Monday, April 13, 2015

Meet Josie Rizal, new virtual fighter is a Filipina

Fighters in the virtual world are fantasies. They are not meant to be realistic. I mean, just look at Josie Rizal.

JOSIE RIZAL is in the fight of her short life. Josie is not a real flesh-and-blood person. Nevertheless, she is stirring up a lot of controversy in the Philippines and among video gamers throughout the world.

Those familiar with Philippine history will recognize her name as a takeoff on one of the Philippines' revered national heroes, Jose Rizal, whose words and martyrdom inspired a revolution. 

She is a brand new character in the Tekken series. Mark "MarkMan" Julio, a Filipino, contributed to the creation of Josie's character. Josie made her debut March 31 in arcade versions of the popular video game. Whether or not she'll exist for the PlayStation 4 version of Tekken 7, remains to be seen as of this writing.

A Philippine government body is reportedly taking umbrage with the video game-makers'
 representation of  the country, its women and its national hero.

For the real Jose Rizal, the pen was mightier than the sword.
GMA Network reported that Dr. Leodenito Cañete, a coordinator for the National Commission for Culture and the Arts' (NCCA) Bayaning Bayan program, is calling out the video game's creator for the just introduced Filipino character in Tekken 7, the newest version of the Tekken series.

"It's hard for us to prevent other countries from making characters like this because Philippines is very popular around the world,"
Cañete explained.

However, it was later reported that the government body's secretariat clarified that Cañete is not an official of the government body instead "he is just a coordinator of one of the NCCA's numerous projects."

An NCCA official took to Instagram to clarify that the government body never took a position on Josie.

In addition to the NCCA coodinator, Adonis Durado, a famous artist in the Philippines weighed in against Josie Rizal because she has no trace of being a Filipino in her.

"The problem with Josie Rizal's character is too obvious: it doesn't have any trace of Filipino-ness-neither in her physical attributes nor in her outfit," Durado said according to Gulf News. For the record, Josie's outfit is red, yellow and blue, the colors of the Philippine flag. Maybe he prefers Josie to fight wearing a traditional terno or butterfly sleeves?

"If her fighting style is purportedly eskrima, where are the arnis sticks? So the Filipino-inspired name is simply a token," Durado added referring to the character's fighting skills. Obviously Durado is not a martial artist or he would know that eskrima also includes fighting techniques without weapons.

There has also been complaints that Josie isn't a "real" Filipino because she doesn't speak one of the Filipino dialects. Does that sound familiar? Folks from the Philippines always throw that in the face of Filipino Americans who never learned to speak one of the dialects. Do you have to speak one of the dialects to be a "true" Filipino?

In response, Tekken creator Katsuhiro Harada, said that this is a big to do about nothing. He may opt to delete the Filipino character when the PlayStation 4 version comes out.
Although he didn't mention Josie specifically, Harada did say some characters in “Tekken 7” are changing and may delay the release date of the video game on Sony’s next gaming console, but it is pretty apparent that he got pretty pissed at the government response, which he doesn't believe represents the response of Filipino gamers.

OK, I'll concede the sexist nature of video games. Josie's scanty costume emphasizes her - ahem - attributes. The video game industry clearly caters to fanboys.

Is Talim, above, more Filipina than Josie Rizal?
Does she speak Tagalog?
Josie is not the first virtual Filipina. Preceding Josie was Talim in the Soulcaliber series, who made her first appearance in the game’s third installment, Soulcaliber II (2002). She is included in the series'  subsequent versions.

Talim's back story: She is the daughter of the village’s shaman, raised as “the last babaylan (priestess)” of her community, the Village of the Wind Deity located in the “Visayan Islands (present-day Philippines).”

Her personality may be more to the liking of Filipino male officials. She is “strikingly meek, innocent, kind, moderate, and nice in contrast to the rest of the Soul Series cast, often attempting to dissuade opponents from fighting, and constantly showing mercy to her defeated enemies. Her comments often reveal self-doubt and worry. She often does not blame others for their actions,” is quick to forgive, and “overall is considered a kind-hearted character.”

Josie's back story hasn't been divulged yet. Based on her trailer video, she is not meek and she's more direct in her tactics. Literally, she doesn't pull any punches. She's described as cheerful, but at the end of her victory, she cries. Perhaps she is a reluctant fighter?

It seems this is a big hubbub over a pretty inconsequential matter. There are plenty of other things to fret about. Worrying about the Filipino-ness of a virtual character should be the least of anybody's concerns. 

Let Josie be!