Sunday, August 3, 2008

Fearing the Fat Princess

Two feminists (kinda) are speaking out against the obese portrayal of women in the upcoming PSN game, Fat Princess. In general the problem they have with the game is that part of the game mechanic is to stuff the princess you captured with cake, making her bigger and harder to bring back her original base. Fat Princess is essentially a game of capture the flag, with a fat princess being the flag.

No, I’m not kidding. Shakesville’s Melissa McEwan writes:
“I sure hope there's a clever dénouement like the Fat Princess magically becoming thin once she's rescued! 'Cuz that would rock, yo! Anyway, congrats on your awesome new game, Sony. I'm positively thrilled to see such unyielding dedication to creating a new generation of fat-hating, heteronormative assholes.”

It doesn’t stop there though. Feminist Gamers’ Mighty Ponygirl writes:
“Instead of running out into the forest to find cake to fatten up the princess with, why not go out and find gold (which is a lot heavier than cake) to stuff into a treasure chest. The more gold in the chest, the heavier it would be, and the harder it would be to carry. Oh, but that’s not as “cute” as cake and fat chicks. Right.”

Really? Why are these two people picking a fight over this game? I didn’t know that having a fat character in a video game will actually change people’s perceptions about how fat people act. Fat princess isn’t a cute game because the princess is fat. The game is cute because of the character design and because of how over the top it is. Sure, you could have gold coins go into a treasure chest and take the treasure chest, but that isn’t as crazy of an idea as stuffing a princess with cake. It’s a neat, harmless idea that shouldn’t affect anybody. Gamers won’t look down on the princess because she is fat and then look down at people in real life who are obese. It’s a game. It is over the top and the “plot” should not be taken seriously.

I highly doubt that these two writers are steadfast feminists. Good feminists fight for more righteous things like equal pay for men and women, women’s health issues and representation in governments. Good feminists know that this isn’t news. I understand that the portrayal of women as equals to men is important, but Fat Princess does not hurt perceptions. Honestly, it’s a non-issue. Everybody knows that overweight men and women exist and reasonable people know that obesity is a growing problem, especially in the United States.

In my opinion, these writers show a subtle fear of showing obese women on a television screen. The problem here is not that a game is showing a fat woman but that some people are actually upset about what a fat woman can do to the minds of the masses if seen on television. Yes, as a culture, we casually stereotype obese people as lazy and ugly. It isn’t fair or justified but we do have obesity in our culture; why should we hide it and have every video game character (male or female) be perfectly fit? The first step is not to get rid of this fat princess character but for us, as a collective populous, to be able to look at any fat person and not feel shame or pity. Don’t count on Fat Princess to be a muse for this paradigm shift in our psyches though; this game is not trying to make a political statement nor were they trying to offend anybody.

For the developers of Fat Princess; these pseudo-feminists (I hesitate putting them in the same group of women who have actually made a difference) have given the Fat Princess game more press then they could have expected. The overwhelming reaction to these bloggers’ responses to this game has been that the bloggers are taking this too far. People are defending this game and they haven’t even played it yet. For every time a writer knocks down these two female writers, they mention how cool the capture the flag style game will be.

This was probably an accident, but the developers of Fat Princess have made a game that was just controversial enough to offend some radical people, which caused people to disagree with those radical people and talk about how good Fat Princess is. Gamers, for the most part, have discredited the controversy, putting the game in the positive spotlight gaining a ton of press. I couldn’t think of a better marketing strategy myself.


Anonymous said...

A game about someone who's fat??? I'm boycotting!

Anonymous said...

I love the last link. >_<

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
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