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.
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…
…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…
…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.”
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:
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:
- A man who can control lightning.
- A telepath and psychokinetic who routinely breaks the fourth wall.
- Human cloning in 1972.
- Sony Walkmans in 1974.
- Advanced artificial intelligences in 1974.
- A level of bioengineering where selective expression of all recessive and all dominant genes, forced sterility, and premature aging due to artificial telomere shortening in an organism are possible.
- Artificially created, programmable retroviruses.
- A man who became possessed by the original owner of his transplanted arm.
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. 🙂