A Tale Of Two Titties: In Defence Of Lionhead

Yesterday, according to social media advertising and trending topics, it was #NationalCleavageDay, a day started in 2002 by Wonderbra and other sponsors. Since then it has raised thousands for charity while also allowing women to celebrate something that is generally unique to females. In short it was created to empower women and spread positive messages (while also selling a lot of underwear, if we were to be cynical souls.) This event generally hasn’t registered on my radar too much until yesterday a storm in a teacup began to swell when Lionhead Studios decided to join in with the fun and posted up some art from the Fable 2 days. Something that, with a new game releasing soon, should have been a timely and sensible option.

Sadly times have changed and the humour of the Fable series now seems to be under the ever present spotlight so adored by the whole pro/anti Gamergate folk. See whereas the bawdy humour once seemed relevant and appropriate for a fantasy game set in a mythical steampunk Britain is now apparantly low-brow and unacceptable.

It’s, frankly a load of old bollocks.

Now I am all for progressive attitudes, I wholly agree that females in games have been utilised in an immoral fashion for a great many years, but generally this is unacceptable because it wasn’t necessary. For example Lara Croft didn’t *need* massive tits, but that certainly helped sell it to teenage males. It isn’t necessary for Cammy in Street Fighter to be dressed in military grade thongs, but, again that was indicative of it’s time. CBH26-8WgAAIY8D

Fable is a different beast altogether.

Fable isn’t reflective of the real world, and as such exists in a bubble of acceptability.

In the world of Fable cod-pieces and corsets are par for the course. With taverns named “The Leper’s Arms” and “The Cock in the Crown” as well as bawdy bar wenches and prostitutes who can leave you with scrote rot, it is clear that seaside postcard smut is as bigger influence on the series as anything else, so when the dev team Twitter account posted up this image it wasn’t – in my mind at least – an assault on everything that has been achieved by people seeking to work hard to ensure that gaming is less sexually oppressive. Instead it was intended to be in keeping with both the social media storm AND to put Fable’s name back under people’s noses. That is what many businesses did, from newspapers to PR agencies, but because – perhaps – Lionhead is now part of an industry under the ever present eye of GG, we are in a position where what is old artwork from a beloved and critically admired game suddenly is mauled within an inch of it’s life, forcing Lionhead to delete the Tweet – and the ‘in the interest of equallty’ male cleavage post that followed it up – and issue an apology.

Cow_and_CorsetWhy does it have to be this way?

Who created this art in the first place? Lionhead’s art team. Is Lionhead’s art team made up solely of males? No.

The simple fact is, as Lionhead tweeted, they are a company that champions diversity. No creator should feel that they cannot create something that has a sexual image as long as it is in keeping with the game. I have to wonder if the same criticisms would have been levelled at them if they had used the tavern sign from the Cow and Corset? It’s as sexual, and essentially could be construed as representing females as nothing more than cattle. But it made it into the game with no fuss, in fact many people – myself included – found it to be very funny and living in a country where the pub signs are an art form in themselves – proper ones, not those trendy gastro-pub ones that mention local events/history, they can fuck right off – I appreciate the humour behind them. In essence the Fable games parody Britain and fantasy staples in a far less crass fashion than say Grand Theft Auto would have done with it’s Burger Shots, or Saint’s Row with it’s Clucking Bells. Parody and satire seem to allow these games a free pass – or perhaps people are distracted by what they deem as unnecessary violence. Regardless it is a simple fact that the current fallout from Gamergate is that an industry is being made to walk on eggshells. I don’t want that, I want creators to be able to create their world and stand by their work. Lionhead should not have to apologise for something that was created over seven years ago. That is simply a load of bollocks. There’s a lot to be offended by in the world, but an international day created almost entirely by women, for the benefit of celebrating women is not something that represents a patriarchal society as such, and companies using trending topics is something that we can all see every day of the year.

So I say balls to the criticism, let creators create.

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