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Saturday, June 2, 2012

Is the new 'Tomb Raider' Trailer Torture Porn?

 

Yesterday was the official release of the Tomb Raider trailer. More of a short film than anything else, fans of the series were given a much more detailed look at the "new" Lara Croft. A young, athletic, more appropriately dressed version of the character we all know so well.

The trailer shows Lara Croft trapped in some sort of dungeon, struggling to survive. She eventually escapes only to find that her crew is in more trouble than she had anticipated. A voice inside her tells her that she can do this - that she is a Croft. She gathers herself and begins what is going to be without a doubt the hardest journey of her life.

At least that's what I watched.

After watching the trailer I was incredibly excited for the release of this game. I've always wanted to be a fan of the Tomb Raider trilogy but could never get past the waterfall in the first game. For some odd reason I would just stand under it, watching the water fall onto Lara Croft's shirt.

I was young, ok?

The new Lara Croft however is a different protagonist. Crystal Dynamics has set out to create a less sexualized Tomb Raider. A female that is strong, independent, and ready to take on the world - sans tight top. I've seen the pictures and watched a few previous videos, but this trailer has really stepped it up. Curious to see if I was the only one that thought this, I hopped onto a few of the major game networks and began reading comments.

While I'm not the only one that finds this trailer amazing, I seem to be in the minority. Apparently there's a large group of people that believe the trailer is nothing short of "torture porn". They see a young, weak female being brutalized while making "sex noises". A type of fetish if you will.

Even when the "if this was a man instead of a woman" argument is presented, the community is quick to chastise. They claim that the way the trailer is cut makes it so that Lara Croft never gets stronger - something that a male character tends to have happen. They argue that while Crystal Dynamics has set out to create a "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger" vibe, this trailer never shows the latter part of that philosophy.

I honestly couldn't disagree more. When I watch this trailer I see an all-around badass female character. I see a tale of strength; a tale of survival. In this brief three-minute video we witness Lara Croft fall from the ceiling of a cave, pull a stick from her side, dodge a series of explosions, escape a collapsing cave, kill a deer with a bow and arrow, step into a bear trap, shoot a rebel in the face after a hand-to-hand confrontation, and show a wolf who's boss (to name a few examples).

I'm a little confused how Lara Croft isn't shown as a strong female, ready to take on anything.

My biggest concern with this apparent outrage is that it feels like a double standard. It's hard to find a video game on my shelf that doesn't involve a male protagonist (or a male character of some sort) getting absolutely destroyed. Take a look at the Uncharted series for example. The amount of ass-kicking that Nathan Drake sustains during each game is hard to watch at times.

Yet these same arguments aren't showing themselves across the board.

 

Look, I understand that we as a society have been molded to "protect the princess". It makes perfect sense that watching this trailer would be difficult for some people. There were more than a few times where I grimaced, wishing that I could play this game already if only to help Lara Croft survive. It's never easy to watch someone in trouble, especially a female.

I even had my wife watch the trailer without any pre-existing feelings. I didn't even let her know why I was asking her to watch it. As the trailer ended she was nothing sort of excited for it's release. She thought Lara Croft was portrayed incredibly well - wishing that she could be that badass. I explained to her the reason I had her watch the video was to see if she could see the growing concern. Being a woman I figured if anyone would deem it inappropriate it would be her.

She absolutely could not.

So I pose this question to you: after watching the above trailer, do you see an overly sexualized Lara Croft? Or a strong-willed female character ready to take on the world?

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