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Whore Of The Orient offends Australian councillor

Whore Of The Orient offends Australian councillor

Mon 02 Sep 2013 7:51am GMT / 3:51am EDT / 12:51am PDT
PoliticsDevelopment

"The O-word is very similar to the N-word for African-American communities"

A City of Monash councillor has branded troubled title Whore Of The Orient as insensitive, and threatened to pursue the matter through the Human Rights Commission.

''It's the use of the word 'Orient', more even than the word 'whore', that is the issue,'' Jieh-Yung Lo told The Age.

''The O-word is very similar to the N-word for African-American communities. It's a 19th century racial-colonial conception and it's especially painful for older people in the communities. That was a very bad time in China, and people don't want or need to have that dragged up.''

The game has so far had a very troubled development history and very little is known about its actual content, but Lo's objections are focused on its name. ''The best outcome would be a change of title''.

He's also upset that the game recently secured $200,000 in funding from Australian trade and investment board Screens NSW, and suggested that it should not be supporting content that would "promote division and negativity.'' Screens NSW has defended its position on the matter, saying the title simply references an old nickname given to the city of Shanghai.

''Screen NSW does not proscribe subject matter to content creators, including titles, but makes its funding decisions based on the creative integrity of a project and the expertise of the funding applicants.''

KMM Interactive Productions, the developer of the project, has yet to comment on the matter.

27 Comments

Lewis Brown Snr Sourcer/Recruiter, Electronic Arts

206 64 0.3
Wow I didn't know that, In the UK I have never heard the term used in a discriminative fashion only descriptive if an individual from the Asian regions covering China, Japan etc... I hope this is an innocent oversight but who knows.

Posted:A year ago

#1

Shehzaan Abdulla Translator

124 246 2.0
Popular Comment
Last I check the term was still widely used in anthropological academia in a very neutral way. For those wondering, there as an opposite term as well; Occidental.

The thing here isn't the connotations (correction: meaning) of the word itself (it doesn't have any other than pure anthropological ones) but the imagery associated with it. The question is should we cringe from it or just get over it? I feel a little creeped out as an English person at times when I see people flying the Union Jack (again, I think of colonialism/racism as Lo might) but the broad consensus is those meanings aren't inherently attached to the flag.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Shehzaan Abdulla on 2nd September 2013 10:13am

Posted:A year ago

#2

Marty Howe Director, Figurehead Studios

87 41 0.5
Just change the name you fools! I told you years ago, you.can't.call.a.video.game.whore.of.the.orient.

It's like talking to a brick wall.

Posted:A year ago

#3

Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic

1,630 1,509 0.9
you.can't.call.a.video.game.whore.of.the.orient.
You can. It's just whether you should.

Once again, there's plenty of titles that are just as good/bad in other media. The question is more "Should the industry court controversy by having a rather generic GTA/Sleeping Dogs-esque game called something that raises so many red flags?" Looking at the leaked gameplay videos, this title does not seem to be something that needs such a debatable name, except for PR purposes (once again, we're talking about, so obviously the name works in that sense).

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 2nd September 2013 10:45am

Posted:A year ago

#4

Shane Sweeney Academic

417 441 1.1
It goes both ways in Australia Paki isn't a slur of any kind, pommy, Aussie, Paki etc. Was shocked to find it was on my visit to England.

Australia's largest race outside of Anglo Saxon by a landslide is Chinese and they have been here almost as long as Europeans since they came here from China direct for the Gold Rush.

Oriental studies got renamed to Asian Studies decades ago in Australia. I Googled and noticed many courses still exist with Orientalism in the name in England. That definitely would not happen in Australia (or North America).

That said I have no problem with the title as I know about the content of the game.

Posted:A year ago

#5

Paul Smith Dev

189 154 0.8
The O-word is very similar to the N-word for African-American communities
No, no it isn't. Oriental is in no way offensive and to even compare it to the word "nigger" is hilarious.

@Marty Howe, Why not call a game "whore of the orient"? I bet you'd have no problem with that title if it was for a book film or theatrical performance.

@Morville O'Driscoll, The title of the game is up to the developer and the publishers, they could call the game "Slut of chink-town" if they really wanted to of course that would be disastrous from a PR point of view and it would have never got the funding.

Edited 3 times. Last edit by Paul Smith on 2nd September 2013 11:18am

Posted:A year ago

#6

Sam Brown Programmer, Cool Games Ltd.

235 164 0.7
The O-word is very similar to the N-word for African-American communities
Hmmm. Not according to that font of all knowledge, Wikipedia:
The word Oriental, in place of Asian, is seldom used in colloquial conversation in Australia and is understood, but considered anachronistic rather than offensive.

Posted:A year ago

#7

Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic

1,630 1,509 0.9
@ Paul

Definitely the name is the publisher/developer's choice, but, sadly, it pays to be pragmatic about these things at times... No-one flinches at a series of Hogarth engravings entitled "A Harlot's Progress", but call a game that and you can expect hell to pay.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 2nd September 2013 11:16am

Posted:A year ago

#8

Paul Smith Dev

189 154 0.8
Popular Comment
By backing down it sets a precedent that if people complain, games books films etc will get censored and changed, the only way to beat it is to not back down.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Paul Smith on 2nd September 2013 11:28am

Posted:A year ago

#9

Shehzaan Abdulla Translator

124 246 2.0
Maybe the solution is to take into account cultural sensitivities and change the name for different regions. Though I fear that in an increasingly international world 'regionalising' the product of a title for anything other than legal reasons would still not be seen as enough.

@Shane: Clearly from these comments I am seeing that there is a big difference in how the word is seen in different parts of the world. However this isn't a word that came about as a form of racial slur (unlike 'paki' or 'nigger' which are terms that only came about for that reason) but one that was re-fitted to include connotations that can be considered racist.

Not knowing that 'paki' is offensive is blissful ignorance but that isn't the same as it meaning it doesn't inherently carry a racist connotation (which Oriental does not for the reasons outlined above). Does the term 'Paki' (when used to refer to a person of Pakistani origin) have a neutral connotation in Australia? I am guessing it doesn't. Rather it is just a silly collection of sounds.

Posted:A year ago

#10
Popular Comment
History is interpreted differently around the world and it's not quite a PC overreaction in this case. AFAIK 'Oriental' became seen as a grim term after Edward Said's academic work which argued that what seemed a harmless term to western people - nothing like so direct as wog, chink etc. - actually contained deeper racial undertones when you drill down into the context (Empire, natives etc.) . Many academics (mainly in the west...) objected to Said's thesis but many western and non-western academics on the whole agreed. As the term is rarely used these days its just one of those differences of understanding between east/west we're not familiar with. So their objection is not new or fake, we just don't know about it because we don't use the term generally.

Posted:A year ago

#11
@Morville O'Driscoll - You could reverse that and say "should they change it just because it offends someone?"

Making a game about Islamic Terrorists or Nazis or anything based on reality is probably going to offend someone.

I never knew it before but from what he said, the offensiveness of orient sounds closer to negro rather than the N-word. I don't think oriental was ever specifically used as an insult but rather simply a designation. I could be wrong though the colonial powers did some horrible things which while we're educated about slavery and civil rights today we aren't about that, the Opium wars etc. Infact the game done well could go a small way to address that.

I like the name however I don't know to what degree this man is right or if he's just simply being a bit overly sensitive. If it was as bad as the N-word then it probably should be changed even if it's an historical term.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by John Owens on 2nd September 2013 12:34pm

Posted:A year ago

#12

Adam Campbell Associate Producer, Miniclip Ltd

1,219 1,055 0.9
That's quite interesting but I still don't see how it has a racist connotation.

Posted:A year ago

#13

Paul Shirley Programmers

178 150 0.8
@John Owens:"I don't know to what degree this man is right or if he's just simply being a bit overly sensitive"

Given he's a part time politician (AKA councillor) there are other possibilities.

Posted:A year ago

#14

Ben Gonshaw Game Design Consultant, AKQA

28 29 1.0
Popular Comment
As a Jew, only I know what terms I find offensive.
You might think it's totally fine to call me one thing, or use that phrase in front of me, but if it makes me feel uncomfortable then it's offensive, regardless of whether you think it is or not.

I'm obviously in no position to comment on whether "Orient" is offensive to Chinese people in Australia or not, because I'm neither.
I'm going to guess that most commentors here aren't either.

Posted:A year ago

#15

Neow Shau Jin Studying Bachelor in Computer Science, Universiti Sains Malaysia

52 81 1.6
I live in a chinese majority state in my country, and our state government like to promote tourism by associating the state to the word Orient, in fact chinese restaurant are often called Oriental here, we as chinese don't feel insulted by it.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Neow Shau Jin on 2nd September 2013 1:56pm

Posted:A year ago

#16
@Adam - @Ben has saved me typing my answer

Posted:A year ago

#17

Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant

1,692 594 0.4
Popular Comment
I dislike people who "take offence". They are dangerous because they want to take away our rights and freedoms and enforce their narrow view on everyone.
Likewise I hate the way that -isms and political correctness have stultified our culture.
We should have maximum freedom of speech and of expression. Only the children should be protected.

Posted:A year ago

#18
We don't get to dictate other people's reaction to what we say or think - others taking offence and pointing it out is another form of free speech. I say X, you say Y, lets have an argument - that's how it works. Where it gets dodgy is when someone who feels a term is offensive or whatever insists that anyone saying it is trying to be offensive. Or that it shouldn't be used anywhere in any context. That seems stupid & dangerous and we should err on the side of free thought and speech in those cases. As a grown adult I'd rather know where dumbasses with dangerous ideas are, forcing them to shut up helps no one except those with over-sensitive ears. I can take a bit of grit if it helps keep us honest. There's no glory in a society piously & inoffensively rotting from within.

Posted:A year ago

#19
Well said Bruce...

In the UK the rules seem to change on a weekly/monthly basis, we now never know what's allowed or what some people may find offensive now that Political Correctness has gone mad and freedom of speech is going out the window at a rapid rate of knots.. mainly thanks to Tony Blair and his wife... :-(

Posted:A year ago

#20
@Ben - We're not talking about what you or an individual finds offensive.

An artist can't be expected to change their art just because of one person. It's a grey issue and if he wants the artist to change their art then he has to convince him of the wider implications.

Posted:A year ago

#21

Sasha Yelesin Student

54 34 0.6
The game is set in 1936 Shanghai and it's being made by the Team Bondi. It's supposed to be just like LA Noire, in which case I think the "Blood and Gore, Nudity, Sexual Themes, Strong Language, Use of Drugs, Violence" that gave it an Mature rating will be more offensive to more people than the recreation of the era in which it set. No one bashed Django Unchained because it featured black slaves in America. Slavery doesn't exist anymore, and it might be a dark part of history, but you can't sensor it because it's not the present day society of a country. Django might not be the best example, but I'm just using it to get my point across.

I for one am excited to see a side of history seldom talked about. Unlike Django, I wish it isn't distorted to fit the creator's style. I want it raw and real.

Posted:A year ago

#22

Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys!

2,196 1,176 0.5
@Morville:

No-one flinches at a series of Hogarth engravings entitled "A Harlot's Progress"

That's probably because too many people these days are too dumb to know the meaning of the word harlot. That and hey! That title seems to indicate she's moving UP in the world... and we should all support working women, correct?

"Exit, stage left!"

Posted:A year ago

#23

Tim Ogul Illustrator

335 467 1.4
Nooooope. You don't just get to make up "n-words" Mr. Lo. If he's offended by the title, he doesn't have to buy it. That should be the extent of his reach on this matter.

Posted:A year ago

#24

Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing

1,186 1,273 1.1
I'm offended by all you guys using the K-Word for that Christmas clown in a red suit. That's my K-Word. ;D

Posted:A year ago

#25

Gareth O'Neill Environment Artist (Contract), Ubisoft Reflections

30 23 0.8
http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=b48_1305790944

What I think of every time I see a topic about this kind of thing, no matter what demographic.

Posted:A year ago

#26

Adam Campbell Associate Producer, Miniclip Ltd

1,219 1,055 0.9
@Barry

I'm just going by the historical context and its use in this title. Not strictly individual grievances. I'm not so narrow minded as to believe that only my feelings about a word are valid.

Whilst we're at it, I think the famous "N" word is quite offensive used in everyday conversation and particularly as an insult and there are plenty of words different races, cultures and sexes also find offensive worldwide.

I'm not offended by the word being used in 'art' however, even in a TITLE. These terms can be used to great effect, especially with historical context in place, but I guess one of our continual problems is the inability for most people, even those working in the games industry to trust themselves, their games and their games colleagues to handle these subjects.

Gaming as an art form? Whilst I think it already is, preventing that unanimous status is members of the games industry, the press, the government (and the politically correct) working to hold it back.

Posted:A year ago

#27

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