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When the makers of Grand Theft Auto V (GTA V) announced that their game would utilize an innovative style of narration that allowed players to switch between three main characters at any time, gamers were intrigued. The lack of playable female characters is worrisome enough on its own, but couple that with Rockstar’s rocky history with female characters and the problem becomes much bigger.
GTA V has been out for about a month now and it’s already earned a shit ton of money. First off, it should be said that the male protagonists in GTA V, Franklin Clinton, Michael De Santa, and Trevor Philips, aren’t much more than limited archetypes themselves.
One of the appealing aspects of the GTA series of games is the way they skewer many aspects of American society. In a similar vein, if you sit and watch some of the in-game TV shows you’ll run across a show about a rich, while male, liberal, environmentalist superhero named Impotent Rage. It’s clear from these two examples that the folks at Rockstar are not totally ignorant about misogyny and other gender issues. I do my best to post weekly, but these days its determined more by my available time and level of inspiration.
How Manly was created by educator, media critic and activist, Duane de Four, as a place to explore these topics outside of presentations, talks and lectures. The Arizona student, who attended Red Mountain High School, exposed his genitals in his high schoola€™s varsity football team photo after being dared to do so by a teammate. When we learned that all three of those characters were going to be male, and there would be no playable female characters, many gamers were upset. For those not in the know, woman have generally been limited to a variety of misogynist archetypes in the GTA series of games. In that month I’ve had a chance to play the game and figure out for myself just what Mr. Still, we’re told the story through their eyes, and unlike the women in the game, they have some agency (or at least the appearance of it). Violence is always the answer in GTA V and by violence we’re generally talking shootouts and high-speed car chases. These are totally optional things that players can do while wandering around the fictional city of Los Santos.

If you pay for a lap dance, the game actually encourages you to touch the virtual strippers (instructions for how to do it pop up on screen). Also, guess where are your hyper-sexual attitudes and approaches towards women come from (outside of what we just discussed from Trevor)?
It seems no one is safe from ridicule; politicians, advertising, television shows, movies and the American obsession with guns are all lampooned. Impotent Rage freaks out about recycling and other environmental issues while at the same time flying in a private jet and completely sexualizing, demeaning and ignoring his female secretary.
But for some reason they choose to present only one very limited portrayal of men and masculinity.
As such, we need to examine and critique this phenomenon and the messages contained within. Until then, please let me know what you think of GTA V and it’s take on masculinity in the comments section below. Here at How Manly, we dissect mass media visions of masculinity, placing them under the microscope in search of deeper understanding and the answers to questions like; Is this what it means to be a man?
The photo was then published in the schoola€™s yearbook a€” somehow without a single person noticing.
Thankfully, Bloomberg Politics compiled all of them, named some of them, and set it all to the tune of that classic waltz, "The Blue Don-ube." Enjoy!
How could a AAA title (game industry speak for big game with a big budget… think Hollywood summer blockbuster) of this scale not include playable female characters? All three characters are of course criminals (remember, the name of the game is Grand Theft Auto), so they all engage in some level of criminal activity throughout the story.
Putting aside personal feelings on strip clubs, I do know that touching strippers is not allowed and will get you kicked out (or worse). Interestingly enough, while seemingly celebrating some types of negative, harmful masculinity the game also takes the time to mock other aspects. Didn’t Rockstar, the makers of GTA V, care about the female half of gamers out there? This bonding moment starts off with Michael yelling at Jimmy, calling him lazy and so on, then smashing the kid’s huge TV with a chair. Not so much Franklin (who’s the closest thing to the criminal with a heart of gold in this game), but the guys he hangs around with.

For example, as you drive around Los Santos, you can listen to a variety of (pretty good) radio stations.
While I appreciate Dan Houser’s exploration of masculinity through video games, I really wish he had chosen to move beyond tired old masculine archetypes and give us something new. Listen enough to the talk radio channel and you’ll hear a show co-hosted by a man and a woman. By forcefully grabbing her, engaging in a shootout with the pornographers (killing a bunch of them of course) and making a getaway on a jet ski (as Tracey yells and cries about what a shitty father Michael is).
Trevor messes with Johnny’s mind and tries to force him to take his pants off until Johnny starts crying and apologizing (you know for getting angry at Trevor for fucking his girlfriend). Being masculine doesn’t have to equal violence, hyper-sexuality and generally shitty behavior. He’s trapped in a loveless marriage, has two teenage kids and is a bit of an absentee father and husband. This moment is but one of many where the answer to a problem is kill or beat up other characters. Then, just as Johnny gets into how much he loves his girlfriend, Ashley, Trevor switches into violent mode. If you chose to create a female character, then one of the first things Lamar does is make a pass at her.
At one point the male DJ even calls his female co-host a bitch, which she also calls him on. It’s quite possible for video games to conceive of, and explore, different types of masculinity.
Firsts he suggests they have sex, then after getting (silently) rejected he asks for a quick hand-job while driving. Better yet, visit a prostitute as the married Michael, you know the guy who kills people for sexualizing his daughter, and same thing… nothing.

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