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L.I. Underhill is a media critic and historian specializing in pop culture, with a focus on science fiction (especially Star Trek) and video games. Their projects include a critical history of Star Trek told through the narrative of a war in time, a “heretical” history of The Legend of Zelda series and a literary postmodern reading of Jim Davis' Garfield.


  1. Nick
    March 2, 2018 @ 5:18 pm

    A few days ago, Kotaku published this podcast with Gita Jackson and Maddy Myers talking about this. They cover some of the same points as in this essay – including being disappointed in the level of discourse that goes on around games with characters like Bayonetta, when people aim at the wrong targets:

    A few years ago, Maddy Myers wrote the article
    Femme Doms of Videogames: Bayonetta Doesn’t Care If She’s Not Your Kink for Paste Magazine, which for me is the most persuasive argument so far that Bayonetta is a positive depiction of female sexuality.

    But I take issue with this sentence in your post:

    Curiously I never saw any complaints about Bayonetta’s sexuality from players, female or otherwise: The debate and controversy was entirely limited to the video game industry press

    That’s not how I remember it! From what I recall, forum discussions I encountered at the time tended to revolve around three subjects:

    1. “Wait, her clothes are made out of her hair? Eww.”
    2. “Too many instadeath QTEs!”
      3.. “This is a fantastic game but it’s so cringeworthy – I’m too embarrassed to dare play it with anyone else in the room, in case they happen to see something like the Joy Torture Attack and wonder what the hell I’m up to.”

    That third one may not have been the most nuanced feminist reading of the game, but it was definitely a case of players criticising the sexuality, not just the press.


  2. BeatnikLady
    March 2, 2018 @ 8:16 pm

    Feminist Frequency has also looked at the Bayonetta games in the past. There are some reasonable points to be made about Bayonetta as an object of the male gaze (including a marketing ploy where people were encouraged to peel postcards from a giant subway poster of her, eventually showing her to be naked. Classy, or what?) It’ll be interesting to see if any of the criticism is taken onboard.


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