Tiny Tina’s Racism Reference In The New Borderlands 2 DLC

“BOOYAH. Not racist,” exclaims Tiny Tina in the newest Borderlands 2 DLC, out today. It’s not every day you hear video game characters discussing racism. Especially those who have had history with the concept, warranted or not.

For the record, I do not think Tiny Tina’s personality conveys any sort of racism. If you are familiar with writer Anthony Burch and his sister Ashly Burch — who voices Tiny Tina — you’ll recognise it’s part of their natural banter/humor.

I already wrote about this (awesome) DLC a few times, but I wanted to share an interesting clip that happens a good chunk of the way through the main campaign. So, minor dialogue spoilers in case you’re worried about preserving the entire experience.

Is the clip above a friendly jab at the heat writer Burch took back in February?

I reached out to Gearbox, figuring it was a self-aware, tongue-in-cheek joke meant to lighten the mood of the angry tweets against Tiny Tina. Something of an inside jab. They declined to comment.

While there may be no intended thought put into tying the two together — the two instances of supposed racism come from, after all, completely different contexts — it’s not a difficult connection to make. At the least it’s interesting to see a video game character discuss racism at all in a game, however in passing or jokingly it may have been.

I turn it over to you guys. What do you think?


  • Personally I think it’s racist anyone would think that all black people talk like Tiny Tina.. but oh well. *shrug* Apparently ‘badonkadonk’ = blackspeak. Well, that correlation = moronic.

    • You’re exactly right. Suggesting that Tiny Tina’s style of speech is predominantly a ‘black’ thing is making use of a racial stereotype, which is, by definition, racist. Anyone can talk in any way, there is no ‘black speak’ or ‘white speak’ or anything else along those lines.

      • “the belief that all members of each race possess characteristics, abilities, or qualities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races: theories of racism
        prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior”

        It’s not, you are incorrect. pretending certain sub sections of the population are not likely to speak in a certain way is irrational and demonstrably false. such facts provide useful information as do stereotypes, everybody stereotypes and its an incredibly useful tool. suggesting that black people speak that way “because” they are black is racist. suggesting a variation of speech is inferior because its used predominantly by black people is racist. suggesting someone should talk in a certain way because they’re black is racist. suggesting everybody is equally likely to talk with exactly the same inflection is moronic. anyone “can” talk in anyway, that doesn’t mean they’re less likely to talk a certain way.

        • You’re mistaken, sammi, both because you think complex topics like racism and sexism can be distilled down into a single sentence in a dictionary, and because you’ve failed to understand even the simplistic definition you provided.

          Stereotype, discrimination and prejudice are all facets of the same concept. A stereotype, positive or negative, is always discriminatory: “A generalization, usually exaggerated or oversimplified and often offensive, that is used to describe or distinguish a group”. Stereotyping is not a useful tool. You might not like to hear it, sammi, but if you’re applying a racial stereotype to black people on the basis of a method of speech, you’re being racist. Nothing irrational about it.

          You said my comment was ‘demonstrably false’, so please, do demonstrate it. Show the statistics that this method of speech is ‘used predominantly by black people’.

    • Absolutely right. I know it’s considered one of those automatic responses with no real meaning, but declaring Tiny Tina racist sounds a bit racist to me.

  • Given how strongly people felt about it (especially the ones in the wrong), I personally would’ve avoided anything that looked like rubbing wrong-people’s noses in how wrong they were.

    Wrong… wrong… rong. Say it enough even in your head and it loses all meaning.

  • “Something of an inside jab.”

    What’s the point of jabbing from inside? A jab’s something you use to keep someone at range. If you’re inside, you’re either throwing hooks and uppercuts or you’re trying to clinch in order to have the ref separate you.

    Can you even jab from inside? I don’t think I can draw my arm back far enough.

  • The term “Verbal Blackface” didn’t exist till that guy first said it, and it still makes me so angry when I think about how he accused Anthony Burch of it in the first place – not because I disagreed with his opinion, but because his unwarranted uptight self-righteous ranting caused a stir big enough that it could have easily cost a good man his job when he really did nothing wrong. Same goes for the whole “girlfriend mode” situation, you can’t believe how angry it made me to see innocent people getting crucified over non-existent controversies.

    I strongly agree that there’s a big need to fight sexism and racism in videogames wherever it’s present as we shouldn’t have to stand for it, but let’s try to not turn that fight into a witch hunt where innocent people are the ones being burned at the stake.

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