The reason for making this journal entry is because there is something that has been on my mind since the past three months. And not on my mind alone as it seems more artists are confronted with the same thing I'm about to say. While in most cases time dissipates the issue in my mind this time it is something that keeps bugging me over and over again to a point it irritates the hell out of me. Afterall it is a hot topic that has gone completely viral for many months now.
Recent events and a large exposure to unhealthy criticism had gotten me thinking and checking with my fellow artists. I'm sure people will say that as an artist we should learn how to deal with harsh and often unfair criticism, as if this is mandatory to being an artist. Yet at the same time artists have to be more and more careful of all those people out there we might possibly offend.
In a lot of ways you're forced to self-censorship when it comes to publishing your work.
Our kickstarter campaign for Divinity: Original Sin has gotten quite some criticism on its original poster art. Apparently it was deemed to be sexistic and women unfriendly by the way the female protagonist was portrayed: with a bare belly.
A bare belly was for some enough a trigger to send our company enough hate and threatening mails to persuade my boss to ask me to change the cover. I did, but did so reluctantly. Disagreeing wholeheartedly with the claim of the artwork being sexistic, the better half of me decided to meet "offended-by-design" people somewhere in the middle.
In the world of journalism there are channels that take an aggressive stance against everything they judge even remotely sexistic and in many instances denying the word of opposition by disabling criticism and reactions on their articles or blogs. Also blackmails in the form of "change your game art or we won't publish a single word about you." is a common behavior found among those.
Fact is, there is a strong lobby going on out there which is holding a very aggressive campaign for women in the games industry. Despite that its root is very well hidden it is recruiting a lot of followers including some big names.
The idea on itself is noble when you consider women should earn as much as men and should be treated as equal employees. And rightfully so they should be vigilant in their fight for a woman friendly work environment within the game industry.
But truth is that things are really turning to the ridicule of it: wanting to censor the game and comic book industry by setting an example of what is accepted as female character art, and what is not. Condemning Red Sonia for being scantily clad, Mario for the "save the princess" cliché to even armor designs that feature curves for the breasts. To them these forms of "objectification" belong in the past and are considered part of the fantasy of a 'certain type of boys'. (*)
What I think is even more a slap in the face of artists is the parade of charlatans behind it reinforcing this lobby and these statements by arguing game/comic art should be realistic and practical, not fashionable. Playing the realism card is totally out of place and absurd when discussing a fantasy setting. When saying that boob plates are unrealistic and a hazard to the wearer, then also fully commit to your stance that a full plate is a deathtrap in most fantasy environment and will get you nowhere.
Similar invalid argument is comparing the same outfit of female character on male character. If you want to compare a scantily clad Red Sonja with scantily clad Conan the barbarian, do not compare it with Conan in a chainmail bikini. Obviously stated like that the latter will look ridiculous and look like you made a point, but you haven't. Instead you just compared apples to pears.
So here it is, and I'm gonna say: do not yield to this motion!
Do not self-censor your own work, your creativity!If by all means the opposition feels change is needed, let it NOT be by oppressing others art but by just offering an alternative for those who wish an alternative.
But honestly, let me ask the question to the opposition again:Why is for instance the attire of Nariko a problem and why is the attire of Kratos just fine?
And for those crying "objectification":
While you're at it let's just ban this also all together. I object to men being objectified like that.. tsk tsk tsk. -_-
(*) I'll make a dedicated journal entry in the near future on the various points of view this lobby is taking on the matter and question their arguments. Here are already a couple of links that show support for the lobby.