I haven’t been getting anywhere trying to write any articles this week. I’ve had to keep putting it off and putting it off, and worse yet, it’s my own fault. I decided to do this upcoming one in a special way, which requires me to rethink the way I write – which is turning out to be more difficult than I expected. So, instead, I thought I’d try my hand at a different Zen article idea – and wouldn’t you know it, this one is almost as difficult to write.
It goes back about a week. I was having no luck writing the piece about the Eurogamer incident, and I’d learned long ago that trying to force it will just make things worse, so I decided to play some Max Payne 3 instead. Max Payne 3, like its predecessors, is a remarkably well-written game for the most part, and Max spends the first half of the game in the wealthy areas of Sao Paulo, Brazil. Trendy nightclubs and high-rise penthouses. We see an almost disgusting opulence and decadence that’s only mitigated by the interesting, flawed characters and the fact that these rich people and areas are about to be riddled with bullets.
About halfway through the game, Max has to travel through the favelas, the poor part of town. Not only do we get a vastly different picture of the way things are, but Max himself becomes a victim of gang violence almost immediately. It’s a refreshing change of pace in what was already an engaging work of fiction – though I don’t understand why he didn’t just go all MAX PAYNE on the gangbangers, like he did on everyone else.
With no money and no weapons, Max decides he needs to call for help. He spots what he thinks is a bar, and reasoning that they must have a phone, he heads inside, and quickly finds that it’s actually a strip club. A couple of strippers walk by, topless. And I got sexually excited to a minor degree.
But then Max spots a guy apparently having sex with one of the girls. It’s not explicit, but the way it was staged made me rethink my excitement. Max walks by some more strippers, and they’re not the perfect body female character models one ALWAYS finds in a video game strip club – one girl even appears to be in the first stage of pregnancy. And I found myself a little ashamed for my earlier excitement.
After a shootout, in which one of the strippers died, and I couldn’t honestly tell you whose bullets killed her, Max finds an American tourist who’d flown down often, and bragged about the place having “the cheapest pussy” and the slimy scumbag defended his actions by declaring “they’re legal here…..I think.”
I was now VERY ashamed.
Video games rarely do this – up the sexuality, but give it a negative connotation – and I think it was absolutely genius. It wasn’t included for titillation – it was included because that’s a reality down there. It highlights the misogyny present in such a place, but more importantly, it highlighted the misogyny present in myself.
I like to think I’m not a misogynist – ask anyone who knows me, I love women. I’m not only extremely attracted to them, but I find it much easier to talk to women than men, and the closest friends I’ve ever had have been women. But one of the hardest things I’ve ever learned is that even I am capable of evil, and moreso, capable of violence against women.
For example, I once hit a woman.
Okay, “hit” is probably the wrong word, “push” is closer. She was, and still is, someone I care about, and we were having a particularly lengthy argument. We were both drunk to more or less of a degree, but that does not excuse me. She stood up, as if to put the final cap on our argument and walk off. I stood up and forcibly pushed her back into her seat.
Her shock mirrored my own, and what little I had left to say to her was weak and hardly convincing, even to me. She left, and this time I let her. We didn’t speak again for the rest of the night.
What had I done? To make matters worse, it was her place, and I knew I was too drunk to drive. As I waited to sober up, I got more and more disgusted with myself. I eventually curled myself up on her couch and cried myself to sleep.
To this day, it haunts me, and until recently, I’ve never really spoken with her about it, we both just kind of pretended it didn’t happen. People who would alleviate my guilt would tell me I didn’t hurt her, but at the end of the day, it was force. It was violence. And I have been left wondering just what else I am capable of.
My knee-jerk reaction to the bare breasts in Max Payne 3’s strip club was also misogynistic. Granted, to a smaller degree, but still, wrong is wrong. The only defense I can claim is that there are far worse people out there, but it’s a rather weak argument, no matter what the subtext. I will certainly never act like that slimy tourist scumbag – I’d sooner die.
I’m not writing this to lash myself with recriminations about my wrongdoings – that’s another article entirely. And I should mention that the girl and I have now talked about it, and reconciled – we weren’t really estranged because of it, but we haven’t been the best of friends, either. But it is important – the incident with my friend was the first time I realized that I was just as capable of hurting a woman as any other man, no matter how much I cared for them. It was a wake-up call, and one that I have tried to learn from. So I can be an even better man.
Maybe someday, I will be.