As a continuation of my last blog about Harley Quinn, I’ve encountered a blog post, by FilmCritHulk, about another female character in Arkham City, the notorious Catwoman. The blog post introduces the video games, “Batman: Arkham Asylum” and “Batman: Arkham City”, which were released in 2009 and 2011 respectively. What I found most interesting about this blog post is that Hulk focuses more on how the lack of context of the video game generates a sexist portrayal of Catwoman.
According to the blog post, after Catwoman shows up, the tone of the game shifts dramatically. Other characters in the game begin to make sexist remarks, constantly calling Catwoman “bitch”. Some of the remarks include:
“DON’T COME ANY CLOSER OR THIS BITCH GETS A HOLE WHERE HER HEAD USED TO BE!”
“THAT CRAZY BITCH!” (SAID BY A GOOD GUY)
“SHE SCARES ME. FORTUNATELY I SAW THE CRAZY BITCH LEAVING!”
In the beginning of Arkham City, Catwoman is being beaten by Two- Face and other burly hoodlums as they continue taunting her with lewd comments.
The problem, according to the Hulk, is the way the game presents Catwoman in context. It is about the reason of how certain aspects are portrayed the way they are. The Hulk argues that Arkham City presents its characters and situations only at “face value with absolutely no other redeeming value beyond titillation…”. In the game, there is no context established. Things are just presented the way they are. As a result, we are not given why certain things are. The Hulk compares this concept to the movie Straw Dogs. In one rape scene, there was an instance when the victim to have enjoyed it. Superficially, one might think that this is sexist. However, the Hulk believes that this act is not as sexist as one thinks because it is embedded in “deep context, both in terms of plot, character, and thematic resonance.”
I have never played the Batman video games or watched Straw Dogs. However, I do not agree with the Hulk’s assertion that the rape scene is less sexist just because it is deep in context. He also compares it to the video game “Grand Theft Auto.” He justifies the sexual backwardness of the game, stating that it is “more of a total societal satire and is careful to include the backward nature of these sexual politics.” I believe that the female characters are just products of the male gaze. In “Batman: Arkham City”, the addition of Catwoman seems totally irrelevant because she has not significance to the plot.
Here’s the link to Film Crit Hulk’s blog post: