Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Adult Sink (Part I)

If you’re anything like me, you were highly appreciative of Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim back in the late 90’s. Space Ghost Coast to Coast and Cartoon Planet were two of my favorite shows, most notably for Brak. However, Adult Swim has noticeably changed and perhaps keeping up with what some may believe is Adult Swim’s target audience—white males between the age of 16-30, you know, everyone’s target audience for some reason—Adult Swim has added much to their repertoire, including a website with games.

Long gone are the days of Space Ghost, Brak and Zorak, and Adult Swim seems content to usher in an attitude of apathy, nihilism, and angry white malehood. While my guilty pleasure is Family Guy (taking huge pains to ignore the misogyny and rape humor), I am thoroughly disgusted with Adult Swim for pandering to the most violent and offensive form of sexism—promoting computer games that glorify dead “zombie” hookers, and injuring strippers. The two games I’m specifically talking about are Zombie Hooker Nightmare (and any holiday-themed spin off thereof) and Pole Dance Hero. I feel like I lost a few brain cells simply typing out these names! But let’s begin the gruesome analysis of why these games are so widely accepted yet so remarkably offensive.

Zombie Hooker Nightmare. The name says it all. Not only did these “hookers” have to die somehow in the first place, but now that they have come back to life, you get to kill them all over again. In this game, you literally control the last surviving “hooker” (notice the more derogatory use of a word that means prostitute). This prostitute is bent on staying in the business despite an apocalypse. Can we say a disturbed dude’s wet dream?! Women who are willing to “do it” despite hell on earth. Oh but of course, prostitutes, as we all know, do it because they like it, or else they would leave and choose a different profession. Here’s the game’s own description:

“Who says a zombie apocalypse has to stop a working girl from making a little cash? Guide Lola past hordes of undead zombie hookers to collect weapons and cash AND guide your still-living Johns back to your trailer for a little “business.” Fulfill the night's quota, hop in your trailer and do it again the next night.”

Quota. You said it. There’s a little understanding underlying this whole mess. Prostitutes are conventionally sex slaves. They are controlled by male pimps, it is not glamorous, and they are often drug-addicted and abused, forced into the lifestyle with little hope of getting out. They do not simply “hop into [their] trailer[s]” after a hard night’s work. This view of prostitution gives way to the idea that these women are dispensable. They are seen as nothing but objects for males to use and forget about. Their murders are often seen as a byproduct of a struggle occurring during “business”. Murder of prostitutes is often grossly underestimated. Anyway, games like these reinforce the stereotype that prostitutes or “hookers” are expendable commodities, and it makes their liberation that much less possible.

Also note that the “Johns” are still alive in this game.

I’ll discuss Pole Dance Hero in the next post (Part II) since for me, these two games are deserving of their own posts!

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