Not so Casual Friday: The Last of Us Part II Debacle

Hello all,
it’s been a while since I’ve been able to really type something out like this so excuse me from renting a bit. Well unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last few months you have noticed that Sony has released its long-awaited Last of Us Part II to a lot of fan backlash. For those of you who are unaware, the game features a very heavy focus on LGBT themes throughout. While from the outset, this is fine the character of Abby is one that has stirred up the hornets nest of the gaming community so to speak. Sadly, some fans of even taking the low road and attempted to threaten the lives of many people associated with the product most famously voice actress Laura Bailey.

No stranger to the anime community, Mrs. Bailey is a very well-known voice actors boasting such roles as Toru Handa from the latest incarnation of Fruit Basket to her role as Nagisa from Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion Mrs. Bailey specializes in bringing characters to life across many mediums and with her signature unique voice. She has even appeared in the hit weekly Dungeons & Dragons tabletop podcast Critical Role wherein she and other voice actors play the tabletop role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons. But this latest controversy stems from her portrayal of Abby as a somewhat manly stereotype lesbian.

Fans complain that Bailey’s character is far to Butch and unappealing to audiences. While this could be a product of the male gaze being subverted in this particular entry into the series Sony goes further in the game by making it more sexually themed peace. At one point in the game, Naughty Dog inserted a bowling motion captured, and fully acted sex scene between two characters. Sony who has taken a more family-friendly stance defendants this as an artistic choice. However, fans are outraged that such a thing is allowed to exist in this game. So much so that they would threaten not only the livelihoods of the game’s creators as well as Ms. Bailey but would reach into the forbidden territory of attacking family and friends.
I cannot stress enough how this sort of reaction by fans makes everyone in the gaming community look bad.. Much like the anime community and boy sector dichotomy the gaming community has taken it upon themselves to interfere in the creative process to a degree that they really should be able to. In fact I would say that the community centered around The Last of Us has taken their outrage into the same kind of insane reaction felt by voice actors, Korean and Japanese popular musicians, and anime creators experience with their rabbit and toxic fan bases.
This has become a very serious issue, we have reached a point with technology that we can interact with those who were previously untouchable and new and exciting way, but we misuse this power. We as fans owe it to ourselves to be more respectful of the creative process. Though we have our gripes, numerous as they may be, we have to endeavor to treats these activities and game designers or animators, and even creators with the same degree of humanity we expect of ourselves.

At the end of the day it’s just a job. Having worked in the media as both a screenwriter and an editor I can speak from experience as to the rigor of that job.

That is why I find the Last of Us backlash to be so irritating and honestly insane. Laura Bailey took on our role to bring a character to life and had no say in the gender politics or visual portrayal of that character. Therefore, I feel that it is criminally wrong to crucify her over social media and threaten her life over something so innocuous. If it is profane or degenerate content that you are outraged by simply take it up with Sony computer entertainment America or Naughty Dog as they act as distributor and publisher to the series respectively. And if we must threaten these people let us do so peacefully so as to not implode upon ourselves and stop the very mediums we enjoy from being as well acted, or well-made as we know they should be.
While Sony’s commitment to family friendliness in the subject for another day I hope they have learned from this and are better able to form a picture of what the fans are expecting. I honestly feel that the portrayal of LGBT characters especially in a story driven mediums such as video games needs fleshing out if it’s going to be used as a story element. Given the current climate lifestyle choices and the revocations of them deserve to be more respected by creators and fans alike.
I’m not just some keyboard warrior whose on a crusade for social justice. To be honest I have a heavy disrespect for that type of proud because in the end there just screaming at the top of their lungs while not really fighting for what they want. I’m simply someone who sees innocent people being picked on and abused by a community that doesn’t understand why they’re abusing. We as people should try the better. We owe it to ourselves at least that much.

I’m sorry for my first post a long time to be much more serious, but this one couldn’t be helped. Mrs. Bailey, I appreciate what you’ve done for the anime, American animation, and videogame communities and I just want to say I stand with you on this. While I doubt that someone is important to the voice acting community as you would read this I want you to know that we are not all that. If there’s anyone who still reads my blog I encourage you to give Mrs. Bailey a shout out on twitter and give her positive thoughts and reactions. This is Phoenix signing off.

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