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DragonKnight

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Princesses Are Pretty Important.

How many of you have heard that Princesses Peach and Zelda were weak or Damsels in Distress? How many of you have heard that they are objectified chattle? Probably a lot right? Well, I'm going to explain why Princesses Peach and Zelda are probably the most important characters of their respective franchises. When you think of either Princess, you can see they are a main character but sometimes they feel like a supporting character only present to drive the struggle of the hero forward. That is certainly one way of looking at things, but here's another. Note: This will contain spoilers. Read at your own risk.

Princess Peach: What do we think of when we think of Princess Peach a.k.a. Princess Toadstool? Well, most would think "she's the one that always gets kidnapped by Bowser" and for the most part that's an accurate statement. There are more games where Princess Peach is captured than there are where anything else happens to her. Does this mean she's weak? I personally don't think so.

Princess Peach is probably the most important person in the Mario franchise. You're saying right now "you're an idiot, the franchise is named after Mario and the Princess doesn't do anything" right now. Well, let's think about that from a lore/game world perspective. With some exceptions, the Mario franchise generally has 2 Rulers. One is Bowser, a.k.a. King Koopa who rules over the Koopa Troop and is always the antagonist. The other is Princess Peach, ruler of Mushroom Kingdom. That's right, Mushroom Kingdom has no King, no Queen, and no Prince. It is ruled entirely by Princess Peach, which means it's a matriarchy. All of Mushroom Kingdom looks to Princess Peach for leadership, so that means that when Bowser kidnaps her, Mario rescuing her is essential to the continued survival of Mushroom Kingdom.

Bowser continues trying to capture Peach simply because she is the ruler of Mushroom Kingdom and he seeks to force her to give up her Kingdom to him. What would happen to Mario if Peach weren't around and forced to give her Kingdom to Bowser? I'd venture to say the worst punishment would be death, the least exile. But Peach is more than just a ruler who gets kidnapped. She is helpful to Mario when she can be in his fight against Bowser and has proven that she can fight with the best of them in Super Mario RPG: Legend of the 7 Stars. In fact, in that very game she becomes indispensable in the late game as a healer. From these qualities we can see that Mushroom Kingdom would probably fall to pieces without Peach, Mario would not be the "hero" of Mushroom Kingdom, and it's likely that Bowser would rule over all with an iron fist. She deserves a lot of credit for being able to rule an entire kingdom by herself, remain cheery and composed when captured by Bowser, and when push comes to shove she can fight if she needs to.

Princess Zelda: The biggest hole in this section is the fact that no 2 Princess Zeldas are the same. Zelda is the titular character of the Legend of Zelda series, but the Zelda you save in the first game isn't the same as the rest of the Zeldas in the franchise. Does this matter? No not really. In Legend of Zelda II, which is a prequel to the first Legend of Zelda game, the Prince of Hyrule makes a decree that all future females born to the Royal Family of Hyrule would be named Zelda after feeling responsible for placing his younger sister, that game's Princess Zelda, into a coma. This means that all the Princess Zelda's are different from each other but at the same time they are the same.

We learn from Legend of Zelda: Skyword Sword that the original Princess Zelda is actually an incarnation of the Goddess Hylia, the Goddess of Wisdom. We also learn that all Princess Zeldas are reincarnations of that Goddess. All Princess Zeldas hold the Triforce of Wisdom, this makes them wise beyond their years and proficient in Magic as Hylia was responsible for creating the Laws of the Universe and Magic in the Legend of Zelda universe.

Although there are numerous Kings of Hyrule, they are mostly never seen, or only vaguely mentioned with few exceptions. For the sake of story, Zelda is usually considered to be the most important member of the Royal Family and she herself is indispensable to Hyrule's peace and prosperity. Princess Zelda is a Sage and possesses the skills to use powerful magics. She is a kind, compassionate, and self-sacrificing matriarch who will do anything to safeguard her people and her allies from danger, including risking her own life. Though she is normally rescued by Link, Zelda is not completely without her own combat abilities as she has been shown in a few games to be proficient with a bow and arrow, and as I pointed out earlier is quite proficient in magic, so she's far from helpless. Ganon is simply going after the power of the Triforce and she always has the Triforce of Wisdom.

Princess Zelda has also been instrumental to aiding Link in various scenarios by providing him with essential information necessary to proceed as seen when she disguised herself as Sheik. From this we can see that Zelda is brave, cunning, and intelligent. In many cases she is also the de facto ruler of Hyrule as in some games there is no King or Prince, which means Hyrule is at times a matriarchy as well. To consider Princess Zelda to be weak in any fashion is to discredit her impressive capabilities and essential role in Hyrule's peace and prosperity.

What have we learned from this examination of 2 of the most iconic women in video games? I would say that we've learned to look at a character from every possible angle before we decide what "labels" we wish to thrust on them. These are merely two of many examples of essential characters that only appear to be weak or inessential compared to the main hero of the game. However both Princesses have been the very reason each hero became a hero to begin with.

What are your thoughts about Peach and Zelda? Any characters you think are more important than people realize?

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zerocrossing1174d ago

As video game princesses go Peach and Zelda are two of the best, and yet sadly for some reason they are often over simplified as typical "damsels in distress" which I feel is horribly demeaning considering their stature and importance in regards to their individual games and their respective law.

Anyway great blog, I feel you made some very good points that most of us often overlook.

DragonKnight1174d ago

I agree. People often overlook the fact that both of them are Royalty. That's a pretty big deal as it makes Mario and Link their servants. There are many ways to look at characters and I think that I've laid out as positive a view on them as I can.

Theo11301173d ago

uhh, there only roles are to be "damsels in distress", they might be princesses of a make believe kingdom or part of the game lore; but ultimately they're only purpose for existing is to give mario and zelda an excuse to fight stuff.

-Gespenst-1174d ago (Edited 1174d ago )

The main problem is that despite the fact that these characters are empowered women in positions of royalty, they're STILL kidnapped and require rescuing by pretty normal guys. A plumber and some adventurer. Like they can't hold onto their power. You're absolutely right to point out that she has enormous power, but it's almost like the designers weren't / aren't comfortable with it on some level, and have to dethrone her for most of the game's durations, being rescued finally by a man who doesn't have that kind of power- who isn't a king or prince but who seems to have a LOT more power.

The absent or unseen "kings of hyrule" are also problematic. A common critique of monarchy is the distance and isolation they maintain form their society. More distance equals a more inpenetrable centralisation of power. Those kings are absent because they're more powerful. They're the shadowy trace of male power that the designers just couldn't help but leave out.

Another preconception invoked with the portrayal of Zelda as the incarnation of a Goddess is the idea that women are somehow more "spiritual" than men. It's a medieval idea. Women represented the inscrutable, the highly emotional, the spiritual and the mystical. Which is a social construction.

Think about Peaches outfit too. I mean, there's a point with games like this where you just have to suspend your disbelief and just enjoy them- critique them afterwards- but yeah, her overall look- big billowy pink dress, a tiara and beautiful blonde hair? I mean it's a stereotype through and through, and the games don't really subvert it.

Hey, I mean I love these games. They're wonderful and super fun, but I'd have to disagree with you.

DragonKnight1174d ago

*facepalm*

You're incapable of seeing any positives aren't you? Stuck on the notion that the Princesses are kidnapped because of misogyny and sexism and patriarchy even after seeing their strength outlined right in front of you.

I mean really? Does it make life better to look for non-existent sexism and hate? You do understand that there is such a thing as reading too much into things right?

Ravenor1173d ago

But the blonde hair!!!

Bimkoblerutso1172d ago (Edited 1172d ago )

At the end of the day, it's really a non-issue one way or the other.

To suggest that characters like Princess Peach and Zelda embody the "empowered woman" archetype is as ridiculous as claiming that there could NEVER be an instance in which women were unable to overcome every obstacle set upon them and had to accept the assistance of a man.

Think about the situation if Mario was a woman (let's call her "Mary-O" and she is the most beautiful mustachioed plumber in the Kingdom), but still saving a female Princess Peach. Is it still just a "Damsel in Distress" situation, or is Princess Peach now just a ditzy idiot? This only becomes a sex issue because it is a man saving her.

But nor are they EVER going to be any kind of symbol of female empowerment if for nothing else than the context in which they are presented in their respective games. They are given a degree of theoretical power, and yet, do you ever actually see either of them "ruling"? No, because they are basically given the titles as a means of strengthening the urgency with which you save them. You can callously dismiss others all you want when they bring this up, it doesn't change what it is.

Theo11301173d ago

Smartest post i've seen on n4g ever, kudos.

pr0t0typeknuckles1174d ago

personally i still cant see princess peach as important,but when it comes to zelda i heavily agree with you, and there are other princesses,also farah,elika,princess sakuya,marle,and sun lian are amazing princesses nthat are very important.

TuxedoMoon1174d ago

I agree to an extent with what you're saying. Princess peach I have the most problems with, and it has nothing to do with sexism. IMO, she has been getting dumber each game. I think the last time she seemed intelligent was the opening letter of Mario 64. After that, her voice just got more annoying and higher pitched and her quotes...my goodness were they bad. "DID I WIN?" Of course it's not as bad as " HI! I'm DAISY!" Peach is suppose to be ditsy and cute, but this also made me dislike her. It's gotten to the point where she's an idiot.

Mario is a franchise that's kid friendly and timeless. This is important because this stops characters from changing. Mario has been on several adventures, but never really aged. Mario is very much like Tom and Jerry. Timeless characters that still retain the same roles and actions they did when they were first made. Realizing this made me dislike her a little less.

Zelda, I have no problems with. When she's captured she's put in a crystal or something to retain her magic power. Zelda is more of a respectable character than Peach. Zelda does put up a fight and hide most of the time. So she puts in a lot more effort into not being kidnapped than Peach does.

The hero saving a princess has been in literature and fantasy for an extremely long time and will continue to be in literature/the media in one way or the other. People LIKE the fantasy of being the damsel and to be rescued, male or female. It's why Twilight is so popular.

TBH, I can't name a character off the top of my head that was really insulting to women. Maybe Cooking Mama for instilling the women in the kitchen stereotype? The characters that do get a lot of hate are mainly hated for what they wear or the characters being too sexy. The DOA girls do wear bikinis, but from all the games I played...they never had to submit to a male. They were never man trophies. They were all independent and can fight off males. Same goes for a lot of female fighting game characters.

Meep1174d ago (Edited 1174d ago )

Well you are right that both Peach and Zelda are important to the character, but its just because of the title they have. I watched and (im guessing you did too) the trope vs women part 1 and she states it very well. Just gonna paraphrase here, she says that the females in the damsel in distress role are a goal. Which I agree. I mean replace Peach with like toad, or someone else. Would it really matter? not really. The actual characters have no substance. From what I can see, it is the fact that games like Mario don't focus on story and just tag on a simple goal for the main character, and saving a lady from a terrifying threat is as heroically simple as it gets. The Damsel in Distress role isn't bad, its just a plot device. I won't really comment about the Zelda thing since I don't play much of Zelda games.

Also I recommend anyone who wants to watch the trope vs women video to do so.

http://www.youtube.com/watc...

Just watch the video above, bored so I am watching it again..I basically rephrased her words.

DragonKnight1174d ago (Edited 1173d ago )

She's just spreading hate and looking for negativity where none exists. Sure, there has to be a reason for a hero to be a hero, a goal, but Anita is herself reducing Peach to the status of goal by refusing to look at what Peach represents in the lore and world of the Mario franchise. It's easy to make a character be what you want it to be when you have an agenda to fleece people with, but Anita's description of Peach is just one that takes the most superficial aspect into consideration and focuses strictly on what Anita WANTS the Princess to be.

She needs people to see Peach as a "goal" for Mario or else she can't use her as a trope against women. It doesn't matter that everything about Peach speaks of a woman of power and importance to the Mario Universe. No, what matters is that it's not named Princess Peach Sisters. Because you know, in real life the leaders of countries always get themselves out of trouble and don't have Secret Service or The Military to get them out of trouble. No that doesn't happen at all.

Meep1173d ago (Edited 1173d ago )

How is she spreading hate and negativity? Did I miss something? When I saw the video heard facts. She never came on biased to me. She just explained where the origin of the Damsel in Distress plot device came from, how it evolved, and how it is used in video games. I also agree that peach is just a goal, she doesn't HAVE to be in the game. They can just make a Mario game about Bowser messing things up and how Mario saves the day. Yes she rules a kingdom but the game rarely takes about it at all...it barely talks about anything story related at all. Mario is known for gameplay not story, hell Shigeru Miyamoto, and Nintendo are known for gameplay, not story. So they just throw in a simple and friendly story telling device to make it simple and just focus on the gameplay.

So the next question is just a curious one. What classifies a Damsel in Distress to you? Can you give examples of stories (books/movies/games) that have Damsels in Distress?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wik...

To me Peach Classifies.

DragonKnight1173d ago

How is she spreading hate? Her entire video series is pure negativity, designed to state that the video game industry is sexist and misogynistic. In her previous video series she stated that Mariah Carey's song "All I Want For Christmas Is You" wasn't about a woman wanting to be with the man she loved during the holidays but about a woman being gifted a man. She states that men who sing that song are borderline creepers. The woman oozes hate.

She rambles on, using dictionary french and a high school understanding of mythology to back up her claims and even the title of her series is negative. Tropes vs Video Games AGAINST Women.

"I also agree that peach is just a goal, she doesn't HAVE to be in the game."

Do you know what happens when you achieve a goal? You are rewarded. What the hell is Mario's reward for risking his life to save the Princess from Bowser? More risking of his life to save her again because Bowser won't stop kidnapping her. Not because she's weak and can't defend herself (Super Mario RPG, Smash Bros, prove that assumption wrong), but because he wants her Kingdom. What does Mario actually get? The most he's ever gotten was a kiss on the frickin' cheek.

"They can just make a Mario game about Bowser messing things up and how Mario saves the day."

They have Mario games where Mario doesn't rescue the Princess. Is that suddenly not important because it doesn't contribute to Anita's hate filled agenda?

"Yes she rules a kingdom but the game rarely takes about it at all...it barely talks about anything story related at all."

HER NAME IS PRINCESS PEACH! It's mentioned in EVERY SINGLE GAME SHE'S IN!

"Mario is known for gameplay not story, hell Shigeru Miyamoto, and Nintendo are known for gameplay, not story."

*facepalm* Someone else handle this part please. I really don't have the patience to deal with such ignorance right now.

I find it almost unbelievable, shockingly unbelievable that there are people out there who can read lists of character traits signifying strength, resilience, intelligence, ability, and yet still spew off feminist hate and completely dismiss any positive aspects of those female characters just so they can say that the gaming industry hates women. And to what end? There would be no pleasing those with this mentality.

The only games people like this would not be offended by are games staring stick figures or basic shapes minus the circle and the cylinder as then you'd have a completely neutral, dull game where all you do is try to see how long you can look at the shapes before killing yourself of boredom.

Ravenor1173d ago

I feel like even if Anita gets her way and we all nod our heads at the idea of Peach being the sole "goal" and an object, it still kinda misses the point of the game.

Mario is all about collecting the star coins or stars, your impetus to continue playing isn't to save Peach it's to continue experiencing the fantastic 3D gameplay or one of the best 2D side scrollers. Saving the Mushroom Kingdom is the reason "why" not the reason you continue.

The fallacy in Anita's video's is how she targets games that are older than a lot of people watching her video's. They are from a time where gameplay and stories were incredibly simple. Instead of going after Ivy or Trish, she targets the simplest and easiest targets. It's real hard to argue against characters that are borderline unstoppable killing machines, regardless of how they dress.

I appreciate the thought you put into your blogs, but I feel it's wasted on the target. You can't fight someone like her, she just see's that as vindication for what she's doing.

DragonKnight1173d ago (Edited 1173d ago )

"Instead of going after Ivy or Trish, she targets the simplest and easiest targets."

Oh she's got something for them. Check out her video list and you'll see that Ivy and Trish will definitely fit into one or more of her videos.

http://www.kickstarter.com/...

"I appreciate the thought you put into your blogs, but I feel it's wasted on the target. You can't fight someone like her, she just see's that as vindication for what she's doing."

With this blog I wasn't really trying to fight her. I had this in my mind for awhile, and it may have been influenced by her ignorance, but if I wanted to fight her, this blog's tone would be very different. Still, you are right that fighting her just feeds her hatred.

**EDIT** *sigh* Another person who doesn't get it, who just wants to look for the negativity refusing to accept that the characters have strength and ability and amazing traits. No, we HAVE to sit here and say "oh noo, a fictional woman has been rescued by a fictional man a lot of times and that represents real life women and how much they are devalued by real life men."

Well, I'm not responding to the people just looking to spread around more hate. If anyone else wants to deal with these people feel free. I'm done with them on this blog.

Meep1173d ago (Edited 1173d ago )

"How is she spreading hate? Her entire video series is pure negativity, designed to state that the video game industry is sexist and misogynistic. In her previous......."

I never saw that video soo I would not really know I will watch it when I get the time.

"She rambles on, using dictionary french and a high school understanding of........"

I don't see how rambling on about evidence is bad, also from that video it is titled:
Damsel in Distress: Part 1 - Tropes vs Women in Video Games
I don't see where it says AGAINST women...unless its another video.

"Do you know what happens when you achieve a goal? You are rewarded. What the hell is Mario's reward for risking his life to save the Princess.............."

SO what if Mario got a kiss on the check. Nobody cares. The reward is the actual gameplay. The game could have come out with NO story and just a bunch of levels and bosses, and people would STILL love it.

"They have Mario games where Mario doesn't rescue the Princess. Is that suddenly not......"

Yes you are right they do have Mario games in which Peach isn't rescued AND Anita mentions one of them (which I think was Super Mario Bros 2).

"HER NAME IS PRINCESS PEACH! It's mentioned in EVERY SINGLE GAME SHE'S IN!"

Her name could be PrincessSuperUglyButStrongGirl , and I still wouldn't care. I remember when I played Mario, and I never thought "I can't wait to see what happens to princess Peach".

"*facepalm* Someone else handle this part please. I really don't have the patience to deal with such ignorance right now."

WHELP excuse me. How very stupid of me to think that Super Mario, Mario Bros, and other Mario games were about gameplay. Its obviously about the story TOTALLY! CANT WAIT TO SEE WHAT HAPPENS IN THE NEXT MARIO!!

"I find it almost unbelievable, shockingly unbelievable that there are people out there who can read lists of character traits signifying........"

How in the...........what???? I gave my opinion and you call it "feminist hate"??? WHEN THE HELL DID I SAY THAT THE GAMING INDUSTRY HATES WOMEN???????? No pleasing those with this mentality?? My mentality??? What about yours? I am not on your side, therefore I am a person who spews out feminist hate...Is that how you think?? How the hell am I offended by games like these??? Mario is a great platform. Just because I think Peach is a Damsel in Distress doesn't mean I hate the game.

YOU are the one with the wrong mentality. If you fail to see how Peach is a Damsel in Distress then you are the one not seeing clearly. Books Movies AND Games all have some typical plot devices. THEY ARE STORIES. Video games are one of the many ways to tell a story, and they ARE subjected to some UNIVERSAL plot devices.......Video games aren't some god all mighty media that has no bias in it.

That two last paragraph you typed really blew my mind. I THINK PRINCESS PEACH IS THE BEST EXAMPLE of Damsel in Distress in video games. That doesn't mean I hate the Mario games. ITS A PLOT DEVICE THAT STORIES USES. Last I check video games are a valid way to tell a story.
Excuse me while I play stick figure games to go kill myself.. cause apparently that what I like to play based on my last two comments....
I like video games, from Mario to Counter Strike to League Of Legends...but i guess my comments reflects the opposite of that. It seems like next time I will just type a simple "I Agree" Instead of trying to have a decent conversation.

Ravenor1173d ago

Looking at her topics she has outlined on the kickstarter page I just don't see her having better more well rounded arguments for any of that either.

"The Fighting [email protected] Toy" That's probably where it's going to come in. But I can't help but feel somewhat insulted by the whole idea of it, it all comes around to that idea that you can't decipher what you see on screen and reality. The idea that Trish or Ivy has changed anyones minds eye view of women is pure exaggeration.

Anyone else find it really funny that it was the Stretch goal to hit positive examples? But at that point I have to wonder, what makes Ivy a negative? Is it purely how she dresses? Can you really condemn a character based on that and physical attribute and forget all about her self confidence and self reliance? For all we know the outfit was what we suspected all along and she spends her days paddling men in a dungeon.

Demonizing female sexuality hearkens back to Victorian prudish behavior. It's not the direction we want to go, we are trying to get away from the idea of a promiscuous female being thought of as less than men who may have the same amount of MORE sexual partners. Those are the issues with gender in society you want to stamp out, not Trish's tits.

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