Naughty Dog racist?

Discussion in 'The Arcadium' started by Responsible Allen Iverson, Jul 22, 2021.

  1. Responsible Allen Iverson

    Responsible Allen Iverson I attend practice Hall of Fame

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    And She was Less Than a Dog
    [​IMG]
    Zaire Lanier

    Just now·7 min read

    [​IMG]
    It’s no secret that I love The Last of Us series. It’s one of my favorite games, and it does so much well, but with The Last of Us Part 2, I am once again struggling with how Naughty Dog represents Black and Brown bodies in the TLoU universe.

    I do enjoy how the TLoU universe repeatedly puts Black people front and center. It means a lot to see myself represented in a beloved franchise. Black people exist in the apocalypse, and they don’t feel like stereotypes. They feel just as human. They laugh, they love, they hurt, and bleed just like me. Then, as inevitably as I will one day, they die.

    That is where the similarities end. None of these characters have a happy ending (or as happy as one can get in this situation). When they die, it feels like we are only encouraged to get close to these characters so their death can be a catalyst for someone else’s story.

    The first game gives us Sam, Henry, and Marlene. Sam and Henry are two Black siblings who have been surviving on their own and get close to Joel and Ellie, staying with them for a while until Sam gets infected by the series’ cordyceps virus and Henry, the older brother, kills him. Then, in his immense grief, he kills himself. Because of these deaths and Ellie’s survivor’s guilt, her drive to reach the revolutionary militia, the Fireflies, is strengthened. On the other hand, there’s Marlene. Leader of the Fireflies and the very person who sets the entire game’s plot in motion. In the first game’s climax, Joel dispassionately kills Marlene to protect Ellie. It sends a clear message that Marlene doesn’t matter anymore, despite being the person that brought Joel to Ellie.

    The prequel DLC, Left Behind, has Riley, Ellie’s friend. They share a loving kiss in an abandoned mall. We watch them play an arcade game together, explore a Halloween store, and more. Ultimately, the DLC ends with the two of them bitten and infected. “Let’s wait it out. You know we… we can be all poetic and lose our minds together.” Riley dies but Ellie would not only live, but also likely watched her first love turn and had to put her down, the root of Ellie’s immense survivor’s guilt.

    TLoU2 enacts this same violence: Nora, Isaac, and as a minor character, the Scar Brother with the hammer.

    The Scar brother fight bothered me. He is larger than life and practically a caricature. When he fights Abby as they try to leave the settlement, he is brutish and evokes the stereotype of Black men being brutes and having an inhuman tolerance for pain. Abby herself is nothing to scoff at, but this game gives her what seems like a literal monster to fight. The optics feel weird, as far as mini-bosses go. We actively interact with this character during the fight. He is the same as every other character that we cut down in our journey for revenge, but the way he is represented as an enemy feels distinctly different.

    Isaac’s death reminded me of Marlene. Their “occupations” are similar; they both run groups who believe they are freedom fighting, and both make decisions that change the course of the story. Marlene sends Ellie off with Joel. Isaac’s decision to martyr the Scar’s leader led to this war. In the end, he is shot in the back as he’s preparing to kill Lev, who is unarmed. They both have little screen time, but their existences are integral to the story, even as background characters. Without Marlene, there is no Ellie and Joel. Without Isaac, Abby likely does not become the killing machine she is. Marlene clearly cared about Ellie, but Marlene also cared about humankind.

    This says nothing about the other characters of color. Jesse, Manny, and Whitney. All of these characters also die to advance the story. Manny in particular bothered me because he felt like such a stereotype of a Latino male character.

    Then we get to Nora. Nora. Nora. Nora.

    This was one of the hardest deaths that I have ever experienced in a video game and I believe this was purposeful. Ellie’s quest for revenge takes us to Nora at a hospital, where she chases her through the hospital and tackles her into a hole that is infested with spores. We can hear Nora struggling for breath. It’s horrifying, especially with the echoes of “I can’t breathe” so fresh in my head last summer. I expected a cutscene just like with every other “main death” in the game. Something scripted and beyond my control. This doesn’t happen.

    Nora sits on the floor, covered in sweat, arm shattered by Ellie breaking it with a pipe. Ellie asks Nora where Abby is and if she tells her, she will make her death quick. Nora refuses and Ellie’s face contorts in the red lighting into a mask of hate. Then, the square button pops up on the screen. I sat for a few minutes, surely this isn’t what Naughty Dog wants of me. Nothing happens. I press the square. I’m treated to a wet thud and Nora gurgling in pain. Blood flies into the frame. This happens again. The music swells and Ellie hits Nora with the pipe and then a third time.

    The third and final time, there’s a cut to black. This is the moment in which I came to hate Ellie. Nora’s death is off-screen. It’s the only main/secondary character death that takes place out of sight. Nora’s torture and death are left to the annals of our imagination. Nora is dust in the wind, fleeting and unseen. She’s erased. All we know is Nora suffered and suffered greatly. ButEllie is the focus of this scene for a reason.

    Before this, Ellie had killed, yes, but she mowed down trained soldiers and people that would actively harm her. Nora was different. She sat defenseless and dying when Ellie approached her. Ellie killed her out of rage. Ellie crossed a line to get information. We are then treated to a cutscene in which Dina comforts a shaken and bothered Ellie. Ellie is traumatized by what she’s done. She’s gone beyond the pale and will only continue to do so. Dina stands by Ellie’s actions because she loves Ellie. As a Black woman, it was hard to watch.

    This brings me to my title, “And She Was Less Than A Dog.” Every enemy you kill in this game has a name; every WLF soldier, every Sepharite, and every dog. When I shoot a dog in the head with an arrow and its trainer finds its crumpled heap, the trainer mourns and curses my name. I’ve heard so many people mention how hard it was to kill the dogs in the game and read countless articles on has Naughty Dog done too much? For me, the dogs were enemies just like everyone else, stopping me on my quest for revenge. This makes me question how games and gamers view Black women. Our mere existence in an IP is often considered political. What makes an enemy hard to kill? Why are the dying yelps of various dogs, who aretrying to rip my throat out worth more than the bloody gasps of Nora? How are people reaching the end of the game and still gloating over her visceral death while mourning having to kill dogs? Even after learning everything they have about Nora nothing seems to change.

    She died tortured and alone in the bottom of a spore-infested hospital while trying to protect her friends. Her death wasn’t one of the tens of hundreds of people I stabbed in the throat or carefully placed a trip mine to kill. She wasn’t in the game’s main rhythm. She was different. She was special. Nora was wholly dissonant.

    Until this point, Naughty Dog had put me in what I consider two pairs of shoes: a detached observer during cut scenes or an active participant in someone else’s story. I am playing a role, but I am not making choices. I wasn’t asked to step into Abby’s shoes and deliver Joel’s final killing blows while the camera focuses on my hate-filled face. Naughty Dog doesn’t ask me to kill Mel and her unborn child or Owen.

    But the game forced me to directly take part in Nora’s death. I didn’t passively sit and watch. Some people say I could’ve just turned the game off or chosen not to press square, a poor attempt at a gotcha. TLOU is linear and this directorial choice is purposeful. The game doesn’t continue until I deliver those final wet and final blows. I still don’t quite understand the choice, but I found it impossible not to notice. Is Nora’s death simply to serve as Ellie’s tipping point? because if so, I found that not enough players got the memo.

    They reveled in her death and that hurts me deeply. The number of comments saying in the vein of “I enjoyed killing tha tblack bytch because of what she did to Joel” or “Hearing her whimper was so cathartic” were too many to count. There was no sympathy for Nora. Her whimpers of pain and final wet gasps meant nothing to so many people.

    The sheer violence of Nora’s death is reflected to us later when we play as Abby. We see other facets of Nora: she’s a doctor, a healer. She’s gathering supplies from the hospital to bring back to the WLF main camp. This makes the sting of Nora’s death even worse. It’s intentional. Nora is fully made flesh. She has hopes, dreams, and a purpose. Her final words are admonishing Joel, “Do you know how many people died because of what he did?” She’s full of righteous indignation for what Joel did to humanity. This makes her dying alone, off-screen while trying to protect her friends even worse.

    I can’t even say Nora died like a dog. Nora died like a rat: tortured and left in a trap to die.


    :mjpls:
     
  2. It was always you koba

    It was always you koba Banned Supporter

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    Wasn’t Joel’s death very violent too? The game is extremely violent and the world very bleak and full of nasty characters. Let’s not act like the black characters die horrible deaths whilst the white characters get a nice pleasant death.

    And also OP who’s clearly an xbot is only making this thread because it’s a Sony game.
     
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  3. MeachTheMonster

    MeachTheMonster YourFriendlyHoodMonster Hall of Shame

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    Defend Sony at all costs even in the face of blatant racism brehs :smh:
     
  4. It was always you koba

    It was always you koba Banned Supporter

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    How am I defending Sony? All I’m saying is that the game is very bleak and violent and a lot of characters regardless of race meet extremely violent deaths. If it were only black characters being killed in a violent way then I would agree but it’s not.

    I don’t play console wars when it comes to racism. If Sony are being racist I’ll call them out.
     
  5. Kingshango

    Kingshango Veteran

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    I been saying TLOU 1 & 2 was.:mjpls:

    Gotta sacrifice all the POC for plot progression for the whites, dykes and the transformers but any shade of brown/black is brutalized.:mjpls:

    And then you got cacs voicing black women in Uncharted.:mjpls:
     
  6. MeachTheMonster

    MeachTheMonster YourFriendlyHoodMonster Hall of Shame

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    From the first trailer they showed I felt the game was clearly torture porn trying to elicit a reaction from the player.

    Just so happens that throughout the game it’s the black people catching most of the hell and their death/tourture simply serves as a plot point and character development for the white characters.

    Yes it’s a fukked up world and everyone has it bad, but the black characters get no type of relief or positivity, or meaningful development. They exist merely as stepping stones for other characters development.

    As it says in the article they gave the dogs a more meaningful existence.

    And you even saw it in the reactions of reviewers and fans. They talked about how hard it was to kill the dogs and how the other characters in the world took it hard which made killing them meaningful. But bashing the helpless black ladies head in with a pole “meh had to be done:manny:

    Don’t have to be intentional but the shyts ingrained in American society. Black suffering is normal and even applauded.

    Don’t see how so many young black males on this site applaud this games story and writing as the best ever with this glaring racism ingrained into the plot.
     
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  7. MeachTheMonster

    MeachTheMonster YourFriendlyHoodMonster Hall of Shame

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    That’s exactly what you did. Even randomly called op an xbox stan for sharing the article.

    The black characters do get killed in unique ways. It’s all laid out in the article
     
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  8. It was always you koba

    It was always you koba Banned Supporter

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    “Unique Ways?” :mjlol:

    Have you even played the game? Is Joel getting brutally killed not unique enough? Or should he have been cuddled to death to make his death normal?:russ:
     
  9. MeachTheMonster

    MeachTheMonster YourFriendlyHoodMonster Hall of Shame

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    You as the player don’t have to stand over Joel and bash him with a pole.

    Joel was not hopeless and already injured.

    Joel got plenty of character development. Got to have some happiness didn’t merely serve has torture porn and a stepping stone for another characters development.
     
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  10. The Mad Titan

    The Mad Titan Veteran Supporter

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    I've mentioned this about the tlous after part 2.

    Why well because it went so far to make sure that trans, women and people of different races were depicted as strong and important.


    Black people are depicted as good but ultimately stepping stones for the growth of the main characters. (Like most movies 1st to die, or self sacrifice themselves)

    The push for for representation that isn't black representation isn't something black people should be pushing or getting hype for.

    Especially when we still aren't repped right.
     
  11. The Mad Titan

    The Mad Titan Veteran Supporter

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    Also this overall theme is super common in zombie movies, shows and games.


    The self sacrificing black character that saves everyone and is instrumental in the growth of a main white character.


    100 percent of the time
     
  12. Deezay

    Deezay All Star

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    I see the stans have landed...

    1 star
     
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  13. IShotTheSheriff

    IShotTheSheriff All Star Supporter

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    Something always told me to stay away from that game.
     
  14. Dorian Breh

    Dorian Breh Veteran

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    Dumbass article :mjlol:

    That bytch nora literally held down and knocked out Tommy by pistol whipping his head while her friends tortured Joel

    Trying to make her out to be some righteous strong girlboss is pathetic

    Xbots continue to show their ass
     
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  15. Dorian Breh

    Dorian Breh Veteran

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    This fagget didn't even play the game but in here writing dissertations

    Xbox stans :mjlol:
     
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