: New Tomb Raider prequel gives us Lara Croft's backstory, and surprise! It's rape!
Because there was clearly a shortage of Strong Female CharactersTM
whose backstory involves rape.
I've never played Tomb Raider,
but I do appreciate the character a bit. Yes, she's fanservice, but she's also fun. She gets to run around and do stuff, and, sad to say, there are still very few female characters in mass culture who get to run around and do stuff in a traditionally male dominated field simply because it's fun. I don't even see why she needs a backstory, any more than the backstory we get for Indiana Jones (difficult relationship with father, snake trauma, moving on to the adventures now). Lara Croft is basically Indiana Jones with boobs, and that's just fine, really.
But enough with that. On to the justifications!
Rosenberg brings up Die Hard, another movie where we begin a relationship with a human, vulnerable character and through an intense experience he emerges as a hero. It was important to show her as an innocent, vulnerable character at the beginning of the game. “People really identify with that,” Rosenberg said.
Right. I forgot the bit where John McClane gets raped, despite having seen Die Hard
more times than I can count. Maybe because John McClane doesn't need a rapey backstory to be seen as a hero or for the audience to identify with him.
“I would say that the outcome is closer to something like Batman Begins or Casino Royale, where the character at the end is certainly Batman or James Bond, but not necessarily the one from before,” he said.
You know what else I missed? The part where Bruce Wayne gets raped. James Bond got some electrodes to the balls if I remember correctly, but I don't think he got raped either. And somehow they
both managed to become kickass without a rapey backstory. In fact, I can't think of a single male pop culture character whose backstory involves rape. But pick a Strong Female CharacterTM
, any Strong Female CharacterTM
, and someone's gotten rapey with her somewhere. Because obviously no woman can be Strong without trauma in her background, and there is no trauma but rape.
I didn't read the comments but I bet they're full of neckbeards defending this, er, creative decision. Am I right?ETA:
A couple of you raised a good point, which is that most women experience some form of sexual violence in their lifetimes, and why should SFC be exceptions? My objection to this line of reasoning:
1) My problem is not with saying that rape happens (otherwise I wouldn't be hugely obsessed with Game of Thrones
right now), it's with rape as a motivating factor. I spent a miserably large percentage of my early adolescence being groped by horny boys on the playground. This did not make me into a superhero. It made me self-conscious about my developing body.
2) As a motivation, rape is incredibly cliché. Want to create a heroine? Can't she be motivated by, I don't know, concern for poor people being forced out of their homes because of gentrification? Or maybe she's a fangirl who wants desperately to be a superhero, so she deliberately alters her body until she has incredible abilities (okay, this idea was already used in The Authority,
but I still think it's fantastic). Or, like, anything other than rape. Male heroes have all kinds of motivations, from the death of their parents by violent crime, to getting bitten by a radioactive spider, to girlfriends getting fridged, to loyalty to queen and country, to coming from a family in the hero business, to rationally thinking about it and deciding that it would be a good idea. Why can female heroes be only motivated by one thing?
3) If we're going for realism, why is it always violent stranger-rape? Most rape victims know their attacker. It's usually a family member, friend, or lover. If you want a rape story because it's realistic, maybe make the rape a bit more like what most women experience.
4) But I don't want realism because this is a videogame. Videogames are for escapism and wish fulfillment. Just like I don't want to see a movie where John McClane gets shot in the face by Hans Gruber in the first 10 minutes because that's what would happen in real life, I don't want to see the character I'm pretending to be get raped.
5) So if videogames are about wish fulfillment, then why include rape? I can only conclude that those playing aren't identifying with Lara Croft; they're identifying with her attackers and getting off on it. And that's frightening and disgusting.