When the Saints Come Marchin’ In: Sexism in Hitman

So I've thought a bit more about that Hitman trailer. Read around a bit about it. Saw what the haps was.

It is really disheartening to read comments from guys on this subject because they are so goddamn clueless. I mean, I really want to just be all "Well, they don't know any better". 'Cause they don't. But at the same time, they're so dismissive and rude about it. "Bitches making a mountain out of a molehill" essentially. If it's a molehill, it's still there and needs to be addressed.

But let's talk a little about what the social justice warriors are saying about it.

The predominant thing I saw people complaining about about was why those columnists who objected to the trailer seemed so reluctant to say outright that it was sexist to have 47 beat up all these sexualized women and why people were so focused on the trailer not being reflective of the gameplay.

It's sort of a tangled subject, but I'mma try and sort it out.


Agent Smith

One of the things I think makes Blood Money neat in respect to Hitman as a whole is the way they use Agent Smith.

Agent Smith is a CIA agent who finds himself stripped down to his boxers and needing to be rescued in every Hitman game. (As a sidenote, I find the amount of male bondage and torture in Hitman games inordinately great. I am sure there is some psychological angle of interest to that, given their target audience of STRAIGHT MALE GAMER.) They don't really go into how these things happen in the narrative, so Agent Smith comes off as a hapless failure of a spy and 47 treats him as such. I personally like to think that this is his specialty, though. I can't see why the CIA wouldn't get rid of him otherwise. Perhaps his allowing himself to be captured so often is a part of his missions. He’s obviously very hardy and can take a beating, although he starts to break down from it in Silent Assassin, taking to drinking on the job and becoming even more of an apparent liability.

Contracts: The Concept Album

If you ask to most other Hitman fans, they tend not to like Contracts. This makes sense, as it’s atmospherically different from Codename: 47 and Silent Assassin (despite cribbing many of its missions from the former) and the difficulty was brought down quite a bit. In terms of scope, as well, where someone who’d played the other two might expect another epic globetrotting adventure, Contracts was very small and self-contained.

I think it’s sort of interesting that way in that the first two games, sprawling and grandiose with large conspiracy plots, were thematically about the search for self. Throughout Codename 47, as 47 is hired to kill each of his genetic donors off one by one, he’s given information about who they are and where he came from whereas before he knew very little. Silent Assassin follows through on that and 47 briefly tries to come to terms with his place in the world until the brother of one of the dudes from the last game kidnaps the preacher whose church he’s living in and he has to work for the Agency again for them to use their sources for information to find him. ‘Cause Diana loves you, bro, but this ride ain’t free. (more…)

Touchy Feelly

One thing I’ve always thought was interesting about Agent 47’s character is that despite being a master of disguise and able to slip into anybody (or rather any man’s) role in a place, he breaks character when he enters situations where touch is expected.

For instance, in The Bjarkhov Bomb, you have to kill Franz Fuchs, steal his clothes, and then meet with Sergei Bjarkhov. When you do, Bjarkhov greets 47 warmly and expects a hug as if he and Fuchs were close friends. 47 allows this but does not hug back, instead sort of holding his arms out so Bjarkhov, whose own body language indicates that he finds this response unusual, can reach around him.

But most fans remember the part in Codename 47’s Ambush at the Wang Fou Restaurant where 47 is visibly repulsed at Mei Ling, a woman kidnapped and forced into prostitution at Lee Hong’s brothel, kissing him.

As a clone bio-engineered and “raised” in a sterile laboratory with not much in the way of normal human contact, these things make sense. I would not qualify 47’s behavior as full-on social anxiety, just a reluctance to get too close.

Interestingly though, in the remake of Ambush in Contracts, his disgust at being kissed is “retconned” into mild bemusement. Contracts is not strictly a remake though, as the missions cribbed from Codename are misremembered flashbacks, so I think the shudder of revoltion is still canonic. It is intriguing that 47 doesn’t remember being sickened by Mei Ling’s gesture though.

And, you know, it’s hilarious to me that this small detail of his personality is expressed the games, but there’s of course never any game-changing reaction to it. You never get a blown cover because 47’s pulled back from a handshake too fast. That would put a damper on his whole MASTER ASSASSIN THEY DON’T EVEN KNOW IF I FKN EXIST AT ALL I’M THAT DAMN GOOD thing.

Then again, this is a game where a bald white guy can effectively pass himself off as men of various not-white-at-all racial descent so hand-waving, yo.