caps because you dont have to hit the pesky shift key all the time and I guess you are the Hulk s o you are mad but its really fucking annoying and hard to read.

    • FILMCRITHULK said

      HULK IS AWARE.

      AND YOU WELCOME NOT TO READ. THANKS.

      • I think it is humorous to see so many people comment on this, saying the same thing. Sounds like you have people that WANT to read this blog, but are turned off by HULK SPEAK. So, you have demand. You have something beyond a gimmick. Unfortunately, some people can’t see beyond the gimmick long enough to give it a try. Shame.

  67. Shift key is better said

    So how would you expect thugs to refer to the woman who is beating there ass? Or the cops to refer to a women who just broke into their aid station and took them all hostage. You say the context isn’t there but do you expect a lot of non-sexist politically correct murderous thugs hanging out? Or the cops to say “that sexy and empowered female tried to kill us”? I think contextually it is appropriate to expect people to throw the word bitch around constantly. While it doesn’t have a broader message or some kind of artistic point it makes sense within the universe.

    Also I think the Teen rating really limits the swears they can use. If this was an R rated game you would probably get more gender neutral epitaphs like fuck and asshole and of course even worse gender specific ones like cunt. Maybe this is an societal problem with what language we say is acceptable for teens or prime time television, but it is a limitation the devs have to deal with.

    Another problem is that the thugs just talk too much. So a few lines with bitch turn into a million bitches. But yes the main story cut scenes tend to use the word a lot, but what epitaph would you prefer Two-face use on catwomen? “Its time for revenge you pooface!”

    Yes kids are playing it and their parents should realize that its not a game for little kids, it says it right on the fucking box, and decide if they are old enough to play it. If they do allow the kids to play it they should either watch them play or play it first and discuss issues like this. But you know parenting is hard enough just stick them in front of tv with whatever they yell loudest for.

    TLDR (which will probably still be tldr) I think the word is appropriate to the context. Thugs will swear, thugs will be sexist and cops will use gender specific epitaphs when speaking about a crazy (i actually just typed bitch here) that just tried to kill them. If batman, gordon or the news reporters started throwing it around I would agree with you.

    If we agree thugs will swear there will be a variety problem based on restrictions imposed from the games rating.

    Every word in that damn game gets repeated too much.

    Kids need better parents not more politically correct games. They can go play Lego: Batman.

    “BUT AFTER A KIND OF NEAT LITTLE INTRODUCTION (THOUGH NARRATIVE-LY IT MAKES, LIKE, ZERO SENSE. WHY IS THIS BIG STRETCH OF CITY A PRISON? AND WHY IS IT LIKE DYSTOPIAN FUTURE WHERE INMATES JUST ROAM AROUND EXACTLY?) ”

    There is a small comic arc that explains what happened between Asylum and City. While not free of plot holes it does explain why and how this happened. Some more light is also shed on that as you play through the game.

    • FILMCRITHULK said

      REGARDING THE LANGUAGE HULK JUST GOING TO MAKE ONE POINT. DO ANY OF THE BAD GUYS IN THE DARK KNIGHT EVER USE THE WORD “BITCH”?

      NOPE. THERE ARE BETTER WAYS OF SHOWING PEOPLE ARE EVIL.

      THE PROBLEM WITH ALL THE “BITCH” TALK IS THAT IT’S LAZINESS CREATING THE SEXISM MOST OF ALL. HULK NOT ARGUING THERE SOME AGENDA ON THE PART OF THE GAMERS. JUST THAT THE LAZINESS CREATES A SEXIST ATMOSPHERE.

      ANYCRAP, HULK HAS DISCUSSED EVERYTHING YOU POINT OUT IN THE COMMENTS SECTION ALREADY. HULK JUST TOO TIRED TO KEEP DOING IT.

      CHEERS

      • Shift key is better said

        “REGARDING THE LANGUAGE HULK JUST GOING TO MAKE ONE POINT. DO ANY OF THE BAD GUYS IN THE DARK KNIGHT EVER USE THE WORD “BITCH”?”

        Really? I find that hard to believe but would have to rewatch the movie to be sure.

        “ANYCRAP, HULK HAS DISCUSSED EVERYTHING YOU POINT OUT IN THE COMMENTS SECTION ALREADY. HULK JUST TOO TIRED TO KEEP DOING IT.”

        I understand i got to the party late.

        As far as laziness I understand your point I guess. But really do we want Paul Dini to sit down and say, “you know we wrote btich too much in the dialogue can we work on more creative swearing and keep it in T rating acceptable?” Maybe, IDK. I think if the heavy use of bitch is a problem we should probably attack the ratings boards and get them to only allow gender neutral epitaphs rather then saying “bitch is one of the few words you can get away with”

        but dont mind me, sleep now hulk sleep you need your rest to be the bat

      • Shift key is better said

        Oh and get ready for a lot more comments and some obnoxious trolls, this got linked to on kotaku

      • FILMCRITHULK said

        HULK GLAD WE’RE FINDING COMMON GROUND. WE ARE TWO PEOPLE AND WE HAVE TO REMEMBER THAT AND RESPECT EACH OTHER.

        YEAH, REGARDING TDK IT’S TRUE. NOLAN UNDERSTANDS THERE ARE BETTER LESS LAZY WAYS TO CONVEY THAT SOMEONE IS BAD. YOU REALLY DON’T NEED TO SWEAR TO SHOW THAT PEOPLE ARE BAD.

        BUT THE COUNTERPOINT IS THAT HULK LOVES SWEARING (OBVIOUS) AND THAT GUYS LIKE TARANTINO KNOW HOW TO CRAFT VULGAR DIALOGUE IN SUCH A DELIGHTFUL WAY (AND MORE IMPORTANTLY IT’S APPROPRIATE IN HIS “WORLDS”)

        ARKHAM CITY BITCH TALK IS LAZY AND ROTE IN COMPARISON

        AND HULK NOT SURE IT’S ALL PAUL DINI. SO MUCH OF IT IS THE DEVELOPERS WHO DO ALL THE TANGENT DIALOGUE.

        CHEERS.

  68. duckyinfo said

    I became uneasy when the word ‘bitch’ became mainstream and lost its profane edge within society. Not saying there’s not a time and place for all words but I’d be more willing to tolerate the ‘F’ word (supposedly more obscene) than hearing ‘bitch’ heard all of the time.

    I find it funny that a local radio station mutes out the word ‘bastard’ in a recent hip-hop song but the word ‘bitch’ gets thrown about all over the place. ‘Bastard’ is such a mundane word with little emotional baggage, at least since the 1930s I’d suspect.

    • I find what is allowed and shunned in our world of language is dumbfoundingly stupid. Shit and bitch can be said a million times. Why not fuck? What makes that word any worse?

      • hikikomorihime said

        Agreed. Honestly, fuck is a lot less offensive than “bitch” as an insult. I’d prefer not being called a female dog in an attempt to dehumanize me. While I’m at it, I dislike my genetalia being an insult that guys use on each other. Nothing that has the ability to create a whole new life should ever be considered “weak”.

  69. As I was playing last night, I noticed a change in the thugs’ language. I didn’t hear “bitch” a thousand times. Perhaps it wanes off, as Harley was no longer directly involved with the thugs I was interacting with nor did Catwoman come into play at that time. YET, they did sometimes refer to both characters, yet nary a “bitch” was spoken.

    • ratty said

      Maybe the writers just had a “bitch” quota.

      “OK we hit it 300 times, now we can stop.”

      • If this trend continues (I think it will crop up again when I start kicking ass with Catwoman again. As an aside, who wicked is her ability to move along the rooftops? She climbs up vertical walls and nimbly jumps between roofs to come within range of using her whip. It feels dangerous, yet it fun AS SHIT!) I think it might have been the case. Maybe they were trying to oversell a mood within the first part of the game?

        UGH.

  70. ratty said

    So wait you’re telling me that people call catwoman a bitch? Who cares. She’s not a nice person and she’s given good reasons for good guys and bad guys to not like her.

    Calling one woman a bitch is not sexist. It’s only sexist if you refer to all/most woman as that.

    • EVERY female character in the game seems to receive the same description at one point or another: bitch.

      Again, the most prevalent problem in people discussing this game seems to be people not PLAYING the game. Out of the context of this game, the use of “bitch” makes sense, sure. Yet even at that surface level, it is incredibly lazy and uncreative writing.

      • ratty said

        Isn’t there only like 3 female characters in the entire game all of which are bad guys?

      • There are admittedly a lack of female characters involved in this prison scenario. Ivy isn’t necessarily a bad guy to the thugs involved. I don’t recall her doing anything bad to them (yet). Catwoman isn’t a badguy. She is an anti-hero if anything.

        Harley is a bad guy because of her direct relation and involvement with Joker. There is also a female doctor NPC that is heavily involved in the first portion of the game.

        I’m sure I will run into a few more females in the game as well. Yet, does that excuse lazy writing?

  71. ratty said

    Are you seriously going to play “think of the children” for a game that was clearly not meant for kids? This is the exact same crap used by Thompson and the rest of the censorship brigade. Yes I know you aren’t calling for a ban but still it’s the same weak emotional argument.

    • First, let me ask if you have played this game. Have you?

      Second, if all you take away from this blog post is “think of the children” we might as well stop this discussion right now. Hulk has no problem with cursing, and not even cursing in video games. We have a ratings board to give a guide for what is generally appropriate for certain ages to experience.

      But this is about the troublesome tone of the game. It’s about the small, subtle things pervasive through the first part of the game (I can only play so much in a few days!). On the surface, the use of “bitch” is excessive to the point of being obnoxious and troubling. But the TONE of the use of that word, in combination with everything else, is the larger problem.

      If we can agree that THAT was his intention, we can talk.

      • ratty said

        It is not all I take from the post but it’s there and I’m going to comment on it.

      • Show me a quote of his that led you to take that tact. Where does he expressly say that he is concerned for the children beyond the lack of context and tone?

      • ratty said

        “MORE IMPORTANTLY THERE WERE, AT MIDNIGHT MIND YOU, ABOUT THIRTY CHILDREN AGED 9-12 ALL WITH THEIR MOMS. ALL JOYFULLY WALKING OUT WITH THEIR NEW BATMAN GAME ALL WITH A BEVY OF UNSUSPECTING PARENTS AS TO WHAT THEY JUST BOUGHT AND WHAT THE FIRST HOUR WILL UNVEIL.(2)

        DON’T THINK FOR A SECOND THIS ISN’T HOW THEY’RE LEARNING MODES OF SOCIALIZATION. HELL, THEIR SEXUALITY IS LITERALLY BEING FORMED AS WE SPEAK.”

        Don’t let this game warp their fragile little minds Hulk.

      • ratty said

        Oh and no I have not played the game. I’m going off his description. Maybe I should though since he keeps talking about the tone of the game.

        I have yet to finish Asylum though so that probably won’t happen anytime soon.

      • Again, I asked for something where he isn’t directly talking about the troublesome tone and putting this stuff out there without giving a lot of basis or reasoning. It is T for Teen. It is based on a popular comic book, which is mainly aimed at kids. Children? No. Kids, YES.

        Just as a PG-13 film is hazy for young ones below the age of 13 to to see without a parent, this game is. But it doesn’t mean that they went after the T for Teen rating because they wanted to keep the game away from kids. They wanted to sell it to kids. Parents have to be responsible for the content they expose their kids to, but what parent would expect the kind of sexist tone and graphic language in a game rated T for Teen with BATMAN on the cover?

        Hell, the larger issue isn’t even the kids. I’m a grown ass adult, and I was embarrassed playing the game in front of my mother for an hour. Even when she left, and I continued to walk the street of Arkham City, I cringed at the overuse of the derogatory term.

  72. ratty said

    I’m beginning to think this should’ve been rated M. What say you Hulk?

  73. McShank said

    Everyone in this god damn forum is a complete and utter retard. The word bitch being used in a video game is about as controversial as if Michael Jackson was caught with another kid in his bed (If he was alive). NO one CARES! Hulk seems like a god damn baptist preacher about how much he cares about women and how they should never be used as sexual objects in games. Guess what hulk, Men are used as sexual objects to. They both have since before video games were created. Who cares if the thugs constantly say bitch. Its not like they have a HUGE script to constantly say new stuff from. Everything is just going to be said again sooner or later. Who cares what catwoman is dressed like also, as she kicks ass in the game which shows she is not some little princess. If you all think that sexism is being used in this game, go fucking look outside your door instead of looking at a computer screen and see how the real world is. This is just how the creators of this game want the thugs to think of the women as they are considered *Thugs, Inmates, rapists, killers, etc* and to not call someone by a degrading name would be pretty out of the ordinary. If you dont like it then go play hello kitty island adventure. Or maybe just stop giving a shit about every piece of dialogue this game has. This game was made by WB (Warner Brothers) They obviously allowed this to be used so it must not be that bad. It passed the ESRB Ratings board so it must not have been to sexualized to them. Get over yourselfs and fucking enjoy a game that was meant to be enjoyed and not criticized about on the smallest shit that has no meaning other then it being part of the games atmosphere.

    • No one cares… Hrmm. Something tells me you haven’t read the comments.

      • huge said

        The handful of nutjobs here don’t even represent a blip on the sales chart for this game. So I agree with OP: who cares.

      • huge said

        Also, the comic book is not aimed at kids. I have no clue how you could think that. Actually it all makes sense now. The vast majority of the morons here have never actually read comic books and have no clue that the content in them is pretty damn mature. All they remember is Adam West and think that’s what Batman is. Oh boy, bunch of geniuses.

      • FILMCRITHULK said

        NO REALLY GONNA ENGAGE YOU IN CONVERSATION BUT FOR THE RECORD HULK’S READ MORE COMICS THAN YOU CAN POSSIBLY IMAGINE.

      • Well that’s quite a pleasant way to go about things.

        “Who cares!”

        *Percentage of people raise their hands*

        “Yea, well, you aren’t the majority. So, again, WHO CARES!?”

      • @huge: Whatever argument you were trying to make is invalidated by your use of ad hominem attacks. Clearly you don’t have much to say if the only way you can defend your opinion is by name-calling.

      • Also, go look at your local comic shop and look at the Batman titles. I guarantee the vast majority (which, in your opinion, seems to be the only thing that matters) is NOT rated M or have any strong parental warning about the content.

    • Jon said

      Wow. You’re a colossal cunt.

      • FILMCRITHULK said

        WATCH THE LANGUAGE. AND WHO ARE ARE YOU REFERENCING? CAUSE IT’S NOT CLEAR WHO YOU TALKING ABOUT BASED ON THE REPLY.

      • FILMCRITHULK said

        AND FOR THE RECORD HULK TALKING ABOUT TONE OF LANGUAGE NOT THE WORD ITSELF (OBVI)

      • Jon said

        Reply is to McShank. I did start typing a few more articulate, considered replies, but then I just deleted them and thought: “Y’know, I’ll just say what I’m thinking.”

        Your article, Hulk, is a good heads up for me. I wonder how much creative control Paul Dini had over the script?

  74. Matt Price said

    I’m confused by this statement: “AND HERE WE GO WITH THE MORALIZING AND GOD HULK REALLY HATES DOING IT, BUT…”

    You obviously care a lot about the topic, and you find the game’s tone morally objectionable. This is precisely when you should moralize.

  75. huge said

    Oh man, this article is such a joke. It’s so obvious when someone goes into something with a certain mindset. The fact that you were unable to put any of the “sexist” material into context (the fact that they’re the worst criminals in Gotham and that this is a DARK game) is sad and manipulative of you. Additionally, you try to top that off by claiming that the Batman gained sexual enjoyment out of physically throwing aside Harley Quinn. How do you know? Did you measure his erection? Were you measuring hormone levels? Oh wait! He also physically threw her aside in the first game as well! Guess what? She deserved it. Why? Because she’s a bitch. Why? Because she physically attacks Batman in both games. And guess what? The bad GUYS are dicks also, for the same reason that Harley Quinn in a bitch. I can only imagine what you’d have the criminals of Arkham City saying:

    Criminal 1: “Oh but that Catwoman, she just isn’t a very nice person.”

    Criminal 2: “I fully agree, she needs to learn some manners. I think we should just talk to her about it sometime.”

    And Catwoman would have been wearing a Burka. Actually you know what? I’m pretty sure you’re just the sexist one.

    • Jon said

      “I’m pretty sure you’re just the sexist one.”

      Oh the plus side, one thing that’s great about our modern era is that people like ‘huge’ here desperately try to reject the label of sexist and project it onto other people (usually the people whose insight and analysis shows them up to be the backwards-thinking bozos they are).

      It’s like that classic phrase: “I’m not a racist but …” – sure, it always precedes a blatantly bigoted tirade from a Grade A scumbag, but at least the *idea* of racism and sexism is so universally repugnant that they make the effort of self-denial.

    • Does Catwoman ever comment on it? Maybe a, “How’s that ‘bitch’ for ya, bitch?” after taking down a bad guy. That would be awesome. “Who’s the ‘bitch’ now?” would also be fun triumph-combat dialogue. Does Batman ever snark on it? “Maybe Wayne Ent should get into the thesaurus business” would make me chuckle. The problem isn’t that the language is there & repeated over and over, it’s the fact that it is there without any direct engagement or commentary by the heroes or the themes of the story. They fight physical crime with physical justice; why not verbal crime with verbal justice? Batman makes little comments to himself as you wander in the first game iirc, why not utilize an already existing mechanic and add a deeper layer to the gameplay at the same time?

      It’s not the criminals that are the problem, it is the heroes. Their plastic reaction to such heavily repeated sentiments makes it seem like they don’t see anything wrong with it (while violence is unacceptable and must be fought against). The solution isn’t to stop their uncouth verbality, it’s to either 1) engage the real aspect of misogyny in it w/ in-game commentary/themes/plot or 2) spice it up with some variety (“asshole” being the obvious one, “prick” being another, not to mention how unique you could get with swearing slang subculture in Gotham, giving writers another creative venue in the game and fleshing out the city’s feel!).

      • Brocky said

        I think it’s a bit much to ask Batman to comment on the thug’s language. He doesn’t give a crap about the insignificant thugs who are in his way. He’s going to beat them up regardless of their views on women and sexism.

        Batman is completely emotionless and doesn’t let anything effect him. That’s what separates him from Bruce Wayne. He isn’t a person, he is a symbol. So he responds cold and stoically towards everything and everyone he talks to, good, bad or otherwise. ( In fact, the only time he really responds to anything with a flare of emotion is when he thought the Joker was dead.)

      • Yet no one else makes mention of it. Catwoman, who IS snarky. Joker, who definitely isn’t one to hold his tongue. NONE of the characters make ANY comments about it. It’s odd to have such a one-sided discussion going on.

        Video games aren’t above breaking the fourth wall. Why not here? It would be a funny remark. It would kind of word in this, “ha, look how many times these guys say ‘bitch'” world.

        Yet, I do agree. It would be a bit much to have some characters comment on random thugs commentary. But there are moment like when you interrogate thugs as Batman that show he does make commentary. Why not give Catwoman that ability? It would work, right? (Maybe she does get this ability? Only 27% through cuz I love tracking down the side missions).

  76. Andy Rudd said

    why are you called Huge? are you overcompensating for something?

  77. M. Caliban said

    One of the biggest differences between film enthusiasts and gamers is that people who are into films assume that films are meaningful. That is they think films say something both in whole and through their individual elements, and that discussing what a film says is worthwhile.

    The gaming community, in general, is hostile to any criticism or analysis beyond a game sucking or being awesome.

    Yes, Batman: AC is sexist. Yes, it’s blatantly, unapologically sexist. But even if Catwoman ran around in a playboy bunny outfit with cat-ears, Batman called every woman a bitch and/or whore, and the end fight took place atop a mountain of naked, decapitated women, you’d still get tons of posts about how:
    1) it’s realistic
    2) it’s not reality, so why are you so worried about it when there are real injustices in the world?
    3) you’re obviously just a prude, sexist, or a sexist prude

    • 1&2 I think those cancel each other out. . . . . And 3 is an Ad hominem logical fallacy. While I disagree that Arkham City is sexist, I agree that characters in it are sexist. These are not the same thing. Hulk arguing that because the game’s characters are sexist the game’s writers are sexist is also a logical fallacy. The only evidence they have to support such a claim is the actions of fictional characters in a fictional world created for the amusement of others, the only claim one could draw from such evidence is that the writers have a certain view of the behavior of inmates. I do not argue that the industry is predominantly sexist. One should not make assumptions about individuals based on a demographic, that is the definition of stereotyping.

      • FILMCRITHULK said

        ONLY NEW POINT TO ARGUE: CALLING SOMEONE SEXIST BASED ON WHAT YOU PERCEIVE TO BE SEXIST BEHAVIOR IS NOT STEREOTYPING.

        STEREOTYPING WOULD BE IF HULK MET A VIDEO GAMER AND ASSUMED THEY WERE SEXIST.

        AND FOR THE LAST TIME HULK’S ARGUED THEY SEEM UNAWARE OF HOW THEY WORK IS COMING ACROSS AS SEXIST.

      • I have repeatedly asked how the work is sexist. You have repeatedly claimed that the work of the individual characters combine to make the entire game sexist, despite the fact that the people making these controversial remakes are the ones that the ‘hero’ is fighting, the ones that are stated to be in the wrong. And their actions are by extension wrong. The only reason I keep posting here an arguing with Hulk and others, because I would like to know how it is wrong, is it that it is used in such a manner at all? Is it the over usage? is it the fact that is in the game at all, would you rather that the behavior not be demonstrated at all, just forgotten instead of corrected? You all claim that the game is not appropriate for children but is it not good to show their heroes punishing deviant behavior, even in subtle was such as this?

      • FILMCRITHULK said

        THAT’S NOT WHAT HULK IS SAYING. THAT’S WHAT YOU THINK HULK IS SAYING. YOU’RE MISSING THE ARGUMENT ABOUT HOW CONTEXT WORKS ENTIRELY. YOU ONLY SEEM TO BE AWARE OF CONTEXT IN THE FORM OF STORY/CHARACTER-BASED-LOGIC. HULK TALKING ABOUT THEMATIC LOGIC. HULK TALKING ABOUT UBIQUITY. HULK TALKING ABOUT TONE AND INTENTION. THESE ARE THE GROUNDS OF HULK’S ARGUMENT. YOU’RE NOT PROVIDING A COUNTER-POINT IN THOSE TERMS SO THERE IS NOTHING THAT CAN SATISFY YOUR ARGUMENT.

        THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN OUR PERCEPTION OF HOW GAMES AND MEDIA WORKS IS VAST THAT THERE IS NO WAY TO SEEMINGLY BRIDGE IT.

      • Is there no way to bridge it or are you not willing to try. Your claim that you are talking about ‘ubiquity’ makes no sense. What you are stating as the theme of the story, in your short sojourn with the game, is one of sexism. There is no evidence for this, You are ignoring the duality of the story, that it essentially one of good versus evil, the actions of one side are deemed morally correct, and the actions of the other are deviant. All I have talked about is theme. Of the war between moral behavior and deviant behavior is dramatized in the game. How the player in the role of the moral character is tasked with the stopping of deviant behavior, including the actions you assert are sexist. Yes, the deviant behavior is in the majority, perhaps this is a metaphor for how the writers perceive the moral fiber of the United States, perhaps it shows how the prison population is become alarmingly huge. You have accused me of not understanding your argument, that I am looking only at theme, and not thematic logic. You say you are talking about intention, but all you are doing is making assumptions about the intent of the creators. You say it is about tone well I have to say about tone, is that it is third person. . . . . . Any way the tone is a dark, gritty, hellish place, THAT IS SUPPOSED TO MAKE ONE UNCOMFORTABLE, which they seem to have accomplished. As to your assertion that if I cannot meet your terms, then nothing can satisfy my argument, or your assertion that we see how media is to0 drastically different, making understanding impossible is untrue and an assumption on your part. And if that is the crux, or altar, upon which the keystone of your argument works, explain it to me. I am willing to learn. Then I can meet you on your terms.

  78. [...] a person who I respect, Britt Hayes, wrote an article that was a reply of sorts to FilmCritHulk’s commentary on the sexism that is so apparent in Batman: Arkham City. Britt hadn’t played the game yet, [...]

    • FILMCRITHULK said

      THAT’S NOT WHAT HULK WAS SAYING AT ALL.

    • Phil said

      There’s a difference between characterizing fictional folks as bad/evil and using those characters as a way to communicate your own biases and hangups. The bad guys in Arkham City come off as plenty bad already without talking about how much they hate women/fantasize about lesbians. That element of the game is gratuitous; it’s unnecessary. The fact that Rocksteady chose to keep it in the game anyway means something.

      • I assumed that the decision to keep the content in the game was one of theme, the world of Batman as drastically exaggerated. Even in the comics, just there it was censored as @$#!& instead. “There’s a difference between characterizing fictional folks as bad/evil and using those characters as a way to communicate your own biases and hangups”, how do you tell the difference between the two, as this is the main crux in the discussion, as we cannot agree on which is which.

      • Phil said

        I think what I say in my second and third sentences would be one decent barometer for differentiation. If the point of contention was indeed thematic, I expect either Catwoman or Batman would address it (more explicitly than generally beating the tar out of everything around them, as that’s the crux of the gameplay generally).

      • Except Batman is not explicitly good, and not is not a thematic element, it is part of the setting, not theme, the point of the story is not the disparity between Batman and the criminals, hell the reverse was true of Arkham Asylum (I still think original Arkham Asylum comic from 1989, written by the best Batman writer of all time Grant Morrison, better demonstrated how Batman is essentially as evil and insane as any patient of the asylum), and from what I understand Arkham City is in part about how dark and twisted Gotham is as a whole. And in that sense their behavior plays to the theme and setting. It is supposed to be gratuitous it is supposed to be unnecessary. It is not a thematic element, it is an element of a theme, which is the darkness lurking in the depths of all cities.

      • Phil said

        The point of every Batman story is the disparity between Batman and the criminals he fights (whether it’s “wide” or “narrow” usually depends on the creative team). You don’t have to be “explicitly good” to string a criminal up by his feet and remind him that the crazy bitch he hates just broke his kneecap as easily as she’d drink water; instead, Batman ignores this language entirely. Also, if it’s not a thematic element, why did you say you assumed the dialogue remained in the game because of theme (“I assumed that the decision to keep the content in the game was one of theme”)?

      • “It is not a thematic element, it is an element of a theme,” Meaning it is not a storyline underlying a theme, it is part of the theme that shows the dark nature of Gotham City. The language reflects this but is not so important as to require specific mention, while things like the horrible conditions of Arkham City are repeatedly mentioned and addressed, when Batman assaults people who are just trying to find food, while they wait for a food drop. It also maybe that the writers did not want to make Batman too morally superior as to be unrelatable, or for players to feel that he is being too heavy handed, I for one do not want Batman to be overstepping his bounds. It is perfectly alright for Batman to be assaulting murders, rapists, and thugs, but correcting them on something that many gamers and people do (swearing in general) may be overstepping. There are many reasons why the writers may have chosen the reasons they did, it is wrong to assume the worst.

      • Phil said

        The example I suggested does nothing to make Batman “too morally superior;” if anything, it’s a funny throwaway line that also serves to further cement the feelings of respect-and-maybe-more that underlie Batman and Catwoman’s relationship. Dressing up like a giant bat should make him less relatable than that. And the language is supremely important, as it’s the crux behind these 200+ comments on this blog posting. There IS a reason the game is flooded with this word that explicitly paints women in the negative; if it was meant to shock, it would only show up infrequently, to preserve its power to do so. It doesn’t. It’s pervasive. If it didn’t mean anything to the people making the game, someone would’ve noticed it and remarked, “Hey, the word, ‘bitch,’ comes up a lot in the game, you know? Maybe we should swap it out for something else; people might get tired of hearing it.” They didn’t, or they chose not to. Either way, it’s reflective of the creators.

      • The line you suggested is a complete break from the character of Batman, Red Robin or Nightwing? Yes, they probably would have done something similar.But Batman is not one to defend the character of another to someone. I agree that the language is important it is an issue debated in every media. But what it seems you want to do is to have the writers watch over what they have every character say, and how often they say it. Which is programing, they can only afford to do so many lines of mook dialog so they make it so they repeat lines often. Bitch is one of the few swears that is generally acceptable to it is repeated often. Also it is not just a derogatory term for women, it is used to degrade both men and women, in this game in fact there is a scene in the beginning of the game where an inmate declares that he is going to make Bruce Wayne his bitch. And again I feel it would make Batman too morally superior in the sense that I do not mind him kicking the crap out of rapists, murders and thugs, but I do not want him to declare something as innocuous as being a potty mouth as being objectionable. Superman can do that, and does it is what he is there for. We are still declaring that since it is in the game so much it must be something the creators believe. There is no evidence to support this, there is also no evidence to support otherwise.

    • Sean said

      Your staff seems ‘very professional’.

  79. MENT WITH COMMENT said

    “…IT IS ABOUT THE HYPOCRITICAL NATURE OF MENT”

    SPEAKING OF HYPOCRITICAL, SOME MIGHT SAY IT VERY HYPOCRITICAL TO WRITE WHOLE BLOG POST DECRYING SEXISM AND THEN IMPLY THAT MEN (OR “MENT”… IS THAT A TYLER PERRY-ISM LIKE “GOOD AFTERNOONT”?) ARE HYPOCRITICAL BY NATURE. MAKING BASELESS BLANKET STATEMENT ABOUT ENTIRE GENDER KIND OF FIT DEFINITION OF SEXISM, AND YOU BASE THIS ASSERTION ON FICTIONAL MOVIE NO LESS.

    FUCK SAKE, HULK! IF YOU GOING TO BE SANCTIMONIOUS, AT LEAST DO IT RIGHT.

    • Dave said

      Did you read that whole paragraph? He’s quoting the text of the film, not stating a personal opinion.

      • MENT WITH COMMENT said

        DID YOU READ WHOLE PARAGRAPH??? HULK OBVIOUSLY APPROVE OF TEXT OF FILM AND BELIEVE IT JUSTIFY VIOLENCE AGAINST FEMALE CHARACTER. FILM IS BEING SUPPLIED AS POSITIVE EXAMPLE.

  80. gomitata said

    Late to the party but after slogging through most of the comments, I’m blown away by how patient and reasonable Hulk is being. Hulk, I’m glad you do what you do.

    I haven’t played the game (working through KOTOR right now) but I know the icky feeling you describe. Hearing characters use the word ‘bitch’ naturally or necessarily as part of their characterization is worlds away from hearing an author put ‘bitch’ in their those characters’ mouths and use the rest of the characterization (Arkham prisoner, villain, justifiably angry, etc) as an alibi. And when that goes unchallenged you get the gross feeling of the author, be it one person writing fic or a whole team working on an AAA game, nudging you and inviting you to enjoy the little bursts of sexism as much as they presumably do. It’s unnecessary and detracts from the game (as does similar tomfoolery not covered under the specific ‘bitch’ example).

    Anyway, I like your blog.

  81. Wait, so characters acting like a bitch (from the perspective of the accuser) are “victims” because they are called a bitch? Lol.

    Also, I really don’t understand why people have a problem with Harley being called a bitch. She is a bitch, she’s a fucking insane psychopath who gets a humorous kick from being sadistic. She is also regularly depicted as being obsessed with the Joker to the point where she happily accepts regular domestic abuse in order to continue being around him. Is it considered a problem that a female character is depicted as being submissive (and even complicit) in being domestically abused by a man? Nope, it makes perfect sense given her character and her disorder. But god forbid someone calls her a bitch because she is a psychopathic killer, that’s just disgusting chauvanism.

    /slow clap

    • gomitata said

      “I don’t see the problem with calling [plural of slur] [slur] when they’re being a [slur].”

      Seriously though, the complaint is not about Quinn in particular being called a bitch. It’s how little dribbles of sexism in the game add up to something repellent in an otherwise stellar (taking Hulk’s word for it) production.

      In your example, the abusive relationship with Joker fits Quinn’s characterization and explains. If it were presented as an essential and universal aspect of her gender then yes, it would be a problem.

      Similarly, when all the ladies in the show keep getting called bitches and that’s the context in which other little bits of sexism occur it ads up to an atmosphere in which no woman–any woman, not just Quinn–is held in even neutral regard.

      • But they won’t be held in neutral regard. No character will, not just the women. That’s the result of having a game where there are clearly defined heroes and villains that are diametrically opposed to each other – you lose neutrality in that position.

        Would it be more realistic if all of the criminals (hardened murderers and rapists, let’s not forget, for the most part) treated Catwoman with perfect chivalry even as she breaks their face with a knee drop? Would it be realistic for the protagonists to not react to a female character deliberately standing in their way and kidnapping, torturing and/or attempting to kill them as a bitch? Hell, if anyone acted like that to me then I think “bitch” is probably a lot milder than what I might spout.

        And again, would we even be having this conversation if everyone referred to batman or other male characters as a “bastard”? I really don’t think we would, because society is oversensitive to even perceived notions of sexism against women whilst hypocritically remaining wilfully bling to increasingly endemic sexism against men.

      • gomitata said

        “Would it be more realistic if all of the criminals (hardened murderers and rapists, let’s not forget, for the most part) treated Catwoman with perfect chivalry even as she breaks their face with a knee drop?”

        That’s not the argument. The argument is that the tone and atmosphere of the game, as created by a number of small design choices added together, is sexist to the point that it is noticeably off-putting, and that it stands out all the more because the game is otherwise well made.

        “But they won’t be held in neutral regard. No character will, not just the women. That’s the result of having a game where there are clearly defined heroes and villains that are diametrically opposed to each other – you lose neutrality in that position.”

        No one is criticizing Random Thug #82 for calling someone a bitch right before they get pummeled. What’s being pointed out here is that a certain number of design decisions create a sexist undercurrent that detracts from the game. Random Thug #82’s last words by themselves are just one component of that.

  82. I really, really don’t see a problem. It’s a mature game targeted at a mature audience. Have you read the comics? There is a shit-tonne more violence and adult content in comics than there is in Arkham Asylum/City.

    So, is it a problem that an adult game contains adult content? No, especially when it is tame compared to source material.

    Is there a debate to be had about whether the game has been wrongly labelled as T in the US? Yes.

    The main crux of HULKs argument seems to be that kids will play the game and be influenced by its liberal use of the word bitch to the point where they grow up with a derogatory view of the opposite sex. Aside from the fact that I think that is massive speculation presented as fact and without any scientific reference to back it up, aside from the fact that the context the remarks are made in are completely understandable given that they are directed by characters towards their antagonists, to me the real issue is WHY ARE KIDS PLAYING THIS GAME IN THE FIRST PLACE?

    Batman is a brutal, adult character with brutal methods and his stories typically deal with brutal, adult themes such as genocide, serial killers, rape, mental illness, and the boundaries of acceptable conduct under extreme circumstances. He is also regularly depicted as being just as obsessive and mentally ill as the people he comes into conflict with. In the majority of cases, Batman is not a character that can be fully appreciated or understood by children. This is not Adam West. So the real question, given Hulks closing argument that the content is objectionable particularly because children might be exposed to it, really boils down to the age-old argument as to why parents don’t take greater responsibility for the content that their kids are exposed to.

    • gomitata said

      “Batman is a brutal, adult character… Batman is not a character that can be fully appreciated or understood by children”

      Who started out as a very kid-friendly detective in a medium created for wish-fulfillment by two misfit Jewish kids in Cleveland. But that’s neither here nor there; we both know that the character’s evolved.

      Hulk isn’t saying “OMG think of the children,” and countering that the real issue is why kids are playing the game in the first place is avoiding the argument. Regardless of how “adult” the game is, the argument is that the sexism in Arkham Asylum is misplaced, unpleasant, and detracts from the game.

      • Batman was even more violent at the time of his inception than he is today; he carried a gun and was quite happy to kill people. Not very “kid friendly” is it?

      • And I think you are confusing the creator of Batman (Bob Kane) with the creators of Superman (Siegel and Schuster)

      • No their summary of Batman is correct. He never actually carried a gun and even in the early comics he never really murdered anyone. He was displayed on some covers with guns but never used them. http://sacomics.blogspot.com/2005/08/batman-and-guns.html is a good article explaining where that misconception comes from. Also Bob Kane and Bill Finger were also jewish, not sure about the Cleveland thing as they both grew up in New York, though they were both in their mid-twenties so I would not exactly call them kids.

      • From that article:

        “Both Batman and Robin had been fairly casual about tossing crooks off large buildings to their apparent deaths, and in a notorious sequence Batman had toppled an idol on some Chinese thugs in Detective #39. The sequence in Batman #1 was to be the last time that Batman intentionally killed someone, although it was far from the last time he used a gun.”

        So the article acknowledges that Batman was rather complacent about committing murder in his formative years.

      • The article also repeatedly shows a number of panels (not just covers) where Batman is explicitly shown to be wielding a gun. Unless he somehow was able to conjure it out of thin air, I think it’s safe to assume that he carried it on his person.

    • If you can read HULK’s entire post and think his argument boils down to “think of the children!”, then you clearly aren’t reading it with understanding. How can we have a quality discussion if you fail at simply understanding the argument, despite a NUMBER of people attempting to fill you in?

  83. Before I start, I’d like to mention how impressed I am at Hulk’s un-Hulk-like patience as he answers his critics. Most of whom, it must be said, are criticising him based on a mis-reading of his original post.

    I’ve been writing a screenplay recently in which the main character is a misogynist, so I’ve been thinking quite hard about the portrayal of misogyny and sexism in media.

    I believe that a game (or movie, or book, or song) is not automatically sexist, just because it includes sexism (how else would artists critique sexism?). What makes a piece of media sexist is if, through the way it tells its story and the portrayal of both men and women throughout, it will engender sexism in its audience, either deliberately (rare) or unconsciously (sadly, pretty common).

    I’m going to use Transformers as an example of a sexist movie, which will also hopefully tie into Hulk’s point about content-vs-context. Even though Megan Fox’s character is given opportunities in the narrative to be ‘strong’ (good with cars, helps save the world, etc.), the way she is presented is deeply sexist. Every choice made in her depiction (costume, make-up, the many shots which focus only on sexualised parts of her body, John Turturro’s bizarre reactions to her, etc.) presents her as something to be fawned over, ogled and pawed. The content might involve her kicking ass, but the context subverts that message. After seeing it, is the audience more likely to view women as objects? Having just watched Transformers treat Megan Fox as an object, I believe that they will, therefore I believe that film is sexist.

    Back to Arkham City, and it’s disclaimer time: I’m not a gamer. But it seems like Hulk is making a similar point about the game. While arguments can be made about the content — ‘Catwoman gets strung up and mistreated’ vs ‘But she escapes and wallops her captors’, it’s the context that he finds odious. And when he’s using the word context he’s NOT talking about the in-game context of ‘It’s a city filled with murderers and rapists and bad guys’, he’s talking about the context of presentation: how Catwoman and the other female characters are designed, written, voiced and shot (‘camera’ placement is important in games as well) is just as vital as their actions, and the other character’s reactions to them. Every single aspect of their portrayal is context.

    This confusion about Hulk’s use of the word ‘context’ seems to be where most of the (well-meaning) disagreement comes from.

    Cheers, JC.

    • Your argument is well presented and reasonable, but I have to disagree on several points.

      Firstly, Hollywood is endemically sexist. The whole concept of a “damsel in distress” is inherently sexist as it always portrays women as helpless fragile creatures in need to rescuing by the big strong alpha male. Compared to Hollywood, particularly the blockbusters and even “family friendly” fare such as Disney movies (which regularly use the “damsel in distress” setup), Arkham City is a bloody saint.

      Secondly, Selina Kyle, Catwoman, has always been an inherently sexual character. Yes, she was created by a man in an era where sexism simply wasn’t a social consideration. But she has also been written by women, and if anything she became even more sexualised. Depicting a woman as being particularly sexual isn’t inherently sexist. If their sexualism is as a rsult of exploitation from male characters, or simply a gratuitous attempt to pander to a male audience (such as Starfire’s depiction in the lamentable New 52 initiative), then yes I would argue that accusations of sexism are justified.

      However, if that character is using their sexuality to their advantage (the whole “sex is a weapon” concept that is quite prominent in feminism), exuding confidence and, importantly, CHOOSING to act in an overtly sexual way, then I would argue that is not, necessarily, a sexist depiction but rather an example of someone reclaiming and subverting a stereotype.

      Hulks argument fails on several levels. Firstly, he boils his argument down to “its wrong because kids might be influenced by it”, which is massively speculative, has no basis in scientific fact and ignores the simple truth that a parent ultimately has responsibility for the content that their child is exposed to. That one section of the blog hugely undermines his argument.

      Another is his sweeping generalisation that porn is inherently exploitative of women, ignoring the fact that not every porn actress has a gun held against their head forcing them to have sex on camera. Many women make a very informed choice to enter that industry and many identify as feminists (again, the “sex as a weapon” and reclamation argument). I realise that he has attempted to clarify that point and has acknowledged he was wrong to make such a generalisation in the comments, but that is very much attempting to shut the barn door after the horse has bolted. He should have had the forethought not to have made the comment in the first place and it is actually, ironically, condescending to women to make such a sweeping statement.

      Thirdly, he dismisses with a sweep of his hands the notion that the comments are justified given the context of the game. Which is rather bizarre, because the context is entirely obvious. One can only assume that he is so dismissive of it because it he is aware that it utterly undermines his position. Hardened criminals – rapists, murderers, etc, sex starved and confined in an environment where their only frame of human reference is other people who are also sex starved, confined, and morally skewed, are predilected to being agressive, violent and sexist – ESPECIALLY when they or their cohorts are having their face reconstructed by a confident, sexual and strong woman. They don’t stand around sipping tea and discussing the merits of Austen and waxing lyrical about abstract philosophical issues. Their needs and perceptions are more direct, more primal, and they act accordingly. Conversely, I know damn well that if I was confronted by a psychopathic, murderous woman that I would quite possibly call her every name under the sun. Calling her a bitch would be one of the least offensive words to fall off my tongue. That’s not sexism, it’s human nature. If the character was a man in the same situation, I would likewise probably call him all sorts of male-oriented insults such as bastard, motherfucker, prick, dickhead, etc. Particularly when the stakes are high. Hulk says that there is no context to the sexism, but the context is staring him in the face and he even acknowledges it before dismissing it with a simple wave of his hand because IT UNDERMINES HIS ENTIRE ARGUMENT.

      Lastly, and this is another thing that has been repeatedly raised and that he has dismissed, is the condescending and patronising nature of someone speaking on behalf of a group and getting all offended for them. People are more than capable of sticking up for themselves if they feel offended. It wasn’t men complaining about sexism that got women the vote, it was women sticking up for themselves. It wasn’t white men complaining about segregation that eliminated apartheid and the utterly disgusting treatment of non-whites in America, it was black people standing up for themselves. Speaking as a gay man with a disability, there is nothing I find more patronising, condescending and offensive than a straight, abled person crying havoc over perceived discrimination. If I see it, I will speak against it. I don’t need someone to do it for me because they consider themselves to be in a better position to be listened to. That one female commenter stated that only men are in a position to fight against sexism was defeatist and actually rather disheartening. In fact, I have seen plenty of women give their opinion on this issue on various gaming forums and they have, to a man (pun unintended), collectively rolled their eyes, shrugged, and expressed bemusement that, yet again, men are jumping in declaring sexism when the perceived “victims” SIMPLY DON’T GIVE A CRAP. Women are laughing at this argument. They’re not concerned, they don’t need rescuing by some big white knight with a penis between their legs, they are actively laughing that some men are tripping over themselves to look as though they are culturally sensitive and in tune with the needs of the opposite sex.

      There is a reason why this argument has been almost exclusively dominated by men arguing amongst themselves.

      • 1) The very first comment to this post was made by a woman, and she thanked HULK for his argument. This piece was picked up by a game site, whose readership skews heavily male, which is why you may have to look through the comments a little harder to see us. I, personally, stopped visiting Kotaku because of the type of comments there.

        2) Context (as it relates to the narrative concept of tone, the basis of HULK’s argument) is not simply the setting of the game. It is how the elements are presented as defined by the relationship they have with the rest. The context is not pearl clutching over the antagonists’ ~gritty realism~; the context is a pattern of hateful language directed constantly at the female characters by both the bad and the good guys, which is never addressed thematically or commented on by the characters. I gave a few examples of how I think the game could have simply done this here, though this is a little bit of a side note: http://filmcrithulk.wordpress.com/2011/10/19/goddammit-video-games-the-first-few-hours-of-arkham-city-is-lots-of-fun-but-super-duper-sexist/#comment-1214

        Let me explain. No, let me sum up: tone =\= in-game setting. tone = meta (relationship of author to subject matter & audience). What you’re referring to is more ‘mood’ territory (though mostly ‘setting’). I’m scrolling up to read comments you’ve responded to, re-reading HULK’s post and… well, if you didn’t listen before I suppose I don’t expect you to respond well to my attempts. Though I am a girl, so apparently you can now at least take my word that it is a little sexist or something.

        3) My interpretation was that the argument was more ‘why doesn’t the game comment on this explicitly if they’re going to include it?’ Either they a) made the conscious decision that these guys would be so verbally harsh with women or b) did so unintentionally. As value-judgements are placed on other aspects of the inmates’ repugnant behavior (their violence is rewarded by a smack down), the behavior is never even commented on in passing, add to that good guys falling into the same patterns, makes the tone a little weird in that it *does not seem like the developers fell in to option a*. To engage in your ‘empowerment’ argument on the side, however, I’d like to say I’m surprised such an empowered woman wouldn’t feel comfortable enough to call the boys dicks or bitches right back, and further wonder if Bats is ever repeatedly called a dick (I’ve not finished the game).

        The post never had a problem with Selena Kyle’s empowered sexuality, in fact HULK nods to her femme fatale style directly in his piece. His one comment was on her suit and its presentation to the audience (introduced her via ass shot). Unless her cleavage is actually luring attackers into some false sense of security or brazenness within the game, I’m not terribly sure why a fighter would leave such a vulnerable area exposed to the enemy. And if her sexuality is based on four inches of zipper instead of an effective performance of empowerment (which HULK argues is not there, at least in her first interaction w/ the Bman) then you’re creating characters wrong. This is what makes it seem like her character’s performance of sexuality (clothing, dialogue) in this game is constructed for the males who will buy it and not her herself. Why doesn’t she verbally fight back?

        But that’s just how I see it. And my Holy Book of Feminism is outdated (I, for example, did not know that ‘using sex as a weapon’ was part of the decree now).

      • “Women are laughing at this argument. They’re not concerned, they don’t need rescuing by some big white knight with a penis between their legs, they are actively laughing that some men are tripping over themselves to look as though they are culturally sensitive and in tune with the needs of the opposite sex.”

        On behalf of my sex and gender, I’m pretty fuckin’ offended that you’d presume to speak for all of us. I find it condescending and completely wrongheaded. Also the “I’m somehow marginalized so I can speak for other marginalized groups” is really, really wrong and offensive too. What that commenter meant, which you pretty clearly missed, was that while women CAN and DO speak up for themselves in MANY situations, it’s not heard because the people they’re speaking TO /are fucking misogynist/, and thus won’t take the word of a /woman/ in any case.

        That’s why allies are so important. While it’s fucking awesome to campaign for ourselves, it’s also fucking awesome to realize WE HAVE PEOPLE WHO SUPPORT US. The racist segregation (not apartheid) laws in the US were changed by WHITE Congresspersons, Senators, and a white president. The movement was grassroots and included folks of all colors, but they had to appeal to those in power–who were white. In the case of video games, appealing to the people in power means speaking to males, often, and those males are less inclined to listen to an “oversensitive” “feminazi”–so it DOES help, and is NOT condescending, to have someone go, “Listen, they’ll listen better to you, so please take our message to the top.” Asked-for aid isn’t charity. There’s a difference–you’d do well to learn it.

  84. [...] [GameSpot]Deus Ex: Human Revolution offers old school racism with your gaming fun [Feminsiting]GODDAMMIT VIDEO GAMES: THE FIRST FEW HOURS OF ARKHAM CITY IS LOTS OF FUN, BUT SUPER-DUPER SEXIST [Film Crit [...]

  85. Jilliterate said

    Thank you, HULK. As always, you have taken how I feel, and put it into delicious, eloquent words, which helps me to not look like a rambling maniac.

    It’s painful, though, to see how many people here in the comments continue to happily enforce this bias with the argument “THEY’RE THE BAD GUYS.” I haven’t played AC yet (And I may not at all, considering this, although it pains me since I loved AA dearly), but I’m going to venture a guess that the “bad guys” probably aren’t doing other things typical to criminals. Genuinely wondering. Do they talk about how they got busted working in meth labs? Do some show the effects of drug addiction? Do any of the criminals dominate the other criminals because of prison-fostered sexual relationships? I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess no. Why then, would Rocksteady be so insistent on fostering a supposedly authentic tone of criminality when dealing with women? Why are the “bad guys'” attitudes towards women realistic, and nothing else? (And please, someone feel free to correct me if I’ve pegged the portrayal of said criminals wrong, as I haven’t picked up the game yet)

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — it’s really easy to ignore discrimination when you’re not the one being discriminated against.

  86. DeeK said

    I haven’t played the game yet, but I was thinking of preordering it until I saw the depiction of Catwoman. It clashed horrendously with how I imagined her. I would love Rocksteady to release an alternate skin for her. Slinky and sexy is fine, as long as it isn’t so … blatant and gratuitous. Zip up the suit for one thing. Make the character more stealthy and “feline”. Then I’ll be more interested in purchasing the game.

    I know I’m missing out on an amazing game, but it’s off-putting to play a character that is so wrong in design (from my perspective). It detracts from my enjoyment of it.

    Can’t comment on the overuse of the word “bitch”, since I haven’t played the game. Maybe some day. Certainly sooner, if Rocksteady release a redesigned Catwoman.

  87. Kenneth K. said

    Great job Hulk. As always a clear and concise dissection of a medium that I enjoy and can agree with you, but I must ask this very important question…

    Doesn’t it make you wanna bash your head into something heavy when a lot of people reply back to your article but they miss the point you were making entirely and thereby making an argument that they want to have instead of arguing your point in your article?

    • FILMCRITHULK said

      WOULD IT MAKE SENSE IF HULK SAID THAT HULK COMES FROM A FAMILY OF PUBLIC SCHOOL TEACHERS THAT FOCUS ON LOW-LEVEL AND AT RISK YOUTH? HULK KNOWS THAT HULK’S POINTS GET A LITTLE HIGH-FALUTIN’ AT TIMES, BUT THE POINT OF ANY KIND OF ATTEMPT AT EDUCATION IS THAT YOU CAN’T GIVE UP, YOU CAN’T GET ANGRY, YOU CAN’T GIVE IN. OTHERWISE WE ALL LOSE.

      WHICH JUST MEANS IT CAN BE A LITTLE MORE FRUSTRATING MORE THAN IT IS ANGER INDUCING.

      • Kenneth K. said

        Thanks for the quick reply. I always enjoy reading your articles and points. And I’m very happy you have lots of patience and understanding for people and their misplaced arguments or thoughts. I actually worked in Middle School for at-risk youth too for several years, so I understand your feelings on this. Please continue to keep up the superb work. I’d say take care and be good, but it seems you’re already taking it easy anyway. Looking forward to your next article Hulk. See ya’.

  88. Bevin said

    I wrote a really long response to some of this but I decided I don’t want to get into it. I used to wade in eagerly but I just don’t have it in me anymore; it’s the main reason I started avoiding comic book and gaming websites a few years back. Mostly I just wanted to give Hulk an e-hug for writing this and for being his patient self.

  89. Josh said

    I suppose I am expecting too much when I hope to see common sense in modern society.

  90. [...] Via Film Crit Hulk Loading… var MarketGidDate = new Date(); document.write(''); [...]

  91. [...] Remember our recent post expressing concern for Catwoman’s public image? It turns out we were right to be worried. Video-gamers exploring the new  Batman: Arkham City release have begun voicing complaints about the dehumanization of the game’s female characters, including the repetitive use of the word “bitch” to describe Sexwoman (okay, they didn’t really change her name, but what’s stopping them?) and other female characters. One particular reviewer summed up the problem — and the problem behind the problem — in an amazing, caps-locked, Hulk-voiced rant. [...]

  92. MrRoivas said

    Is Poison Ivy as ridiculous as the first game, or did they somehow find a way to up the lip curling ludicrousness of her attire in this one?

    • It’s the exact same, from what I can recall. Aka, there isn’t much but a loosely buttoned top and panties made of ivy.

      • Poison Ivy has always been dressd like that – well, at least since Crisis onwards. The context is that she rejects the world of man and regards herself as being more plant than person, so she rejects social norms of clothing (and let’s face it, when you spend most of your time talking to plants, are you really going to give a damn what you’re wearing?

        The leafy bits over her… womany bits… is largely there to keep it JUST on the side of acceptable artistic depiction (Batman may be an adult comic, but there are still boundaries of taste) in order to prevent it from falling into the level of hackery associated with anything vomited from the pen and pencils of Frank Miler in the last twenty years – who, it has to be said, is infinitely more sexist, racist and homophobic than any other modern comic writer. Have you had a look at his latest, Holy Terror? My god, what a racist trainwreck that is.

  93. MrRoivas said

    Well, at least one thing didn’t get worse. Even if Harley did.

    • Harley gained tattoos and a more sultry outfit than before. At least it isn’t a tramp stamp, though. That might have just been TOO much… :|

      • Hang on, you think that a full body costume (which is, incidentally, pretty much identical to the costume that she has always worn from her first appearance in the 90s animated to present day comics) is more sultry than the skintight pvc nurses outfit, complete with belt-length rara skirt that she wore in Arkham Asylum?

        Wow.

      • OK, I may have not quite recalled her previous outfit as well as I thought after looking it up. More sultry? Perhaps not, though the addition of tattoos is still an incredibly odd choice. So, my fault. Not more sultry than the egregious outfit she did have (when was Harley ever a nurse?)

        However, did you just attempt to equate the Arkham City outfit:

        With the B:TAS outfit?

        Eep

  94. MrRoivas said

    Her bodysuit was a perfectly good outfit. The nurse costume was already too much. Unfortunately, they chose to double down on that mistake.

  95. [...] YESTERDAY HULK POSTED AN ARTICLE ABOUT THE SEXISM OF ARKHAM CITY THAT HULK THOUGHT WAS FAIR, AND YES, A TAD OVER-SMASHY. THE ARTICLE THEN GOT LINKED BY A BUNCH OF [...]

  96. [...] be absolutely lousy at it and it’s already been tackled marvelously by Film Critic Hulk here and here. But you’ve got to admit, the “bitch”-es are excessive. And no matter [...]

  97. I’ve played this now for a number of hours. and done so after initially reading this article and specifically keeping my ears open for mention of the word “bitch” in the game.

    In the first three hours, do you know how many times I heard that word?

    Twice.

    I will repeat:

    IN THE FIRST THREE HOURS OF THE GAME, THE WORD “BITCH” IS USED PRECISELY TWICE.

    Now, let’s look at the use of the word on both of those occasions.

    First usage: Catwoman has just clawed Two-face, tearing a bloody gouge across the “good” side of his face. In pain and shock, he angrily shouts “YOU BITCH!”

    Sexist? No. Completely understandable given that a woman he despises has just inflicted a horrible wound upon someone already disfigured? Yes.

    Now, let’s look at the second usage. Gliding around the city, I picked up some radio chatter about Harley Quinn. I listened intently, aware that the radio chatter was particularly singled out for the liberal usage of the word. And yes, it was used. Once. In only one of at least a dozen radio conversations that I listened to.

    Was it sexist? No. Did it make sense given the context? Yes. Two thugs were complaining about the erratic behaviour of Joker and Harley. The other thug responds by saying “yeah, the crazy bitch!”.

    Note to non-comic readers: Harley Quinn is an utterly, utterly insane psychopath. She is, quite literally, the definition of a “crazy bitch”.

    And that was it. That was the sum totality of the usage of the word “bitch” that I came across within several hours of play.

    Now, I acknowledge that the game is semi-open world, that the instances of radio chatter are pseudo-random and therefore that two peoples experiences of the game over the same time period will be largely different. So I asked some friends, completely neutrally, if they had noticed excessive use of the word “bitch”.

    Guess what? They all said no. They noted that use by two-face (which we have already established was completely justified by context). One also noticed the reference about Harley, and some incidental chatter whilst playing as catwoman where a thug shouted “you bitch!” as she hit him.

    And that. Was. It.

    My point here is that personal experience, and through consulting other people with personal experience, has led to a completely different reality to that which Hulk used to form the entire basis of his argument. Reading that article, you would understandably go into playing the game thinking that you will hear the word ten, twenty, thirty times an hour. He goes to great lengths to make it sound like the use of the word “Bitch” is absolutely endemic within the game.

    The truth is, it’s not. It really, really, really is not. At all.

    And when you take that away, considering it is very much the lynchpin of his entire argument, then everything else collapses. There may, I stress, MAY be some merit in discussing the vices and virtues of Catwoman’s sexualisation in the game. But that, literally, is it, and certainly does not elevate the game above to a particular pedestal of sexism compared to any other game in the industry. It certainly, for example, isn’t as overtly mysogynistic as Duke Nukem Forever. Or the sexual grunts and groans of Lara Croft in the various Tomb Raider games (ESPECIALLY footage shown to date of the new game, which seems to go to lengths to sexualise Lara being injured with a voice track that sounds lifted from a 70s porno, as if she is totally enjoying being roughed up. Combined with her reimagination as a teenage girl, that has raised more than a few eyebrows).

    So what’s going on Hulk? Either you are playing a VASTLY different game to myself and my friends, or you deliberately exagerrated in order to justify your rant. Given my experience of bloggers, I suspect that you may be deliberately causing controversy in order to drum up some web hits and that you absolutely BANKED on the attention you received. Hell, you certainly wouldn’t be the first blogger to do so. Or, it may simply be that a perfect storm of coincidences took place and the random nature of the game genuinely did throw a lot of b-bombs at you, and that then caused you to perceive wider sexism which I personally don’t see at all. Or perhaps you were reviewing an older build of the game, and there have since been changes to the code for the final release.

    Any of those is, I suspect, a possibility. But given the amont of attention this blog has received and the massive controversy it has generated (and plenty of ridicule for your laboured and tired use of capslock and hulk speak, as if it is somehow original), I certainly think it is worth asking:

    What’s the deal, Huik?

    • FILMCRITHULK said

      DID YOU READ PART TWO OF THE ARTICLE?

    • FILMCRITHULK said

      THE POINT IS THIS. HULK FAR FROM THE ONLY PERSON NOTICING THE HIGH LEVEL OF BITCH-TALK. TONS DID. WERE THEY PERFECT STORMS TOO?

      AND TO IMPLY HULK JUST CRUISING FOR HITS? LOOK AT THE CONTENT ON THE REST OF THIS BLOG. THIS BLOG THAT HAS NO ADS AND IS DONE IN HULK’S SPARE TIME WHEN HULK SHOULD BE SLEEPING. IT IS SO FAR REMOVED FROM TRUTH YOU ARE NOT SEEING HULK FOR WHO HULK REALLY IS.

      AND FOR THE RECORD THE CONVERSATION HAS MOVED TO THE OTHER THREAD ON PART 2.

      • I did read part 2 (well, to be honest, I skimmed it a bit – It’s not on if you really did receive that level of abuse and stupid threats, under any circumstance, but I still personally disagree with an awful lot of your points, particularly because, it has to be said, I genuinely don’t think that games can be critiqued in the same was as films can because they are two different mediums), but to be honest I wasn’t sure which part the conversation was taking place in any more, so I posted that comment in both. Apologies if you end up duplicating yourself or having to follow two separate streams of comments as a refult.

      • If you aren’t going to read his thoughts, why should he read yours? Discourse has to go both ways.

  98. Larry Largcoque said

    Are you…. are you retarded?

  99. This is ridiculous. You guys all realize that this is a 2011 AAA Batman-licensed video game we’re talking about, here? Crying about sexism in such a thing is about as pointless as crying about it in professional wrestling. These things are not made for two demographics: adolescent males, and stupid people. If you’re marketing a mainstream video game that costs millions to make, you’d have to be stupid NOT to craft the game for those two demographics.

    In short, crying about sexism in a mainstream video game is like crying about lack of character motivation in a Barney the Dinosaur episode. If you’re smart enough to know that sexism exists, this is not for you.

    • FILMCRITHULK said

      THERE’S A LOT HULK COULD SAY. BUT THE FIRST IS THAT HULK LIKES VIDEO GAMES, AND THE LAST VIDEO GAME WASN’T NEARLY THIS OFFENSIVE. SO WHY WAS THIS ONE?

    • So you’re saying the game would be a total sales disaster if they didn’t use the word “bitch”? They HAVE to include that or else it won’t sell? Nobody cares about gameplay or quality, the only sales are to those who wanna ogle Catwoman’s cleavage?

  100. I find it quite hilarious and sad at the same time that you are ranting over this. You are playing a T-rated game that take place in a city PRISON and complaining that they tried to make the fictional inmates sound as close to the way REAL inmates would. Granted REAL inmates wouldn’t just use “bitch” repeatedly. There would have been a slew of worse insults thrown about, but as it IS a “T” game, censorship comes into play.

    Then you go on about context, yet don’t preface ANY of the quotes you list with the REST of what is being said. For example, ““DID YOU HEAR THE NOISE THAT DOCTOR WAS MAKIN?” / (GIGGLE) “I LIKE HEARING HER SCREAM LIKE THAT””. This was immediately followed by talking about how he killed her. CLEARLY depicting torture, as the discussion this was had during is about her not being able to save Joker.

    “con·text
       /ˈkɒntɛkst/ Show Spelled[kon-tekst] Show IPA
    noun
    1.
    the parts of a written or spoken statement that precede or follow a specific word or passage, usually influencing its meaning or effect: You have misinterpreted my remark because you took it out of context.”

    Just pulling the quotes from any game or even movie could turn most of them into “sexist” comments. If you don’t mention the situation it was used in or by WHOM. It’s almost as if you expect hardened CRIMINALS who have absolutely NO QUALMS over KILLING to go around saying she’s a “bad person” and leaving it at that. All in all, the fact remains, yes it has moments of excessive-ness, but you NEED to keep in my who is being represented. It’s not your average person who only swears occasionally if at all, but murderers, rapists and thieves who really just don’t give a f*ck how often they swear or who hears it. THAT is the context. Remember it IS prison, not a daycare center or school.

    • DeeK said

      While I haven’t played the game, it seems you’ve somewhat missed the point. Using the word “bitch” is fine. Continually harpering on it is not what you’d expect, and therefore breaks the suspension of disbelief needed to feel involved in the fictional world. It’s inappropriate, it’s annoying, and there are better ways of depicting criminals as frightening, immoral beings.

      Mind you, having the Hulk use conjugated verbs and indefinite articles is also pushing the bounds of belief.

      • I HAVE played the game. So firstly, get off your high horse before you start berating someone over language used in a game. Secondly, no i did NOT miss his point. YOU obviously did. His entire argument is that the word “bitch” is over used. Yes it IS a fictional world. But if you think for a fraction of a second that ANY person of any criminal intent would “censor” themselves in any way shape or form then you are an a effing moron.

        If you were not aware of this previous fact, then I am sorry for breaking it to you. There is a saying along the lines that “swearing is a clear sign of the unintelligent”. There is a reason for this, Yes, there are PLENTY of ways for more ELOQUENT people to express their feelings. But we ARE talking about people who are NOT very eloquent.

        If you seriously believe there are better ways of depicting “criminals” than the way they have been portrayed in this game or any other media I honestly feel sorry for you. I personally HAVE met “criminals” of several variations. They typically are not very eloquent. That is not to say they ALL aren’t, just the majority.

        As I previously stated it IS a “t-rated game”, thus censorship plays a large part in the speech patterns of EVERYONE in the game. To believe that criminals have the same speech patterns as you is not only naive, but idiotic as well. The belief that EVERYONE holds the same morals as you is plain stupid. I mean, hell if they held YOUR morals, they wouldn’t be in jail in the first place now would they.

        Either way, the fact remains that they have different morals and/or sensibilities than you. Each and every person is different due to free will. Further more, it’s an effing game. If you take offense to either the language, plot, or anything to do with the game, use what little intelligence you seem to have and don’t buy or rent it.

        Ranting on the internet that you feel the game is “inappropriate” serves no purpose other than make people question your intelligence. Or lack there of.

        Especially given the fact you haven’t personally experienced the game for yourself. All you are going on is conjecture at best and opinion at worst. And THAT is what is most wrong with Americans. I myself am an American, so I can call us lazy. Too many people would rather be lazy and use the opinion of someone else as fact than do the research themselves. Either way it results in wrongness on one side or another.

        There are far better mediums for furthering you agendas than a random blog. Plus, complaining of sexism in a game over the word “bitch” is sadly juvenile.

        So in closing, grow up. If something offends you don’t have anything to do with it. As the old saying goes, “if you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all.”

      • DeeK said

        Hey Steve, you seem to have taken offense at what I’ve said. That’s a shame. I was trying to express my impression of FilmCritHulk’s argument, and how I thought you misinterpreted it. Unfortunately, I believe you still don’t understand.

        Yes, I believe that the majority of criminals are not eloquent. Yes, their moral system is certainly different from the norm. Yes, I’m sure they certainly use the word “bitch”.

        My impression of FimCritHulk’s argument is that the word is used too frequently, too inappropriately. If this is the case, then I say that this stops them from becoming believable criminal characters, and we experience a break in the suspension of disbelief needed to become immersed in the world. That, and the sexism of the script writers that caused the break, is what I would find annoying.

        I purposely mentioned that I haven’t played the game. I’m not talking about the game. I’m talking about FilmCritHulk’s argument about the game, and how you’ve misunderstood it.

        I hope that clears things up. Please don’t use ad hominem phrases to prove your point. It detracts from the rationality of your argument, and makes you sound cranky and spiteful. I’m sure you’re a perfectly wonderful person, unlike those bitchy criminals out there.

  101. [...] Batman game is out and I don’t think I’ll be playing it because it seems to be “super duper sexist” (warning this link is written by someone pretending to be the Hulk and as such is written [...]

  102. Pimpin89 said

    Hey Hulk, you’re a little bitch! Go suck a fat one!

  103. lol said

    Too allcaps, did not read.

    I can’t believe someone would build a whole blog around the gimmick of writing everything in allcaps.

  104. Andrew Rowat said

    Hi, I’m new to the site. Loved the article, very interesting points made about sexism in the game. I especially love the Hulk style you write in, this makes you one of the funniest film critics to read.

    I’m a life long massive fan of both Hulk and Batman. So i have been waiting with baited breath for the sequel to one of the best games ever (still no worthy Hulk video game).

    I felt the sexist language used by the criminals was passable, given that they’re meant to be fairly morally depraved. I don’t think it was meant to be funny (all of the “she’s a crazy bitch” etc), or if it was, the wit certainly escaped me. I think that the real issue was the violence towards women, i got a bit of a quiver when Batman casually punches Harley Quinn to the ground. But in a way, i think that’s good… I mean, Batman is meant to exist in this morally grey world which prompts one to ask questions about his methods of meting out justice. I think its good to feel uncomfortable. He is after all, a “dark” knight.

    Still, I would have preferred the design of catwoman and Harley Quinn to be less sexualised. In some ways, it doesn’t really make sense that Catwoman would dress in this way within this barbaric, testerone-fuelled environment. I guess its to entertain teenaged boys, which goes back to your point about context.

    Like you, these issues did not prevent me from continually coming back to the game, which is massively playable and beautiful in its design. I don’t think the guys on that IGN video you posted are anything like the guys at Rocksteady, i mean they present none of the wit and innovation on display in Arkham City. You get a sense that those IGN guys will never produce anything to this standard (sexism not-withstanding).

    • FILMCRITHULK said

      HULK THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR YOUR COMMENT. IF THERE’S ANY SINGULAR GOAL TO THE ARTICLE HULK JUST WANTED RAISE AWARENESS. AND IF OTHERS HAVE DIFFERENT REACTIONS THAT FINE. SO HULK THANK YOU KINDLY AND HOPE ALL WELL.

  105. [...] GODDAMMIT VIDEO GAMES: THE FIRST FEW HOURS OF ARKHAM CITY IS LOTS OF FUN, BUT SUPER-DUPER SEXIST games [...]

  106. Ferris said

    I believe that the reason for this were actually simple.

    Unlock the Two-Face and Catwoman back story and you find out that they had been feuding for months. An Irate Sociopath whose been pushed to the brink would certainly use the word bitch.

    Second point would be location. They are in a prison. Take any woman through a prison showing calf muscle and I bet you language is more foul. And you can’t bring the movies into this because they all sexualize the female roles even if they don’t say the word bitch. AND they aren’t in a prison with zero female contact except catwoman, ivy(ew she’s a plant), and Quinn. Which bring me to my third point

    They wanted to keep the story-line appeasing to a multi-faceted audience Bitch is one of the few curse words that doesn’t seem to get an “m” rating while keeping it “edgy” enough for the 15ish yr. olds who only play curse word filled games.

    The clothing is actually physcologically fitting for the femme personality.

    Ivy-Blessed with the ability to alter her pheromones, combined with her sexually per vocative personality she is able to master mind control of men.

    Harley Quinn- A Physcologist gone mad, in a quest to gain the approval and intimacy from the Joker, she clothes herself in a combination of explicit carnival based attire.

    Selina Kyle(since they have the Dark Knight Return’s skin I’m going to use Year One)- born poor growing up she became a prostitute, usually prior to that route they begin by over-sexualizing themselves being poor actual flirts and just a more direct form of flirting, being a natural at self defense and inspired by the batman’s style and presence she decides to start a life a robbery. this could even tie into the Animated Series which takes place when Bruce is around forty-ish for allowing the rich socialite aspect.

    • Ferris said

      The “good character” security is employed by the main antagonist, meaning they are not good they are thugs with guns. Which you can then follow psychology with the Stanford Prison Experiment, which would explain for the guards demeaning and objectifying view towards the female inmates.

    • DeeK said

      For the most part, I agree that the attire of the characters is understandable.

      Not so for Catwoman, though. She’s a burgler, for heaven’s sake! Showing that much flesh is not justified for that profession. A burgler is supposed to be inconspicuous. Her appearance in Arkham City is anything but. The creators, as far as I can tell, don’t give any justification for it. Therefore we can conclude that it was designed thus for titillation.

      • It’s consistent with her comic appearances.

        Given the close affiliation with Warner as well (who now own DC), I think it’s safe to accpet that the game appearance was used to be consistent with the redesign of the comics, where she also flaunts her body (hell, her first issue ends with her shagging batman). So… I’m not totally convinced it’s a developer choice.

      • Just to clarify to Dale (who persists in entirely missing the point), Warner Bros. does not own DC–WB only owns the rights to media representations of DC outside of comic print media. There’s a big distinction–basically WB owns the film, animation, and TV production rights to Batman and several other DC franchises/titles. Please do your research, since you continue to act as if you’re very knowledgeable on a number of subjects (on which Hulk continues to intellectually trounce you).

  107. Trunkins said

    after reading this article i can clearly say, “cry more, bitch”

  108. Doug said

    This isn’t related to the article, but for the record typing in all caps makes you seem like you are just ranting and less intelligent. I’m not saying you are, your article was well thought out, but it’s just an effect of typing in all caps.
    I think it’s important to note that this is based off of comics. While not an excuse, comics have been historically oriented towards males, so when it comes to the portrayal of Catwoman, even back when Adam West was Batman, Catwoman was a sex symbol of sorts.
    As for the language…I have a hard time finding the line between a game being sexist and a game trying to capture it’s environment. To be honest, I would have preferred a Mature rating and (yeah, believe it or not) more profanity to balance out the use of the word “bitch.”
    I’m not a huge fan of that word, and if I was a thug about to be beat up but a woman dressed like a cat, I would probably not say bitch, but I’m sure I would spew any number of other profanities.

    The other issue I think people ignore when looking at sexism in games, especially where they are female protagonists, is that video games (and comics ESPECIALLY) always exaggerate forms and personalities. It’s a way of building a character. If Catwoman was just some woman who kicked ass, she wouldn’t be as memorable. Because she has romantic inclinations towards Batman we know that she isn’t just a woman who kicks ass (I’m not saying that it’s Batman, the guy, who gives her character depth, simply the fact that there exists a relationship.)

    Also, look at Batman. Look at his costume, and look how he acts. Am I supposed to feel bad, as a male, because I don’t have biceps like that? A traps the size of my thighs? This is fiction with very stylized art. We as people have been exaggerating art as long as there has been art. Venus of Willendorf anybody? Even Discobolus is exaggerated in that he is perfectly toned. When it comes to art and story we as human push boundaries. If we didn’t, we’d have thousands of crappy “Sundance Film festival” games.

    Maybe the artists didn’t put that kind of thought into it, but that has always been my take and response when people critique art for being not realistic, especially in it’s depictions of woman.

  109. Horselover Fat said

    ask yerselfs this: would you be okay with theserandom seedy characters droppin’ the ol’ n-bomb in a disparaging way, or maybe some anti-semitic remarks, becayse hey that’s what thugs do, omg realism? would you REALLY? if so, WHY would you find that necessary, and if not, why’s it okay for these random thugs to have lines disparaging wimmens?

    DOUBLE STANDARDS, chums. this isn’t “realistic dialogue,” it’s dialogue from manchildren who have internalized misogyny as part of their perspective on the media they consume — they believe that the REAL world is inherently misogynistic and that they should REFLECT it in order to demonstrate a false credibility instead of REJECTING it. batman the game part two is NOT the actual mean streets. it’s media. realism was never part of its nature.

  110. Eagle said

    Hi Hulk, While you are indeed correct that Arkham City contains sexism you are entirely wrong about which characters represent it. There is NOTHING wrong with the Catwoman character OR the way that the thugs talk about her. Regarding her character: A great number of women in real-life are also highly sexual and dress like prostitutes. Get outside sometime. Regarding the inmates: Did you forget that they were murderers, outcasts and psychopaths? In service of conveying the repulsiveness of their characters do you not think it appropriate that they would call Catwoman and, for that matter, every other woman they speak of a ‘bitch’? It’s called characterization and it’s a story-telling device. In this case it’s being used to convey the fact that you are trapped inside A MOTHERFUCKING PRISON CAMP. If it’s sexism you are looking for it’s easy enough to find in the form of Talia Al’Ghul. Her skin-tight outfit and immaculate figure convey that only a woman of such flawless dimensions could be worthy of Batman (who is himself, an archetype of heroism) and therefore only physically perfect women are deserving of heroic men. There is your sexism. Re-write your article or take it down before you embarass yourself any further.

    • FILMCRITHULK said

      READ THE PART TWO IN WHICH HULK ADDRESSES EVERY SINGLE THING YOU JUST MENTIONED. AND HULK ASSURE YOU THAT WHAT YOU JUST WROTE ONLY EMBARRASSES YOURSELF. YOU CAN DO BETTER.

      • Eagle said

        Apologies. I lashed out unecessarily. Possibly because your are the Hulk and I knew you could take it. You are to be commended for raising the topic but I just enjoyed the hell out of Arkham City and got offended.

      • FILMCRITHULK said

        HULK THANK FOR YOU APOLOGY. HONESTLY IT APPRECIATED. THE THING IS THAT HULK ENJOYED THE HELL OUT OF THE GAME TOO. AND HULK UNDERSTANDS THE INCLINATION TO LASH OUT BECAUSE IN DIFFERENT WAY THAT’S WHAT HULK DID WITH THE FIRST POST.

        HULK LOVES VIDEO GAMES, BUT HULK JUST BELIEVES THEY CAN BE EVEN BETTER. THE GAMEPLAY AND STORYTELLING ARE SO GREAT NOW, SO HULK JUST WANTS THEM BRING UP THEIR TONE / SOCIAL AWARENESS ALONG WITH IT. THAT’S ALL.

        AND AGAIN IT’S NOT A CALL FOR GAMES TO BE POLITICALLY CORRECT. HULK JUST WANTS THE COMPLEXITY OF THEIR MESSAGES TO REFLECT THE COMPLEXITY OF EVERYTHING ELSE THEY DOING.

        CHEERS EAGLE.

  111. [...] with the game. Some folks aren’t fans of the way women are treated in Arkham City, and they aren’t shy about voicing their concerns. To top that off, some people who’ve purchased the game have had issues redeeming their [...]

  112. [...] Sexism? Ok, Film Crit Hulk makes some good points. [...]

  113. [...] Web persona “Movie Critic Hulk” requires the composing of Arkham City to activity, and paints it as sexist&mdashor instead, he refers to it as a kind of “stealth sexism” simply because it [...]

  114. [...] Link: GODDAMMIT VIDEO GAMES: THE FIRST FEW HOURS OF ARKHAM CITY IS LOTS OF FUN, BUT SUPER-DUPER SEXIST « …. [...]

  115. HULKS ARGUMENTS APPLIED TO THE TOPIC OF WAR IN GAMES. GERMAN LANGUAGE: http://88147.webhosting34.1blu.de/99leben/?p=398

  116. [...] longish 2 part well worth reading from Film Crit Hulk! with a critisicm of the sexism in Batman:Arkham City & and the response to people’s rage and trolling of the first [...]

  117. [...] well, not Gotham, but a tiny walled-in bit of Gotham populated entirely by identical criminals. Well founded accusations of sexism aside (for christ’s sake, just try Catwoman’s ground slide, it’s hilarious) it’s [...]

  118. [...] it. Internet persona “Film Critic Hulk” takes the writing of Arkham City to task, and paints it as sexist—or rather, he refers to it as a form of “stealth sexism” because it isn’t [...]

  119. ASHOLE LU said

    An interesting treatment is couturier mention. I cerebrate that you should pen statesman on this theme, it strength not be a sacred message but mostly group are not enough to mouth on specified topics. To the next. Cheers like your GODDAMMIT VIDEO GAMES: THE FIRST FEW HOURS OF ARKHAM CITY IS LOTS OF FUN, BUT SUPER-DUPER SEXIST FILM CRIT HULK! HULK BLOG!.

  120. Bob said

    Oh dear, where to begin… Few things first: 1. I haven’t played Batman: AC (yet), so I’m commenting on your article rather than the game itself. I have absolutely no idea nor an opinion (!) whether the game is sexist. 2. I dislike oversexualized female characters, as well as the awful “strong female characters”, both of which are typically completely one-dimensional. /few thing first.

    To say it bluntly: your article about how Batman:AC is sexist absolutely fails to show that B:AC is sexist. It might be, but that isn’t clear from the article. Worse, the example of Straw Dogs (which is a movie I haven’t seen either, so again, I’m just going on what you wrote here) just makes it seem like you’re a feminist gone nuts. You give an example of how a woman deriving some pleasure at some point from rape would be “THE MOST SEXIST THING EVER”. However, since the movie is actually about a man’s “DOUBLE STANDARD”, “MEANING IT IS ABOUT THE HYPOCRITICAL NATURE OF MEN” makes it perfectly okay and totally not sexist, obviously, because negative generalizations about women are terrible, but negative generalizations about men are great. Now _that_ is hypocritical. I have no idea whether you’re a man or a woman, and I don’t think it’s important (though my calling you hypocritical may seem hostile to women if you’re a woman) but it’s a terrible argument. Let’s not replace one form of sexism for the other.
    Apart form that example, I really don’t understand how a bunch of thugs calling Catwoman a bitch is sexist. Their remarks are sexist, obviously, but it makes sense to me. Let me explain.
    The male equivalent of a bitch is an asshole. So if Batman would be called an asshole all the time it wouldn’t be sexist, right? But he isn’t. So it’s sexist. I can understand you are thinking like this. However, I wouldn’t call Batman an asshole either. It doesn’t match what he is or does. Someone randomly beating up people or calling women bitches is an asshole, someone dressed like a bat fighting crime in tights isn’t. That’s just a creep. Which, if my information is correct, is exactly what they call him.

    As for the movies, which don’t feature the word bitch like AC, that’s rather pointless as well. Movies and games are completely different mediums. How many movies have you seen featuring a hero who kills ten rats to gain some gold (similar to any RPG in existence)? How many movies feature a complete dialogue between two random people in a hospital, discussing the nature of their disease and some events that happened 20 years ago while none of that is relevant to the plot, or the main character(s) (which was the case in Deus Ex)? Movies can, do and must filter unnecessary elements and focus on the main plot. Games that offer some degree of freedom necessarily feature lots of backstories, random events and irrelevant dialogue. And if most of these backstories and dialogue feature the worst scum the world has to offer being harassed by a scantily clad woman with questionable morals who literally behaves like a cat, then yes, I think the word “bitch” would be used pretty often.

    I would like to stress, again, that I haven’t played AC and that it might be a terribly sexist game. Many people have complained about it so I guess there is at least some degree of truth (the average game is already a bit sexist without anyone complaining, so sexism in a game needs to be pretty bad to actually provoke complaints). Your article, however, isn’t helping to actually convince anyone of it.

  121. Its like you read my thoughts! You seem to understand a lot about this, such as you wrote the ebook in it or something. I think that you simply can do with a few p.c. to pressure the message home a little bit, but instead of that, this is great blog. A great read. I will definitely be back.

  122. Rik said

    Hulk have much cognitive dissonance. Why violence ok, but use of realistic expressions by bad guys bad. Why torture of cops no big deal, just fun video game, but criminals calling girl bitch so bad? Then hulk try defend straw dogs with lame psychobabble bullshit, film critic, rhetorical obfuscation.

    My wife worked in a men’s prison. You think ‘bitch’ is all she ever heard? Is it a little to prevalent, probably, but I find it hilarious that you say “it has nothing to do with he plunging neckline.” You can’t claim to not care about the sexually indulgent imagery, then turn around and cry that “bitch” was used inappropriately. Then screed about how ‘bitch’ can be used appropriately, and rape too, so long as it’s parodying male insecurities. Talk about fucking sexism. Fuck you.

    • FILMCRITHULK said

      DON’T NAME CALL MAN IT NOT COOL. BECAUSE YOU’RE INVERTING THE LOGIC IN A WAY THAT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THE GAME. THERE IS A HUGE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN “WHAT HAPPENS IN REAL LIFE” AND THE CHOICES PUT INTO A T-RATED VIDEO GAME.

      OF COURSE HULK CAN CLAIM THAT BECAUSE WHAT HULK HULK TALKING IS CONTEXT. THERE’S CONTEXT WHERE THINGS ARE ACCOUNTED FOR AND MAKE TONAL SENSE WITHIN THE NARRATIVE AND THE POWER OF WHICH ARE ACCOUNTED FOR., AND SOMETHING THAT INDULGES IN A WEIRD BITCH FIXATION IN A TOTALLY INAPPROPRIATE WAY. HULK SAYING THERE A DIFFERENCE. AND IT JUST HULK’S THEORY ON WHAT HAPPENING IN THE GAME. AND IT MAKES SENSE. YOU NO HAVE TO AGREE WITH IT BUT IT MAKES SENSE IN A DIFFERENT WAY.

      • Rik said

        Me sorry for name call. Was not cool, was reactionary.

        I was especially sorry after reading part two. I still disagree. I’m not defending the overuse of ‘bitch’. I am saying that it seems out of place to zero in on that. Yes, absolutely, 100% the game should not be rated T. I’m more prude than hulk, well, probably not, I just don’t feel the need to seek societal acceptance of my deviance through public display. I thought the custom was too much also.

        I am playing through again, and I realized something, having your article in mind. Harley calls her goons all manner of derogative and pejorative names during the course of her dialog. Maybe they were right to call her a bitch, or it could be that you view that as increased sexism by the writers for making her bitchy.

        You are a great writer, and I’m sorry the internet is full of idiots that they think the anonimity gives them the right to be threatening. I don’t understand that either. My final sentance in my first post was meant more flippant dismisal and not pointed attack.

      • FILMCRITHULK said

        IT ALL RIGHT. YOU AND HULK TOTALLY COOL.

        MUCH IN THE SAME WAY HULK REGRET THE TONE OF THE FIRST PIECE. IT WAS REACTIONARY AS WELL. HULK STILL FEEL LIKE MANY OF THE THINGS TRUE, BUT IT WAS TOO ANGRY TO BE FULLY PRODUCTIVE. THE SECOND ARTICLE WAS IN PART AN ATTEMPT TO RECTIFY IT.

        AND IF HULK HAD GOT ANGRY AT THE “FUCK YOU” WHERE WOULD BE NOW? PROBABLY YELLING OR DISMISSIVE AND NOT FINDING SOME KIND OF STASIS THAT WE HAVE RIGHT NOW.

        RIK, HULK WANT TO SINCERELY THANK YOU NOT JUST FOR APOLOGIZING, BUT COMING BACK WITH A SINCERE COMMENT AND COUNTERPOINT THAT IS REALLY THE RATING THAT IS THE CENTRAL ISSUE FOR YOU. THAT’S TOTALLY VALID AND HULK THANK YOU FOR CONTRIBUTING.

        THIS HOW THE INTERNET SHOULD WORK MORE OFTEN.

        HULK THANK.

    • FILMCRITHULK said

      AND READ PART TWO. MOST OF THE QUESTIONS ANSWERED.

  123. sedrikhcain said

    Is this seriously a column complaining about how a video game has sexualized Catwoman? Has the author ever actually seen Catwoman before?

  124. Trent Speights said

    first off Bitch they call catwomen a bitch because she is running around kicking there collective asses second they are a bunch of criminals in a prison so yeah they might want to fuck something so think about shit before you say it

  125. Ben said

    Sure this game has some vulgar language towards women. But look who it’s coming from, two face and his goons. They are incredibly evil. What they stand for is clearly not right. Which is why you play as Batman and beat them up. Your standing for what’s right. And you can’t blame the game creators. Half naked girls, dirty language and messed up villains is what consumers what. Blame society for becoming corrupt and defiled in there perverted wants and needs. Ps: Clearly Hulk you don’t know the Batman comics very well. Harley Quinn actually has surprisingly amazing strength which is why she uses a giant hammer. And if batman didn’t toss her, he would have gotten his ass kicked.

    • FILMCRITHULK said

      DUDE, READ PART 2. ALL OF THIS IS ADDRESSED.

      INCLUDING THE FACT THAT HULK HAS READ BATMAN COMICS FOR 30+ YEARS.

  126. [...] whining by gamers at the accusation is totally justified in my mind. Lastly, while I take The Hulk’s point about the tone of the game not being nuanced enough to justify the use of misogynistic [...]

  127. [...] media is analyzed in the voice of the Incredible Hulk. Recently Hulk had some things to say about Arkham City; specifically the sexism surrounding Catwoman. I found it a tasty read for my brain and my [...]

  128. Joe said

    You have to be certifiably insane. This is a freaking video game you nut case. It’s a perfect portrayal of criminal dialogue in a lawless city. Games and movies have portrayed this for decades. A criminal says “bitch” and you throw up your CAPS LOCK to propagate this feminist drivel? Please keep your feminist ideals from neutering future video game development.

  129. Jamison said

    You are criticizing a video game for being against morals and not being restricted to older people. Wow. People put worse things on television hundreds of times over and ten-year old children still watch it. You can’t restrict what people are going to be exposed to no matter what. If you don’t like the messages in the game, don’t play it. More young kids are going to buy MW3 than this game and yet if you listen to what the soldiers actually say, you would know that it is so much more sexist than Batman. Besides, the sexiness of the women and commanding nature of the men is a marketing strategy. What do you think that the majority of gamers (men) always want to see in a game? Boobs and a bitch who is badass (now who does the description fit?). Go play my little pony if you want a game that isn’t sexist in some way. In fact, you should stop playing real life because it is in fact an infinite amount of times more sexist than batman. In short, (to piss “Hulk” off) get back to the kitchen, stop trying to control the marketing strategies of games, buy your boyfriend this game but never play it yourself, and give him a blowjob while you’re at it.

    • FILMCRITHULK said

      IT’S WONDERFUL HOW ALL THE SEXIST, HOMOPHOBIC EMAILS ALWAYS COME FROM BEHIND PROXIES. TRUE COURAGE.

      SERIOUSLY THOUGH, THIS ISN’T THE START OF A CONVERSATION TO BE HAD. TRY HARDER.

  130. gamermom said

    I loved your post… sorry I am so late just got the game. I am a gamer and a comic geek as well as a female. I couldn’t let my son then 8 play the first Arkham so I was so excited to share this one. OMG, this needs to be M! I am a feminist who plays video games and listens to heavy metal so I am soooo mellow on the crap I have to put up with but this came off as in your face. I can’t let my kid (super mature 10) play this and I have passed that info on to every parent I know. Also, Catwoman has tight moves, but not enough ass kicking. Look, I love Tarantino films because when there is sexism and violent misogyny it makes sense – although Kill Bill rocks! I actually had to stop playing and go online to see if I was the only one that got sick to my stomach. Thanks for paying attention to the subtext and putting the idea out there. Yes, you will get buried by ranting little boys who live in their mother’s basement, but this is BAD. This is BATMAN. BATMAN! Bad guys saying Bitch are no big deal but the casual repetition combined with the hooter vision and the rape jokes make this Mature. I am so ill thinking about all of the sexually curious little 10 year old boys playing this and getting turned on by the casual violent hatred towards women. Please game designers, if you want to make more money, try to come up with awesome games that can be played by more than males over the age of 16. (and not that lame shit that you think women want)

  131. [...] that the game’s dialogue, especially incidental comments from thugs, is unimpressive. And troubling too. Puzzling, given how lavish the game is in so many other respects. Then I sat down and thought [...]

  132. Disclaimer: I don’t play video games, mostly because I have zero hand/eye coordination. However, I get exposed to them on a regular basis courtesy of my husband, who has a controller in hand any time he’s in the living room. For the past three or so weeks, I have been idly marveling at the constant stream of permutations on “bitch” emanating from our stereo speakers. It’s not so much the lack of creativity or the sheer volume as it is the grinding repetition. It’s kind of like having an Internet comments section populated solely by MRAs running nonstop, only without any random statistics thrown in.

    Additional disclaimer: not much fazes me in terms of entertainment. I’m the only person I know who voluntarily watched Irreversible twice. However, listening to Arkham City in the background made me uncomfortable in a low-grade way that is comparable only to my reaction to Dead Space, which at least has the excuse that it’s about freakin’ mutant zombies skittering around a dark empty spaceship. I hadn’t really put my finger on why until just now.

    (The living room speakers are now mostly emitting snippets of bad Italian dialogue. Assassin’s Creed: Revelations: just as much cleavage constrained in marginally more practical costumes; far more interesting thugs; just as much grittiness without half the exhaustion.)

  133. [...] have been two good pieces written about the sexism in Arkham City, one by blogger Film Crit Hulk and the other by Kirk Hamilton on Kotaku. Arkham City is written by Paul Dini, one of the great [...]

  134. [...] would like to counter with the “this is just some shitty tv show” argument, you are so wrong. Like this:LikeBe the first to like this post. Filed under Feminism, Games ← Why skyrim [...]

  135. [...] hullabaloo started here with Film Critic Hulk being the first to point it out, and then everyone else jumped on the [...]

  136. Andy said

    I’m wondering, have you played the rest of the game since? Just wondering what you think with the introduction of the other female characters and their interactions with the mains.

    Also, this is possibly a tangent, but while after reading this article the crass sexism does worry me, I think it isn’t a dent in the actual plot itself. Everything you’ve covered is well justified, but there are much broader themes in Arkham City at play, and whether it be that they quell the sexism or act as a distraction from it, I’d say the whole Catwoman issue is rendered null by the sheer quantity of other stuff happening in the game.

    When you have more than twenty major villains running amock, from serial killers to identity thieves; with themes ranging from genuine anguish of loss to mass genocide, I can’t help but feel like the sexism is… brushed to the side. It’s there, and it’s as important as ever to discuss these things, but it loses its prominence in the face of (at least in-universe) bigger things. Then again, this is all just opinion. What’re your thoughts on that front?

    • FILMCRITHULK said

      WHICH EXACTLY SORT OF THE PROBLEM. IT DOES EVERYTHING ELSE WELL, BUT THAT LITTLE PESKY THING ABOUT WOMEN (YOU KNOW, THE PEOPLE WHO MAKE UP 50% OF THE POPULATION) IT COMPLETELY FUCKS UP FOR THE FEW TIMES IT EVEN BOTHERS. EVEN THAT IMPORTANT NEWS REPORTER IS JUST SOME “BITCH.”

  137. Black Eye Toby said

    I can’t grasp why anybody who has been paying attention for the last few years is surprised. Paul Dini is a fragrant sexist and has been sticking it to Catwoman fans his whole tenure as editor of the Batman books. His involvement should have been 3 strikes against this game before it was even released, but because people know his name from the cartoon 20 years ago, it sold copies. It’s not the first time this guy has made me ashamed of being a comics fan in front of my female friends. I’m disappointed but not at all surprised that the cancer has now spread outside of comics into related games. It will go anywhere Dini does.

  138. [...] in October and fellow WordPress blogger Film Critic Hulk started a firestorm when he posted on how many times Catwoman is called “bitch” within the first few hours of Arkham City. Oh no, Frank Miller's writing Batman [...]

  139. David D. said

    I just wanted to say I felt the exact same way playing through the otherwise phenomenal game. A true Bravo for publishing this, you are a beacon of hope for social responsibility in the video game industry, my faith in which continues to die a little more every year.

  140. I dugg some of you post as I cerebrated they were very useful very useful

  141. Jason J said

    “HULK BET THAT SOME PEOPLE MAY TRY TO DEFEND THIS HORSESHIT DISPOSITION BY SAYING IT’S OKAY BECAUSE THE ONES SAYING IT ARE THE “BAD GUYS.” WHICH ISN’T ACTUALLY TRUE BECAUSE LOTS OF THE SECURITY GUARDS AND A GOOD GUY FROM LAST GAME ALL CHIP IN WITH THE “BITCH” TALK JUST AS MUCH AS EVERYONE ELSE.”

    I know better than to make Hulk mad, but I think Hulk misunderstood something here. The developers did have a purpose with the dialog you’re referring to. The bad guys talk that way to show us that they’re bad guys, they’re low class. The “good guys” talk the same way to show us that in Gotham, the good guys aren’t much better than the bad guys.

    • FILMCRITHULK said

      NO WORRIES, YOU NOT MAKE HULK MAD. IT JUST HULK PRETTY SURE HULK NOT MISUNDERSTAND THEIR INTENTION AT ALL.

      HULK ARGUE THAT INSTEAD OF SHOWING WHAT THEY WERE TRYING TO SHOW, THEY SHOWED SOMETHING ELSE ABOUT THEM TOO, WHICH WAS SOMETHING WORSE.

  142. [...] passing the Bechdel Test, Arkham City has been slammed for perceived sexism in its plot, visuals, and writing. Catwoman may be a powerful and confident female [...]

  143. Gillian said

    Its very frustrating that one of the central tenants of Geek identity is the rejection of mainstream, jock-head values. I might be wrong but I thought that Geek Pride was about valuing intellectual merit and non-physical attributes?
    What came of all that “flush my head down the toilet today Brad, but one day YOU’LL CLEAN BATHROOMS IN MY SOFTWARE COMPANY!!” bravado?

    Clearly, valuing people as more than the sum of their body parts is not a privilege extended to women. It seems for all their intellectual posturing, Geek boys have failed to break free from the testosterone induced idiocy that they so despise. Shame on you fellow Geeks, we thought we were better than this….

  144. The real problem is it’s an utter malaproprism.

    Is Catwoman a bitch? Certainly not.

    She’s a puss.

    C.

  145. Overseer76 said

    Real quick: these are guys in what appears to be a male-dominated prison. There aren’t (many) women around. Given that women are generally desirable, the “sour grapes” attitude you’ve described only makes sense IN CONTEXT.

    With regards to the inmates, anyway. Bats and any other “good” guys with regular access to womanhood and the attendant reminders of their own common decency that come along with a female presence have no excuse.

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  147. Jules said

    The fact that you type in all caps quite frankly ruins your argument and makes you look fucking retarded. Also, l2batman before you make a blog about how sexist the game is. The Batman comics started way back in the 30-40’s… you know… when women washed dishes and didn’t say a damn thing to their man. The Game follows the comic book personalities very well. You want them to put Catwoman in a pantsuit and give a 3 hour long rhetorical speech on how to fix our economy?

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  149. [...] simply the most direct route to that destination. But that idea is more than a little upsetting. As Film Crit Hulk pointed out in the context of Arkham City, misogyny and violence against women are all-too-common go-tos for readymade videogame [...]

  150. Reblogged this on beyondthetape and commented:
    Oh I’m sorry I didn’t pay attention due to the sweet ass of Talia Al Ghul. Seriously though, I didn’t mind this. Gotham City is full of scum and villainy, so it’s kind of expected that the thugs are degenerates of society and think backwards.. in other words: It was done by design that these henchmen act like hard headed sexists (see what I did there?).

  151. Rina said

    Dude, you need to relax.

    There are sexist things in every video game or movie, or tv show, or book ever created if you take it the way you did in this case.

    I’d like to start with the “age appropriate” part of this. Batman Arkham City is rated T for Teen because of:

    Alcohol Reference
    Blood
    Mild Language
    Suggestive Themes
    Use of Tabacco
    Violence

    IF you are complaining about how Batman has to be a positive role model (which he is) then please allow yourself to be one and not let kids play games with these ratings. If you’re so inclined.

    Next the dicussion of Catwoman.
    In origin of Selena Kyle she was a very poor girl who was raised in prostitution to make ends meet.
    She HAS to be sexy, she has to be attractive to men, she makes “Unfun not-so-sexy jokes” towards men. It happens. It’s what she was grown up in. And you know what, men are going to want to sleep with her, they’re going to talk about what they’d like to do to her.
    ESPECIALLY inmates from Arkham. Where they held the most dangerous people in perhaps the whole world. They’re going to call her a bitch, they are VERY bad people. They’re also insane. They are going to call Harley a bitch, because frankly, she kinda is! She’s the insane lover of the Joker, therefore misgivings are expected of her.

    You are in a terrible area in a terrible city taking on hundreds of terrible people on your own, things like this happen. It’s a dark story. I doubt it was intentional on the part of the writers.

    I’m a girl who loves the Batman world, who loves the character designs and outfits the females wear. I do not get offended when I play the game Arkham City, I love to play it, see the story unfold and the incredible writing. I look at it as the art form it’s meant to be.

    Maybe you should try that sometime.

    • FILMCRITHULK said

      … DID YOU READ PART 2?

    • DeeK said

      I’ve now played a few times through the game. Not going to comment much on the bitchiness of the residents of Arkham City, because it really didn’t come up that frequently for me. And I was on the lookout for it because of this article.

      As for Catwoman, well, there are a few different origins to Catwoman. The modern version has her origins as a prostitute, and we may as well go with that, for the argument’s sake. I rather disagree that this means she HAS to be sexy. I would have thought she would like to do away with anything to do with that part of her life. Plus, as a catburgler, she HAS to blend in with her background, not be a beacon that shouts “yoohoo, here I am”. Otherwise, she would be a very poor catburgler.

      Plus, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who thinks this, the Catwoman model in Arkham City is UGLY! Facial features extremely exaggerated, super large eyes swimming in mascara, ginormous pouty lips absolutely caked with lipstick, it’s almost like she was working for the Joker (i.e she looked like a clown). I would have much preferred her to be based on the comic book images, or even based on Anne Hathaway. Now that would have made her look much better!

      The Arkham City designers went out of their way to design an overtly sexual Catwoman, and in doing so, have shown their design brief to be sexist. They’ve gone beyond “sexy”, and into the realms of “sex object”. Catwoman doesn’t deserve that treatment. She’s a more complex character than that.

  152. [...] its next game back to the Silver Age, a controversial decision in light of how dark, and, at times, downright sexist and nasty Arkham City got. Rocksteady is a skilled development team with an eye for talent when it comes to [...]

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  154. kschenke said

    When I went to see Dark Knight Rises during the midnight premiere, I experienced something very depressing. During the Selina betraying Batman scene, the guy next to me (who I knew was a recent HS graduate thanks to his loud conversation before the movie) called her a bitch. Out loud. Then in the moment when Talia puts the knife in Bruce’s back, a WOMAN somewhere behind me said, “Bitch” out loud. At no time during the movie did anyone say anything about the other characters (even Bane who is ruthless in his actions), but both of the main female characters were called bitches.

    Make of that what you will.

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  158. I’m fairly sure no one really cares, although I am amazed by the copious amounts of effort (and caps) that went into this article. How can a person care so much about something so insignificant and frivolous. It makes a person wonder, indeed.

    Perhaps the writer is sexually frustrated to such an extend that it warrants the profuse use of capital letters.

    Batman Arkham Asylum and Arkham City are wondrous games, polished to perfection in each and every way.

    Rocksteady should marry me and bear my children.

    That is all.

    • FILMCRITHULK said

      HEY THERE!

      SO FIRST OFF, HULK DOES CARE WHEN PEOPLE TAKE THE TIME TO COMMENT.

      AND SECOND OFF, ARKHAM ASYLUM IS A GAME POLISHED TO PERFECTION IN EVERY WAY AND THE SEQUEL ARKHAM CITY DOES SEEM TO AS WELL… EXCEPT FOR THIS ONE TINY CONCEPTUAL PART THAT REVEALS AN ONGOING PROBLEM IN VIDEO GAMES WHEN IT COMES TO CASUAL SEXISM. THAT’S ALL IT IS. HULK’S ACTUALLY A BIG FAN OF THE GAME AND HULK IS SAYING THAT’S THE PROBLEM WITH THESE KINDS OF THINGS.

      AND THIRD OFF, THE WHOLE “Perhaps the writer is sexually frustrated…” ANGLE LOTS OF COMMENTERS SEEM TO BE TAKING IS DOWNRIGHT WEIRD. WHENEVER GUYS TALK ABOUT SEXISM A WHOLE BUNCH OF OTHER GUYS WHO DON’T SEE THE SAME THING LOOOOOOOOOOVE TO SUSPECT THAT IT MUST GO BACK TO SEXUAL FRUSTRATION (POP PSYCHOLOGY WOULD ACTUALLY INDICATE THE OPPOSITE WHEN IT COMES TO SEXIST REMARKS BY THE WAY) AND IT WOULD BE LIKEWISE JUST AS WEIRD FOR HULK TO GET DEFENSIVE ABOUT AND GO ON WITH HULK’S PERFECTLY AWESOME SEX LIFE. THE POINT IS THAT NEITHER TOPIC MATTERS. IT’S ABOUT SOMETHING SO MUCH BIGGER. AND YES, WHILE THIS ALL AMOUNTS TO A SMALL DETAIL IN THE GAME, IT EXTENDS TO A TOPIC THAT IS SO, SO MUCH BIGGER AND CERTAINLY NOT INSIGNIFICANT AND FRIVOLOUS. WE ARE ACTUALLY TALKING ABOUT HALF THE POPULATION ON EARTH.

      AND FOURTH OFF, THE CAPS THING IS FOR HULK. HOW ELSE WOULD HULK’S TALK?

      CHEERS AND JUST KNOW THAT HULK IS ALWAYS WILLING TO LISTEN.

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  160. CC said

    I don’t know if this point has been made yet, but I’ve got a good reason why the B-word would be used over and over again in a mean and hurtful way: it’s being said by THUGS! Hoodlums! Crooks! Whatever you want to call them, the characters who utter that word are not nice people. They would’ve had to have done some terrible things in order to end up in Arkham City.

    I’m sorry if this comes off as condescending, I really don’t mean it to. It’s just that I’m always surprised when people get so offended by a villain or villains in a story that they start blaming everyone involved for what happened. Villains are supposed to bring that sort of guttural unease so it makes it all the more satisfying when they’re finally taken down. That’s why the crooks keep taunting the player so, that way when you finally get to punch them in the face, it makes the victory that much more sweet. I mean, if you had a story dealing with the KKK, wouldn’t it be expected that they’re going to use the N-word a number of times?

    • FILMCRITHULK said

      HEY THERE! THANKS FOR BEING CORDIAL (A LOT OF FOLKS MADE THE SAME COMMENT AND WERE NOT) BUT YOU SHOULD REALLY READ HULK’S SECOND COLUMN ON THE WHOLE BROUHAHA AND HULK EXPLAINS THE DIFFERENCE. HULK IS SO, SO, SO, SO NOT JUST OBJECTING TO USE OF THE WORD OR LACKING THE UNDERSTANDING OF THE CONTEXT OF THE CHARACTERS USING IT, BUT QUESTIONING THE MOTIVES FOR THOSE WHO WROTE IT, OR MORE IMPORTANTLY RECOGNIZING THE AFFECTATION THAT THE OVER-USE AND LIBERAL USE OF THE WORD HAS AS A RESULT. BUT IT’S MUCH, MUCH BETTER EXPLAINED IN THE SECOND COLUMN! CHEERS AND THANKS!

  161. [...] Arkham City was a great game, only enhanced by the female characters generally being downplayed and the main ones referred to as ‘bitch&#8217…. There were some complaints about this, but fortunately Rocksteady decided to completely ignore the [...]

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  164. [...] who noticed. In fact, the game’s love affair with the word bitch caused a bit of controversy throughout the blogosphere. I’ve pulled together a few examples from the game so you can see for [...]

  165. [...] sexist, no? (For a better and more entertaining article specifically on this topic, check out this post at Film Crit Hulk.) I mean, they never call Batman anything so [...]

  166. […] you want humor with your education, see Film Crit Hulk’s GODDAMMIT VIDEO GAMES: THE FIRST FEW HOURS OF ARKHAM CITY IS LOTS OF FUN, BUT SUPER-DUPER SEXIST and part 2 (because it is almost required to do a follow-up when you call out stuff like like […]

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  169. […] Arkham City was a great game, only enhanced by the female characters generally being downplayed and the main ones referred to as ‘bitch’ all th…. There were some complaints about this, but fortunately Rocksteady decided to completely ignore […]

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  171. […] Montreal deserve some praise for not repeating Rocksteady’s horrible tendencies towards female objectification and outright misogyny in designing the female antagonists of the game.  When I heard that Lady […]

  172. Logic said

    So…the complaint is that the evil characters, who casually talk about murdering random people and committing crime all the time, act like total assholes towards the few female characters in the game? I mean, would you have preferred that they act extremely and possibly OOC polite about Catwoman, the lady who just slashed their boss in the face and embarrassed him in front of all his henchman?
    Also, Harley Quinn IS an idiot. That has nothing to do with her being a woman, that just has to do with her being completely insane.
    Don’t get me wrong, there’s sexism in everything, ESPECIALLY comic books and videogames. But considering that three characters known for how sexy they are (Poison Ivy, Catwoman, and unfortunately Harley Quinn) are portrayed as sexy vixens, this really shouldn’t be much of a surprise.
    Also, since all of the people who use the word bitch are low-life scum and evil villains, I think it renders the argument moot because, you know, THEY’RE BAD PEOPLE, and A LOT OF THEM ARE IDIOTS, SO THEY’RE PORTRAYED THAT WAY.

  173. […] heroine does not a feminist (or even non-sexist) text make. (Read Film Crit Hulk’s critique here: http://filmcrithulk.wordpress.com/2011/10/19/goddammit-video-games-the-first-few-hours-of-arkham-cit&#8230 ;) Film Crit Hulk is right: Arkham City is a sexist game, even if Catwoman kicks […]

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