How 343 Industries gets equality wrong

Note #1: This post is me expressing my personal opinion.

Note #2: This post contains artistic depictions of male and female nudity.

With Halo 4, 343 got criticized because one of the two female characters, the A.I. Cortana, was naked.

Cortana6

In response to this criticism, in Halo 5 343 made a male A.I., Governor Sloan, naked.

Governor

This makes me facepalm.

Halo Spartan

Here’s why:

When people criticize Cortana because she’s naked, I imagine it’s because people think “naked = sex” — that if a character is naked, than the reason has to do with sex.

When people see one of the two female characters in a story is naked all the time, the thought, understandably, is “Cortana is a sex object.”

That’s not how I, personally, choose to see Cortana.

How I see Cortana ties into why I have a problem with Governor Sloan being naked.

Here’s how:

Frank O’Connor, the Franchise Development Director at 343, has said that the reason Cortana is naked is to put people on guard and then use peoples’ unease to her advantage.

I, on the other hand, see Cortana as an Eve figure.

Like Eve, Cortana desires to serve, and is filled with knowledge and innocence.

Cortana’s innocence is manifested by the fact that she is naked: She is, implicitly, saying “This is who I am. This is all of me. See me as a person, not an object.”

Eve in the Garden of Eden by Anna Lea Merritt

My point being:

Cortana is naked. But she is not a sex object.

Which is something that 343, because they made a male A.I. naked, doesn’t understand.

Here’s why:

Why is the A.I. governor of a backwater planet a naked man? I wouldn’t call Sloan an Adam figure because other than the fact that they’re both naked and knowledgeable, the two have nothing in common.

Like Eve, Adam desires to serve. Sloan on the other hand, in contrast to Cortana, wants to be his own boss. He hates those he serves — the UNSC.

Unlike Cortana, there doesn’t appear to be any deeper meaning to Sloan’s nudity other than 343 going “A male A.I. is naked now, too. Please stop with the hate mail.”

This demonstrates a lack of understanding of the subject of nudity.

What do I mean by “the subject of nudity”?

Here’s what I mean:

Look at this piece of art:

David

Many people go to look at Michelangelo’s David every year. But people don’t look at David in order to jack off or fantasize. People look at David in order to gain more of an appreciation for, and understanding of, the human body.

Like Cortana, David is naked but is not a sex object.

In conclusion:

The reason the title of this post is “How 343 Industries gets equality wrong” is because 343 doesn’t understand that it is possible to portray nudity in a non-sexual way.

Just because a character is naked doesn’t automatically turn them into a sex object.

Because 343 doesn’t understand this, they think that one of the ways they can sweep criticism of Cortana under the rug is by making a male A.I. naked too.

Now that a female and a male A.I. are naked, 343 pats themselves on the back, thinking “Yay equality!”

Missing the deeper meaning of Cortana’s nudity…

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