Why The Internet Freaked Out Over ‘Hot Ryu’

Why The Internet Freaked Out Over ‘Hot Ryu’

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I’ve never seen my Twitter feed so collectively freak out over a male character in a game than when Capcom released Ryu’s alternate design for Street Fighter V. For all the conversation about Quiet’s absurd outfit in Metal Gear Solid V, the character — and moment — I keep coming back to is what some have dubbed “Hot Ryu.” Maddy Myers keenly points out how the reaction to Ryu is different than, say, the design of a new Dead or Alive fighter. The “hotness” of “Hot Ryu” has more to do with audience projecting it on him than designer intent.

“Hot Ryu” changed all of that. When the “Hot Ryu” meme began, inspired by little more than Ryu’s new beard design, entries in the meme focused on personifying and humanising Ryu. The people who participated in this meme did not zoom in on shots of Ryu’s muscles and post the word “abs” over and over, although many references to his physicality did occur; the crux of the meme was about Ryu participating in an imagined relationship with someone, in both a sexual and an emotional sense.
Almost instantly, “Hot Ryu” became a “boyfriend” character. It wasn’t just that people thought his beard was cute — although, they sure did — it was that he instantly got personified in a particular way. His physical appearance became secondary to the meme almost instantly, in spite of being the element that had theoretically kicked it off. I would guess that this is due to the fact that women and queer people already are used to framing “personality” as core to “sexiness.” (Refer to Garrus, once more.) The meme became less of a celebration of Ryu’s beard in particular, and more about a rallying call for the idea of a “sexy video game man,” and what that fantasy might entail.

Sometimes, when we say we’re “addicted” to a game, what we mean is how we “can’t get it out of our heads.” That’s how I feel about Metal Gear right now. I keep running simulations about how I could have approached a mission differently or what I might change when I’m surprised the next time. I’m playing Metal Gear without playing Metal Gear. That’s happened to me with Bloodborne, Dark Souls, Spelunky, and a few others over the last few years. It’s a rare occurrence, but one that, as Javy Gwaltney points out, points to a game that’s leapt beyond the screen and become part of our lives. That’s special.

It’s half past noon. The two of us are eating burritos and half watching 30 Rock.
“We should cut through the ice caves,” my girlfriend says suddenly. “We can kill a shopkeeper with one of the landmines and steal his stuff. We might nab a jetpack.”
“But what about Olmec? Won’t he be summoning his little bastard henchmen if we don’t start from the beginning?”
“Oh yeah. We could handle that if we got enough bombs along the way, maybe.”

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  • An anonymous developer lamented the homogenization of modern AAA games.


  • Hot Ryu isn’t something I’ve heard of, but that article is basically saying “this is why it’s ok when we objectify, but not ok when you do”. She talks about agency yet all the “memes” about literally remove the character’s agency and change his personality to fit the audiences desires and assumptions.

    It shouldn’t be news to anyone that men and women often like different things in partners. It doesn’t mean just because the women aren’t fawning over his body that it isn’t objectification, because it totally is. They are fetishising his personality, projecting their desires onto him, and removing his agency to make those decisions for himself.

    But that’s fine. Objectify away, everyone does it. Just own it for what it is, don’t try skew it so you feel ok about yourself for being a human being with sexual and emotional desires.

    • Also, this come from The Mary Sue, a site notorious for “do as we say, not as we do, and don’t you dare question us” attitudes in it’s writers.

      So take their opinions with a large amount of salt

    • Right up there with the Quiet bikini explanation.

      Just admit you like to look at physically attractive people.

    • Yep, it doesn’t matter that there are many examples of rampant sexism in videogames, we have to go out of our way to force the narrative that it is completely impossible in any way to question an assertion of sexism through confirmation bias. It os everywhere and it affects women more than men but the whole idea of pretending sexual and emotional desire is somehow wrong and that only men have these feelings is quite shameful. We all have them and we’d do well to be able to identify the difference between healthy and unhealthy or even simply human desire as opposed to shaming it whenever men do it and celebrating it whenever women do it. It’s too ignorant a solution for the complex nature of human emotion.

      Really disappointed at how much this prejudicial rubbish is given the benefit of the doubt whilst every assertion about Quiet launches a pre-emptive attack on her defense immediately and completely dismissed before anyone can speak whilst ignoring the majority of her personality traits.

  • That thing about hot Ryu is just about the biggest load of rubbish I’ve ever read. It doesn’t actually make sense and it’s completely subjective.

    It’s the kind of thing that when I hear at a party, I make a mental note not to talk to that person. Life is too short to twaddle on about crap like that.

  • Myers’ attempt to justify why this isn’t objectification is predictable and misguided. The excuse used only exists because acknowledging the reality – that objectification is a normal human cognitive function and not a universal sin – would require admitting to having double standards.

    Objectification is like humour: it only becomes a problem when it’s inappropriate. There’s nothing inappropriate about admiring Ryu’s physical attractiveness in isolation, nor Quiet’s, nor anyone else’s.

  • Disclaimer: I’m being a bit lighthearted here.

    See, this is why men have it tough when it comes to measuring up. Both genders have grossly inflated standards thrust on us. But I say women have it somewhat easier. Woman can see their unobtainable standard. She’s a certain size, waist 2/3 the size of her hips, confidently sexy but not slutty. Perfect lips, hair and eyes etc.

    But guys, we have multiple targets … and they’re all moving … and constantly changing. We have to be Indiana Jones and James Bond, rugged … yet refined. We must be strong … yet gentle. We must be funny … but not goofy. We must be muscly … but not gross body builder muscly. We must be strong … but vulnerable, firm … but at the same time sensitive, we must be emotional … but not too sooky. We have to be the bad boy … but also the keeper, simultaneously the rebel and the reliable. We must be proud, but humble. Confident, but not arrogant. Loud, but quiet. And it goes on and on. But most of all we have to win, victory is our destiny, our heroes don’t role model failure or weakness, the day is always … ALWAYS saved.

    For a guy, measuring to society’s standards of ultimate manhood is like trying to balance countless spinning plates. For girls, the standard may be equally impossible, but it’s at least quantifiable, they can at least see the target they can never hit.

  • “The “hotness” of “Hot Ryu” has more to do with audience projecting it on him than designer intent.”

    Too much assumption in this sentence: how do you know that? Have you asked the developers? Let’s not forget that Japanese developers have an history of designing “hot” male characters, even in games geared to male audience (MGS 2, anyone?) I don’t think this happens by chance.

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