BBFC Rubbishes Resident Evil Racism Claims
British censorship body says the content's fine.
Kikizo recently published a hands-on preview of the first few chapters of Resident Evil 5, highlighting what the author considered to be racist imagery in a cut scene. Here's a refresh for the newcomers:
"At one point you and Sheva glimpse a woman struggling with a group of Majini on a balcony overlooking a street. She's a white westerner - prominently, unmistakeably so, with waist-length platinum blonde hair, idealised Anglo-Saxon facial features and a skimpy black lace night dress. She screams for aid, but is overpowered and dragged back into the building. When you eventually reach her, she has been impregnated with the Los Plagos virus and must be destroyed. As our chums at Eurogamer have pointed out, the scene dovetails smoothly with that classic racist trope of the brutal black male 'corrupting' the white man's womenfolk. There's zero justification for the woman's appearance in the plot - the scene exists, as far as I can see, purely to outrage and titillate players whose cultural background is saturated with such unwholesome ideas."
We forwarded the article to Sue Clark, Head of Communications at the British Board of Film Classification, inviting her to comment. She offered to go over the scene in question, but told us that "the BBFC would not automatically cut a work for racism. We would normally give a work a higher rating to take it away from younger consumers who might not understand the issues surrounding racist remarks or attitudes.
"In this case the game is already rated 18 by us, so we would be unlikely to intervene further," she went on.
Sue came back with a verdict. The short answer is that she thinks we're talking bollocks. The long answer is published below:
"In the version [of the scene] submitted to the BBFC there is only one man pulling the blonde woman in from the balcony, and I can't say the skimpiness of her dress impressed itself on me. The single man is not black either. As the whole game is set in Africa it is hardly surprising that some of the characters are black, just like the fact that some of the characters in an earlier version were Spanish as the game was set in Spain.
"As I said yesterday, we do take racism very seriously, but in this case there is no issue around racism. Just for information, were the distributors to be supplying a version of the game which we had not classified it would be illegal under the terms of the VRA [Video Recordings Act ]."
We intend to reassess the scene and any related material when we review the game prior to its March release. In the meantime, you can check out our interview with Capcom's Jun Takeuchi and Masachika Kiwata here.