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Samus Aran: What A Female Hero Should Be

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There’s a surge in female confidence, and girl power is on the rise across much of the world. Female protagonists have popped up to defend against the Mog Chothra, or been found creeping around Sevastopol trying to avoid a particularly terrifying alien species. But one female hero has been consistently unnoticed on her journey across the galaxy. Whether she’s defending against the depredation of the Space Pirates on Tallon IV, or stopping the rampage of the monstrous Gorea, she’s persistently overcome every obstacle thrown at her. That female hero (as the title already told you) is Samus Aran.

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Samus Aran has been around since 1986, when on the planet Zebes, she overcame the Space Pirates who intended to exploit the parasitic organisms known as Metroids (where the name of the game comes from for those trivia-inclined) for galactic domination. The great empowerment to women with Samus Aran is that her gender is rarely mentioned, or barely played upon. Her victory in Zebes had nothing to do with gender politics, and everything to do with Samus Aran being an incredible bounty hunter. The human operating the power suit was merely the greatest hero in the Galaxy, and that’s all that mattered.

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This is in contrast with much more recent portrayals of female protagonists in all forms of media. The most notable example is the new Ghostbusters movie which has played too heavily on replacing the original casting with a female line-up. Not only was the storyline badly written, but the acting was cringe-worthy at best and it’s done no justice to their decision to change Ghostbusters. The reality is that women don’t need to replace male heroes, as they can be heroic in their own right. Samus Aran didn’t replace a male Samus Aran. She was the original and that should be the inspiration for all female protagonists in games, movies and across all platforms of media.

It’s a bad reflection on directors and game designers if they cannot come up with original material for a female protagonist that people can be inspired by. But that wouldn’t be a true reflection, for we’ve seen original female protagonists time and time again, and therefore this new wave of laziness shouldn’t be shaping opinions in the way it has. Everybody is a critic, and not everybody is going to be happy with how a new female character is portrayed. This over-focus on what a female should be is partly why Samus Aran has gone unnoticed. She doesn’t portray much of the expectations for a female protagonist; she’s in a power-suit.

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There’s always the accusations of sexism directed at much of the gaming world, with the Gamergate situation of 2014 always a little mystifying for those who have engaged in gaming for a long time. Whilst a lot of female characters can be seen as overly sexualized, Samus Aran has shown it isn’t necessarily the norm. Her femininity has never really shaped the games, nor has it been a concerning feature in any of the gameplay. Sometimes, there’s a habit of looking far too much at a small negative, rather than embracing something legitimately positive. No one could argue against Princess Zelda being a strong, defiant, resourceful girl whom was vital in defeating Ganon; and there are serious concerns for those who can sexualize Kazooie. Female heroes exist in gaming, and they’ve existed since the beginning.

And with Metroid Prime: Federation Force set to be released on August 19th in North America and September 2nd in Europe, there’s a reason to reflect on how empowering Samus Aran should be. She has been one of (if not the) first female protagonist in a game, and she continues strong to this day. Vitally, her gender or sexuality has never been a part of the games. Samus Aran should be the future of female protagonists, not Ghostbusters. Samus Aran should be the face for girls in gaming, not Anita Sarkeesian. Samus Aran should be the example of female empowerment in gaming, and hopefully upon the release of Metroid Prime: Federation Force, there will be a realization that gaming remains as inclusive and accepting as it has always been.

Lost his ticket on the 'Number 9' Luxury Express Train to the Ninth Underworld. Has been left to write articles and reviews about games to write off his debt until the 'powers that be' feel it is sufficiently paid.

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4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Hugsie Muffinball

    August 8, 2016 at 10:15 pm

    Nintendo is cracking down on AM2Rv1.0, but not before it was mirrored and seeded everywhere.

    magnet:?xt=urn:btih:31059585e68123d095871d3169899cd900b77213&dn=AM2R%20v1.0

    Not cool, guys. (Unless, like Streets of Rage Remake, you waited with a
    wink and nod until it was completed and widely distributed before
    requesting takedowns).

  2. Noble Alfred

    August 9, 2016 at 2:03 pm

    There is a simple reason Samus apparently didn’t offend those SJW’s, she for the most part wears a suit.
    And are you going to completely ignore her other M portrayal?

    And Lara Croft, in Legends and Underworld was a pretty badass action heroe too. But somehow wearing clothing of a normal human being and having parts of a normal human being offends everyone now.

    You are right though, for a strong character you don’t need to force it. But I think we had a lot of strong characters before. I myself find the old Lara Croft to be a strong character, infact its the new one that I find lacking. The new Lara Croft, the new Bioware Casts etc.. are all either too gender aware or too gender passive. There were/are plently of Badass female characters, just because some go on to whine on the internet saying there are not forcing most to please them particularly, afraid they might come off as being sexist if they don’t.

    And being gender aware or even exploiting the gender is not a crime. The female from Tenchu games, Bloodrayne etc are great characters who are strong. Your argument of a character needing to be gender passive to be strong is only half-right. At the end even my argument doesn’t matter.

    We need less articles and more competent writers who aren’t afraid to take criticism.
    And we need less of people forcing them to write characters a certain way, he/she is the writer you are just the privileged.

    • James Baker

      August 9, 2016 at 6:20 pm

      Thanks for your passionate response.

      I’ve always been a huge fan of Samus (she’s actually tattooed on my arm) and as a child it had nothing to do with her gender, as I was unaware, nor would I have cared. My article was more of a ridicule at today’s climate of pushing for strong female characters in all media, when in my opinion strong female characters have always existed.

      With Metroid Prime: Federation Force set to be released, I thought we should celebrate one of the strongest female characters in gaming, who in my mind also deserves a film. It’s a tough subject to talk about with a lot of people afraid to engage in it. As a writer, it’s important not to shy away from any subject, as freedom of expression is a birthright we shouldn’t allow to be taken away.

      Politics aside, Samus Aran deserves to be showcased as a hero, regardless of her gender. There’s even an argument she’s the first transgender hero in gaming, but it really doesn’t matter. She’s original, she’s dangerous, and she’s been inspiring. The Gaming Industry doesn’t get given the credit it deserves for knocking down boundaries.

      • Noble Alfred

        August 9, 2016 at 8:11 pm

        I see. I misunderstood your intention with this article. I came to the conclusion I came based on the title you gave. I appreciate you making it clear.

        And you are right, the gaming industry doesn’t get the credit it deserves for its great characters. Most media refuses to acknowledge the characters being fleshed out without needing for dialogues and monologues. We also define game characters through the actions we take and journey we go through, I think this is one thing that everyone seem to overlook.

        At the end of Metroid, we defined Samus as a badass not because of dialogue sequences. We defined her badass because we went along the journey with her and therefore know she is badass.

        Finally, Yes. It is not necessary for the games to force females into the narrative. But at the same time I don’t think the current push is all that bad, more gender neutral games could use female playable characters/protagonists. I think the push atleast shows to AAA publishers that female protagonists aren’t unacceptable. I don’t think Ubisoft would’ve ever accepted a female in any of their main current games if there wasn’t such a strong backclash and push during the time of Unity. The ability to play as both genders in For Honor etc… so I don’t think its all that bad. Its a grey area, you want to push just the right amount to show them its a feasible *option*. But forcing them to be written a particular way is where I draw the line, that’s the writer’s choice and not yours.

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