I’ve been thinking a lot about power fantasies lately. Ever since I listened to Brie Code give a talk about the future of game development, I’ve had this itch beneath my skin, this feeling of wrongness.
Along came #metoo and that feeling only got worse. And today I watched the movie “Vice” with Bruce Willis and Thomas Jane. I don’t know why. Maybe because I’m currently between Swedish debit cards and my Netflix ran out, or perhaps because I wanted a sci-fi like Gattaca to rock my world again.
Instead I got a weird cop movie about a place that uses clones as toys. Human beings reduced to toys. And it hit me again. The unease. The questions.
Vice is another Westworld. A place where people can live out their fantasies. It’s a no holds barred place where your fantasies come true.
It’s like the game “Society” in the movie “The Game” where bodies are made to do whatever the host want, or “Dollhouse”, where you can program your own toy for a few hours.
Power fantasies made flesh. Fembots made human or human being made into fembots. Because this is what this is. Even in the most excellent movie “Strange Days”, the fantasies fulfuilled are invariably sexual or violent, invariably male.
In Vice, what prompts the whole movie is one of the clones getting murdered and then glitching, remembering not only her latest death, but all her deaths, brought to her by a gloating, smug and sadistic engineer.
Her memories are all about her own deaths, over and over again.
In “The Game” it’s sex. In “Strange Days” it’s violence and death. In all of them there is violence towards women. It seems as if the violence is the common denominator, be it sexual or not. This is what the (primarily) male scriptwriters have dreamt up when it comes to the ultimate male power fantasy. This is – according to them – what men want to do. Men having sex with women. Men having violent sex with women, or men killing women.
I don’t think I’ve seen one movie where wish fulfilment is part of the dystopian future where a part of the same wish fulfilment isn’t sex with or violence against women.
In some ways it’s the same in games. We allow the player to be violent against women as if it’s a natural thing, as if that’s the way it’s supposed to be. No wonder we live in a culture where women are harassed, used, sexualized.
Women as body parts, women as bodies, women as wish fulfilment, trophies, prizes. The power fantasies men have about women seem to be about domination. About having women bow to men.
But maybe (hopefully) I’m exaggerating. Maybe this is all part of the dystopias painted in teh movies that I’ve seen. Maybe not.
Maybe it’s time to allow for different power fantasies on screen? Regardless of which screen.
Fpr me, it’s impossinle to believe that what we see and play won’t affect us.
My question to upcoming game designers and storytellers will have to be “what are your stories going to be about?”. Will they perpetuate the idea that women are objects, or will they be about something else?