I haven’t posted to this blog in a while. The last time I did I was angry about something. Anger, which propelled me enough to write about it. Well, I’m angry again. (Just be warned this blog post contains spoilers for the game). I just completed the first and only single-player downloadable content for The Last of Us. The DLC, titled Left Behind, follows Ellie, the young protagonist from the main campaign.
The game picks up just after she and Joel (her father-figure protector) escape the university after a group of apocalyptic hunters try to feed them bullet sandwiches. Ellie finds refuge in a mall which reminds her of the last time she spent with her best friend Riley. In the flashbacks we follow her and Riley through an abandoned mall having fun in Halloween shops, horse carousels and photo booths. By the end of the end of their adventure it’s revealed that Riley wanted one last hoorah with her best friend before a radical group called the Fireflies took her away to another city to fight in the post apocalyptic world. What’s more is that it’s revealed that this whole escapade was a last time date for the two girls which ultimately culminates into a kiss.
Now this is what pisses me off. This is what made me angry, what made my blood curdle. No, not because two girls were sharing an intimate moment, but because, of course, what the YouTube comments said below.
Now of course I expect trolls like these but what really got to me were the comments that were well-meaning but, to me, misguided.
It’s like this user and others that wrote similar comments do not want to believe she is a lesbian even though she experienced a lesbian moment. Even though Ellie shared this wonderful moment with her best friend it doesn’t seem like anyone wants to taint it with being a wonderful lesbian moment. It’s as if it being lesbian belittles the situation and to rectify it we must say Ellie had a “slip of judgement.” Why can’t Ellie be a lesbian? Let us say Riley were instead Henry, another character from the main campaign, you would never hear someone say, “just because she kissed him doesn’t mean she’s straight.” Most would automatically assume she was straight or would not even pay it any mind. This comment pissed me off even more than the typical trolls because it seems as though this YouTube commenter was trying to make the scenario okay within their brain. ‘Oh, just cause she kissed her she’s not gay she was just in an extreme emotional state.”
Initially as I was playing the game and this cutscene came along I cheered when they kissed. In the main campaign we saw vurnability within Ellie but never like this. I felt like I was her in that moment. I felt the love she felt for Riley, even before the kiss. I knew she needed this person in her life and that this person was very special to her. Most of all, the feeling was mutual. Riley takes off her FireFly pendant and throws it to the ground in a symbol of her choice for Ellie. Then they shared their kiss together, something so sweet and so innocent and so right because they both needed and loved one another. Only to be ruined by a group of infected that brings them back to their reality. I was in that moment with them and I felt it regardless of what their sexual orientation may be. But my real world ruined their moment for me too. The trolls who lashed out stupidly or the ignoramuses that try to sway Ellie to their perceptions.
And then I thought about it more. Why does it matter if she’s straight or lesbian? Why does she need a label at all? There was an article I read a week or two ago stating how homophobia actually hurts our overall sexuality. The fact that we are afraid to acknowledge it or repel it keeps us boxed in. Love is an emotional connection between two people regardless of who their partner is. Why are we so fixated on those couples being of the opposite sex? What is the virtue between a same sex relationship versus a heterosexual one? This scene between these two girls was possibly the most touching thing I’ve witness between two people in a long while. Perhaps because in standard relationships within the media each sex falls into specific gender roles.
With a same sex pairing like Ellie and Riley, I feel it’s easier to see the deeper connection between the two, not just the physical. In fact, Ellie and Riley’s relationship within the entire game was very wholesome and in many ways more mature and dynamic than most relationships audiences get to see. In most depictions of heterosexual connections it’s about something physical. We see the man swoon over a woman and compliment her good looks. Or we see the woman talk about his hot bod. But we hardly see them connect on a personal and more deep level. Instead we get the conventional cat and mouse chase. With Ellie and Riley’s relationship you never have them checking out each other’s asses or directing inappropriate comments towards one another. You merely see them being with each other and enjoying each other’s company just because their spirits, their personalities mesh, regardless of their sex. There is no inherent virtue in either a homosexual or heterosexual relationship. Though, I feel this depiction of a homosexual relationship was far more honest than most heterosexual relationships we get in videos games. Also, nothing is wrong with a physical attraction between two people but so often we only see the physicality between two parties of a relationship. It was a breath of fresh air to just simply see two people connecting as Ellie and Riley did in this scene and in this game.
But we do live in a world where we have labels. So if we should label Ellie and Riley’s intimate moment we should call it exactly what it is: a beautiful lesbian moment. A gorgeous display of deep caring and intimacy between two female parties. We should not depreciate it as a bi-curious scenario or a lapse in judgement. It was not a gross act or an abomination. It was simply touching and sweet, and most of all, honest and true.
So far I haven’t seen any comments from Naughty Dog. If they do respond to their fans about the reason they had these two share a kiss, I hope they do not make a big deal out it. Just as we do not make a big deal out a heterosexual couple sharing a kiss in a game.
Great, this rant made me miss House of Cards Season 2. I have to go to sleep now.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“I never understood the hate on a nigga’s preference/When every marriage is a same sex marriage/Same sex everyday, monotonous.”
– Childish Gambino