Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes
Developer: Kojima Productions
Platforms: PS3, Xbox 360, PS4, Xbox One
The lone woman stands alone, with nothing left, on a pedestal and being judged by the world. Sound familiar?
Despite her namesake, storms are quick to follow Metal Gear Solid 5’s Quiet. The buxom female soldier, a sniper and one of mysterious origins, has been subject to criticism regarding her appearance, namely on how revealing she looks. It didn’t help that creator Hideo Kojima apparently talked about making his female characters more “erotic” (a statement he would later say was mis-translated and it’s honestly not the first time).
Leaving aside all the arguments of this being a Metal Gear Solid game, one which isn’t expected to adhere to the highest standards of realism, let-alone make us the most comfortable (there are child soldiers in this game and it’s implied that Snake is killing them), what is the problem with Quiet? Have we not just been through this argument with Lightning being sexified as Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII approaches release? Have we not had voluptuous female characters? Have we not had compelling female characters that are also beautiful and endearing in their own way such as Uncharted 2’s Chloe?
"When you look at Quiet, you see no uniform or military bearing. You see haphazard dressing sense, torn up leggings and an utter disregard for any framework or discipline. However, Quiet’s expression up till now has been the same: One of defeat."
But leaving all that aside for the moment, there is a general feeling that there is more to the Quiet character. It was perhaps Lead Core Gameplay Designer on Battlefield 4 Alan Kertz’s tweet that compared a regular Swedish female soldier to Quiet’s design that clarified it. But when you look at the two pictures, you see two very different things.
When you look at the Swedish soldiers, you see women who are calm, collected and within the military framework. They are virtual indistinguishable from men in their uniforms. However, when you look at Quiet, you see no uniform or military bearing. You see haphazard dressing sense, torn up leggings and an utter disregard for any framework or discipline. However, Quiet’s expression up till now has been the same: One of defeat.
It reminds one of rape victims who have had their dignity taken away and protested in the nude, saying they have nothing left now that their dignity is gone. It reminds one of a person who has nothing to lose, and only needs the bare minimum to shield herself with. It reminds one of a broken individual who can’t even speak – and has fashioned her name on the same – and yet still fights on. If there was a female representation of Rambo, Quiet would be it. Backed into a corner, with nothing to lose and no will to be broken, she simply does not care. If nothing else, her name is a symbol to her enemies of the oppression heaped on her and, one would imagine, her kind.
To Quiet, men want to repress her, silence her, break her and subjugate her to their will. They care nothing for her soul and only want her body to fulfill some brutal, piggish lust. So she is giving her enemies just that: A body, with no soul and nothing to offer or gain, but intent on killing. You can’t even say she’s intent on that – for someone who’s lost everything, does the act of killing, which supposedly rips one’s soul off, bit by bit, make any difference?
"To Quiet, men want to repress her, silence her, break her and subjugate her to their will. They care nothing for her soul and only want her body to fulfill some brutal, piggish lust. So she is giving her enemies just that: A body, with no soul and nothing to offer or gain, but intent on killing. "
It’s not all conjecture either. Kojima recently revealed details justifying her design, stating that, “I know there’s people concerned about Quiet but don’t worry. I created her character as an antithesis to the women characters appeared in the past fighting game who are excessively exposed. Quiet, who doesn’t have a word, will be teased in the story as well. But once you recognize the secret reason for her exposure, you will feel ashamed of your words & deeds.”
All the Metal Gear Solid female characters follow some kind of pattern. Look at Sniper Wolf who was literally raised by wolves and became distrustful of all humans. Look at The Boss, who had been betrayed by her country and yet still fought for the ideal of peace and liberty, even when she knew she must die to uphold it (and even lose her child in the process). Look at The Beauty and The Beast Corps. Peace Walker’s Paz had a rather awkward introduction, wherein the player could see through the certainly not legal girl’s clothes. What did they see? Scars and the results of the torture she had been through.
Regardless of their design, each female had their own specific purpose to justify the way they were dressed or portrayed. The Beauty and The Beast Corps were women trapped within machines, the beast within shaping their motives and designs. What could justify Quiet’s appearance? It’s said that the dark spots apparent on her face, briefly visible if you view the motion capture video for the character, indicate an optical camouflage, similar to those seen in Metal Gear Solid IV: Guns of the Patriots. Any one who knows of Ghost in the Shell, where the protagonist was fully nude, would know of the logic behind more skin being necessary to make the camouflage work.
Nonetheless, Quiet fits in remarkably with these characters, and we won’t even go so far to say that it’s not about her looks. Her character’s design in itself is meant to make us think about the utter depths humanity can fall and still hold true to a purpose. This isn’t an isolated incident – it’s something we see every day, in some sexually violent form or another. The argument could be made that Quiet is nothing more than a fantasy object, one that isn’t even meant to be realistic. However, the ideals that come with her representation are very much real.