They proclaimed this using “proof” from a statement made by Metroid background designer Hirofumi Matsuoka. When asked for secrets about the Super Metroid game in a 1994 interview, Matsuoka said – possibly in jest – that “Samus Aran is newhalf.” Newhalf is considered a japanese slang word for transgender, but in some cases it can be used in a derogatory way to describe a manly -or butch- woman, hence the confusion this statement breeds.
The claim of Samus Aran being transgender was debunked within an hour of this article’s release. Various Youtube bloggers -one of such being MundaneMatt– pointed out that the official Wikia states Matsua is not the best source for this information, and the focus on this one out of context piece of information does not lead to the definitive conclusion Brianna Wu and Ellen McGrody present.
Of course this headline comes as no surprise; Brianna Wu has a reputation for these kinds of stories. She specializes in shock pieces used to push an extremist progressive ideology. With headlines like “Rape and death threats are terrorizing female gamers. Why haven’t men in tech spoken out?” or “I’m risking my life standing up to Gamergate,” is this newest nonsense really anything more than what we’d expect?
Immediately after the retaliation to the Samus Aran claim, Brianna Wu wrote an article playing the “victim of Gamergate” card once again. She claims that her and her co-writer had received “extreme” amounts of “insults, personal attacks and abuse..” from geeks. She also said that the “blowback my co-author and I have gotten is not about the merits of any argument. It’s about geeks not being able to accept the idea that Samus could be transgender.”
Sorry Brianna, but this generalization is just not true. Deal with it. Had you written an article with legitimate evidence, I can assure you that the majority of geeks would be surprised, but accepting of it in the end. You may even have a few that would be angry and in denial, but most people when faced with undeniable facts tend to yield. As seen in your article’s “Dumbledore is gay” case, where J.K. Rowling announced the wizards sexuality, despite there being no evidence in the book for it, her word alone was enough. These geeks accepted it because this was stated clearly and not in jest by the official creator of the content. The same cannot be said for the supposed “proof” of Samus being transgender, which in turn justifies the backlash your claims produced.
One of the more fascinating parts I read in the second article regarding this situation is where Brianna Wu gives herself a pat on the back for her activism. She states:
“It’s my opinion that if you have an audience, you have a moral responsibility to do everything you can to make the world a better place. This is why I spend so much time advocating for social justice issues.”
I’m fairly confident that changing the gender identity or sexuality of an established female video game character such as Samus Aran won’t accomplish a whole lot. It certainly doesn’t make the world a better place, nor does it bring any kind of justice.
There are a lot of LGBT members who share this sentiment, and see less radical and more productive approaches than Wu’s to advocate for their community. Freelance Writer and Youtube Co-Producer Sophia Eris has written and commentated on the topic of LGBT representation in gaming.
In a private interview with me, Sophia said: “Brianna Wu and Ellen McGrody have just done more harm than good. They chose to ‘other’ and marginalizing themselves then superimpose their ideology onto a fictional character loved by millions, then declared it as fact & told lifelong fans to quote, ‘deal with it.’ I wholeheartedly reject this narcissistic approach to social advocacy. Ellen McGrody in particular had a complete mental breakdown on twitter after being disproved”
As seen here, Mcgrody claims to not “give a fuck” about proof and that “this is revolutionary queerness.”
Sophia goes on to say “The issues facing the Transgender Community are much larger than the egos of these two bloggers. Access to affordable healthcare & mental health care is an issue that varies State to State. It’s sad that people given a platform to reach thousands choose to use it to make things up about a fictional character & cry transphobia when proven wrong, like a couple of children.”
If transphobia and social justice is such an issue for Brianna Wu, then there are plenty of legitimate issues she could have focused on as Sophia said. But instead, Wu and McGrody decided to force “revolutionary queerness” onto historically cisgendered characters, and demand these characters’ respective fan bases “deal with it.”
Sophia sums up the issue surrounding Samus and LGBT representation in gaming quite eloquently in following statement:
“I believe that if it’s something you personally want there is a right way & a wrong way to approach it. Emailing the creators of your favorite game with kindness & respect is a good place to start. But, creating an online lynch mob & demanding everything change to fit your worldview doesn’t facilitate a conversation it just creates a screaming match. Also, enlisting people who don’t buy the products to shout with you is very disingenuous.
If an artist wants to create a story or character where gender, race, sexuality, or whatever identifier is critical to their character’s backstory or even main story, then awesome! But, that is up to the authors, designers, producers, & like it or not, the people paying to have the product made. Some games cost millions of dollars & these companies are going to make what sells. No one owes you anything in this life, if you want something you have to work for it. Right now on Netflix there is an entire section dedicated to LGBT Cinema, why? Because people worked for it. They didn’t just tweet angrily & blog, they made the movies they wanted to see and they made it a successful business!”
There you have it, Brianna: a reasonable and non-aggressive approach to integrating the transgender community into game, one that involves creation instead of co-option.