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As a woman and a gamer I have been incredibly excited ever since I heard about Lollipop Chainsaw. I mean who doesn’t love a woman that can kick some zombie ass?
However, I can’t help but notice various problems with the way the game is being presented. The first thing we see in the trailer is a colorful sky ungulfing the WB water tower which quickly changes to darker, but still feminine colors with a giant heart in the middle of the screen. Then we get our first glimpse of Juliet, our player. We see her pulling the wrapper of a lollipop off with her teeth, seductively licking it followed by a clip of her ass as she walks, skirt swaying side to side followed by the words “Meet Juliet”. Well I’ve met her mouth and her ass so far. Finally, she bites the lollipop. We still haven’t seen her entire face.
This is a problem. We are presented with this character, the woman we are supposed to be respecting, and we know nothing about her. She is nothing but an object so far, her mouth and behind being shown off as if they are for sale (then again - they are). One could argue that her biting the lollipop is meant to signal castration, making Juliet incredibly powerful and someone men should fear.
Next we get a better shot of Juliet flipping her hair, followed by the words “A Cheerleader.” Ok, so we know her name is Juliet and she is a cheerleader. That still doesn’t tell us much about our character here. Oh, wait, we’ve met her ass and her mouth as well, maybe we do know enough (insert eye-roll here). This is followed by ground level shots of Juliet jumping around, giving us glimpses up her shirt (yes, you can see breast) and skirt. Then we find out she has “a Big Secret.” Finally, out come the zombies and we see Juliet with a chainsaw. It’s not just any chainsaw, though, this chainsaw has a heart cut out of the blade! At one point she is attacked by a zombie and, while she kills it, he lands on top of her which conjures quite the sexual imagery. Numerous scenes follow of Juliet kicking ass and sending blood and guts flying everywhere. Among the blood and gore, however, hearts and glitter float around. We’re treated to another shot of Juliet jumping, this time over a banister with her crotch in direct view of the camera.
The trailer tells us this is “The story of a zombie hunter with all the right
curves moves” with the word “curves” being smashed by the word “moves.” While the word “curves” is clearly referencing Juliet’s body and telling the viewer that we should be attracted to her, the word “moves” can be contrued in different ways. One could make the argument that “all the right moves” is referencing her ability to kick ass but you can’t deny the phrase is often in reference to having the right kind of sexual prowess.
Finally, we get a title screen with a rainbow and a blonde, pig-tailed skull with hearts for eyes over the words Lollipop Chainsaw. This is followed by a screen that tells us the game is full of “Sex Blood and Rock & Roll.” Juliet then kills a zombie by lifting her chainsaw up between a male zombie’s legs (he then splits in half with a *pop* and a rainbow). This is the second fairly blatant reference to castration.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t find anything wrong with wearing short skirts and thigh high socks or anything else women want to wear. I wear those things too. I like makeup, styling my hair, feeling sexy and a million other things that are stereotypically feminine. There’s nothing wrong with that. The problem is that we don’t have many strong women who don’t conform to those stereotypes.
I just can’t figure out what they’re trying to do here. Are the developers trying to throw femininity in our faces and say “here, deal with this!” or is Juliet feminine because gamer culture (and our society in general) can’t handle a strong female lead with androgynous/masculine characteristics? My instincts say the latter. The excessive use of her body as an object tells me that this game isn’t about throwing femininity in people’s faces, but about arousing men (and women) by using a woman that can kick your ass, but still keeping her innocent enough with the hearts and glitter to make her less threatening. Women that don’t fit into these feminine roles are often assumed to be lesbians, threatening male gamers’ masculinity. That wouldn’t sell, now, would it?
The choice of music also serves to keep Juliet less than threatening. Using The Chordettes’ upbeat Lollipop harkens back to “the old days” when women were submissive and stayed in the Sphere of Domesticity and men were out in the public sphere. The music itself conjures images of sweetness and innocent. We do get a break from the upbeat song in the form of rock as Juliet is shown killing zombies, but the trailer still finishes with the song Lollipop. Finishing will Lollipop ensures that the viewer is reminded that she’s still just a girl; one that we should be lusting after at that.