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The Complaints

Is Resident Evil 5 Racist?

The vast majority of complains centre around the trailer’s apparent disregard for the manner in which it depicts a racial struggle. While it’s true that any game that pits a white protagonist against a host of black opponents is bound to cause trouble, the only way to negate this so far suggested has been that some of these zombies be white, rather than black.

Resident Evil RacismThe problem with this is fairly obvious; we’re all familiar with the cinematic tradition of the “token black”, included so that the proceedings don’t seem racist. The inclusion of an occasional white zombie would effectively be the same thing; we’d have a token white zombie, and there would be as many cries that these zombies had been included to avoid seeming racist [Catch 22 –Ed].

One of the points raised by Microscopiq (in a post entitled “Blackface goes HD”) is that, “With all the positive steps being taken of late to raise awareness of the good things happening in Africa as well as the urgent need in some parts of the continent, we really can’t afford this kind of step back. We need to find ways to humanize Africans, not dehumanize them.” The fact is though, that it’s the “urgent need” in some parts of the continent that makes Africa such a juicy location for a survival horror game; the chances of being rescued seem so much lower, the relative tide of zombies seems unstoppable...

There’s nothing racist about this; it’s just another example of the setting being used to make the player uncomfortable, something the Resident Evil series has long been famous for. An entirely separate problem has been raised by Kym Platt on the Black Looks blog, which says of the depiction of a white man killing black people, “This is problematic on so many levels, including the depiction of Black people as inhuman savages, the killing of Black people by a white man in military clothing, and the fact that this video game is marketed to children and young adults. Start them young… fearing, hating, and destroying Black people.”

Resident Evil Racist

It’s important to remember that we’re talking about a game where the most fundamental point is the decent of the general population from humanity into inhuman savagery. This is nothing specific to Resident Evil 5’s black antagonists; this is the same slide from humanity into zombiehood we’ve seen in practically every Resident Evil game to date. It is this loss of humanity that is the scariest part of the survival horror series’ plot.

The other thing is that, with the memory of the banning of Manhunt 2 so fresh in our minds, it seems so thoroughly unlikely that this particular video game will be marketed to children (and even young adults, though this depends on the rating it’s given). This is not part of any campaign to start anyone hating anything from a young age, and even if it were, there’s nothing wrong with instilling a healthy fear of the undead, no matter what race or creed.

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