Resident Evil 5 racism
Capcom’s senior public relations manager on the Western continent had this to say about the controversy regarding Resident Evil 5‘s trailer: “Since the RE5 controversy, we have become much more aware of how important it is that we are part of the asset creation process early on so that we are able to have a say in the end product.” In other words, when making a product to be released worldwide, it helps to step outside of ethnocentrism. Makes sense, right?
The problem is that there should not have been a problem with the trailer in the first place. It is hard for me to believe that in this modern age Capcom would think that a trailer consisting of a white guy shooting up black African natives would go over well. Yes, we get that they are zombies or there is some sort of bioplague affecting them, but the imagery is of emaciated black people getting shot by a white man.
The PR manager has made it a point to publicly state that the Japanese branch of Capcom will be working more closely with the Western branch to avoid such fiascos in the future, but this hides the disappointing fact that Japan is far behind the rest of the world in cultural awareness. It is not just a Japanese video game company issue – it is a culture-wide issue. If Japan were more welcoming to employees from outside the country coming in to do work, this may not have been an issue. Can you imagine the trailer’s presentation at an acclaimed video game expo if there were black workers in prominent positions? Hardly.
Of course, the same could be said in America despite the black population’s having a much higher percentage. The video games released here still tend to feature only white male protagonists rather than a more diverse cast. Actually, the bulk of the visual media released in the United States shows its own trend of cultural insensitivity. Of course, we have come a long way from making the antagonist of any plot some potentially insensitive “other”.
I know this is an old issue, but the fact that Capcom is talking to 1-Up about it suggests that it is a wound that has yet to heal. As it should be considering the lack of positive black characters in Japanese media. (Or at least the media that gets worldwide notice.)