Sep 1, 2010

The Racism in Mafia II

Mafia II takes place during a time when segregation was a norm in American Society. The developers of Mafia II use that time to exploit many racist views and ideas throughout the story. I felt uneasy as I was asked to steal a car from what Vito Scaletta refers to as a "moolie" neighborhood. I was uncomfortable listening to Joe describe how all blacks do is smoke dope and kill each other as I drove around Empire City. I had to tell myself "It's the 40's" to rationalize the insensitivity. When I found myself repeating that phrase over and over I knew there was a problem.

One of the more offensive moments happened when I was shooting my way through a restaurant in Chinatown. After successfully killing every last Chinese person in the place I received the achievement "Chop Chop!" I was disgusted. The name "Chop Chop" is a reference to a comic book character from the 40's and 50's. His image was that of a stereotypical Chinese caricature as you can see in the picture on the right. It's just insulting to for a game to take pride in killing a bunch of characters then rewarding the player with a shout out to an offensive character.

The racism in Mafia II is not necessary. Red Dead Redemption focuses on an earlier time in American History and manages to do it without being offensive. The game brings us to Mexico and embraces the culture as it tells us a story. If we let a game like Mafia II slide it's only going to open the door for more offensive games. What's going to stop the next game that's set in the 40's and 50's from being offensive? Before we know it we could end up with another Ethnic Cleansing on our hands.

5 comments:

  1. You're forgeting how new york was at that time...It dosn't disturb me how the game is mildly racists to ALL races...not just black people and asians, but how the story was about understanding what the "commisions" really worked and what was their down fall, and all you got out of the story was WOW thats racists...what year do you live in...grow up...

    ReplyDelete
  2. It's depicting a time when that was a norm, to remove it and ignore it would have been nothing more than patronising.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I've had a few discussion on the issue and have come to a conclusion that yes while the period of time gives racism a reason to be there. The last thing I want is more games coming that can possibly offend more minorities. It's just not right.

    ReplyDelete
  4. The article above was a very short but sweet description of Mafia II’s (first one was racist too) blatant racism. The fact that it still upsets me years after it was released says everything. I get sick and tired of people defending it because it took place in an era where racism was commonplace; so what, racism is common place in 2013. Just because we don’t have segregation (at least not in such a way that laws are needed to overturn such practices) doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist, it’s just in different forms so therefore do we need to be exposed to it to the extent it was in Mafia II because ‘hey it’s a part of life.’ I think not. I am not overly sensitive on this issue. The example of Red Dead is a good one and even in GTA IV there were many racist statements that came from the characters in the Mob towards the Irish and the Irish (particularly Packie) toward the mob etc. But it wasn’t uncomfortable because it didn’t revel in it and wasn’t a part of the narrative in the whole damn game. In my opinion the writer(s)/makers of the game are themselves racist. How else do you justify this nonsense. They thought they were being surreptitious and clever about it masking it in a ‘period’ game but informed/educated people like me and Errol saw right through their nonsense. The first Mafia game had, if I can remember correctly, three blacks in the entire thing. They weren’t even present on the streets (is that historically accurate?) but then again white women weren’t either (good precursor to how women aren’t important in Mafia II but that’s another discussion). I guess blacks don’t exist in Lost Haven unless they a: are a black female maid that needs to get beat over the head with bat (Visiting Rich People) b: a useless Negro who is only good for carrying a crate (Happy Birthday) or c:(what I found particularly offensive) a ‘big old gorilla’ who needs a beat down because Lucas Bertone says so. And then there was the mission Creme de la Creme that had during the loading screen, an advert for a/the play showing at the theater where Don Morello appears from to be chased down titled ‘Othello.’ Really? Out of all the famous Shakespeare plays (Macbeth and Hamlet also one word plays they could have used) they chose the one about a ‘black’ man who kills his white wife. hmmm. Yes its a small detail but that’s just my point, they thought they were being clever and hid the racism in little details like that.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Now Mafia two was so much more in your face masked in the guise that ‘we’re being true to the time period’…pardon me but, my a**. The first part of the game I had to endure racist long winded remarks about blacks and then go and kill some. Of course there is also always the big black guy (just like in the first game) that needs to have his face punched in while people in the background are shouting ‘kill the mother******’ (Enemy of the State…not sure.. when you first start working for Derek and have to shake down the men at the docks for money for the ‘barber’). Then of course there was the cute little comment when Vito goes to prison and while his hair is getting shaved another black inmate says something to the nature of why does his hair need to be cut because ’ I ain’t got nothing to cut’ (not verbatim) which is so true because everyone knows that black folks can’t swim or grow hair.. :/ The thing I found most disgusting and probably also surreptitious like the Othello reference in Mafia one was a particular song that always plays after the early mission from Mike Bruski where you steal the car from the Bombers at their bar and then have to deliver it to him. After you finish this mission, Empire Central plays and you have to hear the lyrics ‘Straighten up and fly right, monkey don’t you go and blow your top.’ Now just to make sure it wasn’t a random thing I did go and replay the mission over and over again (including from the beginning as it’s an early mission) and sure enough it popped right on every time…disgusting. This coupled with the fact that all Black and Chinese NPCs looked the same (including a lot of the women…again a different discussion). I could go on but this is long enough as it is. Maybe if they would have focused on the story and mechanics of the game instead of putting so much energy into showing their racist views the game wouldn’t have been so s***. The Mafia game series=made by racists with racists in mind.

    ReplyDelete