Remember the Playstation game Fat Princess that was in production last year? It’s basically a dystopian fairy tale trope with buckets of cartoon blood and dismembered cartoon hands to the tune of Sir Mix-a-Lot’s “Baby Got Back” as created by a pair of geek gamers with feeder fetish tendencies. Here’s an “official” synopsis of it:
Frantic and fun, Fat Princess pits two hordes of players against each other in comic medieval battle royale. Your goal is to rescue your beloved princess from the enemy dungeon. There’s a catch though: your adversary has been stuffing her with food to fatten her up and it’s going to take most of your army working together to carry her back across the battlefield.
Melissa McEwan blogged last year about it here, a post for which she’s still getting hate mail. Holly from Feministe offered a more detailed critique here. The game is now out and MSNBC’s Citizen Gamer Winda Benedetti says she just doesn’t know what the “big fat deal” is about a game that both mocks and stereotypes fat women:
I’m a pro-woman kinda woman (Go women!) who would happily pay the dues to join Club Feminist (we do pay dues, right?) And yet, there’s not a single pro-woman bone in my body that is offended by this game. (Does this mean my membership application is going to be rejected?)
As video games go, “Fat Princess” is fun, funny and well-crafted. It’s done in a playful style and has a wicked sense of humor about almost everything. And while it does star two adorable and, yes, sometimes chubby cartoon princesses and does feature buckets of cartoon blood, I can’t say that it seems particularly hurtful or harmful to anyone.
…[Producer Chris] Millar points out that the princesses are in no way objects of ridicule within the game as critics had suggested. Whether they are skinny or fat, they are venerated ladies for whom all characters will lay down their virtual lives to save. Also, Leigh points out, the concept art for the princesses (as well as the entire game) was drawn by artist Weng Chen … a woman.
In a blog post announcing the game’s launch, Chen says she believes even rotund female characters can be “cute and lovely,” and she wonders why only the pretty women should get to be the stars of a video game.
Uhh.. I’m no gamer, but I’d be rooting for a “cute and lovely” fat protagonist so long as she isn’t portrayed as the most insipidly banal of fat stereotypes. Winda Benedetti may not see how such a game hurts anyone because, as it appears from her many profile pictures, she’s not among the demographic being hurt and ridiculed by the game. Sure, it’s a cartoon and not meant to be taken seriously, but as they say, art imitates life and life imitates art. Critiques of the age-old anti-feminist trope of rescuing a damsel-in-distress aside… Not only does the game reinforce stereotypes about women’s emotional helplessness in the face of sugary cake, it also suggests that shoveling cake down your caricatural-fat piehole is why real-life fat people are fat. The fact that the princess becomes so fat that she’s virtually castle-bound and requires an entire army to cart her off is just the icing on the cartoon cake.
As if the gaming world needed more misogyny… The fact that Winda Benedetti finds absolutely no problem in reinforcing sizeist stereotypes says a lot more about her than it does me and others who are offended by such a “game.”