Witty Title Which Aggressively Trivialises the Fraught Complexity of Human Relationships, Helping To Reinforce the Perception of Myself as a Humorous Dismissive of the Importance of Such Relationships, When Really – as I Grow Older – There is Nothing More That I Really Want in My Life











aka “For Fuck’s Sake”

This article started out from a discussion of the portrayal of women in both the video games arena (in terms of female characters in games), and the wider perceptions and prejudices held in the world of the geek.

The conclusions from this were that, yes, there is an occasionally uncomfortable characterisation of women in the popular media held in such regard by the geek community (computer games, fantasy and sci-fi books, films and tv shows) – and whilst I think the traditionally cited example of Lara Croft as a sex symbol archetype can be justified [think of her as a female Indiana Jones], there is no denying that – more often than not – the sex appeal card is played without much regard for the character behind the boobs (sic), and when the game itself isn’t concerned with much beyond the trivial gratification of a beat-em-up, or point and shoot entertainment package, then it is easy to identify where the worryingly default female characterisations and stereotypes come flooding in.

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But why all this?

Why stop at the geek gaming sphere? Can the concern for female characterisation not extend into other art forms as well?

Yes, yes they can. Cinema was a supporting example in this cause – initially with the portrayal/glamorisation of the early Hollywood stars; and you could only argue that with the development of independent cinema, and the less mainstream offerings that you find in Europe and beyond Hollywood, is where you find better characterisation of women,.

Had I the dedication to this cause, I would cite further examples from probably every other artistic medium possible where you can demonstrate both poor one-dimensional over-sexualised examples, and – conversely – paradigm-shifting examples that move us further away from centuries-old archetyping of women in both physical appearance and mental diversity.

I think there is still a case to be heard that the games industry is particularly guilty of this approach; and – although the increased presence of women in the industry and buying into the products is slowly starting to change this – certainly the prevalent social sector on the internet (the aforementioned geek culture) are still unfortunately expert in recalling the misogyny of the past.

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It is probably easy to explain why such physical characterisations of women arise: e.g. In the games industry, there are specific technical reasons why women are created in the shapes they are – character recognition on the screen being the main one.
But less easy to explain why they are written as being vulnerable creatures that must be saved from <insert threat to her womanhood here> by a hero. Or why it is ‘acceptable’ for the female heroine to be threatened with (or even suffer) a sexual assault, when no such threats are made of the hero.

Now it is easily to divert here, and portray the predominantly male gaming industry as a sexist bunch of male chauvinistic aggressors, fuelling a feminist movement for change.

But that would be akin to making generalisations based on limited facts – which is in fact where I think the true problem of the portrayal of women in entertainment media lies:

I am 28 years old. I have never been in anything you could consider a relationship with a woman. [Although pity is occasionally welcome, you should restrain yourself pulling out your violins at this point.]

There are a number of reasons why I am living my life unaccompanied; those one or two of you who have followed my blog from its inception will know my philosophical reasonings almost dictate that “true love” is an impossibility, which – for an impressionable young person in his early twenties – wasn’t too much of a concern because of the cloak of invincibility my reasoning at the time put around me.
This thought process can be put on hold for discussion at a later date.

But more practical and physical reasons (social awkwardness, an apparent non-attractive appearance to my physically-biased late-teen/early-twenty peers), means this is the scenario I am living.

And – importantly – with the philosophical doubt to one side; I am not unique in this situation.

I would hate to actually research and discover the statistic, but I would suggest the amount of men and women who have had similar success in relationships with their preferred sex, is by no means an insignificant number.

{Aside: Has there in fact been a study which demonstrates the number of single versus partnered-in-any-way-shape-or-form adults in the world?}

My partly-self-imposed loneliness does of course mean that my interaction with women has been limited: Not to say any interaction I have had has been a bad thing – far from it – I am not advocating a monk-like existence here; I have just not actively pursued the complex world of relationships-that-are-more-than-friendships for various reasons.

Which means my frames of reference are limited: my data pool is very shallow. And – over time – has been ‘contaminated’ (metaphor extension alert), by the portrayal of female characters in the books I have read; the films I have watched; the TV series I have followed; the computer games I have played.

Very simply, I have taken the lazy option of – rather than risking emotional harm by throwing myself out into the real world of female relationships – I have been contented with my fantastical ideals of what my ideal woman would be, and have not let this get discoloured by interacting with any ‘real’ women.

To this point, there is an increasingly more apparent danger to this:

Even though I am notionally comfortable with not having a girlfriend at this time; when this possibility presents itself [even in the most limited and tenuous way], I have so very little to draw on that it gets ridiculous: My imagination kicks into hyperdrive, and – although I try to be as rational as possible in my thought process – it will invariably lead me to the wrong conclusions: social awkwardness ensues, and you end up kicking yourself in the friendzone – or worse; alienating yourself from a friendship group.

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But why should this all bother me?

Ultimately we’re all moving towards a very obvious and a very physical interaction with the opposite sex (or same, should you prefer) – so any “relationship” surrounding the intimacy is superfluous – right? I mean, the entertainments industry hold a bias towards the sexual, not because they are degrading and obsessed with the carnal; but because that is the most unifying aspect of our lives. Right?

Well I am far from qualified to comment on this one; but my thought process is this:

Generally speaking (assuming the primary function for sex is to have babies, not all that fun stuff associated with it), the best years for us to reproduce are right from our late teens through to our mid-thirties. Of course there are thousands of exceptions to this; but ultimately you have to agree that sexual development generally leads to baby-making in your twenties or thirties, after which one of our most primary functions as a species ebbs away.
Ever the optimist, science is continually challenging this – but in general terms you take 20 years to grow up into adulthood, spend the next 20 years making and raising children of your own – and then that part of your life is over.

But, “thanks to modern medicine”, we live past these functional years, and we have therefore developed a belief that there is ‘so much more’ to life than our base desires.

And with our extended life comes our extended fear of death. No longer is human life a rush to procreate, provide and then die from exhaustion in your fifties (or by being mauled by a sabre-tooth-tiger in your thirties, if you want to go back that far).
Now we have the luxury of time to ‘take stock’ and think things through – to come up with new ideas about how to live our lives; and to spend time taking umbrage with those who disagree about it {and – if necessary – go to war with them about it </further aside>}.
And so as our years on Earth increase, so does our need for companionship, to prevent us from being forever alone; just for someone to be there with us as it all plays out – through the highs and the lows.

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I realise this has become a rather cynical tangent about the origins of “love”, and it isn’t my intention for it to be so – but bitterness is quite easy to add into these discussions, when you are yourself confused as to where this desire to be with someone comes from.

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To return to the premise of this article, in the vain hope I might regain some of my Sunday and maybe even nip out to the shops for another rather basic need; it started with a discussion on the portrayal of women within the geeky arts, and ended up with me whining about how it isn’t entirely my fault that I haven’t been in a relationship [the arts can intimidate your perception of ‘love’, as well as inform it; the crudest example being pornography, but everything you take in presents a new bias on things]. Impressive, huh?

Ultimately, part of me wants to get laid; part of me wants someone to ‘get’ me. Part of me wants to make it Morrisons in time before it shuts.

Right now, this is the best way I have to deal with these issues; sarcastic put-downs to any suggestion of actually braving the outside world and doing something about it; and pouring out my ideas onto the internet, in the vain hope someone will communicate back.

Preferably female.

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