HULK VS. ARKHAM CITY – ROUND 2: BITCHES BE TRIPPIN’!

October 21, 2011

SEE? HULK HAS A SENSE OF HUMOR.

SO 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 VIDEO GAME SITES AND EVERYTHING WENT TO HELL. IT SHOULD BE NOTED THAT THE MAJORITY OF PEOPLE (60% OR SO) AGREED OR FOUND THE ARTICLE TO BE AN INTERESTING TALKING POINT. HULK THANK THESE PEOPLE SINCERELY. SPECIFICALLY THE COMMENT CONTRIBUTIONS OF (NEW?) HULK-READERS BILL GRAHAM AND JESSICA PRICE. AND AMONG THEM WERE PEOPLE WHO DISAGREED TO VARYING LEVELS. SOME OF THIS DISAGREEMENT WAS WELL-ARGUED AND FANTASTIC… AND SOME WHICH WAS NOT. HULK WAS NATURALLY INUNDATED WITH INSULTS, HATE MAIL, AND ONE ACTUAL THREAT TO BEAT THE SHIT OUT OF ME WITH A LEAD PIPE… FROM SOMEONE WHO HASN’T HAD A CHANCE TO PLAY THE GAME YET…. YIKES.

TYPICALLY WHEN THIS HAPPENS PEOPLE EITHER GET ANGRY RIGHT BACK AND BEGIN MAKING FUN OF THESE PEOPLE. OR THEY HAVE A MUCH HEALTHIER REACTION AND JUST BRUSH IT OFF AND GO ABOUT THEIR DAY. BOTH REACTIONS ARE UNDERSTANDABLE.

HERE’S THE THING… THIS KIND OF VITRIOL HAS NEVER REALLY HAPPENED WITH HULK’S ARTICLES BEFORE. WHILE HULK OBVIOUSLY DOES NOT TAKE IT PERSONALLY, HULK CAN ASSURE YOU THAT HULK ENJOYS ABSOLUTELY NOTHING ABOUT WHAT HAPPENED WITH THE FALLOUT OF THE ARTICLE. HULK TAKES ABSOLUTELY NO DELIGHT IN PISSING PEOPLE OFF. NONE. IT NOT HULK’S PERSONALITY. HULK IS NOT AN INSTIGATOR. IN FACT, IT BOTHERED HULK SO MUCH THAT HULK WAS UP ALL NIGHT THINKING ABOUT.

NOW THIS ISN’T BECAUSE HULK CAN’T DEAL WITH DISAGREEMENT, OR THAT HULK CAN’T DEAL WITH STUPID PEOPLE, OR THAT HULK WAS WRESTLING WITH FACT THAT HULK’S MAYBE POINT IS SOMEHOW WRONG… WHAT IT HAS TO DO WITH IS THE FACT THAT HULK COMES AT ALL THINGS FROM AN EDUCATION PERSPECTIVE. IT IS INGRAINED. IT IS THE SOLE PURPOSE OF EVERYTHING HULK DOES (BUT MORE ON THAT AT THE END).

SO WHAT BOTHERED HULK WAS THAT THE INTENTION AND NUANCE OF HULK’S MESSAGE WAS LOST.

AS SUCH, HULK WANTS TO CLARIFY SOME THINGS TO THE FOLKS WHO DISAGREED.

PREFACE I – REMEMBER, HULK LIKES THE GAME! DON’T FORGET THAT! HULK JUST TALKING ABOUT ONE ELEMENT OF IT. HULK ACTUALLY RECOMMENDS EVERYONE OF AGE SHOULD PLAY IT AND JUST BE AWARE OF THE SEXISM WEIRDNESS. HULK’S POINT NOT TO DISSUADE YOU FROM PARTICIPATING. HULK’S POINT IS TO SPEAK TO VIDEO GAME DEVELOPERS AND SAY THIS ONE ARGUMENT IS NOT ACCEPTED BY SOME PEOPLE YOU ASSUME ARE THE “TARGET AUDIENCE.” SPEAKING UP IMPORTANT.

PREFACE II – FOR  THOSE WHO DID NOT GET HULK’S POINT BECAUSE THEY DID NOT REALLY READ/SKIMMED THE ARTICLE, YOU ARE PREVENTING YOURSELF FROM BEING THE SUBJECT OF THIS RESPONSE. OF THE HUNDREDS OF COMMENTS THERE WERE MANY PEOPLE WHO CITED THINGS HULK DIRECTLY ACCOUNTED FOR IN THE ORIGINAL POST. SO GOING FORWARD YOU HAVE TO GET UP TO SPEED TO PARTICIPATE.

PREFACE III – YOU MAY NOT KNOW BUT HULK HAS HAD A LONG STANDING POLICY OF ENGAGING AND UNDERSTANDING WITH THE COMMENTATORS. THIS IS THE FIRST TIME IT’S REALLY BEEN TESTED IN SUCH CAPACITY AND WITH A FEW CASES OF SHEER TROLL-ISM. BUT HULK ASSURE YOU, EVERYTHING HERE IS IN THE INTEREST OF CLARITY.

PREFACE IV – HULK NOT LOOKING TO CREATE ENEMIES, SO HERE’S WHAT HULK WANTS YOU DO IF YOU STRONGLY DISAGREE. JUST TRY ON THE THINKING. DON’T BE DEFENSIVE. DON’T ASSUME HULK IS AN IDIOT OR LOOKING TO COMPLAIN. JUST TRY ON THE THINKING. THAT’S ALL HULK ASK.

PREFACES ALL SET? OKAY COOL.

SO HERE WERE THE ARGUMENTS LOBBED AGAINST HULK.

ARGUMENT #1 – THAT’S HOW PSYCHOPATHIC CRIMINALS WOULD ACT!

THIS ARGUMENT BY FAR THE MOST POPULAR COUNTERARGUMENT AGAINST HULK’S ARTICLE. HUNDREDS OF PEOPLE HAVE CHIMED IN WITH SOME VARIOUS FORM OF THIS SENTIMENT.

OKAY. LET’S START THIS WITH A QUESTION. HOW OFTEN DID THE BAD GUY CHARACTERS IN NOLAN’S THE DARK KNIGHT USE THE WORD BITCH?

DID THE JOKER?  DID TWO-FACE? NOPE. IN FACT, THERE IS ONLY ONE UTTERANCE OF THE WORD AND THAT IS WHEN LT. GORDON SAYS “WE GOT YOU YOU SON OF A BITCH” WHEN CAPTURING THE JOKER. THAT’S IT. WHEN HULK MENTIONED THIS TO PEOPLE A LOT OF THEM WERE SURPRISED…. HULK WASN’T SURPRISED.

WHY IS THAT NOLAN NEVER USES THE WORD? HOW IS IT THAT NOLAN IS ABLE TO CREATE A “DARK/GRITTY” (AND PERHAPS BEST) VERSION OF THE BATMAN STORY WITHOUT USING THE WORD LIKE THAT CHARACTERIZE WOMEN. ESPECIALLY WHEN THERE ARE SEVERAL OPPORTUNITIES FOR THE BAD GUYS TO TRY AND TERRIFY WOMEN AND SHOW THEIR SUPPOSED PSYCHOPATHY?

THAT’S BECAUSE NOLAN IS A SMART GUY AND UNDERSTANDS THAT THERE ARE OTHER WAYS TO MAKE PEOPLE VIOLENT AND SCARY. CALLING SOMEONE A BITCH EVERY FIVE SECONDS IS ACTUALLY A VERY POOR WAY OF GOING ABOUT IT. NOT ONLY THAT, BUT NOLAN IS CLEARLY AWARE OF THE LARGER CONTEXT OF THE WORD AND THE CARE THAT IT NEEDS TO BE USED WITH. HULK ARGUES THE DEPICTION OF THE JOKER IS FAR SCARIER AND MORE UNSETTLING THAN ANYTHING IN ARKHAM CITY AND IT DOESN’T RESORT TO THE LOWEST COMMON DENOMINATOR OF SEXIST DIALOGUE.

THIS THEREFORE ANSWERS THE QUESTION HULK GOT OVER AND OVER AGAIN WITH THIS ARGUMENT: “WHAT WOULD YOU HAVE RATHER HAVE HAD THEM SAY?” HULK SAYS TURN TO NOLAN. THERE’S A MILLION WAYS TO CONVEY MALEVOLENCE. THE IDEA THAT CALLING A GIRL A BITCH IS THE ONLY WAY TO MAKE IT CLEAR SOMEONE HATES WOMEN IS ABSURD. IN FACT, SOMEONE WHO WRITES CHARACTERS LIKE THAT MAKES HULK THINK THEIR SEXIST. HENCE HULK’S ENTIRE REACTION IN THE FIRST PLACE.

PEOPLE ALSO ASKED “SHOULD THEY MAKE THE BAD GUYS CHIVALROUS INSTEAD?” OF COURSE NOT. AGAIN, LOOK TO NOLAN.

NOW, AS TO CRUX THIS ARGUMENT, YES, WITHIN THE SINGULAR LOGIC OF CHARACTER IT WOULD MAKE TOTAL SENSE FOR A FELON TO CALL SOMEONE A BITCH. OF COURSE IT WOULD! IN NO WAY IS HULK EVER SAYING THAT IT DOESN’T MAKE SENSE. BUT JUST BECAUSE IT MAKES SENSE DOESN’T MEAN IT IS THEREFORE A GOOD CHOICE. WHAT HULK IS SPEAKING TO IS THE FACT THAT TOSSING ARE AROUND THE WORD BITCH IS ALL THEY SEEM TO BE ABLE TO DO. CONSTANTLY. AND WITH CAVALIER QUALITY THAT IS UNBECOMING. IT DOESN’T COME OFF AS SCARY. OR INDICATIVE OF PERSONALITY. IN SOME CASES IT’S CLEARLY MEANT TO BE FUNNY. HULK HAPPY TO LOOK OVER A CASE HERE OR THERE, BUT WHEN IT IS AS RAMPANT AS IT IS IN THE FIRST FEW HOURS OF THIS GAME, THEN YES, IT COMES OFF WEIRD AND SEXIST. NO DOUBT ABOUT IT.

ARGUMENT #2 -  IT’S TRYING TO BE REALISTIC! (AND HOW REALISM MEANS GRITTY FOR SOME REASON)

WHEN EVERYONE WAS ARGUING FOR ALL THE BITCH TALK THE WORD THEY KEPT THROWING AROUND AS JUSTIFICATION WAS HOW THE GAME WAS STRIVING FOR “REALISM”… UM… WHAT?!?!? SO LET’S GO TO THE LARGER QUESITON FIRST. HOW IS ARKHAM CITY REALISTIC? IT’S NOT. IT FEATURES A CRAZY HYPER-REALIZED WORLD. SO LET’S STOP USING THAT WORD THAT WAY. OKAY? COOL.

WHAT THEY’RE REALLY SAYING IS THEY WANT THE GAME TO BE DARK AND GRITTY. THAT’S FINE. BUT LET’S NOT INSULT REALITY… ACTUALLY YOU KNOW WHAT? HULK ACTUALLY FINDS THE CONFUSION TOO WEIRD NOT TO TALK ABOUT. WHY THE HECK IS DARK AND GRITTY CONSTRUED AS REALISTIC? IT SORT OF HAS TO DO WITH COMIC HISTORY. WHEN COMICS SHIFTED AWAY FROM THE POP-BIG-WORLD SENSIBILITIES OF SILVER AGE COMICS THROUGH BRONZE AND INTO MODERN AGE, COMICS SLOWLY DROPPED MORE FANTASTICAL ELEMENTS FOR THINGS THAT FELT LIKE REAL LIFE. THIS CHANGE WAS ACCOMPANIED BY A LEASE ON STANDARDS THAT ALLOWED FOR RISE IN VIOLENCE. THE TWO, WHILE SOMETIMES BEING RELATED (THE 80′S WERE A VIOLENT DECADE FOR AMERICAN CITIES), THEY ARE ACTUALLY UNRELATED BECAUSE CORRELATION DOES NOT MEAN CAUSE. BUT BECAUSE THEY ARE COUPLED TOGETHER IN THE CURRENT PROMINENCE OF COMIC BOOK-DOM WE MISTAKE THEM FOR BEING THE SAME THING.

THEY ARE NOT.

NOW LET’S GET SPECIFIC. LET’S PRETEND THIS WHOLE “REALISM” THING IS ACTUALLY WHAT IS MEANT AS THE INTENTION AND CONSIDER ARGUMENT #1 AGAIN…

THERE IS THIS WEIRD UNILATERAL THINKING THAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU SAY IT’S REALISTIC THAT THAT IS “HOW CRIMINALS WOULD ACT!” FIRST, THIS ASSUMES EVERY SINGLE MURDEROUS THUG IN ARKHAM IS ALSO SOMEHOW A RAPIST TOO (A LOT OF GANGS ARE NOT TOO KEEN ON IT FOR EXAMPLE, THOUGH YES, OF COURSE SOME ARE). PLUS THERE’S THE IDEA THAT EVERY SINGLE PERSON IN THIS PRISON (ASIDE FROM POLITICAL PRISONERS) IS ONE OF THE AFOREMENTIONED MURDEROUS RAPIST THUGS.

NOW DOES HULK CARE THAT A GAME DOES THIS? ACTUALLY, NO.

BUT IT’S RELEVANT AS SHIT WHEN EVERYONE KEEPS DISAGREEING SAYING THE GAME IS TRYING TO BE “REALISTIC.”

BECAUSE HULK HATE TO BREAK IT TO YOU, BUT THAT’S NOT HOW ACTUAL CRIMINALS ARE IN PRISON POPULATIONS. NOT BY A LONG SHOT. IF YOU’RE SO CONCERNED WITH REALISM THEN YOU’D OBVIOUSLY REALIZE THAT THEY ARE HUMAN BEINGS. DEEPLY FLAWED HUMAN BEINGS. SOMETIMES BROKEN HUMAN BEINGS. SOMETIMES HUMAN BEINGS WHO ARE CAPABLE OF DOING THE WORST THINGS ONE CAN DO ANOTHER. THEIR REASONS FOR DOING SO, THEIR SOCIOPATHY, THEIR SOCIAL CONSTRUCTS. THEY ARE ALL PART OF A HUMAN STORY, OFTEN TRAGEDY. AND THAT STORY EXISTS ON A GRAY SCALE OF HUMAN EXISTENCE. AND THEN THERE’S THE FACT THAT MOST OF THEM ARE THERE BECAUSE THEY WANTED TO GET HIGH.

HULK IS NOT ASKING YOU TO PITY ANY OF THEM. WE PUT PEOPLE IN PRISON FOR A REASON. BUT YOU CANNOT IN WAY REFER TO THE DISPLAY OF THUGS IN ARKHAM CITY AS “REALISTIC” AND EXPECT TO BE ACCURATE. REALISM IS NEVER ONE-NOTE.

CAN THERE BE A PERSON WHO IS LIKE THE THUGS ON DISPLAY HERE? OF COURSE. BUT LIKE THE UBIQUITY OF THE WORD BITCH THE PROBLEM ARRIVES WITH THE UBIQUITY OF THE MURDEROUS RAPIST THUG… AGAIN… IT IS NOT REALISTIC.

NOW, LET’S QUALIFY WHY HULK SAYING THIS. ARKHAM CITY IS UNDER NO OBLIGATION TO TURN MINDLESS THUGS INTO ROUNDED CHARACTERS. OF COURSE IT’S NOT. IT WOULD BE UNREASONABLE FOR HULK TO EXPECT SO. HULK KNOWS IT’S IS A HEIGHTENED WORLD AND THAT’S TOTALLY FINE (AND BTW, THE HEIGHTENED WORLD DOES NOT DISMISS THE “BITCH ARGUMENT” BUT THAT’S CLARIFIED IN THE TONE ARGUMENT LATER). BUT WHEN YOU CLING TO THE LOGIC OF REALISM AS A GROUNDS FOR DEFENSE OF ONE-NOTE CHARACTERIZATION, YOU DO NOT HAVE A A LEG TO STAND ON.

IF YOU WANT REALISM, YOU CAN’T HAVE IT BOTH WAYS.

ARGUMENT #3 – YOU’RE ADVOCATING CENSORSHIP!

UGH. FIRST OFF, HOW ANYONE COULD ACCUSE HULK OF WANTING CENSORSHIP OF THE GAME WHEN IN THE ARTICLE WHERE JUSTIFIES / THROWS HEAPS OF PRAISE ON STRAW DOGS IS BEYOND HULK.

BUT LET’S GET SOMETHING STRAIGHT. THERE IS ABSOLUTELY AT NO POINT IN THIS ARTICLE THAT HULK ARGUED THEY CAN’T MAKE A GAME LIKE THIS OR THAT A CERTAIN WORD SHOULD NEVER BE USED. EVER. THE GAME HAS EVERY RIGHT TO EXIST AND EVERY RIGHT TO USE THE WORDS IT DOES.

BUT FREEDOM OF SPEECH DOES NOT MEAN FREEDOM FROM RESPONSE. WE’VE EVEN HAD VICE-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES CONFUSE THE TWO. THEY HAVE EVERY RIGHT TO MAKE THE GAME UNCENSORED AND HULK HAS EVERY RIGHT TO CALL IT SEXIST AND JUVENILE. THAT’S THE RELATIONSHIP OF OUR SPEECH. HULK ACTUALLY HAD SOMEONE SAY THAT HULK SHOULD NOT BE ALLOWED TO WRITE THE THINGS HULK DID PRIOR ARTICLE… WHICH IS NOT ONLY SOMEBACKWARDS THAT IT MAKES HULK’S BRAIN HURT, BUT IT DOESN’T UNDERSTAND THE BASIC PROCESS OF WHAT IS ACTUALLY HAPPENING HERE. IT IS A DIALOGUE

FOR THE RECORD, HULK IS FULLY AWARE THIS IS A TWO-WAY STREET IN TERMS OF POLITICAL SKEWING. FOR EXAMPLE, WHEN PEOPLE WERE PICKETING MATTHEW SHEPARD’S FUNERAL WITH SIGNS SAYING “MATT IS BURNING IN HELL!” HULK HAD FRIEND SAY NO ONE SHOULD BE ALLOWED TO DO THAT. OF COURSE THEY SHOULD BE ALLOWED TO DO THAT, EVEN IF IT’S SOMETHING HULK FINDS DISGUSTING. CONVERSELY, HULK TOLD THIS FRIEND THEY ARE ALLOWED TO GO RIGHT UP TO THEM AND STAND THERE WITH A SIGN THAT SAYS “PEOPLE WHO THINK MATT IS BURNING HELL SHOULD BURN IN HELL!”… THAT’S HOW FREEDOM OF SPEECH WORKS.

AND FOR THE RECORD, HULK HAS NO INTEREST IN BEING THE P.C. POLICE.

THOSE WHO SAY EVERYONE IS “SO AFRAID TO BE SEXIST OR POLITICALLY INCORRECT” ARE NOT ACCURATE. THEY ARE AFRAID TO SAY THINGS BECAUSE PEOPLE JUMP DOWN THEIR THROAT FOR SAYING STUPID THINGS IN UNCALLED FOR CONTEXTS. NOT BECAUSE THEY ARE BEING POLITICALLY INCORRECT. THERE IS A DIFFERENCE. IT’S WHY A COMIC CAN GET AWAY WITH SAYING NON-PC, BUT “YOU” FEEL THAT YOU CANNOT. HULK SAYS POLITICALLY INCORRECT THINGS ALL THE TIME. BUT THERE IS A CONTEXT TO IT AND A DIALOGUE. AND THUS HULK IS NEVER AFRAID TO SAY ANYTHING.

ARGUMENT #4 -YOU’RE GETTING PISSED ABOUT THIS? IT’S SO NOT A BIG DEAL! THERE’S SO MANY BIGGER DEALS IN THE WORLD! SOMEONE IS GETTING RAPED RIGHT NOW!

AHHH, IF ISN’T HULK’S OLD FRIEND MORAL RELATIVISM.

IF YOU ARE NOT AWARE, MORAL RELATIVISM WORKS LIKE THIS: YOU DISCOUNT ANY ARGUMENT WHERE PEOPLE GET PISSED ABOUT THINGS LIKE THIS BY POINTING OUT THERE ARE MORE IMPORTANT ISSUES TO GET PISSED AT…  THAT’S IT REALLY.

BUT LET’S ADDRESS IT ANYWAY, SHALL WE? FIRST OFF, YES YOU ARE CORRECT. THERE ARE MANY OTHER MUCH BIGGER ISSUES IN THE WORLD. IN FACT, IF YOU BROUGHT SOME OF THESE BIGGER THINGS UP, HULK WOULD LOVE TO DISCUSS IT WITH YOU. LET’S TALK ABOUT THE SOCIO-ECONOMIC CONSTRUCTS OF SOUTH AMERICA AND HOW NO ONE SEEMS TO BE AWARE OF THE FACT WE’RE RECONSTRUCTING THE BANANA REPUBLICS? LET’S TALK ABOUT THE WORLD’S ECONOMIC DOWNTURN AND HOW THE OUTLOOK IS PREDICATED ON SEVERAL FACTORS WHICH IN FACT HAVE NO BASIS IN REALITY, FOR EXAMPLE THE FAR-TOO-HIGH PROJECTION OF OIL RESERVES IN THE MIDDLE EAST AND THE FALSE NOTION THAT CHINA’S ECONOMY STRONG. OH, WAIT, NOT INTERESTED?

THAT’S BECAUSE THIS IS A BLOG ABOUT MOVIES AND COMICS AND SHIT. AND NOT ONLY IS THAT OKAY, IT IS A) FUN B) HULK’S SPECIALTY WITH WHICH HULK CAN IMPART GOOD INFORMATION C) A GOOD WAY TO SPEND TIME NOT THINKING ABOUT THAT OTHER HORRIFYING STUFF AND D) A PLACE WHERE BRINGING THINGS LIKE THE NUANCE OF SEXISM IS STILL TOTALLY VALUABLE JUST IN A DIFFERENT KIND OF WAY.

OUTRAGE AND DISCOURSE TAKE MANY FORMS.

ARGUMENT #5 – YOU’RE JUST A PRUDE!

HULK WOULD LIKE RE-POINT YOU TO THE SECTION OF THE ARTICLE DEALING WITH STRAW DOGS. HULK WOULD ALSO INVITE YOU TO READ THE OTHER ARTICLES ON THE BLOG… THAT ALONE SHOULD CLEAR THIS ACCUSATION UP.

STILL NO? OKAY.

WHAT’S KIND OF HILARIOUS IS THAT THIS IS THE FIRST TIME HULK HAS EVER BEEN CALLED A PRUDE IN HULK’S LIFE. HULK’S MIND DRIFTS ALL OVER SOME SORDID AND SILLY BEHAVIORS OF HULK’S YOUTH AND GETS WISTFUL JUST THINKING ABOUT. WHY SOME WERE EVEN CALLING HULK A BAPTIST PREACHER AMONG OTHER, UM, WORSE THINGS.

THIS IS HILARIOUS CAUSE YOU DON’T KNOW HULK’S TASTE IN MOVIES. DO HULK A FAVOR AND LOOK TWO (NSFW) MOVIES BY ALEXANDRO JODOROWSKY CALLED EL TOPO AND HOLY MOUNTAIN. THEY ARE TWO OF THE MOST BAT SHIT MOVIES YOU WILL EVER SEE. THEY DEAL WITH A VAST ARRAY OF CRAZY THINGS MANY OF WHICH ARE NOT ONLY HYPER SEXUAL, BUT LEGITIMATELY CRAZY.

SO HOW CAN HULK NOT CALL THOSE MOVIES SEXIST? WELL… LIKE STRAW DOGS THERE IS NO NEAT WAY TO WRAP A BOW ON THE SEXISM OF THOSE MOVIES.,BUT WHAT IT IS STILL, IS INTERESTING. IT EXPLORES CONCEPTS AND ICONOGRAPHY AND GRAY SCALES AND EVEN GOES ABOUT IT’S BUSINESS IN THE MOST NON P.C. WAY POSSIBLE. BUT IT PROVIDES INTELLECTUAL CONTEXT.

ALL HULK REQUIRES IS THAT IT IS INTERESTING. THAT’S ALL IT TAKES. AND TO BE INTERESTING THE CRUX OF THE ARGUMENT CANNOT BE EXPLAINED IN A ONE-NOTE PHILOSOPHY.

AND NOW THAT HULK HAS SUFFICIENTLY DISPENSED WITH THAT RUMOR ABOUT HULK’S PRUDISHNESS (FOR POOP’S SAKE HULK CLOTHES TEAR OFF HULK’S BODY REGULARLY) LET’S TALK ABOUT THE IDEA THAT JUST BECAUSE SOMEONE TALKS ABOUT FEMINISM AND SEXISM THEY ARE OBVIOUSLY A PRUDE.

IT IS UNTRUE IN EVERY SINGLE CASE.

GOOD TALK!

ARGUMENT #6 – IT’S JUST AIMING AT A TARGET AUDIENCE!

ISN’T IT FUNNY HOW OFTEN THE PEOPLE DEFENDING SOMETHING AS “BEING FOR A TARGET AUDIENCE” ARE OFTEN IN SAID TARGET AUDIENCE?

HULK’S NOT HERE TO PERSONALLY ACCUSE PEOPLE OF ANYTHING, SO LET’S NOT EVEN GET INTO THAT RIGHT NOW, BUT HULK JUST IS HERE TO SAY ONE SIMPLE THING:

BATMAN DOES NOT BELONG TO YOU.

BATMAN BELONGS TO EVERYONE. THE CHARACTER HAS SURVIVED GENERATIONS IN A HUNDRED DIFFERENT ITERATIONS AND WE ALL HAVE A VERSION WE LIKE BEST AND RELATE TO.

NOW, FOR THE LAST TIME, THIS IS NOT TO ARGUE THAT A BATMAN MOVIE CAN’T BE DARK OR GRITTY OR WHATEVER THE HELL ELSE. IT DOES NOT HAVE TO BE LEGO BATMAN. HECK, HULK LOVES A LOT OF THE GRITTY BATMAN STUFF (WHEN THERE’S AN INTERESTING TONE/CONTEXT), BUT THAT IS NOT WHAT HULK IS OBJECTING TO. WE HAVE TO GIVE UP THIS IDEA OF OWNERSHIP BECAUSE WHEN WE THINK SOMETHING IS JUST FOR “US” WE CAN’T STAND FOR IT WHEN PEOPLE DISLIKE IT WHO ARE NOT THE “US.” AND MAYBE THE OTHER AUDIENCE HAS SOMETHING LEGITIMATE TO SAY.

LET’S NEVER FORGET, EVEN IF YOU ARE AN ADULT AND LOVE BATMAN.

… KIDS LOVE BATMAN TOO.

ARGUMENT #7 – YOU’RE ALL LIKE “OH NOES THE CHILDREN!” BUT IT’S THE PARENTS RESPONSIBILITY….

HULK REGRETS HOW THIS WAS WRITTEN ON THE BLOG. THE INDIGNATION. THE IMAGE OF ALL THE KIDS BUYING THE GAME MADE IT SEEM LIKE SAPPY STUFF. THAT WASN’T HULK’S INTENTION SO HULK APOLOGIZE. HULK JUST WANTS TO MAKE A FEW THINGS CLEAR.

HULK’S INDIGNATION WITH THE WHOLE KID THING ISN’T A MATTER OF RATINGS (THOUGH THE RATED-T IS AN ISSUE). BUT ABOUT THE GAMES FUNDAMENTAL BI-POLARITY WHEN IT COMES TO THE GAME THEY ARE MAKING. IN MANY WAYS, THE GAME IS NOT THAT DARK AND TOTALLY “T” FOR TEEN APPROPRIATE AND THEN THE STUFF ON DISPLAY WITH SEXISM IS COMPLETELY OUT OF CHARACTER WITH THE REST OF THAT PG13-ISH GAME.

WHICH MEANS HULK’S BIGGER PROBLEM IS THAT THERE WAS NO WAY TO SEE THIS BIPOLARITY AHEAD OF TIME.

AS FOR THE ARGUMENT THAT THIS GAME WASN’T MEANT FOR KIDS? WRONG.

THEY MARKET THE SHIT OUT OF BATMAN TO KIDS.

HULK DID A LITTLE RESEARCH TODAY. DISNEY CHANNEL. NICKELODEON. GUESS WHICH GAME WAS BEING ADVERTISED? CONSTANTLY. ARKHAM CITY. HULK KNOWS THE CABLE STANDARDS RULES VERY WELL AND RATED-T GAMES CAN TOTALLY GO IN THIS KIND OF “FAMILY” PROGRAMMING. THE GAME MAY HAVE BEEN “MADE” FOR A SO-CALLED TARGET AUDIENCE, BUT THE ACTUAL AUDIENCE OF THE GAME IS HUGE AND VARIED, THROUGH BOTH GENDERS AND ALL AGES.

WHICH MEANS THAT BATMAN COMES WITH A RESPONSIBILITY TO MAKE IT CLEAR WHICH BATMAN THEY’RE GETTING.

IN THE LEAD UP TO THE RELEASE OF THE DARK KNIGHT, THE MEDIA WAS ACTUALLY VERY MINDFUL IN TELLING PEOPLE THAT THE FILM HAD A DARKER TONE (SPECIFICALLY IN COMPARISON BATMAN BEGINS) AND TO BE PRECARIOUS WITH THE SITUATION OF TAKING TEENS/KIDS.

BUT NO ONE WAS TALKING ABOUT ARKHAM CITY (AND DEFINITELY NOT IN TERMS OF SEXISM).

SO WHAT WAS A PARENT SUPPOSED TO DO? MOST PARENTS DON’T PLAY VIDEO GAMES SO HOW WOULD THEY KNOW IF IT’S OKAY FOR THEIR KID? EVEN IF THEY WATCHED THEIR KID PLAY THE LAST GAME, HULK BELIEVES THERE IS A WAY THE LAST GAME IS KIND OF APPROPRIATE FOR CERTAIN AGED KIDS AND THIS NEW ONE IS TOTALLY NOT APPROPRIATE FOR THE SAME KID. HOW IS ONE SUPPOSED TO RECONCILE THAT?

HULK DOESN’T HAVE AN ANSWER MIND YOU. THIS IS ULTIMATELY A VERY SPECIFIC, VERY WEIRD PROBLEM. IT’S DIFFICULT REALLY. BUT IT’S CERTAINLY A QUESTION WORTH BRINGING UP.

AND FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, HULK NEVER IMPLIED THAT VIDEO GAMES “CREATE” BEHAVIOR. THAT IS A FALLACY.  HULK IS TALKING ABOUT INSIDIOUS CHARACTERIZATION WHICH IN LARGE AMOUNTS CREATE CONTEXTS THAT LEAD TO CERTAIN MODES OF THINKING. WHICH MIGHT OR MIGHT NOT LEAD TO BEHAVIORS. THERE IS AN OBVIOUS, THOUGH NUANCED DIFFERENCE.

AND AGAIN, HULK’S BIG ISSUE IS LESS THAT IT’S “DARK” AND MORE THAT IT’S JUST “STUPID.”

ARGUMENT #8 – YOU MUST NOT READ THE COMICS BECAUSE…

UMM… THIS IS FILM CRIT HULK HERE. HULK HAS READ MORE COMICS THAN YOU CAN POSSIBLY IMAGINE.

THIS SEEMS LIKE A GOOD TIME TO DO THAT THING COMIC NERDS DO WHEN SOMEONE QUESTIONS THEIR COMIC BOOK ACUMEN AND SAY “UH, SORRY BUT HULK HAS NO-PRIZE!” SO YEAH. HULK GOT A NO-PRIZE WHEN HULK WAS YOUNGER. IT’S NOT LIKE THIS PROVES ANY ACTUAL SUBSTANCE EXCEPT TO SAY THAT, YES, HULK HAS READ A SHIT TON OF COMICS.

SO LET’S GET TO THE POINT OF PEOPLE BRINGING UP THE COMICS. LET’S TALK ABOUT FRANK MILLER.

FOR THOSE UNAWARE, FRANK MILLER WROTE THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS AND SEVERAL OTHER BATMAN TALES WHICH ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR SHIFTING THE TONE OF BATMAN COMICS FROM SOMETHING LIKE THE OLD TV-SHOW TO SUPER GRIZZLY DARK… OKAY IT WASN’T THAT DRAMATIC A SHIFT (THE BRONZE AGE WAS MORE GRADUAL THEN PEOPLE REMEMBER), BUT HE DID GO SUPER GRIZZLY DARK AND BROUGHT COMICS INTO THE NEW MODERN AGE.

FRANK MILLER’S COMICS ARE FILLED WITH LOTS OF GRIZZLY, SEXIST BEHAVIOR. RAPE. TORTURE. ETC. BUT HERE IS WHERE THE PESKY MATTER OF CONTEXT COMES IN. LIKE EL TOPO, ETC. FRANK MILLER’S COMICS DEAL WITH VERY SPECIFIC STORYTELLING CONTEXTS AND IDEAS. MILLER, SORT OF LIKE PECKINPAH, IS FREQUENTLY FOCUSED ON THE MALE INTERPRETATION AND FEAR OF SEXUAL DEVIANCY AND FALSE PURITY, BUT THERE ARE A MILLION INTERESTING WAYS YOU CAN DISCUSS MILLER’S WORK. HULK NOT DEFENDING THE WORK EITHER. THE POSITIVE CHARACTERIZATION IS TENUOUS AT BEST. BUT AGAIN, IT IS TEXTURED AND DEEP.

ARKHAM CITY IS NOT.

ARGUMENT #9 – LOGIC VS. TONE VS. CONTEXT

OKAY… LET’S TRY THIS ONE MORE TIME.

SO MANY ARGUMENTS AGAINST HULK WERE BUILD AROUND THE EVENTS THAT ACTUALLY HAPPEN AND NOT WHAT HULK WAS ARGUING WAS THE PROBLEM: THE TONE. NOW THIS IS ACTUALLY A FAIRLY COMMON PROBLEM IN MOST ARGUMENTS WHERE SOMEONE IS TALKING ABOUT SUBTEXT, BUT IT IS HULK’S RESPONSIBILITY TO MAKE IT CLEAR.

IN SIMPLEST TERMS, TONE ISN’T ABOUT WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENS (THE TEXT), BUT HOW A MOMENT FEELS (SUBTEXT). NOW HULK IMAGINES THAT YOU’D ARGUE HOW SOMETHING FEELS IS TOTALLY SUBJECTIVE. OF COURSE IT IS. BUT THERE IS A WAY TO TALK ABOUT SUBJECTIVE THINGS IN AS CONCRETE TERMS AS POSSIBLE. DOING SO COHERENTLY IS, NOT TO BE A DICK, WHAT WE CALL BUILDING AN ARGUMENT.

AND THE WAY YOU BUILD AN ARGUMENT ABOUT TONE IS TO QUALIFY THE FOLLOWING: 1) WHAT IS ACTUALLY HAPPENING 2) WHAT IS THE FEELING OF THE SCENE 3) WHAT IS THE AUTHORS TREATMENT OF SIMILAR EVENTS 4) THUS WHAT IS THE IMPLIED INTENTION OF THE AUTHOR NOT ONLY DECIDING WHAT HAPPENS, BUT THE CHOICES FOR THE FEELINGS THEY CREATED (AND YES SOMETIMES THE TONE IS ACCIDENTAL BUT STILL VERY MUCH THEIR RESPONSIBLITY). DOING ALL FOUR IS WHAT ESTABLISHES WHAT WE CAN FINALLY CALL CONTEXT.

SO YES, MANY TIMES THE LOGIC OF WHAT WAS HAPPENING IN PART 1 WAS FINE, BUT COUPLED PARTS 2, 3, AND 4 IT IS FAR MORE TROUBLING. THERE WERE A NUMBER OF READERS WHO ACTED AS IF TRYING TO DECIPHER THE AUTHOR’S INTENTION (PART 4) IS AKIN TO MIND-READING AND THUS ABSURD… THAT IS NOT THE CASE. WHILE YOU CANNOT NOT ASSUME WITH 100% CERTAINTY THAT ANYTHING WAS ANYONE’S INTENTION, BUT THERE IS NO DENYING THE IMPLICATIONS OF THE FINAL RESULTS. THIS IS A FUNDAMENTAL RULE OF SEMIOTICS. ANYONE IS PERFECTLY WELCOME TO SPECULATE AS TO THE AUTHOR’S INTENTION BASED ON THE EVIDENCE AND NOT EXTRAPOLATED HYPOTHETICAL LOGIC.

BUT MORE IMPORTANTLY, THE IDEA IS THAT CONTEXT IS A COMPLEX AND ALL-ENCOMPASSING THING THAT CANNOT BE SUFFICIENTLY ARGUED WHEN ONLY REFERENCING DIRECT TEXT.

LOOK AT HOW MANY PREVIOUS ARGUMENTS THIS PLAYS INTO? ALMOST ALL OF THEM (BUT PARTICULARLY THE FIRST ARGUMENT).

THE PROBLEM IS THAT PEOPLE TREAT ARGUMENTS AS A SINGULAR TETE E TETE OF LOGIC GOING BACK AND FORTH LIKE A TENNIS BALL. THAT’S NOT HOW IT WORKS. THE SCOPE OF ARGUMENTS ARE LARGE, MASSIVE, HULKING. WHEN MAKING ANY ONE POINT THERE ARE A HUNDRED OTHER RELEVANT POINTS THAT TIE INTO WHAT ONE IS SAYING EXACTLY AND YOU HAVE TO ACCOUNT FOR THE ONES THAT MATTER (THIS IS WHY HULK ARTICLES ARE SO FREAKING LONG). IT’S ABOUT HOW THE BIG PICTURE LOOKS NOT THIS SMALL DETAIL.

YOU CANNOT MISS THE FORREST FOR THE TREES.

SO NOW THAT WE’VE CORRECTED THAT LET’S LOOK AT THE NEXT ARGUMENT:

ARGUMENT #10 – GIRLS FIGHTING BAD THINGS = FEMINISM!

ALSO NOT THE CASE.

LOTS OF PEOPLE ARGUED THAT BECAUSE CATWOMAN CAN BEAT DUDES UP, SPECIFICALLY THE ONES SAYING BITCH ALL THE TIME THE GAME IS ACTUALLY REINFORCING A POSITIVE ROLE FOR WOMEN.

LOGICAL? SURE!

BUT LET US CONSIDER THE PESKY TONE/CONTEXT. SPECIFICALLY OF CATWOMAN DOING THIS BEATING UP AS HER BOOBS ARE POPPING OUT, ACHIEVING ALL THESE BEATINGS WITH A SEXUAL BUT NOT ACTUALLY ATHLETIC FRAME, DOING SO IN HIGH HEELS, WHILE SHE COOS ABOUT FEELING NAKED, WHILE SHE FLIRTS AND TALKS VAPIDLY… IN THAT CASE IT IS SOMETHING FAR DIFFERENT.

AND LOOK. THE WHOLE GIRLS FIGHTING BAD THINGS HAS BEEN SOMETHING PEOPLE HAVE TRIED TO USE AS A SHORTCUT TO FEMINISM FOR A LONG, LONG TIME.  HOLLYWOOD HAS HAD AN ESPECIALLY STUPID RUN OF IT LATELY. WHAT MAKES THINGS LIKE BUFFY FEMINIST IS NOT THAT SHE FIGHTS BAD GUYS, BUT THE ENTIRE EMBRACE OF FEMININITY AND GENDER ISSUES THAT THE SHOW FREQUENTLY EXPLORED.

WHEN YOU TRY AND USE IT AS A SHORTCUT TO FEMINISM, THE RESULT OFTEN FALLS FLAT ON IT’S FACE.

AND IN ALL HONESTY, HULK FEELS LIKE THE WRITERS WEREN’T EVEN TRYING TO DO THE SHORTCUT

ARGUMENT #11 – BUT SEXUALITY IS TOTALLY AN ELEMENT OF CATWOMAN!

OF COURSE. HULK SAID SO IN THE LAST BLOG BUT NO ONE SEEMED TO READ THAT PART.

SHE IS THE CLASSIC FEMME FATALE. HULK NEVER DENIED THIS. HULK EXPLAINED WHAT FEMME FATALES MEAN VERY MUCH SO IN THE LAST COLUMN. BUT WHAT ULTIMATELY JUSTIFIES A FEMME FATALE IS THE LEVEL OF COMPLEXITY.

SO LOOK AT A CATWOMAN’S ROLE IN THIS GAME. IT IS ANYTHING BUT COMPLEX. A SIMPLE CUT + PASTE ARGUMENT ABOUT HER BEATING BAD GUYS UP DOES NOT SUFFICE.

ARGUMENT #12 – BUT CATWOMAN WOULD DO THIS! BATMAN IS LIKE THIS! AND TWO-FACE IS LIKE THAT!

HULK GOT A  LOT OF THIS… TO PEOPLE SAYING THESE SORTS OF THINGS… YOU DO REALIZE THAT THESE PEOPLE ARE NOT REAL, RIGHT?

OF COURSE YOU DO. HULK IS NOT IMPLYING YOU WOULD THINK THAT (NOR IS HULK SAYING YOU ARE LIKE OUR FRIEND IN THE PICTURE ABOVE).  SO THE QUESTION IS WHY ARE YOU REFERRING TO THEM LIKE THEY ARE REAL? THEY ARE CONSTRUCTIONS OF VIDEO GAMES DEVELOPERS AND WRITERS, AND AS SUCH ARE CONSTRUCTIONS.

THE LOGIC OF WHAT BATMAN OR SOME INMATES WOULD DO IS WHOLLY IRRELEVANT. ESPECIALLY IN AN ARGUMENT OF SEMIOTICS, WHERE YOU CAN ONLY MAKE DEDUCTIONS OFF WHAT IS THERE.

LIKE FOR EXAMPLE ONE COMMENTATOR LEFT THIS GREAT GEM: “[THE PRISON INMMATES] COULD NEVER SHOW ANY RESPECT TO CATWOMAN AS THAT WOULD BE A SIGN OF WEAKNESS IN FRONT OF THEIR OTHER INMATES” SO THERE IS A WHOLE INFERRED LOGIC TO THIS NOW? SAYING THIS IS LIKE GUESSING WHAT THE HAD FOR DINNER.

THIS IS WHAT HULK KEEPS TALKING ABOUT WITH THE PROBLEM OF “LOGIC.” SO MANY COMMENTATORS ARE ARGUING THE LOGIC OF THE SITUATION AS IF IT IS A REAL-LIFE HYPOTHETICAL. HULK IS ONLY CONCERNED WITH THE SCENE AS A CONSTRUCTION. SO WHEN HULK GOES OFF ON HULK’S SEXISM “LOGIC,” HULK ISN’T TALKING ABOUT THE HYPOTHETICAL THOUGHT PROCESS OF MADE-UP CHARACTERS BUT INSTEAD A LOGIC OF SYMBOLOGY, MEDIA PROCESSING, TONE, AND CONTEXT ESTABLISHING. AND EVEN THOUGH THESE ARE ALL ABSTRACT CONCEPTS THEY ARE FAR MORE CONCRETE THAN GUESSING THE SUPPOSED ELABORATE LITERAL REASONING CHARACTERS.

HULK’S ARE DEDUCTIONS OF SUB-TEXT FROM THE TEXT, WHEREAS THIS ARGUMENT IS COMPRISED DEDUCTIONS OF NON-TEXT FROM THE TEXT.

… AND FOR THE RECORD JUSTIFYING CATWOMAN’S SEXISM IN ARKHAM CITY BY SAYING IT’S JUST BEING ACCURATE CATWOMAN IN THE NEW 52, IS LIKE WALKING INTO MOREHOUSE COLLEGE CAFETERIA, YELLING N-BOMBS, AND THEN SAYING IT’S FINE BECAUSE YOU HEARD NATHAN BEDFORD FORREST SAY IT.

ARGUMENT #13 – YOU, SIR, ARE INSANE WITH THIS HARLEY / BATMAN SHOVING THING

BY FAR THE EASIEST POINT TO DISAGREE WITH HULK ABOUT THAT’S FINE. HULK PHRASED IT BADLY LAST TIME. IT NOT THAT BATMAN LIKES IT. THE DEDUCTIONS HULK MAKES ABOUT THE EMPHASIS FROM THE MISE EN SCENE CONCLUDE THAT IT IS THE GAME MAKERS WHO LIKE THAT BATMAN IS SHOVING HER. NOT BATMAN SPECIFICALLY. HULK HOPE THAT MAKE MORE SENSE.

OH, AND IN AND OF ITSELF, THE ACTION IS FAR LESS INSIDIOUS… BUT WITH EVERYTHING ELSE GOING ON IN THE GAME, HULK THOUGHT IT REALLY FELT WEIRD. THIS IS EXACTLY WHY CONTEXT IS SO ALL-ENCOMPASSING.

AND TOTALLY FEEL FREE TO DISAGREE. ABSOLUTELY. HULK KNOWS THE LIMITS OF HULK’S ARGUMENT ON THIS AND IT BY FAR THE MOST ETHEREAL THING HULK CRITICIZING, BUT HULK STILL STAND BY HULK’S FEELINGS ABOUT THE WEIRDNESS ON DISPLAY.

COOL? COOL.

ARGUMENT #14- IT’S NOT SEXIST, IT’S LAZY!

HULK GOING TO LINK BACK TO THIS GREAT ARTICLE WHICH ESTABLISHES THE IDEA OF THIS ARGUMENT QUITE WELL.

THE ONLY DIFFERENCE IS THAT HULK DISAGREES WITH A SIMPLE CONCEIT. SEXISM BORN FROM LAZINESS IS STILL JUST SEXISM. IN MANY WAYS, THE TWO TERMS ARE SYNONYMOUS. PEOPLE CLING TO STEREOTYPES BECAUSE THEY ARE TOO LAZY TO ENGAGE IN SOMETHING MORE HUMAN AND REALISTIC. BUT THE IMPORTANT PART IS THAT THE RESULT IS STILL SEXIST.

A ROSE BY ANY OTHER NAME WOULD SMELL JUST AS SWEET.

SEXISM BY ANY OTHER NAME WOULD STILL BE JUST AS DETRIMENTAL.

ARGUMENT #15- VIDEO GAMES AREN’T SEXIST

THIS WAS LINKED TO IN THE COMMENTS, BUT WHAT THE HECK. LET’S JUST GO TO THIS.

… WEEP FOR HUMANITY.

BTW, WHEN HULK SAYS “VIDEO GAMES” ARE SEXIST HULK NOT IMPLYING ALL DEVELOPERS AND GAMES ARE SEXIST. WHAT HULK SAYING THAT THERE IS BOTH A PERVASIVE QUALITY AND ACCEPTANCE TO WHICH VIDEO GAMES EXHIBIT SEXIST CHARACTERISTICS THAT ARE BOTH LESS-PERVASIVE AND LESS-ACCEPTED IN MOVIES AND OTHER FORMS OF MEDIA. THE REASON FOR THIS ARE MANIFOLD. BUT IT IS TRUE.

ARGUMENT #16 – OKAY FINE THEY’RE SEXIST, BUT SO IS THE WHOLE WORLD!

LET’S KEEP THIS SHORT AND SWEET, SHALL WE?

IN NO CIRCUMSTANCE CAN WE PASS OFF SOMETHING BAD AS INCONSEQUENTIAL MERELY DUE TO THE FACT IT IS EVERYWHERE. IT IS NOTE JUST A LOGICAL FALLACY, BUT A HUMANE FALLACY. WHEN THINGS ARE EVERYWHERE (LIKE SERIOUS CAPITAL R-RACISM WAS IN THIS COUNTRY WITH LYNCHINGS AND SUCH) THINGS CHANGE WHEN PEOPLE SPEAK UP, ALTER THE DIALOGUE, INSIST ON THE CORRECT BEHAVIOR, AND STOP LOOKING THE OTHER WAY. IT’S TAKING RESPONSIBILITY FOR THINGS.

IS A SEXIST BENT IN A VIDEO GAME AS IMPORTANT AS LYNCHING? OF COURSE NOT. HULK WOULD NEVER IMPLY IT WOULD BE.

BUT NOR IS IT INSIGNIFICANT. ESPECIALLY WHEN THE THINKING IS SO SIMILAR (JUST WITH DIFFERENT STAKES)

AGAIN, NO MORAL RELATIVISM ALLOWED.

ARGUMENT #17 – WHATEVER, IT’S JUST A VIDEOGAME!

HULK WILL SIMPLIFY THIS LINK TO GREAT PENNY ARCADE, ALSO FROM THE COMMENTS BY TOUCHDOWN AL.

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

VIDEO GAMES NOW HAVE THE CAPABILITY TO BE FULLY IN CONTROL OF THEIR MESSAGE AND TONE (SEE PICTURE ABOVE)

IT IS TIME ALL THE OTHER GAMES ACTED LIKE IT.

ARGUMENT #18 – NO, YOU’RE THE ONE WHO IS A SEXIST RETARD! JERK! ARKHAM CITY IS AWESOME! YOU’RE A FAG!

SO HULK COMES FROM THE WORLD OF EDUCATION. HULK NOT TALK ABOUT HIGH HIGHFALUTIN FANCY-PANTS UNIVERSITY EDUCATION (THOUGH OBVIOUSLY THAT TOO). HULK COMES FROM THE WORLD OF REAL EDUCATION. THAT MEANS INNER CITY PUBLIC SCHOOLS. THAT MEANS LOW-LEVEL KIDS AND AT-RISK YOUTH. THAT MEANS GANGS AND GANG MENTALITIES. MOST OF THE TIME THE MATTERS OF ALGEBRA AND READING ASSIGNMENTS ARE JUST WINDOW DRESSING. IT’S ABOUT TEACHING BASIC LIFE SKILLS. AND IT IS NOT EASY.

SO IF YOU THINK THESE INSULTS ARE GOING TO PHASE HULK YOU HAVE ANOTHER THING COMING. THEY WON’T. HULK WON’T PUT UP WITH LEAD PIPE THREATS. HULK WON’T PUT UP WITH ANYTHING DANGEROUS. BUT FOR EVERYTHING ELSE? HULK IS GOING TO BE RIGHT HERE. EVERY DAY. AND HULK IS GOING TO TRY AND GET THROUGH. THAT’S WHY HULK WROTE THIS SECOND BLOG POST ON THE MATTER.

IT SOUNDS CHEESY AS HELL, BUT HULK CARES. HULK CARES SO MUCH NOT ONLY ABOUT YOU AND YOUR FUTURE BUT OUR COLLECTIVE EXPERIENCE. HULK HAS TO CARE.

BECAUSE YOU HAVE TO WAKE UP.

WE ARE NOW LIVING IN A WORLD, WHERE THE ABILITY TO PERCEIVE NUANCE MATTERS MORE THAN EVER. NOT LESS. OUR LIVES ARE SO DIRECTLY INFLUENCED BY SYSTEMS SO LARGE AND COMPLEX THAT IT IS TERRIFYING. AND THE ONLY WAY WE ARE GOING TO GET THROUGH IT IS IF WE DO IT TOGETHER.

THAT’S BECAUSE WE LIVE IN A BUREAUCRACY. AND OUR ABILITY TO NAVIGATE THAT BUREAUCRACY, NOT ONLY TO DECIPHER WHAT IS ACTUALLY IN OUR COLLECTIVE HUMAN INTEREST, BUT WHAT IS EVEN IN OUR OWN IMMEDIATE SELF INTEREST, IS PARAMOUNT TO ONE’S ABILITY TO SUCCEED.

THINK ABOUT IT: THE ABILITY TO FILL OUT A TAX RETURN AND PAY WHAT YOU SHOULD RIGHTFULLY PAY. TO UNDERSTAND THE CONTEXT OF WHAT IS HAPPENING ON THE NEWS. TO UNDERSTAND HOW OUR ECONOMY WORKS. EVERY SYSTEM THAT YOU UNDERSTAND AND CAN NAVIGATE (CARS, MOVIES, BANKING, STOCKS) IS SOMETHING THAT GIVES YOU THE ABILITY TO SUCCEED. THAT’S WHAT IT TAKES.

SO WAKE UP.

BECAUSE HULK’S ARGUMENT ABOUT THE SEXISM IN THIS GAME IS NOT AN ILLUSION OR UNFOUNDED. IT IS PLAIN AS DAY REAL. THE WAYS TO UNDERSTAND HOW IT IS SO ARE NOT ALWAYS SIMPLE, BUT THEY ARE VALID. AND IF YOU LIKE VIDEO GAMES OR MOVIES, THE TIME HAS COME TO TRY AND WORK AT IT. THIS IS AN OPPORTUNITY.

SO WAKE UP.

THERE IS A WORLD OUT THERE WHERE PEOPLE DISCUSS THINGS WITH OTHER PEOPLE. WHERE THEY LISTEN. WHERE THEY COMPREHEND. WHERE THEY READ THE ENTIRE ARTICLE IF THEY ARE GOING TO CRITICIZE. THEY DO THESE THINGS NOT BECAUSE THEY ARE EASY, BUT BECAUSE THEY ARE RIGHT.

AND IF YOU DON’T PARTICIPATE, THAN THAT WORLD IS GOING TO EITHER PASS YOU BY OR EAT YOU UP. ANYTHING ELSE AND YOU ARE STANDING ON THE OUTSKIRTS THROWING PEBBLES AT THE WALLS. YOU ARE PROVERBIALLY BRINGING A KNIFE TO A GUN FIGHT. MORE IMPORTANTLY, YOU ARE MISSING OUT ON A VITAL HUMAN EXPERIENCE.

AND HERE’S THE THING. HULK WANTS YOU TO BE A PART OF THIS WORLD.

SADLY, THERE ARE MANY WHO DO NOT. THE METAPHOR FOR THIS IS AS OLD AS TIME AND IT’S “LIVING IN IVORY TOWER” AND AS MUCH AS EVERY INTELLECTUAL DOESN’T WANT TO ADMIT IT, IT IS TRUE.

BUT HULK WANTS YOU TO BE A PART OF THIS WORLD. HULK COMES FROM AN EDUCATIONAL HEART. THAT IS THE POINT OF ALL OF THIS. OVER THE LAST 24 HOURS TONS OF PEOPLE HAVE SUGGESTED THAT HULK JUST DROP IT AND NOT CARE IF PEOPLE DON’T GET IT. THAT’S IT’S NOT WORTH IT. THAT IT’S IMPOSSIBLE.

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, THAT IS WHAT TEACHERS FIGHT EVERY SINGLE DAY OF EVERY SINGLE YEAR. THE ABILITY TO CONVEY INFORMATION TO SOMEONE WHO DOES NOT YET UNDERSTAND. AND THAT IS IT.

HULK WANTS YOU TO GET HULK’S POINT ABOUT THE SEXISM. YOU DON’T HAVE TO AGREE. BUT YOU HAVE TO UNDERSTAND.

WE ARE ALL IN THIS LIFE TOGETHER AND IF WE CAN’T UNDERSTAND EACH OTHER THAN THERE’S NO HOPE.

AND THAT’S THE THOUGHT THAT KEEPS HULK UP AT NIGHT.

SO WAKE UP.

UPDATE: AFTER ALL, THIS IS WATER

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454 Responses to “HULK VS. ARKHAM CITY – ROUND 2: BITCHES BE TRIPPIN’!”

  1. I really must say, Hulk, any crude mofo can learn everything about basic reasoning and common sense from reading both these hot damn articles. Stay true, don’t be triflin’.

  2. Minic said

    I happily choose to believe that a single, solitary one of the comment-writers in the final category has been turned by that last spiel.

    Also, I know this is the second comment where I’ve been basically kissing your feet, and I’ve probably made a cynic or two wretch in the process. Honestly, though, if feeling a total, comforting sense of agreement and sympathy with the matter I’m reading is “incorrect” in their eyes, then fine. I struggle and fail to find anything else.

    • FILMCRITHULK said

      HULK THANK KINDLY.

    • The tragedy is, the people who could most benefit from that well articulated, moving last piece of Hulk wisdom are the ones most likely to completely overlook it :(.

      • Maktaka said

        That’s quite true, but really they’re never the target of a well-formed argument like this, are they? It’s the people on the edge, the ones who read the argument through tinted glasses that make them predisposed to disagree that sexism in games exists and is a problem, but would agree given logic that hits them just so. Every time the right argument comes along and they reevaluate their stance, the demarcation line between the people who ignore it and the people who disagree with the state of things moves forward, just a bit. And that means a whole new group of people who have their own ways of voicing their disagreement, people who are more likely to be friends of those who still don’t see a problem, which gives whole new opportunities for other people to recognize the issue, and so on.

      • Those with the most over-simplified views probably won’t respond to the end bit, but there are people out there who will have internalised a over-simplistic attitude without being aware of it, or without it always being obvious to others.

        Take the designers in the video – at the start I wouldn’t have thought they’d have the attitudes they later display, though from the ideas they produce, they clearly have an ingrained sexist attitude.

        I can think of one or two times when I’ve met guys who seem great guys at first, but have some sort of attitude that’s backward in that kind of way (my personal experience, generally around views of women, and coming from young guys who’ve been hurt/had failed relationships and not known how to deal with the pain.)

        In case I seem a bit condescending there, there’s another one of Hulk’s columns, ‘Never Hate a Film’, that opened my eyes a bit to an area I tend to lack nuance – I’d imagine we’re all a little guilty of it.

      • Those with the most over-simplified views probably won’t respond to the end bit, but there are people out there who will have internalised a over-simplistic attitude without being aware of it, or without it always being obvious to others.

        Take the designers in the video – at the start I wouldn’t have thought they’d have the attitudes they later display, though from the ideas they produce, they clearly have an ingrained sexist attitude.

        I can think of one or two times when I’ve met guys who seem great guys at first, but have some sort of attitude that’s backward in that kind of way (my personal experience, generally around views of women, and coming from young guys who’ve been hurt/had failed relationships and not known how to deal with the pain.)

        In case I seem a bit condescending there, there’s another one of Hulk’s columns, ‘Never Hate a Film’, that opened my eyes a bit to an area I tend to lack nuance – I’d imagine we’re all a little guilty of it.

    • Andrew said

      I’m so late to this party that I doubt anyone will notice this comment but I thought I’d make the effort to write it regardless of any notice it may or may not get.

      You may be happy to know Minic that whilst I never wrote a comment on the original article (I’m a new reader and just read both) and would not consider myself ‘turned’, I do consider myself ‘engaged’ and as such will pay greater attention to the representations of women in games with a particular eye to how they may spread prejudice amongst gamers and alienate other people who share the noble pastime.

      I’ve got to admit that as a member of the target audience (white young and male) and one who’s discourses have always been privileged I’ve been generally unaware/unconcerned about the underlying themes or racism/sexism that can pervade many games. This is exacerbated by the fact that generally I tend to have a very shallow approach to character’s looks in games (whilst I like my women to be attractive this is also true of the men….generally I attempt as much as humanly possible to have an attractive male avatar in the game). However two things I do care about are intelligent storylines/writing and making gaming a more respected/less alienating medium, and believe that both of these things can be addressed by a greater effort being made on the part of designers to consider other points of view (sex, race, sexuality, etc etc). Consequently, I will pay more attention to these issues in future games.

      Btw, I also trained as a teacher but gave up the career due to the stupidly long hours required to be great at it and the fact that I didn’t want to spend my life doing mostly discipline work. That said, I really respect those who stick it out and have nothing but respect for you, you sound like you’d be an amazing teacher…I hope you have a long an illustrious career and change many young lives in the process :-).

      One small criticism if you read this though hulk…..you’re kind of massively straw manning moral relativism in this article…which as a moral relativist I kind of object to (usually I wouldn’t bother mentioning this but the rest of your article is so fair and well reasoned this kind of stuck out). My personal view on this matter is that, barring the existence of a divine creator who sets down universal laws, all morals must necessarily be based upon both the traditions of the society and the context of each act. Consequently I don’t believe in ‘universal’ morals but rather think that each person and society must formulate their own belief system and that theoretically all are equally valid (though I do also believe that if you believe in something strongly enough you should fight for it……it’s confusing and I doubt anyone here wants to get into an ethical discussion of greater good, moral relativism and how we should interact with other societies and people who we disagree with….anyway my point remains that you’re kind of straw manning this…).

      • FILMCRITHULK said

        HULK NOTICED AND HULK THANK FOR YOUR WONDERFUL COMMENT.

        (AND HULK’S USE OF THE MORAL RELATIVISM THING CAN BE CHALKED UP TO A MISSING SENTENCE. HULK WILL UPDATE WHEN HAVE TIME.)

  3. When I was in high school I took an acting class as an elective. We did an exercise where we all had to select a scene from a play (from a selection provided by the teacher) and for each line that was said by a character, we had to re-write the line using the subtext of what was going on in the scene.

    The point was that the audience was viscerally aware of what is going on and in order to convey the correct message, everyone involved has to understand the context of the situation to fully portray the correct scene. It wasn’t enough to read and act based on words on a page, everything else had to be understood or the point would be lost.

    This is why I agree with your point. Gritty/dark/realistic, whatever you want to call it is well and good and appreciated when used artistically. Nolan does this to great effect. But everything is provided with context. I don’t care if you use sexuality or words like “bitch” or what have you, as long as they are used correctly. Gratuitous sex or nudity in movies, TV, or video games are not necessary. Those things are fine when used to explain characters and motivations.

    An example would be the book ‘Jaws.’ In the book Brody’s (Roy Scheider) wife has an affair with Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss). In the book she has the affair b/c she is unhappy with her life and that she moved to Amity for her husband. That element is not in the movie as much and the affair doesn’t make sense without it. Point is, context matters.

    • FILMCRITHULK said

      GREAT EXAMPLE ABOUT CONTEXT.

      AND THE THING ABOUT GRATUITY IS THAT IT’S NOT JUST OVERUSE BUT INCLINATION OF WRITERS INT HAT GRATUITY. ALSO, THERE’S A LOT OF PEOPLE TALKING ABOUT MOTIVATIONS OF THE THUGS USING THE WORD BUT “BECAUSE THEY’RE BAD” IS NOT SUFFICIENT.

      GOOD STUFF.

  4. Kelly Link said

    Thank you, Hulk. You made my week. Twice.

  5. I loved the initial piece and I love this one. On almost every count I agree with you (hell, I think you went easy on the game in the first piece – you didn’t even mention how one of Catwoman’s combat moves includes kissing her attacker or how when you do a take down on a thug who is on the ground, she slowly straddles them).

    I do have one comment that agrees with you and one that I look at differently than you. Here they are in that order:

    ARGUMENT #1 – THAT’S HOW PSYCHOPATHIC CRIMINALS WOULD ACT!

    I think you’re miss something here – you play as Batman in a city of Gotham criminals. The makers of the game don’t really need to in any way push the idea that these are psychopathic criminals – I know that because I’m Batman (the good guy) and they are Gotham criminals who were so terrible, they were all chucked together to fend for themselves. Having these thugs say “bitch” in every sentence isn’t going to sell it any more than it already has been.

    ARGUMENT #13 – YOU, SIR, ARE INSANE WITH THIS HARLEY / BATMAN SHOVING THING

    In your first piece you leave this a little vague, I’m guessing so as not to spoil the scene it takes place in. For my reasoning of this moment I can’t be as gentle, so spoilers below!

    I don’t think Batman is taking joy from pushing Harley away, but from what she is trying to protect, the dying Joker. I actually thought this was a good written moment because, as I took it, Batman was happy to see his greatest enemy dying. I mean, sure, Batman won’t kill, but that doesn’t mean seeing the Joker die wouldn’t bring a smile to his face.

    • FILMCRITHULK said

      HAHA. HULK THANK.

      REGARDING #1 – EXACTLY. HULK KNOWS TO BEAT THEM UP BECAUSE THEY START ATTACKING BATMAN ON SIGHT AND BECAUSE THE GAME OUTRIGHT TELLS YOU.

      #13 – TOTALLY VALID.

      • Heh.

        “Oh no! What am I supposed to do?! These angry looking people are stabbing me with knives and punching me in the face! May… maybe I’m supposed to make them tea and cookies? Oh, this is so confusing!

        “… wait! that one just called me a _bitch_ — that means I’m supposed to fight back! Thank you, game designers, for making this clear! Never would have figured it out without that!”

    • Brocky said

      “I actually thought this was a good written moment because, as I took it, Batman was happy to see his greatest enemy dying. I mean, sure, Batman won’t kill, but that doesn’t mean seeing the Joker die wouldn’t bring a smile to his face.”

      That’s interesting because I saw it as the exact opposite. Batman seemed genuinely concerned for the Joker. He seemed almost panicked (well, as panicked as Batman can be) when he realized the Joker might be dead. Perhaps I’m looking too far into things, but I saw it as the moment where Batman almost faced the possibility of his greatest enemy, the one who gives Batman the most purpose in life, finally being gone.

      • Agreed. I saw it as the same thing. “No, he CAN’T be dead!” was the vibe I got in that scene.

      • I thought the same thing–one thing about Batman/Joker is the reason why anyone sane wouldn’t have killed the killer clown already is because the Joker has too much Batman in him and Batman knows this, deep down. They’re both above and outside both society and the law, they’re both schizophrenic as all get-out, and they’re both so far gone that there’s only a thread of life saving them from complete damnation. Batman always chooses to spare/incarcerate the Joker because if Joker goes down, then Batman is just an overpowered thug who *happens* to be on the side of the angels, with no more moral authority.

  6. I love this blog. Not just this post, but the whole blog. It’s rare to find a blogger who actually makes me think, and you accomplish that every single post I read.

    Thanks, Hulk.

    And in reference to this specific post, you know which men are the most menacing? The ones’ whose words don’t match their body language. Someone can call me names all day long, but the guy who really feels dangerous is the guy who’s polite, but whose actions are just slightly “off.”

  7. Holly said

    This was a great round-up of counter-arguments, Hulk! I am very impressed, you lined ‘em up and knocked ‘em down with a lot of nuance. It would be impossible to seriously accuse this kind of analysis of being over-simplistic kneejerk feminism, or prudishness, or (insert supposedly bad thing here) unless one completely failed to read it.

    Welcome to the world of writing serious critique of sexist crap — it makes a surprising number of people just flip out like you took a cattle-prod to their funny bone. It’s such a sensitive topic that people act like you came into their homes and told their kid sisters that they’re evil rapists. Some people CANNOT handle thinking about the fact that some of the content they consume might have some problems with sexism (or racism, or whatever). They have to live in a make-believe world in which they don’t partake of any of it. Why? Who knows, maybe they’ve had an experience with a real rapist or wife-beater in their lives, and they can’t handle feeling like there might be anything in their lives that could even be part of the same “sexism” as that, and that if they get a stain on them they’ll be perpetually damned? I don’t know. That’s why all the vitriol, though.

    One thing strikes me about argument #6, the target audience… even if we choose to believe that the target audience consists solely of people who don’t care about sexism at all AND whose experience is enhanced by hearing creepy “bitch, bitch, bitch” slung around constantly… WHY would you want to encourage this aspect of what your target audience likes? I’m sure any of us could think of lots of terrible things that could be added to any given cultural product which would cause it to PANDER more to awful things that the target audience likes. The target audience would probably be catered to if your game thrust a hypodermic out and injected them with dopamine too. But that doesn’t mean you just do it. As a creator, you think about the intersection of what YOU want to create, and what your target audience likes, and go there. Clearly, someone who made Arkham City either likes, or was too lazy to think about, the fact that Catwoman gets called a “bitch” so frequently that it starts to become creepy and disturbing. (p.s. I am a female game developer, AND an avid multiple-decades-long consumer of Batman-related stuff in comics, film, tv, and games.)

    • FILMCRITHULK said

      HULK THANK!

      HULK CHALKS UP THE REACTION TO EITHER SIMPLE TERRITORIAL-ISM OR SOMETHING UNIVERSAL: NOBODY LIKES TO HAVE THEIR INTERESTS BELITTLED. NOW HULK WASN’T ACTUALLY BELITTLING, BUT AGAIN IT GOES TO THE FORREST / TREES THING.

      AND REGARDING #6 – EXACTLY. WELL SAID.

    • I mentioned this to Hulk on Twitter, but I’ll say it again here. The whole debate about this, and especially the part about the target audience, reminds me a lot about a discussion I had the other day about using the word ‘gay’ to mean bad or stupid.

      Even if it doesn’t bother anyone who happens to be around at the time, it’s not OK to condition people to associate ‘gay’ with ‘bad’. Similarly, it’s not OK to condition people to associate ‘bitch’ with ‘woman on the other side’.

  8. silphid said

    You made me love more my girlfriend, she also comes from the world of education, and she fight this very uphill, thankless battle every day, to the point that I said to her the lask week exactly the same words: “drop it, don’t worry if people don’t get it, it’s not worth it, these people will never, ever change”, and she answered me “this is something I need to do, because is the right thing to do”. Keep trying, you two! I may not have that kindness, but as hell I will defend it until my very last breath

    • FILMCRITHULK said

      HULK’S ENTIRE FAMILY COMES FROM THAT WORLD OF EDUCATION. AND WHILE HULK IS NOW OUT OF THAT WORLD AND IN “GREENER” PASTURES, HULK NEVER FORGETS THE MISSION STATEMENT OF EDUCATION AND HOW IT SHOULD GOVERN HULK’S VERY LIFE. HULK NEVER FORGETS INCREDIBLE ROLE TEACHERS PLAY IN OUR SOCIETY, NOR HOW INCREDIBLY HARD IT IS TO MAKE HEADWAY WITH STUDENTS.

      AND YET WE HAVE A SOCIETY THAT REMEMBERS HATING SCHOOL AND HATES THAT TEACHERS GET SUMMERS “OFF” (MOST TEACHERS WORK A SUMMER JOB TO COMPENSATE FOR SHIT PAY) AS WELL AS A BUNCH OF OTHER MISCONCEPTIONS TO GO ALONG WITH THAT.

      YOUR GIRLFRIEND IS HULK’S HERO TOO.

      • Morpheus said

        Firstly, I was led here for Hulk’s original artical via RPS; I spent the rest of the night debating with myself whether I was comfortable with tacitly supporting a mindset like this. Hulk’s points were excelently put, (and even moreso in this ‘sequal’) and certainly did not derserve the mindless frothing from the masses that it recieved. I was particularly impressed when you managed to have a reasoned discussion and find common ground with a dissenting commenter. Not a common occurence on any discussion thread (Kudos to that commenter as well for remaining a reasoning human being.) I just wanted to chime my support in with the others who have done so. You have a new reader.

        On the subject of your attitude towards teaching, I really think we need more who think like you (Not that I think teachers who believe this don’t exist, only that any who don’t is too many)
        I was reminded though, of a piece by spoken word poet Taylor Mali—an english teacher from New York—called What Teachers Make. I think Hulk might appreciate it.

  9. Hulk -

    I’m so glad you weren’t deterred by negative response today. You were already my hero as a film critic before this week, but the stuff you brought up yesterday about Arkham City was fantastic.

    Your post created an amazing and nuanced debate and conversation on Facebook when I posted a link to it. It created fantastic, thought-provoking discussion and a lot of great stuff came to light about not just sexism in Arkham City, but some of the latest sexism in The New 52 and other places as well. We had video game designers, writers and artists all participating and it was fantastic. It’s an important issue and something that needs to be discussed.

    So thank you for being the catalyst that got that conversation going, and please don’t ever stop being Hulk, Hulk.

  10. Jim said

    I came here prepared to eviscerate these entries as hypersensitive feminist claptrap, without having even played the game.

    Then I read the entries.

    I feel silly now. And unsure I even want to play the game.

    • FILMCRITHULK said

      THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU FOR SAYING THIS. REALLY. IT MEANS A LOT.

      DON’T FEEL SILLY. YOU OWNED IT. THERE IS NO REASON TO FEEL SILLY ABOUT EMBRACING AN IDEA OR FINDING COMMON GROUND ON THINGS. EVER.

      BELIEVE IT OR NOT, HULK CONSIDERS THIS ACTION HEROIC. IT IS EASY TO AGREE, BUT IT IS HARD TO ADMIT WHEN YOU ARE COMING AT SOMETHING WITH THE WRONG PERSPECTIVE.

      HULK THANK YOU KINDLY.

      AND REMEMBER, THE GAME IS ACTUALLY PRETTY GOOD AND LOADS OF FUN. WHICH IS PART OF THE PROBLEM OF VIDEO GAMES, WHERE GAMEPLAY CAN OVERSHADOW SUBTEXT SO EASILY. BUT DON’T FEEL BAD IF YOU WANT TO PLAY IT!

  11. makon06 said

    Hulk, while I didn’t get a chance to reply to your initial article, I think you touch on some very good points. Points that are present regarding the game and society as a whole.

    1) Regarding the situation with Arkham City and its dialogue. You are definitely right when it comes to the game having a wildly inconsistent approach to its own tone. The dialogue doesn’t fit.

    When the courthouse scene between Catwoman and Two-Face was unfolding, with its use of the word in-scene, I figured “Okay, maybe the writers were trying to use the dialogue to fit between these two characters”. Imagine my confusion when I left the courthouse and literally every other character is spouting off about how Catwoman or Harley is a bitch and how dressing like they do can “Get them in to trouble”.

    There are three glaring flaws to me when it comes to this, especially from the argument/concept that the writers were trying to approach it from a ‘dark/gritty’ perspective.

    -A) Why are the inmates solely taking out their testosterone-based aggression on women solely? Why are these characters then not equally as spiteful of people of color or of different orientation?

    -B) Not every person thinks exactly the same way. I know, unrealistic construct of a world and all that such, but the point still stands. Not every prisoner in our own justice system today is a hyper-violent hater of all things ‘woman’. Some people, even prisoner, have an equal respect of people regardless of if they have assets above or below the waistline. If the writers were trying to go at creating a ‘realistic’ mentality in the inmates from their own conceptions of modern-day prisons, they dropped the ball royally.

    -C) As you stated above, you never once hear Nolan’s characters refer to anyone as a bitch, or even really use any aggressive language at all, in order to build the tone of the villains. As you are familiar with Extra Creditz already, you know well enough already that the actions and decisions of a character can speak louder than any insult. You don’t need characters calling Kratos a ‘hyper-violent, rage driven jackass’ in order to build the idea in your mind that he is one anyway. It’s all in the subtleties such as animation, character design, scripted actions, and visual expression.

    Summary: I, like yourself, have been loving my time spent with Arkham City, and I am terribly eager to see where the story goes (Haven’t finished it). That said, it screams to me that the writers have taken a cheap way out, no matter the front, to try and build some demented perception of the characters in the game, even if it’s supposedly from ‘the prison-hardened inmates’.

    2) Gaming, as a whole, doesn’t have a tremendous amount of strong characters (Not just physically) that can break the mold of the ‘female character’ we’ve used for so long (See: Large endowments, poor posturing, generally weak back-story and/or personality). I think there are some signs of the horizon of progress being made on this front, but it’s still got a ways to go.

    The problem is, and this is entirely my opinion, this has become a ‘standard’ for the average gamer to perceive. I am entirely aware that the characters presented in B:AC are representative of characterizations that have been established since (generally) before I was even born.

    The problem is when a decent attempt at creating a good female character rolls along (ex: Faith in Mirrors Edge, Alyx Vance in HL2, ect), for the most part they are unnoticed by the community at large. When the standard gaming trope of the big-busted snarky girl with a number of ‘cheap shots’ comes along, however, the average gamer gets angered or enraged when this behavior is called into questions.

    The logic behind all female characters being unable to break this fabricated mold, and thus altering a gamer’s perception of such things, is false. Not every person you meet is exactly the same, so why should my game character be treated as such? Two of my friends are a good proof of concept: One is an intellectual powerhouse with the social skills of a plank of wood, while the other is a crowd charmer who is bored enough that (since he’s in Iraq atm) he’s capturing baby Camel Spiders for sheer giggles.

    I think, ultimately, you’ve been subjected to the downfall of such a long-running misconception of the part of the masses.

    3) I think the last article ultimately, from the sounds of the feedback you received, is a sad testament to society at large. People instantly turning a different opinion than their own into a subject of a belligerent argument and random threats, rather than opening their mind and trying to absorb in different perspectives and concepts that are foreign to them.

    Narrow-mindedness is something that only leads people down a bad road. Challenging our perceptions and understandings of the world around us is one of the only ways we, as human beings, can grow and evolve. If man never challenged our own perceptions of how things are in our world, we would never have invented the wheel. We would never have gone under the sea, we would never have turned the sky into merely a barrier between us and space. The theory of relativity wouldn’t exist, the concept of oxygen and air, as a whole, would be an unheard of concept.

    In short: Mankind has a rare gift, at least among the species of our planet, in that we can always learn and always challenge the concepts of our own reality. To disregard such a gift and live a life in a bubble of ignorance and disbelief is tantamount to mental damage and decay.

  12. Mike Grace said

    Consider me a permanent reader from now on.

  13. ryuganon said

    First off, while I think this is probably the dumbest gimmick I’ve seen in a blog all year, you made many good points. Points that made me pause and rethink my whole line of reasoning. I still like the game and disagree with certain points, but I truly have to thank you for having put the time and effort to make your case so uh… eloquently?

  14. It’s been really interesting watching this unfold over the course of the last couple of days. It’s been most interesting watching the internet’s reaction to your greater-than-average levels of “Hulkness”. There’s a reddit thread going on right now discussing your article, and the top-voted comment has you described in this way:

    “The tiresome author who refuses to type normally”

    Couldn’t help but laugh at that.

    I think whats most tragic about this whole situation (apart from what it says about what gamers are willing to accept / overlook), is that Arkham City stood a very good chance of being a perfect game if only Rocksteady was willing to maintain the same attention to detail they had for every single element of this game when it came time to work on it’s female leads. Every time Catwoman is off screen for more than 30 minutes I start to once again allow myself to appreciate the game for what it is: awesome.

    I mean that fight with Ra’s Al Ghul? AMAZING! But everytime I find myself fully engaged with the game, out comes good ol’ Catwoman to ruin the fun. Tragic.

    • FILMCRITHULK said

      IF SOMEONE’S NOT GOING TO TAKE THE TIME TO NOTICE THE CONTEXT OF THE GAME IT IS LOGIC THEY WILL NOT NOTICE THE CONTEXT OF HULK.

      BUT THAT DOESN’T MEAN HULK HULK’S NOT GOING TO KEEP TRYING.

      CHEERS. HULK THANK!

  15. Not only was it great that you took the time to address this issue, but you also took the time to craft an excellent follow-up piece that addresses criticisms of the initial piece. Hulk, many writers would just argue a bit in the comments section and leave it at that.

    Hulk, I salute your writing, your knowledge, and you.

    By the way, I agree with you completely. The game is fun, and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to someone, but the writing is pretty lazy, which is unfortunately not uncommon in most media that’s out there.

    • FILMCRITHULK said

      HULK THANK! THE WAY YOU HUMANIZE AN ARGUMENT IS BY ENGAGING AND RESPECTING NO MATTER HOW MUCH SOMEONE MAY NOT “DESERVE IT.”

      THE SAME LEAP OF FAITH IS NECESSARY OF TRUST.

      FROM BATTLESTAR GALACTICA: [YOU HAVE NO REASON TO TRUST ME.] / “THAT’S WHAT TRUST IS.”

  16. Hulk, I’ve been reading you religiously since the blog was new. The reason I’ve been so loyal is that I love that you clearly devote so much time not just to your posts, but to the discussions that follow them. I’m sorry some trolls found you on that last one, I had a feeling that might happen. But I thought you were an absolute class act in how you handled it. Your constant willingness to engage with your readers, but your unwillingness to get baited into mud-flinging, is what makes you a great blogger.

    And of course, as a female movie-lover, I’m constantly thankful that you’re so observant and eloquent about sexism in pop-culture and so diligent about pointing it out. Keep on keeping on, we need more male (and Hulk!) allies like you!

    Also, don’t listen to those jerks who don’t like the all-caps. Haters gonna hate.

  17. Sir Laguna said

    Just to be sure…

    I’m not pissed, I still think the use of the word “bitch” and the sexual comments about Harley and Catwoman work in the context of the game and work with the tone of it.

    And I still think that Straw Dogs, as good as it is, is not the best example you could use about how and tone works in a post about a Batman game.

    I still think you’re wrong (and writing a post about it) but I also think most of the people is overreacting about this (Including you).

    Can be go back to go happy again?

  18. Steve said

    I think my problem with the article, and those that followed it, was that it seemed people were pointing fingers at Rocksteady, as well as Paul Dini, and implying both were sexist.

    I think there is some sexism in the game, but I really don’t think it’s intentional, and that’s what a lot of websites seem to be claiming. I’d like to argue that Paul Dini, who wrote a good amount of dialog for the game, has created a good chunk of strong, independent female characters, as well as females of the opposite polarity (Harley Quinn). I’d moreso think that Dini’s excessive use of the word “bitch” in the game stems from his own ignorance of not understanding how men work, as well perhaps of cultural knowledge of not knowing any many other alternative slangs.

    I feel this problem is suffering the same problem Scott Lobdell is having with Red Hood and The Outlaw’s portrayal of Starfire. The book is sexist, don’t get me wrong, but so many damn websites are jumping the gun and claiming Lobdell himself is some sexist asshole, when he is the farthest from it. The man has written a myriad of women portrayed in a strong light, and hell, his book “Ball and Chain” is perhaps the best comic about marriage ever written. A lot of people seem to just be kneejerking to these things instead of taking a lot of time to consider their own thoughts. I’m not saying you’ve done this, but I think a lot of websites and commenters are taking your thoughts and the only truth and not looking further into this situation, and that is incredibly troubling. This all said, I don’t wish to imply your article never should’ve been written. It’s important to bring these things up, as they help the evolution of comics and video games, but I think you simply addressed the overall situation wrong. I think biggest problem from your previous article is not what you said, but what you didn’t say.

    To make a quick tl;dr of this, I’m mostly saddened that Rocksteady is getting a lot of blame for this. The game is sexist, but who’s to say they, or further more Paul Dini are intentionally sexist? Dini himself has written strong females before. A lot of sites seem to be not researching into this matter, and are moreso just parroting your article mindlessly.

    • FILMCRITHULK said

      FIRST OFF, HULK THANK YOU FOR THE CONSIDERATE AND WELL-ARTICULATED ARGUMENT. IT IS APPRECIATED.

      ONE COUNTERPOINT HOWEVER IS THAT HULK’S NOT CALLING ROCKSTEADY / PAUL DINI INTENTIONALLY SEXIST. THEY ARE, HOWEVER, THE ONES RESPONSIBLE FOR THE SEXISM. THERE’S A KEY DIFFERENCE, BUT WHETHER IT IS INTENTIONAL OR BORN OUT OF IGNORANCE, THERE IS A DEGREE TO WHICH RESULT / EFFECT IS STILL THE SAME (ESPECIALLY FOR THE WOMEN / KIDS WHO PLAY THE GAME).

      AND HULK HAS BEEN PRETTY CLEAR THAT’S CONCERN IS THE NATURE OF THE STEALTH SEXISM IN THE GAME AND NOT AS SOME ACTIVE WOMAN HATING THING.

      AND TO BE CLEAR THE “WRITING” OF VIDEO GAMES IS MANIFOLD WHICH IS WHY HULK BLAMES MOSTLY ROCKSTEADY AND NOT DINI, WHOSE WORK THIS SEEMS INCONSISTENT WITH.

      BUT AGAIN, HULK THANK FOR YOUR WELL-ARTICULATED RESPONSE.

      • Steve said

        I know you weren’t pointing fingers Mr. Banner, I meant that a lot of websites parroting your article have implied this. I also wish to say that I’m not implying their own ignorance is somehow your fault, I’m just merely pointing out the fact.

        However, you point out that video game companies should be able to spot this stuff because they are filled to the brim with people.

        I’d argue a point. I think looking at how many people disagreed with your previous article, it’s easy to see that a lot of people simply don’t understand why this is sexist, and therefore it’d be logical to think that Rocksteady, who’d I assume consists of 50-70 people, 40 of which are probably in constant contact with the game and not simply there for contract, would have a good chunk of people who are rather ignorant of what sexism is, or simply don’t wish to point it out for some odd reason, the latter being a lot less valid reasoning for their actions.

        The point still stands that there is sexism in the game, I’m just trying to say that major problems in video games are often missed despite the size of the companies who make them, and the fact that it’s a subject barely most of the world seems to be ignorant of only reinforces how easily they could’ve missed this.

        I do pose a question to you though, if they were to patch the game to remove a number of lines concerning bitch (and don’t make a joke that the game would have no dialog then), how would you react.

      • Steve said

        Also, if I were you I’d expand a bit on point #1 because you list a lot of very intelligent criminals, when the point your arguing against is talking about the lowest of the low, as well as the dumbest. A good example to argue with would be Mr. Zzsaz (forgive me for not getting his name right), who is essentially just a little bit above the intelligence of most of the goons in Arkham City, but I believe he only said “bitch” once throughout the entire game. The rest is him scaring you without needing the word.

      • I have long been an admirer of Dini’s work, particularly on Batman:TAS.
        However the Catwoman in that series was sexual in a flirtatious manner, was beautiful and used it to her advantage. Which can almost be a description of the character seen in DC’s new title or in Arkham City, but the difference is there are levels to her character in Batman:TAS, and Catwoman’s portrayal in more recent stories just seems far too easy and anachronistic. I do feel the constraints of the vaunted animated series helped create a more rounded character in Selina Kyle in that instance. She is troubled by her inability to return to a normal life, she feels she is being asked to return to a stereotypical female role forced upon her by society (and Batman, which heightens the friction between them).
        Without the constraints inherent with an animated series shown on Cartoon Network, Dini’s characterization is much less nuanced.
        Take a look at the animated short Catwoman on the new Batman: Year One Blu Ray. It is much more like the Selina Kyle of Arkham City and it is not only less nuanced, it is frankly embarrassing.
        Spoilers ahead.
        Catwoman tracks down her foe to a strip club and to get close to him, she performs a routine on a pole, unzipping her costume past her stomach. Of course you can argue that she is using her sexuality to disarm the criminals and get close enough to strike, but the way it is shot, the embarrassing attempt at titillation, isn’t meant for the criminal characters, it is meant for the audience.
        The same scene could have been done in silhouette, or it could have taken place somewhere else entirely, what counts, as you have stated so eloquently, are the choices that are made and whether the context says anything beyond “Boys like breasts”.
        The guys at iFanboy.com have mentioned that Dini has a penchant for the risque when they’ve met him, I think his unfettered predilection for “cheesecake” undermines his otherwise fantastic talent and the astute choices he makes as a writer.

    • Chrysoula said

      Defending sexism by saying they didn’t mean to do it is pretty questionable. You seem to think ‘sexism’ means the intentional degradation of women, but it doesn’t. It means contributing to and enforcing a cultural tendency to degrade and devalue women. If you believe they’re ignorant of what they’re doing, the only appropriate response is to attempt to educate them.

      • Thank you for this comment–I was hoping someone else had taken the time to explain that lack of intent doesn’t mitigate the lack of insult and hurt sexism/misogyny still causes.

        To paraphrase Genderbitch’s awesome “Intent: It’s Fucking Magical”, if you were in the middle of a business deal and it went south, would your intent change the outcome? You intended it to go well and it didn’t–that won’t change no matter what you wanted from the situation.

        (I realize your comment was more pointed, I just see a whoooole lotta “UNINTENTIONAL SO IT’S OKAY” and that really upsets me.)

      • Oops. I meant that lack of intent doesn’t mitigate the resulting insult and hurt. Too many lacks! I oughta sleep. :P

      • There was a joke there about lacks and sleep…

  19. Dear Hulk,
    I use your blog as a teaching tool sometimes in my English 101 classes at a rural community college. It is so difficult to teach nuance, to teach critical thinking, and to teach subtext to many of the students. They’re not stupid – far from it. They just have not been exposed to other ideas and philosophies except in the context of a threat. Your blog (and the gimmick btw) is something they can connect with. The ways you can disagree coherently and without personal attacks shows them that it’s possible (even if you’re Hulk). You’ve helped me teach much more than writing, and you’ve helped my students learn some tools for conducting civil discourse.
    Thank you!

    • FILMCRITHULK said

      THIS MEANS MORE TO HULK THAN ANYTHING.

      TEACHING IS ONE OF THE MOST NOBLE PROFESSIONS IN THE WORLD.

      HULK THANK YOU.

  20. Nicely done, including the “What would Nolan do?” section. Having the Joker comb his hair and lick his lips when he sees Rachel in the Dark Knight — the only time he shares the screen with a woman — is far more unsettling them if he’d called her a “bitch.”

    • FILMCRITHULK said

      RIGHT ON.

      • J said

        But you see, that kind of contradicts your point. If your point was that Nolan’s Joker is alright because his attitude against women was written better, well then your issue is just that the writers for Arkham City are lazy. So then your lengthy rant about how the game is sexist should have really been “hey the dialogue isn’t that great.” If the writing was better for Arkham City, and yet the murderers and rapists of Arkham City were still just as sexist, would you still care?

        Also, from what I can tell you inferred all you needed to about a game from the start of a game. That was a bad call. If you waited a while, you’d see Catwoman humiliate/outsmart everyone who crossed her. Oh yeah, and have Batman’s life saved by her actions. You should wait to finish something before you write a long all caps (yes I know the Hulk gimmick) rant about it.

      • GWI said

        @J

        It’s not a contradiction, because it’s still about nuances not just the writing. The real difference is an actor who had the innate ability to portray that kind of malevolence from something so subtle, and a video games ability to animate it. It can be done to a degree, but the video game is never going to match what Ledger could do.

        The point that you’re missing is that the mentioned moment from the movie wasn’t written dialogue, it was subtext. It gave arguably necessary context to the character, without being blatant.
        In contrast, the dialogue in the game is the farthest thing from subtext you can get. It’s blatantly out there, but serves no real purpose in the context of the game or most of the characters. The problem is that it’s so pervasive as to be ridiculous, even offensive, for no reason at all.

      • @J,

        When talking about a game like this, it is typically best to strike while the iron is hot. This wasn’t a review of the game, it was a discussion of why the game (in the first few hours) is obnoxiously sexist. HULK clearly mentioned this in the first article’s title, and went on to say that things might change.

        However, you still seem to be missing the crux of the argument. The game may give Catwoman some redeeming qualities, but what about the thugs? What about the tone that was crafted? Why was it crafted to begin with? To set her up for a redemptive story?

        This isn’t a film. It isn’t meant to be digested in one sitting. This is a video game, with save points and a story that lasts for a dozen hours or so. To say Hulk doesn’t have a leg to stand on because he didn’t play the entire game yet isn’t touching on the points he made, just trying to destroy his argument before it even begins.

        Also, he touches on how having Catwoman do heroic things or kick a bunch of ass doesn’t erase the sexism. They could have a topless woman running around, kicking all sorts of ass. She could even be smart. But those specific actions don’t make her a positive character. Nor does it give context for her to be topless. It’s the subtle things, not the overt and easily understood.

      • jayd189 said

        @Bill

        Why the game is obnoxiously sexist in Hulk’s opinion.

        I have to say, based on Hulk’s premise, I agree with his conclusion.
        But I in no way agree with his premise. And if you disagree with the premise, you disagree “his argument before it even begins”

        Bitch is no where near a prevalent in most people’s playthroughs as it appears to have been in Hulk’s.

      • HULK isn’t the only one to bring up how many times the word bitch is used, nor will he be the last. His playthrough and comments mirror my own, and MANY others. You can find examples, right? SO CAN I. That doesn’t get around the fact that you have yet to respond to my response to your criticism of his article.

      • jayd189 said

        @Bill

        I’m a different person than the one above who you responded too. I just happened to make a response to your response.

        I’ll attempt a response regardless.

        Catwoman doing all that stuff wouldn’t negate sexism, but as I’ve stated I disagree with the premise that this game is obnoxiously sexist and that bitch was used excessively.

        What I actually got from the game is that Catwoman is Batman’s equal, they have differing view points, but they definitely appear as equals. Despite the oversexualization of an already borderline oversexualized character (pre DC reboot).

      • FILMCRITHULK said

        CATWOMAN WAS OVERSEXUALIZED BUT SHE WAS STILL COMPLEX. THE PROBLEM IS THAT SHE IS ONLY OVERSEXUALIZATION. HAVE YOU TRIED HER “SLIDE” MOVE? SHE BENDS OVER BACKWARDS AND SHOWS HER BOOBS. SHE CAN’T EVEN FIGHT WITHOUT STRADDLING MEN.

        THE PROBLEM IS NOT THAT SEX IS PRESENT BUT IT’S ONLY SEX.

        THE PROBLEM IS NOT THAT THEY SAY BITCH BUT THAT IT IS ONLY BITCH.

        AND THE PROBLEM WITH THE BITCH STUFF IS THAT IT IS THE ONLY THING THAT STANDS OUT.

        IT’S NOT MUCH OF A LEAP TO CALL THAT SEXIST.

      • @Jayd189,

        I did confuse who I was talking to, but I also responded directly to your comments (that’s the benefit of responding to each comment individually). So nothing was confused.

        You have yet to respond to my assertion that HULK’s playthrough mirrors MANY others, including my own. Yet you attack a large flaw he found with the game as untrue or not worthy. How is it that you can say, “Well, I didn’t experience like that and I see a few others that didn’t as well. Therefore, he must be wrong.”

        Yet, here I am, saying I had a nearly identical experience to the point where I heard at least a dozen or more NPCs use the word bitch over and over. Oh, and I just rescued Vicki Vale. Guess what they called her? A BITCH. They also made a comment, “How can Catwoman dress like that and not get grabbed by one of these psychos?”

        So, let’s agree that our playthroughs are different and get back to the topic. In HULK’s playthrough, he encountered the word to an excessive amount. Do you deny that that happened on his playthrough? No? OK.

        Now, that isn’t the only crux of his argument. He had well over 1,000 words in the original post. That certainly wasn’t only focused on the excessive use of the word “bitch.” So, you don’t think the tone of the game feels misogynistic in any way? Or just not to an excessive degree?

        And how about his other points?

      • jayd189 said

        @Bill

        I might be willing to give it slightly misogynistic, but I’m not even sure about that.

        Unfortunately I’ve worked about 50 hours since I read the original posts on Monday, so I can’t remember all the points.
        And I don’t have time to go back and re-read.

        It was a well thought out piece. And I can entirely understand getting from point A to B. But I still don’t agree with point A.

        I guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree.

        I plan to go back and attempt to 100% this game once my work week ends and I have some free time. You guys can continue to discuss the “sexism” in the game.

      • FILMCRITHULK said

        HULK GOING TO ADDRESS POINT A.

      • jayd189 said

        @HULK

        I look forward to reading it.

    • The Joker’s of the word “beautiful” as a proper noun in reference to Rachel is a hell of a lot more disturbing than Random Goon #43 calling Catwoman a bitch. At least Catwoman is reduced to a personality trait. (Heath Ledger gets plenty of credit here, too; that’s probably the most menacing hair-combing ever recorded on film.)

  21. Where’s that GIF of Orson Welles applauding on an endless loop?

    While this was a great article, and I really love the sincerity and passion behind it, the cynic in me can’t help but feel that it’s an ultimately futile endeavour.

    I’ve been through my share of internet flame-wars (there was a time when I actually enjoyed debating on the internet) and in my experience nothing eclipses people’s reason with blind anger and outrage more than accusing something (anything) of being sexist. I can’t explain it, but it seems as if the entire issue of how women are treated and perceived in society taps into some sort of deeply rooted well of denial in a lot of people.

    That said, keep on fighting the good fight. The issue of sexism in pop culture has been steadily getting more attention over the last year or so, so maybe we’re on the verge of a critical threshold.

    • FILMCRITHULK said

      HULK MAY OR MAY NOT BE ADDRESSING THE LARGE SCALE ISSUE AT SOME POINT IN THE FUTURE.

      HULK THANK FOR YOUR COMMENT.

  22. Matt_LRR said

    Cheers to this.

    Like you, I spent most of my Wednesday, from the time the article went up until midnight or so, trying to get people to at least see your perspective, even if they didn’t agree with it. It was trying as hell for me, so I can only imagine how it was for you – I admire your patience a great deal. A number of people I know – people who have, themselves, written on sexism in the gaming industry – even one who has hosted more than a single Women in Gaming panel at some very large gaming conventions, seemed absolutely intent on dismissing the premise of your argument on the ground that “bitch isn’t sexist”. At one point I asked if it’s wrong to make the case that there’s a discussion to be had, even if we decide the game is not guilty, are we wrong for raising the question? The answer I got was blanket rejection of even the reasonability of having the debate. Like I was somehow the bad guy for pointing at your article and saying “This Hulk guy makes some interesting points, you should consider them”. The rejection of that got me into this fight in a very serious way. I did, and still do think that some of your original arguments overstated the case, but I arrived at those conclusions by reading, considering, and ultimately defending your reasoning, and your right to engage in it. If we can’t even ask these questions or have these debates, how can this industry ever hope to grow as a medium?

    Rock on, Hulk.

    PS when you @replied me yesterday, I may have swooned a little.

  23. Bevin said

    So there’s a joke I heard recently where an old fish says to a couple of young fish, “the water’s nice today” and after he swims off, one of the young fish goes, “what’s water?”

    Thank you for taking the time and having the patience and for just caring about this all enough to keep at it. I got so frustrated with so much of what was said in comments yesterday, not so much because of people not “getting it,” but because so much of it was the exact same stuff I’d run into on message boards ten years ago. Seriously, I had to check my calendar when I saw someone using the “Catwoman uses her sexuality to distract her opponents” argument because I couldn’t believe it was 2011 and we still hadn’t gotten past that justification yet. Thank you for not dropping it or backing down, not because this videogame is the most important thing in the world but because this discussion needs to happen and keep happening until the people who don’t understand what the argument even is can see it.

    It’s not just about sexism, it’s about our ability as a society to read the vast quantities of media we take in every day. It’s about being able to understand basic communication concepts like context, subtext, tone and nuance, and that not only do they matter but they’re a huge part of what we react to. With media consumerism being such a huge part of our lives, this isn’t just understanding frivolous passtimes anymore, it’s a basic life skill that very few of us take seriously, let alone think about at all.

    And yeah, it’s about sexism, too. In a decade, this conversation has not advanced in these pockets of our culture. I can have a conversation with someone and in an hour both of us can have new ideas and realizations to think about. Why, in ten years have the comic book and gaming conversations about this not made any headway? Maybe I’m wrong and they have, but it’s hard to tell from the products being put out and the very vocal groups rising to the defense of the same issues over and over.

    Thanks again for stepping up, having this conversation, and not backing down from it, Hulk. Hope you get some sleep soon.

  24. Re: #14

    Oh man, speaking of Extra Credits, the latest episode is ALL ABOUT how lazy design (in Call of Juarez: The Cartel) ends up with a horribly racist game. Intent is not magic. Even if you don’t intend to be sexist/racist/whatever, that doesn’t excuse sexist/racist content in your creations.

    Also, if you’re at all interested in game design or even just like games, please, watch this show.

    here’s the episode in question: http://penny-arcade.com/patv/episode/call-of-juarez-the-cartel

  25. JONAH KEEL said

    The Geek Brothers salute Hulk once again. Interestingly we recently posted about trying to argue without name calling while engaging in debate on the internet.

    http://geekbrotherstalking.tumblr.com/post/11361380939/stop-with-the-ur-wrong

    We aspire to someday be as good at blogging as Hulk.

  26. April said

    Thank you for all of this, plus spawning a hilarious back and forth between my boss and me:

    Her: “What are we listening to?”

    Me: “This Is Water.”

    Her: “What is water?”

    Me: “David Foster Wallace!”

    Her: “You’re so weird.”

    Me: :\

  27. Baron Fel said

    For a Hulk you are quite well articulated(must be part Red Hulk.)

    And I totally agree with the sexism of the bitch bit (and that Catwoman for the time she has gets almost no characterization beyond having boobs, which is to bad for a character who has had what 70 years of stories about her?)

    I do think you missed some of what they did right w/the female dialogue in the game though (for example mostly when I hear Ivy mentioned it’s “If you find big plants, you found Ivy and that’s not a good thing.” and other variants, frankly she gets almost 0 trash talks compared even to Joker or Penguin. (that I heard of course.)

    Also at least several of the conversations I heard about Harley abrubtly ended when the henchman was called on his b.s. (or told that his friends would tell Harley, leaving the henchman to sputter and tell them not to.) That said, I felt Harley even beyond the outfit has been a giant step back. She’s back to her animated series characterization, and then ultra-sexualized. Harley always worked best to me after she left the Joker in the comics seeing her again as nothing but Joker’s abuised lackey makes me sad, as does the fact that she is apparently not superhuman/a skilled fighter in the Arkham-verse. I’ve been wanting to see an awesome fight between Bat’s and Superhuman Harley Quinn (who has enhanced strength, agility) and I have been disapointed in her basically being easier then a thug to dispatch.

    I do have to mention one last thing (and apoligize for the rambliness of my reply.)

    During the pushing Harley scene I didn’t see any sort of pleasure at all, just Batman being determined to get info from the Joker before he croaked, so your origonal mention of the scene confused me until I could figure out what scene you even meant

    Then again powering through the game in 2-3 days will do that to you.

    Anyway thank you very much for 2 intiresting articles (and giving voice to the bitch thing, it is VERY VERY agrivating to play as Catwoman and constantly hear this.)

    • Baron Fel said

      Somehow I rambled on to far and lost my messages point. what I had wanted to address with how Ivy and sometimes Harley are treated is that an attempt was made to make the female leads strong but somewhere along the line out was fubared and we were stuck w/a Harley and Selina who seem both weak but also give the impression that ladies can’t go toe to toe with the boys. (unless they are half plant) More attention was needed to make Harley and Selina characters for the treatment they received.

    • Brocky said

      “During the pushing Harley scene I didn’t see any sort of pleasure at all, just Batman being determined to get info from the Joker before he croaked”

      Yeah, this is the impression I got too. It especially makes sense once you get to the end of the game where…

      !!!!!!!!!!SPOILERS!!!!!!!!!!

      The Joker dies, and Batman carries him out of Arkham City instead of the woman he loves (Talia). It just goes to show how close the Joker and Batman really are. They’re two sides of the dame coin, they’re ying and yang.
      When Batman thought Joker was dead at the start of the game, he clearly panicked and pushed away the only person obstructing him from getting nearer to the Joker.

      • I suspect Hulk could probably write a whole post on how messed up Talia is. Talk about imprisoned by the patriarchy. Talia infuriated me the most–Harley is crazy and sadly reduced to Joker’s lackey, Catwoman is hypersexualized so far off the charts she’s a caricature, but Talia…she didn’t even try to see or present herself as anything but an accessory, to either her father or Batman. She’d so absorbed her valuelessness as a woman that she didn’t even have her own goals and motivations. Her goals were her father’s. Sad, really.

  28. Your last point was downright poetry. Just a beautiful thing.

    Love you too, man.

    • FILMCRITHULK said

      HULK THANK. SOMETIMES WE JUST HAVE TO TALK ABOUT THE REAL STAKES IN ALL THIS. HULK BELIEVES THE INTERNET CAN REALLY BE BETTER… IT’LL JUST TAKE A LITTLE WORK.

      RIGHT BACK ATCHA.

  29. Abakus said

    First, let me say I’ve never visited this corner of the blogosphere before, but I’m extremely impressed. These two articles were fantastically written and argued, and I’ll probably be checking out the archives and lurking here in the future!

    Now, there’s one thing that bugs me, primarily because I’m a contrary and ornery person–haven’t read through all the comments, so let me know if you’ve addressed it previously. It’s a mixture of points 9, 12, and 14. Basically, the core of my disagreement is that tone depends on context, which is formed in part from the author’s intent. You say:

    HULK ISN’T TALKING ABOUT THE HYPOTHETICAL THOUGHT PROCESS OF MADE-UP CHARACTERS BUT INSTEAD A LOGIC OF SYMBOLOGY, MEDIA PROCESSING, TONE, AND CONTEXT ESTABLISHING.

    However, it seems to me that you’re wholly ignoring characterization in point 12, which is a vital part of any story-telling enterprise. Thinking about what a character would or would not do and demonstrating that in the story (i.e., the Two-Face thing) is extremely important to characterization, if not the crux of the whole business.

    Ah, I’m having trouble verbalizing this.

    So, the authors wish to create a group of thugs that are immediately shown to be “bad guys”–the most basic characterization. However, these authors are lazy. Instead of the amazing subtleties present in, say, Nolan’s Dark Knight, they fall back on good ol’ misogyny to demonstrate the badness of these bad guys.

    If this is the case, it is not the authors’ intent to create a sexist tone. It seems to me that it is their intent to create a desire to punch the bad guys in the face–to punish them for their sexism. Which seems a deliberately non-sexist choice. I have to say, I’ve not played the game, but I’ve seen media which I believe is similar to the tone you’re describing, so I’m extrapolating from that. If, as you say, intent informs context informs tone (which is a simplification I’m not entirely satisfied with), then the tone is probably not truly sexist. (The sentence you threw in about tone possibly being accidental also doesn’t satisfy me.)

    From what I can infer, it appears to me that the authors are using sexist elements to (poorly) construct a non-sexist morality.

    [/devils advocate]

    Cat-woman notwithstanding…

    • FILMCRITHULK said

      WELL SAID SIR. HULK GOTTA RUN SO HULK NOT HAVE THE TIME TO ARTICULATE (UNTIL LATER) BUT BASICALLY IT IS THAT IT GOES FROM MERELY BEING OVER-USED TO AN OUTRIGHT FIXATION. AND NOT JUST WITH THE WORD BITCH, BUT THE WHOLE SEXUAL ELEMENT. AND A FIXATION IS A DIFFERENT CATEGORY. (THIS WOULD MAKE A GOOD BULLET POINT IN THE ARTICLE ABOUT HOW FIXATIONS ARE DIFFERENT). BASICALLY THE GAME IS FIXATED ON THE WEIRD SEXUALITY IN THIS GAME WHEN IT WASN’T REALLY PRESENT IN THE LAST ONE. AND IT’S NOT A MERE CHANGE IN SUBJECT MATTER BUT AN OVERALL CHANGE AND TONE.

      AND THE INTENTION IS INFORMED BY ALL THE OTHER STUFF LIKE THE VAPID SEXINESS ETC. IT’S ABOUT HOW THE SEXIST ELEMENTS EVEN IF TRYING CONSTRUCT A NON-SEXIST MORALITY IN THAT ONE ARENA, SO UTTERLY FAIL IN THE OTHER ARENAS AS TO MAKE THE WHOLE IDEA COLLAPSE IN ON ITSELF.

      BUT A THAT’S A GREAT REALLY, POINTED INQUIRY. WILL TALK MORE LATER.

  30. khorsheed said

    We need more Hulks around. Thanks buddy.

    Also, gotta thank you for getting me to watch Community.

    And for the Fosters Wallace links.

    …what would we do without you, Hulk?

  31. Thank you HULK for calling this out. Your initial post was brave and absolutely correct and your response was a tremendous display of thorough engagement in dialogue with those that disagree with you. A fine example of practising what you preach with regard to free speech.

    The only interesting use of the word ‘bitch’ that I can think of was in the first three Alien movies where it refers to a different character, in #1 Mother #2 Alien Queen #3 Ripley, and is part of the whole exploration of the male fear of reproduction that is the subtext of those movies.

    Keep on smashing HULK!
    Best wishes, Duke

  32. Sean said

    Hulk, after being redirected to your initial article on the sexism present in Arkham City from a Kotaku article, I must admit, I was fairly surprised by how well-articulated your argument was. I understand that you failed to properly convey some of your points– that is to say, convey them how you originally intended– however, your article was unswervingly on-point, and I found myself thinking about this old argument in ways I hadn’t before.

    Mind you, Hulk, our thinking on this issue is pretty similar. I might be a little more white knight (get it) about this issue than you are, having personally known a few women very, very close to me who were often the brunt of exceedingly cruel or abusive sexist actions or words, as a child I found that I simply could not stand men who could so casually dismiss the validity of any girl or woman’s ideas simply because they were women. I understand that the complexity of the issue runs far deeper than that, but as I do not possess your knock for surgical extrapolation and explosion, I thought simplification might be best.

    Long story short, Hulk, you have vaulted from a complete unknown to a Favorites Bar bookmark of many readers for these two articles and I really can’t express how impressed I am by your intelligence, eloquence, and sense of shared responsibility. I’ve added your blog to Opera’s Speed Dial, and I look forward to your further articles regarding any topic at all simply for the opportunity to engage in discourse with such a respected, rage-fueled scientist like yourself.

    Stay frosty, my friend.

  33. HULK said

    FAKE “HULK” FILM CRITIC NOT EVEN TRY TO TALK LIKE HULK! FILM CRITIC JUST WANT EXCUSE TO TYPE WITH CAPS LOCK ON!

    • YET ANOTHER HULK said

      HULK DISAGREE WITH HULK ON THIS. HULK BELIEVE THERE IS ROOM FOR MORE HULKS IN HEAVEN AND EARTH THAN IN HULK’S PHILOSOPHY; IN FACT, HULK FIND HULK VERY THOUGHT-PROVOKING ON NUMBER OF ISSUES AND THIS POST WAS ONE OF HULK’S BEST.

      HULK HOPE HULK DOES NOT WORRY ABOUT WHAT HULK SAYS BUT INSTEAD KEEP UP GOOD WORK. HULK WILL CONTINUE TO READ!

  34. secretmantra said

    Found this blog through a gaming site, fell in love at first sight.

    You have challenged some lazy thinking on my part, and inspired me to look at things in a different way. I thank you for that. Your patient, deeply reasoned arguments have nestled their way into a new home within my own heart.

    I’m a follower now.

    –secretmantra

  35. Clarknova said

    Thanks for this follow up. I honestly agreed with most of what you were saying in your previous post, but I felt you were blowing the level of sexism in the game out of proportion (and I commented, saying as much). But after returning to the game, your article really highlighted the sexism for me in a way I hadn’t noticed before. It really is pervasive in the game, to an annoying and confusing degree.
    I’ve been a fan of your writing for quite a while, but congratulations, you have gotten very, very good. Also thanks for this: “THAT’S BECAUSE WE LIVE IN A BUREAUCRACY. AND OUR ABILITY TO NAVIGATE THAT BUREAUCRACY, NOT ONLY TO DECIPHER WHAT IS ACTUALLY IN OUR COLLECTIVE HUMAN INTEREST, BUT WHAT IS EVEN IN OUR OWN IMMEDIATE SELF INTEREST, IS PARAMOUNT TO ONE’S ABILITY TO SUCCEED.” So much truth there. Keep up the good work, Hulk.

    • FILMCRITHULK said

      COOL, HULK THANK SO MUCH FOR YOUR FEEDBACK. HULK WASN’T HOPING PEOPLE WOULD GET ANGRY OR ANYTHING ABOUT ARKHAM CITY (DESPITE THE FUCKS IN THE FIRST ARTICLE), JUST TO BE AWARE. AND THAT MEANS A LOT THAT YOU LET HULK KNOW.

      HULK THANK!

  36. 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?

    • Umm…I think you must be playing a different game. Because I’ve heard it a lot more than twice. But I’ve also spent almost all my time flying around the city doing sidequests, which is where you hear it the most. Not so much during the main missions, where everyone is talking about and to Batman.

      Or, perhaps more likely, you’re not as sensitive to the word as others, so it doesn’t stand out as much. Because it really is peppered throughout the dialogue to an excessive degree.

      My guess is that the designers wanted to go for gritty (which for an unfortunate number of game designers means “say fuck a lot”) but could only use “bitch” to keep their T for Teen rating. So they used the one word they could as much as humanly possible.

      • jayd189 said

        I have say, the game I played while not as bitch free as Dale’s playthrough, was very similar.

        I’ve completed like 60-70% (of the whole, not just the story) and I may have heard bitch about dozen or so times.

        I’ve read this, I’ve played the game, and I think the articles are extremely well written, and Catwoman is oversexualized. However, I respectively must disagree with almost every other point in the first article, and many of the counter-points in this one.

    • D.R. Maddock said

      I heard the word way more than twice. I didn’t really realize it until three-fourths through the game (and I beat the whole thing before ever reading these posts), and things like this never stand out to me, but there was a point when there was a radio pick up about how Poison Ivy and Catwoman were “fine pieces of ass” to which the other convict replied “Those crazy bitches?”

      It didn’t even really pay much attention to it the first time, but around the fourth time I heard the same line, it really started to jar me, and then I started noticing the use of the word “bitch” and “ass” with great frequency, so great in fact that I had to check the rating of the game because I wasn’t sure how it earned a T-Rating (and I come from a Media and Communication background with a deep understanding of ratings systems).

      The only other time I have ever experienced anything so blatant as to actively pull me out of my immersion in the story was Transformers: Dark of the Moon, which was so over the top violent that I became quite worried for the seven year old sitting next to me. I seriously heard a good deal of cursing in my play through the game, far more than I’d expect with the “mild language” tag.

    • You admit that playthroughs may be different, yet go on to state by a random allotment of friends and yourself that have played the game, that their experience differs as well. From that, you reason that HULK’s entire argument is wrong. That it isn’t true.

      Yet, my own independent experience differs incredibly from yours. It was also enhanced while playing as Catwoman. I did a lot of exploring over the city, and a lot of listening. I wasn’t seeking out the word bitch, but it kept following me. THEN I came across the Kotaku article, which led me here.

      Let me also mention that a NUMBER of people have also talked about this here, and many other places. Just because you and a select few friends had different experiences doesn’t mean HULK is wrong. HULK’s playthrough seemed right on point with mine. But I won’t simply discount your playthrough because it differed with my own, or many of my friends and fellow commenters.

    • I’m not even playing the game, just watching my boyfriend/roommate play (I haven’t time to sit down and give it a proper working-over, sadly), and over the last week, having watched maybe a total of two and a half hours of gameplay, ranging from the opening to the closing scenes *and the credits*, I have heard the word “bitch” literally dozens of times.

      So basically…I have no clue what in actual buttfucking heck you’re doing in the game, but playing it, I have some cause to doubt, because that’s…if the frequency were a bell curve, you’d be a HELLA far outlier, kiddo.

      • jayd189 said

        You actually can’t say that he’s an outlier. You don’t know that. For all you know, you’re an outlier. I’d actually surmise you’re both outliers.

      • Brody said

        It depends on which villains’ territory you are in.at the time. The thugs tend to only discuss the things that are happening in their immediate area or their own bosses. I tended to mostly stick to the Joker and Penguin’s area, so there are a lot less sexist slurs from those thugs than Two-Face’s thugs who recently got their asses kicked (multiple times) by Catwoman. That’s not to say they are the only slurs in the game, of course…Some of the things the thugs say about Bruce Wayne or Penguin are…disturbing, to say the least.

    • I’d also like to point out that a cis-male playing the game is, unfortunately for your “argument”, not going to be as sensitive to the word, and asking your friends, who are, I’m going to guess, typically steeped in both gamer culture and the misogynist society in which we live, whether they noticed a word they are not conditioned from birth to find degrading to them on a subcutaneous, humanity-stripping level is a biiiiiiiit unscientific.

  37. Sunflower said

    Hi, Hulk. Thanks so much for this awesome article. I was filled with rage when reading about the game and I sure won’t play it, even if it is fun. I just can’t set that stuff aside enough to enjoy it when sexism is so common in so many games. If it wasn’t so common maybe it would be different.

    As for the hate comments, I think that some people don’t really want to engage honestly but just want to deflect the argument. It comes down to these types of articles making them feel uncomfortable and perhaps guilty and they want to avoid that feeling, and in order to do that they have to make you the bad guy. I am saying this because I know when I read/hear something that makes me feel that way I get initial knee jerk reactions and want to strike out at a perceived enemy but I know enough now to let myself feel it and gain clarity before reacting.

    You’re not responsible for their emotions or their reactions, you can only do what you’re doing (very well). Some people will choose to continue deflecting forever. I don’t think those people matter. People with open minds change the world and create space, while people who try to deny others space will just be left behind. This is kind of their dying cry in a way. I hope this makes some sense– many thanks for being brave and dealing with this in a very emotional and rational way (Emotional is very good, meaning you feel and handle your emotions instead of running from them.)

    I will be reading your blog from now on, I’m glad I found you!

  38. Some other thoughts (and some clarifications).

    You make the point, again, that advertising has been done in such a way as to market the game to kids. You use this as an argument to counter claims that the game is aimed primarily at adults.

    You don’t seem to understand that the people marketing the game and the people making the game are not the same entity. Rocksteady developed the game and have always been very clear about thier intention that this is a game for the fans, for adults who have grown up with batman and an exploration of the darker side of his character.

    The marketing was conducted by the publisher, and Rocksteady will have had absolutely zero input and influence into how the marketing campaign was organised.

    Now yes, absolutely, Batman will have a large degree of appeal for kids. Most superheroes do. However, that does not preclude depictions of Batman from being made in a mature way. One of the greatest things about Batman is how versatile he is in the ways he can be portrayed. Some writers will treat him as a basic superhero. Others will play up his brooding, insular nature. Others use him as manifestation of the darkest corners of human obsessive behaviour. Still others portray him as just as insane as the criminals he fights.

    My point is that just because kids like batman, doesn’t mean that Batman only has to be written in a way that is suitable for kids (you claim that you are a massive comic fan – HI, FELLOW COMIC FAN, I BET I COULD GIVE YOU A HUGE RUN FOR YOUR MONEY IN A MARVEL TRIVIA CONTEST! – so I doubt any of this is news to you, but it does feel like somewhat of an oversight.

    Basically, I am saying that if you don’t lke the way the game has been marketed, it is not fair to blame the developer as they will have had very, very little input (or any) over the marketing process. Blame the publisher.

    It has to be said that here in the UK there has been none of that business, but then the UK is quite heavily regulated when it comes to acceptable content in adverts with regards to intended audiences etc. It’s even (and quite rightly too) now disallowed for companies like McDonalds to advertise their “food” during kids hours on telly. Thankfully the Uk is one of the few remaining countries where large companies aren’t given carte blanche to do whatever they want to. And thank god for that, seriously, because as scary as it sounds, that old Simpsons sketch of a classroom where they are asked “if i have three pepsi, and drink one, how much more refreshed am I?” is actually reality in a lot of schools these days (including the US).

    But I digress. Where was I? Oh yeah.

    The other thing I wanted to point out is that I really don’t think it is fair to judge games by the same standards that you would judge a film. I’m not talking about things like boundaries of acceptable content here, I am talking about things like mis en scene, etc. Games are not films. Films are not games. They are two separate mediums, even if the lines between the two are occasionally blurred. In addition, games are still a very young medium and I think that has to be taken into account – you can’t expect something to be held to the same creative standards as another artistic industry that has existed three times as long. They are both visual mediums, but that is pretty much where the comparisons end in my opinion. They have vastly different creative languages that you are comparing apples to oranges. Again, I am not saying that universal concepts such as racism. sexism, etc do not apply, I am simply saying that the language in which those concepts could be inferred is different. It’s like the differences between two dialects of a similar language. On face value they might look pretty similar to each other, but the differences are hidden in the nuances of grammar and syntax. If that makes sense.

    Thirdly, and I want to be absolutely, positively clear here:

    I am not defending sexism in the games industry (or, indeed, any kinds of “ism”). I agree that sexism is a large problem, and that it is a problem borne mainly from the industry being traditionally associated with a male audience, as well as a lack of maturity of the audience and a lack of general ambition to elevate it beyond being a business that sells a product into something more meaningful. Gaming has its own citizen kanes and Godfathers, experiences that speak to the human condition and explore mature themes, but its like trying to find a single kubrick amongst an endless sea of Uwe Boll flicks.

    Yes, sexism in gaming is pretty endemic. I’ve previously mentioned Duke Nukem Forever (which has a multiplayer mode where you need to slap the backside of a woman in order to stop he complaining so that you can capture her and claim possession of her for your team), which is probably the most glaring and offensive example of recent years. There is also the “Japanese problem”, which isn’t as racist as it seems but simply an observation that the vast majority of Japanese developers hyper-sexualise their female characters (typically by portraying physic-defying breasts and impractical levels of minimal clothing). Team Ninja, makers of the Dead or Alive series of games, is particularly guilty of this as is Namco, who recently revealed the existence of a internal chart that acted as a guide to the art department for how large a woman’s breasts should be according to their in-game age (hint: it is every bit as exagerrated as you might imagine it to be. Then there are numerous other examples, such as the depiction of women in Prince of Persia: Warrior within (lots of thongs, exposed buttocks, leather and chains) or even the more traditional concept of the damsel in distress (why does mario always, without fail, have to rescue the princess? Is she really that weak and defenseless?) or player characters being vastly disproportionately male (and female characters, such as Lara Croft, being invented along arguably sexist lines because, and I am not making this up, the developers wanted to spend their time staring at a woman’s backside and not a mans).

    So yes, I completely agree that the gaming industry has problems with sexism, so please do not confuse my defense of Arkham City as an attempt to justify sexism. That would be very. bad. indeed, particularly as I am both Gay and disabled, and I face discrimination every single day of my life (dont get me started on depictions of homosexuality in games and comics, I could run all day on that topic). I am not tolerating discrimination by defending Arkham City, I am simply suggesting that perhaps it is not as extreme as you are conveying – if it is even present at all. And that is a very important distinction to make and one which some of the people here defending you are failing to appreciate when it comes to some of the more constructive attempts to argue with your essays.

    Lastly, I want to say that I really, really think that there needs to be a distinction between intentional sexism and unintentional sexism. One is deliberately vindictive and used to consciously subjugate and dehumanise a group of people. The other is often a result of naivete, or, in a mass media product, a disconnect between various departments resulting in a slightly mixed message. The argument then becomes not “is this game sexist”, but “is this game sexist, and if it is, is it an intentional choice on the part of the developer or just a human mistake”.

    Anyway, I could write an absolute tonne more, but I think that is more than enough for one evening (or morning, given that I run on GMT). I just wanted to clarify a few things so that you don’t think I am being deliberately contrary or just getting over-protective of the games industry.

    • VyceVictus said

      I got no stake in either of your positions, I just think its good everyone is able to discuss this in a long drawn out way.
      Concerning the films and games comparisons/standards, I found this article and was surprised to find that the writers of the game themselves had some substantially different views on the matter: http://www.worldofsuperheroes.com/gaming/paul-dini-and-paul-crocker-reveal-their-reasons-behind-the-arkham-city-story-line/

      I do wanna say that I think the “young medium” reasoning is horseshit. Looking at it another way, books/novels long stories are thousands of years old compared to film which is what, a century or so? In its relatively short lifespan its produced evocative and life altering works in the same league as the most classic written tales. Games mirror that proportional lifespan.

      Yeah the tools and language are different (iambic pentameter, dramatic close-ups, fuckin dual shock vibrating controllers) but their goal in their use is to elicit a real emotional response. The atmosphere, tones, and themes all play a part in that. Hell, this blog is all about how that stuff is integral to entertainment and story telling.

      I also wish to add that someone else made a pretty astute statement in another blog on this topic regarding the whole “city of degenerate scum context.” The comment basically stated If the game had a cameos by bat wing (the African franchise batman) or any other black character, and they didnt make so much as a glib comment about beating up a black guy, all that “That’s how murderer-rapists-degenerates talk and act/gritty realism of Arkham” shit would go right out the fucking window. Same would apply if Kate Kane showed up and nobody refered to her at least once as dyke, no? Or maybe that would be the deal-breaker that forces it into an M-rating….

      Having said all that, I haven’t played the game yet. I got a copy coming in the mail via amazon tomorrow. I’m gonna play the shit out of it and beat the fuck out of goons, and if the “bitches” make me uncomfortable I’m gonna get over it (i do think HULK over-reacted, but I understand what he’s saying). Still, As I mentioned in the beginning, you and everyone else are making great points about all this and ultimately it’s a good thing that we are talking about this issue in depth.

    • Chrysoula said

      Out of curiosity, do you think unintentional sexism somehow does less damage than intentional sexism? Because the point of calling out sexism isn’t ‘punishing people who haven’t been PC’ but trying to mitigate and even reverse ongoing trends that inflict deeply seated harm on actual real life people (male and female).

      • Robert K. said

        Except that the tone of Hulk’s original article was so scathing that it pretty much amounted to punishment. He said those that those responsible should be ashamed of themselves and called them sexist. Public shaming and accusations of bigotry are not the same as simply calling out sexism. Of course Hulk could argue that it wasn’t his “intent” to shame the developers, but he’s too smart to fall into that trap.

        Let’s assume that someone did in fact do something unintentionally sexist. If you call them out on it in a cordial manner they are much more likely to admit their mistake and mitigate the damage they did than if you go in full attack mode the way Hulk did. If you do that then their gut reaction will be to defend themselves and rationalize their actions, becoming more and more convinced that they are correct, increasing the likelihood of them repeating the sexist action.

        I do think that unintentional sexism does less harm, though not by much. If someone harms you, either physically or emotionally, knowing that they did not intend to harm you mitigates the pain and makes it easier to forgive and forget, even though objectively it still hurts just as much. Unfortunately it is often, especially in mass media, impossible to discern the perpetrator’s intent and it therefore becomes meaningless. In such situations, for my part, I tend to give the other side the benefit of the doubt, but that’s just me.

        However direct harm is but one of many facets of how sexism and other bigotries hurt people. Bigoted acts perpetuate bigoted trends, regardless of the intent behind them, and therefore in this respect unintentional sexism is just as hurtful as intentional sexism. There are other points to be made about this issue, I’m sure, but I just want to point out that I agree with you that we should call out sexism regardless of intent, but I also think that the distinction is not arbitrary and not without consequence.

        Finally, the bigger question here is what is more significant, the intent of an action or its consequences. That is a question that minds far greater than ours have been trying to answer for centuries and I’m not arrogant enough to even tackle it, let alone provide a definitive answer.

        But the answer is intent ;)

    • FILMCRITHULK said

      DALE,

      HULK REALLY GLAD YOU MADE THIS LAST COMMENT. IT DID SOMETHING VERY IMPORTANT IN GETTING US TO FIND SOME KIND OF STASIS AND HULK THANK YOU FOR THAT.

      FIRST OFF YOU POINT ON THE MARKETING VS. DEVELOPMENT TEAMS WAS RIGHT ON. HULK BEEN ON BOTH SIDES OF THAT WALL BEFORE AND THAT IS INDEED A TRUISM. IT IS NO LESS A RESPONSIBILITY OF THE ROCKSTEADY “COLLECTIVE” IF YOU WILL, BUT IT THEN SHIFTS THE PROBLEM TO BE A BIT MORE SYSTEMIC RATHER THAN A QUESTION OF “PERSONAL AUTHORSHIP.” SO HULK THANK YOU FOR BRINGING THAT INTO THE EQUATION.

      ALSO YOUR POINT ON THE JAPANESE CULTURAL INFLUENCE WAS SPOT ON. SO HULK THANK YOU AGAIN.

      HOPE ALL IS WELL AND HULK WISH MORE FUN IN CONTINUED GAMING.

  39. Jane94 said

    Hulk beautiful. Speech about importance of choosing to be awake beautiful. Thank you for taking the trouble to say it so well. Like it so much I don’t know how to say without sounding silly. :-)

  40. incredible all over again. thanks, Hulk!

  41. Bigtotoro said

    As for them being “psychopathic criminals”, does anyone remember what Tiny Listers character did in The Dark Knight? Just another lazy argument defending lazy writing.

  42. You’re currently my favourite web writer.

    Seriously. I came across your blog via a Community post you made, then started reading your archives. These latest pasts have just cinched it.

    Consider me a member of the RWAAAARG Patrol.

  43. J said

    How does Catwoman talk vapidly though? As far as I know you have yet to respond to your claim that she’s vapid.

    • FILMCRITHULK said

      HULK WOULD SAY EASIEST WAY TO QUALIFY VAPIDNESS IS TO COMPARE HER WAY OF TALKING / ACTING WITH SAY PRINCESS LEIA… OR… EVEN PFIEFFER’S CATWOMAN.

  44. Michael Hitchcock said

    HULK FAN BELIEVE HULK FUNNY WHEN HULK NOT WRITE ABOUT HULK WRITE ABOUT REVIEW.
    HULK WRITE ABOUT FILM AND STORY NOT EVER SEE HULK.
    BANNER SEE BANNER AND MAKE BANNER SAD.
    HULK SEE ART AND MAKE FAN HAPPY.
    HULK SEE HULK SEEING HULK AND WRITE ABOUT HULK REACTION AND REACTION TO REACTION OF HULK SEE HULK AND WE STUCK IN NEGATIVE ZONE WITHOUT IRON MAN EVEN TRY TO REGISTER US FIRST.
    SINCERELY, OTHER HULK.

  45. Piznarski said

    You’re ignoring the fact that in the Nolan Batman films, not only are there barely any women but Rachel, and none of come into contact with any inmates. Not to mention The Joker doesn’t call Rachel a bitch because he’s a verbose character, and it’d be completely against his character. Saying “Nolan never uses the word bitch” isn’t a competent argument, because Arkham City is in a completely different setting, with different characters, enemies and an entirely different mood.

    Nor is “This game portrays sexuality different than the last game so it’s bad” a competent argument.

    Nor is “Selina is flirty, and that’s a slight against women” a competent argument.

    Nor is “Bruce pushes Harley out of the way, therefore the game designers must get sick sexual pleasure from seeing a girl get pushed by a man” a competent argument.

    Nor is “Arkham City doesn’t deal with the inmate’s sexism in some thematically fashion, and their sexism just being a backdrop of the environment makes the game sexist” a competent argument.

    Please, no part 3.

    • Josh said

      Thank you, I was about to reply with this very same thought. You can’t use Nolan’s work as an example because Arkham City and BB/TDK are two completely different versions of Batman.

      As soon as I read Argument 4 I knew he was full of crap. The day the world no longer has to worry about a nuclear war because of terrorists, then I will be glad to let sexism in the media be tackled, but until that mf-ing day you cannot discount moral relativism. Tackling something like sexism when there are still terrorists around the world is the single stupidest thing we are doing in the U.S. right now.

      In fact, if you were to look at the rest of the world and compare it to the U.S. then you would notice how completely screwed up our priorities are. The rest of the world finds violence to be abhorrent while we are worried about T&A being shown on a tv show. Now which do you think is more psychologically scarring, sex or someone getting their head blown off with a shotgun?

      • FILMCRITHULK said

        OKAY…. [DEEP BREATH] JOSH, THERE IS ALMOST TOO MUCH TO TALK ABOUT HERE.

        FIRST OF ALL OF COURSE HULK CAN USE IT AS AN EXAMPLE, BECAUSE HULK WAS USING IT AS AN EXAMPLE TO ASCRIBE. THE IDEA THAT YOU CAN’T USE TWO DIFFERENT VERSIONS TO COMPARE MAKES ABSOLUTELY NO SENSE IN ANY WAY.

        MORAL RELATIVISM ABSOLUTELY DOES COUNT BECAUSE YOU’RE CONFUSING SEVERITY WITH IMPORTANCE. THE SIGNIFICANCE OF AN INDIVIDUAL TERRORIST ATTACK IS, OF COURSE, IMPORTANT AS A SINGULAR EVENT, BUT SEXISM IS THE KIND OF IMPORTANT WHERE IT’S DAILY MINUTE INFLUENCE SHAPES THE WORLD WE LIVE IN AND DIRECTLY AFFECTS 50% OF THE POPULATION (AND VICE VERSA).

        ALSO HULK NOT SURE WHAT YOU MEAN BY “NUCLEAR WAR BECAUSE OF TERRORISTS.” THAT ISN’T EXACTLY WHAT THE CURRENT STATE IS OF THE WAR ON TERROR.

        ALSO, HULK NOT SURE EXACTLY WHAT YOU MEAN BY THE REST OF “THE WORLD FINDS VIOLENCE ABHORRENT” BECAUSE THERE IS A LOT OF THE REST OF THE WORLD AND SOME ARE LESS-VIOLENT CULTURES THAN US, BUT SADLY THE VAST MAJORITY OF THIRD WORLD COUNTRIES ARE FAR, FAR WORSE OFF.

      • JuntMonkey said

        Josh, why have you wasted time reading these posts, writing and formulating your response, watching Nolan’s movies and presumably many others, and presumably playing Arkham City and many other games? We have terrorists to worry about, and you should be spending 100% of your time tackling that.

      • Terrorism hurts people, and that’s why you are angry about it, right?

        Sexism also hurts people. It hurts people in tangible, real ways. Woman get beaten, raped and killed–in some countries, a woman is more likely to be raped than she is to learn how to read. The USA still enables the trafficking of sex workers from other countries. Many women still get paid less for equivalent work, most women who have worked in a job that is ‘not for nice girls’, like, say bar tending, will have experienced occasions when she felt harassed or treated differently to a male bar tender.

        People’s ideas, the way they socialise, the way they emphasise is created through society, through parents and schools and friendship groups, and also through the media.

        Sexual relationships in media are still presented in unequal and one-sided ways. People don’t mimic specific examples, but they pick up social mores and conventions, particularly when younger. So the relationships between the characters in Batman matter, not because they in themselves are causing harm on a level equal with global terrorism, but because they contribute to and represent social conventions that result in the above noted sex trafficking, domestic violence, and harassment.

        You don’t stop terrorism by bombing terrorists. You stop terrorism by promoting peaceful dialogue, and altering us/them divides. You stop terrorism by making careful, in-depth study of the causes and motivations behind terrorism, and understanding the role global inequality plays in it.

        You don’t stop sexism by telling everyone to be nice to girls and punching them when they aren’t. You stop sexism by examining the causes and motivations behind it, and the social conventions that allow it to happen

      • @Interfaceleader,

        Um, holy shit. Well fucking said! That is all.

    • These aren’t even the titles of his arguments, nor what was contained within them. Find me one instance where his only argument is that because sexuality was portrayed differently in the first game, that this one is bad.

    • “not only are there barely any women but Rachel”

      Taking women out of the movie/conversation/what have you doesn’t mitigate the damage misogyny does–I’d argue that, much as I love the Nolanverse, it does generally do some disservice to women, especially in the “female characters are there as window dressing and to be saved” sense.

      “Nor is “This game portrays sexuality different than the last game so it’s bad” a competent argument.”

      How could you have actually read Hulk’s articles and come away thinking that was at all stated in any form? Hulk’s issue–and that of many gamers, feminists, women, and the middle of that Venn diagram–is that this game /doesn’t/ portray sexuality. It portrays lazy writing/characterization and misogyny. Sexuality is intensely personal and, while I realize these characters /aren’t real/, if they have sexuality, it’s clearly all MEN WANT TITS and RAPE IS COO’ GUYS!, which…is disconcerting, to say the least. To make it seem that /all/ inmates of a prison facility hate women and want to rape them is to be shallow, ignorant, and frankly, a lazy and poor writer.

      “Nor is “Selina is flirty, and that’s a slight against women” a competent argument.”

      That’s…a pretty gross misstatement of the point Hulk was making, and I think you actually completely missed that point. Aggressively missed it, if you will. Selina isn’t “flirty”, she’s…what’s a good way to put it without slut-shaming? Oh, right. She’s pure, unadulterated fanservice wankbait put there to masturbate the misogynist developers and players. She “uses” her “feminine wiles” the way Fezzik uses the rock on Westley. The “kiss and takedown” is…creepy and disgusting, to put it viscerally, and completely out of character with everything that’s been previously posited about Selina Kyle. Even if the Arkham games want to recreate her as someone different from who the fans know, they have to give /reason/ and /context/ to actions like planting a sloppy one on complete strangers of unknown health history. As well, implying that the /only playable female character/ /needs/ to behave that way in order to be “in character” is a pretty glaring slight against women. Flirty != haphazard, shallow, one-dimensional, and behaves in a way that is pretty much just one masturbatory fantasy after another.

      “Nor is “Bruce pushes Harley out of the way, therefore the game designers must get sick sexual pleasure from seeing a girl get pushed by a man” a competent argument.”

      Then you’ll be glad to know that that’s not at all what Hulk said. Reading comprehension: use it.

      “Nor is “Arkham City doesn’t deal with the inmate’s sexism in some thematically fashion, and their sexism just being a backdrop of the environment makes the game sexist” a competent argument.”

      I don’t understand what you mean here. Are you saying a game with uneven writing and poor overall tone and characterization WRT the treatment of women in a franchise not known for strong or even tolerable representations of female characters is somehow not a sexist game?

      That’s like saying a KKK meeting where they talk about killing all the non-white folk isn’t racist. It’s just a MEETING, you guys! There’s nothing wrong with that mindset!

      I sincerely would like to suggest you check out a lot more blogs on these sorts of issues, especially feminism/portrayals of/women in gaming.

      If you read all the way to the bottom of this and actually paid attention, I appreciate it and give you kudos. Judging from the responses just like yours marring the comment threads, I’m disappointed to posit that you didn’t bother. Very, very sad.

  46. Another great article Hulk.

    All I would say is that while PA hosts ‘Extra Credits’, they don’t have a hand in its production. So it would be fairer to refer to the series by it’s name.

    That’s just my opinion though.

  47. Robert K. said

    So many arguments, so many comments, I’m probably repeating what someone already said. But here goes anyway.

    My primary concern with your original post was that it began and ended with these two sentences respectively (and don’t say that I am nitpicking – the first and final statements of an argument say a lot about one’s mindset, even if you don’t realize it):

    “WHAT THE FUCK VIDEO GAMES?”

    “… GODAMMIT VIDEO GAMES.”

    Not Arkham City but video games. Throwing the entire medium under the bus because of one example is just wrong. You touched on this in argument #14, but there is a significant difference between Arkham City and other sexist games. Sexism in video games is a problem, but it’s mostly objectifying women as sexual objects (see Croft, Lara, Nukem, Duke and Calibur, Soul). What you are railing against here is straight up misogyny, i.e. hate against women. I’m not saying that one form of sexism is worse or more acceptable than another, but nonetheless this marks Arkham City as an aberration not indicative of video games as a whole.

    • Robert K. said

      Also, I don’t buy your counter-argument to argument #12. I understand what you are trying to say, that tone and sub-text are important and trump character logic. But you made your point in counter-argument #9.

      The way I read #12 is that not only are character reasoning and motivations subservient to the ultimate purpose of a story but they are not needed; that trying to understand the actions of characters by deducing the logic of their thinking cannot in any way confer any deeper understanding of the characters themselves or the overarching theme and sub-text of the story; that characterization is useless and asking question such as, “is this what this character would do in this situation?” or even, “is this what a real person would do in this situation?” is foolish.

    • You’re bring up a great point, and I certainly won’t speak for HULK. In fact, I hope he gives these comments a reply. However, from my perspective, and many others, video games are struggling with the advances in technology that has allowed them to even HAVE atmosphere and tone, while not being able to really handle what they do on a daily basis.

      This medium is more popular than ever before, and yes, it isn’t fair to throw an entire medium under the bus. However, I don’t assume that was his intention. Internet writing in general utilizes something called a hook. This is utilized in other mediums as well, but the ability to flip around and go to a thousand different areas means you have to grab attention right away.

      His title adequately did that, as did his first words of the blog post. It caught my attention. If you are only judging an argument by the opening words and the ending words, are you not, in a way, judging a book by its cover? And back?

      The article is clearly about Arkham City. He is VERY clear about that… right? I certainly think so. But he also delves into video games as well.

  48. Rose Fox said

    Dear HULK,

    Next time you’re in New York, please allow me to buy you a big green drink.

    Cheers,
    Rsoe

  49. Hey film critic Hulk! Im following this blog now for sure, love it.

  50. Chrysoula said

    Dear Hulk,

    I watch like one movie a year (and barely any current TV), but I’ve still started following your blog for its posts on narrative structure and video games and other things I do engage with regularly. I’m sorry for getting my anti-sexism up in your touching and beautiful attempt to reach out to the almost-unreachable– but only a little sorry. I’m more sorry about the people who have accused you of lying to get blog hits.

    I’m kind of failing to express my affection properly here. Please take it as a given.

    xxoo
    Chrysoula

  51. MolCal said

    You forgot one: Harley IS a crazy bitch.

    But seriously, thanks so much for mansplaining to all us female gamers who thought we were having fun beating up those characters about how we were actually being oppressed by their dialogue. What WOULD we do without a smart penis to dumb these concepts down enough for our tiny, vag-afflicted brains?

    Sincerely,
    A crazy bitch

    • FILMCRITHULK said

      THAT WAS IN NO WAY WHAT HULK WAS SAYING. NOR WOULD HULK ASSUME TO SPEAK “FOR” ANYONE ASIDE FROM HULK. THE THING ABOUT TALKING ABOUT GENDER IS THAT THERE IS A REFLEXIVE CAPACITY TO WHICH WE HAVE TO BE ALLOWED TO DO IT, OTHERWISE, WELL WE WOULDN’T BE ABLE TO TALK ABOUT IT ALL.

      HULK WOULD LOVE TO HAVE YOUR THOUGHTS ON HOW THE GAME ISN’T SEXIST IN MORE DETAIL.

      HULK THANK.

    • y said

      Obviously he was ‘mansplaining’ to other men who are oblivious to what’s going on or don’t care. Why would you assume he’s insulting women’s intelligence? He’s obviously taken great time and care to explain all this to his readers. If he thought women were stupid do you think he’d bother?

      Or maybe you’re a dude trolling around.

      It’s not about the specific game, in my opinion, but the pervasiveness and insidiousness of sexism in our culture. All the people involved in making this game were either unaware or too apathetic to stop and think about this and challenge it. Really though I think the lack of awareness is to blame.

      I think if more women spoke out against this type of thing it would affect a positive change in the industry. Most women (me included) are not that interested in games like this because of the violence, it’s just not my thing.

    • Um, so a male critic should just ignore all incidents of sexism and fail to ever speak up when he witnesses harassment, sexual bullying, or sexual violence?

      Sexism hurts everyone, and everyone needs to engage with these issues if the world is going to change.

      Also Hulk flat out said the game is really fun and really well-made, which makes the lazy writing that much more regrettable.

  52. Armand said

    I’m going to recommend this article to everyone I know, including all the non-gamers. It’s so hard to find such well thought out and stated writing on the internet. Bravo Hulk. Bravo!

  53. Who threatens the HULK with a lead pipe? I mean, really?

  54. Julia said

    Great, thorough case you’ve presented in these two articles. I am now subscribing.

  55. I might quibble on how much of what is perceived “wrong” with Arkham City is calculated vs. reflexive but gamers rarely acquit themselves well in discussions like these, mostly for the reasons you articulate.

    This is one amazing game though. I especially love how this one and its predecessor subtly transposed Nolan/Burton on to the comicsverse but don’t overtake comics-borne sensibility and characterizations. I’m only just coming out of a near complete social blackout since launch day…

  56. Finished the game.

    How many times did I hear the word “bitch” on top of the two times I hear it in the first hour?

    None.

    Nada.

    Zip.

    Total use of the word “bitch” in a dozen hours of playtime: Two. Both in context.

    Also, I would like to point out that there are approximately FIVE female characters in the game: Harley Quinn, Catwoman, Poison Ivy, Vicki Vale and Talia al Guul. Harley Quinn is an absolute, crazy, psychopathic villain. She gets about ten minutes of total screentime. Poison Ivy is the same, but she gets maybe five minutes of screentime. Vale gets even less, seeing as she is an NPC who is only seen in one scene. Talia is portrayed as an extrmeley strong, independent woman. Catwoman is in the game for all of 45 minutes if you have the DLC, not even two minutes if you don’t.

    Your argument is the biggest stretch of logic I have come across in many years of reading opinion pieces on games; and that is really, really saying something.

    I can only guess that all of the people supporting you haven’t played the game themselves because, frankly, it’s total horseshit.

    • Mark said

      Okay, first up: You might be right about Hulk’s claims. Haven’t played the game, probably won’t (I object to overbearing DRM and I assume from the first game that this one is crippled), and I’ve been curious what Hulk would have to say in response since your first post.

      But. But. This, in my view, is not doing good things for the “there’s nothing sexist about this game” argument.

      Harley Quinn is an absolute, crazy, psychopathic villain. She gets about ten minutes of total screentime. Poison Ivy is the same, but she gets maybe five minutes of screentime. Vale gets even less, seeing as she is an NPC who is only seen in one scene. Talia is portrayed as an extrmeley strong, independent woman. Catwoman is in the game for all of 45 minutes if you have the DLC, not even two minutes if you don’t.

      There are five women. In the game. Four of them for a grand total of somewhere between 17 minutes and an hour.

      And of those five, two are “psychopathic villains”, one is a character frequently used as a stock damsel-in-distress who barely appears, one is a sex kitten with limited screen time whose role in advertising has been “cute butt”, and one — one — is an “extremely strong, independent woman,” which depending who’s talking could mean almost anything. No reflection on you intended — just saying, people say stuff like that all the time and usually don’t actually mean it.

      (Would be curious, incidentally, to see Hulk address the issue of “strong, independent women” in movies who are strong and independent by virtue of beating the guy at his own game, once, and then promptly collapsing into an ineffectual puddle of jelly during the second act — sorry for referencing three-act structure, Hulk — so the guy can look awesome saving the day. This is a major problem the film industry has had since, I would estimate, the mid-to-late 90s, and it drove me nuts when I was a kid to see an actress explaining during an interview that her character was “a strong role model for girls, she really kicks butt with the guys” because it’s always code for “but then she turns into helpless 50s housewife in the latter third of the movie, probably when the bad guy grabs her by the upper arm.” But that’s a separate issue.)

      The idea that the games industry as a whole isn’t rampantly sexist is pretty laughable. When the few female game designers are actively giving interviews in which they describe trying to rein in the horny-adolescent aesthetics of their male co-workers, there’s somethin’ wrong. One of these days we’re gonna look back at this era of games the same way we look back at how dudes interacted with ladies in old movies, and that’s a depressing thought. Proclaiming that a video game has five, count ‘em, FIVE females out of a cast of hundreds, and four of them either useless or crazy, is… well… unconvincing.

      I’m reminded of Bill Watterson’s remark that he wrote Calvin instead of Susie because he was, you know, a guy — and he wished he could read a comic about a little girl written by a woman. You know what I want to play? I want to play some female designer’s Braid. I want an indie game that makes an interesting statement from a female perspective. Then I’ll be convinced that we’re headed toward some kind of balance.

      Final thought: I have no idea what Harley Quinn’s character in Arkham Asylum was — again, DRM — but my wife was incredibly happy to see she was in the game, because in one of the animated series Harley had apparently appeared to intellectual advantage next to the Joker. Somehow I don’t think “absolute crazy psychopath” would excite her quite so much.

      You might be right about the word “bitch” and its use in the game, I don’t know. But you’re still not describing a game that is not sexist.

      • @Mark

        I never, ever said that the games industry does not have issues regarding sexism, In fact, I extensively pointed that out in a previous post – discussing numerous instances of games that I think are genuinely sexist (DOA, the Soul series, Tomb Riader, Prince of Perisa, even Mario).

      • Mark said

        Hi Dale –

        Thanks! I didn’t mean to imply that you thought the games industry didn’t have those problems — just that it’s worth considering that when you say something like “there are five women, and four of them are useless/barely present/crazy”, apparently as an argument that this particular game isn’t sexist. (Re-reading your comment, I still kinda guess that was what you meant?)

        And, since you responded below to point out that the problem with the number of female characters originates in the source material — yes, yes it does. There’s a fair amount of discussion taking place around various places about these kinds of questions and problems in comics. However, my problem wasn’t just that there are five women — it’s that there are five women and four of them are as described above. There’s no reason that Catwoman, who I swear really could be an interesting character, has to be reduced to an ass in the advertising (which, as someone who hasn’t played it, lends credence in my view to Hulk’s interpretation of her role in the game), or that Harley can’t be portrayed as an intellectual challenge to Batman. Is Poison Ivy a loon in the source material? Sure, but that’s pretty one-note, and we can probably assume that any of Batman’s archenemies are criminal nutcases. Basically: I don’t get the impression, even from people supporting the game, that there’s anything interesting or genuinely impressive about their portrayals of the women they did see fit to include.

        (Besides, whatever happened to Batgirl?)

      • I love how it takes me like three minutes to read your comment (which, btw, is great!) and that Dale person spent all of two sentences patting him(?)self on the back and then ignored every one of your talking points. Hayzeus.

      • Mark said

        @Kat — Thanks! Really, all I have to do is ask myself “Is this a media experience I could happily share with my wife — if not, why not?” and the issues follow pretty readily.

        (I actually picked up AA on sale, ignoring the DRM issues, since the above post — and the answer to the first question is, “Ennnnh, probably not most of the time.” Additionally, on my own perspective, I would add, “And actually it’s not [b]that[/b] great a game, very repetitive and honestly kinda boring after a while — what was everyone smoking two years ago when this was getting rave reviews?” Luckily I’ve got a backlog of vintage RPG games my brother bought me recently.)

    • FILMCRITHULK said

      DALE,

      YOU KEEP REFERENCING THIS “TWICE” THING AND HULK HAS NO IDEA HOW THAT POSSIBLE. ASIDE FROM THE SEVEN TIMES HULK HEARD AND QUOTED ON THE FIRST ARTICLE, THERE HAVE SINCE BEEN AT LEAST 70+ BITCHES OF WHICH HULK WROTE DOWN AT LEAST ANOTHER 20 QUOTES OF PEOPLE CALLING THE WOMEN BITCHES.

      IS THERE A DIFFERENT VERSION OF THE GAME IN THE U.K? CAUSE HONESTLY HULK NOT UNDERSTAND.

      ALSO JUST CURIOUS, BUT WHAT DID YOU THINK OF THE PART WHERE CATWOMAN RESCUES BATMAN AND THEIR INTERACTION GOES EXACTLY LIKE THIS?

      [CATWOMAN LIFTS HIM OUT OF RUBBLE SAVING HIS LIFE] “CAN I HELP?”
      BATMAN: “YOU’RE RIGHT I THINK I CHIPPED A NAIL BACK THERE.”

      HULK MEAN, BATMAN THE ONE WHO SAID THAT.

      • For what it’s worth, I’m playing the UK version and the “bitchiness” and threats of sexual violence seemed pretty bloody pervasive to me, too.

        Additional: I’m really interested in how so many people seem to be fixated with the notion that only intentional sexism deserves to be highlighted. And by “interested”, I mean it brings back thoroughly embarassing memories of telling a far-more-patient-than-I-deserved feminist friend that she she should know me well enough to realise that I’m not Capital-S-Sexist, so she shouldn’t be offended by the profoundly stupid thing I just said because obviously it Wasn’t Meant That Way.

        Additional additional: I’d love to hear what all the people who can’t be bothered with sexism in media until the War On Terror is won are personally doing to heal the divide between the Islamic states and the secular Western culture they feel is besieging them. To misquote The Invisibles, so often moral relativism is just Zen for “I can’t be bothered”.

        Thanks so much for this post, Hulk.

      • The Dork Knight said

        So far as I understand, the Catwoman DLC has been malfunctioning for many which has caused them to be locked out from that content. Which could explain a differing perspective.

      • It was a facetious reply referencing the first time that he saved catowman in the game. It was a continuity link.

        To the guy who said something about the lack of female characters: There is a general lack of female characters in the Batman mythos. It’s not the fault of the game that most of those women happen to be vilains; they are simply drawing on the source material.

  57. I just want to thank Rock Paper Shotgun for linking an article on Comics Alliance that had a link to this article. And most of all, thank you.
    Best thing i’ve read in a long time.

  58. UnSubject said

    A very interesting read, thank you.

    I’m looking forward to playing Arkham City, especially now to compare it to Arkham Asylum where I can’t really remember any specific sexism.

    Of course, you are getting the level of attention because you’ve managed to raise the hackles of not just video game players but Batman fans as well; both groups are indeed mighty and numerous on the internet. It’s sad that in their rush to circle the wagons that many respondents don’t stop to look at the validity of the claims and knee-jerk their way to a defence.

    • FILMCRITHULK said

      THE FUNNY THING THAT HULK INCLUDE HULK-SELF IN BOTH GROUPS. JUST COMIN FROM A DIFFERENT VIEWPOINT MAYBE THO.

      • UnSubject said

        I’m a video game fan and superhero movie fan, but I can recognise that both have faults.

        Unfortunately some people have very black and white views of these things, and take, “I like it, but have a few issues with it like…” as “HATE IT ALL AND BURN IT DOWN”, so respond in kind.

  59. John said

    What a great two-part article. I never thought I’d bookmark a blogger that uses all caps and refers to himself as hulk in the third person, but here I am.

    There are a dozen things I want to high five you for writing there. That was one of the more engaging reads I’ve had in a long time, perhaps in part because it was in a surprising place, but mostly because you’re one hell of an articulate blogger that has something valuable to say.

    Awesome job in defending your points, and making good ones to start. I look forward to checking your blog out more.

  60. I was reluctant to your stance at first, but I read your rebuttal word for word and I submit that I was supporting the easy side to this issue. For that I apologize and thank you for opening my eyes. I think you might very well be a reincarnation of Plato; I don’t think I’ve ever read such a well constructed and sincere argument on the internet.

    • FILMCRITHULK said

      HULK SINCERELY THANK. AND THE IMPORTANT THING THAT HULK NOT LOOKING TO PROTEST ROCKSTEADY OR DO ANYTHING SILLY LIKE THAT. HULK JUST WANTS GAME DESIGNERS TO BE A LITTLE MORE AWARE OF THE KINDS OF MESSAGES THEY PUTTING OUT THERE. AND A LOT OF THAT STUFF WOULD HAVE BEEN FINE IF THEY KNEW HOW TO BALANCE IT OR PUT IT IN BETTER CONTEXT.

      BUT AGAIN, HULK SINCERELY THANK. IT DEEPLY APPRECIATED.

  61. Dope piece. And I love that you shouted out Morehouse!!!! Hulk you broke that thang down so that it will forever be broke :)

    • FILMCRITHULK said

      HAHA. HULK THANK! HULK ACTUALLY HAD OLD CORRESPONDENCE WITH AN ENGLISH PROFESSOR THERE. DR. MELVIN RAHMING. HE’S A CARIBBEAN LIT GUY AND THAT ONE OF HULK’S OLD FOCUSES.

  62. Just Another Guy said

    Hey Critic Hulk, first time reader and first time commenter. Before I say anything else great articles, I read both and they are well thought-out and very well done.

    I did want to make one devil’s advocate point though. You pointed out Catwomen’s costume, a often criticized point in comics. I just wanted to counter and perhaps hear your thoughts on the idea that the costume is not only very intentional but actually part of the character. Or rather it represents part of the character. That the costume is not just a female character being made into a object for male readers by male writers, but something that makes sense as part of the character likely something she would have chosen herself.

    I always felt Catwomen understood exactly all things being talked about. She understood that most men see women as objects and rather than being a victim of it she used it to make a victim of the men. She uses sexuality as a weapon, a tool in her arsenal to get what she wants.

    I think the costume critique is a important one that should be brought up more with comics and female characters. But there are a few that I feel don’t fall into that category and catwomen is one of them. But still, great articles, great work, and don’t let the haters get to you. Nothing changes if it’s never challenged.

    • FILMCRITHULK said

      AND HULK THANK!

    • I’d like to say that her sexuality is definitely a weapon. Who, in reference to Catwoman, hasn’t noticed or mentioned that?

      However, there is a line being crossed at times, I feel, with unwarranted “cheesecake”. She can wear a tight leotard (Batman certainly wears form-fitting outfits), but why is her zipper down all the time?

      I would LOVE, LOVE, LOVE! for her to stroll upon a situation she thinks she can use her sexuality as a weapon, and unzip her costume a bit. For the thugs. NOT THE READER. Not have it unzipped 24/7. Her costume certainly outlines her curves enough for the reader to oogle her as it is.

      • And, again, this is a decision made by the creators. You can look throughout comics history to see how many ways they change her outfit. She isn’t locked to ONE outfit, that HAS to be zippered well past her cleavage…

    • The problem I have with this specific version of Catwoman’s costume- I don’t necessarily mind if she dresses “sexy” in general- is, well, how on Earth does she not fall out of that? It’s not like she’s wearing a bustier designed to keep everything in place, or just a low-cut dress- she is literally one-quarter out of her jumpsuit.

      Even by the standards of superheroine wear it’s distractingly impractical. It looks dumb.

      • There is actually a picture of a celebrity (of sorts. I guess enough for someone to take pictures of at a red carpet event) where her nipples literally are falling out of her similarly ridiculous dress. It reminded me of Catwoman’s outfit, and made me laugh.

  63. Bruce Gorton said

    Actually what I found sexist was the way game Batman thought of Harley as not being the brightest.

    Harley’s early career involved her getting Batman into a death trap that came closer than the Joker ever has to killing him.

    She has also at several points demonstrated extreme competence in plotting and running heists. She also has a fairly advanced degree.

    About the only thing she lacks to make her a major league player is ambition – not brains. When properly motivated she is more dangerous than Joker, and Batman knows this.

    So dismissing her as “Not terribly bright” is not an attitude I expect from the Dark Knight.

  64. NewAunts said

    Oh Hulk, Hulk, Hulk… Your conclusion makes me feel bad for not leaving more comments.

    I enjoyed Arkham Asylum but was so disappointed by the treatment of the female characters and to find that very issue being discussed in such a reasonable manner, well it’s really just wonderful and fantastic &c!

    Keep up the good work! What about the game’s treatment of the mentally ill, eh? ;)

  65. D.R. Maddock said

    I’m a teacher myself, and reading this reminded me of one of my favorite videos by Taylor Mali:

  66. I apologise for the whole “this is horseshit” comment last night.

    It’s just hard, as someone who has lived, breathed and played games for 25 of my humble 30 years (and the same with comics) to see this level of criticism.

    I also made it without seeing your comment saying you agreed with me on my point re: publisher/developer and japanese games culture, so again, really sorry.

    I still totally stand by my point thought that I only heard the word “bitch” twice in my entire playthrough. And I would also argue, again, that:

    a) the issues weren’t as prevalent in Asylum because there were fewer female characters

    b) Poison Ivy is sexist against men (humanity in general, to be honest, but she really does seem to have a beef against people with bits between their legs). Catwoman is portrayed as being essential to Batman’s survival. Talia is portrayed as being an incredibly independent woman. I would argue these points counter, or should at least be taken into account to balance, accusations of sexism.

    c) I have already mentioned this, but the game draws heavily on source material. The Batman Mythos is relatively light on female characters, and most of them have always either been “damsels in distress” or vilains. Rocksteady were simply drawing on the source. Hate the content? Blame the comics.

    • Ross said

      A list of female Batman allies:
      Barbara Gordon (Batgirl)
      Cassandra Cain (Batgirl)
      Stephanie Brown (Batgirl)
      Kate Kane (Batwoman)
      Betty/Bette Kane (Bat-girl)
      Renee Montoya
      Huntress
      Vicky Vale
      Leslie Thompkins

      Batman female villains:
      Catwoman
      Poison Ivy
      Talia al Ghul
      Harley Quinn
      Lady Shiva
      (new) Ventriloquist

      I count 15. Of the allies, only Vicky Vale and Leslie Thompkins are not costumed heroes who know how to fight.

    • I’m not sure I buy the “hate the content. Blame the comics” comment. The Batman comics go back to before I was born, and have clearly changed massively in content and style along the way in response to changing cultural norms. Different artists/writers have presented wildly differing interpretations of Batman.

      Rocksteady may be drawing on existing material, but they reserve the right to infuse it with their own style, tone and message, whilst still remaining faithful to the fundamentals.

      Apart from anything else, video games are a different medium to comic books and films) and theme is communicated in a completely different way.

      • Also, to add onto many points here, Dini is known for introducing the Batman world to Harley Quinn through B:TAS. Could he not do so here as well? Hate the content? CHANGE THE CONTENT! Add to it. Aren’t they already doing that by making a game that doesn’t follow any singular story to a T?

  67. DS said

    First off, I really loved reading these two articles. But I’m not convinced the problem is quite so bad as you make it out to be.
    I’d read a brief translation of your ‘bitch’ argument on Kotaku before i played the game and so I was bracing myself for a load of sexist slurs when i played it through. But beyond the background chatter and in-combat taunts (which is horribly written in almost every game, and especially in this one) I wasn’t too overwhelmed by the ‘bitch’ slinging in the game and didnt find it particularly sexist.
    I suppose what might make the difference is how you interpret the ridiculously sexualised Catwoman. I can see how you could immediately see Catwoman’s appearance as a gift for randy teenagers in the form of gratuitous bum and cleavage shots, but I (maybe through my own naïvety) saw Catwoman as a relatively strong character; Catwoman shamelessly flaunts her sexuality simply because its fun and because she can without any regard for the cat-calling [sorry] of the thugs she’s beating up. In each of her appearances she breaks players free from batman’s brooding asexual and sterile mould, which I found feel like some much needed liberation during the darkest points of batman’s main campaign- and every time she shows up in the campaign, she makes Batman suddenly seem very restricted, rigid and repressed.
    At least, that’s how it felt to me when i was playing through (but admittedly im far from an expert when it comes to feminism). I’d be interested to here your opinion, because I don’t think you particularly tackled this particular argument in the articles.
    Keep up good work- this is all very interesting!

    • A point I’d like to address: the word “bitch” IS sexist. That’s objective, not subjective. It is an attempt to dehumanize a woman by calling her an animal. Whether or not the word bothers one is subjective (though I maintain any hatespeech should bother people, but that’s my personal opinion and you are not obligated to agree, obvs). People saying that the word isn’t misogynist are often the same people who don’t understand why “they” can use “that word” but “I” can’t (viz.: homosexuals reclaiming the words “queer” and “fag”; African/Caribbean/mixed race individuals reclaiming the word “nigger”). Words have meanings, histories, and serious connotations, even when spoken in jest, and you don’t get to decide for the rest of the population what those meanings, histories, and connotations are or whether other people “should” be upset or offended by them. Just something to keep in mind when you think, “I’m not offended/I don’t find that offensive.” I wouldn’t find it offensive coming from some people, and others, I’d excoriate them to the nth degree. It’s not fair to assume others’ perspectives are your own. ;) Most people grow out of that in elementary school!

      • So I take it you find the words “prick”, “dick”, “bastard” etc, equaly sexist?
        Sexism works both ways, but (and this is going to be controversial) it seems acceptable when it’s directed towards men. I mean, here in the UK we have a show called “Loose Women”. Which is just an hour, every day, of women moaning about how pathetic and useless men are. It’s the most blatantly sexist thing on television over here. But it gets let off. Now if there was an equivalent show about men talking about women like that, it would be taken off air after its first show.

      • DS said

        sorry; just to clarify, i didnt mean that i don’t find the use of ‘bitch’ sexist (it obviously is)- i was referring to the game as a whole- which i’m not convinced is so bad

    • DS said

      Oh, and i also just noticed the counter move where catwoman kisses the guy she’s beating up— that does diminish my point somewhat…

  68. Odyani said

    Hey there! I came with a bit of reluctance, not because I disagreed with your point in the first article, but that it came off a little over done, which can make one wary of how well someone is thinking something through.

    But, any doubts that could be raised by the first are certainly destroyed by this well written follow-up. I love Arkham City personally, and I’ve played games for my whole life so I’m quite used to having to deal with various subtle or dumb sexism in games. Usually though, they’re just groaners/eye-rollers and you move on. Uncharted series for example, the female characters physical design may fall into some sexist views, but from a writing standpoint (at least I feel) those games managed to make them strong female characters to the point where their attractiveness or whatever you want to call it fell to the sidelines that I completely forgot about it.

    In Arkham City though, it always felt like it was in my face. I felt uncomfortable playing as Catwoman, which is a shame because I really enjoyed her playstyle and I thought it offered a nice breakup in the pace of the game. It’s fun to traverse the city in a different way and fights were different. But even just her idle animations as I tried to survey an area made me uncomfortable.

    I won’t deny that I actually thought of Argument #1 during my playthrough, but after reading this article I realized, it may be realistic that prison inmates would lob sexist remarks left and right, but sometimes realism doesn’t equal entertainment value. In some cases it actually diminishes it.

    It was actually your comment about what makes the Riddler interesting (somewhere up there) that made me think about how, if anything, the somewhat childish uses of the word “bitch” make the thugs seem less intimidating tough guy and just dumb. The Riddler was handled quite well I felt, but he wasn’t lobbing curses and the like. He came off as genuinely crazy but not in an animal like way. Similar stuff could be said for the Joker in the last game (He didn’t get much time to shine I felt this time around) and in Nolan’s movie.

    The only thing I still don’t really agree with is in regards to Harley, not counting what Thugs say about her. The push and just her character in general is handled okay I think. Though maybe it’s just in comparison to the others, she seems to not be as weighed down by the sexism. Except for that part where she’s tied up. That was just weird.

    Sorry if I repeated myself or anything, or if I sound like an idiot. I don’t usually comment on things. ><

  69. Becky said

    As a woman I really enjoyed your thoughtful rebuttal to all of the excuses about this game. While I can’t speak for my fellow ladies, I personally don’t believe you’re telling women that we /have/ to be oppressed by the sexist language in this game. I think that you, as a man, are doing an excellent job of educating people about a sensitive issue. A great deal of men will NOT ever listen to a woman’s thoughts on feminism, but they will be opened to the idea by other men- you’re an ally to feminists in this, and I thank you for taking the time to address these issues.

    Also, a quick rebuttal to the (thankfully few) male responders who are saying that there’s a non-sexist way to call a woman a bitch, when it’s “warranted”? “Bitch” will still forever have sexist connotations. If you don’t want to sound sexist/misogynistic? Then don’t use sexist/misogynistic words.

    • “Also, a quick rebuttal to the (thankfully few) male responders who are saying that there’s a non-sexist way to call a woman a bitch, when it’s “warranted”? “Bitch” will still forever have sexist connotations. If you don’t want to sound sexist/misogynistic? Then don’t use sexist/misogynistic words.”

      THANK YOU FOR THISSSSSSSS

  70. Andrew said

    Thanks for Argument #9. Understanding the relation between tone and context is something I’ve understood in my head, but never really been able to express in words. Thanks for busting out some education on me.

    Also, I can’t stand the way Catwoman has been depicted over the last couple years. I got into her during the Brubaker/Ruka era, when she was complex, flawed, and a femme fatale. Seeing her downgraded into a series of dumb one liners and some booty shots really blows.

  71. Daniel W. said

    This might sound weird, but I had never really considered Argument 14 (or your response to it, more specifically.) Playing through the Catwoman sections, I was a little annoyed by the constant “bitch” comments, but nothing more. I chalked it up to mere laziness, or ignorance.

    However, you make a great point: sexism borne out of laziness IS still sexism. Being unintentionally racist is still being racist, after all. But I had still never really thought of it like that, so kudos to you for opening up that point of view, Hulk.

    I still think you have to look at their intention, though. There’s no doubt in my mind that Rocksteady didn’t mean to be sexist, so I kind of shrug it off as more ‘innocent’ sexism. That probably isn’t a very good way of looking at things, but that’s just how my mind works, you know? I didn’t see any indication that the developers held actual, real life contempt for women. (I’m not saying you did, either.) Instead, I feel like the writers didn’t really know any real way to write a realistic, strong female character, so they decided to have a female character that oozes sexuality beating up men calling her a bitch and making veiled rape threats against her. This was obviously not the way to go for this.

    But I digress. This was a fantastic article (as was the previous one.) Fantastic game, too, despite its faults.

    • FILMCRITHULK said

      YEAH IT SORT OF THE WEIRD THING. INTENTION REALLY ISN’T THE IMPORTANT PART IN SHAPING SOCIETY BUT RESULT. SEXISM ISN’T ABOUT OPENLY-WOMAN HATING, EVERYONE PRETTY MUCH LOOKS DOWN ON THAT. SEXISM USUALLY HAS WAY MORE TO DO WITH THE WAYS WE ARE UNAWARE OF HOW WE’RE CREATING A BAD ENVIRONMENT.

      HOWEVER, INTENTION ACTUALLY HAS A HUGE PART OF THIS STUFF IN HOW IT RELATES TO COMEDY. SARAH SILVERMAN CAN MAKE INAPPROPRIATE JOKES BECAUSE THERE IS A CONTEXT TO HER “CHARACTER” AND SHE DOESN’T ACTUALLY MEAN IT. MEANWHILE THE SAME AUDIENCE WILL GET MAD AT NICK DIPAULO BECAUSE HE’S “TELLING IT LIKE IT IS!”

      • Daniel W. said

        Very true, Hulk. Keep up the great blog! I love the gimmick, and it’s extremely obvious you’re well-versed in film and cinematic language.

  72. Hey Hulk, I’ve read your blog for a while now and I think it is excellent. I didn’t want to comment until I had a chance to play the game myself but now that I have I don’t have much to add except that I totally agree with you.

    I would think that “sexism is rife in video games” would be as self-evident and non-controversial a statement as you could make, but something about the topic tends to bring out the worst in people. I think part of it is that people aren’t used to thinking critically about video games the same way they are about film or books. That will change in time, though. At least I hope so.

    It’s a pity about the Catwoman parts of this game because they are super fun to play. With all the narration and moody atmosphere there’s the seeds of a really great neo-noir crime story in there. Have you read the Brubaker/Cooke run on Catwoman? Now THAT’S a book that did Selina right.

    • How awesome is navigating Arkham City as Catwoman? I thought it would be weird to see her so high in the sky, but they managed to give us a very comic-y mechanic that totally works and feels right at home with the character.

      I thought I was going to fall to my death the first time I ran for a building far away after hitting R1.

      • Yep, I would totally play a Catwoman game, although it’d be nice if they made her dialog a little less embarassing and maybe zipped up her outfit a little bit.

      • I don’t know if you read my previous comment, but here it is again. I think it goes along great with what you just said:

        “I’d like to say that her sexuality is definitely a weapon. Who, in reference to Catwoman, hasn’t noticed or mentioned that?

        However, there is a line being crossed at times, I feel, with unwarranted “cheesecake”. She can wear a tight leotard (Batman certainly wears form-fitting outfits), but why is her zipper down all the time?

        I would LOVE, LOVE, LOVE! for her to stroll upon a situation she thinks she can use her sexuality as a weapon, and unzip her costume a bit. For the thugs. NOT THE READER. Not have it unzipped 24/7. Her costume certainly outlines her curves enough for the reader to oogle her as it is.”

  73. Naramsin said

    Nolan’s Dark Knight is weakest Batman movie from our time, it’s not even a Batman movie, it could just as well pass as another Jason Bourne incarantion ( or other way round if direcor would have put Matt Damon in Bat costume you would have claimed The Bourne Supermacy is a best Batman movie ,pfft). It’s just Americans are too young nation to understand history, culture and mythology.

    • If it smells like Batman, talks like Batman, and ACTS like Batman, I don’t see how it is anything but a Batman film…

      I can understand why some may feel it differs way too much from the Batman mythos. Nolan likes getting things down to a realistic feel and keeping things from going too out there (Beyond having a guy dress up as a bat). However, it plays on the fact that Batman does not kill (in modern interpretations of the character). It also plays on why Batman is weary of having relations with anyone, as Batman and as Bruce.

      Nolan also touches on the idea of what Batman stands for, beyond a MAN for good. He is a symbol. Something that lasts. As Ra’s says in the films, it’s an IDEA. And Ledger’s Joker may be the most pure form of Loki that I always felt his character was meant to be.

      There is so much right about Nolan’s Batman films that I think it sucks you dismiss it as “…not even a Batman movie…”

  74. samcvb said

    Hey Film Critic Hulk!

    Keep on keeping on.

  75. Robert K. said

    I didn’t have particularly strong feelings about this issue (in large part since I haven’t played the game yet – I’m a PC guy), generally getting a feeling that Hulk was overreacting a little bit. My viewpoint softened a little bit today though. I was channel surfing and came across the movie MacGruber (a movie I have seen before). The villain of that movie is called Cunth, and of course most characters pronounce the name in such manner that the final consonant doesn’t quite sound like a /t/ but isn’t entirely a /th/ either. My gut reaction was that this is juvenile beyond stupidity and a little sexist at the same time (although thankfully the villain is a man – I don’t think even an idiotic comedy like this would have the balls to give that name to a female villain). Anyway, I immediately thought of this issue discussed here and started to see things more Hulk’s way. However I contend that the MacGruber example is in fact far worse since there is absolutely no context present – giving a prominent character such a name is entirely the decision of the writer(s) and gives us a peek into their psyche much more closely than the idle chatter of random thugs. I also might feel this strongly because to me the c-word is one of the most vile slurs in the English language, not just against women but in general. In fact only the n-word comes close, and even that has been diluted by its reappropriation by black people and the use and existence of the soft ‘nigga’ variation.

    On a tangential matter, while reading about this issue I came across a counter-argument to the “psychopathic criminal” argument that asked how come Batman is not called anything profane, stating that “freak” is the worst insult hurled against him. I don’t want to take sides in the “psychopathic criminal” argument (although I would like to know if the thugs call the police “pigs” – that would cast some additional light on the issue for me) but I do want to talk about the word “freak.” I would argue that while by itself it is not a profane word (then again neither is bitch when referring to a female dog, but that’s beside the point) it is indeed a serious insult that doesn’t elicit an immediate visceral response simply because there is no slur that conveys the same sentiment (I might be wrong though, feel free to correct me). Think about it. You might call someone you find eccentric, like a goth or a furry, a weirdo, but calling them a freak would clearly be an insult. And would you call someone with Down syndrome, Asperger’s or dwarfism a freak, either to their face or even behind their backs? Food for thought.

    P.S. Hey Hulk, I came across this excellent blog of yours via reference from the Escapist to your South Park article. Now that we are several episodes into the second half of the season I would love to hear your thoughts about it. Personally I found that while “Ass Burgers” was difficult to judge (being a continuation of “You’re Getting Old”) and “Bass to Mouth” was so-so, “Last of the Meheecans” was downright asinine. I almost hope that it was supposed to be a self-parody.

  76. Can someone please link to a video showing this sexism? I’ve been arguing with people about it and one of them has gone and rented the game so I don’t want to look less informed for arguing this case. I am so tired of privileged male gamers.

    • jayd189 said

      This is the problem with the world. You don’t want to take the time to investigate (play the game yourself) and make your own opinion, you’d rather jump on a bandwagon.

      I’m so tired of people deciding to argue over something they don’t actually know about but heard about on the internet.

      • Have you considered that it might just be a case of not having/wanting to pay money for the game?

      • jayd189 said

        @Andreas Lupieri

        Can easily go to said friends place to try.

        There are these wonderful things called demos, they let you try the game for free.

        This still screams to me: I don’t want to think, tell me what to think and I’ll pretend it’s my opinion.

      • FILMCRITHULK said

        HULK NOT SURE PEOPLE ACTUALLY THINK LIKE THAT.

      • @Jay,

        As far as I know, there is no demo (I just looked, and nothing I came across mentioned a demo). The first had one. It was trying to sell the game. That was a huge success. They had very little reason to have a demo of the second game, with all of the critical and commercial success it had. The mechanics largely haven’t changed.

        Additionally, how will a demo give you a sense of the story, and more importantly, the specific things HULK and everyone here is talking about? If you played Arkham Asylum’s demo, it was basically a glorified tech demo of the combat system. There may have been another I can’t recall (nor seem to search for) that gave some of the story, but it was a small portion at best. Are you calling the kettle black by not fulling understanding what you are talking about as well?

      • jayd189 said

        @Bill

        T’was but 1 option I gave, and I wasn’t at my console to check if their was a demo or not. Oh well.

        There are still a multitude of others.

        Buy
        Rent
        Friends
        Borrow From A Library (Yes, I found out earlier this year most library’s lend out games and movies now)

      • @J,

        I don’t know of any libraries that lack a stock of films to watch. That has been around for quite some time. Video games are still very much a new thing and aren’t at a lot of place, and a lot of it stems from people not having a lot of respect for games. I will stop there before I go off on a tangent. For the record, I work at a library.

        And I agree that your point of playing the game before jumping on a bandwagon is often vital. You have to form your own opinions.

      • I would have thought that seeing a video of the game would be an excellent way of investigating the game without playing it. That is to say, this person is actively trying to do the research that you’re deriding them for not doing. Or do you only get to hear the game when you’re playing it yourself? (And note that her previous arguments were with people who ALSO hadn’t played the game.)

        I, for instance, haven’t played the game because it’s not out on PC yet, thanks a lot developers. I don’t want to buy or rent a console just so I can play a game that I’ve already pre-ordered a few weeks earlier — but I’m also quite curious about this issue and would love to have more objective data on the sexism in the game. I also want to remain spoiler free as much as possible, which means — I wait.

    • Video of this stuff will likely never be available, nor will it give a good understanding of the game. At all. Or would you like to watch three hours of gameplay online? Because that’s about the only way you can really research a game like this.

  77. dcpla said

    This is wonderful (as was the original article).
    The whole caps thing reminds me more of Fujin from Final Fantasy VIII than The Hulk, though.

  78. Thank you for the blog, the activism, and, most of all, thank you so much for this second write-up, as it used many of the arguments as a springboard for discussion points that are far bigger and far-reaching than the one game itself. These issues, these topics, these pressures and problems in society filtered through our media outlets (movies, tv, books, commercials, games) is no trivial thing. It is worth the discourse and it is worth the time and energy investment in giving a shit.

    As stated, we are all in this together. All of us! This is life, this is our world, this is our future being made, right now and every now after that. It is why issues and topics likes these– in ‘fun’ activities like our movies and our games (and their respective industries)– are a passion of mine. The meaning is much deeper and it goes far beyond ‘this is just a game’ too inconsequential to be scrutinized or held up to progressive social standards, basic humane standards and social responsibility. Because they are reflections of how society comes to see things and how we see ourselves, and whether or not we like what we are seeing shone back to us.

    I appreciate you and what you want for everyone, because I want it too.

  79. Nigel Weir said

    Great set of Articles.

    I thought, as a Game Deveolper myself, I’d throw up some potential reasons why these lines from NPC’s keep poping up, beside the unintentional sexism.
    Note I haven’t played the game, so these may not by why, but still interesting food for thought.
    It sounds like a lot of what your highlighting is the lines said by the generic enemies around the place, the standard thugs.
    These kinds of lines, generally called “Barks” or “Callouts” are often randomly selected from a list at the time the NPC chooses to say something. The problem with randomly selecting things is that you can easily end up with the same couple of results again and again, thus making it seem like they’re constantly referring to particular things, when really they’re just happen to be constantly rolling up the same couple of lines. Generally this kind of thing is avoided by reducing the chance of a line being said for a certain time/number of barks after it is said, but not everyone does that/knows to do that.
    Continuing on from that, the list of available lines for NPC’s may just be really short, as in only two or three choices. If it is, the frequency those kinds of lines pop up will obviously be greater. Voice acting isn’t cheap and if the choice comes down to two more lines of random background npc barks or an extra Quality Assurace guy for a couple of weeks, it’s a pretty easy choice.
    The particular offending lines may also, for whatever reason, be more unique, for lack of a better word. Splinter Cell Conviction is especially bad on this (I know you’re out there Fisher! Come on Out!) and maybe these lines, because of their delivery are standing out above the rest of the barks and you’re picking up on them more because of that.
    These kinds of lines are also often not written by the main narrative designer, depending on how tight the schedule is. They may have been handed off to a less experienced writer, or someone else in the office who just happened to have a week or two free to do it. While that doesn’t excuse those kinds of lines, the leads should be looking over that kind of stuff and either fixing it or removing it, people can sometimes just drop in a line that sounds cool, not realising what it’s actually saying in context with everything else.

    As for lines during cutscenes, actual story important lines, my question to you would be, if the NPC barks were removed, would you still be noticing the sexism? Would it still exist? I guess what it comes down to is, are the individual parts each on their own sexist or is it when combined together that it becomes sexist?
    While neither should happen, being a game developer I can see how sometimes you’re just not thinking on that wavelength when creating that particular asset, design, line of dialogue, whatever and you just don’t see it till someone who’s a few steps back points it out.

    Anyway thats my two cents. I may be far off base but I thought I’d throw that out there anyway…

    • I think, as HULK has mentioned, the word bitch isn’t all that offensive as a whole. The excessive use of it? That’s just rude. Not necessarily sexist, if it had context.

      NOW, add in the odd tone of the game, and some various actions, along with the character dialog (non-thugs) and the dress of the female characters, and ALL of it adds to something disturbing.

      Take the excessive “bitch” out of the equation, you still have a sexist game. The use of the word is just one aspect of the game’s troublesome undertones (you may say, but wait, bitch is an overtone, but I would argue the reason BEHIND the use of the word can be chalked up as an undertone).

      As for your comments, they made me think. It’s a great point to understand, and maybe this is why it seems like a few people out there are having very different feelings on how many times the word “bitch” is used.

      However, it isn’t just the SAME line of dialogue being used with the word “bitch” in it. There are at least a dozen different dialgoues that I can confidently recall with the word “bitch” in it, and that doesn’t even count the troublesome lines about how Harley deserves it, and the sexual acts they might perform, “Woa, hey, that’s the bosses girl you’re talking about…”

      That reminds me to shiver about the undertones again.

  80. edward said

    seriously, every hulk blog post i read makes me a better thinker.

    i don’t even play videogames, i had no stake in this topic or the dialogue between you and other commenters. but i’m certainly more aware for reading it.

    and, as a matter of fact, i did have stake in the topic. speaking up against blatantly disguised (hm…?) sexism in the game was a perfectly great example to address the authors’ / creators’ responsibilities to audience members.

    thanks, filmcritichulkbro. keep posting and i’ll keep learning.

  81. Will said

    I just read these two Arkham City articles and they are superb on numerous levels. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and defences with such reason and detail.

    I haven’t played Arkham City, so I’m not in a position to comment on the game itself, but your writing makes a very important argument – the relevance of which stretches well beyond just this one title.

    I’ve not read any of your other articles; I’ll be sure to do so now!

  82. El Zorro said

    I’m having trouble reconciling the actual point between the two articles; on the one hand you reference the movie Straw Dogs and contrast it against the ‘Bitch-bitch-rape-reference’ nature of Arkham City(which I thought was weird, but not particularly sexist- ‘bitch’ is just the goto female insult- much like males call such people ‘asshole’ or ‘motherfucker’). To me, it seems you give Straw Dogs a pass because it is ‘intellectual sexism’ and so is somehow… less bad(harmful?) than the more thoughtlessly juvenile form you find in Arkham City.

    You seemed to be attacking it more because it was boring sexism than from any actual offense you took from it.

    But by the end of the second article(WAKEUP, etc), though, you seemed to be sounding the horn to end sexism around the world.

    So is all sexism bad, or just the poorly presented kind?

    (Lastly, all the ‘bitch’talk does get annoying, especially since it seems to be the ONLY vulgarity in the game, and so tries to make up for a lack of variety with volume.)

    • FILMCRITHULK said

      GOOD QUESTION.

      THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO IS EVERYTHING. THE AWARENESS OF THE TABOOS EXPLORED IN STRAW DOGS, ACTIVELY WORKS IN A WAY TO BOTH SEPARATE US FROM IT AND YET MAKE US COMPLICIT IN VERY INTENTIONAL WAY. THAT SOUNDS TRICK, BUT IT’S EXECUTED IN A WAY WHERE NO ONE WALKS OUT OF IT “NOT GETTING WHAT THE BIG DEAL IS.” THE MOVIE IS LITERALLY MEANT TO ENGAGE US IN A VERY SPECIFIC DIALOGUE ABOUT GENDER ROLES. IT THEREFORE DOESN’T NEED A PASS.

      THE SEXISM ON DISPLAY IN ARKHAM CITY ON THE OTHER HAND IS CASUAL, UNAWARE, AND ULTIMATELY INSIDIOUS. IT WEARS THIS CASUAL SEXISM WITH A KIND OF UNSUSPECTING PRIDE. AND WHILE THE OFFENSE OF THE ACTUAL ACTIONS MIGHT BE LESS INTENSE THAN STRAW DOGS, THERE IS A KIND OF VAPID QUALITY THE GAME TAKES IN HURLING OUT BITCH INSULTS AND SEX-KITTENISM WITHOUT A SINGLE THOUGHT AS TO THE CONSEQUENCE. YOU CAN TOTALLY PLAY IT AND “NOT SEE WHAT THE BIG DEAL IS.” AND THAT’S WHAT’S MOST BOTHERSOME. AGAIN, NOT SAYING YOU CAN’T DO THOSE THINGS BUT HULK ARGUE IF THEY WERE AWARE OF HOW IT WOULD COME OFF TO A GOOD DEAL OF PEOPLE, THEN TO SOME DEGREE IT MIGHT OF AFFECTED SAID CASUALNESS.

      WHICH MEANS IT’S NOT REALLY A QUESTION OF GOOD / BAD PRESENTATION BUT A KIND OF RECKLESSNESS.

      AND IT’S NOT A CALL TO END SEXISM. JUST TO BE AWARE. BECAUSE AWARENESS TEMPERS EVERYTHING.

      GOOD QUESTION AGAIN THOUGH.

      CHEERS,
      HULK

      • El Zorro said

        Touché, sir. I wasn’t sure if I would stick with your blog beyond these two articles and that one comment. Now I’ll certainly be seeing you around.

        But what about the argument of “bitch” as simply a vulgarity for females? Different words are (appropriately) applied to the different genders- boy and girl, ladies and gentlemen, bitch and asshole. It just seems like there are so many more vulgarities for males than females: seriously, think of how many vulgar terms you have for males, and then think of them for females- I for one can only think of three female terms: Bitch and two others that are so vulgar I won’t print them the way I did for “motherfucker”(obviously they wouldn’t be put in ANY videogame with a “T” rating) in my last post.

        I don’t know, am I sexist for calling a man and a woman an asshole and a bitch respectively when someone of either gender pisses me off?

      • FILMCRITHULK said

        USE OF THE WORD BITCH SORT OF A THING HULK SHOULD HAVE QUALIFIED BUT IT GETS A LITTLE TOO INTO GENDER THEORY FOR HULK’S “MAKE IT SIMPLE” KIND OF THING.

        LET’S QUALIFY ONE THING. LIFE IS HARDER FOR WOMEN. MUCH, MUCH HARDER. THE OBVIOUS PROBLEM WITH THIS BEING THAT IN TERMS OF CAPABILITY IN EVERY WAY, SHAPE, FORM, GENDER IS LARGELY A BIOLOGICAL ILLUSION. YET SOCIETY HAS CREATED CONSTRUCTS WHERE THAT NOT APPEAR TO BE THE CASE IN PRACTICE. COOL? COOL.

        ONE OF THE REASONS THIS DOESN’T “FEEL” TRUE TO SO MANY GUYS IS THAT WOMAN ARE LARGELY “THE GATE KEEPERS” TO SEXUAL EXPERIENCE. AND SINCE SO MANY YOUNG MALES ARE OBSESSED WITH SEXUAL EXPERIENCE THEY PERCEIVE A FEELING OF LESS-THAN AND BEING AT THE MERCY OF WOMAN IN THIS ONE ARENA. THIS COLORS THE FACT THAT WOMAN ARE AT A DISTINCT CULTURAL DISADVANTAGE INE EVERY SINGLE OTHER ARENA AS NOT “SEEMING TRUE.” NOT ONLY THAT BUT THE AFOREMENTIONED PRESSURE ON WOMAN TO DELIVER IN THAT SEXUAL ARENA WHILE STILL MAINTAING A MADONNA LIKE IMAGE IS AWFUL. THE MIXED MESSAGING AND PRESSURE MEANS THAT THE ILLUSION OF BEING A SEXUAL GATEKEEPER IS ALSO FALSE

        SO NOW WE COME TO THE WORD BITCH.

        THE WORD BITCH IS SEXUALLY CHARGED TERM THAT COMES ABOUT WHEN WOMEN ARE BEING MEAN, JERKS, CRAZY, OR GENERALLY “BAD.” AND UNLIKE ASSHOLE IT IS DISTINCTLY FEMININE.

        THE REAL PROBLEM IS THAT THE WORD BITCH IS MOST FREQUENTLY MISUSED WHEN A WOMAN IS SHOWING STRONG PERSONALITY TRAITS. USUALLY ONES WHERE THEY ARE SPECIFICALLY TRYING TO OVERCOME SAID CONDITIONS OF OPPRESSION. THEY’VE DONE A MILLION STUDIES AND WHILE A MALE BOSS CAN BE CALLED A DICK, HE MOSTLY JUST REGARDED AS “MEAN.” BUT A FEMALE BOSS IS ALWAYS A BITCH.

        AGAIN, THE WORD IS CODED WITH SOME MUCH RESENTMENT AND POWER-STRIPPING INTENTION THAT IS THE GREAT UNEQUALIZER. AND THUS LOADED.

        NOW IS HULK SAYING THE WORD MUST BE BANNED? OF COURSE NOT. JUST BE AWARE OF HOW LOADED IT IS. MOST PEOPLE AREN’T AWARE OF COURSE. HULK KNOWS WE’RE NOT EVEN CLOSE.

        BUT PUT IT LIKE THIS: ARE MOST PEOPLE AWARE THAT THE N-BOMB IS A LOADED WORD? OF COURSE. SO IN THAT CASE WOULD YOU SAY: “YEAH THEY CALL HIM AN N-BOMB, BUT GUESS WHAT!? HE’S TOTALLY BEING AN N-BOMB!”

        … YEAH… NOT THE SAME INTENSITY. BUT IT’S SAME LOGIC.

        BITCH HAS TO HAVE A CONTEXT WHERE YOU’RE LETTING PEOPLE KNOW YOU UNDERSTAND THE CONTEXT AND POWER.

        FOR EXAMPLE HULK FELT OKAY SAYING “BITCHES BE TRIPPIN!” BECAUSE FROM CONTEXT OF LAST ARTICLE IT WOULD BE CLEAR WHAT HULK THOUGHT OF POOR USE OF THE WORD IN CERTAIN CONTEXT.

        COOL? COOL.

      • El Zorro, I am so glad you got HULK to clarify that. Wow. That was informative beyond what I was thinking. Yeesh. Clearly, I have a lot to learn.

  83. El Zorro said

    On rereading your reply, I want to see if I can boil down your thoughts to the simplest form- you call the perceived sexism in Arkham City ‘”insidious” because it is proud of what it is(as it ought to be- it is a phenominal sequel to a phenominal game), but seems to be unaware of it’s conceivably sexist slant. (I hope I’m not coloring this with my viewpoint, but I think I might be.)

    Whereas Straw Dogs was in the clear because it knew precisely what it was going for from the gate- all of it’s sexism was intentional and(as I understand it, since I’ve never seen it) was basically the whole point of the film.

    I know my synopsis here won’t cover everything, but have I got the gist of this portion of it?

    • FILMCRITHULK said

      YOU DEFINITELY GOT THE GIST.

      EVERYONE WHO KEEPS ARGUING “BUT THEY’RE THE BAD GUYS!” IS KIND OF MISSING THE POINT OF PRESENTATION. HULK KEEPS SAYING “IT’S MEANT TO BE FUNNY” BUT THAT NOT GOOD WAY OF PUTTING IT. IT’S MEANT TO TO BE AMUSING. WHEN A GUY IS SAYING “THAT BITCH” YOU THINK OH HE’S A BAD GUY BUT THEY IMMEDIATELY THEN HAVING HIM START MAKING INNUENDOS ABOUT CATWOMANS BISEXUALITY.

      THEY ALSO HAVE A GUY WHO SEXUALLY FIXATES ON A FROZEN WOMAN. ALSO THEY GIVE YOU THE REPEATED OPTION TO GAG AND UNGAG HARLEY QUINN AFTER SHE’S PUNISHED FOR SOMETHING SHE DOESN’T DESERVE TO BE PUNISHED FOR (SPOILERY IF REVEALED)

      THE TONE IS WEIRD AS FUCK.

      THEY HAVE NO IDEA WHAT THEY WERE SAYING. AND TONE MATTERS.

      THIS EXTREME CASE THAT NOT COMPARABLE BUT IT GETS AT THE THINKING. IMAGINE SCENES OF SCHINDLERS LIST IN THEIR REGULAR “THIS IS A HORRIBLE THING TO SAY / DO” CONTEXT. WE KNOW THIS BECAUSE OF THE MANNER IT IS PRESENTED. NOW IMAGINE THOSE SCENES WITH A CASUALNESS AND SOMEWHAT JOKING TERMS.

      IS HULK COMPARING THE TWO? OF COURSE NOT. JUST THE THINKING.

  84. HULKS ARGUMENTS TRANSLATED TO THE TOPIC OF WAR IN GAMES. GERMAN LANGUAGE: http://88147.webhosting34.1blu.de/99leben/?p=398

  85. How is it possible that you have improved on a well-reasoned argument the first time around? This time, you leave little to argue against. Yet, people continue to find ways to make me think, even when I agree with nearly everything you have said. This is fostering some great discussion, and garnering some great reaction.

    It still seems that a lot of people are skimming the article and then going off on a tangent. That’s a shame. People also need to learn how to make arguments and choose their specific points instead of making a blog post in the comments themselves. Ha.

    I am also very glad you broke down the idea of what tone and context means. It’s always better to see someone else more eloquently articulate that point. And your patience is astounding. I have seen you have discourse in the past in the comments from some of your posts, but never this many times with such determination to not HULK out and go bonkers.

    I haven’t played the game much lately (this weekend I was out of town, and my main TV was DOA when I got back). But it does seem the bitch talk has cooled. Why? Why did it suddenly go away? I look forward to the next session as Catwoman to see if the chatter returns.

    • FILMCRITHULK said

      “BITCH” GOES AWAY TIL SOME LATER CATWOMAN STUFF, BUT THE WEIRDNESS COMES BACK WITH A VENGEANCE.

      LOOKS LIKE HULK HAVE TO DO A PART 3

  86. Luis said

    I made a sexist comment yesterday, thinking it was hilarious. It was out of context, insulting, and factually wrong. It also encouraged a sexist culture, feels bad.

    Thank you for writing, I’m trying to be more respectful towards others and your articles help.

  87. Something I’ve noticed with regard to Argument #1 / 2. Whenever these hardened thugs who are “just using the language that prisoners would actually use” catch a glimpse of Batman they yell out “I knew he was too chicken to fight me!”

    “Chicken.”

    Seriously.

    When they’re talking about Catwoman, their language is “totally realistic”. When they’re talking about Batman, they sound like nine-year-olds on the playground. I found it really jarring.

  88. Darren said

    Well said, Hulk. The sexist overtones in Arkham City came off as weird and out of place to me, especially based on my experience with the first game. The Catwoman sequences, in particular, just made me feel uncomfortable. It’s really a shame, since I enjoyed the rest of the game so much.

    You’ve got a regular reader on your hands now, Hulk.

  89. This is a fantastic article. I’m glad there are some people in this world that give a hulk and call out this terrible shit when it happens.

    In the end all we want is a really good game, that gives us all those happy nerd feelings, no matter who we are. The inertia to dismiss problems like this under the stupid assumption that it’s separate from “gameplay” and could be overlooked has never been relevant, especially with a game that has lots of lore and dependent character profiles. It’s just been ignored because ideas such as sexism were (are) rarely responsibly addressed by video game directors.

    I’m guessing this was an attempt to capitalize on the simple sex-sells mantra nearly all video games use (based on the poor dialogue… seriously, “chicken”?), but like many others, they missed the mark.

    Sexism in video games has been crapping on all nerds for far too long and with little reason. Thanks for the good read, Hulk.

  90. I didn’t reply to the first article because I didn’t think it was worthy. In fact, let me rephrase that. I read the article before playing the game… and was a bit annoyed by it after playing the game. Now that you retort here to the comments, I feel compelled to contribute, but I’ll try to keep it short and to the point.

    I feel your original article, at least from perspective, lacks any credibility, and that makes it worthless to me. There are two problems with it: the obvious bias, and your dismissive tone. Reading your article, I was expecting to play the most sexist game ever… that was not the case. Does it have sexist elements? Yes. To the extent you portray in your post? No. And that annoys me. I felt misinformed, I felt you were more worried about your own agenda that in discussing the actual issues. It’s very pandering to feminist views, but it lacks any objectivity.

    And the last bit of proof I needed was this current post. See, you went on to write a post to, supposedly address the criticism. Instead, this is a post about how right you are, and how wrong everyone else is. I could have understood that at the moment you felt annoyed by sexist elements in the game, and drove you to write that article, which is why I didn’t reply to the original… you’ve now lost that benefit with this new post.

    Yes, there were a lost hostile posts, and some praises… but I find it hard to believe that out of all the comments, there wasn’t a single one that had some meritorious critique? Of course not! Because you are right! I have found through extensive experience that the truth usually lies somewhere in the middle. You should try that sometimes…

    I’ll even agree, to some extent, with you here on some points. For example, Catwoman’s outfit. Anyone may say whatever they want, but that is a sexist outfit. They could have zipped that thing a couple more inches up, and everything would have been much more different! As it is, it annoys me! It did the moment I saw it… But things are not at all as bad as you paint them! The most suspicious example is how you describe a scene of Batman pushing Harley aside to make way as being sexist! He “manhandles” her, and he likes it… I could play that game all day, you know? You pull things like this, you lose all credibility…

    Are there sexist elements in the game? Yes. Is it at all like you paint it? No. Could those sexist parts have been handled better? Of course. You know, no game, no movie, no book is perfect…

    I’m sorry to tell you this, but you’re not the sole holder of the truth. Be gentler to your commenters.

    Also, “Moral Relativism” is not AT ALL what you think it is. HULK COME FROM EDUCATION? Then get educated.

    • FILMCRITHULK said

      THERE LOT OF WAYS TO REACT TO THIS, BUT LET’S START HERE: WHAT DID YOU FEEL WAS HULK’S BIAS?

      • Confirmation bias. It seems to me (though I admit this is speculation on my part… but in any case is due to the way you wrote your arguments) that at some point you decided this was a sexist game. This may be true or not, but that’s besides the point. From that point on you saw sexism everywhere. From reading your article, I was ready for a BITCH fest. That’s not what I found. Is the term used? Yes. Is the usage ubiquitous and permeating as you insinuate? No, I have to disagree with that. Also, and I’m repeating myself, the point where you went too far was suggesting that even Batman’s attitude was sexist. That’s overreaching, and I think you know it.

        Personally, I think there are sexist elements in the game, but I don’t think the game is sexist. For that to be, sexism would to be a central theme in the game, and it’s not. Otherwise, I could also conclude that the game is racist. I’m sure there’s someone out there who thinks so…

        I think you saw something that bothered you in the game, and you wanted to discuss it. I celebrate that. But you diluted any value there was in the core of your argument by letting your emotions take the best of you. Worse, when called out on it, instead of saying “yeah, I went a bit too far, but this is what I meant… ,” you decide to write another post to show everyone why they’re all wrong, praising only those who wholeheartedly agreed with you.

        And you know why I’m so upset? Because I believed you! I read that post, I was extremely worried, and a bit disappointed. I spent time thinking why they went this route, when the first game was nothing like that at all… and so the funny thing is that, because I had read your post, I was actually predisposed to that. I was looking for it… but I didn’t find it.

        You seem like a smart guy/girl Hulk, and it seems like you have a good thing going on here. All I’m saying is, you don’t get to be like trolls… you’re a broadcaster here, people read what you write. Exercise some moderation maybe? And if it happens anyways, nobody is above an apology. I’m not even going to suggest that did it that way to make it more controversial and get more links/hits on your website, because you don’t seem like that kind of person.

        Best wishes.

      • FILMCRITHULK said

        THE FIRST THING HULK WILL SAY IS THAT YOU HAVE BY FAR MADE THE MOST POINTED AND WELL ARGUED CRITICISM AND HULK GOING TO RESPOND IN EARNEST.

        THE SHORT VERSION FOR HERE AND NOW THOUGH BASICALLY COMES TO THE CRUX OF OUR IDEAS, SPECIFICALLY THAT IN ORDER FOR THE GAME TO BE SEXIST THEN IT HAS TO BE A CENTRAL THEME.

        HULK WOULD DISAGREE WITH THAT CONCEPT IN GENERAL, BUT HULK WOULD ALSO ARGUE THAT IT IS ACTUALLY A CENTRAL THEME, BUT IT’S JUST THAT THEY ARE NOT FOR LONG STRETCHES WHEN WOMEN NOT PRESENT. BUT WHEN THEY ARE? HULK REALLY DO BELIEVE THE ONLY TWO MODES ARE EITHER “BITCH” OR HYPER SEXUAL AND OFTEN BOTH AT ONCE. AND ANY OPPORTUNITIES TO GIVE IT ANY KIND OF COMPLEXITY, GRAY SCALE, OR MODERATION OF THOSE ELEMENTS ARE “UNEXPLORED” TO PUT IT MILDLY.

        SO REALLY IT COMES DOWN TO THE NATURE OF HULK’S OUTRAGE AND WHETHER OR NOT IT’S VALID BASED ON THE ABOVE CHARACTERIZATION. HULK WILL ANSWER IN MORE CLEAR NATURE, BUT BASICALLY HULK KNOW IT MAY SEEM WEIRD TO GET ANGRY OVER SOMETHING MORE INSIDIOUS THAN BLATANT BUT THERE IS A REASON HULK DID SO AND LARGE AMOUNT OF IT HAS TO DO WITH HOW IT JUST REALLY DOESN’T FIT IN THIS GAME SPECIFICALLY.

        AND AS FOR THE UBIQUITOUS FEELING OF BITCH, HULK DOING ANOTHER PLAYTHROUGH IN STORY PLUS MODE AND RIGHT NOW IT UP TO 87 MENTIONS OF BITCH AND HULK ONLY HALF-WAY THROUGH. COULD CHALK IT UP TO DRUTHERS BUT HULK FEEL LIKE THAT QUALIFY AS A BITCH FEST.

        AND AGAIN. REST OF THE GAME SUPER GOOD.

        HULK SINCERELY THANK FOR YOU COMMENTS. AS TO YOUR PLEA FOR MODERATION, THAT IS USUALLY THE WAY THINGS ARE AROUND HERE IN THE OTHER POSTS.

        CHEERS.

      • The prisoners use the term bitch, as do the guards. When a League of Assassins guard escapes from the Museum, the guards she gets past call her a “Crazy ninja bitch.” But their first response? Just a simple “Bitch.”

        Bitch fest, indeed. It’s ridiculous that they are either calling the women in the game a “bitch” or making some demeaning reference, and often sexual. There are maybe a handful of NORMAL dialogue about women.

  91. Sunflower said

    I do not agree with you, Hulk, that “Apolo Imagod” made a well-reasoned point. From my understanding of “confirmation bias”, there’s a difference between approaching something with an expectation of sexism and looking for every instance of it, and experiencing something and then being unable to ignore sexism. Also, if you did actually go into the game looking for sexism, it seems to me that you have made an ample case for it so far; so even if you did have “confirmation bias”, you were actually correct. The number of times bitch is said along with all those other problematic instances make for a persuasive argument that anyone reading objectively and interested in cooperative discussion would readily admit. These instances of sexism are fact and I don’t see how they can be debatable. The conclusions drawn from them may well be and that’s great.

    I don’t understand the point about sexist elements don’t equal a sexist game and whatever that means or why it matters. It seems to me to be hair splitting.

    I did find the rest of the comment extremely condescending. Now, I’m sure Hulk doesn’t need me to defend him/her, but things like this: “…you diluted any value there was in the core of your argument by letting your emotions take the best of you.” make me quite angry. Strong emotions do NOT invalidate a well-made argument. Getting angry and smashy about sexism is absolutely valid as is expressing that anger. Everyone’s feelings are valid. Not everyone’s conclusions drawn from those emotions are necessarily valid. There’s a difference there.

    “All I’m saying is, you don’t get to be like trolls… you’re a broadcaster here, people read what you write. Exercise some moderation maybe?”

    This sounds to me like a tone argument. Comparing valid emotion and expression to trolling sounds like this person just wants Hulk to shut up and stop saying uncomfortable things. Also, who are you to judge what’s moderate and what isn’t, “Apolo”? I mean other than the fact that you’re a god and all. There is no law or standard that says “you can only have this much anger about this topic, but no more!”. Trying to use imaginary standards is a tactic some people use when they want to shame others into being quiet, and basically it means “Society won’t approve of your smashy ways!”. Either way, this is Hulk’s blog and I guess Hulk can decide what is appropriate and what isn’t. I doubt he/she cares more about frightening away readers than he/she cares about making his/her point and speaking out.

    Also, expecting HULK to me MODERATE?? REALLY?

    • This post got lost in the stream for me since it wasn’t part of the thread of my comment. I feel I might comment with a few words here. I’m not going to argue with “Sunflower” as he/she seems to have already made up his/her mind, so there’s little point. Just some clarifications.

      “These instances of sexism are fact and I don’t see how they can be debatable. The conclusions drawn from them may well be and that’s great.”

      Never argued to the non-existence of utterances of the term in question, or even to the existence of instances of sexism in the game. I did however challenged the conclusions derived from these, as you yourself point out is perfectly fine.

      “I don’t understand the point about sexist elements don’t equal a sexist game…”

      There’s many ways to respond to this, but not sure it would help much. But, for example, films many times use sexism as a framing device to criticize… it’d be hard to call such a film sexist, though it has sexist elements inside. Not trying to argue this is the case for the game (which surely it is not), just trying to make a point.

      “This sounds to me like a tone argument. Comparing valid emotion and expression to trolling sounds like this person just wants Hulk to shut up and stop saying uncomfortable things.”

      Uh, no. I want him to keep saying uncomfortable things, but I’d like them to be more than a rant so they can actually have some impact, and look more like the reasoned argument of a sober person, and not many might dismiss as the angry rant of an obsessed feminist. I’m glad he (and others) brought this up, because THERE ARE in fact things that could have been done much better in this game, in particular with regards to sexist elements, as I’ve said before. But his initial post painted things in a light that were, in my opinion, completely out of proportion as to how things really felt when I played it. This may bring the credibility of everything said into question.

      Like I said to him, he strikes me as a very smart person, the kind many people might listen to. But that was just a criticism. At no point did I suggest he should shut up, or stop saying what he’s saying. He’s entitled to an opinion, as I am. I just expressed it, and told him, just in case he was interested, why I found he’s post to be a little too much. I do this because maybe he will find something useful in that. If not, that’s OK.

      You’re the second person recently that comes to the defense of a writer after I make a comment about their writing tone, even after the writers themselves were OK with it. Another instance of confirmation bias :-)

      “Also, expecting HULK to me MODERATE?? REALLY?”

      Yes, really ;-)

      • Sunflower said

        “I want him to keep saying uncomfortable things, but I’d like them to be more than a rant so they can actually have some impact, and look more like the reasoned argument of a sober person, and not many might dismiss as the angry rant of an obsessed feminist.”

        Presuming to speak for other people as if you’re an authority on what they think is dishonest. If you look up in the comments, you’ll see lots and lots of people who enjoy Hulk’s ranty style and conclusions. Why don’t you just say “Hey, Hulk, keep the rant down so I can talk to you without thinking of you as some kind of ICKY OBSESSED FEMINIST, ok? Because if I found out you’re one of THOSE, I would have to dismiss you right away.” That would be more honest and really would address the issue directly.

        I personally distrust people who try to separate emotion from their actions and thoughts, so seeing Hulk’s emotions come out has made me more likely to trust his conclusions. If he didn’t address the way the game made him feel, I think his arguments would have been diluted and stilted. Our society has serious issues in how we address emotions and the very necessary role they play in our cognitive processes and choice-making abilities, but hey, at least we’re doing studies on spotting extra-large boobies!

        (Hulk, I’m going to assume you’re a he because others have called you that and it wasn’t corrected.)

      • Well, you keep missing the point, and you exemplify exactly what the problem I pointed out is.

        Let’s just agree to disagree. You’ve obviously made up your mind. I can only assure you my intention was never to entirely dismiss Hulk’s argument, as I pointed out what I thought were all the merits, and the portions I had trouble with. I am only happy the author was able to see that…

        You say “I personally distrust people who try to separate emotion from their actions and thoughts…” and I allow me, admitting this is presumptuous of me, to conjecture that you would add “opinions” to those. Well, see, maybe that’s where the problem is. See, I have a different view on that, and this is where it is I who has made his mind. I can observe a person’s emotions to gauge their commitment to an idea. From this, I can tell the author is very committed to denouncing sexism, which is a noble cause, in my opinion. That being said, I can’t use that to estimate the objectivity of his arguments. In fact, in my experience, the more emotionally charges an argument is, the more likely it is to be the product of subjectivity. This can’t be fully trusted.

        If I want to know how much I can trust your commitment to a cause, the more emotions you show, the better. If on the other hand, you are giving me your opinion on a particular issue, I want as much objectivity as possible, otherwise it is of no use to me. And that’s all I said; I didn’t say it was good or bad, I just said that was of no use to me, because I couldn’t trust the full veracity of the facts being relayed. Unless, of course, if all I’m looking for is validation and confirmation of my own views.

        I guess this has gone long enough. I apologize if I offended your sensibilities, that was not my intention. You obviously hold the author in high regard, and I respect that. Never tried to belittle him/her in any way.

        Have a good life sir/ma’am.

      • Sunflower said

        Hey, I can’t reply to your post again because it got too small so I’m replying here (hope it’s not too confusing).

        I’m not offended or upset that you’re disagreeing with me or Hulk. My issue is I don’t think you can speak for other people when you say something will convince others or not. You can only know what will convince you, and maybe conjecture about other people. Which is fine, you can conjecture all you like. I just want to make sure you put it as a conjecture rather than a fact, because often when we say “this is how it’s done” or “this i what other people think” it can assume authority you don’t have, and I think that causes problems in any discussion.

        As for the emotion thing, I think we are actually not as much in disagreement as it might seem. I get what you’re saying about emotions affecting judgment– but this is my take on it, from my own experience:

        When someone has a strong emotion, like say, anger, and they act or form an opinion before fully feeling that anger and admitting it, they often can form an incorrect opinion. For example: someone is critiquing your work and says “This is really awful, it’s not professional.” And it makes you angry, and if you immediately form an opinion from it, you might assume that person is belittling you or is trying to hurt you.

        On the other hand if you take time and you feel your anger fully, you can gain clarity and see that there are other options. The person might genuinely have valid criticism. (I’m saying “you” generically, because it’s simpler, not referring to you specifically)

        So no, I don’t think emotions are the end of the story. My point of view is that we can’t really have clarity or objectivity unless we feel our emotions fully. It’s easy to get jerked around by unfelt feelings and trying to avoid being hurt/angry/sad. But emotions are essential and I think the key to understanding. If I thought Hulk was angry in an aimless way and just lashing out blindly to avoid feeling the anger, I would not take it seriously. But that’s very different from being angry, feeling it fully, and then lashing out with clarity and understanding. This is what I think is going on here. Ultimately everyone who comes here has to decide for themselves where they think Hulk is coming from.

        By the way, I did really enjoy this discussion because it helped me shape a lot of thoughts and ideas and express them in a way I haven’t before. I don’t at all mind dissent or disagreement or contention and hope I haven’t put you off completely. I’m not arguing to change your mind or anyone else’s because you and everyone else have perfectly working minds that can come up with your own ideas and conclusions. I’m just throwing my own ideas out there. So thanks to you for the discussion, and to Hulk for the space to have it! Best wishes to you as well.

  92. I posted this further up but I thought I would post it here too as I think it’s a good point of discussion:

    Replying to someone who said that “bitch” is an inherently sexist word…

    “So I take it you find the words “prick”, “dick”, “bastard” etc, equaly sexist?
    Sexism works both ways, but (and this is going to be controversial) it seems acceptable when it’s directed towards men. I mean, here in the UK we have a show called “Loose Women”. Which is just an hour, every day, of women moaning about how pathetic and useless men are. It’s the most blatantly sexist thing on television over here. But it gets let off, because it’s women moaning about men. Now if there was an equivalent show about men talking about women like that, it would be taken off air after its first show, if it ever got commissioned in the first place.”

    The argument I am trying to make is that accusations of sexism are incredibly one-sided in modern society when in fact they work both ways. In fact, one person I know said today they got into an argument with a black guy who hates white people but says he can’t possibly be racist because he’s black. It’s a really bizarre, hypocritical attitude to have.

    • FILMCRITHULK said

      THE PROBLEM IS THAT YOUR ARGUMENT IS BASED ON A LOGIC THAT THERE’S NO GAPING INHERENT DIFFERENCE IN THE POWER STRUCTURE BETWEEN MEN AND WOMEN OR WHITE PEOPLE AND BLACK PEOPLE.

      THIS IS A FALSE HOOD.

      THERE IS AND IT IS SUBSTANTIAL DIVIDE WHICH PERMEATES SOCIETY TO HORRIFIC RESULTS.

      NOW. THE KIND OF RACISM AND SEXISM WE’RE TALKING ABOUT HERE IS NOT. “I made a deduction about someone because of their sex / race.” BUT THE KIND OF RACISM / SEXISM THAT RESULTS IN THE LARGER SUPPRESSION / OPPRESSION OF AN ENTIRE CULTURAL GROUP.

      IF A BLACK PERSON SAYS THEY HATE A WHITE PERSON, IT’S NOT GOING RESULT IN THE OPPRESSION OF A WHITE PERSON. THE PERSON IN POWER, MATTERS. NOW IS THIS BEHAVIOR GOOD? OF COURSE NOT. BUT IF IT’S THE REVERSE THERE IS AN ELEMENT. IT’S NOT EQUAL PLAYING FIELD.

      SO CALLING A GUY A DICK AND A WOMAN A BITCH IS ABSOLUTELY NOT THE SAME THING.

      AND IF YOU THINK AFFIRMATIVE ACTION IS RACIST YOU HAVE ABSOLUTELY NO FRAME OF REFERENCE WITH IT AND HOW IT ACTUALLY WORKS.

      • jayd189 said

        I said I wasn’t going to post again but I can’t resist here.

        a) Saying that a black person being racist won’t affect a white person but a white person being racist will affect the black person is in itself a racist statement.

        This is the same bullshit logic that says woman can’t commit spousal abuse. New Flash women commit [way] more domestic violence that men.

        b) Have you been on the white male side of affirmative action? I didn’t qualify for a single scholarship in University due to the fact that all of them had affirmative action type requirements.

      • FILMCRITHULK said

        A) WHAT? YOU’RE DEMEANING EVERY STATEMENT TO A BASIC REFLEXIVE-ISM. THAT’S NOT HOW IT WORKS

        IT’S NOT THE SAME AS SPOUSAL ABUSE. SPOUSAL ABUSE IS A CONCRETE MATTER OF SOMEONE HITTING ANOTHER PERSON. OF COURSE WOMAN CAN COMMIT SPOUSAL ABUSE AND GET CHARGED WITH IT. IT FREQUENTLY HAPPENS.

        B) THAT IS ACTUALLY SUCH A RIDICULOUS NON-TRUTH IT IS NOT FUNNY AND REVEALS NOTHING BUT STUNNING IGNORANCE. HULK SORRY BUT WHAT YOU DESCRIBE HAS ABSOLUTELY NO BASIS IN TRUTH. PLUS THERE’S THE FACT THAT NO SCHOOL HAS SOLELY MINORITY ONLY SCHOLARSHIPS. NOR ARE SCHOLARSHIPS FOR MINORITIES OUT OF WHACK WITH POPULATION PERCENTAGES WHATSOVER. IN FACT THEY ARE WELL-BELOW THEM. WHAT YOU’RE DESCRIBING IS, IN FACT, A LIE.

      • FILMCRITHULK said

        AND IT’S A LIE THAT PERPETRATES A LARGER CULTURE OF RACISM.

      • “IF A BLACK PERSON SAYS THEY HATE A WHITE PERSON, IT’S NOT GOING RESULT IN THE OPPRESSION OF A WHITE PERSON. ”

        I would disagree with this; in the larger scale, yes, there is no way that a black person can leverage the entirety of society against the white person. He cannot oppress white _people_.

        In smaller scale, the black person is still a person, and thus capable of being abusive. He cannot oppress white people, but he is fully capable of oppressing _a white person_. He would have to commit criminal acts to do so, mind, which is a key difference — one can oppress black people without committing a crime, although that’s becoming harder and harder.

        And as black people obtain more power in society — which is well deserved and necessary, in my mind — their ability to be oppressively racist also increases. The US has a black president; if the President of the United States — the Commander In Chief of the US Army — is not capable of oppressing people, who is?

        Which isn’t to say I think affirmative action and the like are *done*. I just find that power structures exist in many different scales, and what’s true in one is not necessarily going to be true at a different scale (although the larger scale certainly affects the smaller scale).

        I do agree with your main point, though: I think some of the communication trouble comes from the overloaded term ‘sexism’ (or ‘racism’). There’s Evil Sexism (‘Kill all women/men! Whichever one I’m not!’) and there’s Loving/Dismissive Sexism (‘you’re cute when you’re angry’) and there’s Oppressive Sexism (can only be done when you have societal power) and Clueless Sexism (‘Girls like pink! Breasts are hawt!’) and more. The flavours are different and need to be treated differently — and you can’t have a rational discussion about sexism when two people are talking about two different types.

        For instance, I think a lot of the early angry rebuttals against your points are due to assuming you were calling the game designers *evil* sexists. They aren’t, as far as I can tell — they don’t have an Agenda of Female Oppression, they’re just latently Clueless Sexists and don’t understand what’s wrong about calling women ‘bitches’.

        Clueless Sexists need enlightenment more than they need opposition.

        Which translated means: Good job, FilmCritHulk. This puny mortal has really enjoyed your posts, your gimmick, and your attitude. Your RSS feed totally earned its subscribe.

      • jayd189 said

        a) It wasn’t due to reflexive-ism. It was due to the casual way in which you implied the black person can never be the person in power.

        I wasn’t comparing it to spousal abuse, I was comparing the 2 lines of reasoning. As they are both ridiculous

        b) At my school you were automatically applied for any scholarship you qualified for. And could view that list. My list was blank the entirety of my degree.
        Disagree all you want, it doesn’t make you correct.

        I’m still not sure how I can be ignorant about my life, but you a complete stranger aren’t? Just because your life was different doesn’t mean you know shit about mine.

      • Jay,

        You say you didn’t qualify. Yet seem to blame it on the fact that you aren’t of a particular race. Is it not possible that you did not qualify because the amount of money your family earned was high enough to disqualify you from many, while perhaps your grades didn’t qualify you as well? Or any number of other factors?

        By qualify, you have to be within a certain parameter, and a lot of those parameters gives the shaft to a lot of people. But your assertion that it was based on race sounds absurd.

    • Kassidy said

      Any Sexism the opposite ,privileged sex receives is based on the system the same sex created.Sorry some of that oppression spilled on men but largely they are not doing much to combat it because many benefit from Leftover “Sexism” ,and most of them who take issue with Patriarchal Oppression would rather argue with Feminist Film Critics on blogs than to actually Stick It To The Man. They are mere casualties in the game of Patriarchy,and they like it that way because at least they have power over women.They like being slaves to richer, more powerful White men. But hey,at least women don’t run them! Sexism is a system created by men as much as racism is a system created by Whites. Only those with power can oppress them. You’ll understand when you’re not concerned with yourself so much. Step outside of your own self-interest and then you will begin to understand.

  93. I believe you have something in the US called “affirmative action”?

    That’s racist.

    • No, affirmative action is not racist.

      Affirmative action combats racism.

      When an employer is faced with picking between two similar candidates, then they pick the white man. It has been proven over and over again. Affirmative action just tells them to pick the other person once in a damn while.

      And given that the upper levels of management are still OVERWHELMINGLY dominated by white men, your arguements that ‘sexism & racism works both ways’ are nonsensical. The UK has had ONE female prime minister. The US has had ONE black prime minister.

      Yes, things are better than they were. As a woman in the UK, my life is substantially better than most women’s lives around the world.

      But there is still an enormous power difference between men and women, stupid daytime TV shows aside.

      When insults are used on a level playing field, they can be assessed in an equal way. But when someone in power insults someone whose not, you cannot judge it in the same way.

      • Sorry, the US has had one black President. I don’t think it’s had any prime ministers :3 Whoops.

      • To expand the terms in the above:

        “No, affirmative action is not Oppressively Racist.

        Affirmative action combats Oppressive Racism.”

        Affirmative Action is ‘racist’ inasmuch as it considers race as a factor. Arguably, by one definition anything that considers race is racist. The statement “black people have higher levels of melanin than white people.’ is racist by that definition, but it is not Oppressively Racist.

        I disagree with Affirmative Action where it has caused the hiring of an _Unqualified_ Person of Colour over a _Qualified_ Person Of Pink, because I think the damage it does in promoting the ‘Black People Are Incompetent’ meme is worse than that of the person not getting the job in the first place — but I consider that a failure of the system rather than an argument against having such a system in the first place.

  94. Trev M. said

    I did enjoy this article, and the reasoning herein. Not that I entirely agree or disagree with all points.

    While it is true that no one can be “realistic” when working with one-note characters, there still is a great deal of validity to the argument that if you were in a combination prison/insane asylum – especially one densely populated with males, you’re likely to hear women referred to as “bitch.” A lot. Because while not every criminal is sexist or would use that manner of language, the majority are, and the majority create the general atmosphere. I speak from experience. I have been in psychiatric facilities. As an inmate, one who is not prone to that kind of behavior, for the record. But it is prominent. Same, but more extreme, with prison populations. I know this from experience because I’ve spent quite a bit of time visiting inmates in jails and prisons. So to have the NPCs in the video game repeating these recorded lines in conversation with one another really doesn’t feel out of place. It does get nerve grating – because since it is a game, you will hear these lines of dialogue repeated endlessly. And yes, sometimes in cutscenes, it just feels out of place and unnecessary (most notably, “TWO guns, BITCH!”)

    Also – “THIS ASSUMES EVERY SINGLE MURDEROUS THUG IN ARKHAM IS ALSO SOMEHOW A RAPIST TOO (A LOT OF GANGS ARE NOT TOO KEEN ON IT FOR EXAMPLE, THOUGH YES, OF COURSE SOME ARE).” No. It assumes that most of them are misogynistic bastards. There are a couple lines here and there that refer to rape. There are more lines that refer to consensual acts (“I’d let Catwoman do anything she wants with me,” was I believe one line.”) Most of the lines in question are just calling her a bitch. Indicating, not that they want to rape her or anything of the sort, but merely that they find her to be a rather disagreeable female.

    Then there’s the point you contested – “That’s how [character] would act.” You dismissed that point as moot because they are fictional characters – constructs of the imagination of the developers, writers and performers. But this denies a simple truth of writing – when you’re working with a character, you need to be faithful to the character that has been created. There are things that are considered “in-character” and “out-of-character.” This is especially true with properties that have existed, like Batman, for several decades. The characters have – albeit fictional – pasts, psychologies and personalities that are unique to them, and a good writer stays true to these concepts. Even when writing a character you yourself created, in creative writing you sometimes know you can’t get away with a certain character acting, or NOT acting, a certain way regardless of context. First for-instance I’ll give is with Batman himself – he has an aversion to guns. An oath not to use firearms. In his modern day incarnation, anyway. It would be out of character for Batman to say “Screw it,” and shoot a criminal in the face. Batman “wouldn’t do that.”

    Another, similar example comes from back in the early days of Amazing Spider-Man. Stan Lee continually tried to make certain things in the stories work regarding the characters of Gwen Stacy and Mary Jane Watson. To paraphrase Stan, the characters “wouldn’t cooperate,” – with the characters that had been created, it made no sense for them to act the way Stan wanted them to act, so he had to change the planned story accordingly. Otherwise it would have been weird and stilted.

    Remember, none of these are jabs. Like you said, this is a dialogue and I’m just trying to promote thinking on both sides. Point, counter-point. I do, of course, respect your opinion. I have more counterpoints, but it seems like this comment is getting a little long. Thank you, my good green capslock-loving friend, for hosting a level-headed forum for debate.

    Regards.

    • I’ve already made a couple of posts in which I disagreed with HULK’s assessment of the game, however, I have to disagree with you here. My point of disagreement was a matter of degree, not of essence. I said that the initial post portrayed the game in a light that I found to be inconsistent with my experience, but that nonetheless, I did find sexist elements in the game. I just didn’t think that made the game sexist.

      HULK noted that he’s making a second playthrough of the game, and that he had heard “bitch” 87 times. I believe him. I think that if I tried hard I could also experience the same. But when I played the game, I don’t think I heard the word more than 3-4 times, and I was paying attention to it (because of the original post), just not looking for it.

      Now, none of this is to say that, even if it was used only 4 times, it is justifiable (and here I arrive finally at my current point of contention). You could use the argument of realism if there was clear evidence that the authors used that kind of dialog for the purpose of conveying realism. I don’t believe so, and I think that would be hard to argue. I think the sole purpose of this dialog, and the usage of this and other words, is to portray the thugs insulting the hero/heroine. Under this fact, it is clear that they made a choice, and they decided the thugs would call Catwoman a bitch. You know, from here it’s not so much of a stretch to call her a whore.

      Given the discussion above, I don’t see why they couldn’t have chosen any other word. For example, if we want to talk about realism, why don’t any of the thugs call Batman a fagot? I mean, it doesn’t get more real than that. Here you have guy in tights fighting from the shadows, and I would be believe that’s the kind of language a prison thug would use. Why not? Because it’s not at all about realism. This game is not portrayal of the lives of thugs and prison culture, so none of that is playing a role here. They just wanted to have dialog of the thugs insulting Catwoman, and they chose the word bitch. I’m not arguing here whether that choice was appropriate or not, I’m just saying what I believed happened and how this whole realism argument is bogus. I do believe however that the reason they chose bitch is because it was the obvious and easy choice. Heck, calling her a pussy-freak would have been more creative and funny. They went with bitch.

      So, I don’t think the use of the word is justifiable, and quite frankly, it’s a bit tasteless. I just think it has received more focus than it deserves. Could they have done better? Yes. Do I think that makes the game sexist? No. In fact, if it was sexism you wanted to talk about, how come I haven’t heard any one talking about Talia al Ghul? It’s been all about “bitch” and Catwoman. You know, at least Catwoman has a background that can be used to somehow explain (again, not necessarily justify) the choices made in designing this character. But Talia al Ghul? Here you have the architect of Lex Luthor’s downfall, portrayed simply as Batman’s chick. Did you see how she was animated? Here we have this extremely powerful woman, a master ninja assassin, and yet the moment when we get the longest exposure to her, she’s walking in front of us, shaking her hips like there’s no tomorrow. Am I the only one who noticed this? Because no one else is talking about it… It just didn’t fit, it was jarring, it felt like it didn’t belong. I still don’t think that makes the game as whole sexist, but the portion clearly was. Whoever did that didn’t think “hey, here’s one of the most complex characters in Batman’s universe, let’s give an according representation”. No, in that scene, she was just a sexual object.

      We also have to remember the source material: comics, which have a long history of sexism. I don’t think we to give the game a break, I just think it’s better discuss each element for what it is. Then in the context of the whole the gravity of issue in the context of everything. I think Rocksteady has to be given props for the game as a whole, but it’s also fair to say, “hey guys, you know, this could have been done better. I’m not saying your game, or you guys are sexist, but these parts here portrait a sexist attitude.” Because it’s tough to make such a work without affecting any sensibilities. And sexism is an attitude so ingrained in society that it may be hard for anyone to sanitize everything.

      Man, next time I will just make a blog post and link it, this was way too long. Sorry about that.

  95. Shy said

    I just wanted to say, thank you for opening up this dialogue and sticking with it. I understood and agreed with your initial article on the subject, and I’m awed that you carried on with this second article.

    You’re doing an amazing job! :)

  96. Ian said

    Hulk’s the best giant green man in purple pants I know.

  97. All I’ll say is that I’ve watched Holy Mountain. And it’s utter fucking shite. Literally and figuratively.

  98. [...] A 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 post. [...]

  99. joejoestar said

    I like how the youtube comments devolved into what atheism means, and wether or not the author knew it, instead of what he actually talked about.

  100. bsmith said

    sorry Hulk, you are completely wrong.

    the author is under no obligation to enforce an anti-sexist message whenever the opportunity presents itself in the story (this is not to be confused with it being a sexist story either). the author is under the obligation to portray the characters accurately. Catwoman’s proper reaction is debatable, but in a story where nearly every character, Batman included, is completely insane, her reaction in this story isnt out of the realm of possibility.

    the writer has every right to portray his characters the way he feels they should. The writer fails because he didn’t portray the character correctly, not because he used foul language to attempt it.

    • FILMCRITHULK said

      THERE KIND OF A LOT OF PROBLEMS WITH THIS COMMENT. LIKE THE ASSUMPTION THAT ANTI-SEXIST AND NON-SEXIST ARE THE SAME THING. PLUS A LOT OF WHAT HULK WAS SAYING ABOUT CONTEXT. EVERYONE KEEPS COMING BACK TO IN-GAME LOGIC OF WHAT CHARACTERS WOULD DO. HULK NOT SAYING “HEY BATMAN OR WHOEVER WOULDN’T DO THAT.” HULK SAYING THERE WEIRD UNDERCURRENT TO HOW EVERY SINGLE MALE CHARACTER DEALS WITH FEMALE CHARACTERS IN THE GAME. AND IT’S EVEN WEIRD WITHIN THE WORLD OF BATMAN. IT GOES BEYOND EVERYTHING YOU MENTION.

    • The writers did have every right to portray those characters the way they felt they should. And readers/players have every right to criticise those characters and point out they are poorly written.

      Secondly, if you introduce sexist elements into a story, you do have a duty to engage with them, rather than just leaving them flopping around as ‘background’. If you write realistic ‘thugs’ who are misogynistic, then every part of your story–including the female characters–have to reflect the fact they exist in a misogynistic world. Writing has to be consistent and deliberate, whereas these sexist elements appear to just be easy and thoughtless.

  101. whiteandornerdy said

    Hulk, first of all, thanks for the post. While I can’t say I agree or disagree, due to the fact I haven’t played the game yet, it is still amazing that you decided to come back with such clarity at the army of responders that exist on the Internet.

    One question I have (and stop me if you’ve adressed this as there are nearly 300 comments and I can’t read all of them) is your take on “Metroid: Other M”. You might not have played it, but there was this HUGE brouhaha last year regarding if it was sexist or not. While I do think it was, namely due to the idea that sexism is defined by perception and not intent, I am curious to see if you had any thoughts on the matter.

  102. Brian Peters said

    There’s a lot of interesting food for thought here, so I thank you for that Hulk, even though I’m not yet sure I agree. I should say that I haven’t yet played the game (I’m getting it for PC and it hasn’t been released for anything but consoles yet, darn it) but I have watched quite a bit of the beginning (including the first playable Catwoman segment, and the Baman pushing Harley scene) on a webshow.

    There is one part of one of your counter-arguments that I really have a problem with though, and that’s at the very beginning in your response to argument 1 when you say “OKAY. LET’S START THIS WITH A QUESTION. HOW OFTEN DID THE BAD GUY CHARACTERS IN NOLAN’S THE DARK KNIGHT USE THE WORD BITCH?”

    To me, this feels like an unreasonable question to ask and comparison to make. As you point out in your first blog post about this issue, most of the use of the word “bitch” in the game is directed at Catwoman. Catwoman isn’t present in The Dark Knight. Nor are there any other really major female characters in the Dark Knight about whom the bad guys might speak that way. Rachel is the most significant female character, but even she has a pretty minor role. There certainly aren’t any female characters getting in the bad guys way in such a direct way as Catwoman.

    Not that I’m suggesting that, if a character such as Catwoman were present, this kind of attitude/language would necessarily be present in a Nolan film… but I guess we might find out in The Dark Knight Rises?

  103. [...] Film Critic Hulk offers a strong follow-up and rebuttal to detractors who took issue with his criticisms of the dialogue. Share [...]

  104. [...] Film Crit Hulk on the sexism of Arkham Asylum. On the “realism” argument: “BECAUSE HULK HATE TO BREAK IT TO YOU, BUT THAT’S NOT HOW ACTUAL CRIMINALS ARE IN PRISON POPULATIONS. NOT BY A LONG SHOT. IF YOU’RE SO CONCERNED WITH REALISM THEN YOU’D OBVIOUSLY REALIZE THAT THEY ARE HUMAN BEINGS. DEEPLY FLAWED HUMAN BEINGS. SOMETIMES BROKEN HUMAN BEINGS. SOMETIMES HUMAN BEINGS WHO ARE CAPABLE OF DOING THE WORST THINGS ONE CAN DO ANOTHER. THEIR REASONS FOR DOING SO, THEIR SOCIOPATHY, THEIR SOCIAL CONSTRUCTS. THEY ARE ALL PART OF A HUMAN STORY, OFTEN TRAGEDY. AND THAT STORY EXISTS ON A GRAY SCALE OF HUMAN EXISTENCE. AND THEN THERE’S THE FACT THAT MOST OF THEM ARE THERE BECAUSE THEY WANTED TO GET HIGH.” [...]

  105. Rodgisto said

    Very good. Very, very good. Thank you.

  106. Dear FilmCriticHulk,

    I think I love you. Just as a friend. But still. Great post.

    Matt

  107. sirjanxyjeeva said

    great stuff, just have time to read the first half right now, but already, i can’t tell u how much i value reading a sane, intelligent response to these kind of arguments. right on, man.

    so far, i’ve heard just about every one of them myself, not in relation to this game, but in arguments in real life, and sometimes voiced by people who wanna kick my ass over calling them out in public to point out how dumb they’re acting.

    feminism was such a stupid word to choose for an anti-sexist point of view. the problems we got surrounding fear of sex and the resulting hatred and slavery of sex are universally felt over all genders and sexual orientations.

    i can’t think of a better word, but i’m not political i only live my own life. so i don’t need a word for it. but the tone of your piece really gives me comfort. thank u for responding and being intelligent.

    (and to anyone reading this who feels entitled to act out in public saying dumb things in the wrong contexts, who feels comfortable as a member of the ruling class — stop being so comfortable. u better get ready for a beat down. there are people out here who will check u. &aren’t afraid of getting bloody about it. so grow up, little ones.)

  108. Lurklen said

    I’m wondering about the process of actually writing this dialogue. The actual main script of the game isn’t really what seems to be bothering most people, it’s the ambianst conversations of the prisoners that are, due to the nature of the game repeated constantly that I think makes this so bothersome to folks.

    I’m wondering if this was more of a slip up, that written individually the conversations didn’t seem that extreme, something that you might find on any movie about criminal dudes who are “BADGUYS” but when you put them together they become noticeably offputting.

    As in somewhere along the line they should have figured that these ambiant dialogues were going to repeat at such a frequency that this kind of dialogue would be standing out more than it should. It sounds to me like the person who keeps an eye on this stuff slipped up.

    All that said it didn’t really bother me. I just kind of figured, to put it really simply these are bad guys and bad guys say mean things. If they’d had Batman saying bitch all the time that would have bothered me, or if the women who it was being said about were being represented as if these guys perception of them were true that would be bothersome. Though in the case of Harly Quinn, Catwoman and poison Ivy from those criminals perspectives they are all insane violent women who kick the crap out of/mentally zombify reguler thugs like them before they’ve had breakfast so those guys might feel justified saying all that stuff.

    I think partly you have to consider who they are talking about, these aren’t the nicest ladies so I wouldn’t expect nice things to be said about them. However, it’s not like you’re hearing any really rough insults thrown Batmans way. And I think that speaks to a larger concern, bitch is barely considered a curse word anymore it’s thrown around on most tv shows not targeted to kids, even some that are supposed to be family sitcoms. But most of the things that Batman could be called with out sounding silly are strongly censored. I’m not saying thats okay, but I think thats why this is even an issue it’s use in the game being so frequent that it’s no longer shocking, they could be saying “That Catwoman is a real brunette!” they’re so matter of fact about it. I think it’s the way it’s used so casually that makes it a problem.

    Regardless I can see how it would be offensive or at least off putting to people, and I’m glad you spoke your mind Hulk maybe it will make game designers think about writing smarter, if not it will at least hopefully make people think more about how their use of language can affect other people.

  109. “HOW IS IT THAT NOLAN IS ABLE TO CREATE A “DARK/GRITTY” (AND PERHAPS BEST) VERSION OF THE BATMAN STORY”

    Stopped reading there.

  110. Overall, a very intelligent and well-reasoned response. I gave one to your article on my own blog. Thank you for addressing this issue Film Hulk.

  111. Dan said

    Both articles were great, man. Glad to see you putting this stuff out there and trying to raise the level of discourse.

  112. To see similar issues in another geeky area, Google “atheist elevator guy”.

  113. FataMorganaPseudonym said

    I know you’re Doing A Thing™ here, and I’m sure you get this a lot, but the all caps really is incredibly obnoxious. I was linked here from elsewhere, but I didn’t read and won’t be reading your rant (or anything else on this blog) precisely because of that.

    Why can’t you portray yourself as the intelligent gray Hulk or something? Hulk doesn’t *have* to be a loud angry lout, you know. There have been *other* portrayals of Hulk where he didn’t scream and rage all the time. You don’t have to pretend to be a shrieking lunatic in your blog any more than the uncultured thugs in Arkham City have to be misogynistic assholes.

    • FILMCRITHULK said

      THIS IS INTERESTING. BECAUSE YOU DO NOT WANT TO READ SOMETHING IN ALL CAPS, YOU ASSUMED IT WAS SOMETHING IT IS NOT. BECAUSE 99% OF THE BLOG IS ACTUALLY THE OPPOSITE OF SCREAMING AND RAGING. IT’S A DEVICE. NOTHING MORE.

      • Sunflower said

        I like the all caps Hulk device myself. I imagine a really nice, eloquent, yet angry Hulk smashing sexism and ignorance.

  114. 4xis.black said

    Thanks for this. I spent a bit of time pushing similar arguments within my gaming community, but ended up backing out when the thread devolved into quote-splitting, forest-missing nonsense. Linked them to this article; was told the all-caps made it unreadable. Still, I hope adding voices to the conversation will at least prevent those upset by Arkham City’s shenanigans from feeling quite so alienated.

  115. Jimbo said

    I’ll admit to skimming these articles, even though I’m very interested in the point/s they’re making. I didn’t notice any sexism in the game until I’d heard a bit about this debate. Now that I’m paying attention the word bitch is definitely overused, at the very least.

    I just can’t manage to focus very well on (what I find to be) a difficult subject to understand when it’s in Hulk-style.

    Would anybody be able to point me in the direction of something a bit more entry-level?

  116. 8Megabyte said

    Consider yourself bookmarked from now on sir.

  117. Ironic that Hulk has become a champion of reasoned response. Keep preaching Hulk, you’re a straight up G.

  118. [...] Film Crit Hulk has now posted a good follow-up, addressing a critique his initial square received. Read on for his thoughts on because realism, leisure of speech, and context do not indispensably forgive a [...]

  119. Jilliterate said

    Bit late to the party here, but thank you so much for writing this. It’s refreshing to see that someone “gets it,” so to speak, and reading this lifts that huge burden that weighs down on me some days when I realize I live in a society where my gender feels expendable. Along with just being a good read in general, particularly towards the end. I suppose in this case you’re preaching to the converted, but I love reading it anyways. Keep fighting the good fight. :)

  120. Chris said

    So basically, what your saying is that because the comment wasn’t specifically used for story or character development (and thus would be a commentary on sexism or sexists), and because it was so vastly used, and with a target audience that varies in gender and ages and tolerance, that this was used irresponsibly.

    So if batman was to be portrayed as more of a misogynistic antihero who said this word, or was exactly as he is but was pust to the point of frustration to call someone that word, and thus the subtext would be the descriptions that I have just written as such, the use of the word would be justified. And similar for any other characters or subplots that were suitably developed within the game. Similar to the environments, as that would justify the story.

    I agree with this, and the only arguement I can counter with (without playing the game) is that these type of words are used without subtext often in the real world. And although Gotham (or in this case Arkham, or in other cases Sin City, albeit a lot more devloped by the sounds) are heightened representations of our real world, or at least the perception of certain locals, this could be a comment on our society or how we percieve criminals. Of course it could also be childish irresponsible dialog catered to an audience who would feel more grown up,

    Its worth thinking about what the city represents rather than what is. This is a science fiction after all.

    When regarding the actual female characters themselves, it is unfortunate that female strength (or feminism if there is a difference) has to be portrayed through attractiveness and willingness to be violent and sexual. Whilst strong women can be sexual (as men can, a side of things we tend to call misogyny nowadays), this does not mean they have to be limited to this. In the first Arkham game, they had (off-screen) a wheel-chair bound heroine, who in the comics did kick ass as bat girl (if I’m not mistaken – not up on all comic book lore), so that was a very good female role.

    The character is what it is, and has always been this, to deviate too far would alineate the audience, but not to take responsibility is also not acceptable.

    I’m interested in knowing how others feel the character should have been approached?

    It is a very good arguement that has been made (and I will say I agree completely and love how it was actually made), however I have to offer this arguement as it would be remiss. We are talking about a computer game that encourages violence as a solution to criminals and issues, by both sides good and bad. This is aimed at the aforementioned target audience and although heightened these do represent real people. Yes there is investigation and a certain amount of non-violent solutions. But the purpose of this is to entertain in a fantasy world, were violence and dialog can be as profane and gratuitous as we decide. Some would argue that to make this no longer sexist is to have the female characters berate the male characters just as much and be just as violent as the victim, criminal or defender.

    By the sounds of this, this is just playing up to adolenscant fantasies though. Difficult to say until I play the game.

  121. Adam K said

    Hulk smart.

  122. Matt Damon said

    You are not BLOBERT, drop the act.

  123. flipd58 said

    I had to comment.

    Hulk you are a genius.

    I may not agree on all your views but your text is truly beautiful.

    One of the parts I disagree is when you talk about the parents and say the audience for the game is too made of children. Indeed they have announces on kids channels but still every parent have the obligation of knowing what their children are doing every single second of their life. Taking away this obligation from them is not fair, they have chosen to have the kids and now have the obligation to care for them in every single aspect. Even when a game is rated E for Everyone parents should play the game before their children to check what the game is about. Even if the game is marketed for a younger audience it is the parents responsibility to check if it is truly safe for their kids to play it.

    Marketing teams doesn’t care if their ratings are real or if their announces shouldn’t be on a cartoons channel. They want buyers. They don’t care about morals and your kids education, they care about making money.

    I’m just kinda of tired of people throwing around the argument “but the TV and the news told me it was okay!”. It’s your responsibility to think by yourself and judge things based on what you know and not solely on what others told you that you know or what the news guy said.

    Also nice touch on the caps thing of the character, I have read the whole article imagining Hulk sitting in my front talking to me with some squares glasses on and trying not to yell but failing miserably.

    You have just got another reader.

    Also I wanted you to know that the last part of your text had me nearly into tears. Really touching.

    Keep up the unbelievable good work!

    • FILMCRITHULK said

      HULK THANK FOR YOU WONDERFUL AND KIND COMMENT!

      THE PARENTAL OBLIGATION COMMENT IS A VERY INTERESTING DISCUSSION. BECAUSE ON HAND YOU ARE ABSOLUTELY CORRECT AND THERE’S NO TWO WAYS ABOUT IT. BUT THERE’S THIS NAGGING ISSUE OF NOT JUST MERE PRACTICALITY, BUT THE FREQUENCY OF WHAT HAPPENS IN REAL LIFE. MOST PARENTS JUST EITHER DON’T HAVE THE TIME BECAUSE THEY’RE WORKING LONG HOURS OR TWO JOBS OR WHAT HAVE YOU AND THEN, MOST JUST WON’T CARE NO MATTER HOW IMPORTANT IT REALLY IS. SHOULD THIS JUST BECOME THE GAME AND PUBLIC’S AUTOMATIC RESPONSIBILITY? OF COURSE NOT.

      THE ANSWER OF COURSE LIES IN SOME GRAYSCALE AGREEMENT BETWEEN THE TWO. THIS ISN’T TO IMPLY THAT AWFUL CLICHE OF “THE ANSWER IS ALWAYS IN THE MIDDLE” BECAUSE NO, SOMETIMES THE ANSWER IS VERY CLEAR. BUT WHEN IT COMES TO THE ISSUE OF THE SOCIAL CONTRACTS, THEN YEAH, THERE’S SOME SORT OF IMPLICIT UNDERSTANDING WE HAVE TO HAVE ABOUT THE NATURE OF WHAT CONTENT IS PRODUCED AND WHAT THE CONTENT MEANS. PRACTICALITY JUST DICTATES IT.

      EXAMPLE: IF YOUR KID IS WATCHING TV AND HE HAS ON DISNEY CHANNEL, CHANCES ARE IT’S OKAY. IF YOU WALK BY AND HE’S WATCHING HBO, CHANCES ARE YOU WANT TO SEE WHAT THE F- HE MIGHT BE WATCHING. IN TERMS OF PRACTICALITY, NO ONE HAS TO THE TIME TO WATCH EVERY SINGLE BIT. BUT WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THE DISNEY CHANNEL SUDDENLY HAS AN EPISODE WHERE MILEY CYRUS IS SUDDENLY DROPPING THE B-BOMB (OR WHOEVER IS ON DISNEY NOW). WOULD THIS HAPPEN? PROBABLY NOT. BUT IF IT DID THE REASON YOU’D BE ANGRY IS BECAUSE IT VIOLATES THE SOCIAL CONTRACT OF WHAT THE DISNEY CHANNEL SUPPOSEDLY REPRESENTS.

      AND THAT’S HULK’S ARGUMENT WITH ARKHAM CITY.

      THERE WAS VIRTUALLY NOTHING THAT INDICATED IT WAS DIFFERENT FROM THE LAST GAME, WHICH IS QUITE SIMPLY NOT TRUE. THIS ONE IS MUCH, MUCH DARKER AND THERE ISN’T AN “M” RATING TO ACCOMPANY IT. PLUS IT’S BATMAN. THE DARK KNIGHT WAS VERY UPFRONT AND THERE WAS CRYSTAL CLEAR DIALOGUE THAT “THIS ONE MIGHT NOT BE FOR KIDS” BUT ARKHAM CITY HAD NONE OF THAT (MOSTLY BECAUSE GAMING JOURNOS DON’T REALLY GIVE A SHIT). THE WHOLE CIRCUMSTANCE BASICALLY VIOLATES THE RULES PARENTING SHORTHAND, WHICH IS REALLY IMPORTANT HULK THINK. SURE IT’S GRAY, BUT THERE’S AN ARGUMENT TO BE MADE.

      RANDOM CURIOUSITY, DO YOU HAVE KIDS?

      AGAIN. GREAT COMMENT. HULK THANK.

      • flipd58 said

        No kids.

        20, male, single, International Relations student, supervisor of a marketing team.

        And yeah, I totally agree with “THE ANSWER OF COURSE LIES IN SOME GRAYSCALE AGREEMENT BETWEEN THE TWO”. However most parents nowadays try to put the fault on a media vehicle and forget that the sole purpose of marketing is selling and messing with peoples minds enough to make they think they need something. “What?! My kid said a bad word and beat his colleague at class?! It’s the TV fault and those games he plays!”. Yes, it is the TV fault and the games fault for being influential on him since he is a kid, but it’s the parent fault the most for not supervising what his kid is watching/playing. Also being influential is what marketing achieves for.

        I mean, sure there needs to be a social agreement between both parts (media and parents) but that’s is still not possible and I don’t really think it will ever be (at least not while we still live in a capitalist world) and meanwhile parents should be more responsible about their kids.

        But again, I do agree with the implied social contract media vehicles should have and it would be kinda of interesting to see a law to supervise this and make it formal. But then again, that would be some sort of *yuck* censoring so we would need to be really careful with that.

  124. Mike said

    You say Batman doesn’t belong to us, the readers, presumably the ones who are defending it from your accusations of sexism. But I think it’s fair to say that this iteration of Batman, specifically the Batman portrayed by this random video game designer, does belong to us. If Harley Quinn starts wearing sexier outfits then I know it’s to please “me”, not some feminist who – God knows why she’s playing a video game in the first place – crushes a pencil in her hand every time she hears the word “bitch” or sees a scantily-dressed woman on the screen.

    So video games try to appeal to 18-24 y.o. white males, is this news to anyone? If you want to change an industry that thrives (solely) on marketing, the only way you can achieve that is to get more women to buy more video games. And who knows, maybe then we’ll start seeing cut dudes sporting impressive bulges in their pants being beaten up by women who scream “asshole!” every 5 seconds. Will women be offended then, or will they justify enjoying this pandering as “payback” for all the joyless years of living in a man’s world?

    • FILMCRITHULK said

      GOOD GRAVY YOU MISSED A LOT OF POINTS ON THIS ONE.

      • Mike said

        That’s OK, I didn’t really expect you to come up with anything.

      • FILMCRITHULK said

        HULK DOESN’T HAVE TO COME UP WITH ANYTHING. YOU WROTE “If Harley Quinn starts wearing sexier outfits then I know it’s to please “me”, not some feminist who – God knows why she’s playing a video game in the first place – crushes a pencil in her hand every time she hears the word “bitch” or sees a scantily-dressed woman on the screen.” WHICH IS RIDICULOUS BECAUSE IT IS BOTH A CRAZY SEXIST STATEMENT AND YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHAT FEMINISM ACTUALLY MEANS.

        THERE’S NOTHING TO RESPOND TO WHEN WHAT YOU WRITE FLIES DIRECTLY IN THE FACE OF EVERYTHING ACTUALLY IN THE ARTICLE. IT’S NOT AN ACTUAL COUNTERPOINT.

  125. Oliver said

    So, here I was reading the article and appreciating Hulk’s points (especially your clarification of #13, which had bugged me a little in the previous article) when suddenly there was DFW at the end. Not only a great reference to one of the greatest thinkers of our lives, but also a wonderful way to summarize your point. Bravo.

    • FILMCRITHULK said

      YEAH, HULK’S COUNTERPOINT TO ARGUMENT 13 IS TOTALLY SOMETHING THAT GOES FAR DOWN THE RABBIT HOLE INTO SPECULATION. BASICALLY HULK WONDERED “WHY ARE THEY MAKING THIS CHOICE? WHAT’S WITH THE EMPHASIS? WHY FOCUS ON HARLEY FALLING OVER FOR SO LONG AND KIND OF SHOWING A CLEAV SHOT?” AGAIN, THE QUESTIONS HAVE MORE VALIDITY BECAUSE THE REST OF THE GAME.

      AND YES: DFW WAS, QUITE SIMPLY, THE BEST.

      GOD HULK HATE WRITING “WAS”

  126. James Mycroft said

    Some questions for Hulk:

    1. What do you think the direct social consequences will be due to the frequent use of ‘bitch’? How would the world be different if ‘bitch’ was not used in the game at all? How offensive do you find the word bitch? Would you be able to place it on a scale or something similar?

    2. Do you see any problem with using the phrase “not to be a dick” (especially when it’s acknowledged in text it is in a somewhat derogatory context) in an article where you champion the avoidance of inherently sexist language?

    3. How would you have portrayed Catwoman if you were in charge of the game? How would you substantiate your concepts from a marketing perspective?

    4. Did you notice any male stereotyping while playing the game? Do you think that Batman has been marketed or designed at all to appeal to female consumers? Is his stoic personality and over-muslced appearance enforcing to the public that men should be unemotional and focus on physicality? Are the dimwitted henchmen enforcing the concept of men in low socioeconomic groups inherently must also be uneducated?

    5. The “MILLION STUDIES” you referred to suggests that you keep up to date with psychology research. What is your opinion on the recent research that considers gender specific roles (and by extension a somewhat unequal society) the most imperative development in human evolution? Once societal roles were defined, gender specific evolution could occur (for example the hunter/gatherer dichotomy) and also lead to the foundations of early trade occurring. It is likely that if it were not for this original sexist approach, it is entirely plausible – if not probable- that humans would not be the dominant species on Earth. I am not saying that this approach necessarily holds true today, though I feel personally that there are still roles that are better suited to men or women respectively, I am merely interested in your opinion.

    6. Does it get confusing having irregular syntax when you regularly alternate between HULK SPEAK and STANDARD ENGLISH IN CAPITALS? I find it hard to keep track when you alternate. It is a shame because the majority of your analysis is eloquent and thoughtful; some significance does get lost on me when you take on your persona.

    Thanks for taking the time to write the article and for responding so efficiently to everyone’s comments. It’s been an interesting read so far.

    • FILMCRITHULK said

      UTTERLY FANTASTIC QUESTIONS

      1. THIS WILL BE COVERED IN DEPTH IN PART 3 (WHICH IS COMING, ALBEIT LATE)

      2. POWER STRUCTURE HAS A LOT TO DO WITH IT. A LOT OF PEOPLE TRY TO ASSUME DICK MEANS SAME THING AS BITCH AND IT JUST DOESN’T. SPECIFICALLY BECAUSE THERE’S NOT CULTURAL CIRCUMSTANCES THAT GOES ALONG WITH IT, AT LEAST NOT IN THE SAME WAY. CALLING YOUR BOSS A BITCH, CAN BE QUITE LITERALLY A OPPRESSIVE. THIS NOT TO IMPLY CULTURAL IMPACT IS THE ONLY DECIDING FACTOR BUT IT’S A BIG ONE. AND SPECIFIC TO HULK, THERE’S A WAY HULK SAY “NOT TO BE A DICK” IN CONTEXT. MEANING HULK OBVIOUSLY SENSITIVE TO THESE THINGS, AND IT WOULD BE DIFFERENT IF HULK WERE COMING FROM DIFFERENT MAN HATING CONTEXT. WHICH AGAIN, ONE OF THE MYTHS OF FEMINISM IS MAN-HATING, BUT THE RARE CASES DO EXIST. IN WHICH CASE USING THE WORD DICK WOULD BE WEIRD… THAT DIDN’T ANSWER YOUR QUESTION WELL AT AL..

      3. ZIP UP THE DAMN SUIT FOR ONE. FORM FITTING BUTT WOULD BE OKAY. LESS MAKEUP. AND IF HULK WAS GOING TO PLAY UP THE SEX THERE’D BE A LOT MORE TO HER CHARACTER / MOTIVATIONS / OTHER BEHAVIORS BESIDES SEXY. AGAIN FEMME FATALES ARE COMPLEX. HULK WOULD DO DAMNDEST TO HAVE ANGRY CATWOMAN. VULNERABLE CATWOMAN. HUMAN CATWOMAN.

      4. HULK WOULDN’T SAY “MALE STEREOTYPING” BUT DEFINITELY A LOT CRIMINAL STEREOTYPING AND SOME VAGUE POLITICAL NONSENSE. THEIR CONCEPT OF BATMAN SEEMS CONFUSED AT BEST.

      5. YES! HULK DOES. ALSO WILL BE COVERED IN PART 3.

      6. HULK WORKING ON THE BALANCE. MOST OF THE TIME HULK USE HULK SPEAK JUST WHEN BEST FOR A JOKE. BUT HULK REALLY HAD TO ADOPT THE PROPER GRAMMAR THING FOR THE THOUSAND WORD ESSAYS. IT JUST DIDN’T FLOW FOR SOMETHING SO LONG. BUT AGAIN, HULK WORKING ON THE “RIGHT” CHOICE… WHICH THERE MAY NOT BE.

      AGAIN. THIS IS THE MOST AMAZING COMMENT WITH MOST POINTED QUESTIONS THAT HULK HAS RECEIVED.

      HULK THANK.

      • James Mycroft said

        Hulk welcome.

        7. Are you saying that its OK to discriminate as long as it is from the lower-status group towards the higher one? Or as long as its not genuine? I remember reading somewhere on here the nigger/cracker analogy stating that racism is perfectly reasonable as long as its a black person calling a white one a cracker and not the other way around.

        8. Would you accept the possibility that ALL the major and the majority of supporting characters are morally misguided in Batman (protagonists included) and that they would all warrant a description that fits them as such?

        9. As a corollary of the above two points, is it possible that two of the primary female characters: Catwoman (a violent kleptomaniac) and Harley (an aggressive sociopath) are the completely deserving of the ‘bitch’ moniker?

        10. I’m going to make an assumption that you’re American; or at least use predominantly American English. The reason I asked Question 1 is because in Australian English ‘bitch’ is not particularly severe, probably more of a statement of our culture than anything purely linguistic. Has HULK considered that the Arkham City was produced in England and that there may have been a cultural oversight? For example the ‘batty-boy’ comment from Two-Face/One-Face in The Dark Knight #1 (ironically the character seemed to have copied your syntactic idiosyncrasies) was cast aside as a harmless pun by many readers. However some British readers were shocked as ‘batty-boy’ was an old slang term for homosexual. Any thoughts here?

      • FILMCRITHULK said

        7. NOPE. TOTALLY NOT OKAY. BUT WHAT IT IS JUST DIFFERENT.

        8. BATMAN DEFINITELY CRAZY, BUT THERE’S A WAY TO EXPLORE THE BATMAN UNIVERSE. NOTHING ABOUT AC FEELS LIKE AN “EXPLORATION”

        9. NOT REALLY. AND HULK GONNA COVER IN PART 3.

        10. THIS SUBJECT FASCINATING. AND HULK DID THINK ABOUT IT. AND AGAIN, PART 3.

        GREAT STUFF.

  127. James Mycroft said

    oh and…

    11. DID HULK THINK THAT BIG BOOBS ON CATWOMAN SELL GAME AND ZIP UP MEAN LESS SALES. ROCKSTEADY WANT SALES. SO BIG BOOBS GOOD, ZIP UP BAD.

    If I was going to try and provide further reasoning of the artistic approach taken with Catwoman (from a less cynical, and hopefully equally valid, viewpoint to the marketing advantages) then I would say that Catwoman manipulates female stereotypes to her advantage. She has tailored her alter ego to meet her needs in the same way Batman has. Rather than rely on fear and being physically imposing she uses her sexuality to disarm her opponents. There is a fairly lengthy history of this sort of thing happening; the immediate example that springs to mind is Mata Hari – I doubt her (alleged) spying exploits would have been as successful if she “zipped up”.

  128. James Mycroft said

    In fact I’d go so far as to say that the mere fact that showing Catwoman showing her cleavage serves as a functional defence against men says more about the stupidity and shallowness of men than anything else. Pragmatism isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

    • It’s kind of useless against an attack from another woman, a eunuch (with all those crazy psychopathic villains running around there must have been a few castrations) or a gay man though, and at times like that it might be nice to have some leather across your chest.

      It also kind of leaves you with nowhere to go if you’re already near naked. You can’t start a strip-tease unless you are dressed first. Sex ‘as a weapon’ is not just about distraction. It can be used like bribery as well, you pay out a bit with the promise of ‘more later’… and what’s left to the imagination can be twenty times as titillating as what is on show.

      • James Mycroft said

        Haha true…

        To be honest I hadn’t considered the possibility of eunuch henchmen, don’t know where they’d fit in with the whole mythos… there would probably be a riddler trophy involved though!

        I’d be the first to agree that the Catsuit isn’t a terribly practical outfit; but the suspension of disbelief gets me through that – I find Two-Face’s exposed eyeball/burns in general too be more unlikely than Catwoman having cleavage to be honest. Its a comic for gods sake.

        On a side note titillate is a fantastic word. Both in meaning and pronunciation. Titillate, titillate, titillate.

  129. Sunflower said

    It’s bullshit to pretend women have sexual power over men that men don’t choose to allow. Men are responsible for their own emotions and desires. The idea that women somehow create desire in men against their will is misleading and problematic and should really be looked at closely for the sexism and victim-blaming it contains. The whole Catwoman being a femme fatale is ridiculous and a front for plain old exploitation when it’s just about unzipping a jumpsuit and not about actually using society’s existing sexual issues against men. For example, a good way she could “control” men is to create a situation where their masculinity is threatened unless they go along with what she wants, and she could possibly use “sexuality” in that situation. However, the situation would probably be extremely coercive and unpalatable for men to play out, so the game must resort to simplistic exploitation of her character instead.

    A woman who wants to use her sexuality to gain “power” has to be very aware of how our society views women’s sexuality and what it means, and what the consequences are. To exploit current norms for gain and power means a serious consideration of many concepts, none of which are present here. Catwoman doesn’t even need to distract her opponents, since she’s obviously capable of killing them easily, so it doesn’t even make sense that she would practically flash people from a character or story point of view. I would enjoy seeing a dark Catwoman story where she does think hard about our society’s sexual hangups and how to use them for her own ends, but this is clearly not done in this game, from what I can tell.

    • James Mycroft said

      Men have an evolved response to notice large breasts. Their decision making will also deteriorate substantially when aroused. This is consider psychological fact, it is empirically proven and studies are completely reproducible. The emotional appraisal in this situation is automatic – it served a beneficial evolutionary purpose for our ancestors and so it is instinctive now. Unfortunately not all instincts are suited to modern society.

      This automatic appraisal of (or instinctive attention towards) large breasts has formed the basis of the majority of lazy advertisements since marketing was born. They are not put there because men will choose to look at them. They are there because men WILL look at them.

      To say that all sexual impulses that men have from viewing women are conscious is not only axiomatically wrong but its also the most sexist thing i’ve read in this entire discussion.

      These emotions and physical desires are instilled by evolution and will occur regardless of conscious input. The only thing that an individual will have control over is their resulting behaviour. To suggest anything otherwise is as insidious as it is incorrect.

  130. James Mycroft said

    That should read considered, sorry for the mistake.

  131. Sunflower said

    I don’t agree at all. I’ve read a lot of studies about the brain and psychology, and the one thing they show is that we hardly know anything about how the brain works. To jump from what you personally think you know and assume is true to making a universal declaration about evolution and how all men behave/think is unrealistic. Sorry, but I don’t think you have a good point at all, and to toss in evo psych makes me think you’re heavily invested in the status quo and unwilling to question it.

  132. James Mycroft said

    I have not thrown in evolutionary psychology, the research is there. Richard Lazarus is worth looking into; although some of his work is dated now he found the basis of what is called emotional appraisal – the process of how stimuli creates emotion. The next step from there is Paul Ekman who is doing some interesting work with the Dalai Lama on how the time between appraisal and action can be extended, basically about how we can overcome our instincts.

    This is not what I personally think, it is commonly accepted theory that I have researched as part of my post-graduate studies and PHD. I will be conducting my own research in similar areas soon and I can let you know the results if you are interested in what I personally think/have found on the subject.

    Again, I’m not talking about conscious cognition or behaviour. I am talking about automatic emotional appraisal.

    Men will notice big boobs, its automatic, they’re programmed that way. It isn’t a choice.

    If someone cuts you off on the freeway you will get angry to some extent, you’re programmed that way. It isn’t a choice.

    Likewise, if its dark and you hear an unfamiliar loud noise you will feel fear to some extent, you will probably freeze for a short time as well. This is evolutionary instinct.

    What you do after the person cuts you off is up to you. You can choose to investigate the the noise or not. Men can form their own opinion of a product featuring a model with large breasts.

    The point is that they will notice it.

    • Sunflower said

      I don’t agree with you, again. I don’t think you can predict emotions that way. Emotions are not external forces that are clearly linked to a cause, they are internally created as part of a cognitive process linked to choice, and we are responsible for feeling them and dealing with them appropriately. Women are not responsible for men’s sexual attraction. Women are not responsible for men’s “distraction” when they see boobs. Also, if you have ever been to a topless beach on a regular basis, I think you’ll see just how little men and women care about boobs once the initial shock wears off.

      Also, when I get cut off on the freeway, I respond in various ways. It’s not automatically with anger. The same with a loud noise. Please don’t assume you speak for other people just because you experience those particular feelings, or your research is really going to be useless.

      • James Mycroft said

        Again, this is not my research.

        Your statement “we are responsible for … dealing with them appropriately” is enough for me. We can agree that people are responsible for their behaviour.

        Advertising and the media play into our instincts which are not controllable, they are however manageable. Putting Batman in a skintight suit and making him handsome (Christian Bale, George Clooney etc.) is going to garner a lot more female attention than bulky armour and an ugly face. Likewise, sexually driven female characters will get instinctive attention from males. Attention equals sales.

        On a side note, if you read what I wrote, I never said that women are responsible for the emotional or attentive response – I said that the response will consistently occur.

        I am trying to turn this away from a sexist debate. To say that any exploitation in media happens because of the decisions of an entire gender is ridiculous. I hope that I have misunderstood what you said.

        In regards to the beach comment, consistent exposure to any stimulus will decrease response. For example if I dive into a pool it will feel cold but my body will acclimatise and I will eventually not notice it. I would not go so far to say that this happens to YOU but I would hope that you could at least see a modicum of truth in the statement.

        Nudist beaches also do not carry the sexual connotation that advertisements or video game characters do. There is no posing, no priming and no context.

        But can you honestly tell me you’ve been to nudist beaches and never looked at someones penis, breasts or vagina?

    • Regarding the ‘handsome man in a skin-tight suit’ vs ‘sexy woman in a skin-tight suit’ argument–have you seen the suggestion that the presentation of video game characters (and comic book characters as well, I suspect) differs along gender lines? They suggest men are drawn as handsome/strong/virile but not with an erection all the time, whereas women in these same media are presented with the signs of arousal. It goes beyond big breasts/being a perfect rendition of a woman, and into ‘distended pupils, erect nipples, expression of sexual arousal’ territory…

      If you like, both men and women are physically unrealistically perfect, but the man is ‘the man you want to be’ and the woman is ‘the woman you want to fuck’, which means men and women react to the media in different ways (I am generalising–there are plenty of female gamers who can get past this, and plenty who don’t even notice it) and which can, in some cases, essentially exclude women from experiencing the story as it was meant?

      Also, purely from my own curiosity, do these studies into male reaction to breasts etc. not demonstrate that sexuality lies upon a scale, with different people reacting with different intensity? And are the studies designed to take into consideration the possibility that men fake (or subconsciously copy) the ‘expected’ reaction, because bonding over soft-pornography and sharing stories of sexual conquest is so common among groups of men? I’m not up on this research at all, and come from an English/Humanities background, so am quite prepared to be educated.

      • James Mycroft said

        The study i posted above used eye tracking software and found that the larger the boobs got the more likely the subject was to look there before the face, there was also analysis based on differing hip ratios. They achieved this by photoshopping the same image to achieve the different proportions.

        While I’m not aware of the particular model of eye-trackers they used, the ones I’m familiar with are sort of like reading glasses with a forward-facing camera and one directed at the wearer’s eyes. By using some algorithms that go way over my head the two video feeds can accurately give a live report on where and for how long the subject looks to a particular place.

        There are some really cool studies into what autistic people look at during movies vs a regular viewer but thats a story for another day :-)

        The study reported that response time was about 0.2 milliseconds from memory (I haven’t read it for a while) but to me that would suggest that it was too fast for a conscious decision, especially one involving social norms, priming and expected reactions. But then again as Sunflower pointed out I know nothing in the field ;-)

        I would absolutely agree that in Arkham City its the dichotomy of “I want to be him”/”I want to fuck her”. However I’d say the target audience would be male and thats the primary reason for this. The movies do not have such a gender bias have had more of an attempt to sexualise Bruce/Batman. Its a sad fact that female gamers are under-represented but it will get there eventually.

        In the end, no matter whether it is a movie or a game, its a product designed to generate profit. Rocksteady would be stupid to not play into our instincts and to focus on their market share. Based on their sale figures they’ve done a good job.

        ***

        Also I liked your three sentence story.

      • I am sure they deliberately targeted a male audience. I used to write for a European indie game company, and have had female characters completely gutted and redesigned–and these weren’t unattractive female characters, certainly nothing that would be considered off-putting in a movie (or comic book!)… And that wasn’t even for the actual game, but for the marketing materials around the game!

        I think it ends up being a catch-22 (only men play games, so we design games for men, so only men play games….). Video games can and have appealed to both men and women (Japanese role-playing games for example, or the old Lucas Arts adventure games) but contemporary American/English game companies seem unable to create something that mainstream, that doesn’t end up being derided by ‘proper’ gamers. (Ignoring stuff like wii sports or mario cart… video games with story-lines/characters/conflict)

        What’s sad is that you can’t really have great story-lines unless you let go of that kind of ‘focus group’ writing; Arkham City could have been awesome, the game mechanics etc all show lots of polish and thought. But someone on the developer team has decided it’s more important to chase sales than spend time on developing the characters (and honestly, even with a cleavage shot on the cover and some fanservice camera angles, they STILL could have made catwoman better!)

        I do feel there is a gap in the market, since Square Enix disappeared into some bizarro land of interchangeable characters covered in belts, there really hasn’t been any triple-A video games out there that I (as a female gamer) have whole-heartedly enjoyed for both gameplay and story, so I end up with indies and casual games, which–whilst fun–are not quite the same thing.

        And thanks for the comment on my story :)

  133. James Mycroft said

    I would also guess that you are not considering that emotions exist along a continuum. When you say you don’t feel anger I am using it to encompass everything from the mildest of annoyances to uncontrollable rage. If you can honestly say that someone cutting you off does not make you feel even slightly displeased, irritated, exasperated or incensed then power to you Ms Sunflower.

    • Sunflower said

      I think there’s some misunderstanding going on here. i feel you’re putting words into my mouth that I didn’t say, and I don’t want to get into a fruitless discussion of who said what, because those are tedious for everyone involved. I will assume you’re arguing in good faith, chalk it up to different interpretations, and leave it at that.

      I don’t know what you mean by emotions existing along a continuum, but to assume that everyone will have the same response to something is incorrect, again. I don’t think we’re going to ever agree that X causes Y for everyone. And no, my initial response on being cut off is not anger, but rather a feeling of readiness and watchfulness because I realize there’s a bad driver around and I should be careful. I did get angry in the past, back when I treated driving as a way to be macho and show off what a great and skilled driver I was. Some people I know never get angry when cut off, and never have. Others just get really scared. Some just take it for granted and it doesn’t occur to them to even react emotionally.

      Also, since you say nudist beaches don’t carry the same connotation and are not sexual– why not? Isn’t just nudity enough to cause an “instinctive” response if we’re going to get all evo-psych about it? Because it seems to me that posing and priming and context are not instinctive, they are learned behaviors. So that’s just not a consistent rationalization. As for desensitization, we’d have to really hash out a lot of things, like what causes sexual desire, and what’s learned behavior, and what (if anything) is truly instinctive, and that is going to be a really long and involved conversation.

      I think we’re getting pretty far off the point of the whole Catwoman as femme fatale thing now, so I want to go back to that and say again, I don’t agree that she is being portrayed as a femme fatale in this game, and I don’t think she needs to wear the type of clothes she does to gain an advantage. If that were the case, there would be a game mechanic where your enemies automatically are slowed or befuddled, and that wasn’t mentioned. So apparently, the men in the game could care less about evolution and don’t blink in the face of boobies :D

  134. Sunflower said

    I think a lot more people would buy the game if her “tits” weren’t out there, myself included.

  135. James Mycroft said

    we’re talking about getting attention of the consumers not the AI

  136. James Mycroft said

    so you haven’t played it?

  137. Sunflower said

    And if they put Batman in a nipple harness of course. And enlarged his man-pecs to three times the usual size so I wouldn’t be able to avert my eyes :D

  138. James Mycroft said

    …which just proves my point

  139. Bitch said

    Matthew 7:6 -.-

  140. ben k said

    Having read both articles and some of the comments, I cant help but feel if Hulk is jumping the gun a bit here.

    My first impression is that it is very likely that this has little to do with sexism intentional or not, and a lot to do with lowest common denominator marketing.
    The lowest common denominator, is an ignorant boorish pubescent male, brimming with hormones and axe bodyspray; Sexist, racist, and anti-intellectual to varying degrees; Who ignores or skips all tutorials & cutscenes, as well as dialog & narrative alike, unless they are covered in flashing lights or spilling T&A all over the screen.
    Mr LCD isn’t going to recognize that the psychotic mooks in clown makeup are supposed to be evil, because they look just like his favorite band. So you have to give them such exaggerated dialog that you would have to be deaf and blind to not get the point.
    Now while Mr LCD thankfully does not represent the the average buyer, your allocated budget is dependent on how many units the marketing department estimates it can sell. And if you want to have a job this time next year, you had better stuff in the requisite amount of fanservice before the game ships.

    My second point, is that with few exceptions writers have very little say about what ends up in the final product in the game studio system, and that dialog is very expensive, cut-scenes even more so.
    There is a lot of stuff which looks good on paper but goes weird after passing through the hands of the modeling team, the animation team, & the sound team in turn. All of whom are amateur directors at best. A game of telephone that results in catwoman making bad sex jokes.
    The whole radio chatter bitch repetition is even more a result of the process than the intent. You can only afford to record a limited amount of dialog, and eventually it is going to loop. Plus since you aren’t sure which mook characters are going to be saying which lines you have to record the same phrases multiple times, further reducing the number of unique lines.
    All it takes is one line of written dialog, and now every mook in the city is calling catwoman a bitch every few minutes.
    The writer barely anything to do with it… He wrote the line as a one off, since psychotic clown gangs are known for being assholes. And some audio technician records it, and adds it to the “radio chatter” file folder, and the rest is history.

    In all likelihood there was no axe to grind on the part of anyone involved on the project. Not even subconscious misogyny.
    Just a perfect storm of mandated fan-service combined with kludged together amateur directing and the writers not realizing that certain lines were going to end up being repeated ad infinitum.

    As several great men have said, “Never ascribe to malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence. ”

    my final observation is that freaking out about specifically the the term bitch seems a bit ridiculous. I’m sure there is plenty of other sexist stuff to be found, but this in particular smacks of the euphemism treadmill. A trend which I find infuriating.
    Calling people dogs as an insult started so long ago that some form exists in every major culture and language. It is such a tame insult that using it to excess seems more like stupidity than sexism.
    Heck, because English lacks a separate word for a male dog, and dog itself has taken on other connotations, the word bitch isn’t even used solely to insult females.
    If anything the usage of the feminine term to insult males is the real sexist use, since it also heavily implies that the femaleness of the term is part of the insult. Especially the usage used by prison inmates, in which a loss of masculine social dominance goes hand in hand with the assumption of a female gender role. In that context it may even be tragically accurate to refer to harley quinn as a crazy bitch, due to her insanity and her submissive status as a de facto pet of the Joker.
    And there is also the usage of the word which has very little gender connotation at all. When someone is told to stop bitching, they are being compared to an incessantly barking dog. Bitch is used as the root, because dogging has already been codified as describing a different dog behavior. (mind out of the gutter… think “dogging my heels”) It could be claimed that this use also has a feminine connotation, but in general accusing someone of bitching is considered an insult to the maturity of the the target not the masculinity.

    • I don’t think anyone has accused the game developers of ‘having an axe to grind’. That’s not the problem. The problem is a subconscious, immature “women are less than men” that inundates society, and in particular comics and video games.

      And in regards to them making games for “Mr LCD” — are you saying that’s a good thing? Because I don’t want the developers making games to be making the assumption that I’m like that. I want them to know that actually, I’d have preferred it if Catwoman didn’t act like she was on her way to a porn shoot.

      I don’t want to play a game that thinks of women primarily as sexual playthings, and I’m kind of offended that they might think that’s what I want. (Although I’m looking far more at Duke Nukem for that.)

      And “Bitch” has been used to try to attack and dismiss women repeatedly. It might be safe to use in the company you keep; it’s not amongst many of the people I know. It hurts them — and has been deliberately used to hurt them in the past — and they’re often not comfortable SAYING that it hurts them because of how readily it can be explained away. (Surprisingly, people don’t like being told that their own emotional reactions are invalid.) So, because I respect them, I avoid use of the word. (‘Kvetching’ can be used to replace it in many contexts, for example.)

  141. SpikeDurden said

    #1: This isn’t Nolan’s realistic Gotham/Batman world. This is more comic book world. Your point doesn’t address the actual reasoning that dumb, uneducated brutish inmates would use this language and treat women like crap, but instead argues that Nolan wouldn’t do it. Pointless, to me. That’s one interpretation. Also, these inmates aren’t Joker. Notice Joker doesn’t use the word bitch. Notice Two Face does. Two Face is characterized by a raging temper. Joker is not. Joker in Arkham City, like you argue about Nolan’s universe, is still violent and scary without using “bitch”. The bad guys you’re arguing about are lowly thugs that aren’t even characters in the game. They’re there to hate and to beat up.
    #2: Realism aside, the writers wanted the thugs to swear and there’s only so many words you can say while keeping the game teen. If all the thugs were eloquent in their speech like Zasz and Joker, it would be stupid.
    #3: You’re free to complain about whatever you want.
    #4: No moral relativism here, but you’re spending an awful lot of time complaining about a word that isn’t even considered bad by today’s standards. Girls call each other bitch all the time. It’s the female equivalent of “dick” or “asshole” which nobody would care about if the inmates called Batman an asshole. It has the same meaning.
    #5: No comment.
    #6: Dumb argument on commentators part.
    #7: Bad language is the least of a parent’s worry when raising children. There are torture scenes in the game. It’s dark. It’s not for kids. Where they choose to advertise the game is the network’s deal but still, regardless of your point, it is the parents job to know about what their children watch and do. Period. If they don’t bother to find out, it’s their own fault. But either way, Batman: Arkham City is not going to turn a child into a sexist or think that calling a girl a bitch is any more okay than becoming a criminal, skinning people’s faces or any of the other abhorrent things witnessed in the game.
    #8: You just argued against your own point in my opinion.
    #9: This is poorly written point is overly wordy and convoluted. But for the record I didn’t feel like there was anything wrong with the tone, the context or the author’s intentions while playing through the game.
    #10 and 11: In my opinion, Catwoman is sexy while still being strong, clever, obviously athletic and admirable. They’re not mutually exclusive. Have you ever thought that Catwoman’s outfit would be a major distraction for the people she’s fighting against? Regardless, how do we do the equivalent and objectify men? By crafting them with perfectly sculpted facial features, a respectable height and nearly unobtainable, large muscles. Like Batman in this game. Pretty even in my opinion. And I’m sure gamers attracted to men would find Batman just as sexy as straight males or lesbians would find Catwoman. They make both Batman and Catwoman at the peak of sexual attractiveness while still making them intelligent characters capable of handling themselves in any situation. Even if she isn’t complex, Catwoman is not portrayed as a mindless bimbo. She’s downloadable content (which is short at that). They don’t have the time to flesh her out into the complexity they would be capable of doing if she had her own game like Batman.
    #12: Batman and the characters in its universe have well defined characteristics and attributes. If they were suddenly different, something would seem amiss and people would be upset. “LOGIC OF SYMBOLOGY, MEDIA PROCESSING, TONE, AND CONTEXT ESTABLISHING. AND EVEN THOUGH THESE ARE ALL ABSTRACT CONCEPTS THEY ARE FAR MORE CONCRETE THAN GUESSING THE SUPPOSED ELABORATE LITERAL REASONING CHARACTERS.” So… what is this logic of symbology and drivel you keep going on about? You don’t give any examples. More convoluted, pseudo-intellectual bs.
    
I don’t feel like continuing. Basically what I’ve learned is that I detest your writing style, your all-caps typing, your reference to yourself in the third person, and the high horse you’re on. I will not be back to read any other articles on this blog. This blog should be called Pretense: IN CAPS! You sure did spend an awful lot of time complaining that random thugs/criminals/low lives in a penitentiary use the word “Bitch” too much and that Batman is too forceful with Harley (even though its no more so than anyone else). I suspect that you didn’t expect your blog article to be so popular, you realized it was a bit of a stretch argument after a while and now you’re just being pure stubborn. But your fans sure did eat up your points that ironically are full of logical fallacies despite what you argue. Words are words. They have as much power and meaning as you personally give them. I find this entire argument to be completely and utterly ridiculous and a great addition to the typical PC ultra-liberal society we now live in. What a bunch of whiny bitches.

    • FILMCRITHULK said

      DUDE, HULK JUST NOT NO WHAT TO SAY HERE. YOU’RE POINTING OUT “LOGICAL FALLACIES” THAT HULK ALREADY ACCOUNTED FOR AND DON’T ACTUALLY PERTAIN TO THE ARGUMENT. YOU’VE CREATED THIS BULLETPROOF PARADIGM WHERE ALL HULK’S HAUGHTY TALK IS JUST PSEUDO-INTELLECTUAL BS. THAT’S NOT WHAT IT IS. AND THE IDEA THAT HULK SOMEHOW ADVOCATING A TYPICAL PC SCHTICK ABSURD WHEN HULK WENT OUT OF WAY TO TALK ABOUT HOW MANY NON-PC THINGS HULK THINK ARE INTERESTING.

      • SpikeDurden said

        Here’s your basic thesis: Arkham City is sexist because the word bitch is used a lot by inmates and guards referring to Catwoman and Harley.

        The problem, HULK, is that you keep talking about how bitch can be used but it has to be in the right tone and context to not be sexist. Well here’s where you differ with the majority: the tone and context was just fine. Most people did not find it weird. It seemed appropriate that these scumbags would talk like that in the CONTEXT of the story, where they are, and what Catwoman has done or tried to do to them. How does calling a woman who tries to steal from you a bitch lack context? How does a bunch of a guys standing around bored in a prison discussing how they’d fuck a sexy woman lack context? It’s pretty straight forward. They’re in prison. This isn’t a movie. These references to Catwoman being a bitch aren’t typically in the normal cut scenes dialog, they are offhand comments heard by Batman as he eavesdrops on thugs. Movies don’t have an equivalent to running around an open world listening to what people are saying, so of course there’s going to be a bit less context than Straw Dogs. Despite what you said, movies and video games ARE NOT the same. Video games have a completely different process of fleshing out the reality of a world.

        You said, “The tone is about your reasons for doing this and why.”

        Yeah, the reason they call her a bitch is:

        1.) They’re a bunch of criminal guys.
        2.) Catwoman has beat the shit out of them and stolen from them in the past. She’s bad for their business.
        3.) They don’t really care about their language choice.
        4.) The “security” guard good guys you’re talking about are part of a rogue private security contractor company and ARE NOT good guys. They’re asshole mercenaries. You fight them in the game, if you even played the whole game.
        5.) Catwoman is a criminal.
        6.) Harley Quinn is a psycho criminal.

        How can you need more context? You’re just stretching here man. What more reasoning do you need to hear a thug call a woman a bitch? Does she need to torture him? Does she need to rape him with a dildo and then it would be ok for him to call her a bitch because it fits the context even more?

        What would need to happen in the game in order for the “context” to allow the thugs to call her a bitch? What would make it ok in your eyes? Because you say your problem isn’t with the word itself.

        Throughout all your rambling and referring to the game as sexist, you never once say how these thug uses of bitch hurts women and their role in society today. Unlike objectifying women in the work place by making comments about her physicality, or grabbing a woman’s ass on the subway, it doesn’t. Because a vast majority of women don’t give a fuck about the word bitch anymore. You don’t say how this puts society back within, ironically, the CONTEXT of this game.

        I just find the fact that you’re so concerned with the THUGS in a HELLHOLE penitentiary referring to female characters (and some males) as “bitches” absolutely absurd. This is a video game where you play as a man who dresses as a Bat and goes around threatening people, breaking and entering, destroying property, and assaulting and hurting countless people and your concern is the use of the word bitch. And what’s even more disturbing is you’ve gotten dozens of your mindless, zealous followers to agree that your cause is of ANY importance whatsoever. You’re one person who thinks this way about the game and few others do but you’re making others feel like they’re supposed to think that way. I’ve asked 7 girls aged 24-30 that I work with about their opinion on the matter and their responses were all “who cares?” I explained to them the issue in full detail, telling them the frequency of the word being used to refer to catwoman and Harley. Their responses ranged from “Wouldn’t thugs who have been fucked over by catwoman in the past refer to her as a bitch?” to “How is the word bitch controversial?” I know that I refer to a girl that’s fucked me over in the past a bitch. And the male equivalent an asshole or a dick or a jerk. It’s a noun used to describe your feelings about the person. Calling one woman a bitch does not mean you think ALL women are bitches. That’s your huge logical fallacy right there. Calling TWO women a bitch does NOT mean you hate all women.

        You’re going around on here, along with the other commentators in your support circle, convincing people they should be offended about things they aren’t offended about. And despite what a previous poster said, you DO choose what you’re offended about and what upsets you. It IS a choice. You’re not born with certain things that offend/upset you. And the fact of the matter is, the word bitch just doesn’t offend the average woman or man or person anymore and doesn’t automatically make them think of women as less than men when they hear it. Unlike cunt, it’s become acceptable. It’s used on television three times more now than ten years ago. Women use it. Men use it. Bitch can be used as a positive noun too. It’s just simply NOT an issue they merits your several thousand word essays, though you have every right to try to convince us it does.

        You’re either offended by this or you’re not. And it angers me when people try to tell me that I should be offended about things. That’s just what the world needs: everyone being more sensitive…

        I’m sick of you sitting on your high horse telling us why we should be chilled to the core that bitch is used so much in Arkham City. And that if it doesn’t bother us, and if it doesn’t bother my own girlfriend, that we’re either not thinking about it or something is wrong with us. I’m sick of you pretending you’re some crusader of feminist justice. Trying to attract more female readers? And just to reiterate: you ARE on a high horse about this.

        Please explain how the use of the thugs language hinders the world of women.

        Enjoy your readers you have wrapped around your fingers.

    • Dude, it’s a blog on the internet. Why do you care so much that Hulk cares? Why did you spend two huge long comments ranting about how offended and angry you are that some people are “PC” and “overly sensitive”? Maybe for the same reasons Hulk feels it necessary to write about Hulk’s experience with the game?

      In fact, why are you so incensed by this essay about a game Hulk admits to enjoying that you felt the need to out and survey women as to how they feel about the word bitch?

      The world is an amazing and diverse place, and it is possible to discuss stuff like this without being either OH MY GOD YOU PC LIBERAL SENSITIVE HIPPIE FEMINAZI or OH MY GOD YOU SEXIST EVIL CHAUVINISTIC MALE IDIOT.

      Attack the argument, not Hulk.

  142. TheAnimeFanboy said

    Would it be less sexist if the inmates threatened to rape Batman too? You know, that would be complete equality of the sexes. Arkham City IS a prison after all, surely at least one inmate thinks Batman has a pretty mouth that looks kind of like Bruce Wayne’s.

    I’m not super, I’m just Saiyan.

  143. James Mycroft said

    haven’t been here for a while but I would have loved to provide a link on here for another wordpress blog called “why rape jokes are never ok”

    again the arguments centred around the use of a particular word and how society was falling apart because of it.

    unfortunately after I gave a variety of arguments centring around catharsis and the protection of freedom of speech, culminating in a personal comment defending and arguing a necessity for rape-based-humour the author deleted the blog.

    political correctness is getting out of control.

    • Discussion about whether certain things are appropriate is not the same thing as censorship. Yes, of course you can make rape jokes. And other people can tell you how triggering, sexist, upsetting and unfunny they are. Just because you have the right to say something, doesn’t mean everyone else has to applaud what you say.

      Yes, Arkham City can say ‘bitch’ as often as it likes. And critics can then write about their reaction to that choice, and why they think it was problematic.

      Or is freedom of speech only okay when it applies to things you personally agree with?

      • James Mycroft said

        Sorry its taken me a while to reply, I’m house hunting at the moment.

        Basically I view extreme political correctness as someone getting offended because of the possibility of someone else getting offended. I find that a bit silly. As long as people make sure whatever they publish (in words/speech/whatever) doesn’t unintentionally cause unreasonable offence I think everything’s ok.

        I think the constant scrutiny that communication is being subjected to lately (especially the PC side of things) will ultimately lead to quite a bit of diversity being lost. Kinda reminds me of newspeak personally.

        But yeah, everyone is free to say what they want provided that its reasonable. Rape jokes and ‘bitch’ in a video game are reasonable.

        I also played through arkham asylum recently and noticed when gordon called harley a bitch. Absolutely classic example of confirmation bias.

      • “But yeah, everyone is free to say what they want provided that its reasonable. Rape jokes and ‘bitch’ in a video game are reasonable.”

        That is your opinion, not a statement of fact. In my opinion offending/excluding a segment of your audience for *no compelling artistic reason* is not sensible or reasonable.

        For the record, I am a woman and a gamer. I have many friends who are also women and gamers. Many of them feel that the gaming culture is absolutely toxic; off-putting, triggering and frequently driving women away from gaming altogether. This is a real issue–one that you don’t notice and that doesn’t affect you, because you are not a woman, nor do you seem able to emphasise with anyone who doesn’t hold the same opinion as you.

        Also, have you considered that maybe people are just actually offended, and not offended for the sake of being offended? I mean, I know women who have been raped, and I find the thought of their traumatic and distressing experience being no more than a joke extremely offensive. I also believe that repeating rape jokes contributes to a culture in which men feel that rape is permissible and acceptable. This is not just a ‘women’s issue’. The standing joke about ‘prison rape’ trivialises the experience that many male prisoners have.

        Batman has mainly been something that appeals to women and men, to children and adults. It has been fun, thoughtful, it has explored insanity and morality in often fairly mature ways. Yes, there are some hyper-violent versions and hyper-sexual versions, but for the most part Batman is something I have always felt was more than just a boys power fantasy. Yet the video game–a medium which I love and feel is capable of so much more–has reduced such an accessible IP to this vapid result.

        And since your argument is not “actually there is a compelling reason why the word ‘bitch’ is used so often and the female characters are just pin-ups to admire” but “quit getting offended us men can say whatever we want and damn your feelings” there is probably not a lot more I can say to you, and we’ll just have to agree to disagree.

      • Sunflower said

        I think you put this very well and I agree with your points, thank you for posting that.

        I think there’s a deliberate lack of empathy in general from certain people who in some spaces of their life shield themselves from feedback as to their character and morals, and from being questioned. So if people don’t want to closely examine themselves because of a fear of what they’ll find, they’ll create areas where they can suppress feedback in a variety of ways. Luckily the world is changing to where, when people do that, it becomes a lot more obvious, since they have to go to greater and greater lengths to hold on to willful ignorance.

      • I’ve not played either Arkham game (not really a gamer) but I’m familiar with various Batman incarnations, mainly TV and movies. To me personally, the ‘dark and gritty’ incarnations of the Nolan-verse, and, to a lesser extent, The Animated Series, work better than the Adam West version, with it’s broader tone. The darkness, cynicism, the ‘lone fighter in a harsh world’ ideas suit the character.

        I can see to an extent how the use of bad language – I think most people would agree that ‘bitch’ and ‘asshole’ are at least bad language even if you think it’s suitable? – would add to the tone of the world, and make it more gritty and dark, to help you lose yourself in this fictional, dark world. But there will be some people who’ve had these insults hurled at them earlier in the day, or recently, so, rather than adding to the immersion of the story, will act as a reminder of similar things in real life.

        It’s interesting that The Dark Knight only has the one use of the word ‘bitch’ – which I hadn’t thought about when watching. It shows that it’s at least possible to achieve the positive effects of the Arkham games (creation of a dark and immersive world) without the negative effects (making some gamers, male or female, feel uncomfortable). If it’s possible to achieve those positive aims without the negative side-effects, then it says to me that it’s at least worth commenting on.

        Also, as a slight side-note, as a man I find a lot of the hyper-sexual characters in games a little off-putting – it seems that at least half of all female characters across games as a whole have ridiculous bodies and outfits that wouldn’t be suited to the character of the universe. It’s as if the developers are saying ‘you’re a guy, you must like super-huge breasts and outfits that are only one tear away from nudity, right!’
        Nothing wrong with doing that as a one-off – Lara Croft was a bit of a novelty back in the day – but it seems a cliche that games ae clinging to.

      • James Mycroft said

        Woah hang on. The blog about rape jokes was saying that they are NEVER acceptable. It was in regards to a law student posting “so who got raped by the criminal law exam” on a university forum. In bad taste but I thought it was her prerogative to do so I defended her right to post it. I was saying that naming something as inappropriate regardless of context is not only wrong but offensive. It had nothing to do with video games.

        The parallel was drawn with this article as some people said that the controversial language use was reflecting how degrading our culture is. In both cases I felt that things were blown out of proportion.

        I am more than capable of empathy, and I can understand that you personally may be offended. But the point I was trying to raise (obviously I didn’t do a good job) is that communication suffers when there is a hypersensitivity to offence. Attempting to communicate while being mindful of not offending absolutely ANYONE is not something that I personally aspire to do.

        I don’t think I’m being insensitive, but I would definitely admit my views are pragmatic or utilitarian.

        Just to reemphasise, rape jokes in video games are absolutely not ok. There are particular contexts where they are; for example several rape victims were on my side of the date saying they used humour to cope. Humour-derived catharsis should not be disregarded under any circumstance. Posting the above rape joke was perhaps insensitive but does not, in my view, form a substantive enough comment to warrant debate.

        Likewise, I don’t think that the use of the word ‘bitch’ in Arkham City is particularly offensive, nor will it have any great or lasting effect on the world at large. While the word is derogatory and only applies to women I don’t think that there is enough evidence to really form an opinion about the intentions of the designers. Personally I would consider it an oversight due to hardware or budget limitations. I do not think it was at the forefront of the scriptwriters minds when the game was created.

        Catwoman’s appearance is marketing, plain and simple. Being female and a gamer isn’t ideal; but games are designed primarily for business and not for social change – therefore they are gonna be targeted at their largest demographic. Unfortunately the biggest demographic is usually adolescent males and unfortunately they usually get distracted by boobs.

        Its not ideal but its what makes money.

      • @noonebutabloghead

        I don’t have a problem with ‘dark and gritty’ (I played GTA!) but it needs to be reinforced that these decisions are being made for a reason. To combine a harsh-and-gritty world with adolescent pin-up fantasy Catwoman means the world isn’t coherant. Nolan, to give him his due, creates very believable characters, and dials back on a lot of the more ‘fantastical’ elements. He establishes a ‘grown-up’ Batman in lots of different ways, making it clear that this is what he intends.

        The game, on the other hand, tries to do dark-and-gritty but with pretty much cartoonish characters. That undercuts the grittiness, and makes it feel thoughtless and casual.

        @James Mycroft

        Fair enough, I’ll assume “Rape jokes and ‘bitch’ in a video game are reasonable.” was mistyped and meant differently.

        I really doubt that if Catwoman hadn’t been so provactive all the male gamers wouldn’t have bought it. Lots (most?) video games don’t need to resort to that to sell to the same target audience.

      • James Mycroft said

        Yeah sorry about the typo, I didn’t proofread sorry :-(

        I thought the Dead and Alive series hugely , especially that fucking volleyball game. I would say that GTA as a series is more sexist too than AC. Not to mention every game with the helpless female character – at least Catwoman is empowered to a fairly large extent, and even saves Batman. I can’t think of many games where a female protagonist saves the male.

        RE5 and Uncharted focused on ethnic minorities as enemies. Likewise GTA with the Kill All Haitans (again). A guy at Kotaku who has similar views to Hulk found Deus Ex unbelievably racist. I can’t think of a single game off the top of my head that portrays homosexuality positively, or even portrays it with any depth at all.

        I’m sorry but there are other games that I would use if I wanted to argue that games are perpetuating inequality in society. The occasional ‘bitch’ in NPC dialogue doesn’t cut it when I look at what other games are around.

        On a side note I seem to remember most of the early marketing for Arkham City was Batman and Catwoman. I recall something with Catwoman leaning over Batman’s shoulder? I’m not really sure, but the mere fact I can remember it after a year or so would say it was pretty effective to me.

      • I think GTA is deliberately pushing you into a misogynistic world, and whilst there is a lot of debate that can be had about it the difference between GTA and AC is that in GTA the sexism is a deliberate design decision. In AC, as a lot of people have said, the designers ‘didn’t mean it’, which makes it a more problematic.

        But yes, games in general are heavily skewed towards white, male, able-bodied, straight players, and anyone who doesn’t fit into that group is going to be hard-pressed to find a sympathetic character/world … outside of the indies anyway.

        But gamers are becoming more vocal about it, and I think things will change very rapidly over the next generation.

      • James Mycroft said

        So if someone intentionally bases a game around racism misogyny and the glorification of illegal activities its ok but an inadvertent repetition of a ‘bitch’ in NPC dialogue isn’t?

        Someone raised the point of the riddler calling henchmen “retarded monkeys” and saying that Batman “made them look like girls” in AC but no one shaming Rocksteady with it.

        Is the issue here discrimination or the word bitch? Because if I was going to champion anti-discrimination (which I think is definitely worthwhile) I would not use Arkham City. If the issue is specifically the word ‘bitch’ then I guess its not a bad example. I think there are better choices though.

      • I think we are discussing a game which didn’t *realise* they were being sexist and discriminatory, and which is rated for teens. GTA is for adults, it’s clearly sign-posted as being for adults, and the world is coherent. It’s up to whoever to decide if it’s a world they want to inhabit or not.

        But this conversation is about insidious, non-deliberate sexism. It’s about how, in society as a whole, it is considered increasingly acceptable to refer to women as ‘bitch’, despite the social history of that word being used to undermine women with any amount of power, or any woman who broke from ‘feminine’ behaviour. It’s about how the world isn’t coherent, so a fun, action-y game marked for teens has this weird, out-of-place, current running through it.

      • James Mycroft said

        so unintentional repetition of a word in NPCs that can be construed as somewhat sexist is unfair and reflective of inequalities within society but a game that uses sexism, racism and the glorification of illegal activities as a central mechanic is just fine?

      • I didn’t say it was “just fine”, I said there was a lot of debate to be had.

        The difference is, nobody is going to confuse killing a prostitute and dumping her body with a ‘normal’ activity, whilst lots of people think calling a woman a bitch is just fine and dandy.

        Plus GTA4 actively tries to explore the hollowness at the centre of the material criminal world, and uses the sexism and misogyny as a critique of the American Dream… whereas Batman just wants to be edgy. Whether GTA4 succeeds is a debate for a different day, the difference is in intent. If you can’t understand that… I don’t know what to say.

  144. Rob C said

    Point #1 is meaningless. I played the game for 25 hours and heard the word “bitch”, MAYBE once an hour, if that. Your claim of 87 “bitches” is meaningless without knowing how long you’ve been playing for. My experience certainly was not that “bitch” was ALL they were able to do. In fact, the majority of the characters never used the word at all.

    In addition, as has been discussed repeatedly, and I have yet to see you respond to: the Arkham City security guards are NOT good guys (and really, this should’ve been obvious from minute one, when they abduct you from a public press conference and throw you in Arkham City in the first place). There are only 2 groups of “good guys” in AC- the medical team at the church, and the undercover cops in the museum. Neither of whom use the word bitch. So no, the good guys do NOT use the word.

    There’s more, but given that the basis of your argument proceeds from these two false and flawed premises, it’s not surprising that it gets further and further off. It’s flawed and failed criticism.

    The sad part is that there is an actual argument that could be made that Arkham City is sexist. Your anti-”bitch” screed isn’t it, though.

    • FILMCRITHULK said

      DUDE. YOU KEEP DOING THIS SO HULK JUST HAS TO RESPOND. YOU KEEP SAYING THIS LIKE HULK “WRONG” HULK AWARE THAT MOST OF THE PEOPLE WHO ARE SAYING BITCH OR BAD PEOPLE. BELIEVE IT OR NOT THAT NOT HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH HULK’S ARGUMENT.

      HULK’S ARGUMENT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH “BAD PEOPLE ARE SAYING IT SO IT’S OKAY.” HULK’S ARGUMENT HAS TO DO WITH THE FACT THAT THE DEVELOPERS SEEM SO CASUAL ABOUT THROWING IT AROUND THROUGHOUT THE GAME THAT, WHEN COUPLED WITH THE FACT THAT WOMEN ARE NOTHING BUT VAPID SEXUALIZATIONS, INCLUDING JOURNALIST VIKI VALE, CREATES A WEIRD SEXIST OVERTONE TO THE GAME.

      THAT’S IT.

      AND FOR THE RECORD

      1. AARON CASH, THE GOOD GUY EX COP, SAYS BITCH.

      2. AND IN THE LAST GAME, LT. GORDON, EVER THE PARAGON IN GOODNESS USES THE WORD AS WELL.

      AND YOU MAY THINK THERE’S NOTHING WRONG WITH THE WORD. THAT’S FINE. HULK ARGUING THAT THERE IS AND IT BRINGS A WEIRD ELEMENT TO THIS GAME.

      AND HULK ARGUED THIS POINT RATHER CLEARLY OVER THE COURSE OF THOUSANDS OF WORDS.

      THE INTERNET IS FILLED WITH PEOPLE WHO ATTACK ARGUMENTS BASED ON SINGULAR STRAW MAN LOGIC OF SOME “ARGUMENT CRUX” THAT MOST TIMES IS NOT ACTUALLY A GAME BREAKER.

      DON’T BE ONE OF THEM.

      • Oliver said

        Well, considering you admitted in your own article that it “makes sense” that the thugs would call her a bitch, you destroyed your entire argument right there. Then you go on to basically explain that just because it make sense doesn’t mean the developers should use it. Really? Why? Throughout your entire article, you never explained a single time WHY the word bitch is so sexist. You know why? Because it’s not. It CAN be sexist, if you refer to all women as bitches, but it’s not in nature a sexist word. It’s an insult for a specific type of woman. It’s also used against men.

        Bitch
        noun
        1.
        a female dog: The bitch won first place in the sporting dogs category.
        2.
        a female of canines generally.
        3.
        Slang .
        a.
        a malicious, unpleasant, selfish person, especially a woman.
        b.
        a lewd woman.

        They’re not calling her a female dog, obviously. I’d say that Catwoman, especially as seen by the thugs, is a malicious, unpleasant selfish person, and she is definitely a woman. I’d also say that she is a lewd woman. I’d say that Harley Quinn even more so than Catwoman is the exact definition from above of a bitch. I’d come to the conclusion that the thugs who HATE Catwoman and Harley Quinn used the insult perfectly. Exactly how it should be used. It’s something called using the colorful English language. I see you do it yourself in your posts. One might say you’re a hypocrite.

        You see, words have definitions. And in this case, this noun was used in its correct definition.

        Take a slang insult like “asshole.” Asshole is usually defined as a male who is mean, cruel or a jerk. It is the male equivalent of bitch. And obviously, like female dog, doesn’t literally mean a man is an anus. I’d say that Two Face is a major asshole, just like Harley Quinn is a crazy bitch. Explain to me why me calling Harley Quinn a crazy bitch, using language created by our ancestors to specifically define certain things, is sexist. She is a malicious, lewd woman. She is psychotic. She is a bitch.

        I guarantee you would have no qualms if the thugs called Batman an asshole. You wouldn’t even blink. And what’s more, unlike Harley Quinn who IS a bitch, Batman is not an asshole. But you still wouldn’t even think about it. But like the above poster said, you’re trying to gain readers by embarking on a pointless and ridiculous feminist crusade that is completely meaningless because the word bitch does not harm women, does not harm society, and is not important. This is not an issue. This does not hold society back. This is criminals using crude language against women in a prison. If you don’t think that’s appropriate then turn off the game, cry about it, and then blog about it. Oh wait, you already did.

        PS The use of bitch didn’t feel weird to me at all. And especially since you’re one of two blogs on the internet that even brought this up on the issue, I’d say you’re pretty alone on it besides your lapdog readers. Bitch is used on television three times as much today as ten years ago. Do you know what that means? It means nobody fucking cares. And if nobody else fucking cares, it means you’re giving more power and meaning to the word than it deserves. It’s not the game’s problem. It’s YOUR problem. Also, the incredible hulk blows and nobody likes him. Just saying… Nice persona choice.

      • FILMCRITHULK said

        VIRTUALLY EVERYTHING YOU JUST SAID, HULK DEEPLY AND TRULY BELIEVES TO BE INCORRECT. HULK WILL EVENTUALLY TACKLE THINGS WHY THE WORD BITCH IS IMPORTANT, WHY JUST BECAUSE SOMETHING MAKES SENSE FOR A CHARACTER TO DO DOESN’T MEAN HULK HAS TO AGREE WITH THE CHOICE, ETC. FOR THE MOST PART HULK HAS ALREADY EXPLAINED THIS.

        AND THE VERY IDEA THAT PEOPLE CAN’T SIMPLY AGREE WITH HULK’S POINTS AND THEY THEREFORE MUST BE HULK’S “READERS” THAT HULK HAS WRAPPED AROUND FINGERS IS RIDICULOUS. THAT THEY ARE SOMEHOW MINDLESS SHEEP THAT CREATE THESE NONSENSE IDEAS IN THEIR HEAD, IS QUITE FRANKLY, THE #1 FOLLY OF HAVING ANY KIND OF PRODUCTIVE ARGUMENT OR CONVERSATION ABOUT ANYTHING.

        IT MEANS YOU CANNOT SEEM TO MERELY HAVE A VIEWPOINT, YOU HAVE TO OUTRIGHT INSIST THAT THE OPPOSING VIEWPOINT MUST BE THE MOST INSIPID AND RIDICULOUS NON-VALID THING POSSIBLE.

        THAT’S NOT HOW IT WORKS. THERE HAVE BEEN DOZENS OF PEOPLE WHO HAVE MADE THE COUNTER POINTS TO HULK’S ARGUMENT, ALBEIT IN COMPLETELY MEASURED AND UNDERSTANDING WAYS AND IT’S BEEN PRODUCTIVE.

        AND YOU KEEP BRING UP THIS HIT-WHORING THING WHICH IS JUST EQUALLY RIDICULOUS. THERE IS NOTHING LIKE THAT HERE. THERE IS SIMPLY, WHAT IS ON HULK’S MIND. NO ECONOMIC MOTIVES. NO NOTHING. IS IT AN ISSUE HULK FINDS IMPORTANT? OF COURSE! THAT’S WHY HULK WROTE ABOUT IT. BUT EVERYTHING YOU SAYING IMPLIES THESE WEIRD ULTERIOR MOTIVES TO HELP DE-LEGITIMIZE WHAT HULK SAYING. IT’S DOWNRIGHT BIZARRE.

        AND FOR THE RECORD, YOU PERSONAL INSULTS ARE MEANINGLESS. DON’T BRING THEM HERE BECAUSE THEY DON’T BELONG.

      • James Mycroft said

        This is from my computer’s dictionary:

        bitch |biCH| noun
        1 a female dog, wolf, fox, or otter.
        2 a spiteful or unpleasant woman.
        3 ( a bitch ) a difficult or unpleasant situation or thing:
        4 a complaint:
        verb
        express displeasure; grumble: (as noun bitching)

  145. [...] enough to justify the use of misogynistic language, I think his points were better made in the second post rather than the [...]

  146. Bravo. What a great two-part, well-written, articulate, and educated article. I don’t even play this video game, or many video games, but I thoroughly enjoyed reading about it and the reasons you feel it is sexist. And not to be cheezy, but.. as a woman I am very glad that there is someone out there writing about pop culture who is willing to make these educated connections and write about them. I don’t think people often understand how sexism is so closely related to homophobia, racism, and inequality of many kinds. If we don’t all make an effort, as you just have, to create media literacy, we’re screwed. Or, at least, anyone not male and white is screwed.

    Thank you. You’ve gained a new reader.

    • Oliver said

      White males undergo scrutiny of their own and anyone who pretends they don’t is ignorant.

      Thank you. You’ve proved you don’t know what you’re talking about.

      • FILMCRITHULK said

        EXCUSE HULK? AT WHAT POINT DOES SHE INSINUATE THAT THEY DON’T? ISN’T IT OBVIOUS SHE’S JUST POINTING OUT THE RELATIVE DISPARITY?

        AND FOR THE RECORD, IF YOU’RE EVER HAVING CONVERSATIONS WHERE YOU ARE TAKING ONE THING SOMEONE SAYS AND USING IT TO DISCOUNT EVERY OTHER THING THAT THEY SAY YOU ARE NOT HAVING CONVERSATIONS CORRECTLY. ESPECIALLY CONSIDERING YOUR MISCHARACTERIZATION OF HER POINT.

        DON’T DO THAT BECAUSE YOU’RE BETTER THAN THAT.

      • James Mycroft said

        The only problem I see here is that a lot of people who have agreed with Hulk haven’t played the game and are basing their view on the two articles without context. I can completely understand that because Hulk’s writing style is generally quite persuasive, albeit occasionally cumbersome due to the style.

        I think it’s worth remembering these two articles display quite a extreme response to the game, I’m not saying that they should be discounted, just that they’re at the far end of the continuum. Try playing the game, watching footage, or reading reviews. Opinions should be formed on the broadest context possible.

  147. James Mycroft said

    Discrimination and prejudice are not inherently bad. Discuss.

  148. dartigen said

    The only other argument I can add is number whatever:
    If the developers did shoot for realism, the game would be lucky to scrape in under an R rating with half its dialogue cut. ‘Bitch’ is probably the strongest language they’re allowed to use and not have to sit down to a lovely chat with the ratings board about how they’re going to have to cut half their dialogue if they want to get that T rating. (And I don’t think they’d be allowed to use ‘asshole’ either. I would guess that for a T rating, the rule is that you can only use it if it wouldn’t be bleeped out on TV, which ‘asshole’ usually is. But there’s plenty of M and MA games that have sold insanely well – Call of Duty comes to mind – so I don’t see what developers are so concerned about.)

    Now, I am not saying the developers are completely absolved of blame here; the least they could have done is gotten creative. I know that English isn’t a great language for trying to make short, simple insults that won’t get you into trouble with the ratings board but that’s not an excuse to recycle the same insult over and over.
    I’m also not saying that it’s not sexist, because it is. (Yes, I am female, and while I do use the word bitch and I don’t feel weird about it that doesn’t mean I would ignore being called one; but women get called much worse things so it’s not something I’m going to get worked up over until all the other words fall out of usage too.) Sexism through laziness is still sexism, and it’s also still laziness. Again, I see no reason beyond either laziness or ratings concerns for the constantly use of the word ‘bitch’. But even thought it has created something of an Internet shitstorm, I doubt anything will be done about it. (Besides, patching dialogue would be an absolute nightmare.)

    It would not be the first time, and it will probably never be the last, at least until developers stop being concerned about losing sales because of an M or R rating. Red Dead Redemption has an R rating and it’s sold pretty insanely well. I don’t think an R rating would have affected Arkham City’s sales at all. (And the majority of gamers these days are adults, who are perfectly capable of telling the difference between reality and a videogame (well, most of us can; there’s always exceptions to the rule) and learned all the bad words in high school.)

    As a sidenote: I am so sick of all these fighter-type female characters with exposed cleavage. Having your boobs bouncing around is not conducive to fighting, but it is conducive to a whole lot of discomfort and in sub-zero temperatures it’s also conducive to hypothermia.
    I would be even more pissed off if Catwoman was in heels; I know enough women who’ve suffered serious injuries just trying to walk in heels to know that running, much less attempting acrobatics or fighting, is more likely to land you in the ER with broken bones than on a rooftop.
    Can we get some practically-dressed women now? Marketers, take note: practical can be sexy too.

  149. The game finally came out for PC.

    And yeah. Super-sexist. (So far, at least).

    It’s not so much the specific use of the word ‘bitch’ as it is the attitude in what feels like every single character when they talk about women. Which they seem to be constantly doing. When playing as Batman, we hear that every single thug in Arkham thinks that women are objects.

    Then playing as Catwoman, it’s clear that the developers think of her as an object as well — which re-contextualizes the background chatter from “We’re showing a bunch of misogynistic thugs in a hell-hole of a world to illustrate what a dystopia it is” to “Hey, guys, isn’t misogyny fun? Wanna watch Catwoman’s breasts some more?”

    No specific incident is over-the-top bad, but all added together it feels like I’m drowning in casual misogyny. There’s just not been enough ‘other’ to dilute it.

    Also of note: There don’t seem to be any female generic gang members out there (so far). The presence of Ivy and Harley (and Catwoman?) mean that this IS a co-ed prison city — that apparently has no other women in it. I also haven’t (in my admittedly small play time so far — darn work schedule) heard anyone mention casually their women back home, or wherever they might be. None of the thugs are shown to have wives or girlfriends, inside or out. Or mothers. So mostly they’ve just been talking about Harley and how much they’d like to boink her once the sick Joker is out of the picture. Which is, I suppose, more understandable once you realize that she’s one of only a handful of women that exist in the world at all.

  150. [...] game’s dialogue, especially incidental comments from thugs, is unimpressive. And sometimes troubling too. Puzzling, given how lavish and polished the game is in almost all other respects. Then I sat [...]

  151. Sammy Al. said

    As a gamer myself, this article opened my eyes to the sexism, racism, stereotyping, etc in gaming that I haven’t payed attention to before, and I really appreciate it.

    Hulk, you’ve just earned yourself a permenant reader.

    BTW, our english teacher was showing us some videos and articles on sexism in pop-culture, and I’m sure she would be more than happy to show this article to the class.

  152. VPritch said

    Question:

    Why should I care?

    Consider: It doesn’t affect me negatively. If I get upset about it, I get high blood pressure and turn bitter. If I don’t, I stay calm and enjoy the game.

    If I speak out against it, I earn the favor of people who will expect me to speak out against even more stuff and the enmity of everyone else who cares. If I don’t, I don’t make any enemies.

    Basically here’s what I’m asking: Humanity is innately cruel and will always be shitty to each other. Thus has it been through all of history. Even if I side with- in a general sense- you on this, there will always be another Out-Group to shit on.

    I mean, even if we eliminate hate groups from the running, I bet you there are at least three different categories of people you hate and want gone at this moment.

    Why in the fuck would I try to fight that? What am I, stupid?

    • FILMCRITHULK said

      WHAT IN THE SAM HECK ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT?

      AND NO HUMANITY ISN’T ALWAYS CRUEL TO EACH OTHER. YOU’RE TAKING INHERENT DUALITY TO IMPLY AN INHERENT STALEMATE. WHICH IT’S NOT. IT’S A RELATIONSHIP.

      WHAT YOU’RE ULTIMATELY ADVOCATING IS NON-PARTICIPATION AS A HUMAN BEING.

      • VPritch said

        There’s no “duality” here. What I mean is that evil is always winning, even when you think it isn’t.

        For some reason, the fact that you didn’t address the “I bet you … gone at the moment.” thing sticks out to me. That is still a bet I am willing to take.

        Of course, you can’t simply not participate. The only way to do that is suicide. I’m just saying, be aware.

      • VPritch said

        Also, participation fucking hurts. You get laughed at, abused, and called out by the Best Minds Of Your Generation. Even if your pet issues get “resolved”, there’s always something horrible happing to someone somewhere else and the worst part is, in all probability, you will be on the side of the aggressor. It’s a shit-show, is what I’m saying.

    • It might be easy for you to ‘not care’,but that doesn’t make it right. And of course ‘evil’ doesn’t always win, there are a massive number of humanist victories to point to. Quite frankly, I am very glad that I am a woman alive today and not a couple of hundred years ago. That my existence is so much happier and safer than it would have been is entirely due to people who gave a fuck, and took the more difficult, more challenging path.

  153. Jacob said

    “BECAUSE HULK HATE TO BREAK IT TO YOU, BUT THAT’S NOT HOW ACTUAL CRIMINALS ARE IN PRISON POPULATIONS. NOT BY A LONG SHOT. IF YOU’RE SO CONCERNED WITH REALISM THEN YOU’D OBVIOUSLY REALIZE THAT THEY ARE HUMAN BEINGS. DEEPLY FLAWED HUMAN BEINGS. SOMETIMES BROKEN HUMAN BEINGS. SOMETIMES HUMAN BEINGS WHO ARE CAPABLE OF DOING THE WORST THINGS ONE CAN DO ANOTHER. THEIR REASONS FOR DOING SO, THEIR SOCIOPATHY, THEIR SOCIAL CONSTRUCTS. THEY ARE ALL PART OF A HUMAN STORY, OFTEN TRAGEDY. AND THAT STORY EXISTS ON A GRAY SCALE OF HUMAN EXISTENCE. AND THEN THERE’S THE FACT THAT MOST OF THEM ARE THERE BECAUSE THEY WANTED TO GET HIGH.”

    Unbelievably freaking awesome quote.

  154. Marguerite said

    Hulk, you are my favorite Hulk, ever, ever, ever. I appreciate this post so much. Please keep up the good fight!

  155. Chaconne said

    Dear Hulk,

    Thank you for the thoughtful words – also found the overtones of misogyny in Arkham City distressing. The game was in many respects an improvement on the first, but they really let themselves down with this nonsense. Batman expects better.

    On the sort-of bright side it’s totally changed the way I hear the word “bitch”. Having grown up on a diet of South Park and similar, it’s always struck my ear as a playful, rather toothless word – like “ass” or “bastard” – incapable of causing much genuine offence to reasonable people.

    After spending a few hours swinging around as Catwoman, hearing it from every NPC who fought, saw, or even thought of me in a tone of spiteful dismissiveness, sometimes while imagining my rape by a third party or expressing a wish to rape me in person, it will never sound the same. Would have felt much better if the thugs had occasionally called Batman a bitch too, but of course they just call him “Batman!” and quake in fear because he’s so big and tough. Here’s hoping whoever was responsible for that ugly facet of the game reads your stuff.

    P.S.
    NO, YOU’RE THE ONE WHO IS A SEXIST RETARD! JERK! ARKHAM CITY IS AWESOME! YOU’RE A FAG!

  156. Pablo said

    “LET’S TALK ABOUT THE SOCIO-ECONOMIC CONSTRUCTS OF SOUTH AMERICA AND HOW NO ONE SEEMS TO BE AWARE OF THE FACT WE’RE RECONSTRUCTING THE BANANA REPUBLICS”

    Please tell me you didn’t mean that seriously?

    We’re FINALLY getting away from Banana Republics.

    Back on topic: I agree with pretty much every argument you made. And I lol’d so hard at the Tron-costume guy!

  157. What a great pair of articles. Thank you, Hulk, for well-reasoned and stimulating debate. Also, thank you for your service as a teacher–you’re more needed than ever and your work is of true value. I’m bookmarking this post, specifically, because of the last part. Thank you for caring and continuing to care.

    Now having said that I wonder if you considered that one huge layer of the tone of the game seems to suggest a pretty scathing critique on our attitudes towards the prison system and incarceration in general–the idea of punishment versus rehabilitation. How much of any prison population is “irredeemable worthless drain on society.”

    As a parent who supervised my kid’s playthrough, I was a little uncomfortable with how many times we heard the word “bitch” with both Catwoman and Harley. I like to think I did something good by addressing it. I lampshaded it to my kid and made sure he understood just how unacceptable it was and how much hearing it over and over used casually could make him think it was okay to use it casually too.

    And as I’m fond of reminding gaming studios–even if your target audience is young males, most of those young males get their allowances from their mothers. The money that comes in from their titles doesn’t always come from where they think it does.

  158. So the game’s like a porn with a plot that’s too good. I guess that’s against some rules.

  159. gilbert said

    Hey Hulk,

    I’m getting into this conversation super late, and I’m skipping the majority of the 400(!) comments, so I’m sorry if I’m repeating what anyone else has said.

    I consider myself a pretty socially conscious gamer, but I was surprised by your analysis of the sexism in Arkham City. Honestly, it didn’t really ring any bells for me as I was playing through the game. I certainly noticed (and was vaguely annoyed by) the frequent use of the word “bitch” but, for the most part, it didn’t really register for me.

    That’s because I thought parts of Arkham City were actually anti-sexist game. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that Arkham City is a feminist text, but I think the authors made a conscious decision to write the game so that it didn’t actively promote sexism.

    For instance, Arkham City passes the Bechdel test. To those who don’t know, the Bechdel test is like a litmus test for sexism. In order to pass, a game/movie needs to have: (1) at least two female characters, (2) for the two characters to have a conversation, and (3) for that conversation to not be about a man. In one of the Catwoman side missions, she has a conversation with Poison Ivy where they plot out how to pull off a caper. In the exchange, it is established that both characters have their own individual motivations and that these motivations are influenced by their personalities. Not only are they establishing independent agendas, their also establishing idenpendent identities.

    The other female characters are also pretty well-realized. Although Harley is inextricably linked to the Joker and Talia is equally tied to her father and to Batman, those dedications are played out onscreen and tested, not taken for granted. In other words, the characters come off as having their own personalities. Their lives are tied to men, but they exist as separate individuals with their own agendas.

    Interestingly, neither of the Nolan Batman movies pass the Bechdel test. One of the reason none of the villains say “bitch” in the the Dark Knight is that their are only three female characters with speaking parts in the whole movie. And most of the female characters in Arkham City are better developed then the plot-deviced-as-love-interest Rachel Daws. (spoiler alert, but seriously you should’ve already watched the movie) Even Rachel’s death is ultimately unimportant in its own right – it only matters because it factors into the origins of two-face and Batman’s psychological damage.

    • FILMCRITHULK said

      HEY THERE GILBERT.

      HULK THINKS WE REALLY NEED TO HAVE A LONG TALK ABOUT TONE. BECAUSE YOUR MIND DEFINITELY COMING AT THIS FROM THE RIGHT ANGLE, BUT THERE’S A LOT TO TALK ABOUT HERE IN TERMS OF CHARACTERIZATION AND PRESENTATION AND OTHER STUFF. ALSO, THE BEDCHEL TEST? IT’S NOT ABOUT PASSING, BUT POINTING OUT A FLAW IN THE SYSTEMATIC APPROACH TO “THE WORLD OF STORY TELLING.” BUT MORE IMPORTANT IS TONE. THE DARK KNIGHT CLEARLY HAS A HUGE AMOUNT OF RESPECT FOR RACHEL’S CHARACTER… AND THE CONVERSATION YOU REFERENCE IN ARKHAM CITY IS BASICALLY THE DIALOGUE BEFORE A GIRL-ON-GIRL PORN SCENE.

      IT’S NOT ABOUT PASSING.

      BUT AGAIN. MORE TALK SOON, HULK GOTTA RUN.

  160. gilbert said

    Real quick, I want to emphasize that I think the parts of Arkham City were anti-sexist, and that I’m not trying to mitigate sexism within the game as a whole.

  161. [...] Crit Hulk points at this issue in the link above and in his follow-up post, but B:AC is a pretty sexist place to be. I certainly don’t expect prisons to be bastions of [...]

  162. Smith said

    1. So because one form of Batman adaptation with a similar tone didn’t use “bitch” as a pejorative, that means none of them should, and the use of it is inherently misogynist?

    Calling Catwoman a bitch is not all they are able to do. They are also able to murder and otherwise oppress people, most of whom are men. They also try to kill her. Note that the Tyger guards are entirely professional in their approach to Catwoman, barring plot-induced stupidity like wandering off alone. The thugs also call Batman a freak all the time, so their limited vocabulary is applied consistently.

    The argument is not that calling a woman a ‘bitch’ is the only way to portray misogyny, just a valid one. It’s also one of the most clear and unambiguous.

    2. I’ve heard people say that realism is no justification for calling Catwoman “bitch” all the time. I’ve also seen them turn around and argue that her unzipped outfit would be impractical for winter, and is further evidence of Rocksteady’s misogyny. In other words, that it’s unrealistic. In fact, you specifically pointed her outfit out in your previous post.

    9. Again, there are lots of folks arguing that Rocksteady is 100%, without qualification or doubt, misogynist.

    12. Subtext is not Text. It’s a subjective inference, just like you say your critics are making. When you can’t even apply your own standards consistently, that’s what’s called a double standard.

    13. So you’d have no problem with him enjoying beating up male thugs and villains by the dozen, but taking an “eerie pleasure” in knocking a woman aside is evidence of misogyny, in context. I’ve seen the scene. He’s just as stone-faced as he always is. If you mean the later scene where she’s crying, he is determined to get her out of the way so he can check on the Joker, and he has already warned her. She is one of the most dangerous people in the entire city, and tried the crocodile tears in the first game. He’s clearly angry, not displaying some sort of “eerie pleasure”. This isn’t interpreting subjective subtext, this is outright bias.

    I don’t think the game or Rocksteady is misogynist, intentionally or otherwise. I think Rocksteady got far too heavy-handed trying to portray misogyny. Few people complaining seemed to notice or care that one of the first lines of the game is a prisoner saying he’ll make Bruce Wayne his bitch. Yep, prison rape. The thugs aren’t just misogynists or misandrists, they’re equal opportunity horrible, horrible people. I pointed this out, and someone argued that the incident was actually misogynist because he used the word “bitch”, because he’s saying he’s going to “pussify” Batman, to make him like a woman. The fact that it was by rape made no-nevermind; a male on male rape is not evidence of misandry, only misogyny, and that’s final (to him).

    The reason Selina’s role is not complex is meta, not textual; you don’t get her story if you buy the game used, unless you pay extra. The developers needed to make sure the overall story held together without her story. Hers is deliberately a side-story, not the A-plot. Just like Nightwing and Robin’s stories, just a bit more of.

    • Alex said

      All interesting and valid points.

      These standards tend to be reflected in society too. A woman gets angry at a man and becomes violent, hitting him, throwing things, but as soon as the man responds in kind, it becomes a hate-fueled attack on women everywhere.

      Double standards are ingrained, we all have them, the smart ones are aware of this, the less intelligent people just see them in others.

  163. You keep doing what you’re doing, and I thank you for it. As someone who just started a blog on the topic of gender in games, your articles on Arkham City really spoke to me. I believe you are levelheaded and fair in your argument and a great green writer. Thank you.

  164. Alex said

    I apologise first if this has been brought up a hundred times, but I see a lot of Arkham City in your blog. There’s something great here (Your writing / The game) but it’s getting marred by a poor creative choice that could be removed with no detriment to its quality (ALL CAPS / Sexism).

    There’s very strict psychology and design principles that explain why you writing everything in all caps makes reading body text incredibly difficult. It’s easier on a page but on a screen it’s hard as hell. I desperately want to read everything you write thoroughly but my eyes have nothing to grab on to. I don’t have those familiar shapes of words that I’ve relied on for my entire life.

    I would argue the reason why many did not read your initial comments properly could be partially for the reason listed above, and partially because you can’t polish fecal matter. As much as I see myself in that last rant, the internet does not care for logic and sympathy. People don’t want to be mature and intellectual, they want cheap, immediate thrills. Hence why top 40 pop music and Twilight find success.

    The average IQ is 100 for test purposes, but 95% of people fall between 70 and 130. That means that a significant percentage of the world has below average intelligence. These sort of pleas fall on deaf ears because people simply do not possess the mental fortitude to consider these concepts in depth. It’s not their fault, but I can say that the systems put in place by society to pull these people up with the rest of the species certainly isn’t giving them any incentive to be better.

    I realise this feels like a “your tone is wrong” argument (which is apparently an invalid criticism in the world of online “feminism” for… some… reason?), but you seem smart enough to realise half of the message is in its delivery. I think I’ll keep reading your blog.

  165. Big Boy Satan said

    Wonderfully written article

  166. draigr said

    Hey there. I can’t really say what hasn’t already been said before. And this is definitely late in the argument. Apart from that this is an amazing Blog. Kudos. Someone actually cares, and that strikes a chord.

    But if you want a nuanced dealing with sexuality, and sex in a game. Go hop on The Witcher 2. It’s a blast. But the content of that game goes to a level that many, many, many titles don’t even come close to.

    It’s also one of the few AAA titles that’s sold well and has actual nudity. And some beautifully render mise-en-scene. These guys knew what they were writing in when they wrote it in.

    So go check it out. It’s no Citizen Kane. But a heck of a lot better than most.

  167. umiyuri said

    00:40 *** Okay, responding to the beginning, Umi. Catwoman shows herself to be perfectly capable of getting out of her situation in about 2 seconds flat.
    00:40 *** And it’s her THING to go into sexism.
    00:41 *** As a side note?
    00:41 *** Reading an article ENTIRELY composed to caps lock? Not the best source of information for anything remotely non biased.
    00:42 *** If you don’t want to have the game, whatever.
    00:42 *** You’ve said you aren’t good, and if you think that way, ok. I’ve had similar problems and given up on games as a result.
    00:42 *** But this is a crazed rant.
    00:43 Umiyuri It’s not that I want to give up on the game because I’m a /bad/ /player/, it’s because this is making me feel uncomfortable about what I support.
    00:44 *** Then ignore it. Again, written by a raving lunatic.
    00:44 *** Yes, the stuff about Catwoman is low brow. But that’s the ONLY bad part of the script. Otherwise it’s good.

    Does ***’s argument against the first round mean anything to you? When I sent him the link, he seems to have only read the first few paragraphs and then quit based on the ‘fact’ that your Hulkspeak must make you an insane individual without the ability to offer a convincing or balanced argument. I think his opinion of me has actually dropped much lower than it already was for trying to read and learn from this – which is the total opposite of what I’ve been trying to achieve recently…

    It’s painful and annoying because for the rest of the time he’s the kind of person who will directly address things like this, and the insightful way in which he writes female characters made me think he was able to do better than this…

    (As a sidenote, I’ve noticed that so many people tell me not to look at stuff that makes me feel uncomfortable, and tell me especially when it’s something that should actually be constantly reinforced. It’s been going on constantly since I was five and I usually get told this something like once a week…)

  168. Also a woman. said

    I haven’t got the time or will to read and respond to the whole article but you set this out so that each argument is separate so I think I can correctly respond to one without having read them all, at least when just nit picking and offering my opinion on a more specific point. I also have not read other peoples responses so this may be repeated nonsense, so sorry about that.

    You said rather than using the dialogue ‘bitch’, the developers should have looked at The Dark Knight as inspiration to better portray villainous female characters such as Harley Quinn, as well as the criminals derogative chatter in relation to Catwoman. I think it is hard to relate a lot of the filmic techniques used in The Dark Knight to the Video Game form, such as body language and facial expressions, particularly when dealing with insignificant characters such as generic criminals batman fights against in the streets. These are key ways in which Nolan does “CONVEY MALEVOLENCE” and while there are more ways to portray somebody in a negative fashion, in this situation it could be argued that simply referring to them with the word ‘bitch’ is the most effective way of doing so.

    Evidence for this in relation to Harley Quinn comes from the definition of ‘bitch’ in it’s use as an insult; “It often refers to someone who is belligerent, unreasonable, rudely intrusive or aggressive.” * The words here accurately depict the character of Harley and so it can be said the term bitch is correctly being used to describe her.

    In relation to the calling of catwoman a bitch, I have found that in modern society the word ‘bitch’ is used very loosely as an insult to varying degrees in different situations, many of which are irrelevant and petty, examples of which can be seen on sites such as the Urban Dictionary ** While the use of curse words is not as creative as other insults that could be used, it can not be expected that common thugs such as depicted in Batman: Arkham City would think of such things and so the word ‘bitch’ seems more appropriate for the characters that say it. The game is simply reflecting on the context of this time in its reference to the modern use of language.

    In summary and in argument to your statement that the word ‘bitch’ was not a good choice in the depiction of hatred toward particular women characters by other characters; I believe the word ‘bitch’ is in fact correctly and appropriately used within the game Batman: Arkham City and that another way of going about it would have merely taken away from the atmosphere which was intentionally and effectively created in this game.

    * Sourced from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bitch_(insult) (I know, wikipedia isn’t known for reliability, however it seems to accurately provide a definition here)

    ** http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=bitch

    • FILMCRITHULK said

      BITCH CAN ALSO BE A AWFULLY POWERFUL WORD TO SOME PEOPLE. AND IT’S LACKADAISICAL AND LAZY HANDLING HERE, COMBINED WITH AN OVERALL CLEAR DISRESPECT OR DISINTEREST IN IT’S FEMALE CHARACTERS ASIDE FROM SEXUALITY OR BEATING PEOPLE UP, IS PRETTY INDICATIVE OF A WEIRDLY SEXIST TONE IN A GAME WHERE IT MOSTLY DOESN’T BELONG. THAT’S ALL HULK SAYING. DON’T GO TO FAR DOWN THE LOGIC TRAIN OF “IT WOULD MAKE SENSE” BECAUSE IT STILL SOMETHING BEING CREATED.

      ALSO, ALSO HULK KNOW WHAT YOU MEANT BUT DON’T START COMMENTS SAYING “I HAVEN’T GOT THE TIME OR WILL TO READ AND RESPOND…” BECAUSE IT LENDS A LACK OF CREDIBILITY TO WHATEVER YOU ABOUT TO WRITE. ALSO, HULK PRETTY MUCH COVERED YOUR ARGUMENT IN THE COLUMN ELSEWHERE IN COMMENTS MUCH BETTER THAN THE SENTENCE ABOVE. ALSO IN UNBECOMING IN A COLUMN WHERE THE AUTHOR TOOK THE TIME TO READ EVERYONE’S RESPONSES AND RESPOND IN TURN WITH PATIENCE. JUST SAYING.

  169. Kino said

    Thank you, Hulk, for taking the time to so concisely write both of these articles.

    As 1) a gamer, 2) a professional in the games industry and 3) a woman, I would sincerely like to see sexism in games addressed more frequently in the same way that you’ve outlined here.

    I’d love to know your thoughts on ways we can move forward – not just by critiquing games and media that handles tone poorly (which, as you point out, is very important!) but also by recognizing places where it is handled well.

    P.S. – I’m excited (based on the trailer) for the upcoming Tomb Raider game with regards to portrayals of gender! It promises to avoid the pitfalls that Arkham City falls into with Catwoman (I hope).

    P.P.S. – I’m also looking to start reading some of the more recent Batgirl comics as a means of reconnecting with the Batman-verse. Can you recommend any to read/avoid?

    • FILMCRITHULK said

      SADLY HULK HASN’T KEPT ON THE NEW BATGIRL COMICS. GAIL SEEMS GOOD, BUT SADLY SO MUCH OF THE CONVERSATION IS DOMINATED BY STUPID CONTINUITY TALK ABOUT UN-ORACLE-ING HER… WHICH IS JUST… UGH… CONTINUITY CONCERNS ALMOST GOT HULK TO STOP READING COMICS.

  170. Sozac said

    While I’m sad to hear about all the hulk-hate because the sites (well mostly people I like on the sites) that brought me to this one (Jim Sterling and The Game Over-Thinker [Bob Chipman?]) were hoping gamers wouldn’t be so defensive again, especially against you, but some good things that came out of it were the new readers (like me :) ) who love movies and love intelligent and funny essays about movies (and games apparently). Also, while I have haven’t played the game, I like Jim’s analysis about how they needed to give the game a gritty feeling, but within the rating guidelines which led to consequences like these which were definitely unintended, but still bad. Yet, there is plenty to be said about sexism in gaming, but too many people have said it better than I could.

  171. Which community forums would you recommend for a starter like me?

    • FILMCRITHULK said

      HULK NOT REALLY GO TO ANY, SORRY! :( THE AV CLUB COMMENTS SECTIONS TECHNICALLY ARE OKAY. NOT SO MUCH DISCUSSION, BUT DEFINITELY GOOD PLACE TO READ ABOUT EACH EP! AND ASK QUESTIONS!

  172. Mike said

    This is mind-boggling. So much time and analysis went into something that’s a colossal overreaction, and a fundamenally flawed one at that. As much as I want to take issue with many specific points (comparison to Nolan’s Batman, your apparent expertise in criminology, complete abdication of parental responsibility), it’s probably been done in the comments and I’m not going to read through all 800+ of them.

    But I think it’s nicely wrapped up your own words in rebuttal #6. Batman may belong to everyone, but within that statement are two important things:
    1) If so, that means anyone can do what they choose with him
    2) More importantly: each incarnation does not have to belong to everyone. Adam West’s Batman is completely incompatible with the Dark Knight Returns Batman, who doesn’t complement the animated series Batman. They’re meant for different audiences or at least very different attitudes. This game is the same way. Sure, kids love Batman. So let them play Lego Batman.

    Actually, I will take issue with just a couple of specifics. I can’t help it.

    You know why Batman – or by proxy, the programmers – “liked” pushing Harley? Because Harley is an incredibly annoying pain in the ass. Even her voice is made to grate on your nerves. It’s not because she’s a woman; it’s because her character is hateful.

    Another: The people who write and program the game are not the same people who market it. It’s not the programmers’ fault that the game is advertised on Nickelodeon. Is that unethical on the company’s part? Maybe. But that’s why ratings exist; parents can’t control what ads their kids see, but they can control what content their kids own.

    One more: demanding comparable, or even vaguely similar depth and texture between a book and a video game is PREPOSTEROUS.

    Lastly, your Hulk grammar is a disaster. It’s very inconsistent, but mostly wrong. Hulk doesn’t do verb tenses. I understand you want to write intelligently (even in such a massively flawed screed as this), but it’s incompatible with your Hulk conceit. I like the idea, but you’re half-assing it.

    • FILMCRITHULK said

      HEY MAN. HULK BEEN OVER THIS SORTA STUFF A LOT OF TIMES, SO SORRY HULK NOT RESPONDING IN FULL. BUT BASICALLY HULK DISAGREE WITH YOUR TAKE ON JUST ABOUT EVERYTHING YOU SAID. THERE’S A REASON AND A NUANCE TO WHY AND IT’S NOT MIND-BOGGLING OR RIDICULOUS. IT’S JUST DIFFERENT AND THERE’S A REALLY SOUND LOGIC TO IT.

      AND JUST A QUICK THING. HULK NOT HALF-ASSING THE HULK THING. HULK GREW UP IN THE ERA OF SAVAGE HULK AND JOE FIXIT. HULK TALKS ABOUT IT HERE AND WHY HULK TALKS THE WAY HULK DOES HERE (PARTICULARLY PART 4) http://badassdigest.com/2011/12/25/film-crit-hulk-smash-hulks-xmas-present-hulk-vs-the-hulk-movies/

      CHEERS.

  173. andrea said

    So happy that you wrote this. Sexism in games is SO often glossed over, ignored, or defended with a frighteningly rabid attitude. Game designers and writers are surely not doing it on purpose; but that, to me, makes it even worse. That means they think this sort of thing is normal, even correct. That this is the way things *are*. And many gamers, including young girls and boys, are eating it up. So, you get the longest, slowest clap from me. Keep questioning the status quo, Mr. Banner, and never stop speaking up.

  174. Kels said

    I’m coming to this very late in the game, but just thought I’d drop a thank you for the awesome effort you make laying out your arguments and responding to everyone in a fair and open manner. I really haven’t come across such a healthy blogging environment before and I think its due to your attitude and rigor. And thank you, thank you for taking a stand on sexist content. We need more heros like you.
    You got yourself a new reader.

  175. JKC said

    Very very late. But can I just put forth the possibility that this whole issue might just be a matter of bad programming?

    I mean, there is validity in the frequent argument that it’s scumbags saying these things. Bad, ignorant people say bad, ignorant things, and it’s good writing to reflect that sometimes. But having played through the game over the past few weeks, I admit I find the frequency of the use of the word “bitch” excessive. That’s mainly because they seem to say it like EVERY FIVE SECONDS. Holy crap; it’s like they’re Smurfs, except they say “bitch” instead of Smurf all the time.

    That can’t possibly be on purpose. On the face of it, the people involved are just more talented than that. I’ve seen Paul Dini’s work over the years, and this is not indicative of it’s quality.

    Honestly, I think it’s just bad programming. They added WAY too many instances of inmates commenting on Catwoman and other female characters. Much of it is automatic once you unlock the Catwoman DLC, and it can be pretty jarring. It’s not a conspiracy or because there is a misogynistic streak in the developers. It’s because they just programmed too many “bitch” spewing pre-generated responses triggered by the player sauntering into hearing range.

    Just throwing that out there…

  176. Just wanted to chime in on one particular issue.
    A lot of people comment about realism and how Batman/Catwoman/Whoever would do this or that, or how Cat’s in-your-face sexuality is very much central to the character.
    I just guess this is not about realism, but more about coherence. So, what they are trying to say, I guess, is that the whole issue kind of dissolves when you try to look at it from the perspective of the cultural image of Catwoman, Batman and the whole franchise in it’s own right and on it’s own terms. I seriously don’t think anybody has a problem with seeing the characters as imaginary. But that allows for an even stronger argument for coherence – imaginary characters, especially traditional heroic comic-book characters are far less complex then real people and therefore, one could suggest they should act in a more predictable way than real people. The question would not be if the inmates in Arkham act like their real-world counterparts. Rather it would be: can their acts be justified within the frame of the imaginary world of the Batman franchise or some version of that world? Are they acting in a coherent fashion with the general depiction of hoodlums in Batman’s world?
    Now, this of course would in no way undermine the sexism charge. In fact this line of argument would lead to saying: yeah, it’s sexist, because sexism is just part of the world of Batman.
    I didn’t have a chance to play the recent Batman games, so I won’t throw my vote either way, but I don’t recall any iteration of the whole franchise (comic books, movies, animated movies etc.) to be so redundantly sexist that it would give backing to Arkham City’s way of depicting hoodlums. So I guess that even if you argue from a “coherence” standpoint the argument still falls short. And if it isn’t really coherent with previous iterations of the franchise, one has to account for this non-coherence. Which opens up the discussion once again, I guess 

    And one more thing. I think your doing a great job here Hulk. Places like this on the Internet make the whole think worthwhile. Keep up the good work!

  177. Cattlehunter said

    I read both of the articles and I still don’t understand what was upsetting. It’s sexist because the tone was wrong, or something?

    Catwoman’s appearence was as obnoxious as it was hilarious in its embrace of juvenile appeal, and the overuse of sex-related dialogue whenever you play as catwoman was pretty annoying, but so what? Catwoman isn’t Malibu Stacy; she isn’t a role-model, represenative of what is seen as the ideal woman, or even a representative of anyone other than her own character (or what the designers thought it needed to be for this game).

    I never got the impression that the game approved of Catwoman’s behaviour, or character, any more than it approved of Batman’s behaviour and character – that guy is way more fucking crazy, and a much worse role model, than Catwoman.

    I think the complaint about Harey being pushed is kind of revealing. This doesn’t look like it’s about sexism, but about the lack of sexism being displayed in favour of the female characters. An instant ‘visceral reaction’ (starting at the opening scene, and going into “I can’t tolerate any more of this in one sitting”-mode in less than a few minutes), followed by large doses of motivated reasoning more than anything else.

    • FILMCRITHULK said

      THERE’S A LOT TO SAY HERE, BUT IF YOU DON’T THINK YOUNG GIRLS GROW UP LOVING/WANTING TO BE CATWOMAN THAN HULK DOESN’T KNOW WHAT TO SAY. WHAT YOUR CHARACTERIZING IS A PORTRAYAL OF CATWOMAN WHERE THERE IS A DISSOCIATIVE ELEMENT. WHERE WE ARE MEANT TO EVALUATE AND UNDERSTAND HER FROM FAR AWAY. WHERE THERE’S SUPPOSED TO BE CONTEXT. THAT’S HOW WHAT YOU’RE DESCRIBING WORKS. BUT INSTEAD THE GAME POSITIONS ALL THESE THINGS TO BE ROOTED FOR. TO BE INDULGED IN. THE ARE HELD UP AS BEING VALUED. NOT TOSSED ASIDE CARELESSLY. AND THAT’S WHY THE GAME IS INSIDIOUS.

      AND BATMAN BEING WAY MORE FUCKING CRAZY IS ALSO A PROBLEM

  178. Anonymous Gothamite said

    lol, a Nolan character called Catwoman a bitch in Dark Knight Rises. How ironic. There goes that argument.

    If you strongly dislike a woman, you refer to them as a bitch. If you strongly dislike a man, you refer to them as an asshole or a dick. That’s how language works, Hulk. It’s called slang. Is it insulting? Yes. Can it be offensive? Yes. You’re calling them a rude name. Is it sexist? Uhh… no. It’s only sexist in that we use different words for different genders. That’s not sexism. And if you think it is, study a romance language like French or Spanish and see if you think they’re sexist for having very specific gender lines in language.

    I read both your columns and your arguments are piss poor. Being called a bitch does not harm women, society, anything. Words have the power you personally give them and you, Hulk, give them way too much power.

    And your argument about Catwoman’s cleavage and her being designed to be sexually attractive… uh… Look at Batman. He has the most perfectly unachievable male body in existence. Definitely sexually attractive to most women or gays in what they find appealing. It just so happens that what we find appealing in women is a bit different. You new to comic books? Because you act like it. This isn’t new.

    Nice attempt at trying to show your super-sensitive, pandering-to-the-women side. But I highly doubt it’ll get you laid like you probably intended.

    • FILMCRITHULK said

      EVERYTHING ABOUT THIS COMMENT MAKES HULK IMPOSSIBLY SAD.

      NOLAN’S CATWOMAN HAS A 90 MILLION TIMES DIFFERENT AMOUNT OF CONTEXT.

      BUT REALLY THE END LINE IS THE KICKER. THE FACT THAT YOU REDUCE ALL THE ENTIRE LENGTH OF COLUMNS DOWN TO AN ATTEMPT TO GET LAID IS MORE INDICATIVE OF YOUR THINKING THAN HULKS.

      HOWEVER YOU ARE GOING THROUGH THIS LIFE HULK FEELS SORRY, BECAUSE IT MUST BE TIRING TO NOT ACTUALLY LIKE ANOTHER GENDER.

  179. Matt said

    Kudos to the big green dude for having the exact same counter-argument that I do to the ridiculously oversimplified notion that “video games don’t cause violence/sexism.” etc.

    Video games, like everything else marketed to young people (and indeed everything in a young person’s environment) influence attitudes–which MAY or MAY NOT influence behavior.

    I think it’s cool to read a critic who addresses the complicated issue of artists taking responsibility for the messages they send.

    I seriously love you, Hulk. And I’m not even a Marvel guy.

  180. James said

    First and foremost as a gamer I would like to thank you, a dominantly movie reviewer (if I am not mistaken, I have not read much else you have done as of yet) for taking the time to look into a video game. The gamer culture for a long time has hoped that others would take the medium seriously. I read both articles on this particular subject tonight at work and the points you make are pretty spot on, particularly speaking about kids who’s mothers would buy them the game not realizing what the first hour or so contained. As a (T) teenage rated game, this is equivalent to a PG:13 movie, so a parent who then watches their child possibly younger than 13 because they didn’t mind the kids seeing the Dark Knight movies will obviously have problems with this game and the language and sexual content being used. This will end up in the long run having more parents aim hatred towards the gamer community, something we have dealt with in one form or fashion since the 80′s.

    So as one gamer, I would like to say thanks for the honest review and that I agree with your assessment of the game in question, including the fact that the game is awesome in the long run as a fun game, and I see no reason why other members of the gaming community chose to attack you outside of the idea that gamers defend the games against any outside aggression or perceived hatred. (The Game OverThinker on screwattack.com presents that concept much better than I.) I am sorry that you got unnecessarily abused verbally by some of the louder members of our community and I hope to see more of these types of blogs if you find more in games you would like to discuss. I for one will be checking out your sight now that I have been directed to it. (Once again by the Overthinker.)

    Have a good day.

  181. weepsforhumanity said

    HULK, I am a professor of language and literature at Fanshawe College in London, ON. I teach a course called Video Game Theory. In that course I have a week on race, gender and sexual orientation in games. I have linked both parts of this excellent blog on Arkham Asylum in my power point on the subject of gender. I particularly like how you intelligently deconstruct (and continue to) the many counter arguments lobbed at you from defensive or dimissive males on the subject of women in games. It’s been a long time since I visited your blog, but some of the comments from others make me “impossibly sad” too. However, it seems there is reason to rejoice. One of my students sent me this article [http://arstechnica.com/gaming/2012/11/good-riddance-halo-4-creators-threaten-permabans-for-sexist-comments/] discussing sexist comments, xbox live, and Halo 4. I’m surprised at the amount of positive responses below it; then again, that’s ars technia…not youtube. Anyway, keep up the good work HULK.

  182. weepsforhumanity said

    Finally, the same people here saying the word “bitch” has no power (or think it’s okay because it’s everywhere, need to look at the “N-word” (you know the one I mean.) Yes, 95% of African-American rappers use it; does that make it “okay?” is it positive for society? Of course not. Frequent use and frequent acceptance (or apathy) does not make ANYTHING okay. It creates a culture of degradation and prejudice. A perfect example is the word “gay” which seems to be the prefered insult of anyone 15 or younger. So, let’s deconstruct this: by calling something which you deem as bad or negative “gay” you are making an association there. It’s the same thing with the word “bitch” as in “don’t be a bitch” (used at males to denote a lack of masculinity…again, a “bad” thing). In the end, despite your mommy telling you that sticks and stone will break your bones, the simple truth is that language constructs our reality and words inform meaning and ideas in culture.

    When I dislike something, I don’t call it “gay”–this insults gay people (even if I don’t mean it as such). I also don’t call it “retarded” (popular before “gay”) because it’s insensitive to those who are disabled. Instead, I simply call it “shitty.” (since shit isn’t alive, I’m going to assume it’s not insulted).

    So anyone who thinks words with a STRONG racists, sexist, homophobic edge to them are as neutral as words like “asshole” or “dickhead” is clearly dreaming.

    Hey! Here’s a new one! Douche! This word is now in vogue to insult people (ie: what a douche)–but of course everyone knows that douching is the act of cleaning a vagina. And so yet again we have a new urban slang insult based on the female body and gender. Thought up by males to be dispensed by males usually at other males. Will it ever fucking end?

  183. Matthew said

    Late post, I know. Watching Dark Knight Rises and about 50 minutes in Selina Kyle is referred to as… a “dumb bitch”.

    • FILMCRITHULK said

      TO BE FAIR THOUGH, NOLAN IMMEDIATELY HAS HER INVERT THE TABLES IN WAY THAT CLEARLY POINTS OUT HOW RIDICULOUS IT IS TO CALL SOMEONE THAT. AND IT’S THE ONLY TIME. IT’S A POINTED STATEMENT VS. TACIT APPROVAL IN THE NAME OF GRITTY WORLD BUILDING. HUGE DIFFERENCE IN THIS HULK’S OPINION.

  184. “HULK VS. ARKHAM CITY – ROUND 2: BITCHES BE TRIPPIN!
    FILM CRIT HULK! HULK BLOG!” was in fact a relatively excellent posting,
    . I hope you keep posting and I’ll continue browsing! Thanks for your time -Terry

  185. [...] the only person 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 [...]

  186. Today’s video games are becoming just as complex and realistic as feature films – with the latest hardware allowing developers to push their character models, vehicles, and landscapes to new levels. And as the possibilities continue to evolve, the need for talented artists in video game production is more important than ever.

  187. Agentdalecooper said

    Hi Hulk! I hit upon your work a few days ago and I think you are possibly the most humane and generous person on the Internet. I am in almost total agreement with your criticisms of Arkham City re sexism, but there is a small element you may have (understandably) overlooked during your playthrough.

    When you revisit Joker’s ‘sickbed’ room in the Steel Mill right before the Ghost Train battle/Protocol 10 initiation, a positive pregnancy test is shown next to one of Harley’s costumes. It is never referred to anywhere else in the game and is very easy to miss. After going through this room, the rest of the plot ensues over a couple of hours and Joker dies. If you spotted the test during the playthrough, you hear the muffled sobs of Harley as the credits roll.

    During the Harley Quinn’s Revenge DLC, Harley springs a successful trap to kidnap Batman, The generally sexist atmosphere persists. Harley is referred to as a bitch by the member of her gang, who aver that she must be ‘crazy’ to launch such a plan (despite the Joker executing similar, unsuccessful* plots throughout AA/AC to general assent). As Robin, you infiltrate the Steel Mill and enter the sickbed room from before. Therein lies a crib occupied only by a crude Joker doll and a negative pregnancy test (presumably the devs didn’t want to go w/ “baby shoes, never worn.”) It is heartbreaking and instantly generates all kinds of character depth/sympathy for Harley. She suffers the loss of her lover and either some kind of early miscarriage or a dashing of false pregnancy hopes in quick succession. It is clear she blames Batman for both.

    So my initial read was that the writers were subverting the sexist dialogue/atmosphere, at least re Harley. She is commanding a gang whose members lack the basic empathy required to grasp her complex motives for revenge, instead writing her off as a crazy bitch to be usurped/conquered, sexually or otherwise. This attitude extends to literally every other character in the game, further building the tragedy of Quinn’s situation. Even Batman has Oracle, Robin, Nightwing, Alfred, and the Commish; Harley Quinn is utterly alone.

    But just because this intricate and entirely sub rosa character work is laudable**, it doesn’t inoculate the game against charges of more overt sexism. Like you say, the dialogue and Catwoman’s whole presentation are inexcusable. Just wondering whether I’m reading way too much into this or whether this detail would modify your arguments at all!

    *Cf. the TAS/comic theme of Harley being able to accomplish what Joker cannot.

    **Wouldn’t the plot/tone have been better served by foregrounding this whole Harley pregnancy subplot? Why is this info conveyed in such an obtuse fashion?

  188. This has to be the sillest thing ever.
    So some random thugs, who are willing to kill anything and anyone for their bosses who might i add could care less if they fall off a building and die, or just because it gives them the giggles,calling cat woman a bitch or any other woman who was unlucky enough to be in that god forsaken city is somehow a statement of sexism from the whole game?
    Are you kidding me?
    Also i find it highly sexist that you focus more on catwomans outfit then her gameplay style.

    • FILMCRITHULK said

      HEY THERE. THAT’S NOT WHAT HULK WAS SAYING AT ALL. HULK HATES HAVING TO ASK THIS, BUT DID YOU READ THE ARTICLES? HULK MAKES THE POINT IT’S NOT ABOUT THE “IN-GAME” LOGIC IT’S ABOUT THE WRITTEN CONSTRUCTION OF THE PEOPLE MAKING THE GAME. AND HULK SPENT MANY A WORD TRYING TO ARTICULATE THAT IN AS CAREFUL AND CONSIDERATE A WAY AS POSSIBLE, BUT IF YOU WANT TO TAKE ALL THAT AND JUST REDUCE IT INTO A COMPLETELY UNFAIR BINARY THERE’S NOTHING HULK CAN DO. HULK’S JUST TRYING FOR A NUANCED THING HERE.

      • supervamp78 said

        If you want me to speific so you’re saying that because they wrote the thugs and a few villians to call woman bitch and because of outfit styles they choose this game has rampant sexism?

  189. GEL said

    Read both articles and NOW this whole issue makes a LOT more sense!

    See I heard about this second hand and was like “But they’re villains! You’re SUPPOSED to hate them!”. However, if I’m reading correctly, it’s the sheer overuse of the word and its use by even heroic characters that makes it troubling coupled with the normalization of it. I admit I haven’t played the game as I’m not a stealth (or Batman) fan.

    Mostly though what I wanted to bring up was the odd issue of the opposite. See I played the new Tomb Raider and it bothered me more than any other game. Mostly because for the first time in a game I found the generic enemies sympathetic and nice, while Lara Croft came off as a raving psychopathic lunatic. In reading some interviews with one of the writers, it was mentioned they SPECIFICALLY avoided engendered insults to avoid a situation like this.

    In that case I feel it backfired and it really makes me wonder how they could have made the enemies feel less likeable without resulting to engendered insults. I’d need to rewatch the Dark Knight trilogy but if I recall, most of how they made those villains threatening was showing them in the act of doing something. This is kind of hard when there is no one else to terrorize and the enemies are just standing guard until you piss them off.

    Still, great article. Much more level-headed than I expected and it kinda makes me wanna rent the game to see what’s up (the WiiU one comes with Catwoman, right?). Even if I did disagree with you, you’re right in that freedom of speech goes both ways and nothing is beyond criticism. Good writing. In fact, it’s kind of a stark contrast to what “professional game journalists” do. It really puts some of the maturity issue in perspective for me as a gamer. Might have to do an article myself on THAT topic.

    • FILMCRITHULK said

      SINCERE THANKS. ADMITTEDLY, HULK WAS BLOWING UP ONE SMALL ELEMENT OF THE GAMING EXPERIENCE (WHICH WAS GREAT) BUT WAS JUST ABOUT HOW THAT SMALL SLIVER OF CONNECTING MINOR INFRACTIONS ADDS UP TO A BIGGER ISSUE THAT DOES MATTER. ROCKSTEADY DIDN’T INTEND TO CREATE THAT UNDERCURRENT AT ALL, BUT IT’S SOMETHING THAT HULK SEES AS JUST A MERE SYMPTOM OF IGNORING THE PROBLEM. AND A LITTLE BIT OF AWARENESS WOULD HAVE DONE WONDERS. THEY TOOK AN INSULT WHICH “LOGICALLY” MADE SENSE IN CONTEXT AND DIDN’T REALIZE HOW OVER-USE PAINTS A BROADER, MORE UNSEEMLY PICTURE.

      DOES THAT MAKE SENSE?

      BUT HULK SINCERELY THANKS YOU FOR YOUR THOUGHTFUL INPUT. THE LARA CROFT GAME HAD AN INTERESTING TURN WHERE AT FIRST HULK WAS VERY WORRIED ABOUT THE “TORTURE PORNY” ELEMENTS AND THEN IT SUBVERTS AND PURPOSEFULLY OVERCOMES THOSE ISSUES IN A CONSCIOUS MANNER. IT’S RATHER INTERESTING.

      • Well this would all make sense if there were actually any heroic character’s using the word in arkham city and if the only character being insulted were the female characters. However that is far from the case the random thugs attack anyone and beat up anyone they also insult anyone and are quite on the psychopathic side. Batman gets a fury of insults and slanders thrown at him each time he comes into connect to them rather that means simpling walking or zipping by or reading to attack him. They also attack his pride as character when he doesn’t actively engage him the same for each of the playable characters.

  190. Devil said

    Hulk, Hulk, Hulk…you’re a wonderfully intelligent person, but I do believe you’re wrong on this one. I know from the date on this that I’m really late to the party, but what the hell? I’m going to jump into the fray anyway with what I hope are well reasoned arguments.

    I don’t think this game is sexist or actively trying to be sexist. The use of the word bitch in so many instances so close to each other is weird, sure, but as you say it’s all about context.

    When Catwoman is tied up in the courthouse and about to be executed by Two-Face, the whole reason a bunch of these musclebound thug types even show up to watch is not because they hate women, it’s because they’re terrified for their lives in this open air prison environment. Two-Face is one of the major players and joining his gang would offer a much better chance at survival than going it alone. Two-Face calls her a bitch after she clawed his face to shreds because, well, she just clawed his face to shreds. I’ve been known to curse when suddenly hurt like that as well. Backhanding her while she’s tied up and calling her a bitch seemed excessive, I’ll grant you that one, but they had this whole rivalry going on before that point. If you collected the Riddler trophies, you can read it for yourself, but for me the tone was fine. He’s not doing this because he hates women, he’s doing this because he hates THIS woman.

    Now, as for the inmates using the word so freely to describe Harley and Catwoman, sure, the game developers go overboard with it. To me, though, it came across as trying to be ‘edgy’ and ‘cool’. What better way to do that than by having the characters use some generally acceptable foul language? You won’t hear anyone drop an F-bomb, but then again why is bitch an acceptable curse word that only gets a Teen rating when used in such abundance? Damn! You win this round, Hulk. Maybe there are some unfortunate implications in that instance.

    However! I’m not done with you quite yet.

    This is a minor point here, but you say that putting these prisoners in a stretch of the ghetto part of Gotham City makes no sense in Part 1. Well, I forget which essay it was that you wrote, but remember when you mentioned a movie called Looper and how some people suggested that the mob dump people in the ocean and be done with it? You said that if they took that route, there would be no movie. Well, if they shipped all the prisoners to neighboring cities, there would be no game to play and no sinister plot to foil. Hell, the inmates even think it’s a bad idea and constantly mention it. I think you’re being a tad hypocritical on this point, but moving on.

    Catwoman, as I’m sure you’re aware, uses a whip. A whip is an extremely powerful weapon in the right hands that can maim and kill people. In Arkham City, the prisoners have devolved into this tribal mindset where there are 3 main tribes or factions vying for territory. These guys depend on each other for survival and here you have somebody maiming and killing your buddies, your backup in case of something like Protocol 10 (spoilers!) going down. They probably rely on the word bitch because it’s simple, to the point and blunt in its meaning, much like the thugs themselves. These aren’t the sharpest knives in the drawer here and perhaps because I live in an environment where curse words are thrown around VERY liberally, I just don’t see sexism here.

    There is also the portrayal of the few female characters in the game to take into account. Catwoman, Harley and Talia are all widely feared and respected by hardened killers. These are not people the average thug wishes to encounter. Even Batman himself is the subject of many conversations where the thugs have nothing nice to say about him. If you’re playing as Batman and run from a fight, they’ll taunt you for it and act tough. It seems to me that using the word ‘bitch’ is simply another way for the prisoners to act tough around each other. ‘Oh, you guys disrespect women? So do I! I’m one of you, please don’t beat me up.’

    As for Batman enjoying shoving Harley around, it just seemed like–oh, you covered this in 13. Never mind! Still, though, she’s literally one step away from being his mortal enemy and goes on to beat him in the head with a bat (har har) a few seconds later. That’s to say nothing of all the shit she put him through in the previous game and their history of cat and mouse. I’d say Batman is entitled to shove her out of the way and maybe even like it a little considering how much of a pain in the ass she has been. But, as you said yourself, he didn’t really.

    Now that brings me to the trickiest part to disagree with you about: the intentions of the people making this game. Despite the way this word is used so very much, it is very clearly meant to be seen as a bad thing here. These are criminals saying these things, mind you and hardly meant to instill a disrespect of women into children. But you may be on to something. I’m not going to sit here and tell you that sexism doesn’t exist because it absolutely does. And you may even be right about some of the developers getting off on disrespecting women, I really and honestly can’t say. When you’re talking tone, though, and what the developers meant by these sexist comments, I think they’re trying to convey that the criminals hate THESE particular women. Not all women, just the ones directly responsible for some of their suffering. That’s what I took away from it, anyway.

    Does that mean that they made the right choices in conveying that by abusing the word bitch like they did? Not really. As you said, they had many more options but chose this one for some reason. And that reason may well have been sexism on the part of the developers, I don’t know. But I don’t find the game wildly sexist and think you were overreacting on this particular point. This is the second time I’ve really disagreed with you (the other one being that whole Mass Effect 3 fiasco), but for the most part I think you’re insanely insightful. Keep doing what you do, Hulk.

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