Friday, 30 November 2012

I have a problem with Zevran


I know that articles like this tend to get patronized by everyone who comes across them, its the modern way in which society resists against resistance against the white heterosexual male status quo, by declaring those that talk about sociological issues as delusional or overemotional. But anyway, as scarcely as my civil rights flag flies up when it comes to the media, it recently has at something as insignificant as a video game character. Since I own a blog on the matter I thought it could be a good example to talk about the media portrayal of LGBT characters, which believe it or not is a serious issue.

I won't be using the word 'homophobe' or 'biphobe' in this post because it would be silly, that is clearly not what is going on here, we all know that Bioware has respect for all different kinds of people and this is apparent through their work, depiction of same-sex relationships is hardly a selling point in this business, it's a very very risky thing to do and that means that the inclusion of it can be nothing short of a genuine attempt to push the boundaries of what kind of people games can portray, and I applaud them for that for much more than I am wagging my finger at them, but I still have a serious negative point to make.

My problem is with the character Zevran, I'm not going to sit here and scrutinize the character and link everything he does as a poor representation of bisexuality, I've seen that kind of business before and it's depressingly moronic, rather i will talk about the circumstances of his sexuality both independently and in the context of how sexuality is shown in the rest of the game.

But enough justifying myself, I'll start by being completely candid about it. When creating the only bisexual main character in the game Bioware seemed to confuse bisexuality as a result of extreme promiscuity. I know what you're thinking "Oh Trxd just because the only bi guy in the game is a bit of a slut doesn't mean its an attack on gay people you nuisance" and I'd agree with you in most instances, which is why my issues with Zevran were not instantaneous and also why I was hesitant to write this post. But there's a difference between inventing a sociological issue out of your perception of the attributes in a piece of media dealing with a sensitive topic, and actually noticing a consistent, incorrect, black and white and very prominent inescapable offensive idea.

Zevran's entire character in the game is molded out of his sexuality, almost every single one of his lines whether in conversation with the player or as background dialogue, and everything in between, is to do with sex. He wants it, he's talking about it, he has a very relaxed but lusty attitude, he is very sexually free. There is nothing wrong with people being this way, it's an interesting idea for a character and it being coupled with bisexuality just gives a sense of sexual liberation if you want to really get into it. But my problem begins when Bioware starts to explain "I'm Bisexual" and "I'm promiscuous" in the same sentence  seeing it as the same thing. When asked "You like men?" by the player character (which is a non-question question) Zevran will actually "explain", there is never an explanation for your sexuality, but this is where Bioware apparently disagrees, I won't give you the whole backstory but basically he grew up in a whorehouse and was raised to seduce and kill, which is why he is bisexual.

That isn't how it works, to be completely candid you either like dick or you don't, right? But Zevran says the whorehouse was simply sexually free and it taught him to like either gender. Sexuality isn't a choice, and it certainly isn't a product of promiscuity, you can be as promiscuous as you want no matter what sexuality you are, they are not linked at all.

Zevran is Bioware telling me "I know you exist, and there's nothing wrong with you at all, and I really support your equality and you should be represented equally. But by the way you did choose to be bisexual and it's just a result of you being a sex addict." I'm sorry but it's not an okay way to represent a bisexual person, it is offensive and idiotic. My idea that Bisexuality and Promiscuity are linked isn't just something I've pulled out of a few lines of dialogue, it is something that is so prominent in this character that no matter how much I tried to look the way I couldn't escape it.

It isn't the end of the world, it doesn't really bother me other than when I'm actually experiencing it in the game, but I do think that it is notable, and my genuine belief is that even if we argue with each other it is good to discuss civil rights and representation of different people in the media.

Anyone else have any feelings on this character or other similar instances? Or anyone just think I'm being insufferably melodramatic? Leave a comment.

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