Way back in the February of 2011 the following trailer was released for the video game Dead Island:
It was so impressive that last I heard, Lionsgate was going to make a Dead Island film based on the trailer. Not the game, the trailer for the game. A feature-length film based on the trailer for a video game. Think on that for a bit.
What it does is speak volumes for the game’s publisher, Deep Silver, and those it hired to advertise the game. There was an emphasis placed on the feelings of terror and loss and the need to protect one’s family; it sought to set itself apart from other zombie games [of which there are so many]. Unfortunately the game turned out to be your fairly standard run-of-the-mill zombie hack and slash, but that’s not the point here.
The point is that this trend was actually continued in the promotion of the game’s sequel, Dead Island: Riptide, the trailer of which can be viewed here. The tone is once again consistent with that of the first, highlighting the terrors of a vacation gone horribly, horribly wrong. Which is great. And which is why the following seems so shockingly out of place.
The image you see above is a promo image for the European “Zombie Bait Edition” of the game, the crowning glory of which is the statuette at the centre. This was, earlier this week, described as being “Dead Island’s grotesque take on an iconic Roman marble torso sculpture.” This was met with understandable outrage and disgust from the internet, which prompted those at Deep Silver to scramble wildly and release the following apology:
“We deeply apologize for any offense caused by the Dead Island Riptide “Zombie Bait Edition”, the collector’s edition announced for Europe and Australia. Like many gaming companies, Deep Silver has many offices in different countries, which is why sometimes different versions of Collector’s Editions come into being for North America, Europe, Australia, and Asia.
For the limited run of the Zombie Bait Edition for Europe and Australia, a decision was made to include a gruesome statue of a zombie torso, which was cut up like many of our fans had done to the undead enemies in the original Dead Island.
We sincerely regret this choice. We are collecting feedback continuously from the Dead Island community, as well as the international gaming community at large, for ongoing internal meetings with Deep Silver’s entire international team today. For now, we want to reiterate to the community, fans and industry how deeply sorry we are, and that we are committed to making sure this will never happen again.”
So no harm now foul, right? Dead Silver took back their horrible statuette and we can chalk another victory up for the internet! But why exactly were people upset? An article on Rock, Paper, Shotgun which I linked to but will link to again said this about it:
This is beyond disgusting. It’s as if someone were attempting to demonstrate the most misogynist idea that could possibly be conceived, in an attempt to satirise the ghastly trend. A text book example of the most extreme ends of misogynist fantasy, a woman reduced to nothing but her tits, her wounds hideously depicted in gore, jutting bones, and of course barely a mark covering her globular breasts.
It’s very prevalent in a lot of zombie imagery you can find nowadays, and it’s certainly present in this picture of a zombified Snow White on the left. Her body is mutilated [appropriately so, for a zombie] but her breasts remain completely untouched. There’s this sense of the grotesque from the image as a whole, but her chest remains an object of potential titillation.
I don’t think I have to say too much about how grossly sexist this is, and how prevalent it is in the society we live in. What I am going to say is thank God that on some level we can make enough of a public outcry to stop stuff like this before it happens. The bottom line is this: if we as a community [on the internet or otherwise] care enough about something, we really can do something about it. Even if it’s just stopping the production and sales of a tasteless statue.
A rebuttal to essentially everything I’ve written can be read in an article by Daav Valentaten on Venture Beat entitled “The Dead Island: Riptide reaction was an equality fail.” I present it as a counterpoint to my own post.