Capcom aren’t bad people, they’re just idiots

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The perennial question of racism and sexism in computer games can easily be answered:  yes, computer and video games are racist and sexist. But then so is everything else. Video games are way too easy a target, there’s no game I can think of that even comes close to not being stupidly sexist and/or racist, unless it has no human characters at all. But how many current network TV shows have a central character that is non-white where their non-whiteness is purely incidental, i.e. they just liked that actor, or whatever?

My favorite TV show right now (and since I started watching it) is House, which has a not-quite-central character (Foreman) who is black, and another (Kuttner) who is a classic urb (“uncertain racial background” — a term I coined in 1990 which doesn’t seem to have taken off) — perhaps because urbs have almost become subsumed into “white” in the US. In House, House frequently makes ridiculously racist remarks. In the unlikely event you haven’t watched the show, House is an equal opportunity offender, sexually harassing a coworker one minute then using racial slurs and stereotypes the next.

A randomish sampling of shows: The Office — white (some minor/guest characters are non-white); Bones — white with a black woman boss and an urb woman artist, both improbably attractive; Battlestar Galactica — white with minor non-white characters; CSI — white with a black guy who has gambling problems and grew up in gangland; Castle — white; Saving Grace — white with black woman boss and native American detective (not bad!); The Closer — latino, three black, and a Chinese major character; Damages — white; Dollhouse — white with black handler and Eurasian roommate.

The Closer and Saving Grace (both TNT cable shows) are the only examples that don’t seem contrived or just plain white. Along with House and Dollhouse this is about as good as it gets.

Oh and what is it about Asian (or part-Asian) actresses with Australian accents? They seem to be The Hotness in Hollywood right now (there’s one in Dollhouse and another in Terminator right now).

Sometimes you see the reverse, e.g. in a lot of police shows there is a heavy skewing towards white perpetrators, even when (based on where a crime takes place, say) the chance that the perpetrator(s) would be white is pretty small. It’s pretty rare to find a show like The Wire where the mix of race and sex seems pretty much realistic, rather than thoughtlessly white (Friends had two “Jewish” characters) or otherwise monoracial (like the all-black sitcoms of the 70s).

So, basically, we may have a non-white president, but we’ve a long, long ways to go.