Ladies of GTA Video – What the Fucking-Fuck?

I’m really fucking sick y’all. Like when I inhale it doesn’t feel like I get a full breath sick and so I hope you’ll excuse my inability to go into a full rant on this subject. I want to explicitly state it is not that I’m not outraged but simply that my body is weak and I will be spending the rest of my day doing my work and reading on my breaks to give myself a rest. So in brief –

There’s this video y’see.  (WARNING: Video May Be Triggering In The Extreme)

It’s an ad for the new Grand Theft Auto Video Game IV and it is called the Ladies of Liberty City and you get three guesses as to the only two things these woman are good for within the game. Fucking and Killing. The video is truly horrifying not only because the sex and sexual exploitation is so realistic but because of the intense misogyny laced through it. Women are sex objects who perform in thongs and spank each other for the characters pleasure. There’s some truly hideous imagery where sections of the video titled things like “A Quick Fix” involve the consistent murder of women. The women in the game who are actually sex workers have some pretty explicit car sex with the character and then leave the car only to be run down by the player.

This is all supposed to be funny and fun

There are a lot of issues here; misogyny, racism, sex shaming, validation of all three and encouragemnt of steretypes 

The prevalence of WOC as the sex objects and sex workers in a game that’s mostly marketed at white boys and men

The idea that it’s okay because those killed are sex workers and therefore “expendable”

The linking of violence/murder with sex

The killing of women as a fun activity 

Naming the video the Ladies of Liberty City which implies that that’s all that women are good for.

My breath is running out so I’m gonna leave it there but if you can stomach it I suggest you watch the video and see exactly how this game is being marketed as every homicidal misogynists dream.

If you want to rant on about how this is just a game and to just get over it, yeah I call bullshit (the media is a huge part of our everyday life), also I recommend you go read this post before stepping to me: Suggestions For Talking About Race and Video Games. I’m not saying we all don’t like things that are problematic (in the interest of complete brutal honesty I admit to playing some games in the GTA series before and enjoying them), I guess it’s all about how much your willing to accept along with your fun but for me the ad above goes way to far.

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18 responses to “Ladies of GTA Video – What the Fucking-Fuck?

  1. A couple of months ago my daughter Rhi (you met her) and I went to Blockbuster to look for a movie (because we didn’t want to watch any of the Netflix films that were in that day). We go around the racks looking and looking and she finally came over to me and said: I don’t want to look anymore. Why not? Because so many of the cover images on the film boxes had really disturbing violent images of women sexualized and in fear. I, of course, had my ‘gloss-over’ vision on and was (so far as one can) ignoring it, but she couldn’t.

  2. Kate – I, of course, had my ‘gloss-over’ vision on and was (so far as one can) ignoring it, but she couldn’t.

    I added a little section at the end inspired by this thought in particular because we all gloss over certain things in our entertainment. We have to of we want to engage with the media at all. It’s all just a matter of what we are able to gloss over ourselves, some have higher levels or different triggers, it’s all completely subjective. This video in particular though I found really horrific and it went way beyond my ability to gloss over.

    This is all to say I can really understand Rhi’s (who I remember well, how’s her art going?) reaction since it’s true that the media seems to have really stepped up it’s sexualized violence in marketing.

  3. Rhi’s comment made me really stop and think. We do gloss all the time. Should we? It’s a form of self protection, but it also perpetuates the assault.

    And then there’s the entire censorship issue: man, I do not want to be lumped in with the library book banners and etc, yet I also think that a steady stream of violent and especially sexually violent/fear/abuse images cannot be healthy for anyone (it obviously disturbed at least one young woman who was conscious enough to realize what was disturbing her whereas others may simply absorb the images without necessarily linking them to covert and overt cultural expressions of sexism, racism, and etc).

    In some ways I feel I hit the wall of that peculiarly American split between individual rights and communal rights: censorship is evil (I believe that); a steady diet of these kind of images is toxic culturally (I believe that, too). I have no answer.

  4. I’ll just call it like it is.

    It’s not just that you -can- do these things, it’s that these are being put forward as the fun thing in the game, something to -make- you excited to play… which says everything about the audience this is intended for.

  5. (This is my first comment on your blog. I like it so far!)

    I’m kinda mixed on the censorship debate.
    On one hand, legal censorship of media material can go bad real fast if done, but to do nothing about the toxic messages that affect our daily lives…

    It’s a dangerous two-headed dragon.

    One option would be to balance these images, but with the way the world is going…and never forget the human greed factor…. its all so depressing.

    So its even more important to fight.

  6. Thank you for this post.

    No other thoughts on it right now, really. Just — thank you. I get so angry about this kind of thing and it is a comfort to hear another voice railing against it. 😀

  7. Kate –
    That’s exactly my dilemma, at which point do these images move away from the 1st Amendment (which I truly believe in) to the point were they are simply using the Amendment as a shield for a toxic attack against which we’re not allowed to defend ourselves.
    I mean we say that the 1st Amendment does not protect physically hurting someone in support of your beliefs but how about psychologically damaging images…and now I sound like one of those book burners because who decides what is damaging and what isn’t. I mean I can decide what I think is damaging for myself and for the culture as a whole but there are those who believe that images of POC or queer people is damaging and wrong so how do we change what we see without turning to their tactics and thoughts. Le sigh, there are no simple answers here.

  8. bankuei-
    That’s it, it’s not like these are simply one option, they’ve put a whole video together to convince people that these are the fun parts of the game, the objective of it. When the attitude put forth is “They’re hookers kill them” and we already know that that’s the viewpoint many people (including the authorities) hold then at what point do we call these images and the thought processes behind them for reinforcing that hate and disinterest in life. And I know that most people know the difference between real life and videogames but there are some crazy weird people out there.

    I honestly don’t know if there is anything we can do (except maybe try and educate people) without falling into the book-burning way of life.

  9. I.H.-
    That problem has really been on my mind lately because I do not support censorship in any form but these images are so misogynistic and disturbing that I think actually marketing them as the thing to do…well it worries me deeply that that is what is considered fun within the game. Not saying that everyone who plays will turn into a serial killer or anything (as I say above I’ve played games in the series before myself) but just *sigh* it seems like a question that doesn’t really have a solution.

  10. Ico-
    You’re Welcome and I understand wanting to see someone else agry about something. There’s been many a time I’ve been filled with anger but no one else is and after a while you start to wonder if it’s just you. Yeah I totally get that.

  11. Well, the thing that everyone misses about media and violence is that it’s not that media makes anyone do anything- but it does create an atmosphere of permissibility- you don’t need everyone to go around killing sex workers- you simply need the rest of society to stand by and do nothing while the crazy people do their work.

    That’s how propaganda works. See also: Birth of a Nation to the rise of lynchings in America.

  12. bankuei-
    you don’t need everyone to go around killing sex workers- you simply need the rest of society to stand by and do nothing while the crazy people do their work.

    So very true.

  13. Kate Elliott

    bankuei —

    it’s that these are being put forward as the fun thing in the game, something to -make- you excited to play

    that’s really well said

    because it makes me reflect: really, are there any games out there glamorizing pulling the wings off flies or torturing puppies and kittens or molesting 6 year olds? We do in our society draw a line about what is “permissible” even if it is just offered in “entertainment.” And some things aren’t permissible, not even in entertainment. So when other things are permissible “but only in entertainment and nobody’s getting hurt it’s just a game?” — what does that actually mean?

  14. So when other things are permissible “but only in entertainment and nobody’s getting hurt it’s just a game?” — what does that actually mean?

    It means that there is a feeling -already present- that the fantasy addresses.

    Just as much as random sex for sex is generally looked down upon in the larger sphere, yet people find porn or slash fulfilling, this is just another medium, except in this case, with violent misogyny as the unfulfilled fantasy.

    Certainly everyone has unacceptable fantasies at times, but it says something deeper and more screwed up that violence against women is enough of a larger demographic, that you can sell a game this way.

    The permissability is in the way it says, “We -all- feel like this, would you like to indulge in this fantasy?”

  15. The permissability is in the way it says, “We -all- feel like this, would you like to indulge in this fantasy?”

    Sigh.

    That’s the main problem with the world today.

    People just can’t seem to have empathy or have an understanding with others. It’s like society is getting more boxed in and more separated as the world advances.

    It’s like people don’t seem to care anymore.

    The thinking is – So what if that’s offensive in REAL life? This is fantasy! Fantasy has no bearing in real world!

    Er…..

  16. Yeah, agreed. And somehow that’s the elephant in the room that people don’t want to see.

  17. Just so you know, Naamen, IGN has not only removed the video in question, but they’ve very cleverly made the former link TO that video now link to something more benign – some rather trite footage of the main character at the strip club. I guess someone heard yours and similar complaints and made the change.

    Oh, but not to worry! They haven’t gotten away with it!

    Here’s another link to the video for you to refer to for this post:

    http://boinkology.com/2008/04/29/the-ladies-of-liberty-city/

  18. Naamenblog, you said about this videogame:

    “I honestly don’t know if there is anything we can do (except maybe try and educate people) without falling into the book-burning way of life.”

    This one, you’re right, nothing.

    There is something we can do, though, something *I* can do.

    Which is promise you that as a game designer the game I’m working on will NEVER EVER look like that.

    Women in the industry can absolutely work to drive projects in good directions. That’s not censorship, it’s creativity. 😉

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