September 9, 2009

The Rabbit at PAX: Sex in Video Games (or "Japan Rocks, America Sucks")

What to say about this panel that hasn't already been said? Enough people have already complained about it that Pink Godzilla will not be allowed back as panelists for the discussion, and not to be Why So Serious here, but I think it's important as, not only a gamer, but also as a woman to discuss why this panel just sucked. Hard. To the point that I don't intend to shop at Pink Godzilla ever again.

So let's just start from the beginning.

If you've seen my video post, the American Hard Gay clip was actually from this panel. In all fairness, I think they had the right idea at the beginning, it was fun, though perhaps taken a bit too far. Two people demonstrated well known "sexual" scenes in video game history and American Hard Gay ran around with a microphone in the audience so they could guess and win prizes. This was all fine and dandy except that it dragged on too long, mostly because American HG felt it necessary to actually weave into the aisles in order to pelvic thrust against audience members.

Okay, fine, that's exactly what Hard Gay does. But at a certain point it ceases to be funny and just becomes vulgar and unnecessary. We we're in line for at least a half an hour, some people up to an hour, to discuss sex in video games, not watch a guy in cheap leather rub up against people. The panelists did warn that the panel was going to be adult in nature and could be offensive, but I highly doubt any of us ever thought there would be physical sexual affronts or extremely explicit videos.

Which brings me to the next part, the actual panel itself. I think this part also started out well enough. A brief history on sex in Western video games was presented. It was informative and funny, and I could see it easily tying in to the main topic at hand. It wasn't until a presentation on sex in Japan was given that the panel took a severe turn for the worst.

Firstly, there was an at least fifteen minute BBC video discussing sex in Japanese culture. That's great, but a brief overview with specific video game examples that could be compared and contrasted to the previous discussion would have been preferable. Especially since the video displayed a Japanese man receiving a handjob. Naked women in bondage. Neither of these instances were warned or do I find appropriate to be shown in the context of a discussion about sex and VIDEO GAMES.

After the video, Pink Godzilla went on to claim that Japanese society and their attitude towards sex is vastly superior to America because we allow censorship in mass media.


Right, because censorship only happens in America. It's not like the cartoon Ouran High School Host Club that showed only slightly mature themes wasn't aired in after hours. Or the several cartoons (Kodomo no Jikan, for example) that need mosaics or various other edits in order to be shown during the day. Heaven forbid that here in America we don't allow dicks and boobies to be thrown up on billboards-- oh wait, Japan doesn't allow that, either.

I understand we're a more prudish country, however, I believe we're much more liberal in our sexuality being public than the Japanese are in the sense that they acknowledge it and yet don't at the same time. What I mean by this is that genres like Moe are obviously produced in order to make profit from the consumer, the companies recognize consumer fetishes and capitalize on them. HOWEVER, it's not necessarily acceptable for a person to openly talk about such things. I agree that sex is very much private in Japan, but I don't agree that it's necessarily healthy. I think one of the reasons why America is so militant on censorship is partially because discussing such things have become part of the norm.

Actually, I think Pink Godzilla is grossly ill informed on Japanese culture, or at least is unable to accurately provide information to others concerning the culture. I don't care that one of them studied Asian culture and lived in Japan for some time, his one experience =/= the reality of Japan. Never mind that no one wanted to give a very clear answer on their credentials concerning the subject, which has led many to believe they simply have none. I also would have been more impressed if the guy had a Masters because, honestly, having a Bachelors doesn't give authority to teach the subject and it's laughable to try and use it that way.

Continuing with their line of Japan Is Awesome~!, they tried to justify rape simulators as saying if they didn't exist, more women would be raped, and that the existence of such games have actually helped decrease the number of sexual assaults in Japan.

I'll let you mull that over for a bit.

Done? Good.

WHAT. THE. FUCK. Where the hell are they pulling these statistics? Japanese assault rates going down? Okay. Increase of rape simulators? Okay. THAT DOESN'T MEAN THEY'RE MUTUALLY EXCLUSIVE. Want to know why? Because Japan has been introducing new laws and ways to keep women safer because there was an increasing problem with assaults. One of these ways is the all-women train cars. I'm going to bet that train incidents have decreased not because of rape emulators, but because women have the option of riding in a gendered car. But that's logic talking, and we all know how logic works.

And it's not as if Japan hasn't correlated sexual perversion and violence with media. That was how the term "otaku" was coined. It also became a hot topic a few years ago with the Sasebo Slashing. In our culture we often condemn violent and sexual media when we learn that the assailant enjoy such things (see school shootings and the boy who committed suicide and obsessively listened to Blink 182's Adam's Song). However, our backlashes in comparison are not as intense. On the flip side, Japan actually made a minor celebrity out of a murderer who ate his victim by allowing the publication of his memoirs and a publicity circuit to several talk shows.

If that wasn't enough, Pink Godzilla was asked why they didn't have or didn't invite a woman onto their panel. The truth of the matter is, more often than not, women are the subject of sexualization in video games rather than men. In a discussion concerning sex in video games, it would have been well advised, if not necessary, to provide a woman gamer's view on the objectification and portrayal of our gender. And I'm not saying for her to rag on the industry, but open the discussion on what should and shouldn't be acceptable and how this could or will change. Make connections on how male objectification (not necessarily sexual, but definitely in image portrayal) can be just as bad and how it's reaching the same level as how females are portrayed.

Instead Pink Godzilla stated that although women make up 30% of Western gamers, a woman panelist was unnecessary because the industry is male dominated.

I don't even know where to begin with that, so I'll just let it speak for itself.

To top off the whole trainwreck, it was a poorly constructed train that they wrecked. Technical problems can be expected because technology likes to fuck with people, but Pink Godzilla was completely unprepared and it showed. Every little seam. From how to use their equipment to the quality of the information and discussion itself. Even their presentation screamed high school power point project.

Several people asked what was the point of the entire panel. Was it a power trip? Was it another way to stick it to the man of American culture? Was it to objectify Japan like we were at an anime convention? Was it to pull a fast one on PAX? Or was it to teach us the important lesson of what happens when you wait in line for an hour in order to discuss sex?

Either way, the panel did succeed in one thing. Discussion. We're all discussing it now, and technically that was the goal of the panel (I think, anyway). It also proved that PAX is listening and I look forward to a new group of panelists taking over the discussion next year because the topic has so much potential.

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