As of late I have been on an interesting journey into what can be called modern mythology. A friend of mine is teaching a college English course, and she wants the students to consider looking at comic books and other articles of pop culture interest as the modern mythology of our lives. Since she has a lesser understanding of comic books than I do, she asked me for suggestions about what characters and books would be considered a modern mythology. Right now I have her working on a definition of modern mythology before we delve into things. From another direction, a friend of mine commented to me directly about my post about Jackpot, explaining to me that the vigilante archetype has been a member of the American monomyth for quite some time – and then she gave me book recommendations. I am currently waiting for the library to deliver those books, The Hero with a Thousand Faces and The American Monomyth, so that I can really get into what it all is. However, a few months ago I picked up a book by Joseph Campbell and Bill Moyers called The Power of Myth, which is a collection of conversations between the two scholars about the meaning of symbols and the workings of Campbell’s mind months before his death.
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.)
The building of the mosque near the former site of the World Trade Center should not be the news magnet it is today. There should be no schism between whether or not it is right to do so, disrespectful, etc. It is a site of religious practice near a site of disaster that happened without regard to religion.
I find myself echoing my father’s words exactly in this: The terrorists have already won. The fear and hate created by the horrific 9/11 attacks has shown that Americans are weak. The mosque’s becoming an issue solidifies this completely. What Americans like to boast is that we are more free than any other country on this planet. One of the most important freedoms, and one reason we were initially founded, is our religious freedom. If we cannot allow our fellow countrypeople their place to worship outside of the mainstream religions (Christianity and Judaism), then we are showing that we no longer care about the freedoms for which we claim to stand.
Like I said, if we go back on what we supposedly stand for, then we have let the terrorists know that they have affected our everyday lives. They know they have won. Every time we deny a mosque, the terrorists have won. Every time the TSA takes someone’s Swiss army knife or leatherman, the terrorists have won. Until we get past that, the terrorists have won.
Rima Fakih has said this regarding the mosque issue: “I totally agree with President Obama [but] it shouldn’t be so close to the World Trade Center. We should be more concerned with the tragedy than religion.” I find this to be a completely diplomatic response by someone who has been grilled for her Middle Eastern background but wanted to run for Miss Universe…