My interest in the female sex is relatively limited. Not because I am afraid of contact and certainly not because of disgust. Biology has simply equipped me with different filters. However, I’m really taken with a certain type – independet and strong women. They come in all colours, shapes and sizes. And sometimes I got strange doubts: Maybe not gay after all?
It happened to me with an extraordinary witch who was the breakthrough for Platinum Games. Meeting Bayonetta was love at first sight: She’s not very squeamish with her opponents, incredibly elegant with every move and a gift of the gab. But the most memorable thing is a lascivious pan shot over the curvy body with the most beautiful butt in video game history – and a final close-up of the crotch. Wow. I was totally baffled.
My eyebrows were going very high back then. So how should I deal with it? Is a female character degraded to an object? Is bayonetta just a wild male fantasy? There is a very clear limit for such ironic and ambiguous scenes or even dialogues, but the witch has an elegance with which she can easily do either a limbo or a pole dance at exactly these points.
To avoid misunderstandings, I have to go a little further to describe my love for this special moment. Bayonetta is playing with you. The camera doesn’t eye her. It doesn’t look like a voyeuristic eye, it just seems to follow Bayonetta’s wishes. At every point in the game she has full control over her sexuality and she enjoys it. She is an independent, strong woman.
She tortures her foes to death. And the more superior an enemy feels, the more brutal her response is – but without falling into the same delusion as Kratos in God of War. This here is the stark opposite of a sexual fantasy – it’s revenge served cold. Bayonetta only becomes weak when real feelings come into play. It shows a vulnerability that her divine opponents are utterly missing as well as the demonic ones she controls herself. Some would call it humanity.
There is an interesting aspect to this with the story of the game. Actually the Umbra witches and the Lumen sages stand for the balance between good and evil. But when the latter disappeared after a war, the witches were also persecuted. Now it is the angels who want to use the power vacuum and demand dominion over heaven, hell and earth. However, Bayonetta stands in their way. Strictly speaking, the Japanese developer here tells a story about Christian-influenced, European moral concepts in a roundabout way. And we in the West are now discussing whether the protagonist is perhaps too sexy. It’s awesome!
May be that some people think, that this is excessive or unnecessary sexualization. But attractive women are not victims and we should not victimize them either. For this reason – in my eyes – Bayonetta is rather an alternative model of emancipation. And I’m not alone in this. The team has succeeded in giving her a self-confidence and dignity that is not superficial but deep inside her. It can be felt in every scene – yes, silly as it sounds – even when a camera moves over her crotch. Maybe this simply because of that it was a woman who designed Bayonetta.
I am a firm opponent of sexism. But I also don’t think much of prudery, because it deprives people of the freedom to be themselves – I can tell you a thing or two about it myself. Exactly for this reason, the deserved revenge of a self-confident woman is great art. I do not regard her as an object, but as my ally. And that is why I love bayonetta – purely platonic, of course. By the way, the aforementioned doubt about my own sexuality is to be understood with the same wink that Bayonetta is giving her opponents occasionally – it’s pure irony.
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