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Why are we defending the Dead Island bikini corpse?

(This is my second attempt at writing on this, while the issue is still fresh. I threw together a hastily-written, poorly constructed blog entry last night with way too much caps lock. I looked at it this morning, and thought I must have been crazy. I'm truly grateful for the honest feedback I received on that, I slept off whatever craziness got into me, now let my try to tackle it with a bit more coherency beyond yelling at everything)

I don't get it.

I saw more hostility towards the industry from fans last year than any other. Gamers get angry when their franchise adds multiplayer. They get angry when a different developer is working on a spin-off or reboot. A few weeks ago, we were acting like the generic Bioshock Infinite box art was the worst thing that could possibly ever happen.

So why? Why are we not angry at THIS? Why is this better than those things? Why is this where gamers say "this is acceptable" and that they shouldn't have to apologize? Because I really don't understand. I think that there's something REALLY wrong with the fact that they thought this would appeal to their audience, the average gamer.

For those who somehow missed the story, Dead Island's developers Deep Silver decided to release a "Zombie Bait" edition of Dead Island: Riptide. It came with a model of a dismembered zombie woman's torso, wearing a bikini. Now, the purpose of packaging a product like this with a game (or movie, or book) is that it represents the franchise, or what people are supposed to like about it. So Deep Silver thought what you, the average game, enjoyed about Dead Island was chopping women to bits.

When I turned caps lock on in the first version of this blog, I was basically trying to emphasize how indescribably crazy that is. So in a calmer fashion, let me ask you to just forget about everything you know about Dead Island and its setting. And just imagine some product you had little knowledge of being packaged with something like that.

Now, there are two things that stand out about the statue: the boobs. Notice how despite the body being utterly butchered, complete with a nice, big missing chunk of flesh at the bottom of the ribs, they are intact. They don't even have that much blood on them. Again, this is all subjective, but I think there IS something amoral about sexualizing a dismembered corpse. All we know about whoever this once was is that she was at least an eight out of ten. I think that's messed up, reducing a person to that, fictional and plastic or not!

"But the game has plenty of bikini-clad zombies. Is there a problem with that?"

Good question. I DO have a problem with it, BUT, I think it's a problem the designers intended. The whole sexy outfit on scary monster creates a kind of cognitive dissonance that perfectly fits the horror genre. It really isn't that much unlike the sexy nurse monsters in Silent Hill 2. (though that also had personal meaning for protagonist) And it fits the game's theme as a whole, centering on the whole paradise-turned-bloodbath idea. If the game came with, say, a model of a living- er, functioning - zombie woman in a bikini, that could work. The sexual elements at work there are offset by the horror and desperation, adding to an uncomfortable atmosphere. Because the bikini is on a zombie trying to eat your face.

So zombie with sexy outfit works. This isn't a zombie, though. It's a corpse. There is no life, (or un-life) no character. That horror, which could have made it work, is all gone. There's plenty of blood and guts, but that's the first thing a horror aficionado will tell you is NOT actually scary. Take the horror away, and now all you have is the sex. It is literally nothing but T' n A'. And I know art is all subjective, but I think good art, especially in games, is defined by character, which this no longer has. When people tell me that there's art in this, it sounds like something a serial killer would be saying about the carefully intricate arrangement of corpses in his basement.

And question: How do we KNOW this was a zombie? Usually a zombie corpse looks like it's been dead a long time, but this is plenty fresh. Maybe if she had a damn head, we could tell from the blood dripping from her mouth or her whited out eyes. Guys, out of context, this just looks like a normal woman got chopped up.

And I know this isn't SUPPOSED to be a sex thing. But it has utterly failed at being everything else, or making the sexualization part of something more interesting. I know nobody wants to buy it as a sex thing, but then I have to ask why you would buy it at all.

So that's, at least my case, why it's bad "art." Or at least not the kind of art that fits the game. But that wasn't even the intention of the piece, according to Deep Silver. They said it was meant to be like the zombies players chopped up in the game. It's a TROPHY. For your triumphs in a horror game. Okay, that idea COULD work in a zombie game less about actual horror, like Dead Rising, or the last three Resident Evils. But ever since the first trailer, Dead Island has been at least trying to be a serious, emotional horror story. It's about despair, not triumph. We're not supposed to be celebrating our digital murder, at least in this game.

So yeah, bad art. Doesn't fit the property in any sense, even in the way the makers intended. Whatever. They can put out whatever crappy merchandise they darn please. I'm not gonna argue with their right to sell it. I wouldn't have seen it in the U.S., but I'm pretty sure Europe's a free country too. (/joke)

What bothers me isn't so much the existence of this product. Or that it's terrible. It's the idea that at some point, they honestly thought this is what their audience, us gamers, want. And I'm extra baffled that so many of us are okay with that.

I would be pretty disrespected if a guy saw me playing Dead Island and offered to sell me a plastic dead woman's torso. Not to mention confused. Even if that summed up the game perfectly, (and I would never want to play a game where that was the case) does he really expect me buy this in a public place, and that I'll go home and display it on my shelf? That? The mutilated bikini corpse? What would the point be? Usually this kind of merch is a statuette of a character, or a replica of an iconic weapon. Something that can still be interesting out of context. A piece of some random (alleged!) zombie you killed isn't interesting. It doesn't really say anything, except that no one should ever let kids in your house, and you should probably see a doctor.

I mentioned the Bioshock Infinite box art earlier. Gamers thought that the developers didn't have respect for it's property. So why is Deep Silver allowed to disrespect its property? (I know Dead Island isn't great anyway, but they were making effort before) More importantly, why are they allowed to disrespect US? I see them trying to sell this product as them telling gamers "this is what you want, right?" I certainly hope not!

And I know they apologized, and probably won't sell it now. But I still want to know why they thought it was a good idea in the first place!

So that's why I'm offended as a gamer, and why I'm very, VERY confused at some of you. I'm sorry, people who think this is a sensible product, but you're going to need to sit me down, and convince me how this even fits the game or why a normal gamer would want this. I'm not telling you you're crazy, I don't think you're crazy, but I just don't have a good answer to why you aren't.

One last point I'd like to make is that sometimes controversies come along and people who value free speech of games are complicit or silent because they have to support games at all times. I think some of us believe if we speak up, we're admitting to people that there are problems within the industry and community, and surrendering something. But I think it actually shows we're MORE mature, if we call the industry out on stuff like this. That we're not all drones that will literally buy anything with boobs and blood. Take some pride in yourselves and gaming as a whole, and hell, take pride in Dead Island if you actually like it!

Thanks for reading!

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Dark5tar11949d ago

I'm not offended about it but I think the idea of the torso for the special edition is flatout stupid. I dislike everything about it. Dead Island was a good, if not decent, game but that's really the best Techland could come up with? I honestly think they could have made something much better if they used more creativity.

SilentNegotiator1949d ago

Yeah, it's not offensive, just gross. It doesn't make for a display item, unless you're one of those people that keep Chucky dolls on your bed.

SeraphimBlade1949d ago (Edited 1949d ago )

That was the problem with the first version of this blog. I expected (or wanted) everybody to be as offended as I was, and I appreciate I seem to have taken it overly personally. Now, I just ask that people realize how absurd it is and that if it isn't worth getting mad at for them, that it at least isn't worth defending.

Welshy1949d ago

I don't find it offensive, i just don't see the point to it... if it wasn't for the name of the game on it you wouldn't know what the f*ck it was all about.

If you get Assassins Creed collectors edition, when you see the Ezio statue it looks cool and you know what it is.

I ordered the Bioshock Infinite "Songbird Edition", even if someone didn't know what Bioshock is, it looks cool having a big mechanical hawk perched on a fallen statue at your desk.

The bikini corpse is just tasteless ans serves no purpose to anyone. It's like the movie SAW 30 whicj will probably be out in a couple of years coming with a collectable severed hand... it's just stupid and has no merit or any real value whatsoever.

Revolver_X_1949d ago

Gamers are for the most part, cry babies. This was a waste of time to write, since no on cares. Its a kinda dumb incentive that they have the right to give. I guess it fits the Dead Island style. In the end, I guess every cause needs a champion. GL with that.

SeraphimBlade1949d ago

The point I make at the end of article is that people SHOULD care a bit more, and that it does matter how games market themselves. And I went on at good length about how the product doesn't fit Dead Island at all.
And I don't understand who you're calling cry-babies, people like me who are offended or people who are mad that now they can't buy the dismembered corpse figure they always wanted?

Also, this was a waste of time to write but every cause needs a champion?

SilentNegotiator1949d ago (Edited 1949d ago )

Gamers being "crybabies" is doing more good than ever. It forced the ME3 ending (a cheap, color-changed affair where they promised majorly different consequences) to be addressed (though whether they did so well is debatable), got that scam War Z to be taken down from steam, a gamer-voted reversible cover for Bioshock Infinite, added context to Hitman's nun segment, etc.

Heck, if people weren't defending this (probably because they have plans for a fake woman's corpse), we might get a different incentive.

"Whining" gamer "crybabies" have lead to great changes.

FrightfulActions1949d ago

"So Deep Silver thought what you, the average game, enjoyed about Dead Island was chopping women to bits. "

Actually, yeah. I really did. Though I'd replace 'women' with 'zombies'. Not enough games have limb-specific damage. You could break or dismember all their limbs. Its awesome. I try to make a game out of seeing how many body parts I can cut off of a brute before he dies. Fun times, even with the glitches. It's a zombie survival game - if there wasn't a lot of gore and dismemberment it wouldn't be doing a very good job for its genre.

I'm not against the statue. I just don't see the point to it. I don't make any association between a stubby torso and dead island. If I saw it on display I wouldnt think "Oh, cool, thats from Dead Island!" I'd think "whats that suppose to be? An vore erotica statue?"

Personally I'd probably prefer something like a decapitated zombie head with a hatchet buried in it. That'd be more suiting to the game, I think.

TheoreticalParticle1949d ago

But that's patently NOT a zombie torso. That's a pair of tits. It would have a zombie head on it if it was a zombie statue.

To be fair, Deep Silver probably would have put a head on it, but that would have required a lot more detail to go into the mold. Tits were the cheapest detail they could add to the thing.

FrightfulActions1949d ago

True it isn't... which is why I never said it was and pointed out that it doesn't have any symbolism that really relates to the game.

It is funny though that when people see a torso that has the head, arms, and legs all severed and nothing but bloody stumps the first thing they notice is breasts.

If I did have such a statue I'd sooner relate it to being from Elfen Lied the anime than Dead Island.

TheoreticalParticle1948d ago

They're literally the biggest things on the torso, and they're protruding from the statue. People key in on them first because they made them the most prominent feature of the statue.

MrChow6661949d ago

dude europe is not a damn country

SeraphimBlade1949d ago

aaand that's why i typed "/joke" after that part...

MAULxx1949d ago

When our freedoms are being stripped away in the guise of saftey & security... with all the "political correctness" in media everywhere. I can see someone supporting a collecters edition like this & maybe a die hard DI fan would have loved to own it.. even if it is just a stupid plastic torso.

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