re Bayonetta 2

[bell] hooks defended the critical attention [directed at Beyoncé]. We focus on Beyoncé because Beyoncé's the one who put the word feminist up at the VMAs, hooks explained, and because what a "liberatory sexuality" looks like is a "crisis in feminist thinking." "I wish she were here," hooks said. "She and I need to talk."

hooks and Beyoncé need to talk about "Partition," specifically. The song's lyrics exemplify hooks’s somewhat conservative fear that feminist women might be sexually liberating themselves "against their own interests." "If I'm a woman and I'm sucking somebody’s dick in a car and they're coming in my mouth and we could be in one of those milk commercials or whatever, is that liberatory?" hooks asked. "Or is it part of the tropes of the existing, imperialist, white supremacist, patriarchal capitalist structure of female sexuality?"

Kat Stoeffel, "bell hooks Was Bored by 'Anaconda'"


bell hooks: One thing that's really clear to us is things are not either/or. Orange is the New Black is not all bad or all good, and neither is media. More often than not, images in media are mixed. And it's hard for us then because what's the language to talk about them? What's the language to talk about her progressive image and her character of Sophia and all those other tired-ass black women that are just reproducing so many stereotypes in the things that they say and do?"

bell hooks: Transgression, a dialogue with Laverne Cox

Obviously, there's a gulf between Beyoncé and Bayonetta. One is a real woman trying to navigate multiple hostile systems, at the same time having an immense amount of capital (social, cultural, and financial), yet most of that capital is contingent on her performing in certain ways; she is simultaneously a person and a product. The other is a videogame character made by a mostly(-but-not-exclusively) male team; she is entirely a product, but one we are asked to project our own agency and subjectivity into.1

But I think the hole in our language that hooks identifies, that we need to speak about the former, is the same language we lack to speak about the latter. And I think it's for a similar reason: both concern the role and manifestation and effect of "liberatory sexuality." Any such discussion must be a long conversation among informed participants considering a broader context. These are all things mainstream games writing is terrible at — it is broadcast-focused, short-lived, and isolationist.

Moreover, the current cultural environment is explicit designed to shut down this conversation in favor of an unquestionable "everything's fine" answer, not for any informed reason, but because they're afraid of not being able to trade $60 for a glance at pixelated tit.

(h/t to Carolyn Petit for the links to The New School's talks.)

  1. Or are we? That's part of the question at hand. Jess told me she'd like to read some contrast of Lollipop Chainsaw and Bayonetta and I think identification is a big part of it: In Lollipop Chainsaw I think you're asked to identify with Nick as much as Juliet.