All Quiet on the Quiet Front: An MGS 5 Update

“First of all when it comes to female characters I myself am male, so in a way you can say the female characters I create are my ideal. It’s kind of my fantasy, these are the type of female characters that I like, so that’s what I make.”

Hideo Kojima, BAFTA Annual Games Lecture 2012

Back in December of 2013 I raised the issue of the portrayal of some female characters in the Metal Gear Solid (MGS) franchise. My starting point for the article grew from Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain’s trailer at 2013’s E3 event in L.A, and subsequent comments made by Hideo Kojima (creator of MGS) thereafter.

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Kojima later tweeted about how he wished for “more erotic” character design, for both cosplaying and commercial reasons. There appeared to be no artistic or narrative merit to his latest creation.

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In a video interview with IGN in December of 2013, Kojima did try to clarify that perhaps how he introduced Quiet to the world was not the best way to do so. A “mistake” in fact.

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He further tried to justify his actions by stating Quiet’s reveal was only done to appease curious cosplayers. These same cosplayers have not been slow in dressing up in Quiet’s minimal outfit (google search if curious I won’t be showing that here) post reveal. Again this appeasement of fans proved to have no artistic or narrative value. Those who question or criticise Quiet’s portrayal Kojima states “will feel ashamed of your words and deeds”. This conclusion we will arrive at once we get to know Quiet and understand her appearance.

Based on what we have seen thusfar and the omission by Kojima that this is his portrayal of the “ideal” female,  I look forward getting to know Quiet. I look forward to discovering why in the middle of the desert we have a relatively young, attractive, well endowed and curvaceous woman, parading around in her underwear, a pair of ripped tights with only a sniper riffle for protection. I look forward to discovering her raison d’être, for what I can only deduce is an odd fashion sense, the love of a powerful gun and an insatiable appetite for vitamin D.

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While Kojima has made attempts to backtrack on the reveal of Quiet and clarify her appearance, he doesn’t condemn his earlier comments or tweets; “The initial target is to make you want to do cosplay or it’s figurine to sell well”.

While a tweet is restricted to 140 characters and things can not always be fully fleshed out in a tweet, it is the 2012 BAFTA Lecture comments that are hard to escape. As much as I admire the MGS series, and Kojima, it is the disturbing reality of his perception of the “ideal” I struggle with. He has fired this bullet and it is not coming back, there is no opportunity to reload it now. So what other conclusion does one arrive at? Quiet’s portrayal is purely for “fantasy” reasons, commercial reasons and has no artistic merit whatsoever.

In the wake of Quiet’s reveal Kojima drew criticism from fellow industry creatives. 343 Industries designer David Ellis commented on twitter “Don’t care if this gets me in trouble. This character design is disgusting. Our industry should be better than this. Industry full of man babies. Ugh.” 

The consequences of Kojima’s actions have been far reaching. In the ensuing months a myriad of articles have appeared online discussing the portrayal of Quiet from various online outlets.

The portrayal of Kojima’s “ideal” women have resulted in critique from many journalists. Most recently in relation to the ending of Metal Gear Solid 5 Ground Zeroes (MGSVGZ) and Paz’s portrayal by IGN’s Lucy O’Brien:

http://uk.ign.com/articles/2014/03/25/whats-wrong-with-metal-gear-solid-5-ground-zeroes-ending

Budding games journalist Ria Jenkins chimes in too, focusing on the heavy handed and misplaced nature of the sexual violence that exists in the MGSVGZ experience. The unsettling content is presented to the audience in the form of tapes entitled “rewards” for fully completing side quests and exploration in MGSVGZ:

http://introskeptive.wordpress.com/2014/04/08/chicos-tape-4/

I have extended the critique to look at the worrying portrayal of not only Quiet, but of other female characters in the MGS universe over the years. A worrying pattern is at play here:

https://thoughtburp.wordpress.com/2013/12/03/quiet-is-no-lady-godiva-a-metal-gear-solid-5-update/comment-page-1/

In January and February of this year, Kojima shared images of the impending Quiet figurine via Twitter. The images made no attempt to further clarify what Kojima had referred to as a mistake previously. They didn’t alleviate fears or distance Kojima from the allegations of sexism lobbied at him. The images showed a figure based on the portrayal of Quiet from 2013’s E3 and reinforced the “more erotic” tone he was looking to capture. One might argue that erotic term he speaks of is a more palatable term for pornographic.

 

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A recent Kojima Station episode featured a sizeable content on Stefanie Joosten (the actor portraying Quiet) who is on a “mission” to infiltrate Kojima headquarters to gather intel on The Phantom Pain (TPP) project.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bH3WWp-VdGM

In addition to this a discussion thread on Reddit (via user called “winches”) suggests that Quiet might be a playable character in TPP. In an interview with Famitsu, Kojima stated that In the game, Quiet is the main heroine. Whether she is friend or foe has yet to be revealed so I had to be careful when casting her role.”

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The image highlights how in previous games a playable character is often tortured. Could Quiet be a playable character in TPP? The advent of the power of Kojima’s “Fox Engine”, an openworld setting, refined gameplay and a Hayter free Snake, are undoubtedly large changes for the MGS series. The possible presence of a female playable character would be a seismic change in the franchise.

Since the release of MGSVGZ in March little has been shown of TPP. In recent days Kojima has been tweeting that he is currently working on a new trailer for TPP. Could new trailer shed new information on the role that Quiet will play? WIll a new reveal of her be one that changes the publics opinion on her and Kojima’s portrayal of the “ideal” female? Only time will tell, for now Kojima remains quiet on Quiet. Never has silence been so deafening.

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5 comments
  1. MGG said:

    How did you just get “he wished for “more erotic” character design, for both cosplaying and commercial reasons.”
    from
    “I’ve been ordering to Yoji to make the character more erotic, and he did it well. Recently I’ve been making characters this way. I create the setting thoroughly, how he/she spent early life, name, style, favorite phrase, fashion, action to stand the character out. The initial target is to make u want to do cosplay or its figurine to sell well.”

    Did you totally overlook the middle part of that tweet? That being said, Quiet’s outfit is stupid, and I’m not even judging it from a sexism standpoint, wandering around in the desert in a bra, panties, tights and desert boots is just quite odd. But, The Phantom Pain isn’t out, and I suppose there’s still the (Unlikely) chance that Kojima has a good reason for it.

    • Hi, thanks for reading my article and taking the time to comment. Whether it’s good or bad I do appreciate.

      The middle tweet is odd and left me a little confused. I wasn’t being selective or trying to be controversial, just giving my thoughts. In my opinion the middle tweet feels more like an afterthought, or a “cover my backside” tweet before Kojima states his real reasoning. Kojima says that the character is for cosplay and selling figurines, and in my opinion by being “more erotic” it encourages this duality to occur. Story, background etc are not the “initial target” as he states.

      I hope the in The Phantom Pain her appearance is properly explained. It is a shame that he revealed her in this manner. Seeing her in as she is shown presently in what I would call the a distressing state of undress, would have been far more impacting had we first been introduced to her in a different circumstance initially.

      Hope this clarifies where I’m coming from and thank again for the comments. As the late Bob Hoskins used to day “it’s good to talk” 🙂

    • supersunbros said:

      The outfit in combat is far from the most odd thing to be found in the MG franchise.

  2. TheTitaniaErza said:

    I still think this is gross. As a female gamer who grew up playing Metal Gear, I obviously want to play as a female character, but this… this is something. I’m going to give Kojima the benefit of the doubt for now until I see Quiet’s story in the game. BUT if the explanation of her outfit isn’t mind-blowing and incredibly intelligent, then it isn’t good enough. I wish Kojima would grow up from the hormonal teenager he seems to be and understand that this isn’t as acceptable as it used to be. But I digress.

    TPP will probably blow everyone’s minds with a sprawling, open-world MGS-style environment, regardless of Quiet’s dress-code.

  3. snake said:

    you can change her outflit once you finish mission 40 to sniper wolf outfilt

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