Friday, May 20, 2011

Grotesque Grrls

I'm really only blogging on weekends now (weak - I know), but when I heard that the Rapture is happening tomorrow I figured I should post a bit earlier. There are also unconfirmed reports of a zombie apocalypse, but I don't want to get my hopes up.

If there is some kind of divine or supernatural event, I doubt it will effect Perth. We seem to live in a self-contained biodome here. Or perhaps an alternate reality. Or maybe it's just me.

Anyway, I found an article today called The Top 7 Grotesque Girls in Gaming on the now dormant Gamer Girl website. Quite a mixture of ladies are featured on this list, including:

[A female Orc from WOW]

[Medusa from God of War]

[Gruntilda Winkybunion from Banjo Kazooie]

[Sheeva from Mortal Combat]

Nikole, who compiled the list, comments on how difficult it was:

"this was the hardest list I've ever attempted to write. All of these girls are villains in some way, with exception of the Horde. It was a ridiculous quest to find a female in a video games who wasn't attractive. And not just attractive, drop dead, unrealistically gorgeous. I hate to ruin a simple list like this, but why? Why are there no normal to ugly looking females, let alone fat ones. I mean I hate to break it to you people, fats real. People are bitching about how they are treated on XBL and in the gaming communities, but what about how women are portrayed in games. It's never bothered me before that women were often desirable in games, but every single one, that seems excessive to me. So I say bring on the fat people, I want to see some imperfect characters in games."

Although this article was written in 2008, her point still stands. It's a challenge to find female characters in video games who aren't attractive and/or slim.

In general terms the 'good girls = pretty/ bad girls = ugly' equation is hardly new, and continues to do its work in all forms of media. [There was that one movie where Christina Ricci had a pig-snout, but she looked kinda cute so I'm not counting it.]

[Wendy Coopa from the Mario games]

Back to the article: I'm intrigued by the use of 'grotesque' to describe female characters who are "fugly" or "crazy bitches." It seems to participate in the frequent union of grotesqueness and femaleness that Mary Russo comments on in The Female Grotesque. Whether this convergence is positive (in an emancipatory sense?) or negative (in a derogatory sense?) or something else entirely seems open to interpretation.

Some women actively seek the label grotesque. Eg: Countess Grotesque adopts the mantle of grotesqueness when presenting her eerie work:



Here 'Countess Grotesque' is a performative identity, chosen and assumed deliberately.

When a woman is called grotesque by others, however, things can take a downward turn. Eg: the song "Grotesque" by The Cheeto Girls:

Ouch. Not totally comfortable with this one.

No comments:

Post a Comment