A Moment of Quiet Reflection

Recently, for the second time since 2013, numerous websites – or, more correctly said, ones where discourse is dominated by sex-negative gender feminists, social justice extremists, identity politics-obsessed ideologues, and the political correctness brigade – lost their collective minds over a certain character from the highly-anticipated upcoming video game Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, whose Play Arts KAI action figure is set to be released just a few short days from now on May 15, 2015. I am referring, of course, to the female sniper known only as Quiet.

Silent but deadly.

Silent but deadly.

While some of the flak the character’s been getting is due to her being a silent female protagonist, the lion’s share of the criticism levied at Konami and Metal Gear Solid creator Hideo Kojima is due to the fact that she looks like she just stepped off the dancing floor in a military-themed strip club. Now, while you don’t have to look too far to find the real world reason behind Quiet’s choice of wardrobe…

Well, at least he's honest.

Well, at least he’s honest.

…what’s far more interesting is what the in-world explanations for her dress sense and economy of speech might be. In spite of the above comments, Kojima has gone on record stating that a lot of thought went into the character’s background and personality…

The guy's been involved with this franchise for 28 years, so I'd trust him at this point. :P

The guy’s been involved with this franchise for 28 years, so I’d trust him at this point. 😛

…and since the entire online brouhaha around Quiet has succeeded in greatly annoying me, I’m going to add my own two cents to the pile of rapidly-accumulating change by taking a closer look at the following video:

The first thing you’ll notice is that Quiet’s introduction reads: “A Sniper deprived of her Words.”

And deprived of much of her clothing as well. ;)

…and much of her clothing as well. 😉

The caption may seem simple, but it speaks volumes (no pun intended): being deprived of something indicates a non-consensual restriction of personal choice, whether through coercion or circumstance. The simplest explanation, of course, would be that Quiet was rendered mute after having previously suffered damage to her vocal cords, but this explanation seems insufficient considering that she can still make certain small noises like gasps and exclamations of surprise or pain. This leaves us with the far more interesting possibility that her inability to speak may be due to shock or psychological trauma – which, given her training as a sniper, is a distinct possibility –  though the most intriguing notion is that her condition may be entirely self-imposed, i.e. that she’s has taken on a vow of silence for some undisclosed reason.

When it comes to Quiet’s skimpy outfit, one perfectly reasonable explanation is that she dresses the way she does due to inherent limits on her superhuman abilities. Take a closer look at her disappearing/reappearing act:

It's like a living version of

It’s like a living version of “The Visible Woman”.

There’s a distinct layering effect to be seen. When she becomes visible, the process goes from the inside out: first her bones and muscles become visible, followed by her skin, and finally her hair, clothing, and accessories. (The aforementioned order is reversed when she vanishes into thin air.) Since it appears to require quite a bit of concentration on her part, it’s possible that there’s an upper limit to the number of layers or the amount of matter that can be affected by her camouflage powers. An excessive amount of padding, accessories, or protective gear might produce an “Invisible Man” effect – where objects are seen floating around in mid-air – something which would severely undermine any stealth or infiltration attempts.

Another possibility is that Quiet’s superhuman acts of physical exertion – she jumped out of a moving helicopter that was a hundred feet in the air and landed on concrete without so much as a scratch, for god’s sake – generate excessive amounts of body heat, more that sweating alone can hope to dissipate and which can only be lost through the emission of higher-than-average levels of thermal radiation through her skin. Wearing too much clothing might cause Quiet to “overheat” and suffer the effects of hyperthermia.

When you get right down to it, though, there’s one catch-all explanation that illustrates just how stupid this controversy is: this is Metal Gear Solid for fuck’s sake. We’re dealing with a video games franchise where we have, among other things:

Good lord, people, if you can accept all of the above without so much as blinking but a mute female sniper dressed like a dockside hooker is what irrevocably violates your suspension of disbelief, that says way more about you than it does about anyone else.

So what’s the real explanation behind Quiet’s appearance and behavior? Well, for now, only Hideo Kojima and his team of developers know for sure. Heck, maybe I do, too. But if that’s the case, then, much like the character at the center of all this, I have good reasons of my own for remaining silent. Ask me again when September 1, 2015 rolls around. 🙂

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7 Responses to “A Moment of Quiet Reflection”

  1. awritershailmarypass Says:

    I hate it when we disagree, but we disagree here. I don’t think that the problem with Quiet is the suspension of disbelief as far as the powers go. The problem is just what you said – a mute female sniper dressed like a dockside hooker. A major female character literally has no voice and is dressed for the maximum draw of the male gaze. There is no justifying the outfit beyond that. Even if she’s got camo skin or something, she could still wear a jacket until the mission.

    I might point out I read an interview about a comic book writer talking about his 16-year old heroine and it came up that he thought it was a *very important* character point that his TEENaged heroine wore thong underwear. Sometimes there are things that are worse when the creator tries to justify them in context.

    As for Quiet, she’s meant to appeal to lonely gamers…very lonely gamers… http://arcadesushi.com/mgs-5-quiet-figure-breasts/

  2. Lunar Archivist Says:

    The great thing about our online friendship is that you and I can agree to disagree without ending up at each others’ throats. 🙂

    Setting aside the fact that the so-called “male gaze” is a feminist theory which may have little to no basis in reality…

    …all I’m at liberty to say is that I have a better of idea of what’s going on with Quiet than 100% of the people complaining about her. That’s not arrogance speaking, by the way, but it’s also not something I can elaborate on at present. You’ll just have to take me at my word when I say that things aren’t nearly as superficial as they appear when it comes to her.

    Also, I resemble that remark. 😛 I’m one of the “lonely gamers” who pre-ordered her action figure…though that’s mostly because I wanted to do another wacky “It Came From The Toy Chest” entry which will now have to be postponed because it turns out she’s around twice the size I expected her to be. o_O

  3. awritershailmarypass Says:

    As far as the male gaze goes, I’m going to have to disagree with that because I read a lot of comic books – http://www.blastr.com/sites/blastr/files/images/assets_c/2011/09/Starfire1092311-thumb-330×242-71624.jpg
    This kind of thing is not the exception (also I remembered which TEENaged superheroine doesn’t wear underwear into battle – Marvel’s Miss America; because according to her male co-creator this was an “important creative decision”) – http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=32457

    Anyway, if Quiet can do the skin-camo thing, then the game creators are going halfsies because they can’t full on without censor issues (I’m thinking of the character Girl 1 from Alan Moore’s “Top Ten” comic who could change her skin tone [and texture to some degree] to anything she wanted and therefore walked around naked all the time and no one [mostly] was the wiser about it). But I guess that is the limitation of working on a mass-produced video game as opposed to a niche market comic book (which is written by a madman).

    But still – the action figure has *squeezable boobs!* This strongly indicates to me the creators have no respect for the character so I’m doubtful her role in the game is going to counter this impression. It would have to be a hell of a story to correct the misconception that this character is pretty damn sexist. I’m willing to find out; I’m not just not very optimistic 😐

  4. Lunar Archivist Says:

    I think there’s been a failure to communicate on my part: I’m not denying that the examples you’re citing exist, but I’d personally attribute them to more concrete concepts such as pandering, cheesecake, or fan service rather than something as nebulous as the “male gaze”. The problem is that the “male gaze”, if it even exists, is a misnomer, as it assumes that only one particular set of individuals, heterosexual men, would be interested in such a view when there are other groups – bisexual men, bisexual women, and lesbians – who would be equally interested, to say nothing of gay men and heterosexual women who can appreciate the nuances of the female form without being sexually aroused by it. Without getting into too much detail on this, my opinions on the matter have a lot to do with what I’ve been through over the past eight months, during which, to paraphrase Winston Zeddemore, I’ve seen shit that would turn you white. I’ve seen women accused of being “gender traitors” and having “internalized misogyny” for not agreeing with other women. I’ve seen the “right kind” of female victim put up on a pedestal and portrayed as being beyond reproach while an equal or greater number of “wrong kind” of female victim had their very existence erased or denied. It’s been equal parts eye opening and depressing, to be honest. 😦

    As for the Quiet action figure, what all those online publications have hilariously failed to mention in their tabloid-esque fervor to fan the fires of sexism, misogyny, and outrage is that the male Big Boss figure has the same material her breasts are made of incorporated into his pecs, chest, and buttocks, so you can squeeze the Charmin with him as well. 😉

    If you want to discuss the story further, feel free to send me an e-mail or hit me up on Skype or elsewhere. I’d be glad to discuss it there. 🙂

  5. awritershailmarypass Says:

    Based on your email about what you’ve been working on, I do believe you have seen some depressing stuff. Oi vey.

    Final thought – I really don’t think squishy action figures in general are a good idea. It’s just… weird to me :-/

  6. Lunar Archivist Says:

    To be honest, the depressing stuff has less to do with my work projects and more the people I’m up against. Long story short, a bunch of my associates and I are taking on the mainstream media due to a protracted smear, libel, and defamation campaign they’ve been waging against us for nine months (which is why I suddenly vanished for quite a stretch from your blog’s comments section late last year). Trust me when I say that it’s amazing how narrative-pushing and ideologically-fueled progressivism look a hell of a lot like fascism when you find yourself staring down the wrong end of a gun barrel. :/

    And yes, squishy action figures are weird. Much like those boob-shaped stress balls. o.O

    But please, don’t make this your final thought! I don’t mind continuing this conversation as our discussions always lead to interesting and fascinating places. 😀

  7. awritershailmarypass Says:

    Sorry, my brain just went ’tilt’ at the phrase, “boob-shaped stress balls.”

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