Martin Luther King Day: that special time when we celebrate the life and legacy of a great civil rights leader by sleeping in on a Monday, and then spending the rest of the day on the couch. Truly, we have been to the mountaintop.
Tons of Bayonetta links this week. This game seems to have captured a lot of people's imaginations, for good or ill.
-Writing for the revamped GamePro (which seems pretty sweet, by the way), Leigh Alexander calls Bayonetta "incredibly empowering." I don't know that I'd agree with that, for reasons I may or may not elaborate upon as this post goes, but I want to highlight a really excellent point that she makes: "...it's unfair to strip video game women of their sexuality completely, or to assert that if a character is sexual that she must be getting exploited." This is really true, whether or not Bayonetta herself is the best example of it. I'll go back to those terrific female characters in Uncharted 2, whose self-confidence also seemed to extend to their sexuality. They were neither chaste nor purely eye candy. Bayonetta? Well, she is intended to be eye candy, and the argument seems to be what that signifies.
-With a different view, Tiff Chow reminds us that "this is a game made by men, from the male perspective, for the male perspective, which is why so many of the cinematics seem awfully, well, porny." This is certainly true. The ass shots are legion. Here's where it starts to seem thorny to me: No one complains about male heroes wielding huge, obviously phallic swords, like Dante in Devil May Cry (made by many of the same people), or scantily clad male heroes like Kratos. Why are we saying it's not okay to be this outlandish when it's a female protagonist? Though there obviously seems like a difference between what Kratos wears and what Bayonetta wears -- the latter is overtly sexual, the former obviously not. If we want to get into questions of fairness and equality, you do sort of have to say that male characters have had plenty of opportunities to kick demon ass while wearing very little.
-Chris Dahlen's perspective is that the game falls in the realm of performance art, not unlike Lady GaGa or Bowie, and truthfully this is one of the best explanations I've read so far. And just like with Bowie (maybe not so much Lady GaGa), I enjoy the "music" of Bayonetta without necessarily enjoying the showmanship.
-Iroquois Pliskin returns from exile to make the case for Bayonetta as the apotheosis of camp. Well, sure. Maybe the argument people are having is simply whether camp has a place in games. Often we gamers seem to take ourselves too seriously for that -- which is not the same thing as saying people should lighten up if they're offended by Bayonetta. For what it's worth, I don't think there's a right or a wrong way to think about this one.
-Lastly, I'd just like to add to the chorus that you can help the victims of the Haitian earthquake, either by donating to a charity like the Red Cross, Oxfam International, or Yele Haiti. Additionally, you can text "Haiti" to 90999 to donate $10 to the Red Cross, and the charge will appear on your next phone bill. Money's tight for a lot of us, but every little bit helps.