Zero Punctuation does some of my favorite game reviews. Ben Croshaw, or Yahtzee as he is known, does an excellent job ripping into games. I don’t think I can remember a single review I’ve seen that wasn’t funny and I have seen a lot of them. A few weeks ago in his review of Bioshock Infinite he said that while the game was great that he had a problem with the villain and how he’s basically irredeemably racist in an unrealistic way. I don’t want to give too much background on this in case people haven’t played the game yet. But here’s a pretty spoiler free piece of a recording featured in the game. These are the words of the villain himself:
What exactly was the Great Emancipator emancipating the Negro from? From his daily bread. From the nobility of honest work. From wealthy patrons who sponsored them from cradle to grave. From clothing and shelter. And what have they done with their freedom? Why, go to [area of the game], and you shall find out. No animal is born free, except the white man. And it is our burden to care for the rest of creation.
When I heard this in the game it was like a kick in the nuts. I was in combat and I got so distracted I think I even died. I had to go back and listen to it again to make sure that I heard correctly.
I’m not here to gush about the game again, but the game does raise several serious topics and this is probably the biggest of them. Race plays a huge role in America to this day and to say that race doesn’t matter and that racism is dead is straight bullshit.
There are some common lies about racism we need to all get out of the way before I even go on. 1. There is no such thing as reverse racism. Any race can be racist against any other, the idea of reverse racism is in and of itself racist. If you think that your race has to be separate from ordinary racism to the point of having their own term, that’s a problem. 2. Racism still happens. I don’t know how many times I have watched people try and claim that it doesn’t on TV and in person and online. But it still happens, end of story.
The idea presented in the above quote from the game used to be the standard rationalization for slavery. This excerpt by James Oakes speaks of paternalistic reasoning behind slavery and even goes a little bit into the idea of “Christian Stewardship”. These ideas, while not prevalent today, still exist in the minds of some and there have been issues where they reared their ugly heads in back-handed ways.
An American Pastor, Pat Robinson, is super famous and known around the country for being this revered man of God. A few years back when Haiti suffered their devastating Earthquake he made a remark that this had come to fruition as punishment for their deal with the Devil.
The deal to which Pat Robinson refers is the idea that the slaves held then by the French couldn’t have revolted against their white owners and won without the aid of the Devil. Similar allegations were made about the flood in New Orleans. It’s funny that whenever mostly black, mostly poor people are suffering from natural disasters we call it the Devil. When it’s done to other people here in United States we call it God testing them.
I don’t think Ben Croshaw will ever read this little blog, but if he did I would want him to know that it may be because he’s from a country that has grown past a lot of the racist issues. Issues that still plague the States and he doesn’t realize it. This kind of racism did exist and the traces of it can be found today.