Black History Month is moving right along, and while everyone is out there quoting Martin Luther King Jr. or incorrectly talking about Frederick Douglass, I think it’s important that we look at issues surrounding our Black women, as well. Luckily, we’re slowly but surely getting more Black girls and women in our media! Unfortunately, from looking at depictions of Black girls and women in media, such as last year’s scandal over Riri Williams, it’s easy to see that Black (and darker-skinned) women tend to be more sexualized in nerd media than their white (and fairer-skinned) counterparts. This creates a culture where darker bodies are seen as inherently more sexual, and thus more acceptable as targets of objectification and sexual violence.
Recently my brother and I started playing TriForce Heroes, the newest installment of the Zelda series on the 3DS. While this game didn’t necessarily catch my attention from either the Nintendo Directs or E3, when I watched other people play it and saw how much fun they were having, I decided I had to pick it up despite its forced multi-player angle. However, I did also want to pick it up for one other reason: the fact that this game is the first where Link isn’t restricted to a certain type of clothes based on his gender. It’s sad to say how unique it is for a game to both allow characters to wear whatever the fuck they want with no consequence (via in-game perception) and to practically encourage it. While this is what it looked like from the outside, I couldn’t be sure until I played the game myself. At around the same time as TriForce Heroes’s release, the Zelda fandom received another announcement that seemed to promote the message that, well, if some part of Nintendo was going to take the steps to being more inclusive in their games, it was going to be the Zelda franchise. But how effective will their efforts be? I can’t predict the future, but if anything, I think it’s a good start.
As Black History Month marches on, I want to delve into more issues on race. I could continue with the theme of how much representation matters, but I want to sidestep it ever so slightly. It is equally, if not more, important to have good and positive representation. For example, what good is representation if only evil characters are characters of color?
Some spoilers for Hyrule Warriors ahead.