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From Black Looks:

Resident Evil 5

on July 31, 2007

Category: Racism, Africa

The new Resident Evil video game depicts a white man in what appears to be Africa killing Black people. The Black people are supposed to be zombies and the white man’s job is to destroy them and save humanity. “I have a job to do and I’m gonna see it through.”

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.

Microscopiq

Blackface Goes HD? The Case of Resident Evil 5

OK, we all know zombies gotta die. And I loved Resident Evil 4. So why do these early images from the next installment of the Resident Evil franchise make me so queasy?

After all, in RE4, you spend the game shooting equally out-of-their-mind Spaniards. But, then, the Spanish haven’t been so egregiously misrepresented as blacks through the ages, have they? Not even close.

From Birth of a Nation to Black Hawk Down, black folk are apparently responsible for some of the most mindless and evil activities you got. Rape, murder, satanic voodoo. With bulging eyes, simian super strength, and a room temperature IQ, we’ve been portrayed as savages beyond redemption. So, when we see images like these, it doesn’t just resonate with the long lived zombie genre, it also triggers memories of so many awful stereotypes — and what those stereotypes have been used to justify past and present. Put down the crazed negroes before they take the white women! And so on…

But perhaps the most troubling part is that these scenes seem to be set in Africa; the “dark continent.” 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.

George Romero’s genre-defining 1968 film Night of the Living Dead is often read as a black empowerment tale. It’s ironic, then, that 40 years later, the preeminent zombie franchise appears poised to give us just the opposite. If LocoRoco’s Mojas were a kind of high tech blackface, Resident Evil 5 takes blackface into the HD era. It’s horror alright, just not the kind Capcom intended.

And The Village Voice:

Resident Evil 5: White Man Shoots Black Zombies

By Bonnie Ruberg

For nearly a decade, the popular video game series Resident Evil has been giving us excuses to shoot the living hell out of pale, pasty, flesh-eating zombies. Machine guns in hand, players have traditionally faced these nasty brain munchers in creepy old mansions, or (not-so) abandoned rural towns. The zombies themselves have been Westerners—unlucky ex-Americans or Europeans with undead faces as white as the series is dark.

Until now, that is. Development team Capcom recently released a trailer for Resident Evil 5, the newest incarnation of the survival horror game. It doesn’t take place in backwoods U.S.A., though. It seems to take place in Africa.

Though the full details of the storyline aren’t public yet, the trailer makes a few things clear: you play as a white Chris Redfield, the same all-American boy who has been taking down old-school leg-draggers for years. And the zombies? You guessed it: the local villagers. Which means that the hordes of undead you’ll be pumping round after round of ammo into—they’re all black.

Resident Evil 5 is already raising questions about racism (White good guys vs. black bad guys? Is this some kind of race war?), or maybe questions about Capcom’s judgment (Who okayed this for production?). As one forum commenter wrote, “Is it just me, or is there something subtly racist about gunning down mobs of angry Africans?”

But the point isn’t to smack one more label on mainstream video games (violent, sexist, racist). The point is that—for this white girl, at least—the Resident Evil 5 trailer is strangely disturbing.

Of course, it’s possible that Capcom is just throwing around novel combinations willy-nilly here (“I don’t know, how about a zombie game in Africa?”). When it comes to a piece of pop culture like Resident Evil though, we have to consider the possibility that our interest in the supernatural is actually mirroring our anxieties about real-life problems. So, in America — a country still tangling with the legacy of slavery, racism, and oppression—what does Resident Evil 5 give us to be anxious about?

First, there are the obvious cultural connections: otherness and race, blackness and monstrosity—as Public Enemy puts it the "Fear of a Black Planet." It’s Heart of Darkness meets PlayStation.

Plenty of Resident Evil fanboys are standing up for the game by claiming that Africa is just a setting like any other. After all, why shouldn’t zombies be black? On one level, that's true.

But looking again at the trailer, I see a different message: it’s not just that these zombies are black, but that the uninfected black villagers are zombie-like too. See all those spooky shots of the villagers before they get infected? It’s as if race itself were a disease. The white protagonist has to fight back or be infected.

And that’s the other issue with setting a zombie movie in Africa. The whole idea of zombies is based on our fear of contamination. Get bitten by a zombie, or just drop a tiny bit of undead blood in an open wound, and you’re a goner. Soon you too will carry the disease of the living dead.

Sounds familiar yet? Yup, we could be talking about the HIV/AIDS crisis, which has killed 15 million Africans, and infected 25 million others on the continent. Especially since one of the few sentences spoken in the Resident Evil 5 trailer is, “Casualties continue to mount over the long years I have struggled.”

Or maybe we’re reminded of the "one drop rule," concocted by racists who feared miscegenation in the era of slavery and Jim Crow to create a definition of whiteness. Is that what’s lurking behind the premise of this game?

Just wait until they finish the game and unlock Chris's ghost costume with the pointy hat.

Discuss the inevitable shit storm that's about to commence before Resident Evil 5 comes out in 2009.

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What they don't seem to realize is that Resident Evil storylines usually have some reason that the people are acting all crazy, whether it's a virus, parasite, etc. I can't see Capcom glorifying black hatred. By the way, I've only actually read about Resident Evil (and seen 4 played), so I really don't know the exact storylines, but I do know about zombies. I gots to get me some Resident Evil. But yeah, this is just people blowing alleged racism WAAAAAAAY out of proportion. People don't seem to realize that not being PC doesn't make you racist.

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On the Microscopic article, you can just dismiss the entire post by reading the first line, which pretty much entails the following logic, "It's OK to kill other races, but when it comes to my own, then I get offended."

I'm about to comment on the blog, stating that white on black, and vice versa types of crimes are nonexistent nowadays, most black leaders are currently fighting to stop black on black crimes. So, where do the white people come in?

They don't.

If blacks would like to stop the "gross misrepresentation" that they have to go through, they need to take a look at themselves. The upcoming younger generation of blacks draw inspiration for half-wit "rappers" that perpetuate the world by making everything about the hood, having a hard life, hustlin, and whathaveyou, white people aren't even part of the equation anymore.

What's more, where does he pull the "Africa is a dark continent" line? Has he seen some type of RE5 trailer we haven't? Does the game even state it's even in Africa? We know nothing, except it is set in the "desert", which would entail Northern Africa, closer to Middle Eastern countries.

Fucking idiot.

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Yeah, neither blog put any of the game into context except for a white man shooting a group of black men and women.

Supposedly RE5 is set in Haiti and Capcom is being coy on what exactly is infecting these people. They said it's not the T-virus or Las Plagus, but it's clear the residents are under some kind of control. The blogs also do not mention any of the storyline from the past RE games that Chris was in. If you were to play the original and Code Veronica, the "I have a job to do" seems more like he's talking about finishing off Umbrella (or Wesker's company) rather then just going to Haiti and killing off a bunch of black people/zombies.

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wow.. as if if people can get any lower, they love pulling the race card out with every whim don't they, but yet.. when GTA: San Andreas came out with a black lead character..and was in a gang..droppin "N" bombs.. it was ok then?...this shit needs to stop people need to get over it and move on, sometimes.. I'm ashamed to be associated with blacks when it comes to this stupid ass shit.

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wow.. as if if people can get any lower, they love pulling the race card out with every whim don't they, but yet.. when GTA: San Andreas came out with a black lead character..and was in a gang..droppin "N" bombs.. it was ok then?...this shit needs to stop people need to get over it and move on, sometimes.. I'm ashamed to be associated with blacks when it comes to this stupid ass shit.

Of course that is okay because you can kill white folk in GTA: San Andreas.

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quote from the microscopiq comments

Slython

Aug 1st, 2007 at 11:39 am

Resident Evil 1 - white people are zombies

Resident Evil 2 - white people are zombies

Resident Evil 3: Nemesis - white people are zombies

Resident Evil Code: Veronica - white people are zombies

Resident Evil Survivor - white people are zombies

Resident Evil Gaiden - white people are zombies

Resident Evil: Survivor 2 Code: Veronica - white people are zombies

Resident Evil Zero - white people are zombies

Resident Evil: Dead Aim - white people are zombies

Resident Evil Outbreak - white people are zombies

Resident Evil Outbreak File #2 - white people are zombies

Resident Evil 4 - white people are zombies

Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles - white people are zombies

Resident Evil 5 - ZOMG AFRICANS?! RACISM

Please, I’m sure the majority of ALL people won’t give a flying crap.

and major lols at otacons comment about aliens and galaga

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while i can admit, that wasn't the best trailer, i still feel people are overreacting a bit.

media has often been used as social commentary. for me when a realistic setting is used or having current events in the background of a story it tends to draw me in more (metal gear anyone?).

now im pretty sure zombies have been around longer than aids (aids awareness i should say).

the trailer does sort of fail to mention several key points as to how all this happened, but this is probably just peoples initial reactions.

my first reaction was why the hell did chris start taking horse steroids and is this weskers twist on the las plagas sample that he got at the end of re4. but i knew the story line and while i haven't played all the RE i still know whats going on for the most part.

i also have to agree with brian that gta:sa gave a much worse impression.

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the trailer does sort of fail to mention several key points as to how all this happened, but this is probably just peoples initial reactions.

It shouldn't have too. Generally, intelligent people don't try to argue ridiculous points without knowing about the issue their so hung up on.

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I'm going to be incredibly unpopular here and side with the people who think that this is racist.

I don't see why it's racist. The only explanation these articles offer are long shots. So you're killing black people in a video game? Big whoop, it's only racist if it's MEANT to be racist and, given that if Capcom made a game "racist" on purpose that their company would probably tank and they'd be doomed, I can't imagine that being the case.

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It's five minutes of footage from ONE area of a twenty+ hour game. I'm sorry, but coming to that conclusion at this point is just fucking stupid.

Hey, a trailer is supposed to give viewers an idea of what the final product will be like.

Really, I'm just surprised that the PR department didn't foresee this reaction and pick different footage for the trailer (unless the whole game is just killing black people).

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Hey, a trailer is supposed to give viewers an idea of what the final product will be like.

Really, I'm just surprised that the PR department didn't foresee this reaction and pick different footage for the trailer (unless the whole game is just killing black people).

Or unless it so far from complete that a pre-rendered trailer is all they have? And that they were probably hoping there would be less idiots out there. Just a theory.

I'll bet the only place that has an issue with this is North America.

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I'd wager South Africa isn't ecstatic.

I'd wager they aren't as anal about this sort of thing as people in the US are. Or that they'll at least wait to see what the game really is. For all we're aware, the enemies are only predominantly black in a village you spend twenty minutes in.

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