A Feminist Reading of Halo 4

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Matt Barton's picture

I finally got around to finishing Halo 4 last night and the ending troubled me. Not because I thought it was incoherent or unsatisfying, but rather I didn't know what to make of its attitude towards women--or, rather, what assumptions it seems to make about the player's attitude towards them. One thing really stood out to me: clothing and the lack thereof. I looked around the net to see what others had written about Cortana, and quickly discovered I'm far from the only one who has some issues with it. As Jon W of Gamasutra puts it: "It doesn't seem particularly fair to permaban pumped-up teenage boys from acting like immature sexists when that is exactly what the game has trained them to be." Warning: there are some spoilers here.

Master Chief: The armor and mask protect ego as well as body.Master Chief: The armor and mask protect ego as well as body.Let's start with Master Chief. Like many super heroes, you never see this guy's face (or any of the rest of his body). He's well protected by the equivalent of a wearable tank. Arguably, not showing the hero's face is an important part of the identification process; since we can't see him, it's easier to imagine ourselves in that suit. I do think this is part of his appeal, but I think it also taps into something more profound than that. Perhaps it's getting at a deep-seated anxiety about having our emotions exposed; characters like Master Chief strike us (and the other characters in the game, actually) as emotionally withdrawn and guarded. Like Batman and countless similar types, the Chief is strictly focused on what he perceives as his duty as a man. While the mask is ostensibly there to protect his identity, it also, and perhaps more importantly, protects his male ego. In much the same way that a prison guard gains some emotional distance by donning a pair of dark sunglasses--so the convicts cannot see his eyes--characters like Batman and Master Chief's identity-masking erases those elements unique to an individual. After all, a "real man" shuns special treatment and consideration; the macho ethos is always about "doing what any man would have done," not what only someone with a deep emotional attachment would do. If we want to indulge in stereotypes for a moment, it's easy enough to see how Master Chief represents a very common fantasy for boys, particularly those who don't have much confidence. Being in a suit like Master Chief's makes you incredibly strong, tough, and, most importantly, concealed, so that you are protected physically as well as from those discouraging stares or dismissive glances (whether real or imagined).

Cortana: By contrast, Cortana is exposed and dependent.Cortana: By contrast, Cortana is exposed and dependent.Fine. But what's perhaps more disturbing is the game's treatment of Cortana. Here we have the game's only real female character, and she's almost the total opposite of the male image of Master Chief. Instead of being almost totally concealed behind heavy armor and an opaque visor, she's practically naked, and when she's on screen, the camera pays close attention to her rich facial expressions and exaggerated curves. Whereas the Chief is a highly physical being of great strength, one who really makes an impact wherever he goes--Cortana is not even granted a body, but exists only as a hologram. She is completely and utterly dependent on the Chief for protection as well as mobility--he literally picks her up and plugs her into his suit. In perhaps the final insult to females in this game, it's emphasized that even her individuality is an illusion; she can be copied again and again when the need arises. Finally, she is even denied rationality, and becomes increasingly less coherent and more dependent on Master Chief until the closing credits (and a poignant moment I won't spoil here).

Cortana's lack of a physical body also protects Master Chief from the need to be physically intimate with her; by her very nature, her being and his affection for her can only be conceptualized, not consummated. In a way this seems a return to chivalric traditions of the aloof, "untainted" romance, where sexuality is expressed in poetry rather than prurience. While the Chief never waxes poetically, the music in the game certainly suggests such themes, and it's easy enough to read whatever longing we experience ourselves under his visor. While chivalric traditions might seem to celebrate and protect women by placing them on a pedestal, it also denies them the right to their body and sexuality. It's as though their corporeal existence beneath all the claptrap is simply so reviling that it's better to deny oneself the pleasures of sex than to destroy the illusion.

Is the game sexist? I wouldn't talk about it in those terms. I think it's simply more symptomatic of the latent sexual anxieties experienced by the young men who tend to buy these games more than any conspiracy or sexist attitudes on the part of the studio. I do wonder, though, if games that indulge and immerse us so deeply in these pubescent fantasies might in some way retard our emotional and sexual development. Halo 4 presents the ideal woman as, literally just an idea, whose very identity, individuality, and physicality, are all either denied or rendered suspect--all the while protecting the male ego behind a near-indestructible and opaque set of body armor--well, it can't be good, now, can it? There's a telling (if not touching) moment at the end of the game where the Chief is talking to a much less intimidating man, one who's face is not obscured behind a helmet but is in fact quite animated. It becomes obvious from the man's questions, attitude, and height compared to the Chief makes it clear he's not nearly as rugged and self-contained as the hero. His remark that soldiers makes him seem weak and barely worthy to be in the same room. The Chief is taciturn, as a man ought to be; this guy talks too much about his feelings. Indeed, the Chief's last words before the credits point out that Cortana, the Female, had said the same thing.

It seems that this type of hero doesn't seem to thrive well in other media, such as comics. Iron Man might seem to have a lot in common with the Chief--after all, they wear similar suits. But Iron Man has an alter ego, like Batman and countless other characters. We thus get to see their weaker, more emotional side. Games like Halo 4 seem better able to get away with this lack of emotional development, perhaps substituting the thrill of controlling the character to that of identifying with a character. While many of us have often fantasized about wearing Iron Man's suit, I imagine relatively fewer of us have fantasized about being Tony Stark or Bruce Wayne. While some of us as boys might have resisted either of these characters--"Just get back to crime fighting, Batman!" or whatever, they did provide some wholesome balance. What a game like Halo 4 might be imparting to the boys and young men, though, I shudder to think.

Comments

Mendicant Bias (not verified)
A Horrible "analysis"

This is the perfect example of Radical Feminism which makes the entire movement look crazy. If the writer even bothered to understand the context of the universe which she was writing about or looked at developer interviews prior to writing. This wouldn't exist.

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I didn't know what to make of its attitude towards women--or, rather, what assumptions it seems to make about the player's attitude towards them. One thing really stood out to me: clothing and the lack thereof.

Every player loves cortana in their own way which is why so many refuse to Believe she was killed off. Cortana is the driving force behind chief's achievements and he would have died several times if it wasn't for her and the plans she makes. Why doesn't she wear clothes? [b]Because she is a AI, a computer program[/b]. She chooses not to wear clothes unlike the few other Female AIs we know of,all of which wear clothing. Of my 10+ years as a fan i haven't see anybody faun after cortana and her body. Everything is about her and the connection she shares with John.

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It doesn't seem particularly fair to permaban pumped-up teenage boys from acting like immature sexists when that is exactly what the game has trained them to be

I started playing the game when i was in middle school. Where in the world does it "train you" to act like a sexist? I would expect to see that said about Grand Theft Auto or the way parents raise their children. Not Halo. In Halo CE a Female polite by the callsign "FoeHammer" has near legendary status with the community. Doctor Halsey is central to everything in the universe because she is the smartest human alive and saved humanity from extinction twice. So where in the game is it "training" you to be a sexist? If so they failed because The game/universe inherently portrays women to be superior than men. I suggest you read an actual article on cortana http://haruspis.wordpress.com/2014/01/25/halo-4-cortana-feminism/.

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Let's start with Master Chief. Like many super heroes, you never see this guy's face (or any of the rest of his body). He's well protected by the equivalent of a wearable tank.....the Chief is strictly focused on what he perceives as his duty as a man.

Um. John is a part of a Super Soldier program that was Lead by a woman known as Catherine Halsey to stop a massive rebellion within the colonies. The Spartan Program was created,The rebels (Innies) were stopped, and the armor was only given decades later when the covenant showed up. Plenty of women were in the program as well and have the same armor. So that was completely stupid and incorrect. The armor is worn to protect him nothing to do with "his manhood" which he has no concept of because he has been fighting since the age of 6.

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In much the same way that a prison guard gains some emotional distance by donning a pair of dark sunglasses--so the convicts cannot see his eyes--characters like Batman and Master Chief's identity-masking erases those elements unique to an individual.

The Novels describe his looks in great detail and you even see him as a child in the comics "The fall of reach". Also,several of the Avengers know who batman is and have seen him break down several times. Again, you have no idea what you are talking about.

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After all, a "real man" shuns special treatment and consideration; the macho ethos is always about "doing what any man would have done," not what only someone with a deep emotional attachment would do. If we want to indulge in stereotypes for a moment, it's easy enough to see how Master Chief represents a very common fantasy for boys, particularly those who don't have much confidence. Being in a suit like Master Chief's makes you incredibly strong, tough, and, most importantly, concealed, so that you are protected physically as well as from those discouraging stares or dismissive glances (whether real or imagined).

This are super soldiers that hardly grasp the concept of humanity. You are forcing all of this crap on their characters without any context of universal support. The Spartans Hardly lose battles so when they do a reaction is just silence. When John though he lost all of his brothers and sisters on reach he was hurt,deeply. But he didn't break down crying because they were trained to accept losses. He showed more clear emotion with cortana's death than his own kin and he has only known her for a few months. Why is that? because cortana has saved his ass several times and he is well aware of that. The whole sub-plot with halo 4 (which you failed to comprehend) is that a machine is more human than a actual man. Cortana displays emotions during situations that you would expect from chief. Such has expressing not knowing what to do next,being phased when humans just combust in front of him, or even worrying if he'll lose. Cortana displayed all of that,and more while the chief did not. There was even a cinematic with her commenting on him being a machine,which he is. The emotion isn't displayed because of how the military brought him up not because he is a "macho man".

I would love to see how you explain the several dozen (and now hundred with the S-IVs) women that wear the MJOLNIR armor as he. They sure aren't doing it to be "manly".

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Here we have the game's only real female character, and she's almost the total opposite of the male image of Master Chief.

Do you have any knowledge about the series whatsoever? This is the FIRST GAME of the new saga. Halsey has a major role in the game but it wasn't critical to the campaign because that was about John and Cortana. If you want to talk about "real" Female characters look at the roles women played in the last few games and write about that. Specifically Foehammer,Anders,Halsey,Kat, and Miranda.
Do you know why cortana is opposite of chief? because she is more human than he is despite being a machine. That can't even be called "Sub-text" because that is literally what the game is about.

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she's practically naked, and when she's on screen, the camera pays close attention to her rich facial expressions and exaggerated curves.

WTF? She is a computer screen and is only a female because it choses to be such. Rich curves? Have you even met any women in "real life" or seen them in other games? Halo does a perfect job of NOT portraying women as sex idols the examples being those i just stated. Cortana looks like the AVERAGE women with the richness being in her character,not her body. if you truly found her curves to be "rich" then i assume you must not spend a lot of time around women,at all.

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She is completely and utterly dependent on the Chief for protection as well as mobility--he literally picks her up and plugs her into his suit. In perhaps the final insult to females in this game, it's emphasized that even her individuality is an illusion; she can be copied again and again when the need arises. Finally, she is even denied rationality, and becomes increasingly less coherent and more dependent on Master Chief until the closing credits (and a poignant moment I won't spoil here).

Um, you seem to be fully incapable of grasping that she is a computer program. The reason cortana is plugged in inside of wirelessly hacking everything is so you and chief can see her face. Though you wouldn't know, she actually Likes being outside of his suit where she feels limited. No she cannot copy herself, doing so causes great risks which is why she said "chief,you aren't going to like what i am about to do". It clearly did not feel good and she explained that by ejecting her RAMPANT PERSONALITY CORES she could overload the Didact's shields. Which worked and is the reason she ended up dying. I don't understand why you are writing an article in the "name of feminism" when you have no fucking clue as to what you are talking about. You are wrong from a universe and ethical standpoint. The only people that would agree with any of this nonsense are people that say yes to anything they read without understanding. which is the mindset you more or less had as this article contains no universe knowledge or context. I can't even believe you played the game.

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Cortana's lack of a physical body also protects Master Chief from the need to be physically intimate with her; by her very nature, her being and his affection for her can only be conceptualized, not consummated.

My mind is blown by this train of thought as it was when i saw "her". So when a person likes a women for her body they are "X" and "Y" ignoring the fact that biologically we are to be attracted to certain sets more than others. but again, ignoring actual logic. So when you like a person for just their mind you are still a negative "X" and "Y"? i can't comprehend this. I thought by having a connection with cortana,despite not having a body, showed how irrlevent that all was. Chief likes cortana because of cortana. He isn't looking at her "Rich curves" because she is literally in his head most of the time.

So how are we suppose to like people? You can't like them for biological reasons and you can't like them for their mentality. should we like them for the clothes they wear or how much money they have? Maybe, we should all stop talking and wear spongebob suits over our bodies! That way we don't know what anybody looks like or what they think like. We can base our love purely off the chances of meeting each other by being at the right place,at the right time. Jesus i could go on about how stupid this is.

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While chivalric traditions might seem to celebrate and protect women by placing them on a pedestal, it also denies them the right to their body and sexuality.

She is a computer. She literally cannot nor has she a body. Therefore she is placed on a pedestal based on mental wit, not physical prowess, which i thought was something to be supported.

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Is the game sexist? I wouldn't talk about it in those terms.

You shouldn't even be talking about the game. You'd do a better job of explaining the Two old people in the pornhub commercial than acting like a pseudo-intellectual.

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I think it's simply more symptomatic of the latent sexual anxieties experienced by the young men who tend to buy these games more than any conspiracy or sexist attitudes on the part of the studio.I do wonder, though, if games that indulge and immerse us so deeply in these pubescent fantasies might in some way retard our emotional and sexual development.

You aren't even a women nor a Fan of the universe. Therefore, you have no concrete reasoning to even assume the Fanbase is sexist. Which,if it were, They wouldn't want cortana back so desperately because "Her and Chief are the plot". The only "Fantasy" i could think of is me fucking a Dell while staring at an image of Kim Kardashin. That is the only "fantasy" to come out of cortana.

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Halo 4 presents the ideal woman as, literally just an idea, whose very identity, individuality, and physicality, are all either denied or rendered suspect--all the while protecting the male ego behind a near-indestructible and opaque set of body armor--well, it can't be good, now, can it?

Would you elaborate the fate of the humans NOT wearing the Armor John is? I expect to see a far lot more of them dead.

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His remark that soldiers makes him seem weak and barely worthy to be in the same room.

Complete BS and that was never ever stated anywhere. He said it was his duty to serve humanity.

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but Iron Man has an alter ego- We thus get to see their weaker, more emotional side

Yes, Where stark goes around fucking every women he can find before his next meeting,aliens included.

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I imagine relatively fewer of us have fantasized about being Tony Stark or Bruce Wayne. While some of us as boys might have resisted either of these characters--"Just get back to crime fighting, Batman!" or whatever, they did provide some wholesome balance. What a game like Halo 4 might be imparting to the boys and young men, though, I shudder to think.

What lifestyle to you have to live to seriously think that more kids want to be the Master chief than Batman or Iron man? You do understand they have halloween costumes that are worn by thousands EVERY YEAR right? There isn't even a mock-up chief suit on the mass market. Halo 4 actually shows that you are suppose to have emotions and show them. I think you probably wrote this nonsense article to impress your dell, i wonder if your Floppy disk made it into the Hard-drive that night.

arijog (not verified)
let me tell you why that's bullsh1t

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I finally got around to finishing Halo 4 last night and the ending troubled me.

good. unlike most other video game stories, halo 4's ending is very troubling in the way that it allows our personal investment in the main character to create a sense of catharsis after someone so close to him dies an-

*rereads article title*

oh. i see what this article is going to be like.

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Not because I thought it was incoherent or unsatisfying,

very interesting. the biggest complaint most people invested in the lore have with the ending is the extensive manipulation of hardlight and the whole "got you off the ship at the last second" thing.

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but rather I didn't know what to make of its attitude towards women--or, rather, what assumptions it seems to make about the player's attitude towards them.

can't wait to hear this elaboration.

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One thing really stood out to me: clothing and the lack thereof.

congratulations, my friend. it's taken you eleven years to complain about the chief [heh] supporting character's lack of clothing.

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I looked around the net to see what others had written about Cortana,

oh, me too!

http://goingrampant.tumblr.com/post/63900733759/cortanas-immobility-isnt...
http://fandomsandfeminism.tumblr.com/post/36406203982/cortana-the-best-d...
http://haruspis.wordpress.com/2014/01/25/halo-4-cortana-feminism/comment...
http://tap-repeatedly.com/2012/12/the-naked-vulnerability-of-halo-4/

there are several things wrong with a few of the articles i've listed, but for the most part they're absolutely fantastic.

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and quickly discovered I'm far from the only one who has some issues with it.

what a discovery! people share your opinions!

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As Jon W of Gamasutra puts it: "It doesn't seem particularly fair to permaban pumped-up teenage boys from acting like immature sexists when that is exactly what the game has trained them to be."

as i put it: that is a complete and utter lie. halo 4's depiction of cortana is the exact opposite of what you're describing.

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Let's start with Master Chief. Like many super heroes, you never see this guy's face (or any of the rest of his body).

... many superheroes like? most popular ones out there do have clear depictions of their face.

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He's well protected by the equivalent of a wearable tank. Arguably, not showing the hero's face is an important part of the identification process; since we can't see him, it's easier to imagine ourselves in that suit.

and, arguably, this was only part of bungie's halo games. in the books and in halo 4 the master chief is no longer a vessel for a player to experience the game world in due to inclusion of speech in game and in cutscenes. in essence, master chief is characterized in newer media. this is the EXACT opposite of your point.

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I do think this is part of his appeal, but I think it also taps into something more profound than that. Perhaps it's getting at a deep-seated anxiety about having our emotions exposed; characters like Master Chief strike us (and the other characters in the game, actually) as emotionally withdrawn and guarded.

the entire point of halo 4, and more specifically, the ending cutscene you're attacking, is to REMOVE the master chief from his emotionally withdrawn status.

http://www.bungie.net/en/Forum/Post?id=61762113

every single line master chief says in the ending makes him exponentially more vulnerable than the last. and don't try and defend yourself with "artistic analysis." i've been through this before, and i'm sorry, but it's not going to work on me. the poster i've referenced backed up his entire post with quotes straight from the developer's mouths AND subtext from the game and previous novels.

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Like Batman and countless similar types, the Chief is strictly focused on what he perceives as his duty as a man.

if by "man" you mean "soldier," then yes. that is the added context halo 4 provides. it provides a reason for john's stoicism.

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While the mask is ostensibly there to protect his identity, it also, and perhaps more importantly, protects his male ego.

SINCE WHEN has master chief's helmet ever been there to protect his identity? and the last point you make is REALLY interesting because it refutes your own logic. at the end of halo 4 we see master chief's helmet being taken off, signifying a break in master chief's "male ego."

let me differentiate here by proffering up my own interpretation of john 117. it is master chief's ID that is predominant according to halo 4, given the "machine-like" status the game labels him with at times. master chief's ego has always been repressed by cortana giving him objectives. in this way, cortana is the superego to master chief, always giving him objectives and mediating between his ego and id. now that cortana is gone, master chief will have to develop his own superego, and that excites me to no end.

so in my interpretation, master chief does not ever have to "protect his ‘male’ ego with his mask." master chief has never wanted to mask his identity with his helmet. [despite being uneasy when halsey was able to easily guess which spartan was which]

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In much the same way that a prison guard gains some emotional distance by donning a pair of dark sunglasses--so the convicts cannot see his eyes--characters like Batman and Master Chief's identity-masking erases those elements unique to an individual.

absolutely. i'm sure the true reason they wear what they do is due to an elimination of individual elements and "uniqueness." never mind that one is in a 7 foot tall suit of green armor that every person in the galaxy can instantly identify with. or that the other one dresses up as a flying mammal, yeah, no individuality there.

now hold it. i'm sure you meant "individuality as in the actual person. bruce wayne and john." first of all, your point is completely moot because halo 4 represents a deconstruction of chief: the stereotypes you insist on claiming are there are actually eroding the hell away, very rapidly. look at the damn ending of the game where THE HELMET IS TAKEN OFF.

second, master chief never has a problem with revealing his face to others. never. EVER.

the novels? don't even get me started.
intro to halo 2? master chief with his helmet off, talking to someone else.
end of halo 4? reveals his face to everyone on the damn ship.

he has NEVER used his helmet to conceal his identity.

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After all, a "real man" shuns special treatment and consideration; the macho ethos is always about "doing what any man would have done," not what only someone with a deep emotional attachment would do.

after all, a "real feminist" shuns anything that has to do with female nudity; the feminist doctrine is always about "not letting men do what they would have done," not what only someone with a flaky emotional attachment would do.

yes, the above line was pure sarcasm. i hope, for your sake, that the quoted stereotyping has an ulterior motive...

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If we want to indulge in stereotypes for a moment,

thank god.

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it's easy enough to see how Master Chief represents a very common fantasy for boys, particularly those who don't have much confidence.

first off: being a protector of earth and all her colonies? yes! that's a very common fantasy for people.

second: please provide statistics. i would like to see how people who don't have much confidence are the ones playing these games and liking these superheroes.

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Being in a suit like Master Chief's makes you incredibly strong, tough, and, [b]most importantly, concealed,[/b] so that you are protected physically as well as from those discouraging stares or dismissive glances (whether real or imagined).

"most importantly?" the strength and toughness is the MAIN reason people want to be master chief. it's why people want to be superman or batman or wonder woman or any other superhero: so they can fight back. if your analogy for batman was true, kids without confidence would hate to iron man. of course, iron man has taken the lead in popularity for these last few years [iron man 3 grossed higher than any batman movie released, much to this dc comic fan's dismay]. kids want superheroes because they want to fight back and feel stronger. NOT so they can fight back without being known for who they really are.

of course, this is 100% conjecture right here, as neither of us will have the statistics to back any of our claims up.

and regardless, this ONCE AGAIN all goes against your damn point. halo 4 ends with the mask being taken off. it is the goddamn antithesis to the point in your article. i can't wait to see what you cook up to rationalize the ending to fit your own agenda.

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Fine.

really? you just made some [baseless] conclusions/assumptions which were all relatively negative [and completely wrong, a lot of the time].

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But what's perhaps more disturbing is the game's treatment of Cortana.

ah, here we go.

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Here we have the game's only real female character,

A) i suppose doctor halsey, the librarian [who sets up a very interesting self referential morality play] and commander palmer were the game's fake female characters right?

B) if you're talking about the actual self contained narrative of halo 4's campaign itself [which is a stupid thing to do given how much better the game pans out with knowledge of previous lore entries], then i guess you're somewhat correct. of course, there's really nothing wrong with that, because i could say that master chief is the self contained halo 4 campaign's only male character as well.

let's go through the male cast who show up in cutscenes:

lasky
del rio
didact

now let's go through the female cast who show up in cutscenes:

librarian
tilson
palmer
halsey

WOW. you sure proved me wrong. halo 4 confirmed for anti feminism.

the amount of named characterized females which get dialogue in the game's cutscenes is greater than the amount of named characterized males which get dialogue in the game's cutscenes. but of course, they're all "fake" characters right? regardless of their importance to the plot? i mean, really, how much importance could doctor halsey and the librarian play in relation to the actual plot?

hah. play the bloody game, please.

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and she's almost the total opposite of the male image of Master Chief.

yep. yin and yang. it's brilliant.

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Instead of being almost totally concealed behind heavy armor and an opaque visor, she's practically naked, and when she's on screen, the camera pays close attention to her rich facial expressions

absolutely.

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and exaggerated curves.

absolutely.

wrong.

damn near every cutscene in halo 4 which has a focal point on cortana focuses straight on her face.

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Whereas the Chief is a highly physical being of great strength, one who really makes an impact wherever he goes--Cortana is not even granted a body, but exists only as a hologram.

let me stop you RIGHT there.

are you implying that master chief is the only one who makes an impact wherever he goes? cortana destroying the infinity's systems and directly fighting the didact aboard his ship AND directly DEFEATING the didact was NOT impactful? cortana arguably becomes MORE impactful than chief as the game progresses. it's a brilliant dynamic too. given how cortana is "chief's guardian," [i quote from the developer commentary "a hero awakens," the way she upfront states in one of the novels (i can't remember which, i believe it was fall of reach after learning about chief's profile?) about how she will go the extra mile to protect chief, her comments in halo 3's mission "cortana," HALF THE LINES SHE UTTERED DURING GAMEPLAY IN THE FINAL MISSION OF HALO 4, her last line to the didact ("i'm not doing this for mankind"), and i also quote from common fracking sense considering how it's pretty much the only logical conclusion you can attain] the way that she malfunctions has a direct impact on chief and causes the unfaltering superhero to FAIL [though as the "green and blue" post says, this isn't really a failure in the eyes of chief given the actual mission objective]. it's a great merging of immersive gameplay and a cathartic role reversal that ultimately has players feeling impacted by her IN ADDITION to the actual characters of the game.

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She is completely and utterly dependent on the Chief for protection as well as mobility

and the chief is completely and utterly dependent on her for protection as well as mobility. how well do you think the final assault on the didact's ship would have gone without her? holy hell, did you even play the game? the entire final missions is CHOCK FULL of this kind of dialogue:

"i'll always take care of you."

"we were supposed to take care of each other, and we did!"

i could go on, but for some reason my internet is dead :/

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--he literally picks her up and plugs her into his suit.

wow, just like every other halo game ever made! nice catch!

and let us keep in mind, cortana is the one chief depends on for mobility and direction as well. imagine that drop in the eighth mission without cortana being there to cushion chief's fall.

splat.

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In perhaps the final insult to females in this game,

WOW! FIRST AND LAST? though if i go by the quality of the conclusions reached and statements made prior to this upcoming point, i'm sure it'll be something to disagree with once more.

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it's emphasized that even her individuality is an illusion;

THE EXACT GODDAMN OPPOSITE IS IMPLIED AND STATED.

did.

you.

even.

play.

this.

game?

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she can be copied again and again when the need arises.

"it won't be me. you know that right?"

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Finally, she is even denied rationality,

A) oh, i thought the previous one was the "last insult" to females in this game? of course, maybe you yourself drank liquid IQ or something and realized, just for a moment, about how wrong you really are.

B) explain every single other masculine artificial intelligence to ever corrupt in the entire series. explain mendicant bias. explain guilty spark. explain the sentinels subject to the logic plague.

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and becomes increasingly less coherent and more dependent on Master Chief until the closing credits (and a poignant moment I won't spoil here).

NOPE. she becomes increasingly less coherent UNTIL the poignant moment you for some reason decide not to spoil here despite giving us full warning of spoiler involvement. at the very end cortana is the picture of health. well, she's dead, but in the moments before that, she is not rampant. she is at peace with herself, and at peace with chief. read the "green and blue" link i posted for more.

Quote:
Cortana's lack of a physical body also protects Master Chief from the need to be physically intimate with her;

yes, never mind the fact that master chief's hormones are simply negated. master chief DOES NOT HAVE A SEX DRIVE. he does not want to be intimate with her, or anyone else, at all. he simply cares for her, and she cares for him. not as romantic partners, siblings, or even friends. it's just "chief and cortana." and it's pretty darn adorable, in my opinion.

Quote:
by her very nature, her being and his affection for her can only be conceptualized, not consummated.

NEITHER of them even DESIRE to consummate affection for each other. if that's the kind of relationship you got from their attachment, you REALLY need to play the game again.

actually, you just really need to play the game again period. damn near everything you've said here is either wrong or ignores contradictory information, so there's either a memory failure or a ridiculous confirmation bias.

Quote:
In a way this seems a return to chivalric traditions of the aloof, "untainted" romance, where sexuality is expressed in poetry rather than prurience.

right? sexuality. i completely agree. i can't wait for the eighteen minute long undead blue hardlight human/7 foot tall green armored superhuman sex scene in halo 53: jumping the ice cube shark in the nuked fridge evolved.

"we were supposed to download each other... and we did!"

Quote:
While the Chief never waxes poetically, the music in the game certainly suggests such themes,

right. because green and blue is romeo and juliet tier "i want sex NOW" poetry right?

Quote:
and it's easy enough to read whatever longing we experience ourselves under his visor.

holy hell what?

Quote:
While chivalric traditions might seem to celebrate and protect women by placing them on a pedestal, it also denies them the right to their body and sexuality.

congratulations. those two things were denied not only for cortana, but for chief as well.

Quote:
It's as though their corporeal existence beneath all the claptrap is simply so reviling that it's better to deny oneself the pleasures of sex than to destroy the illusion.

what even is this? seriously?

Quote:
Is the game sexist?

no.

Quote:
I wouldn't talk about it in those terms.

good.

Quote:
I think it's simply more symptomatic of the latent sexual anxieties experienced by the young men who tend to buy these games more than any conspiracy or sexist attitudes on the part of the studio.

okay. it's a good thing you phrased that as total conjecture because otherwise...

Quote:
I do wonder, though, if games that indulge and immerse us so deeply in these pubescent fantasies

aw man, these pubescent fantasies of not wanting to or being able to have sex while also not even feeling romantically involved with a female partner. i love those.

Quote:
might in some way retard our emotional and sexual development.

no.

Quote:
Halo 4 presents the ideal woman as,

"do you even know what rampancy is? ... we literally think ourselves to death."

IDEAL WOMAN

10/10

Quote:
literally just an idea, whose very identity, individuality, and physicality, are all either denied or rendered suspect

IDENTITY?

INDIVIDUALITY?

"promise me you'll find out which one of us is the machine."

no. NO. cortana IS the one with the individuality. cortana is the one with the humanity. if you paid ANY attention at all to the game, you would recognize that.

Quote:
--all the while protecting the male ego behind a near-indestructible and opaque set of body armor--

holy sh1t.

Quote:
well, it can't be good, now, can it?

OH HERE IT COMES

IS THIS THE GREAT ENDING RATIONALIZATION?

Quote:
There's a telling (if not touching) moment at the end of the game where the Chief is talking to a much less intimidating man, one who's face is not obscured behind a helmet but is in fact quite animated.

oh goddamn it. It’s not even what i was waiting for.

Quote:
It becomes obvious from the man's questions, attitude, and height compared to the Chief makes it clear he's not nearly as rugged and self-contained as the hero.

do you even know who this guy is? the master chief saved him, and he saved him back in forward unto dawn. he is OBVIOUSLY not going to treat chief like an equal [which every other major human figure from the infinity interestingly did: see palmer and del rio's reactions to chief]. of COURSE he's going to be super courteous.

in addition to the fact that CORTANA JUST DIED. has it ever occurred to you that people might just be a bit more courteous due to that?

of course, this is all in addition to the fact that

Quote:
His remark that soldiers makes him seem weak and barely worthy to be in the same room.

what does this even mean? lasky straight up puts chief ON HIS LEVEL by saying that soldiers aren't machines.

"we're just people."

keyword: WE.

Quote:
The Chief is taciturn, as a man ought to be; this guy talks too much about his feelings.

no. the chief is taciturn as ANY person ought to be in his situation. he has just been brought the hell down. he has LOST for the first time in a long, long while. read the green and blue link.

Quote:
Indeed, the Chief's last words before the credits point out that Cortana, the Female, had said the same thing.

... is this meant to be taken seriously?

Quote:
It seems that this type of hero doesn't seem to thrive well in other media, such as comics.

... which is exactly why you were comparing chief to batman earlier before right?

Quote:
Iron Man might seem to have a lot in common with the Chief--after all, they wear similar suits. But Iron Man has an alter ego, like Batman and countless other characters.

cool. this predicates nothing.

Quote:
We thus get to see their weaker, more emotional side.

YOU MEAN JUST LIKE HOW HALO 4 WAS DEDICATED TO EXPOSING MASTER CHIEF'S EMOTIONAL SIDE?

Quote:
Games like Halo 4 seem better able to get away with this lack of emotional development,

games with narratives predicated on emotional development of their protagonist seem to be better able to get away with a lack of emotional development of their protagonist?

I KNEW IT

Quote:
perhaps substituting the thrill of controlling the character to that of identifying with a character.

except the "thrill of controlling the character" is negated with in game dialogue. there was a reason why bungie never made master chief vocalize in gameplay with the previous halos. there is also a reason why 343i has opted against that.

Quote:
While many of us have often fantasized about wearing Iron Man's suit, I imagine

that's all you seem to be capable of. an admirable trait, if it wasn't so frustratingly out of control.

Quote:
relatively fewer of us have fantasized about being Tony Stark or Bruce Wayne.

you mean tony stark, the same guy who immediately gives up his identity, considered synonymous with iron man, and is lauded by everyone?

Quote:
While some of us as boys might have resisted either of these characters--

"us as boys"

very, very interesting.

Quote:
"Just get back to crime fighting, Batman!"

so you were one of those kids who just wanted to watch the fight scenes in a movie? i RARELY see people like those anymore. and hell, i rarely saw anyone like that at all when we were watching the batman animated series in our youth.

Quote:
or whatever, they did provide some wholesome balance.

that they did.

Quote:
What a game like Halo 4 might be imparting to the boys and young men, though, I shudder to think.

continue shuddering. improve on your thinking. it doesn't matter. halo 4 is entirely about taking the character stereotype you've described and breaking it down into the exact opposite. it is a DECONSTRUCTION of every single element you’ve described. you're grasping at straws and displaying one of the most massive confirmation biases i've ever seen online.

reevaluate. and reconsider.

arijog (not verified)
let me tell you why that's bullsh1t

Quote:
I finally got around to finishing Halo 4 last night and the ending troubled me.

good. unlike most other video game stories, halo 4's ending is very troubling in the way that it allows our personal investment in the main character to create a sense of catharsis after someone so close to him dies an-

*rereads article title*

oh. i see what this article is going to be like.

Quote:
Not because I thought it was incoherent or unsatisfying,

very interesting. the biggest complaint most people invested in the lore have with the ending is the extensive manipulation of hardlight and the whole "got you off the ship at the last second" thing.

Quote:
but rather I didn't know what to make of its attitude towards women--or, rather, what assumptions it seems to make about the player's attitude towards them.

can't wait to hear this elaboration.

Quote:
One thing really stood out to me: clothing and the lack thereof.

congratulations, my friend. it's taken you eleven years to complain about the chief [heh] supporting character's lack of clothing.

Quote:
I looked around the net to see what others had written about Cortana,

oh, me too!

http://goingrampant.tumblr.com/post/63900733759/cortanas-immobility-isnt...
http://fandomsandfeminism.tumblr.com/post/36406203982/cortana-the-best-d...
http://haruspis.wordpress.com/2014/01/25/halo-4-cortana-feminism/comment...
http://tap-repeatedly.com/2012/12/the-naked-vulnerability-of-halo-4/

there are several things wrong with a few of the articles i've listed, but for the most part they're absolutely fantastic.

Quote:
and quickly discovered I'm far from the only one who has some issues with it.

what a discovery! people share your opinions!

Quote:
As Jon W of Gamasutra puts it: "It doesn't seem particularly fair to permaban pumped-up teenage boys from acting like immature sexists when that is exactly what the game has trained them to be."

as i put it: that is a complete and utter lie. halo 4's depiction of cortana is the exact opposite of what you're describing.

Quote:
Let's start with Master Chief. Like many super heroes, you never see this guy's face (or any of the rest of his body).

... many superheroes like? most popular ones out there do have clear depictions of their face.

Quote:
He's well protected by the equivalent of a wearable tank. Arguably, not showing the hero's face is an important part of the identification process; since we can't see him, it's easier to imagine ourselves in that suit.

and, arguably, this was only part of bungie's halo games. in the books and in halo 4 the master chief is no longer a vessel for a player to experience the game world in due to inclusion of speech in game and in cutscenes. in essence, master chief is characterized in newer media. this is the EXACT opposite of your point.

Quote:
I do think this is part of his appeal, but I think it also taps into something more profound than that. Perhaps it's getting at a deep-seated anxiety about having our emotions exposed; characters like Master Chief strike us (and the other characters in the game, actually) as emotionally withdrawn and guarded.

the entire point of halo 4, and more specifically, the ending cutscene you're attacking, is to REMOVE the master chief from his emotionally withdrawn status.

http://www.bungie.net/en/Forum/Post?id=61762113

every single line master chief says in the ending makes him exponentially more vulnerable than the last. and don't try and defend yourself with "artistic analysis." i've been through this before, and i'm sorry, but it's not going to work on me. the poster i've referenced backed up his entire post with quotes straight from the developer's mouths AND subtext from the game and previous novels.

Quote:
Like Batman and countless similar types, the Chief is strictly focused on what he perceives as his duty as a man.

if by "man" you mean "soldier," then yes. that is the added context halo 4 provides. it provides a reason for john's stoicism.

Quote:
While the mask is ostensibly there to protect his identity, it also, and perhaps more importantly, protects his male ego.

SINCE WHEN has master chief's helmet ever been there to protect his identity? and the last point you make is REALLY interesting because it refutes your own logic. at the end of halo 4 we see master chief's helmet being taken off, signifying a break in master chief's "male ego."

let me differentiate here by proffering up my own interpretation of john 117. it is master chief's ID that is predominant according to halo 4, given the "machine-like" status the game labels him with at times. master chief's ego has always been repressed by cortana giving him objectives. in this way, cortana is the superego to master chief, always giving him objectives and mediating between his ego and id. now that cortana is gone, master chief will have to develop his own superego, and that excites me to no end.

so in my interpretation, master chief does not ever have to "protect his ‘male’ ego with his mask." master chief has never wanted to mask his identity with his helmet. [despite being uneasy when halsey was able to easily guess which spartan was which]

Quote:
In much the same way that a prison guard gains some emotional distance by donning a pair of dark sunglasses--so the convicts cannot see his eyes--characters like Batman and Master Chief's identity-masking erases those elements unique to an individual.

absolutely. i'm sure the true reason they wear what they do is due to an elimination of individual elements and "uniqueness." never mind that one is in a 7 foot tall suit of green armor that every person in the galaxy can instantly identify with. or that the other one dresses up as a flying mammal, yeah, no individuality there.

now hold it. i'm sure you meant "individuality as in the actual person. bruce wayne and john." first of all, your point is completely moot because halo 4 represents a deconstruction of chief: the stereotypes you insist on claiming are there are actually eroding the hell away, very rapidly. look at the damn ending of the game where THE HELMET IS TAKEN OFF.

second, master chief never has a problem with revealing his face to others. never. EVER.

the novels? don't even get me started.
intro to halo 2? master chief with his helmet off, talking to someone else.
end of halo 4? reveals his face to everyone on the damn ship.

he has NEVER used his helmet to conceal his identity.

Quote:
After all, a "real man" shuns special treatment and consideration; the macho ethos is always about "doing what any man would have done," not what only someone with a deep emotional attachment would do.

after all, a "real feminist" shuns anything that has to do with female nudity; the feminist doctrine is always about "not letting men do what they would have done," not what only someone with a flaky emotional attachment would do.

yes, the above line was pure sarcasm. i hope, for your sake, that the quoted stereotyping has an ulterior motive...

Quote:
If we want to indulge in stereotypes for a moment,

thank god.

Quote:
it's easy enough to see how Master Chief represents a very common fantasy for boys, particularly those who don't have much confidence.

first off: being a protector of earth and all her colonies? yes! that's a very common fantasy for people.

second: please provide statistics. i would like to see how people who don't have much confidence are the ones playing these games and liking these superheroes.

Quote:
Being in a suit like Master Chief's makes you incredibly strong, tough, and, [b]most importantly, concealed,[/b] so that you are protected physically as well as from those discouraging stares or dismissive glances (whether real or imagined).

"most importantly?" the strength and toughness is the MAIN reason people want to be master chief. it's why people want to be superman or batman or wonder woman or any other superhero: so they can fight back. if your analogy for batman was true, kids without confidence would hate to iron man. of course, iron man has taken the lead in popularity for these last few years [iron man 3 grossed higher than any batman movie released, much to this dc comic fan's dismay]. kids want superheroes because they want to fight back and feel stronger. NOT so they can fight back without being known for who they really are.

of course, this is 100% conjecture right here, as neither of us will have the statistics to back any of our claims up.

and regardless, this ONCE AGAIN all goes against your damn point. halo 4 ends with the mask being taken off. it is the goddamn antithesis to the point in your article. i can't wait to see what you cook up to rationalize the ending to fit your own agenda.

Quote:
Fine.

really? you just made some [baseless] conclusions/assumptions which were all relatively negative [and completely wrong, a lot of the time].

Quote:
But what's perhaps more disturbing is the game's treatment of Cortana.

ah, here we go.

Quote:
Here we have the game's only real female character,

A) i suppose doctor halsey, the librarian [who sets up a very interesting self referential morality play] and commander palmer were the game's fake female characters right?

B) if you're talking about the actual self contained narrative of halo 4's campaign itself [which is a stupid thing to do given how much better the game pans out with knowledge of previous lore entries], then i guess you're somewhat correct. of course, there's really nothing wrong with that, because i could say that master chief is the self contained halo 4 campaign's only male character as well.

let's go through the male cast who show up in cutscenes:

lasky
del rio
didact

now let's go through the female cast who show up in cutscenes:

librarian
tilson
palmer
halsey

WOW. you sure proved me wrong. halo 4 confirmed for anti feminism.

the amount of named characterized females which get dialogue in the game's cutscenes is greater than the amount of named characterized males which get dialogue in the game's cutscenes. but of course, they're all "fake" characters right? regardless of their importance to the plot? i mean, really, how much importance could doctor halsey and the librarian play in relation to the actual plot?

hah. play the bloody game, please.

Quote:
and she's almost the total opposite of the male image of Master Chief.

yep. yin and yang. it's brilliant.

Quote:
Instead of being almost totally concealed behind heavy armor and an opaque visor, she's practically naked, and when she's on screen, the camera pays close attention to her rich facial expressions

absolutely.

Quote:
and exaggerated curves.

absolutely.

wrong.

damn near every cutscene in halo 4 which has a focal point on cortana focuses straight on her face.

Quote:
Whereas the Chief is a highly physical being of great strength, one who really makes an impact wherever he goes--Cortana is not even granted a body, but exists only as a hologram.

let me stop you RIGHT there.

are you implying that master chief is the only one who makes an impact wherever he goes? cortana destroying the infinity's systems and directly fighting the didact aboard his ship AND directly DEFEATING the didact was NOT impactful? cortana arguably becomes MORE impactful than chief as the game progresses. it's a brilliant dynamic too. given how cortana is "chief's guardian," [i quote from the developer commentary "a hero awakens," the way she upfront states in one of the novels (i can't remember which, i believe it was fall of reach after learning about chief's profile?) about how she will go the extra mile to protect chief, her comments in halo 3's mission "cortana," HALF THE LINES SHE UTTERED DURING GAMEPLAY IN THE FINAL MISSION OF HALO 4, her last line to the didact ("i'm not doing this for mankind"), and i also quote from common fracking sense considering how it's pretty much the only logical conclusion you can attain] the way that she malfunctions has a direct impact on chief and causes the unfaltering superhero to FAIL [though as the "green and blue" post says, this isn't really a failure in the eyes of chief given the actual mission objective]. it's a great merging of immersive gameplay and a cathartic role reversal that ultimately has players feeling impacted by her IN ADDITION to the actual characters of the game.

Quote:
She is completely and utterly dependent on the Chief for protection as well as mobility

and the chief is completely and utterly dependent on her for protection as well as mobility. how well do you think the final assault on the didact's ship would have gone without her? holy hell, did you even play the game? the entire final missions is CHOCK FULL of this kind of dialogue:

"i'll always take care of you."

"we were supposed to take care of each other, and we did!"

i could go on, but for some reason my internet is dead :/

Quote:
--he literally picks her up and plugs her into his suit.

wow, just like every other halo game ever made! nice catch!

and let us keep in mind, cortana is the one chief depends on for mobility and direction as well. imagine that drop in the eighth mission without cortana being there to cushion chief's fall.

splat.

Quote:
In perhaps the final insult to females in this game,

WOW! FIRST AND LAST? though if i go by the quality of the conclusions reached and statements made prior to this upcoming point, i'm sure it'll be something to disagree with once more.

Quote:
it's emphasized that even her individuality is an illusion;

THE EXACT GODDAMN OPPOSITE IS IMPLIED AND STATED.

did.

you.

even.

play.

this.

game?

Quote:
she can be copied again and again when the need arises.

"it won't be me. you know that right?"

Quote:
Finally, she is even denied rationality,

A) oh, i thought the previous one was the "last insult" to females in this game? of course, maybe you yourself drank liquid IQ or something and realized, just for a moment, about how wrong you really are.

B) explain every single other masculine artificial intelligence to ever corrupt in the entire series. explain mendicant bias. explain guilty spark. explain the sentinels subject to the logic plague.

Quote:
and becomes increasingly less coherent and more dependent on Master Chief until the closing credits (and a poignant moment I won't spoil here).

NOPE. she becomes increasingly less coherent UNTIL the poignant moment you for some reason decide not to spoil here despite giving us full warning of spoiler involvement. at the very end cortana is the picture of health. well, she's dead, but in the moments before that, she is not rampant. she is at peace with herself, and at peace with chief. read the "green and blue" link i posted for more.

Quote:
Cortana's lack of a physical body also protects Master Chief from the need to be physically intimate with her;

yes, never mind the fact that master chief's hormones are simply negated. master chief DOES NOT HAVE A SEX DRIVE. he does not want to be intimate with her, or anyone else, at all. he simply cares for her, and she cares for him. not as romantic partners, siblings, or even friends. it's just "chief and cortana." and it's pretty darn adorable, in my opinion.

Quote:
by her very nature, her being and his affection for her can only be conceptualized, not consummated.

NEITHER of them even DESIRE to consummate affection for each other. if that's the kind of relationship you got from their attachment, you REALLY need to play the game again.

actually, you just really need to play the game again period. damn near everything you've said here is either wrong or ignores contradictory information, so there's either a memory failure or a ridiculous confirmation bias.

Quote:
In a way this seems a return to chivalric traditions of the aloof, "untainted" romance, where sexuality is expressed in poetry rather than prurience.

right? sexuality. i completely agree. i can't wait for the eighteen minute long undead blue hardlight human/7 foot tall green armored superhuman sex scene in halo 53: jumping the ice cube shark in the nuked fridge evolved.

"we were supposed to download each other... and we did!"

Quote:
While the Chief never waxes poetically, the music in the game certainly suggests such themes,

right. because green and blue is romeo and juliet tier "i want sex NOW" poetry right?

Quote:
and it's easy enough to read whatever longing we experience ourselves under his visor.

holy hell what?

Quote:
While chivalric traditions might seem to celebrate and protect women by placing them on a pedestal, it also denies them the right to their body and sexuality.

congratulations. those two things were denied not only for cortana, but for chief as well.

Quote:
It's as though their corporeal existence beneath all the claptrap is simply so reviling that it's better to deny oneself the pleasures of sex than to destroy the illusion.

what even is this? seriously?

Quote:
Is the game sexist?

no.

Quote:
I wouldn't talk about it in those terms.

good.

Quote:
I think it's simply more symptomatic of the latent sexual anxieties experienced by the young men who tend to buy these games more than any conspiracy or sexist attitudes on the part of the studio.

okay. it's a good thing you phrased that as total conjecture because otherwise...

Quote:
I do wonder, though, if games that indulge and immerse us so deeply in these pubescent fantasies

aw man, these pubescent fantasies of not wanting to or being able to have sex while also not even feeling romantically involved with a female partner. i love those.

Quote:
might in some way retard our emotional and sexual development.

no.

Quote:
Halo 4 presents the ideal woman as,

"do you even know what rampancy is? ... we literally think ourselves to death."

IDEAL WOMAN

10/10

Quote:
literally just an idea, whose very identity, individuality, and physicality, are all either denied or rendered suspect

IDENTITY?

INDIVIDUALITY?

"promise me you'll find out which one of us is the machine."

no. NO. cortana IS the one with the individuality. cortana is the one with the humanity. if you paid ANY attention at all to the game, you would recognize that.

Quote:
--all the while protecting the male ego behind a near-indestructible and opaque set of body armor--

holy sh1t.

Quote:
well, it can't be good, now, can it?

OH HERE IT COMES

IS THIS THE GREAT ENDING RATIONALIZATION?

Quote:
There's a telling (if not touching) moment at the end of the game where the Chief is talking to a much less intimidating man, one who's face is not obscured behind a helmet but is in fact quite animated.

oh goddamn it. It’s not even what i was waiting for.

Quote:
It becomes obvious from the man's questions, attitude, and height compared to the Chief makes it clear he's not nearly as rugged and self-contained as the hero.

do you even know who this guy is? the master chief saved him, and he saved him back in forward unto dawn. he is OBVIOUSLY not going to treat chief like an equal [which every other major human figure from the infinity interestingly did: see palmer and del rio's reactions to chief]. of COURSE he's going to be super courteous.

in addition to the fact that CORTANA JUST DIED. has it ever occurred to you that people might just be a bit more courteous due to that?

of course, this is all in addition to the fact that

Quote:
His remark that soldiers makes him seem weak and barely worthy to be in the same room.

what does this even mean? lasky straight up puts chief ON HIS LEVEL by saying that soldiers aren't machines.

"we're just people."

keyword: WE.

Quote:
The Chief is taciturn, as a man ought to be; this guy talks too much about his feelings.

no. the chief is taciturn as ANY person ought to be in his situation. he has just been brought the hell down. he has LOST for the first time in a long, long while. read the green and blue link.

Quote:
Indeed, the Chief's last words before the credits point out that Cortana, the Female, had said the same thing.

... is this meant to be taken seriously?

Quote:
It seems that this type of hero doesn't seem to thrive well in other media, such as comics.

... which is exactly why you were comparing chief to batman earlier before right?

Quote:
Iron Man might seem to have a lot in common with the Chief--after all, they wear similar suits. But Iron Man has an alter ego, like Batman and countless other characters.

cool. this predicates nothing.

Quote:
We thus get to see their weaker, more emotional side.

YOU MEAN JUST LIKE HOW HALO 4 WAS DEDICATED TO EXPOSING MASTER CHIEF'S EMOTIONAL SIDE?

Quote:
Games like Halo 4 seem better able to get away with this lack of emotional development,

games with narratives predicated on emotional development of their protagonist seem to be better able to get away with a lack of emotional development of their protagonist?

I KNEW IT

Quote:
perhaps substituting the thrill of controlling the character to that of identifying with a character.

except the "thrill of controlling the character" is negated with in game dialogue. there was a reason why bungie never made master chief vocalize in gameplay with the previous halos. there is also a reason why 343i has opted against that.

Quote:
While many of us have often fantasized about wearing Iron Man's suit, I imagine

that's all you seem to be capable of. an admirable trait, if it wasn't so frustratingly out of control.

Quote:
relatively fewer of us have fantasized about being Tony Stark or Bruce Wayne.

you mean tony stark, the same guy who immediately gives up his identity, considered synonymous with iron man, and is lauded by everyone?

Quote:
While some of us as boys might have resisted either of these characters--

"us as boys"

very, very interesting.

Quote:
"Just get back to crime fighting, Batman!"

so you were one of those kids who just wanted to watch the fight scenes in a movie? i RARELY see people like those anymore. and hell, i rarely saw anyone like that at all when we were watching the batman animated series in our youth.

Quote:
or whatever, they did provide some wholesome balance.

that they did.

Quote:
What a game like Halo 4 might be imparting to the boys and young men, though, I shudder to think.

continue shuddering. improve on your thinking. it doesn't matter. halo 4 is entirely about taking the character stereotype you've described and breaking it down into the exact opposite. it is a DECONSTRUCTION of every single element you’ve described. you're grasping at straws and displaying one of the most massive confirmation biases i've ever seen online.

reevaluate. and reconsider.

arijog (not verified)
let me tell you why that's bullsh1t

Quote:
I finally got around to finishing Halo 4 last night and the ending troubled me.

good. unlike most other video game stories, halo 4's ending is very troubling in the way that it allows our personal investment in the main character to create a sense of catharsis after someone so close to him dies an-

*rereads article title*

oh. i see what this article is going to be like.

Quote:
Not because I thought it was incoherent or unsatisfying,

very interesting. the biggest complaint most people invested in the lore have with the ending is the extensive manipulation of hardlight and the whole "got you off the ship at the last second" thing.

Quote:
but rather I didn't know what to make of its attitude towards women--or, rather, what assumptions it seems to make about the player's attitude towards them.

can't wait to hear this elaboration.

Quote:
One thing really stood out to me: clothing and the lack thereof.

congratulations, my friend. it's taken you eleven years to complain about the chief [heh] supporting character's lack of clothing.

Quote:
I looked around the net to see what others had written about Cortana,

oh, me too!

http://goingrampant.tumblr.com/post/63900733759/cortanas-immobility-isnt...
http://fandomsandfeminism.tumblr.com/post/36406203982/cortana-the-best-d...
http://haruspis.wordpress.com/2014/01/25/halo-4-cortana-feminism/comment...
http://tap-repeatedly.com/2012/12/the-naked-vulnerability-of-halo-4/

there are several things wrong with a few of the articles i've listed, but for the most part they're absolutely fantastic.

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and quickly discovered I'm far from the only one who has some issues with it.

what a discovery! people share your opinions!

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As Jon W of Gamasutra puts it: "It doesn't seem particularly fair to permaban pumped-up teenage boys from acting like immature sexists when that is exactly what the game has trained them to be."

as i put it: that is a complete and utter lie. halo 4's depiction of cortana is the exact opposite of what you're describing.

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Let's start with Master Chief. Like many super heroes, you never see this guy's face (or any of the rest of his body).

... many superheroes like? most popular ones out there do have clear depictions of their face.

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He's well protected by the equivalent of a wearable tank. Arguably, not showing the hero's face is an important part of the identification process; since we can't see him, it's easier to imagine ourselves in that suit.

and, arguably, this was only part of bungie's halo games. in the books and in halo 4 the master chief is no longer a vessel for a player to experience the game world in due to inclusion of speech in game and in cutscenes. in essence, master chief is characterized in newer media. this is the EXACT opposite of your point.

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I do think this is part of his appeal, but I think it also taps into something more profound than that. Perhaps it's getting at a deep-seated anxiety about having our emotions exposed; characters like Master Chief strike us (and the other characters in the game, actually) as emotionally withdrawn and guarded.

the entire point of halo 4, and more specifically, the ending cutscene you're attacking, is to REMOVE the master chief from his emotionally withdrawn status.

http://www.bungie.net/en/Forum/Post?id=61762113

every single line master chief says in the ending makes him exponentially more vulnerable than the last. and don't try and defend yourself with "artistic analysis." i've been through this before, and i'm sorry, but it's not going to work on me. the poster i've referenced backed up his entire post with quotes straight from the developer's mouths AND subtext from the game and previous novels.

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Like Batman and countless similar types, the Chief is strictly focused on what he perceives as his duty as a man.

if by "man" you mean "soldier," then yes. that is the added context halo 4 provides. it provides a reason for john's stoicism.

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While the mask is ostensibly there to protect his identity, it also, and perhaps more importantly, protects his male ego.

SINCE WHEN has master chief's helmet ever been there to protect his identity? and the last point you make is REALLY interesting because it refutes your own logic. at the end of halo 4 we see master chief's helmet being taken off, signifying a break in master chief's "male ego."

let me differentiate here by proffering up my own interpretation of john 117. it is master chief's ID that is predominant according to halo 4, given the "machine-like" status the game labels him with at times. master chief's ego has always been repressed by cortana giving him objectives. in this way, cortana is the superego to master chief, always giving him objectives and mediating between his ego and id. now that cortana is gone, master chief will have to develop his own superego, and that excites me to no end.

so in my interpretation, master chief does not ever have to "protect his ‘male’ ego with his mask." master chief has never wanted to mask his identity with his helmet. [despite being uneasy when halsey was able to easily guess which spartan was which]

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In much the same way that a prison guard gains some emotional distance by donning a pair of dark sunglasses--so the convicts cannot see his eyes--characters like Batman and Master Chief's identity-masking erases those elements unique to an individual.

absolutely. i'm sure the true reason they wear what they do is due to an elimination of individual elements and "uniqueness." never mind that one is in a 7 foot tall suit of green armor that every person in the galaxy can instantly identify with. or that the other one dresses up as a flying mammal, yeah, no individuality there.

now hold it. i'm sure you meant "individuality as in the actual person. bruce wayne and john." first of all, your point is completely moot because halo 4 represents a deconstruction of chief: the stereotypes you insist on claiming are there are actually eroding the hell away, very rapidly. look at the damn ending of the game where THE HELMET IS TAKEN OFF.

second, master chief never has a problem with revealing his face to others. never. EVER.

the novels? don't even get me started.
intro to halo 2? master chief with his helmet off, talking to someone else.
end of halo 4? reveals his face to everyone on the damn ship.

he has NEVER used his helmet to conceal his identity.

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After all, a "real man" shuns special treatment and consideration; the macho ethos is always about "doing what any man would have done," not what only someone with a deep emotional attachment would do.

after all, a "real feminist" shuns anything that has to do with female nudity; the feminist doctrine is always about "not letting men do what they would have done," not what only someone with a flaky emotional attachment would do.

yes, the above line was pure sarcasm. i hope, for your sake, that the quoted stereotyping has an ulterior motive...

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If we want to indulge in stereotypes for a moment,

thank god.

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it's easy enough to see how Master Chief represents a very common fantasy for boys, particularly those who don't have much confidence.

first off: being a protector of earth and all her colonies? yes! that's a very common fantasy for people.

second: please provide statistics. i would like to see how people who don't have much confidence are the ones playing these games and liking these superheroes.

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Being in a suit like Master Chief's makes you incredibly strong, tough, and, [b]most importantly, concealed,[/b] so that you are protected physically as well as from those discouraging stares or dismissive glances (whether real or imagined).

"most importantly?" the strength and toughness is the MAIN reason people want to be master chief. it's why people want to be superman or batman or wonder woman or any other superhero: so they can fight back. if your analogy for batman was true, kids without confidence would hate to iron man. of course, iron man has taken the lead in popularity for these last few years [iron man 3 grossed higher than any batman movie released, much to this dc comic fan's dismay]. kids want superheroes because they want to fight back and feel stronger. NOT so they can fight back without being known for who they really are.

of course, this is 100% conjecture right here, as neither of us will have the statistics to back any of our claims up.

and regardless, this ONCE AGAIN all goes against your damn point. halo 4 ends with the mask being taken off. it is the goddamn antithesis to the point in your article. i can't wait to see what you cook up to rationalize the ending to fit your own agenda.

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Fine.

really? you just made some [baseless] conclusions/assumptions which were all relatively negative [and completely wrong, a lot of the time].

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But what's perhaps more disturbing is the game's treatment of Cortana.

ah, here we go.

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Here we have the game's only real female character,

A) i suppose doctor halsey, the librarian [who sets up a very interesting self referential morality play] and commander palmer were the game's fake female characters right?

B) if you're talking about the actual self contained narrative of halo 4's campaign itself [which is a stupid thing to do given how much better the game pans out with knowledge of previous lore entries], then i guess you're somewhat correct. of course, there's really nothing wrong with that, because i could say that master chief is the self contained halo 4 campaign's only male character as well.

let's go through the male cast who show up in cutscenes:

lasky
del rio
didact

now let's go through the female cast who show up in cutscenes:

librarian
tilson
palmer
halsey

WOW. you sure proved me wrong. halo 4 confirmed for anti feminism.

the amount of named characterized females which get dialogue in the game's cutscenes is greater than the amount of named characterized males which get dialogue in the game's cutscenes. but of course, they're all "fake" characters right? regardless of their importance to the plot? i mean, really, how much importance could doctor halsey and the librarian play in relation to the actual plot?

hah. play the bloody game, please.

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and she's almost the total opposite of the male image of Master Chief.

yep. yin and yang. it's brilliant.

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Instead of being almost totally concealed behind heavy armor and an opaque visor, she's practically naked, and when she's on screen, the camera pays close attention to her rich facial expressions

absolutely.

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and exaggerated curves.

absolutely.

wrong.

damn near every cutscene in halo 4 which has a focal point on cortana focuses straight on her face.

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Whereas the Chief is a highly physical being of great strength, one who really makes an impact wherever he goes--Cortana is not even granted a body, but exists only as a hologram.

let me stop you RIGHT there.

are you implying that master chief is the only one who makes an impact wherever he goes? cortana destroying the infinity's systems and directly fighting the didact aboard his ship AND directly DEFEATING the didact was NOT impactful? cortana arguably becomes MORE impactful than chief as the game progresses. it's a brilliant dynamic too. given how cortana is "chief's guardian," [i quote from the developer commentary "a hero awakens," the way she upfront states in one of the novels (i can't remember which, i believe it was fall of reach after learning about chief's profile?) about how she will go the extra mile to protect chief, her comments in halo 3's mission "cortana," HALF THE LINES SHE UTTERED DURING GAMEPLAY IN THE FINAL MISSION OF HALO 4, her last line to the didact ("i'm not doing this for mankind"), and i also quote from common fracking sense considering how it's pretty much the only logical conclusion you can attain] the way that she malfunctions has a direct impact on chief and causes the unfaltering superhero to FAIL [though as the "green and blue" post says, this isn't really a failure in the eyes of chief given the actual mission objective]. it's a great merging of immersive gameplay and a cathartic role reversal that ultimately has players feeling impacted by her IN ADDITION to the actual characters of the game.

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She is completely and utterly dependent on the Chief for protection as well as mobility

and the chief is completely and utterly dependent on her for protection as well as mobility. how well do you think the final assault on the didact's ship would have gone without her? holy hell, did you even play the game? the entire final missions is CHOCK FULL of this kind of dialogue:

"i'll always take care of you."

"we were supposed to take care of each other, and we did!"

i could go on, but for some reason my internet is dead :/

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--he literally picks her up and plugs her into his suit.

wow, just like every other halo game ever made! nice catch!

and let us keep in mind, cortana is the one chief depends on for mobility and direction as well. imagine that drop in the eighth mission without cortana being there to cushion chief's fall.

splat.

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In perhaps the final insult to females in this game,

WOW! FIRST AND LAST? though if i go by the quality of the conclusions reached and statements made prior to this upcoming point, i'm sure it'll be something to disagree with once more.

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it's emphasized that even her individuality is an illusion;

THE EXACT GODDAMN OPPOSITE IS IMPLIED AND STATED.

did.

you.

even.

play.

this.

game?

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she can be copied again and again when the need arises.

"it won't be me. you know that right?"

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Finally, she is even denied rationality,

A) oh, i thought the previous one was the "last insult" to females in this game? of course, maybe you yourself drank liquid IQ or something and realized, just for a moment, about how wrong you really are.

B) explain every single other masculine artificial intelligence to ever corrupt in the entire series. explain mendicant bias. explain guilty spark. explain the sentinels subject to the logic plague.

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and becomes increasingly less coherent and more dependent on Master Chief until the closing credits (and a poignant moment I won't spoil here).

NOPE. she becomes increasingly less coherent UNTIL the poignant moment you for some reason decide not to spoil here despite giving us full warning of spoiler involvement. at the very end cortana is the picture of health. well, she's dead, but in the moments before that, she is not rampant. she is at peace with herself, and at peace with chief. read the "green and blue" link i posted for more.

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Cortana's lack of a physical body also protects Master Chief from the need to be physically intimate with her;

yes, never mind the fact that master chief's hormones are simply negated. master chief DOES NOT HAVE A SEX DRIVE. he does not want to be intimate with her, or anyone else, at all. he simply cares for her, and she cares for him. not as romantic partners, siblings, or even friends. it's just "chief and cortana." and it's pretty darn adorable, in my opinion.

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by her very nature, her being and his affection for her can only be conceptualized, not consummated.

NEITHER of them even DESIRE to consummate affection for each other. if that's the kind of relationship you got from their attachment, you REALLY need to play the game again.

actually, you just really need to play the game again period. damn near everything you've said here is either wrong or ignores contradictory information, so there's either a memory failure or a ridiculous confirmation bias.

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In a way this seems a return to chivalric traditions of the aloof, "untainted" romance, where sexuality is expressed in poetry rather than prurience.

right? sexuality. i completely agree. i can't wait for the eighteen minute long undead blue hardlight human/7 foot tall green armored superhuman sex scene in halo 53: jumping the ice cube shark in the nuked fridge evolved.

"we were supposed to download each other... and we did!"

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While the Chief never waxes poetically, the music in the game certainly suggests such themes,

right. because green and blue is romeo and juliet tier "i want sex NOW" poetry right?

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and it's easy enough to read whatever longing we experience ourselves under his visor.

holy hell what?

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While chivalric traditions might seem to celebrate and protect women by placing them on a pedestal, it also denies them the right to their body and sexuality.

congratulations. those two things were denied not only for cortana, but for chief as well.

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It's as though their corporeal existence beneath all the claptrap is simply so reviling that it's better to deny oneself the pleasures of sex than to destroy the illusion.

what even is this? seriously?

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Is the game sexist?

no.

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I wouldn't talk about it in those terms.

good.

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I think it's simply more symptomatic of the latent sexual anxieties experienced by the young men who tend to buy these games more than any conspiracy or sexist attitudes on the part of the studio.

okay. it's a good thing you phrased that as total conjecture because otherwise...

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I do wonder, though, if games that indulge and immerse us so deeply in these pubescent fantasies

aw man, these pubescent fantasies of not wanting to or being able to have sex while also not even feeling romantically involved with a female partner. i love those.

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might in some way retard our emotional and sexual development.

no.

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Halo 4 presents the ideal woman as,

"do you even know what rampancy is? ... we literally think ourselves to death."

IDEAL WOMAN

10/10

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literally just an idea, whose very identity, individuality, and physicality, are all either denied or rendered suspect

IDENTITY?

INDIVIDUALITY?

"promise me you'll find out which one of us is the machine."

no. NO. cortana IS the one with the individuality. cortana is the one with the humanity. if you paid ANY attention at all to the game, you would recognize that.

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--all the while protecting the male ego behind a near-indestructible and opaque set of body armor--

holy sh1t.

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well, it can't be good, now, can it?

OH HERE IT COMES

IS THIS THE GREAT ENDING RATIONALIZATION?

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There's a telling (if not touching) moment at the end of the game where the Chief is talking to a much less intimidating man, one who's face is not obscured behind a helmet but is in fact quite animated.

oh goddamn it. It’s not even what i was waiting for.

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It becomes obvious from the man's questions, attitude, and height compared to the Chief makes it clear he's not nearly as rugged and self-contained as the hero.

do you even know who this guy is? the master chief saved him, and he saved him back in forward unto dawn. he is OBVIOUSLY not going to treat chief like an equal [which every other major human figure from the infinity interestingly did: see palmer and del rio's reactions to chief]. of COURSE he's going to be super courteous.

in addition to the fact that CORTANA JUST DIED. has it ever occurred to you that people might just be a bit more courteous due to that?

of course, this is all in addition to the fact that

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His remark that soldiers makes him seem weak and barely worthy to be in the same room.

what does this even mean? lasky straight up puts chief ON HIS LEVEL by saying that soldiers aren't machines.

"we're just people."

keyword: WE.

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The Chief is taciturn, as a man ought to be; this guy talks too much about his feelings.

no. the chief is taciturn as ANY person ought to be in his situation. he has just been brought the hell down. he has LOST for the first time in a long, long while. read the green and blue link.

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Indeed, the Chief's last words before the credits point out that Cortana, the Female, had said the same thing.

... is this meant to be taken seriously?

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It seems that this type of hero doesn't seem to thrive well in other media, such as comics.

... which is exactly why you were comparing chief to batman earlier before right?

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Iron Man might seem to have a lot in common with the Chief--after all, they wear similar suits. But Iron Man has an alter ego, like Batman and countless other characters.

cool. this predicates nothing.

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We thus get to see their weaker, more emotional side.

YOU MEAN JUST LIKE HOW HALO 4 WAS DEDICATED TO EXPOSING MASTER CHIEF'S EMOTIONAL SIDE?

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Games like Halo 4 seem better able to get away with this lack of emotional development,

games with narratives predicated on emotional development of their protagonist seem to be better able to get away with a lack of emotional development of their protagonist?

I KNEW IT

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perhaps substituting the thrill of controlling the character to that of identifying with a character.

except the "thrill of controlling the character" is negated with in game dialogue. there was a reason why bungie never made master chief vocalize in gameplay with the previous halos. there is also a reason why 343i has opted against that.

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While many of us have often fantasized about wearing Iron Man's suit, I imagine

that's all you seem to be capable of. an admirable trait, if it wasn't so frustratingly out of control.

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relatively fewer of us have fantasized about being Tony Stark or Bruce Wayne.

you mean tony stark, the same guy who immediately gives up his identity, considered synonymous with iron man, and is lauded by everyone?

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While some of us as boys might have resisted either of these characters--

"us as boys"

very, very interesting.

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"Just get back to crime fighting, Batman!"

so you were one of those kids who just wanted to watch the fight scenes in a movie? i RARELY see people like those anymore. and hell, i rarely saw anyone like that at all when we were watching the batman animated series in our youth.

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or whatever, they did provide some wholesome balance.

that they did.

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What a game like Halo 4 might be imparting to the boys and young men, though, I shudder to think.

continue shuddering. improve on your thinking. it doesn't matter. halo 4 is entirely about taking the character stereotype you've described and breaking it down into the exact opposite. it is a DECONSTRUCTION of every single element you’ve described. you're grasping at straws and displaying one of the most massive confirmation biases i've ever seen online.

reevaluate. and reconsider.

Anonymous (not verified)
They are dependant on each other

.First onto the clothing aspect

"Like many super heroes, you never see this guy's face (or any of the rest of his body). He's well protected by the equivalent of a wearable tank."

"Instead of being almost totally concealed behind heavy armor and an opaque visor, she's practically naked"

You are correct, but this is important for the characterization of this one character made of two individuals. Master Chief is the cold, calculating machine while Cortana, the actual machine, is more human than he has ever been. This is lampshaded directly in level 6 Shutdown, when Cortana tells him "when this is all over, promise me you'll figure out which one of us is a machine." It's important to note that the overall theme of the Reclaimer saga is deconstructing Master Chief's inhumanity, basically deconstructing the very male fantasies you take issue with. But more on that later.

If you look at Cortana and Chief as a single character made up of two minds you begin to understand the visual symbolism in the way they are presented. Cortana is, ironically, the human half to Master Chief's stoicism, and has been in a lot of ways, how he expresses himself. Which is to say, through her, rather than his own voice, because he simply no longer has the capacity to emote like a normal human. He has been beaten into wearing a blank superheroic, non-emotive face since he was 6; indeed, anyone who knows anything about the Master Chief's backstory, which is discussed in the prologue of Halo 4, will certainly never think that the Chief is a wish fulfillment fantasy, not unless one is masochistic. That he wears power armor doesn't change that, and that Cortana is the expressive one, symbolized in her near nudity, doesn't mean that she is an insult to women or a male fantasy. In fact, to be completely honest, I question whether you paid attention to the game at all really if you truly believe that Cortana is dependent on the Chief.

"By contrast, Cortana is exposed and dependent"

To which I counter with the conversation at the end of Halo 4

"It was my job to take care of you."

"We were supposed to take care of each other. And we did."

--Master Chief and Cortana

Cortana is more than the sum of her appearance, and it is disrespectful to think that she is "exposed" makes her any more dependent on the Chief than he is on her. Throughout all of the games, especially Halo 4, he is shown as being entirely dependent on her. She tells him where to go, she tells him what to do, she unlocks doors and open pathways for him, disrupts enemy defenses and turns their weapons against them, she chains the Didact to a hardlight bridge saving Chief from being crushed to death, she destroys the enemy's AA network thus saving the Infinity, and on and on and on.

Without Cortana, the Chief is useless. And without Chief, Cortana is useless. They represent two halves of one whole, and one cannot live without the other, they are each dependent on each other in more ways then you care to admit it would seem. If anything, this mutually beneficial relationship they share implies nothing more than a truly healthy romantic relationship (using the logic of this article that is, as calling their relationship "romantic" or sexually involved in anyway shape or form is preposterous). Chief is the physical avatar, and Cortana can't move much unless he carries her, but she tells him where to go and that's where he goes. He is the warrior, and she is the brains.

And at the very end? She beats her rampancy, she achieves full sentience, her own personality and becomes, for a few seconds, truly real.

Rampancy has been an inevitable conclusion the story of any AI in Halo since day 1. Every AI, even male AI, go through the exact process she does. What is the true test of strength however is whether or not the AI can beat it. And Cortana does. She retains her sanity and defeats the Didact, saves the Chief's life and saves the human race. Hardly an "exposed and dependent helpless female." And in her final moments she expresses true human desire. Not for sex or romance, but something deeper, a kind of bond only brothers and sisters in arms can share. For the relationship between Chief and Cortana is unique, they share a brain, and know each other more deeply than any one else.

And that is the point you seem to have missed. They can't live without the other. They are truly two halves of one person, and that "adolescent fantasy" you accuse Chief of being is utterly deconstructed in the final scene when the Chief himself has to finally come to terms with his emotions, as the person who he has been dependent on for so long, and his one true, and very last, friend in the whole universe is dying right before his eyes.

It merely speaks to the Chief's character that he said "It was my job to take care of you," because at first, it truly was. Cortana was the most advanced AI in existence and held the key to humanity's salvation in all of the knowledge she retained. In many ways, she was more important than Chief himself.

But in the end, she dies, and all Chief tries to do is wave it away as another "job," but he can't. He's coming to grips with his emotions, but doesn't know how to process them. Finally, when she dies, his armor is removed and we see for the first time the man's true face behind the mask, literally and metaphorically deconstructing the very adolescent fantasies you take issues with.

So yeah, my thoughts are jumbled cause it's so early in the morning. But you can't seriously just look at a character like Chief and Cortana for what they look like. That is the definition of judging a book by its cover.

There is so much more to them than that, and their visual appearance is only a symbolic metaphor for their significantly deeper relationship. Just because a female character is partially nude doesn't make it insulting to women; if you're judging a game's depiction of women proimarily on how they look, you're really no better than the people you accuse of insulting women with their appearance in the first place. You have to objectively look at their actions, their relationships, their characters. Cortana was going insane as all AI's her age do, but she still fought through it, she still saved all mankind, she still saved the Master Chief, she still retained her insanity and life to achieve full sentience long enough to prove to the Master Chief that being human is more important now than ever.

I hate to say this, but you completely missed the point.

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