That Hitman Trailer Is Our FaultPosted by Mat on 31st May, 2012
I was working on a piece that outlined everything that was objectionable within the recent Hitman trailer. You’ve seen the thing by now; I won’t link to it.
While I was wrist deep into an attempt to explain why these women could easily just have been priests and the theme of “Absolution” would remain (so the only context for women to appear barely dressed is an attempt on the publisher’s part to suggest that, “Yo, you should buy this game because you wanna fuck hot women, right?”) a friend suggested that you could slice the trailer in innumerable ways and find a new angle on the context to complain about. She was right; if I tried to piece together complaints shot-for-shot I’d be here until the game’s release.
It seems better to focus on the more pressing complaint. Not to dismiss any other, or suggest that anything else lacks relevance in objection; it’s that discussing my chosen angle encompasses so much more of the issues with gaming as a culture.
The problem I’d like to dwell on is the assertion that IO and Square-Enix make by producing this. Trailers are a marketing material; that’s maybe something we forget; it’s entirely possible to distance yourself from the overt attempt to sell you on a product and see any novel promotion as just a morsel of entertaining content. We have to first accept that is a glimpse into a good that people would like us to purchase, made specifically for the purpose of nudging us into doing so with a promise of similar content for a greater length. Square-Enix have put major consideration, time and money into a message they’d like to send out to consumers. This trailer is the spearhead of that effort. Everything we see was carefully measured and decided to best present the Hitman brand to a mass audience.
IO and Square-Enix think that people will like this game if they believe it’s about sexy women that you can murder.
That’s their pitch. They’ve spotted a terrible over-abundance of misogyny in games culture and hoped to capitalise on it. This says significantly less about the publishers than you’d think. Game publishing means forgoing the majority of morality so you can maximise your profit margins on the sale of shiny discs. It’s says more about the rest of us as consumers where we’ve allowed them to assume that we’re not only okay with material like this; it’s our favourite thing. We love it. Please give us an extra serving of tits we can ogle then shoot off.
This trailer hasn’t ruined my appreciation of publishers (albeit it is on rocky ground for other reasons) who are just providing content based on market trends. They aren’t pushing forward an agenda here, they’re reacting to assumptions they’ve made about what the audience wants.
This wouldn’t have been made if we didn’t continually prove we want it.
This trailer is our fault.