What is the measure of a Human
So, while surfing the net for material to talk about in today’s post I ran across this little gem that I think serves well as an introduction to the topic of this Blog:
Now I’m a long time fan of Mr. Chipman and I think this video makes quite a few good points. I’m also taking Ancient History this year so it makes sense to me that racism has existed in human civilization for thousands of years. That in mind, I’d like to take a look at how it exists in our newest art form: Videogames.
If you are an avid gamer, or at least live with or know an avid gamer, you may already be aware that this particular topic really only begins once games started having coherent narratives. After all Pong wasn’t exactly a game that dealt with racial issues. It’s really only since the technology has evolved to the point where the artist can start playing with it that games have started to explore this concept. Of course, the civil rights movement and others connected to it makes it difficult to explore this idea outright, unless your game is based in the historical genre, which few people will want to play. That said as most video games deal with the removal of some threat to humanity, developers will typically go the non-human route (in all the games I play anyway), which is to say: monsters, aliens, robots and other assorted fantasy creatures. This has led to the creation of the trope “What is the Measure of Non-Human”, which is the inspiration for the title of this blog. See in more detail here:
Now, there are quite a few games that refuse to deal with this in game explicitly I will only be exploring the Legend of Zelda for this type of game. I will more often than not be exploring the games that actually deal with this question in their story in this blog.
For today though let’s look at The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. This game was actually the game that made me start thinking about this topic, as it is the first Zelda game that literally states the superiority of humanity. Behold the opening cinematic:
Here’s what bugged me about this: Why was it just the humans the goddess decided to save? She literally puts them above the other land-dwellers by raising their kingdom into the clouds. And the game states she joined forces with the other land dwellers to seal away the evil that was killing them all in the first place! So what was the point of singling the humans out for preferential treatment? The other land dwellers I’ve met in the game thus far (and I should state I’m not even halfway through it yet) are really nice people, so why place humanity above them? Answer: Humans are just valued more. The game also states that Link and Zelda are the Chosen Hero and the Spirit Maiden who will seal away the great evil. Other than tradition (this franchise has been around for 25 years now) there is no real reason for the saviour of Hyrule to be human.
Are you guys seeing the problem? The developers made a choice to portray humanity as the best thing you could possibly be. There is even a side quest dedicated to finding ‘Gratitude Crystals” for Batreaux (a pleasant, sentient demon living below Skyloft), in order for him to become human.
He’s a nice guy, and yeah he looks a bit scary but is there anything wrong with him as he is? Not really. He’s nicer than several of the human characters you meet in the game, but in order to be accepted by Skyloft society he must conform to their aesthetic sense. He is quite literally the outsider. His home is even made below Skyloft. He is physically placed to show how he is devalued.
See what I mean? This idea of what makes a human is worth looking into.
-imported from Ethics blog