Tuesday, June 28, 2011

This Dead Horse is Starting to Smell

Since Duke Nukem Forever was released I’ve found myself doing a bit of thinking on it. I downloaded the demo, played it through, read some on-line reviews to get snippets of what I was missing by forgoing playing the entire game and at the end of it all I came to a conclusion that somewhat surprised me.

I don’t think the game is offensive. At least, not in the way you’d probably expect.

In the sense that it looks terrible, controls poorly and seems shockingly unpolished for a title that’s been in development for 12 years then hell yeah, Duke Nukem Forever is an offensive game. But in terms of its flat-out portrayal of women, I remain unconvinced. At least, in the more traditional sense.

Hear me out.

Duke Nukem Forever seems just as distasteful in its treatment of men as it does for women. In the moments I spent with Duke in the demo I watched him kick a field goal with an alien’s eyeball, piss in a urinal while making references to his penis size, and sat back while two women performed fellatio on him.

Sports. Penis. Sex.

Kinda sounds like a typical “all American” male prototype doesn’t it?

Just as the women in this game are reduced to their most stereotypical elements, Duke himself is nothing more than walking, talking testosterone. But I’ve discussed this here before. The question remains then, what’s the problem? If both genders are equally lampooned, why all the fuss?

Because the male typecast revolves around power, strength, and dominance while the female stereotype equates femininity with helplessness, weakness, and submission we aren’t as rattled when we come across a character like Duke. After all, ridiculous though he is, at the end of the day he’s still a red-blooded American man. Duke isn’t punished for his masculinity; where he gets to save the day, the women in the game are terrorized. This is why it's different.

Probably the most infamous are the alien rape scenes. Women in the game are abducted, forcibility impregnated, and then die “giving birth” (all the while moaning in pain) should Duke choose not to execute them himself.

But doesn’t that sound an awful lot like the Alien franchise? And I would dare anyone to call that series sexist.

And so, my friends, I think I’ve pinpointed exactly what it is about Duke Nukem Forever that’s pissing so many people off, myself included: it’s not funny.

Yeah, it’s not funny.

This game is obviously meant as a satire but in the hands of poor writing it comes off as heartless and cold.

Remember that scene from Seinfeld when Jerry’s dentist converts to Judaism so he can make Jewish jokes? Jerry, upset, goes to a Catholic confessional to vent. The priest concludes that Jerry is offended as a Jewish man but he responds that no, he’s offended as a comedian.

When jokes fail it’s never good but when we attempt to make light of serious issues and fail, it’s ten times worse. Duke Nukem Forever attempts to make fun of issues like rape and fails miserably.

Then again, I’ve never heard a joke about rape that’s made me laugh.

Long story short, this game is offensive for a plethora of reasons. It's immature, badly designed, and humorless. It's a bad game, folks. Does it piss me off? Yeah. Should it? Probably. But it's not like it's being hailed as game of the year:

1 comment:

  1. Good post. :) Good read. I hate when people assume I should act a certain way just because I'm a man, so what. that doesn't mean I need to treat women like objects or give a shit about sports.

    I'm glad DNF has gotten so much heat. It's sad for the people who made it, but still... I've always wondered if there were any women on the development team, or the writing team for that game...