I'm really feeling it!
I'm really feeling it!

The New Mad Max Game Highlights a Problem With Gaming.

Illustration for article titled The New Mad Max Game Highlights a Problem With Gaming.

Mad Max is one of the most Australian things ever made. It was filmed in Australia with an Australian cast and crew using Australian tax dollars to help fund it. It's also set in the Australian desert, post-apocalypse. So why, then, are all the trailers for this game using American actors?

If you're American, odds are good you've seen a different version of the Mad Max films than the rest of the world. Fearing that Americans wouldn't be able to understand Australian accents, the movies were re-dubbed with American accents and actors. This sort of practice isn't a relic of the past, either - every seen that commercial with multigrain Cheerios where a couple bickers back and forth after the man insinuates his wife is eating multigrain Cheerios to lose weight? Here in Canada, that ad used British actors. It was dubbed over with American actors, for reasons I simply cannot understand - the British versions was funnier. They also did a really shitty computer edit to change the box such that it matched the American design. I giggled.

Getting back to the point, companies have a really nasty reputation for FREEDOM-washing products for idiots in the US. I'm not saying that all Americans are idiots, far from it - I'm saying that the idiots in American seem to control the tone and output of the media. Without knowing it, American TAYers, you've probably viewed dozens of commercials, movies and TV shows where the original, foreign actors have been dubbed over by safe, American ones. And as a Canadian, I think it's silly. Here, we openly embrace source material. It's not uncommon for Canadian film companies to release foreign films without any form of English dub.

But back to the point of gaming. A lot of recent games (especially the rough and tumble "bro" shooters) seem to include an ethnic cast without giving any real credence to ethnicity. Sure, you're have these characters referred to as "Chinese" or "Mexican" or whatnot (I'm sure there's a taxbreak for it) but they all speak and act like any other American bro. Black characters in these games almost exclusively talk like football players. Native characters just plain don't exist outside of games like Prey and Turok. While games try to make this point of being inclusive, they ignore the point and purpose of it. Having a black character or a Pakistani character doesn't mean dick-all if they're basically just a palette swap for Marcus Fenix. If you're going to make a point of including ethnic characters, go the whole nine yards - find a Jamaican actor for a Jamaican character. Don't have some white dude sit in a booth with a Rasta hat on and have him do some comical impression.

Another funny example in gaming I can think of - going back to comical impressions - is the Metro series. Metro is a Ukrainian-developed series based on Russian novels that take place in a ruined Moscow (Moskva, if you wanna be hip). Luckily, you have the choice of Russian dialogue or English dialogue, but it seems strange to me that these games were shipped over here with English as the default language. For me, I want the unique experience. I want to hear people speaking Russian in a game about Russia and Russian people. Plus, I mean, the Slavic-ness of the Russian language reminds me quite a lot of when I was a little kid, hearing family members arguing with each other in Macedonian (Makedonska, if you're hip). If you opt to play the game in English, however, you get a farcical mockery of the Russian accent by American actors. After playing the game in Russian and watching walkthrough videos with these whitebread Americans trying to sound as Russian as possible... It's painful. XD But it doesn't stop there. Even when playing in Russian, the subtitles match the English dialogue, and there's quite a few irritating translation errors. I don't speak Russian, and my knowledge of Macedonian is limited, but even I can tell when the tone doesn't match the text... And it happens way too often. It's like some company localized the game, but stripped out all the delightful bitterness of Slavic languages to make it a rip-roaring good time for yankee-doodle Americans, and I fucking hate that. Authenticity is a beautiful thing!

Finally, we get back to Mad Max. When the trailer first showed at this past E3, Australian gamers went, as psychologists put it, "batshit bonkers". They had made the trailer completely with American actors, completely ignoring the Australian heritage of the films the game is based on. Luckily, after a good week or two of pressure from Australian gamers, the company behind the game has stated that the game was being re-recorded in Australian English. I sincerely hope this means it's going to be redone with actual Australian actors and appropriate slang, and not some dude from Nebreska name-dropping Steve Irwin and baby-eating dingos. It probably won't be. In fact, it'll probably launch with American actors, using American humour, ignoring all the lovely twists and turns of the Aussie dialect. Australian will be a language option, likely.

So to these companies FREEDOM-washing games, movies, and other media, I want to say something to you: Get your dick out of my pudding. As a Canadian, I don't want your culture and language forced into everything. I'm sure people in the US would appreciate a good dose of culture, too. I'd probably find it boring as fuck if everyone on my TV spoke with a California accent. In your cowardly goals to avoid offending anyone, you've offended everyone. You've insulted the non-American people who've made great works of art and entertainment, and you've insulted the intelligence of the American people. I think it's high time that the gaming industry - no, every media industry - end this campaign of butchery in a quest to appease some American caricature - some racist, Republican, whitebread, know-nothing, illiterate fatty who thinks "catching the gay" is a thing - that isn't nearly as common today as it was in the 50's.

That's all for now. Hope you enjoyed! If you have any other comical examples of FREEDOM-washing, feel free to talk about them in the comments below.


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