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The Last of Us: Part 2 bravely challenges real world prejudice

Published: 16:38, 13 July 2020
Updated: 16:56, 13 July 2020
Naughty Dog
The Last of Us 2 protagonist playing a guitar
The Last of Us Part 2, key art

Much of the discourse surrounding Naughty Dog's latest release has seen a paradigm shift away from reasonable critical thinking, in favour of vitriolic accusations and the lowest ebb of Internet behaviour.

For those of us with an open minded critical eye and a willingness to listen to arguments we disagree with, this aggressive minority continue to behave as though they're victims of underhand manipulation. 

This idea that certain narrative choices and character traits presented in Part 2 represent some kind of woke agenda is the same kind of wilful ignorance that caused "fans" of Star Wars to vehemently denounce the mere suggestion of a female lead character.

Experiencing particular reactions to the events of this game has been a fascinating deep dive into the caverns of misplaced passion. That somehow these characters and this world belong solely to those who experience them. 

In fact, no-one is more protective of their own vision than the creators themselves, and people like Writer / Director Neil Druckmaan have publicly made peace with the notion that some people who loved the original will find the sequel disappointing. 

To be clear: folks are entitled to dislike art, for its very nature invites subjective takes. In its truest form, creative endeavours don't attempt to appease everyone, and as someone who's written numerous articles over many years, I know for myself that I'd rather someone hate something I've produced than feel ambivalent towards it. 

Naughty Dog Key art for Lev in The Last of Us: Part 2 Lev's journey is a heartbreaking story told with nuance.

There is a pathological fixation on specific parts of The Last of Us: Part 2 that says more about real world prejudice than it does about the game itself. 

Whether it's about Laura Bailey's Abby sporting a supposedly unattainable physique, to even the mere inclusion of a transgender teen, to the unexpected fates of certain beloved characters, Part 2 has shone a light on pervasive bigots that now seem all too willing to expose themselves. 

Given that the video game industry is still relatively young (especially compared to film and television), there's a subset of its regular consumers that appear to view it as the last vestige for their stubborn misogyny. 

This unfathomable perpetuated fiction that gaming is only for straight, white, conservative males is dangerously arrogant. Until we can all agree on a reality that actually exists, titles like The Last of Us: Part 2 will continue to be vilified for telling broader stories of inclusion and taking risks.

Naughty Dog Key art for Abby in The Last of Us: Part 2. You're not meant to necessarily fall for Abby like you do with Ellie, but being open to empathising with her story is a critical component of the narrative.

Context is also often misunderstood, especially when it comes to creator's intent. If you feel angry because your favourite character dies, that means the artist has done their job to the fullest possible extent. 

Furthermore, if any kind of art makes you feel anything at all, whatever the emotion or situation, then it has achieved something wonderful that should be lauded.

One is still entitled to question anything they dislike, but Part 2 seems to have taken that to a whole different level. It has forced people to ask themselves difficult questions, and examine why they dislike something. 

That's where things can get a little dicey, because if you're sending death threats to voice actors because your political / religious affiliation informs your view that women shouldn't look like that, gay relationships are disgusting, and transgender people are an abomination, that says more about you than it does about the entertainment you're consuming. 

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