I loved Bayonetta. The gameplay, the aesthetic, the story (I know some people will say it’s not there, but I read all the lore books). I saw myself in Bayonetta, I saw a sense of humor in her, I wrote extensively at the time on why I didn’t find her to be a sexist caricature. It’s hard to fathom that something that feels so made for me – including outfits that are similar to things I’ve designed- is considered blatantly, obviously, no-room-for-discussion sexist by others. Even despite passing the Bedchel test!
But I’m not here to argue again the points I’ve already argued for Bayonetta – I’m sure I’ll do that after I play the second one if my opinion doesn’t change. Instead is rather just share a moment that came to mine earlier as I watched Erika Szabo (@ErikaSzabo) take heat on Twitter for disagreeing with Sarkeesian’s stance on Bayonetta…
I downloaded the demo for Bayonetta on the recommendation of Chris “Captain Redbeard” Wiseman (@RedbeardCaptain). I was instantly in love with the game’s madcap badassery. Bayonetta had me at hello with the over the top outfit, trademark glasses, and her humorous embrace of sexy schtick. I am hard pressed to think of another time I thought a game was so made with me in mind. I know she’s not sentient, she doesn’t actually ACTUALLY have agency.. But she always seemed to drop her lines like someone so clearly in on the joke.
And then. I jumped. Bayonetta landed lightly on her saltamontes legs, and a cloud of butterflies floated up where ordinarily dust might be. Pink and purple, and girly as all hell. I admit that when I was younger, I had the problem of categorizing girlie things as weak or silly for no reason other than that they were girlie. At this point I was basically past that, and I was so good at checking myself for it that I also checked everything else. And Bayonetta ‘s jump was the first time I can remember seeing something in a videogame that was so girlie, and so not sorry, and didn’t at all make fun of its character’s girliness, or use it as a demonstration of weakness or softness. Bayonetta’s butterflies were a girlie bomb power fantasy to me. I stopped and jumped again. “Holy shit,” I thought to myself, “that’s girlie as hell and I love it!”
Thom bought me the game for Valentines Day that year. I played until I couldn’t properly move my hands.