Embedded in this post is a trailer for the 5th installment of Capcom’s classic zombie thriller, Resident Evil. I know all my Blackademic gamers out there are getting goose-bumps over this one! As you can see in the trailer, the epic seems to be set in a rural African, or Afro-diasporic community. Problematic? Take a look for yourself: (if you are having trouble with the video, click this link *DANGER violent content)
As a gamer, I have no problems with this at all. Resident Evil 5 looks exhilirating, frightening and entertaining. The High-definition graphics are incredible and the trailer hints at new innovative game-play, weapons and design. The proverbial bar of the zombie genre has been raised, as we have come to expect from Capcom and the Resident Evil franchise. The only X-factor in this chapter is the venue. Set in an African community, all the zombies happen to be of African descent (here’s where my Blacktivist side kicks in).
Take another look at the trailer; we have a lone white solider (Chris) wearily peacekeeping in a village full of African people, and the only way to save them, is to kill all of them. Sound familiar? They may not frame it as such, but this is the same ideology that rationalized such atrocities as the Black Holocaust, Colonialism and the War in Iraq. Chris even raises the question: “casualties continue to mount over the long years I have struggled. More and more I find myself wondering if it’s all worth fighting for… who knows?” Then after 60 seconds of mowing down Black bodies with his machine gun, he exclaims: “there’s one thing I do know. I have a job to do and I’m going to see it through!” How courageous and patriotic of Chirs to take on the job of killing Black bodies (zombified though they may be). The idea of this job, this duty, this burden reminds me of a poem written by Rudyard Kipling in 1899, The White Man’s Burden
Take up the White Man’s burden–
Send forth the best ye breed–
Go bind your sons to exile
To serve your captives’ need;
To wait in heavy harness,
On fluttered folk and wild–
Your new-caught, sullen peoples,
Half-devil and half-child…
Take up the White Man’s burden–
The savage wars of peace–
Fill full the mouth of Famine
And bid the sickness cease;
(read entire poem here)
Keep this poem in mind as you watch the trailer and listen to Chris’ dialogue. “I’ve got a job to do!” the “job” being, of course, to kill all the “half-devil” Black people in the villiage. Chillingly similar to the burden that Kipling describes in his poem-a poem that justified and inspired genocide during enslavement and colonialism through the guise of bringing civilization to Black folk through “savage wars of peace”. Maybe this is all too much of a stretch for some of you.
Bonnie Ruberg over at The Village Voice notes that, gunning down mobs of angry Africans could be “subtly racist.” She, too, found the trailer to be “strangely disturbing.”
“It’s not just that these zombies are black, but that the uninfected black villagers are zombie-like too,” Ruberg wrote. “See all those spooky shots of the villagers before they get infected? It’s as if race itself were a disease. The white protagonist has to fight back or be infected.” (read entire article here).
Are we bloggers running out of things to write about, or are there some serious issues here? (read more on the controversial new video game at Gamespot.com).