The Faux Outrage Over Fire Emblem Fate’s Supposed ‘Homophobia’
UPDATE & DISCLAIMER: It has come to my attention that the details surrounding this issue are both nuanced and complex. The imgur post I linked to might have had some translation errors and/or some stretching of the truth. A conversation on Twitter with a concerned user led me to re-evaluate the content of this article. I still stand by my message and I still ultimately believe that outrage culture and sensationalism should have no place in honest media journalism. However, I must recant and apologize that this article was written in haste. I am no professional, nor did I have all the facts within this issue. I wanted to do good, but I went in half-cocked, into an issue that is a vortex of Japanese tropes, mis-translation and questionable material. I advise my readers to do the best research they can on this issue and make up their own minds from there. Consider my writing with that in mind. My original article is below.
Game journalism, you make me laugh. Yet again, certain opportunists attempt to capitalize on ignorance to sell a story. Manufacturing outrage out of thin air. Well that ends now.
You might not be aware of this, but Fire Emblem Fates is an upcoming 3DS Nintendo game, which will feature a lesbian character by the name of Soleil. This character has the endearing flaw of swooning over the female cast of Fire Emblem, to the comedic point of it interfering with battles. So as the main character, you’re tasked with helping her with this issue; using magic (conveniently) to make her perceive women as men, so she doesn’t swoon over them. It’s silly, it’s absurd, and it’s a damn video game. So no harm right? Well…
Source: IB Times
Terrific. I should note that, this game is not even out yet in the US. And people are only going by translations of the Japanese versions. Which leads me to this post.
A detailed and informative overview of this whole mess that explains thus:
- The character Soleil is bisexual, not even strictly lesbian. And surprise, there’s more to her character than sexuality.
- The ‘curing her gay away’ is not true, because it’s actually a comical plot about making her not swoon over girls in battle. Using magic. Not ‘drugs’.
- The character is still bi at the end, but is now more focused, thanking the main character for helping her.
It’s worth explaining that a lot of exaggerated tropes in Japanese fiction involve someone, male or female, being so infatuated with who they’re attracted to that they can’t think straight. So in true comedy fashion, some plot device is used to make them less lovestruck and more focused. This is commonly used for straight male characters, and in some occasions female ones. So are we to take this outrage to mean that we can’t do this for bi/lesbian characters?
Allow me to be blunt. This is the crux of the issue. People cry ‘diversity’ this, ‘representation’ that, but when they get it, they just have more to moan and lie about. Everyone strung up Ubisoft for their ‘exclusion’ of female characters from Assassin’s Creed Unity, and yet then turn around and say they’re ‘pandering’ for adding female characters in Assassin’s Creed Syndicate. Games are lambasted for not including female, gay, or ethnic characters, but when they do include it they are still ripped apart, this time for ‘not doing it right’.
Tell me this, readers: how will minority characters EVER be equal in a fictional context if they are exempt from experiencing what their straight male counterparts experience? Is this Fire Emblem side quest about solving Soleil’s problem with swooning both silly and awkward? Yes. But is it an intentionally homophobic gesture designed by the game devs because they think gayness can be ‘cured’? Not a definitive. Choosing to be offended by this is down to your discretion, but to jump to conclusions is just plain ignorant.
The point is this: no matter what you think about sexuality, or race, or gender, people in this world are different and deserve these differences to be reflected in entertainment. You don’t need to agree with it or even accept it, but understand that people have a right to these things. What that means is treating people like equals and accepting the equal treatment of characters in a fictional context. Continuing to treat women, ethnic, gay, disabled characters in fiction delicately, as if they need the special attention, is counterproductive at best and bigoted at worst.
Faux outrages like this against Fire Emblem Fates are a symptom of a larger problem. But that is something I’ll leave to you, the reader, to decide how to feel about. Do the research, do NOT buy into the media creep. Fire Emblem Fates is a game about more than just sexuality or gender or any of that nonsense. If we want things like gender or sexuality in a game normalized, then let’s normalize it. Stop treating it like it’s profound or it deserves special attention. And certainly not lie about it for clicks. That’s the bottom line.
Dedicated gamer, member of the Fighting Game Community and sometimes a hobby photographer. Follow me @JusticeSoulTuna