Earlier this year Liana Kerzner Kickstarted a multi-episode series called Lady Bits. The series was supposed to be a look at sexism in gaming, females in gaming, and discussions surrounding the topic that wasn’t aimed at demonizing gamers, demonizing sexy females in games, or demonizing the gaming industry (opposite of a certain other culture critic). Well, for the skeptics, naysayers, supporters, and backers, it’s possible to judge for yourself how well Kerzner handles the subject matter now that the very first episode of Lady Bits has been made available for public perusal.
The format is setup very much like a typical, television-style docu-series but with an obvious YouTube production budget. The first episode covers the topic of Lara Croft and whether or not her appearance in the reboot of Tomb Raider in 2013 is more or less feminist than what people think and whether or not there’s a feminist agenda attached to Square Enix and Crystal Dynamics’ new take on the popular female-led series.
You can check out the near-half hour long episode below, which was recently posted up over on Liana
Kerzner’s YouTube channel.
The episode starts by going over a brief history of Croft, as well as talking about how the character fits into the original definition of feminism.
Kerzner then tackles whether or not Lara Croft is as sexually objectified as many SJW culture critics and game journalists make her out to be. However, she prefaces this particular topic by rightly pointing out that all video game characters are objects!
The hilarious part about it is that video game characters are oftentimes contained within what’s called “object code”, which makes it even more hilarious when people attempt to say that fictional game characters are objectified… because by the very literal definition of their design, they are objects. In some design environments are also referred to as “entities” and “actors”, sharing about as much ontological significance as a lamppost or a wooden desk.
Kerzner attempts to refine the argument about objectification by talking about how a lot of the objectification in gaming that gets criticized is because it’s aimed at a targeted demographic.
The rest of the episode completely deconstructs the ridiculous nature of the new Tomb Raider reboot where it attempts to use new-wave feminism to shape the story and characterization of Lara, while also criticizing it for pretty much playing into all the stereotypes that third-wave feminists supposedly complained about in other games.
It’s also nice to see that she rightly points out how the rebooted Lara spends majority of the first game being a playable damsel in distress while also doubling down as a psycho-killer female Rambo.
There’s a lot more discussion about the way Lara is depicted in the reboot versus feminist standards, the feminist definition, and the actual portrayal of the character in the game. Kerzner’s series is obviously not designed to create a hostile environment for discussion, but actually attempts to deconstruct and question the philosophical, marketable, mechanical, and fictional variables that go into the design of a character and game featuring a female lead.
I doubt this series will repair the terribly fractured sociopolitical environment that has plagued gaming since 2012, but someone is at least attempting to mend the fences since the people who originally broke the industry (mostly game journalists) will never attempt to repair it… well, the ones who aren’t jail for sexually abusing women, anyway.