Femme Fatale?

What is a Femme Fatale? A Femme Fatale is a female character who uses her sexual appeal to draw others to their doom. Think Batman Return’s Catwoman, and you get the idea.

catwoman straddling a fallen batman

C'mon. You would have let your guard down too.

In Batman Returns, Catwoman repeatedly uses her feminine wiles to disarm enemies, like Batman, and after they take the bait she strikes. “How could you? I’m a woman!” she famously says after Batman knocks her down. Batman apologizes and goes to help her. Taking this moment of sexist vulnerability, she inflicts damage on him. At other points in the film she is seen seducing him then once again inflicting damage. An important use of her sex appeal is manipulating the Penguin into trusting her and working with her. This is a classic Femme Fatale character

Do you know who is not a Femme Fatale character? Miranda from Mass Effect 2 is not, yet this was the explanation given for her sexualized clothing and appearance.

The character Miranda holding a gun out

Wow. Really, Bioware?

Let me first give a little bit of backstory to Miranda to flesh her out. Created from birth as a genetically perfect human, Miranda escaped the grip of her overbearing father and into the embrace of Cerberus, a questionable human-focused and armed group. The Alliance, the military and overarching government of the humans, as well as the Council, the backbone of the laws in the galaxy composed of four prominent and powerful species in the galaxy, consider Cerberus a terrorist organization. But even working for an organization like that, Miranda has high morals. Though sometimes arrogant or cold, she tries her best to do the right thing while carrying the heavy burden of genetic perfection. Yes, she is given a perfect body because she is perfect. Because it is a futuristic game, most of the people wear skin tight clothing, but nothing like Miranda’s clothing.

One scene has been gathering some controversy for the character, and it is because of this scene that the question of her sexualized appearances has been brought.  In this scene, a dialog tree is present.  This is how conversations with different NPCs are held.  It is a still screen with these options in front of it, and many people have noticed that the below screen sticks out.  There are no scenes like that for any other character where the behind of a character is so prominently featured.

a scene featuring a decision tree and a very prominant butt of Miranda

Umn, do I really have to click on her butt if I want to investigate?

To explain her appearance, she was called a Femme Fatale, and the clothing was a reflection of that.

I’m sorry, what? Were we playing the same game? Miranda was a character I respected. Again and again she proved herself to be a reliable fighter and character. Not once, in my memory, does she use seduction to get what she wants. Miranda uses her superior intelligence and battle prowess to succeed. She has a ‘perfect’ body, yes, but that is not the focus of her character. I do think that Femme Fatale can be a great character to employ, and if she was actually seducing people to their doom, then I would probably support choosing this outfit. But she isn’t, and that’s what bothers me. Where is her armor? She’s a soldier, not a sex object. Yes she heals faster according to canon, but she’s not bullet or rocket proof and can still take damage.

My point here is that calling her Femme Fatale is just an excuse to provide wanking material for the fanboys. I wish they had given her a little respect and a little protection. This will certainly not dissuade me from playing the game, and it shouldn’t dissuade you either. It’s more a commentary on the excuses made to cover up the fact that Bioware, even after having an amazing and successful game, still feels that they need to put a sexualized female character in to please fans.

Further reading here. More links posted later.

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