Lollipop Chainsaw is back, baby! Last month we heard that the game was ‘back’, but we had no idea exactly what that meant. My excitement was tempered by the fact ‘back’ could just as easily mean a comic book tie-in, an appearance in Fortnite, or a new range of Funko Pops as it could a new game. In the end, it’s not quite a new game, but it is a remake of the original made by a mix of returning developers and a brand new team. 2022 is the year of Slut Pop and 2023 is the year of Juliet Starling. Bimbo representation is here in full force.
When news of Lollipop Chainsaw’s return broke last week, I wrote about my love of Juliet and why we needed more full femme characters who are allowed to be girlish and have sexual agency. The Juliet Starling who exists in my memory is a perfect character, but now that I know it’s a remake, I’m a little afraid of meeting her.
I’ve written about remakes before, and why I often think they are a little redundant. Mass Effect, my favourite game ever, had a glossy remaster last year but all it did was polish some of the graphics – often at the cost of the original vision. I’ll take any excuse to replay Mass Effect, but none of the flaws were fixed, not even the minor ones like FemShep manspreading in her dress thanks to the BroShep model being used. Remakes make profits for studios and are a less risky way to test interest in a dormant series, but when we could be focusing on preserving our history rather than overwriting it, they often feel wasteful. Lollipop Chainsaw, a one-and-done game with a cult following, is probably more deserving than the ever-popular Mass Effect trilogy, or ‘the greatest game of all time’, The Last of Us. But still, I’d rather have a new one.
I’m still looking forward to the remake, but I’m also wary. A new game gets to be brand new. It gets to be made for 2023, with modern tropes and modern sensibilities in mind. It might have been good, bad, or okay, but it would have been its own thing. It wouldn’t have impacted my thoughts on the original game whatsoever.
Of course, sometimes it’s good to interrogate your most formative media. Things can be problematic and still enjoyed. As I argued in my first Juliet piece, I don’t buy the whole ‘you’d never get away with that these days’ chorus; popular trends in media change all the time and there are just as many things from the past that you couldn’t say today as there are things happening on television right now that you would never have gotten away with 20 years ago. Do you really think in the ‘anything goes’ days of the ‘70s WAP would have made it onto the radio?
I recall Lollipop Chainsaw as being a very sex-positive game that had a lot of fun with letting its female lead be herself. It also had an Achievement for upskirting its star, and while the base outfit straddled the line of sexual agency and sexual objectification, some of the bonus outfits pushed hard into column B. I hope I’m not overlooking, or was possibly just too naive to realise, other moments like the infamous upskirting.
If a new game was bad, then it’s no harm no foul. But if this remake turns out to be full of problematic tropes and derogatory punching down, it saps away my appreciation of Lollipop Chainsaw as a whole. Then again, assuming it’s a faithful remake, these harmful elements existed anyway, so it’s all a bit of a Plato’s Cave, if you picture Plato as a pigtailed bimbo with pink glossy lips.
Aren’t I just being a woke SJW crybaby leftie gaming ‘journalist’? To be honest, maybe. My job relies on the ability to critically analyse media as layered pieces of art, and that makes me fearful for a remake of a game that I loved, that was once very important to me understanding my sense of self, and that, even back then, seemed a little close to the knuckle (and the five knuckle shuffle). I hope this remake comes out and it’s great and everyone has a lot of fun with it. But I’m worried about how it may make me rethink my position on the game if it’s not.
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