Are We Supposed To Like Agent 47?Posted by Mat on 20th November, 2012
After reading Kirk Hamilton’s brief consideration of Hitman Absolution‘s problematic humour, my heart wouldn’t allow that in 2012 we can include blatant homophobia within a video game without at least a minor attempt at couching it in context. Why would we want to include it? What do we benefit from it other than propagating a culture of non-acceptance?
If we’re to believe that there’s a reason for a team to collectively think up, approve, design and script when two bodies are both put into a closet together they pantomime anal sex, there has to be a reason. Two clear possibilities exist: Either IO are homophobes who consider the vague suggestion that sex between two men is irregular and thus a course for humour, or they’re trying to imply that Agent 47 himself does, as he’s the one positioning them. I don’t want to believe the former, because I don’t want to believe homophobia is true of anyone, so are we playing as a stoic psychopath that thinks being gay is hilarious?
Perhaps I’m even getting ahead of myself, as of course the game does include women and they could easily be placed in the same way, but we have to put this in line with the rest of the game. The world of Hitman Absolution is presented as hyper-masculine focused to the point of misogyny. Women are strippers, murderers, helpless or celebrated as shining examples of achievement when they do anything more than their gender would imply they’re capable. This isn’t a game that largely considers women at all, it would be entirely unfitting to do so in this piece.
Homophobia isn’t the only thing that suggests a reason to dislike Agent 47. He has an unexplained willingness to take on a mission where he murders a close and trusted ally when he could easily have said no and had a day off to watch an Extreme Makeover: Home Edition marathon. Maybe IO aren’t incredible at offering character motivation that explains why he believes he’s necessary for the job when someone without a personal connection can easily be found to kill her by a company that specialises in finding people to murder others. What’s nicer to believe is that 47 is entirely frosted over inside and doesn’t consider that her motivations might have been sound, especially given as immediately after murdering her he takes over her task. Let’s not dare consider that IO have written a terrible plot; let’s see it for what it must actually be, for the love of fuck, an exploration of the character of a totally unrelatable prick!
This has to be true! Why else would 47 take delight in forcing someone with cerebral palsy to dig his own grave until he becomes so stricken with fear that he pisses himself? Because IO think that’s what people want to see? Preposterous. If that were true they’d probably include a level with that character in the middle of nowhere where all you’re tasked with is killing him offering a variety of simple ways without any other threat around. Actually, that’s what they did, but to be fair his only crime was being needled into accidentally shooting someone, then taking a hostage to escape a situation where he would surely be killed, the fucking fiend!
When you start looking at Absolution under a lens scrutinizing the portrayal of Agent 47, even the marketing starts to make sense. We had to assume before that the Nuns trailer was a product of IO’s inability to see a connection between camera angles that emphasized women as sexual objects and then being murdered. We had to assume they weren’t sensitive to issues they were exacerbating. Now we can just blame Agent 47. What a dickhead.
Clearly, either IO are void of any cultural consciousness, or they’ve done a fantastic job. Take your pick.