Monday, April 2, 2018

Video Games, Movies, And Sex

     The C.S.O. and I went to see the new Tomb Raider movie recently, and enjoyed it. Mind you, it’s not Citizen Kane or Gone With The Wind. It’s an action-adventure movie with a pretty good story embedded in it. Alicia Vikander carries the role of Lara Croft very well, though with less sass than Angeline Jolie brought to it in her two films. The story itself is essentially an “origin” tale that uses elements from the two most recent games in the franchise, A Survivor Is Born and Rise of the Tomb Raider.

     But some people are never satisfied:

     On Friday, Stephen Spielberg's "Ready Player One" hit theaters in the U.S., and it is expected to earn about $50 million at the box office this weekend. Another video game flick, "Tomb Raider," has earned $46 million at the U.S. box office since its debut earlier this month. These video game films seem particularly noteworthy for likely deliberate efforts to minimize the sex appeal often associated with women in video games.

     High levels of sexual content have become the norm in teen entertainment, from movies to television to novels. Video games in particular are infamous for including sex scenes to appeal to young male fantasies.

     More specifically, each of these specific franchises has a more salacious past. When Angelina Jolie played Lara Croft in the original "Tomb Raider" (2001), the directors had her wear a padded bra despite her already large breasts. The book "Ready Player One" includes a sexual encounter between the main character and a sex doll, with masturbation themes.

     These sexual elements did not make the final cut for either of the 2018 films, perhaps due to the influence of GamerGate and the #MeToo movement.

     "Tomb Raider" fans — both those who played the video games and those who loved the 2001 film — complained that the new Lara Croft, Alicia Vikander, does not have the ample breasts of the original franchise. Indeed, this Croft seemed less a sexual object and even more a complete character in her own right, with sexuality an afterthought in the movie.

     Say what?

     I believe I’ve played all the Tomb Raider games. None of them contained anything resembling a sex scene. What the earlier ones – i.e., the ones with the “bustier” Lara Croft – did feature was boobs. Big boobs. Specifically, on Lara. Also, it should be remembered that those earlier games foe PlayStations I and II were light on story and characterization.

     Sexual desire as a noticeable element in the adventures of Lara Croft made its bow in the two movies made by Angelina Jolie. Yet neither of those movies contained a sex scene. The closest either of them came to such was a heated kiss between Jolie and co-star Gerard Butler. So as regards sex qua sex, there’s nothing to miss in the new movie...or the rebooted games.

     Before I go any further, allow me to say this: I like boobs. I’m one of the most pro-boob people you’ll ever meet; just ask the C.S.O. I have no objection to massive melons as an element in a video game character, a movie, or any other form of entertainment. But if I’m compelled to choose between huge jugs and a rollicking good story, I’ll take the story every time.

     The most recent models for Lara Croft can be seen in costume here. They’re beautiful women and no mistake. However, they’re not as busty as the “original” Lara of the PlayStation I and II games. Moreover, the Crystal Dynamics franchise-reboot games were produced with much more emphasis on accurate motion capture and realism – and as any gymnast or ballerina will tell you, athletic gyrations and huge knockers don’t really mix.

     So for the sake of a well made game, the massive, gravity-defying headlights of Lara Croft Mark One had to go. As that was the only sexual or parasexual element in those games, the reboot games could, with minimum plausibility from the perspective of a connoisseur of the English language, be described as having been desexualized.

     In other (and fewer) words: What’s the big deal?

     Lara Croft Mark Two is a beautiful woman, albeit without the mega-rack of her predecessor. She’s also a much more fully developed character with an involving life story. And the games are both excellent and phenomenally popular. If the most recent movie is less so, well, Eidos, Square / Enix, and Crystal Dynamics have already been paid their license fees. They can shrug off the carpings from a few of the less mature video game fans. Not #MeToo but popularity, profit, and the satisfaction that goes with a job well done are what matter to them.

     To a mature gamer – and I feel I speak with authority on this subject – the story and the gameplay are what matter. Gazongas are everywhere. Indeed, there are probably plenty of video games for the dweeb who eats every meal at his local Hooters. But that’s a topic for a much coarser screed.

     (tee hee)

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