Posted 05 September 2009 - 11:26 AM
Millar seemingly describes sex-as-commodity and sex-as-partnership as though they were equivalent but mutually exclusive paradigms, which they certainly are not. (I say seemingly because I can't bring myself to read the recommended references without a cybernetic bile filter installed somewhere in my esophagus, so I'm going by the author's summary.) It's entirely possible for someone to want sex without also wanting a deep emotional and intellectual relationship; for that matter, it's possible (and probably common) for someone to want one person as a relationship partner and another just for fucking. This is something of a taboo in our monogamous culture.. and yet, any couple who's even joked about having lists of celebrities they'd do if they had the chance has admitted to it. Reflexively, it's possible to have one or more relationships that are just casual fucking while still wanting, and being emotionally capable of having, a deeper relationship with someone.
Furthermore, this idealistic notion of a "collaborative partnership" doesn't attempt to explain where the partners come from. I suppose it happens in some magical fantasy land where everyone has a boyfriend or girlfriend. Over in the real world, there are a lot of singles who aren't getting laid, a good portion of which are unwillingly so. Who are they supposed to collaborate with? Unfortunately, as everyone knows, you can't buy love.. but if you're interested in getting laid, well, you certainly can buy that! Not just from people who are explicitly prostitutes, but also from any woman who is willing to have sex but (metaphorically or literally) expects dinner and a movie first.
At this point it hardly seems worth mentioning that most rapists desire power and control over their victims, not free sex, so the idea that treating sex as a commodity somehow causes or encourages rape is a nonstarter. I suspect that Millar figures that he can force his ideas on people by suggesting that anyone who doesn't agree with him is advocating rape; he wouldn't be the first feminist to try this, and I don't expect he'll be the last.
Talk about nonsensical feminist bullshit.
Anyway. So about the actual article. The author asserts that video games treat sex as a reward. Well, of course they do; video games treat everything as a reward! Push the right sequence of buttons, and you get to execute the enemy. (Yeah, I've been playing God of War lately.) Pick the right dialogue responses and you get an item, or an ally, or something. Solve a puzzle and you get to hear some more story. Run and jump in all the right places and you save the princess. Beat enough challenges and you get the credit scroll, the ending music, and a feeling of accomplishment. But the article singles out sex as something that should never be a reward.. because, apparently, it turns people into rapists.
Oh, and because it's not gay enough. Why grind one axe when you can grind two? In his(?) criticism of Alpha Protocol, the author complains that your character can have sex with all the women you want, but no men. Apparently, this is an affront to human decency because (a) if the developers give the player the option to make decisions about the main character, one of those decisions absolutely has to be whether the MC is gay or bisexual, and (b) any video game that doesn't have a high enough straight-girl-to-lesbian-ratio is secretly a plot to oppress women and gays.
Sure, Alex, you think that gay people need more representation. Maybe Alpha Protocol should have some token gays in it. Maybe it should also have some token blacks, some token Asians, a token native American, a token girl ninja who kicks twice as much butt as any man, just to prove that women can do anything they want without regard to physics or common sense, and a token crippled guy in a wheelchair that flies around and has lasers, just to prove that people who are "differently abled" are totally as cool as everyone else. Because Alpha Protocol isn't really a video game about a generic-brand James Bond; it's a subversive sociopolitical indoctrination tool, and we have to ensure that it teaches only the correct ideas to children.
Give me a fucking break.
The point about sex being treated shallowly is fair in and of itself, I suppose, but is that different from any other voluntary video game relationship? When I play GTA4, I have the opportunity to hang out with "friends", but there's not much point. All the scripted missions will be available (and use the same script) whether they like me or hate my guts because I'm a punk who never calls and always flakes out when they arrange to hang out with me. The story goes to exactly the same place. And it's not like they do anything to help me, except in the occasional scripted mission. Oh sure, there's the rewards. Roman's free cab rides. Jacob's gun discount. But we're just talking about rewards again, aren't we?
If anything, Alpha Protocol should be an improvement on this. From what I've seen, the relationships you build with characters actually have a part in directing the story (in that different people offer you different missions, different intel, you can have different enemies, etc). Presumably this extends to having sex with women too, in that in order to have sex with someone you first have to gain her approval, which influences the direction the game takes.. sure, it's not exactly like you're planning to marry any of those people, or going on dates to the carnival, but what do you expect? It's a spy game, not a life sim. Of course, maybe I'm wrong, and the game has a "hotness" stat that you can buy up, so that if you concentrate on it you can nail anyone by the end of the game. But if I'm right, the author should be praising the game for making relationships (of all kinds) more meaningful and realistic, not less.. and maybe he would be, if the article wasn't a naked platform for whiny liberal outrage.