For Women Like You: Identifying With Lollipop Chainsaw's Heroine, Juliet

"You need to start taking better care of yourself. You need all the help you can get. Men don't go for women like you."

"What is ‘like me'?"

We are at a department store. My mother picks up a brassiere and hovers it over my chest as she closes one eye, sizing me up.

"Raped women. Women who have been used up. Here, try these on."

I walk into the dressing room and I strip. I stare at myself in the mirror, cocking my head to the side as I trace the contours of my body, chalking an outline of the crime scene.

***

Juliet, the protagonist of Lollipop Chainsaw, is what you'd call "perfect" — as dictated by the most stereotypical features of western beauty ideals, anyway. Blonde. Blue eyed. Big chest.

She knows her place, and her role very well, too. She's bubbly and airheaded. The camera pans around and she willingly bends over, or she giggles when a character says something crass or untoward.

I should dislike her and everything she stands for. I should reject such a flippant depiction of gender and sex in a medium I want to see grow, see mature. I should be repulsed.

Should.

I don't. She's the woman I've desperately wanted to look like all these years.

Growing up I was always the chubby tomboy the boys largely ignored. No hard feelings or anything. You're a great girl, they'd say. Smart as hell. Funny — they'd compliment my sense of humour. Still, they'd dismiss me with a shake of the head as if saying oh you foolish, silly girl. What made me think I deserved affection or love, looking the way I did?

My body changed completely that summer as I dropped 36kg in a few months. Anorexia. Nobody batted an eyelash at the sudden weight loss — rather, it was taken as the natural outcome of a young woman who finally understood the way things worked. Womanhood, after all, means being prim and proper — make up, feminine clothes, pursuing sex appeal.

Juliet uses a chainsaw. My deadly weapon was my appearance. I knew this — that's why I started picking clothes that would catch eyes, turn heads. Shirts unbuttoned slightly too low, sometimes enough to catch a glimpse of what was inside. Pants that were so tight it was difficult to raise my legs.

Clothes, you might say, that asked for it-

*** Weapons can be used against the wielders, I thought to myself as I picked up my clothes from the floor and my assailant left the room. I recall this moment as a zombie takes Juliet by force. Let me go! I mash the X button frantically.

Maybe the rape was unavoidable, I think to myself as I play. I developed anorexia months beforehand specifically to get guys like him to notice me. Well, they noticed me. I knew I started looking good, but the self-hatred they made me develop was so palpable, so tangible, resentment won out every time. I rejected all of them. You can look but you can't touch. It was like some twisted form of revenge.

I get the zombie to unleash his vice grip, but then a slew of mindless zombies chase after me. Hands outreached, they call out to me, tell me what they'd do to me if I just let them. That horde closes in on me. I'm cornered, but this means the enemies are lined up, too. They're all men. I chop off all their heads in a special attack — the screen sparkles in a rainbow. Juliet cheers. I feel nothing.

Still, Juliet takes some damage. Thankfully, there's a lollipop in the room to replenish her health. It's Juliet's favourite food — ostensibly, because it's light enough for her to feel OK eating it. It's her "fetish" after all, and it implies that she's self conscious about her weight: she likes being told that she's not fat.

I pause. The ‘zombie cookbook' comes up, which details the most lethal combos to use against my enemies. I try to memorize them, but I think I enjoy the game more if I just play it by feel, without worrying about the minutia. I'm not anorexic anymore, I still count every single calorie. It can suck the pleasure out of eating, but some things internalize themselves so deeply that you never let go of them.

***

My friend sitting next to me takes this opportunity to ask me if the game is fun to play, especially since they'd heard it was terrible — so why was I indulging in it? I realise then that finishing Lollipop Chainsaw is going to be a test of endurance, and all for what? The aesthetic? That superficial thing that shouldn't matter but I care about so much anyway? Isn't it the gameplay that should count above all? That innate thing about the medium that makes it special?

I start playing again, but I'm not really paying attention anymore. Juliet gets engulfed. She's eaten alive. The game over screen flashes. It's Juliet doubling over.

It kind of sounds like I dropped a plastic barbie doll on the floor.

[art credit]

Bit Creature is a new independent video game hub focused on experiential writing and thoughtful analysis. This article was republished from Bit Creature with permission.


Comments

    While a good article (although we've heard about this topic before), its barely tangentially related to videogames, with the lollipop chainsaw reference pretty much just used as a metaphor throughout.

      Dont cheapen the authors experience by dismissing it because its not strictly about video games.

      thats not intended to be a dig at you personally, by the way. no offence intended.

        I'm not, I'm just saying that this would be better served elsewhere - also, we've had an article (or several) from patricia before on this very issue (of her being raped) and while insightful, doesn't seem to be constructive apart from her personally expunging her issues.

          Patricia's articles are absolutely relevant to gaming culture. It highlights some uncomfortable truths about the words and attitudes the a large portion of the gaming community has, and gives perspective on some of the reasons why.

          Someone can say "Lol I raped you" goes by with nary an eyebrow raised, whilst being new to a game is treated with contempt and derision.

          Gamers need to be hearing and telling stories like this.

            I agree with Fryiee, there's an awful lot of white knighting on this site that goes to protect bad video game journalism. One of the biggest issues is that female editors on kotaku seem to write about tangentially video game related issues and stories, as if they wished to write about something else entirely, but due to the name of the site, had to tie it in somehow.

              To you, it's probably not, but myself and many others respectfully disagree.

              Gender, and the effect it has on someones gaming experience, is a very relevant topic in gaming culture, and Kotaku is a site about games and gaming culture, therefore, it is relevant.

              Of course, your free to think it's a bad article, despite it's relevance. I'd think you'd be throwing away an opportunity to see another side of gaming culture, but that is your prerogative. At the very least, kudos for reading it and giving it some thought.

                Yeah, I agree that that article had some relevance to gaming culture as a whole, but this one just didn't do that - its using videogames as a vague vehicle for her personal issues, which while I am sympathetic of and appreciate gaming as an outlet, it's not really relevant for readers.

              I think it's more that people only notice that the article was by a female writer when they speak about issues arising from being female. The female writers write many other things but you probably didn't notice because they didn't mention in the article that they were female.

              "bad video game journalism"? That's a concept that seem basically defined by a perceived lack of relevance to video games -which being, ultimately, such a trivial pursuit reeks of self-entitlement and complaining for the sake of complaining. In the end, it sounds like a kid that when hearing a word he doesn't like (though in this case, it's the words that he /doesn't hear/ what sets him off) covers his ears and yells atop of his voice: "What does this has to do with video games? What does this has to do with video games? What does this has to do with video games? I don't want to hear a single sentence that doesn't have to do with video games! Mechanics! Gameplay! Fun! Graphics! Studio! Kill! FPS! Leaderboards! Why should I listen to the experiences of other people, even gamers like me if they are not talking THE THINGS I WANT TO HEAR!!"

            You can claim that for the last article about Gears of War however this one doesn't tell anything about current gaming culture. This is about a single player game character who she shouldnt like for being a stereotype, she could have picked any TV show or Movie for the same character it just seems that Lollipop Chainsaw was chosen so it could have some justification of being on Kotaku.

            If there is something more to the article that I have missed please let me know however this is how it appears to me.

              She didn't write it for Kotaku, she wrote it for Bit Creature and Kotaku reposted it. So your theory is incorrect.
              Also, since when is a character non-eligible to be talked about on a gaming site simply because its a single-player character? If you read the article, she didn't just pick that character at random anyway, she's telling how being that character made her feel whilst playing.

                The reason I mentioned it was single player was to show that no other gamers were involved so its not a commentary on gaming culture like the last one. I have reread it several times and I still don't really understand what the article was actually about. She starts out talking about how she should hate the stereotype character, goes into a talk about being raped then ends without ever really going anywhere. To me this article seems like an outlet.

                  Oh, it definitely was an outlet. I'm not sure how I feel about the article, to be honest and I don't really like her as a writer but your reasons for saying it didn't belong here didn't sit well with me.

            If this was a commentary about the misogyny present in the gaming world then I would agree, but this is article is not about video games, it's about rape. While that's a topic that needs to be in the public attention (to reduce its occurrence) it doesn't have to be here on Kotaku.

              I agree mostly here, this was a good article but a bit of a swing and a miss regarding any commentary on games but I don't think that's what this article was trying for anyway. It was merely a thought piece

              compared to the gears article which caused me to actually stop, think and ultimately change a bad habit I didn't even know I had; This article feels a little flat.

              I take issue with the claim of white knighting by Ben though, I think thats the wrong word for the genuine show of sympathy and discussion I've seen on this site

              Yours is a fair perspective regarding the theme of it, though for me it was simply a persons perspective and experience playing a game.

              It's not going to appeal to everyone, which is fair enough, but I for one am interested in individual perceptions on a game, especially how personal experience affects it. Reviews and critiques are easy to find, personal reflections are hardest to come by, and I enjoy them =)

            Sorry, but I completely disagree with you. Nothing about this poor woman being raped is remotely related to gaming or gaming culture. In fact, it actually feels *crass* to see this here.

              Feeling a bit intimidated by it? You might not care about seeing your reflection in characters but she does. And it's fascinating for that. Does the article go very far on the topic? Perhaps not. But the perspective she brings to light on seeing yourself reflected in a character is a good talking point

    I think a lot of the meaning went over my head, alas. I do hope you're recovering and these articles are helpful to the process. (That sounds a little patronizing, but I mean it in all seriousness.)

    I disagree with your mom about raped girls being less desirable. It's not a girls fault if something horrible happens to her like that. While scantily clad clothes ARE going to attract all eyes (especially the dregs of society who don't have much brain power), nothing justifies rape. I hope things turn out for you Patricia.

      the line about raped women being 'used up' fucking terrorfied me.

      that some people still have that mentality is just... sad.

        I agree, It's a particularly detestable mindset
        @Cats, I recently watched a video over on the escapist about rape and murder in video games
        where the argument was made that murder can be justified and even, in a time of war, be seen as heroic
        Rape can never be justified

        Some people have lots of stupid ideas. That's why we call them stupid. I wouldn't worry so much about it, these folks will always be with us, so focus your energy on being optimistic about the smart, sensitive and innovative people around you rather than life's dredges.

    "God help you if you are a Phoenix, and you dare to rise up from the ash, a thousand eyes will smoulder with jealousy while you are just flying past "

    This comment has been deemed inappropriate and has been deleted.

      As usual, commenters write something extremely vague, not in relation to the article, but to the fact that the article is not itself a review of a particular game, nor a hype-piece on the latest annual installment of Franchise-X.

      The fact that people are beginning to discuss these issues (and yes, they ARE issues) is relevant to our culture. I dare say moreso than whichever game you chose to throw 2 hours into last night. With the advent of gaming becoming a more popular pasttime, not to mention a viable career (oh look, I'm currently commenting on a piece, written by a paid gaming journalist), these nuances need to be discussed.
      There'll always be a market for niche interest. Violence and depravity has its place within games just as much as it does in cinema, in sex, in art. There'll also be a market for family-oriented entertainment too, which again, is just as viable.

      These editors are paid to do exactly this, bring these topics for us to discuss, for entertainment, enlightenment and informative purposes.
      God forbid an opinion piece get posted detailing the intricacies and similarities between games and real-world implications.

      Now if you'll excuse me, I've got to get off my high-horse and continue playing Call of War-Ops XVI: Black Fire.

      As usual you're a misogynist git.

        Am I racist homophobe pedophile as well? Which title do you wish to attach to me to devalue my speech today?

      And look, I've been censored for point out a truth. How delightful.

    so, did you like the game or not ?
    i'm still undecided if i should buy this.
    i think you should try to memorize the combos, it may make it more fun if your not always dying.

      Even taking everything down to a gameplay standpoint, Lollipop Chainsaw just isn't a good game. The combat is clunky and generic, there's very little in the way of puzzles that requires any thought process, there's forced minigames that are either boring, cheap, or both, and an ability unlock system that will require you to grind coins well after finishing the story to unlock everything, regardless of your ability. I honestly thought that the soundtrack wasn't bad, but that's really the only highlight to an otherwise bad game.

      I grabbed it hoping for a decent 3rd-person hack-and-slash game, but there really are much better games in the genre out there.

    Has anyone played this game? I'm curious about whether or not Juliet is actually portrayed as anorexic...

      There's slight hints to it, but it certainly isn't stated outright. Juliet's favourite food is lollipops, which she states at one point she enjoys because they're 'light' so she doesn't feel guilty about eating them. She also likes being told she's not fat. It isn't mentioned often, but one of my personal issues with this is that these bits of dialogue are actually played up in an attempt at crash and juvenile comedic value. "She's a cheerleader and therefore extremely concerned about her weight despite being 'cheerleader thin', ha ha!"

      While this isn't the only example of terrible writing in Lollipop Chainsaw (I think a list of the decent bits of writing would be a much quicker and shorter list to put together), it certainly is one of the more concerning (although not reaching the levels of zombified students claiming they are going to rape her, including what I remember to be a threat of forced anal sex, for example).

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