Back in September of 2013, Hideo Kojima – creator of the wildly successful Metal Gear Solid series – discussed some concerns that people had regarding a new character’s aesthetic, Quiet. She is set to make her debut in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, and so far, all she’s been seen in is some ripped combat pants and a revealing bikini top – it could graciously be called a bra. Naturally, as we’re currently in the Age of Outrage, this did not sit well with the Internet. For several weeks, a debate over her attire flourished, and Kojima himself had to respond to the increasing amount of anger that was directed toward him. According to Kojima, there’s going to be an in-universe reason for why Quiet chooses to tend to her sniping duties in such skimpy attire. As it’s wont to do, the outrage died out after a couple weeks. That is, until, this week.
On Monday, Kojima tweeted several pictures of the new action figure coming out for Quiet – featuring “soft materials” that enables Quiet’s anatomy to be “pushed and lifted”. Since 2013, the Age of Outrage has exponentially intensified, so he was naturally the subject of countless angry tweets, many gaming site posts, and dozens of forum discussions. Most of it centers on the feeling that having flexible anatomy on an action figure is an inappropriate, misogynistic take on a female character.
Personally, I’m not outraged or offended. Is this figure for me? No. Do I think it was a good idea? No. Am I forced to view it or purchase it? No. I still believe in the freedom of expression, and if Kojima still needs to express himself by creating action figures with squishy breasts, he’s earned the money and clout to do so. Those that like that sort of thing are going to purchase it, and those that don’t will avoid it. It’s perfectly reasonable to disapprove of the figure and be upset at how it’s portrayed, but being absolutely outraged is a bit much. Kojima has a longstanding history of pushing the envelope when it comes to what he creates, and to expect him to dial it back now delves into the territory of naivety.
Quiet is a fictional character, and the treatment of her character will not affect anyone, short of Kojima himself. If you’re disappointed in her looks, attire, or character, then she clearly wasn’t designed to align with your tastes, and that’s ok. You’re not required to like her to enjoy Metal Gear Solid V, just as you’re not obliged to like Kojima either. You’re even able to skip the game altogether if you’d like! It’s time that this social movement realizes they can and need to leave people behind. Instead of focusing your energy on crusading and hating the people who don’t portray characters like you want them to, why don’t you celebrate and promote the ones who do? The saying “There’s no bad publicity.” applies: outrage creates attention, which creates publicity, which just pushes this thing you hate into the spotlight. Kojima’s not going to remodel the character, he’s not going to recall and burn the action figures, and he’s not going to change his taste or proclivities.
As a male, would I be bothered if this were a male character with a squishy groin? No. Would I be bothered by an abundance of under-dressed and over-sexualized males in games? No. I am 100%, unequivocally behind full equality for every gender and orientation. My life has been inspired by the strong women around me, and I respect them immensely: my grandma took care of the mentally ill, my other grandma was a home-maker, my mom is a nurse, my aunt coordinates the emergency services of our county, and my sister is a nanny. I respect each one of them for different qualities and different reasons and not once has any portrayal of a woman in media made me question that or changed my mind. Not once has my sister – in her early 20s – worn a bikini that made me re-evaluate my opinion of her or threaten my love for her. If you feel that having a female sniper in a skimpy top is going to undermine whatever empowers women, then maybe you need to re-examine whatever you were being empowered by in the first place.
I realize this is an unpopular opinion. I realize that in this Age of Outrage, not writing a scathing article absolutely condemning Kojima for this is anathema to what’s expected of journalists. However, I’m also comfortable thinking for myself and realizing that, despite what a woman wears and how action figures of her are designed, she may be a great character. I’m choosing to withhold my personal judgment of Quiet until I see how her part plays out in MGS V. If she’s a sexed-up sniper that does little besides offer a show? Yes, I’ll be disappointed, and it’ll be a wasted opportunity to showcase a bad-ass female soldier. I won’t lose sleep over it, and I won’t condemn Kojima or the developers. I’ll find the next great female character, and spend my energy trying to shift perspective toward the good being and the progress being made, as opposed to the constant negativity and the “never good enough” attitude.
I welcome and encourage civil debate on this topic. Please leave a comment below, or find me on Twitter, and I’ll be happy to have a conversation. Make sure to follow APGNation on Twitter as well for more opinions, news, and reviews.