Ah, Anita Sarkeesian. Love her or hate her, she’s taken whatever vitriol thrown her way and used it to make sure you know her name and what she’s done. After her INCREDIBLY successful Kickstarter campaign, she’s finally released the first video in her Tropes Vs Women series which explores the roles of women in video games. The first in her series is the Damsel in Distress.
One thing to note, I feel, is that Sarkeesian played the Damsel in Distress role when her Kickstarter took on a life of its own. While she may not have done it herself, when people began attacking her based on her sex, religion and so-called “girl gamer” status, backers of her Kickstarter ran to her rescue, as did the media. People wanted to rescue her from the people trolling her Youtube page, her Wikipedia page and the rest of her social media and accidentally (or intentionally) made her out to be this poor girl who needed someone to come help her overcome this horrible ordeal. It’s an interesting look on how we’ve gotten to this point as normally something like this series may just be pushed to the back of Youtube, never to be seen again.
Sarkeesian discusses how games like Donkey Kong were based on the notion of the Damsel in Distress. With the hero trying to rescue the princess and whisk her away to a new life and how these games try to appeal to a male sexual fantasy of being a hero character. She makes some very valid points in her 20 minute video. For instance: she makes note of a Real game that never came to light. The game was about a 16-year-old strong heroine named Crystal, until Shigeru Miyamoto hijacked the game and made it into another instalment of the StarFox franchise. They completely remade Crystal into a prize to be won and Sarkeesian uses this example to explain how strong female characters are easily looked over for a more traditional male hero.
But in other parts, she seems like she doesn’t believe in what she’s saying. However, it may be because she has no screen presence whatsoever. Sarkeesian is clearly reading from a script and she sounds like she has only read it once or twice before. Emphasising the wrong words and her tone is constant. She’s just… bland. I’d be more interested if Sarkeesian expressed an emotion other than mild-annoyance.
It’s an interesting start to a series that is only going to get better. I only hope that the presenter can take criticism (constructive, not hatred) and use it to try to use more personality to engage the audience.