Friday, April 19, 2013

Simpsons Tapped Out and the Case of the Missing Women

Let it never be said that I am person with purely serious pursuits. I don't think it HAS been said...but let's just clear up any lingering doubt.

Confession: I play Simpsons Tapped Out. It's a frivilous mobile game that takes zero skill but requires a bunch of patience and wasted time. It's pointless, and I know it's pointless and Ronald frequently reminds me it's pointless as I mindlessly tap on stupid little Simpsons characters collecting "money" and having them to "tasks." But ya know, whatever. I can spend my time as pointlessly or purposefully as I'd like.

I originally downloaded the game because I have a long history with The Simpsons, who were a staple of all of my formative years. Although I haven't watched it consistently since 2002-ish, I was an AVID consumer to that point and the show really mattered to me. For example, when this graphic was floating around Tumblr, I couldn't help but comment that Lisa Simpson vs. Malibu Stacy was EVERYTHING to me as a 10 year old.

[Image text: Lisa Simpson holding a Maliby Stacy doll saying, "Millions of girls will grow up thinking that this is the right way to act--that they can never be more than vacuous ninnies whose only goal is to look pretty, land a rich husband, and spend all day on the phone with their equally vacuous friends talking about how damn terrific it is to look pretty and have a rich husband!"]
Lisa was so often the voice of morality and reason in the show and she was certainly a character I could relate to as a precocious kid in a community of many folks who believed some really backward stuff. However, the truth is that overall, the show is chock full of every -ism there could ever be so it shouldn't surprise me that Tapped Out is a equally disappointing experience. Specifically because of the, I don't know, 20+ characters I have unlocked, there are exactly 4 women and 0 women of color.

I know, I know...why am I bothering to think about something as trivial as this? I guess my point is that this "trivial" stuff really adds up to a culture which makes women invisible in small and big ways. For example, it results in facts like...only 28% of speaking roles in G rated movies are for female characters. And I think it's pretty clear why that's a problem. Girls (and other marginalized groups) don't get to see people who look like them and when they do the choices of characters are limited. It reminded me of this ask I received where a guy accused a girl of being sexist because she choose to always play video games as the one woman character.

That's right...he totally missed out noticing that there are almost no female options and instead got in a tizzy about her always choosing a woman.

Sigh. Male privilege.

I mean, all of this is not news to me. But it's just an endlessly frustrating process to noticed at every turn (even in a silly mobile game) how very underrepresented women, people of color, queer people, fat people, and disabled people are.


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3 comments:

  1. Indeed! I can totally relate to getting annoyed at even something as trivial as a mobile game. There's never a break from sexism, nor from getting annoyed by it.

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  2. TSTO is making me so mad! Even worse than under-representing women and girls in the game is that it promotes rape culture. You can tell Moe to stalk Marge (he hides in the bushes and spies on her) and you can tell Milhouse to stalk Lisa (he actually chases her around trying to kiss her, while she runs, periodically pausing to catch her breath). In addition, it is transphobic. There are two characters who you can dress up as women because HAHA trans people are hilarious!! Chalmers can "break character," dressing in a little princess outfit, and Chief Wiggum can "go on a stake out" in which he wears a Mad Men-ish housewife outfit. Both are supposed to be comically not-passing as women. I just want to build a Springfield without being reminded how much patriarchy sucks! Why is that so hard?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Excellent, excellent points all around!

      Delete

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