Who is Bayonetta? A look into her character.
Bayonetta’s presentation, which is undoubtedly a heavily sexualized one, nevertheless expresses her character in a way that separates her from the crowd of interchangeable, uninteresting portrayals of heterosexual women that clutter gaming. By contrast, Bayonetta’s presentation says something about who she is. To understand this, we’ll need to get a bit philosophical. – Katherine Cross
For this week I wanted to focus on looking into Bayonetta more and people’s opinions on her in order to start thinking of characteristics that people like/dislike in her and start building a strategy for creating a character. I have read many other articles on this topic but decided to look into Katherine Cross’s post, “Being sexy and not sexist – a look at Bayonetta and objectification” ,which talks explores Bayonetta and the topic of objectification. She brings up Martha Nussbaum, a feminist philosopher, who wrote an essay, “Objectification”, that talks about 7 notions that are involved in treating someone as an object:
- Denial of autonomy
- Denial of subjectivity
Cross states that “applying this rubric to videogames is trickier because e move from the realm of actual human beings to portrayals of human beings” so she suggests applying this to “representations of agency”. We must look at character within the world they are portrayed and allow all perspectives not just the creators. Cross argues that “what makes Bayonetta special is that every inch of her style– from her clothing, her posture, her walk, her signature moves, her weapons– all say something about who she is” meaning that she is not “terrifically fungible”. When the camera is not on her crotch, it shoes that she is shown as being in complete command. Cross even talks about the Breakdance move that I mentioned in another blog post. There is a difference when it comes to the cutscenes and her gameplay. The former is ‘feels voyeuristic’ but should not be how everyone looks at her as a character. And she characterizes Bayonetta as unique. No matter how corny her one-liners are, it’s “difficult to imagine them from someone else.” A character’s sexiness should “should be the subject of careful thought about what this character with this background and this personality might do if they wanted to appear or be sexy”. These 7 notions on objectification should be used more at least when creating characters, especially when it comes to a sexually expressive characters. Bayonetta seems to resists these 7 ways of being objectified and her character is a good start (and learning point) on creating better representation in certain areas.
Looking back at previous articles I used that talked about Bayonetta, I started to categorize the “goods and bads” of Bayonetta as a character:
- Doesn’t care what people think
- Unrealistic proportions
- Not challenging men enough
- Overly feminine
Looking at these “goods and bads” when it comes Bayonetta, people have not liked her overall unrealistic overarching traits. What makes a good character means an overall strong character both physically and mentally which seems to be what people look for in all characters and often the traits seen in manly heroic men. What seems to bother people the most seems to be her appearance and those who complain most about her appearance do not look past that and form their opinion based on that, and that is probably something hard to control. Those who do appreciate Bayonetta as a character also seem to like her appearance. If you go to google images and search up “Bayonetta Fan Service” you get this:
It seems pretty clear that these fans take Bayonetta’s personality and sexuality into account when drawing her, and that those two things go hand in hand. It is not something they get rid (neither change her clothes) of in order to portray her in “a better light”. Many of them also show Bayonetta looking directly at the viewer/’camera’ and that is not only awesome, but seen as powerful and intimidating. They are reinforcing Bayonetta’s relationship with herself and the camera, showing that she is indeed in control, aware, not ashamed, and owning it. But it also obvious that fans really do take things into their own hands and make do with characters and interpret them as they please. Sexualizing a character is inevitable and that happens to even the most ‘innocent’ and not sexual characters. Like Cross states, perspective matters.
Cool first reactions to the game: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UahJqxIviIk
I want to read “Objectification” by Martha Nussbaum in order to understand the 7 flags of objection and perhaps incorporate into my strategy guide.
Strategy Guide Sections:
- Quote – “Do not be afraid of sexual women” – Katherine Cross
- Background – (Talk about feminism?, female in games?)
- Relation with Camera – (Breaking fourth wall, awareness)
- Relation with clothes
- Agency (Personality)
- 7 notions of objectification