Thursday, November 16, 2006

I refer readers to Gonzalo Frasca's latest column at Gonzalo ponders the question of whether or not Super Princess Peach for DS reinforces sexist stereotypes, and analyses some revealing differences between the game's marketing campaign in the US and in Japan.

Princess Peach's special powers comprise tantrums, crying fits and girly euphoria. From this, we are to conclude one of two things:

a) Princess Peach's case requires immediate intervention involving the prescribed use of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors


b) Princess Peach is not suffering from a psychiatric disorder; she is in fact a normal girl doing what normal girls (or princesses, perhaps) do. Girls overcome difficulties through emotional manipulation: they smile their way out of speeding fines, throw tantrums when things go wrong and cry to passive-agressively get their way.

Well I know I do...

For many people, including one brand of feminists (there are many brands of feminists), this would be just fine. Why? Because Peach's attacks may be emotional, but in the context of the game they are no less powerful than physical attacks. In other words, she is portrayed as "equal but different".

As John Gray would put it, she is simply from a different planet, namely the planet Venus. As Emmanuel Kant would put it, she is simply an emotional, rather than a rational creature; and as Tarzan would put it, "me Tarzan, you Jane". Not that we think there's anything wrong in any of that of course, because in this post-modern world where relativism rules public discourse, there is no such thing as an inferior trait - it is simply a matter of "difference". Like other girls, the Princess is "differently abled", but nonetheless "equal".


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At 1:03 am, Blogger the rantolotl said...

I've smiled my way out of speeding tickets :)

I have not, however, managed to defeat evil by crying. I'm working on it though.

At 8:51 pm, Blogger Patrick said...

An unstated factor in the subtext is that princess peach is a sexually matured female, so her tactics of passive-aggresive emotionality fit into a wider concept of women as passively sexual but actively manipulating, the classic sexism. Bonnie Ruberg wrote an essay a ways back exploring the idea of a pre-sexual/prepubescant girl as a protagonist, to which issues of insecurity and problem solving take a very different connoation, I think. I'm actually trying to produce a casual game with a six year old girl as the protagonist, so I'm hoping to avoid this classic stereotype.

At 12:54 pm, Blogger Kipper said...

Hey that's a really good point about there being a connotative difference between a showing a child going around balling her eyes out all over the place and a grown woman.


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