What happened to Lara Croft? She’s our first lady of gaming, which commands a level of earned respect. As an icon Lara Croft over shadows even the games themselves in which she stars. So, I’m a little lost as to why Square Enix and Crystal Dynamics have chosen to tell an origin story with such a vapid Lara. Needless to state, I’ve been really amped about the next installment of the Tomb Raider franchise, and as a girl and a gamer that shouldn’t surprise anyone. Tomb Raider has an unusually large number of female players, and one may find that exceptionally odd because Lara’s rack has received a lot of feminist hatred. Majority of men I’ve encountered assume that I don’t like the bombshell… and they’re so wrong, in fact I love her! Claims that Lara is the pinnacle of female objectification simply aren’t true, but that hasn’t stopped the feminazi war-cry over the past 2 decades. I’ve never been turned off by Lara’s sexy curves or the sexualized way she lifts herself up onto a ledge… but I have been turned off by this new brand of Croft being sold to us in the new game.
Now and Then
Tomb Raider the multi-billion dollar franchise was born in a time when developers assumed men wouldn’t want to actually play as a woman, and female characters in games were mainly hostages and victims. Lara was a breath of fresh air and a symbol of true post-feminist independence. She was always well-educated, brave, confident, and of course very proud of being a Croft (rightfully so). Her family sent her to the best schools, trained her as a sharp shooter, trained her in acrobatics, and she was an expert in many fighting styles. Croft was not being entirely objectified either, and that’s an important fact to mention. All famous figures are objectified in some way or another… but when you strip a person (I use the term lightly here because of subject matter) of their humanity and disregard that they have thoughts and feelings– then you stumble over legitimate cause for outrage. We shouldn’t be okay with the new origin of Croft because she’s flatter, we should be upset that along with taking away her sweet curves we’ve stripped her of what made her Lara Croft… her sweet brain and intolerance for trifle bullshit. Notice how the angry mob is quiet… they’ve gotten rid of her famous rack– but discarded her intelligence as well! WTF! That’s not alright!
Hey Lara, we don’t care about how intelligent and well rounded you are
… except in the chest area.
There is nothing wrong with being a male or female fantasy when you’re the logo of a product (Or just dead sexy irl). Why else do we hire attractive people to sell merchandise? I firmly stand by the belief that being sexy is nothing to be ashamed of. Our heroine has been a globe-trotting vixen sent here to both turn men on and be a role model for girls! But now she’s a naive princess who hates tombs! ( … and probably is still turning men on.) I’ve been following this new Lara Croft since E3 and as time closes in (the release is in only 2 more days) I’m disturbed by the silence from women who actually care about this game. One argument being presented postulates that the male fantasy has evolved from a classic Pamela Anderson to the “deeper and more interesting character“ that the industry is giving us. Nevertheless, this new archetype of male fantasy seemingly may be being objectified in a much worse way!
Official Statement (Post Kotaku Interview) About Lara’s Assault
I don’t like people using a cause like female equality and turning into a baby-fit-shitstorm, because some women aren’t comfortable enough in their own bodies to gaze upon something as supreme as Lara’s boobs. I am okay with people asking Square Enix and Crystal Dynamics Studio: How come they had to make her an entirely different person to make it an origin? I hope to see my childhood hero actually become something empowered by the end of this game. I hope to see her family pride shine through. I hope to see that posh bitch who would curb stomp a muthafucka for looking at her the wrong way. Because she’s missing in these teasers. If you look to the “Crossroads” trailer (below) you see Lara narrowly escape a rape! It’s been explained (the original statement affirming a rape has been retracted actually) that she was not raped. Mostly since we’re (as a society) are still not wholly mature enough to deal with such sensitive material in an empathetic way.
I’m not saying that women who were victims of such a disastrous fate could not benefit from seeing a willful and successful woman overcome a sexual assault. I’m also not saying games aren’t an art form or should be limited to never addressing a sexual assault and other serious matters. It is not the responsibility of the gaming industry to present us with morally upstanding characters– that’s a platform the artist must take upon his or herself. However, I am saying that if she’d been as well trained as the Lara we’d all come to love for most of our lives… she’d probably never of ended up there in the first place… It is clear that Crystal and Enix are giving us a little girl and promising us, by the end, Lara Croft the woman we’ve already met. (I wonder if her chest will grow by the end, too.) I haven’t played the game to see if I feel the scene is truly distasteful, however, Lara isn’t being raped because of her looks, she’s being taken advantage of simply because she’s a vulnerable young person… which in reality is really the circumstance under which most real rapes occur.
Regardless of the politically corrected statements, the gameplay looks great. The franchise looks modernized and I’m thrilled to see if this takes on a new life of its own. With other franchises like Uncharted here to base off of comparison, we will get to see if Tomb Raider can compete with the youngins’! Although Lara has been one of my heroes for most of my life (I was 6 years old the first time I played Tomb Raider on my Playstation) I understand that without a revitalization she’s just too dated. They’ve ditched some puzzles and immersed gameplay within story (or that’s how it looks). I am only optimistic, I want to see this icon redeemed!