Square Enix Responds to "Racist" Deus Ex Character

Greg Tito

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Sep 29, 2005
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Square Enix Responds to "Racist" Deus Ex Character

Some critics took umbrage with the portrayal of an African-American in Deus Ex: Human Revolution.

Letitia is fairly well dressed for a "Trash Lady." In playing through Deus Ex, Adam Jensen will meet her on the streets of 2027 Detroit and when pressed she will offer her insight on what's happening in the city. She does so by using a colloquial mode of speaking that is perhaps more identified with 20th century deep South, and her accent caused Evan Narcisse of Time's Techland blog to write a scathing attack on the developers for including such a "racist stereotype" in an otherwise excellent game. Today, the publisher of Deus Ex Square Enix said that they had no intention of offending anyone.


"Deus Ex: Human Revolution is a fictional story which reflects the diversity of the world's future population by featuring characters of various cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds," Square said. "While these characters are meant to portray people living in the year 2027, it has never been our intention to represent any particular ethnic group in a negative light."

I can't speak for Evan Narcisse who also objected to the black zombies in Resident Evil 5, and I have yet to play through all of Deus Ex, but I can see people arguing that there is nothing overtly racist with the clip in the video above. Letitia is certainly a strange character, but her exaggerated speech is not that different from many of the people that I encounter in North Carolina - both white and black. What do you think? Is Letitia a harmful racial stereotype?

Narcisse compares Letitia to the caricature of Amos and Andy and minstel shows of yore, but I don't think you can equate a single character in a videogame with hundreds of years of racism and discrimination, especially when there are other characters of a similar ethnic background in the same game who do not act this way.

"The horrible broken English Letitia speaks is so far removed from any actual slang that it renders the character practically extra-terrestrial," Narcisse said. "It's not from an alien planet, though. That slang harkens back to the worst blackface minstrelsy of the last century."

Letitia is certainly an easy way to write a character - and I agree that her dialogue and voice-acting are inferior - but to object so vehemently to her portrayal would mean you'd have to object to Mario's Italian characteristics and the Asian stereotypes in Cooking with Mama.

Source: Techland [http://techland.time.com/2011/08/31/the-worst-thing-about-deus-ex-human-revolution/#ixzz1WjHzCk8u]

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Onyx Oblivion

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Sep 9, 2008
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Hey.

The Deus Ex vocal racism is funny as hell to me. Breaks my immersion a bit. But makes me laugh.

I, personally, didn't feel that anyone should be offended, then again...I'm a white male.

Besides, remember the accents from DE1?

Yeah...

 

Ghengis John

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Okay, so an easily offended lack man was just offended. It's not like I can't understand where hes's coming from but I live in california and I encounter people who speak like Letitia almost everyday. I was unware that I had traveled to another planet or utilized a time-machine. As a mexican american I'd say the game has a remarkable tact for displaying people as they really are, Cabron.

Of course the real damage here is that his rampant hyperbole is going to misrepresent the game to thousands of people who'll have no idea just how wrong he really is. Oh well.
 

RollForInitiative

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Honestly, she struck me as a pretty laughably racist stereotype when I ran into her. I was kind of surprised that they'd left her in. Am I offended? No, just surprised.
 

Waaghpowa

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I don't remember anyone complaining about racism in the first game over the Chinese accents. I'm Chinese and I didn't see it as a big deal, people need to relax about these kinds of things.
 

Sylveria

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I'd be more offended by the people saying "This woman is an african-american stereotype" than by the actual character itself. You must be pretty darn racist to see something that over the top and say "Yup, that's what black people sound like."
 

Ghengis John

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I might also add, she's a trash lady, would it sell the character better if she spoke like an ivy-league graduate?
 

plus2exp

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A quick google search on Evan Narcisse reveals that he went to high school and college in New York. Obviously he hasn't spent much time down south, like Alabama for instance, which just so happens to be where I live. There is nothing racist at all about the character's portrayal in that video. I encounter people who talk like that every single day here.
 

Carlston

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Apr 8, 2008
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Unless she breaks out in song of "Mamma's little baby."

It's nothing like black face.

Sorry it's not racial stereotyping being black, on the streets in a future of massive poverty.

Sounds like another special interest group looking for a dollar. Ignore um.

Course you want racists and stereotype...

When is the last time a GERMAN was in a name and NOT a nazi? Hmmmm?
 

Dogstile

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She was actually one of the more memorable characters in the game because she had a damn personality.

I love how that personality screams racist nowadays.
 

Gigano

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Oct 15, 2009
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Seems there are no actual problems left if this is what people get offended over these days.
 

Paragon Fury

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Jan 23, 2009
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Ok, so she is a homeless person digging through the trash and is obviously poor and probably lacks a proper education, but we're going to complain about how she talks and that she might be a racial stereotype.

I mean good light, you find her right outside the fucking ghetto, where her English sounds god damn music compared to some of the gangsta' trash you hear while sneaking around up on the rooftops.

Would the guy have even blinked an eye if she was Chinese? Or European?
 

Greg Tito

PR for Dungeons & Dragons
Sep 29, 2005
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Where is the racism? Have any of these people ever been to a large city? Is it racist to talk that way? So to all the people who speak differently than you do, THEY are racist??

EDIT: Does this mean Bill Cosby is racist for making Fat Albert?
 

No_Remainders

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Onyx Oblivion said:
Hey.

The Deus Ex vocal racism is funny as hell to me. Breaks my immersion a bit. But makes me laugh.

I, personally, didn't feel that anyone should be offended, then again...I'm a white male.

Besides, remember the accents from DE1?

Yeah...

That was actually hilarious.

OT: I don't think it's that racist. It's a character in a video game talking in a certain way...

Why is this being called racist?
 

Woodsey

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Aug 9, 2009
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I thought the game handled race pretty well.

AND they got the British accents right! Which was quite surprising, considering Rocksteady - a British studio - have hired bloody Nolan North to do a (crap) cockney accent for the Penguin.

Even most of the Chinese accents were pretty decent.
 

Fujor

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Dec 30, 2010
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i laughed. and thought it a terrible stereotype. It was like something out of the 50's

but really, all i could muster is shame on the developers for ruining what is for the most part steller voice acting. You can buy information off her, i just walked away before i heard any more.

did i find it racist.. no. but my god it's awful. and yes i could see how some people could find it racist.
 

Saulkar

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They do realise that by pointing at this "stereotype" character, if she even is one, will no doubt continue to make racism exist if we allow ourselves to be so sensitive and make controversy out of nothing? Then again, many people would be out of a job if we killed off racism.