So I awoke today to some wonderful news, that in preparation for the launch of the new Deus Ex game, Mankind Divided on 23rd August, new concept art has been released.
Now I love the Deus Ex concept art. For every game they have ever done including the less favourable game Invisible War. But this time rather than dealing with Illuminati inspired/references conspiracy theories, Mankind Divided is attempting to explore concepts around citizenship and human rights.
But apparently out of all the art produced, people only care about the Moscow image (above).
Why is this? Because apparently showing a group of protestors holding a banner displaying Augs Lives Matters is insensitive and 'cultural appropriation'.
Reading the claims from critics about how insensitive this is reminds me very much of the TV show South Park, and the sort of backlash it receives. A show which most people are happy to watch and laugh at, however the moment the show turns their mocking finger at a group the audience member belongs to, then suddenly it's insensitive and shouldn't be allowed.
If this art for Mankind Divided causes people to take note, just as with their use of the term Mechanical Apartheid then that is a good thing. That means that the art, theme, game, is doing it's job!
This might sound a little weird, but the way I see it, that is half the point of the science fiction genre. It is supposed to make you the audience look at the world around you and ask questions/challenge ideas. Within SciFi you can explore censorship, discrimination, even genocide, and via the SciFi veil it becomes something that can be done so much safer than actually referencing real life or history.
You see, history has been. What happened happened, we can't change that. But from SciFi we can ask and explore "what if?" (Just look at the excellent to adaptation of The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. dick). But we can also explore the other side. We might view a certain political or military group as abhorrent and inhuman, but their members are not monsters, they are not Dracula or the Wolf Man, they're people just like you and I with their own view points. If you take away the humanity of the group, make them aliens, and their terrible actions are committed on other aliens, then the writers and indeed us, the audience, can explore things from the side of those committing atrocities. We can see their desires and wants, that they too have friends and family members they want to protect, and we can begin to sympathise, or even empathise with these characters (Babylon 5 did this wonderfully with pretty much every character being a shade of grey).
More so, I have always seen SciFi telling more about the time it was written, and less about the time it projects towards. Often the clothing and fashion worn is an exaggeration of the current trends, or a ludicrous (but accepted) projection of what people will wear in X number of years. The themes almost always relating to current affairs, with the occasional amount of whacky-zane thrown in for good measure.
Why is this? Because a good writer, and I wound say that in my experience, there are a tonne of good SciFi writers, as well as creating whole new things, will also pull on their own experiences or their knowledge of the world and history.
So Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, making use of terms such as Mechanical Apartheid and Aug Lives Matter in comparison to real life events, is that 'going too far' As some have put it?
Am I a little miffed to see yet another #XLivesMatter? Honestly yes. But I honestly wouldn't be surprised if now #XLivesMatter has become just part of the current cultural zeitgeist, much like how now everything is a SomethingGate. It's just something that I have to come to terms with.
What it is not however, is an example of poor world building, as a few too many people have claimed.
Until next time, stay safe, and be excellent to each other!
- Your friendly neighbourhood Doctor Loxley