Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Funny, he doesn't look Spanish

The forces of infection and illness have conspired against me and have gotten my sick. Yeah its this weird things where once a year (usually Jan. or Dec.) I'll get sick. Yeah like the Belmonts vs Dracula or something. Its all good because this ailment doesn't realize who its fucking with. So while I may be out of it for a bit this battle will not end well for the poor virus that's got a hold of me.


If you didn't know I'm a bit of a fan of a series of video games that you may have heard about. Its all about these Fighters who gather every so often to fight on the Street. Yeah I'm talking about Street Fighter. Today I want to talk about race and video games.

One of the characters from the series is a man by the name of Vega (well originally Balrog but that's a mess I don't want to get into).



If you don't know Vega is a narcissistic matador that is vain to the point of obsession (the mask is to protect his beautiful face) and has no qualms about killing those he deems ugly. In fact one of his quotes from the old Street Fighter II Animated Film has him speaking to Chun Li, "My hobby is to slowly peel the skin off the rabbits I catch. Especially cute little bunnies like you." A real piece of work I know.

So anyway today I'm listening to the music from his stage in Super Street Fighter 4 and something hit me.


I put the link up here because that music is awesome and so that you could get to the comments if you wanted to see them.

Some of the comments talk about how his not only does his music sound more French than Spanish but he himself doesn't look Spanish. I was actually in the middle of chiming in to agree when I figured.

Who the hell am I to tell someone that they don't look like their ethnicity?

At a quick look he doesn't appear to be any more Spanish than I am. He looks like your standard run of the mill white guy (the hair varies from brunette to blonde) and you think to yourself (or at least I did) that that's not right.

No Spanish people are supposed to have darker skin and black hair right? Of course not. While there are certainly specific traits that are very common among certain people those traits are not indicators of one's ethnicity and the absence of traits doesn't automatically mean that a given person cannot be of a certain group.

So while our aerial assailant may not have the traits that a Spanish person is "supposed to have" that doesn't mean that he cannot be Spanish.

Take it easy.

4 comments:

OuyangDan said...

It's true! In fact, many people of Spanish descent have blonde hair and blue eyes, and are only markedly different from "White" people by slightly more pigmented skin. My daughter has a friend who has a mother who is half Mexican and one parent has Spanish ancestry, and happened to be born with the lighter characteristics.

I truly believe that as the next generation grows into adolescence we are going to have to banish the stringent ideals we have of what any ethnicity "looks like", because we have a generation of children with such mixed ethnicity that they are mostly biracial children, who may choose to identify as one particular thing or another, or they may choose to identify as mixed race/biracial. We are just going to have to accept that as a society and embrace these people (I say "these people" as if I am not already part of this, but I see it more prominently in the children who are my daughter's age in the military school system where I live, so I hope everything is coming out right?).

Interesting post.

I've never played Street Fighter games. They are made in Japan, right?

Danny said...

Hey OuyangDan (you run Random Babble right?).

I truly believe that as the next generation grows into adolescence we are going to have to banish the stringent ideals we have of what any ethnicity "looks like", because we have a generation of children with such mixed ethnicity that they are mostly biracial children, who may choose to identify as one particular thing or another, or they may choose to identify as mixed race/biracial.
I agreed. I also believe that in a couple of centuries we will be so mixed that we will no longer be able to associate physical features with certain races because they will be so mixed. At that point I think all that will set people apart will be actual culture (things like food, religion, etc...).

I've never played Street Fighter games. They are made in Japan, right?
Yes they are made in Japan and have been brought over to the States. They pretty much put fighting games on the map (and gave the video arcade scene a big shot in the arm during the mid 90s).

Thanks for dropping by.

OuyangDan said...

Yep, that's me!

I agree with that assessment. It's an interesting view I get, looking in from the military, because many of the marriages I see are mixed-race/ethnicity, and the result is naturally mixed race/ethnicity children. Soon we are just going to have cultural markers that set us apart, if that is even divided anymore. I hope, to some extent, that some cultural things are able to be held onto, but not in a way that divides us harshly.

I thought so. The Street Fighter games exemplify the observation that I have made, that there is this almost fetishization of the White Western-like man, who, despite the culture a video game character is meant to represent, he becomes the idealized man.

In many games developed in Japan the "ideal" man is white, pale, but often he is also tall, lean, and possessing traits I hear Westerners make fun of, which is actually trendy in Asia. Well styled hair, fancy clothes, long lines in the animation (gracefully long arms and legs, very thin). I've seen books here in Korea (where a surprising amount of "Japanese" animation is actually created and produced) for art students on how to "draw men", and this is the model. It is fascinating. He has the coloring of a Western man, but the desired superficial qualities of an Eastern man, while possessing cartoonish traits of long lines of beauty. I see it represented often in JRPGs, and in anime (I am thinking Howl's Moving Castle and the Vamprie Knight series).

Danny said...

I hope, to some extent, that some cultural things are able to be held onto, but not in a way that divides us harshly.
Yes let us hope so.

The Street Fighter games exemplify the observation that I have made, that there is this almost fetishization of the White Western-like man, who, despite the culture a video game character is meant to represent, he becomes the idealized man.
I'm not sure that its all roses in that fetishization though. Even in the same Street Fighter series take a look at Ken Masters. While he does carry some of the physical traits you mention also bear in mind that he is rich, pretty arrogant, and you can argue that he cares more about fighting than his own wife and child (nearly every ending Ken had in the series involves his wife either giving birth or announcing she's pregnant, yet in future titles of the series he's still going off to fight).

And not only that take a look at who he is played off as the opposite of, Ryu. Cool, focused, disciplined, not interested in petty things like money or glory. Pretty much giving the clear impression that Ken, while a skilled fighter, ultimately cannot match up to the Japanese. And that narrative plays out in a lot of fighting games that originate from Japan. If you've looked the Soul Calibur series you noticed that there is a pretty clear distinction between who is good and who is bad and for the most part it falls along the "Asian people good, Western people bad" line.

This is part of why I found it odd that people didn't notice any racism in Capcom's game making (mind you Soul Calibur is a Namco product) until Resident Evil 5 came along (personally I think up to a certain point the use of African infected people was a necessity, not racism).

In fact that same tendency can also be seen in the characters of Vampire Knight (I'm not familiar with the Miyazaki films such as Howl's Moving Castle).

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