An Insight into the Controversy of Tomb Raider
As of late, there has been an uproar of disgruntled and frustrated gamers who have been up in arms about a theorized rape scene in Tomb Raider, the upcoming reboot to the franchise by Square Enix and Crystal Dynamics. For a brief insight into the plot (spoilers may follow, so please read at your own discretion), Lara Croft along with her mentor, Conrad Roth, and several other sailors aboard the research vessel, Endurance, are shipwrecked and stranded on an island in The Dragon's Triangle, off the coast of Japan. After a short while of island exploration, Lara learns that she and her comrades are not alone, as the plethora of shipwrecks and plane crashes before theirs would signify--the previous survivors who've crash-landed on the island are still there, and prove to be antagonists for Lara and her friends.
In the latest trailer for the game, simply titled 'Crossroads', we're shown footage from a point toward the climax of the game, where Lara and several other survivors are captured by Russian antagonists who plan to execute them for no apparent reason. During the scene, Lara (who's hands are tied behind her back)escapes and hides in a run-down shack, but is found by the leader of the group who holds her at gunpoint and orders her out. Following this, the man pushes her against a wall of the shack. The Russian runs his hand down Lara's stomach before she knees him in the crotch and attempts to run. The man stops her however and proceeds to caress her arm and either breathe or lick her neck (it isn't quite clear) before Lara bites part of his ear off and knocks him to the ground. The man drops his gun and Lara manages to untie one of her arms and grab the gun. The Russian dives on top of her and struggles for control of the firearm, attempting to point it at Lara's face. Lara wins the struggle and blows out part of the antagonist's head.
Now, allow me to pause here for a moment. Should anyone watch the Crossroads trailer, or even view the leaked footage of the cutscene, one would understand that there is no rape involved, nor is it attempted. The extent of the scene is sexual assault, as Crystal Dynamics explained in an official statement today. However, that by no means should reflect any justification of the event on my part. I do not condone any sort of uninvited advances, sexual or otherwise, whether it be in fiction or in real life situations. In spite of this, though, I must remind everyone and I cannot stress enough that it is just a video game. That doesn't by any means make the inclusion of rape, attempted rape, or sexual assault okay, but the video game was given an appropriate Mature/PEGI 18 rating.
Allow me to quote an article from The Average Gamer that discusses this issue in a rather immature and disturbing manner, claiming that Square Enix and Crystal Dynamics are using rape as a plot device: "Crystal Dynamics are trying to show Lara's character development but using an attempted rape as that key moment just feels lazy and out of character." "In a ruined and burning village when a man finds a good-looking female survivor trying to escape with her hands tied behind her back, the best course of action is for him to…kiss her on the neck? Throw her to the ground and try to stick his dick in her? We’ve already seen that other men are in the village, standing guard only meters away and none of them come to her aid. It’s safe to assume that this behaviour is deemed acceptable among his group. In a survival setting all men are rapists now, is that what Crystal Dynamics trying to say?"
I sat in my chair for a good thirty minutes and scratched my head, unable to possibly fathom the ignorance and stupidity that article was dripping with. If I may first start off by reiterating once more that there was no rape scene included in the game, nor was there any actions of the Russian antagonist attempting or actually throwing Lara to the ground and "try[ing] to stick his dick in her." Debbie Timmins, the author of the article has clearly imagined the entire scene, because there is not a single way in Hell that anyone who's actually watched either the trailer or the leaked footage would make that much of an off-track and far-fetched assumption.
To further analyse the quote from the article, the author mentions the other men in the village and how none of them come to her aid. Well, let's see, Miss Timmins: do you honestly expect anyone who sees their leader doing something deemed wrong and inappropriate by most societies to sprint to the rescue and cross him? If the answer is yes, I'd like to know what films you've been watching, books you've been reading, and video games you've been playing, because I cannot think of a single time an antagonist suddenly decided to change their philosophy, motives, and behaviour because someone is being victimised. "In a survival setting all men are rapists now, is that what Crystal Dynamics trying to say?" I take it she's never been to prison either.
Now that I've finished taking the mick out of the utter rubbish contained in that article, I can move onto more important matters. To further address the controversy, I will defend Crystal Dynamics by stating the obvious that Tomb Raider is just a video game, that the man attempted to sexually assault Lara and his reward was getting shot in the face, blah, blah, blah. Now more importantly, I will defend Lara Croft and state that there are much more tasteful and appropriate methods of executing that scene. Crystal Dynamics could have just made the Russian antagonist make some sort of sexist remark, or verbally observe Lara's beauty, to which Lara gets disgusted and offended to the point where she attacks him. It's a decent way to get the message across, not require Lara to lose any dignity in lieu of the assault, and show a woman overpowering her assailants and enemies and rising to victory.
There is no denying that while there isn't anything technically "wrong" in the scene because it's just a video game, one needs to agree that there are much more appropriate methods of getting the same point across. As I've suggested and plenty others, I'm sure, that make the same point and avoid offending the audience or simply put, avoiding giving bored "journalists" something to bitch about.