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First: 

It's okay to like problematic things! 

Got that? Good. I am VERY interested in seeing this game and playing it. VERY. And I probably will because of a number of attachments to it and some faith in the company. They built faith with me in Witcher 2. If they had not, I would probably be lost to them from this trailer. 

Why? 

Mostly because of the framing. 

See, this is Cyberpunk, right? A sexy cybered up lady is pretty much expected. Plastic surgery is as common as changing socks, and about as cheap. Police, also, brutal tyrannical types? Totally makes sense. Kickass slow mo to really show you the violence and all the dead bodies? Yep. Totally get that. 

Why does is suck in the way in which it is framed? Timing. I know the genre well enough to know that if you have a beautiful cybered up lady, the source material suggests she should be a razor girl. That is, she should be a modern, for hire, body guard as well as arm candy. Why assume that this woman should be drawn from that source? BECAUSE SHE'S GOT SOME CRAZY ARM CYBER THINGS! AND FACE ARMOR! So clearly, she's a cyber warrior ass kicking badass, because she has weapons and armor BUILT INTO HER BODY.

But we do not see her kick any ass. Instead, we see her in her underwear on her knees (knees spread apart like she's reverse-cowgirling the ground, no less.) She's passive. Her expression is vacant like she doesn't even notice the bullet grazing her face armor. (And not even in a noticeable 'totally high from crazy synthetic street drugs way that would also fit the source material.) 

And okay, yeah, we see that she survives and I guess becomes a cop. I guess what we're supposed to assume is that she's just finished killing all the people we see dead, paused to look sexy on the ground, and passively let this cop dude sneak up on her, and then she gets her head shaved and joins the cops. Okay? I guess? But by showing us her ONLY when she's passive, ... just guh ugh bleck. SHOW ME HER KILLING ALL THOSE PEOPLE! Or if she did not kill all those people, SHOW ME HER CUTTING THAT DUDE'S GUN IN THREE PIECES AND FEEDING THEM TOO HIM JUST BEFORE SHE GETS TAKEN DOWN BY A HAIL OF BULLETS. 

Why? 

Because violence against women is a real big problem. Enough that you have to carefully examine your use of it in media. 
Because beautiful women in underwear are so common as to have no impact any longer, and so the edgy quality of it in Gibson novels et all isn't edgy any more. 

Got it? Cool. Thanks. 

Cyberpunk 2077 Teaser Trailer
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84 comments
 
Only stuck through it to critique it because it's you! 

And it lost me right away because of the music.

And yeah, I have to say after the latest thing with the "2 million" this didn't even phase me in terms of "sexiness." 

Sad? Yes.
 
The whole "shoot the woman in the back of the head" part almost put me off this.
 
Breaking this scene down makes it doubly weird. A passive, sexualized female who's totally impervious to repeated attacks by males, but never attacks back and in no way seems threatening despite the attempted juxtaposition of sex and violence... who accepts her fate without question. makes me wonder if someone had some some pretty ratty subconscious issues.  

Not outraged, but not at all a fan. 
 
Oh, I should probably mention that despite the trailer I'm still going to be watching for this. Why? MIKE FUCKING PONDSMITH that's why. 
 
It just doesn't make any sense to me from a narrative sense, which I was only able to barely tell from +Filamena Young 's helpful breakdown of the nonsense.

I bet whoever wrote it up just threw a bunch of ideas at a board and sent it off...

ARM BLADES.

SEXINESS.

SHOOTING In HEADS!!!!

ITS FUCKING EDGY THAT'S CYBERPUNK!!!!!

later

CG artists: Sigh.
 
Brian: Right? In terms of sexiness, she's almost demure compared to so much of what's out there. 

The thing about the sexiness in the genre was to call out the dehumanizing qualities of sexual objectification. Like, that was the whole point! In the grim cyber punk corporate controlled future, people are just commodities, and women are turned into sex objects as a part of that process. It was a bad terrible no good thing! A warning. Because our culture currently does SO FUCKING MUCH of that right now. (Photoshopped Faith Hill, anyone?) it kills that part of the genre, really, and so hanging on to that trope is... weak. Very weak. 

Brand: Yes. The back of the head is ESPECIALLY rough. That pose will always turn my stomach. The fact that the 'payoff' for that is off screen or non existent depending, makes me very uncomfortable. But right? I'm going to give it a chance. I'm just... I wouldn't but for the game creator being involved and the studio winning my heart with Witcher 2. 

Daniel, Exactly. 
 
"SHOW ME HER CUTTING THAT DUDE'S GUN IN THREE PIECES AND FEEDING THEM TOO HIM JUST BEFORE SHE GETS TAKEN DOWN BY A HAIL OF BULLETS."

This is exactly what I thought was going to happen and then was a little baffled when it didn't.
 
This is the same thing that bothered me about that fucking Hitman trailer.

Hitman as a game was not at all reflected by that trailer.  I suspect that Cyberpunk as a game is not at all reflected by this one.  So why?  Why not give us something that DOES reflect the game?
 
Yeah, it definitely made me think of that too +Rowan Cota 

Why doesn't it? I think it's in the video game handbook that at least one commercial will rely on sexiness to sell with really no connection to the game whatsoever these days.
 
I wonder if they gave marketing people, say, a full opening that probably includes her cutting the dude in eight pieces, and marketing people cut it down to that. 
 
I wonder that too.  It feels like the trailer cuts off right where the action is supposed to begin.
 
"In the dark future, the cops, or possibly soldiers, are shooting at a supermodel with sweet cyberweapons, who incidentally is on her knees in the middle of the street because (???). There's a hail of bullets and then (???) and then the cops take off in their flying car, except for one cop who stays behind to put a gun to her head and then (???) and, uhh...." 
 
In Soviet marketplace, marketers cut woman with arm blade.
 
Having just watched it again I feel like there's a thing here where the trailer is supposed to imply things that it doesn't actually imply to folks who haven't seen the right media. 

Like if you're all old school Cyberpunk Ghost in the Shell Stranger Days Overdrawn at the Memory Bank Snake City you know that this chick just butchered like half the city. Not because the video really shows it, but because you just know that's what the story is. 

But unless you already know that story, that story doesn't get told. Instead you get some incoherent "sexy doll girl gets shot at but can't be hurt and then a cop shoots her but doesn't and isn't the music really nice" crap. 

So I can see where folks on the team would watch this and be "Bad ass!" and then it gets out in public and everyone is like "Um, why are they shooting a mannequin in the face over and over?" 

All of which lines up pretty well with Filla's theory that the marketing department did this. 
 
And here, CDProjekt Red does a cinematic that includes tons of badassery and overwhelming force, but without passive sexypants stuff. It shows off tons of setting elements. It sets story in motion. And holy shit, does it make me want to know more about this game. 

The Witcher 2 Assassins of Kings | CGI Intro trailer (2012) XBox 360

Could have used a sorceress in this scene, but there's a really, REALLY good story reason why there's not one. 
 
I'm glad you got enjoyment out of it, Eddy.

Brand, yeah, it seems to imply a lot that isn't said, and the parts they cut out are the parts that would excite and inspire me.
 
A story that they invented, I do want to note. So yeah, it's amazing and I love it and I loved the game it's connected to, it still sucks that there are no women. 
 
I have to say, Filamena, because I haven't played
 
It is too bad, the Witcher trailer clearly shows they're capable of so much more. 
 
I think Brand is spot on.

Also, as a professional video game developer my reaction to the trailer of any game I have worked on has always been, "Wow, who's making THAT game?"
 
I stopped over at David's thread to see your point Eddy. And I see it. This is an early trailer, so it's for insiders who are going to get it because other people don't need to be/aren't likely to be interested yet. I get that. Makes perfect sense. 

But once again it's one of those things where the assumed insider group is assumed to be straight white guys. A woman know knows the genre, likes the company, loves the art, I should be on the inside of this, but I can't be because of the things I've outline above. 
 
For those that didn't read the video description, what it's supposed to be is a snapshot of the sort of situation that leads to a member of the Pscyho Squad (cops that take down hyper-augmented people who lose touch with their humanity and, out of disdain/frustration/psychotic break, lash out violently).

So apparently she snapped, killed all those people, and a member of the Psycho Squad was getting the drop on her as she shrugged off the regular cops attack... with the last shot showing her having been recruited to do the same thing to other "psychos."

Of course that's not explicit in the video, but I was curious (never played Cyberpunk) and checked it out.

"The teaser shows how the Psycho Squad might acquire a new member.

The Psycho Squad specializes in combating "psychos" -- individuals who overuse implants and substances that boost or otherwise alter the human body. 

There comes a point when they overdose on these innovations, and their bodies start to rebel against their biological body parts as well as all things organic around them. Simply put, they start killing people, who they now derisively call "meatbags." 

When a psycho goes on the rampage, strange things can happen. There's carnage, and the psycho might be taken down by regular police, but they're not always able to get the job done. 

When things spin out of control, they call in MAX-TAC (Maximum Force Tactical Division), popularly called the Psycho Squad."
 
I disagree that that is the assumption, but I don't see much value in unpacking that. It's not perfectly inclusive, but I thought it told an interesting story from what was, in all likelihood, a piece of still concept art and a single model used as an art asset. I see why you might not groove on it, but I didn't get the victimization vibe.
 
Ah, yeah, I see now. It wasn't clear to me that the dude with the pistol was in a different league than the other cops. So it just seemed like the cyberpsycho was invulnerable to everyone's attacks, but then surrendered and was recruited because [mumble-handwave]. 
 
I would love it if they could convey that somehow in the video instead of relying on support text.
 
Maybe if she was in squad uniform and not a sexy party outfit?

I mean, there is probably a story reason for the fuck me running outfit -- all hot female cops ever end up in a sexy dress at some point right? -- but in the video it doesn't go a long way to showing her as one of the squad. 

Which, of course, is because the striking image of a woman being struck by bullets when she looked helpless is what it was about, not the image of a badass woman actually being so bad ass that bullets broke on her face. 
 
+Brand Robins Just to be clear, I think she is a party-girl who has gone "psycho" and killed 14(?) people in the majority of the video, with her in gear and putting on the same mask as the guy who apparently stopped her being the only in-video implication that she's since joined up after some indeterminate amount of time.
 
Ah, so she's in the sexy party dress because she was a bad ass cyborg having a sexy part, you know, the way they do, when she snapped. Then the killing proceeded. 

Yea, I remember playing that game of Cyberpunk. Still doesn't come off as clean if you weren't there. 
 
Why is it the women are always sexy? I mean, sure, the pressures society puts on women to be sexy could cause a lot of people to snap, but nothing in this trailer points to that. They could have shown her snapping. Instead, we have a sexy woman (albeit with a hint of weird given her arms) being sprayed by a hail of police bullets. Also, the police looks all very masculine.

The elements are all there but it's like they took someone outside of the outlook to create a trailer to appeal to the "masses" a.k.a. the stereotyped frat boys.
 
Okay, I'm going to wade into the pool here from the other end.

This is what I see in the trailer: "The female at the center is a beautiful woman in a striking, sexualized pose, with razors for arms surrounded by hacked apart bodies and pools of blood. She is being shot at, and the bullets break off of her body like little stars. Then, out of nowhere, a cop appears behind her and puts a bullet in her head and carts her off, getting her ready to be another cyborg cop just like him with a brainwasher cyborg helmet."

What I think I think is that a lot of this is intentional. I think they want to show us something disturbing in dichotomies. A beautiful woman surrounded by death, a sexualized person in the middle of a firefight, a firefight that is eerie and beautiful. 

I don't think that anyone in this trailer is supposed to be the protagonist. I think it's supposed to be a trailer that shows us how weird this world with all of its crazy technology and overstimulated populace. 

Where I think the problem comes in is that the trailer doesn't tell its story well. It stumbles to the finish line. And, I mean, that's almost ironic as cyberpunk has been nailed to the cross a lot over the years for being a genre that glorifies style over substance. 

But here's the honest question: Am I seeing something that isn't there? Am I leveling this trailer up because of my affection for Cyberpunk and CD Projekt Red?
 
I see what you're saying, but we're still seeing a woman who ought to have agency with no agency because they choose not to show her acting. And while I wish you could, you can't ignore the real world, a place where violence against women, institutional  violence against women (often committed by cops) and sexual objectification is not a far off dystopian warning, but an every day fact of life.
 
I honestly took the un-moving nature of the woman as a narrative device unto itself.  You have all the action going on around her, in slow motion, while we are slowly being relieved the scene surrounding her.  I think that we are being treated to her moment of clarity... a second of lucidity where she is physically immobile and appearing empty because she is contemplating "what have I done?"  I didn't look at it as an act of submission, I looked at it as a supreme act of control of self, because the carnage was the result of losing self.
 
Then she could be standing, on her feet, maybe more clearly having just killed someone. 
 
Why is it always the bitches who be goin' crazy?

(Sorry.  I...  Really needed to say that.)

Why is it that she lost control?  Why is she sexy and crazy and why?  I just...  In a world that turns women's agency in to "bitches be crazy yo" WHY?
 
I've played a lot of Cyberpunk and Shadowrun; I ought to be in the target audience for this game. This trailer says to me, "You are not invited here." All they had to do to change that was to let her move, to act, to do something other than... blink. Or stand in an aggressive pose instead of a passive one, even.

Putting some woman cops in other than a brief shot of her wouldn't have hurt either. ("In the grim dystopia of 2077, there are even FEWER women on the police force. And those have to be cybered.") Also, the lingering shot of the poster? Why not have that be of something actually futuristic to give a better sense of the mileu? That's just more "you are not invited here, cootie-girl." What I need to see in video game trailers is, "Women are represented in this game, and they get to do things other than be victims." Because with the current world of games, a trailer that does not show me that is probably for a game that will not show me that.
 
Fair enough, but I have actually seen in real life someone drop to their knees in a not dissimilar situation, so maybe I look at it as more plausible and less Hollywood.
 
+Filamena Young Okay, I see where you're coming from there, and I can totally see that. Sometimes its hard to see something when you're outside of the context. That's why I really love these discussions; and you and Dave are both great people to have them with. 

So, are there redeeming elements here? What would you change to make this work better?
 
To be fair to the game, bitches be crazy because anyone cybered too much be crazy. That's kind of a premise of the game and genre. 

That does of course, set us up to question the potential protagonists background, but if she IS the protag, and her origin story is "I got some cyber stuff, then I flipped out and murder twelve people, and now I angst about it and try to make it better." ...well... That's a pretty masculine back story  (Unless we find out she did it because rape, luluz,, but I'm getting way ahead on anything we know about the game.) 
 
+Filamena Young - What I worry about is that she's NOT the protag.  That, for example, the dude who recruits her is the protag.
 
I think I read somewhere that this trailer is a snapshot of the world, rather than any of the characters being potential protagonists.
 
M. It looks cool, no questions asked. I like that she's some kind of warrior. I like the subversion of the razor girl (if that's what she's drawn from.) Molly for the fucking win. I mentioned above, that if this is a story of her redemption, that would be amazing and new (as long as it avoids rape.) 

To fix it? SHOW HER DOING THINGS! Show her on her feet. Show her being aggressive. Show her acting on the agency she clearly has. 

Rowan: Oh totally. If she's not the protag, ick ick eeeeeeeeeeeeewwwwww. 

Erik: That doesn't at all redeem it. That says 'in this world, even women who are cybered up are victims. Killing 12 people doesn't mean anything.Women are underwear wearing non-threats. 
 
Yeah. The camera focuses on what's important. That's like rule 0 of film, and why parking scenes suck. 
 
Food for thought that just popped into my head.  CDPR is a group of people who are very deliberate with what tropes they invoke, down to minute visual, auditory, and contextual cues.  

You know who the woman reminds me of in already existing Cyberpunk(ish) literature?  Right down to the outfit?  Major Kusanagi in Ghost in the Shell.  I think this may have been done on purpose.
 
Ghost in the Shell is something interesting to compare to. So I think of agency and the main character in Ghost in the Shell, I think of this scene. Ghost In the Shell :Tank Fight

Yes. She's naked for a pretty contrived reason (it's how she can be invisible, I believe) but ... man. That's intense. 
 
Two things: later GitS would show that you didn't have to be naked to be camouflaged (maybe tech moved forward?).  There was a particular scene though, that this trailer made me think of from the later series.  Kind of as a precursor to what the trailer is illustrating, or maybe a "thin shred of self-control vs. complete loss of control"

Ghost in the Shell—Major Kusanagi's fury
 
Ghost in the Shell bugs me, honestly.   Yes, Kusanagi is a neat character and there are neat themes being explored.  But honestly, the only reason Kusanagi is topless/naked in the stealth suit is for fans to get giddy over titty.  The setting establishes QUITE clearly that skintight/transparent clothing is not in any way needed for the stealth camo-tech, as we see Kusanagi fighting a guy with the same tech built into a baggy opaque coat.  Catapulted me right out of the movie, and made it hard for me to enjoy anything GitS ever again, honestly.
 
+Isaac Sher That ends up being one problem I have with a lot of anime, unfortunately.
 
Isaac, I completely get you and follow along. On some level, though, I think the final scene of her naked and more or less dead being tossed around like a body (I liked it above) after she's affiliated herself for her mission is so gross and so creepy that it's kind of a punishment? "Enjoy the cheap titillation  did you? HOW ABOUT NOW! AHHAHAH!" 
 
This game sounds like it will be a combination of everything I heard was kinda good but never bothered to actually play (Witcher, Cyberpunk, Deus Ex)
 
+David Hill Let's be fair, Hollywood and western media is hardly innocent in the "pointless gratuitous fanservice bullshit" game, this is not an Anime thing, this is Bad Writing thing.

coughSUCKERPUNCHcough
 
+Isaac Sher Sure. American media sucks. Then again, we don't get a lot of random people whose breasts fall out of their shirts and roll around in someone's face, completely without context. 

Also? Suckerpunch wasn't made in a vacuum: 

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1478800/
 
Directed by Oshii, no less, same guy who did GitS.  Lovely.
 
+Isaac Sher I take it as part of the Major's caracter. She's been a full cyborg since before puberty--she doesn't have a 'human adult' perspective on sexuality, even her own. She dresses (or un-dresses) hyper-sexy as a kind of psychological experiment on other people.

Granted, from the writer's and artist's point of view, its pure fan-service, but at least it has an in-plot reason, however tenuous.
Gary F
 
Everyone in it is completely passive. Even the cops only seem to be there to hold the guns in firing position.
 
+Gary Forbis I'd argue that they are dispassionate, maybe. But passive? Nah. 

There are two things going on in this video. 

Officers are shooting. She is being shot. 

Dude is indoctrinating. She is being indoctrinated. 

If a writer passed me a story about someone that was "being shot" then "being indoctrinated," I'd give them a load of shit for using passive voice. But if they handed me a story about someone "shooting" and "indoctrinating," I'd have no such issues. (I'd have others maybe, but hey.) 
Joe S
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Really is the failure to show her agency in any real way that's the biggest problem, the reliance on the audience knowing the source material is the other (if I had no idea what Psychos were, for example, this would make even less sense than it does). 
 
+Filamena Young Thanks for writing this. In my excitement over a new game from CD Projekt I rather cluelessly missed many of the problematic elements in this trailer. Your critique of it has been helpful in clueing me in on what I'd missed.

I'm still excited for the possibilities of this world with this developer, but I hope CD Projekt can handle it better.
Joe S
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Two problems: One, she's stripped of all agency in the portrayal of her that you get to see in the video. Two, you only really get to know that stuff if you read the description and/or know the game background. Without that context, there's a whole pile of problems that come up (which have been well discussed in prior posts).
 
Fabian, it's an issue of framing and media awareness. This video, in a vacuum  is what it is and that's not particularly at issue. But when you look at it as a part of a larger tapestry of video games terrible treatment of female characters (and women employees) as well as the culture at large that treats women as objects, this becomes less okay. 
 
I can critique a work without disgust or derision, and I can separate the artist from the art. (In this case specifically I am WAY convinced this is a marketing department issue. As I've sad above.) 

This is WAY less about saying 'these people are bad and wrong and their game is bad' and way more about 'are considering making a video game with a trailer? Here's some things you might consider doing differently.) 
 
+Gretchen S. How do you know there aren't woman cops? What give it away, no full body armor with cleavage? Really?

Also not sure about showing her skin, as she is as it looks like full cyborg.

Also i think she is 'making a suicide', that's why she is on her knees, closing her eyes. Cyborg behind her is waiting for her reaction, is she still berserk or is she in full control? And than the logo jump in and she open her eyes! Does she snap at him? Was she just luring him closer?

Well no, but it was all there.
 
I wish you'd actually read what I posted.
 
"...not sure about showing her skin, as she is as it looks like full cyborg." ...If you're saying what I think you're saying, that's a really disingenuous argument. The intent to sexualize is crystal-fucking-clear. It doesn't matter if the "skin" is cybernetic or not. 
 
+Jan Bartoloměj If there are, maybe they could have shown them in the trailer.

She's just blank-faced and I'm not psychic and I cannot read her mind. If they wanted me to read all of this into that, they could have put some actual expressions in.

(It doesn't help that this is perpetuating the hands down silliest part of Cyberpunk 2020, the humanity score, as if giving someone a set of prosthetic limbs will magically turn them psycho. There were lots of fabulous elements of that game, like the life paths in character generation, but thinking too hard about that little gem was brain-hurting.)
 
+Gretchen S. I met a dude one time that had both legs replaced with carbon fiber blades. He murdered me. Twice. True fact.
 
Yep. He did it between winning Olympic track events.
 
Pardon me for a moment, inside joke to +Jeff Johnston:

"And he has a spur here and a spur here..."
 
Something nobody has addressed here: The pose is, except for hands-on-the-head, the standard at-a-distance perp neutralization pose from movies and television (as opposed to close-in neutralization, which is face down being cuffed). On knees, hands where they can be seen. The shots are likely intended to communicate that it is taking sustained threat of fire to keep her there.

This is not being read with the eye towards standard cop-and-perp (of whatever sex) dynamics in film, animation, tv. It should be. In other words, if it was a male cyborg, or a nongendered cyborg, would there still be outrage about this standard scenario?
 
No. Because there's a completely different cultural baggage. Women tend to be depowered, weak, sexualized, and passive, even when they're otherwise strong characters. No game exists in a vacuum. We are not constantly and nigh exclusively bombarded with images of passive, depowered men.

This scene would have been infinitely better with twenty seconds of context, so it was more than just slow motion shooting against a passive woman.
 
I really wish people would stop pretending that we have gender equality. 
 
I am not "pretending we have gender equality." That is incredibly insulting and was obviously meant to be so, as well as dismissive.

The "on knees, hands out" pose is a legitimate trope of cop-perp interactions in media. This is a law enforcement takedown of a violent offender, during their act of violence. There will be things like guns firing bullets, and police on offender violence, and it's dark futuristic, so police brutality is apparently SOP. Let's not pretend that that isn't the scenario, just for the sake of being extra angry about things that are not really related to what is actually wrong with the trailer, like:
**Lack of context
**Her clothing/lack thereof
**Lack of the vocal track it seems should have been included
**The assumption that viewers would get the description along with the video (lack of meta context)
**Her appearance being barbie-with-knives instead of a less conventionally attractive type

Look at the real issues, within the scenario as given, but don't focus on just the (2-5 seconds in realtime) scenario instead of how that scenario could have been handled better. 
 
Any argument that is based on "oh this wouldn't be as upsetting if a man was in that position" is pretending that we have gender equality.
 
I am the last person who would pretend there was gender equality. My point was that what made everyone angry about tne pose was not the pose it was everything else and the pose was being focused on, wrongly.

 
Actually, the pose makes me angry too. I'm willing the bet the reason why we have a female character in this particular video is because of that pose.
 
See, I think you are reading that intent into it. I think you are attributing to malice that which is more likely due to lack of consideration of the message that people would get from the combination of all the factors, like "perp at gunpoint" pose + bulletproof cybergirl + teeny mini dress + pretty + cyber squad guy holding gun (EMP? projectile? no way to know without vocal track) behind her + slow motion to give everyone lots of time to watch a couple of seconds + barely implied violence and carnage around her. I think there are bad decisions here. I don't think there is malice.
 
And you are reading intent into things as well. It doesn't require malice. It just requires a desire to see a woman on her knees.
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