New Liara Figure: DO NOT WANT

Or – An Open Letter to BioWare – Why this blatant pandering to the (straight) male portion of your audience represents a betrayal of your female fans.

(I realize the second title isn’t as catchy.)

Dear BioWare,

I think it’s no secret that I’m a huge fan, and that I’m slightly obsessed with the Mass Effect series. I’ve been a fan since the Baldur’s Gate days, but I think you guys really found your voice with the KOTOR series and have continued to hone your craft more and more with each game. Dragon Age: Origins snags the honor of the first PC game that made me cry, and I am so in love with the Mass Effect series that I’ve finished 3 games of ME1 and 2 games of ME2 and I cannot freaking wait for ME3. (Seriously. Hurry up, please.)

One of my favorite things from Mass Effect 2 (that wasn’t FemShep) was the Lair of the Shadow Broker DLC. At the time, here’s what I had to say about Liara:

Okay. So I’ll confess that Liara wasn’t exactly my favorite character in the first Mass Effect. … But I couldn’t escape the feeling that she was a bit fetishized for male audiences since her innocence and youth were constantly played up and the dialogue between her and Shepard is decidedly awkward in many places.

So I was definitely pleasantly surprised at the transition Liara had apparently undergone between the first Mass Effect and ME2. Rather than being some awkward innocent pining after Shepard, Liara had come into her own as an independent character with her own goals – goals that didn’t necessarily align with Shepard’s. That was great in and of itself – it’s always refreshing to encounter female characters who have goals of their own rather than just being like I WANT WHATEVER THE HERO WANTS TEE HEE.

Even now that the afterglow of having finished my first ME2 playthrough has faded (at least as much as it’s ever going to), the Lair of the Shadow Broker DLC remains one of my favorite parts of the game. Liara is an awesome, competent, not-sexualized female character who has her own agenda – which is exactly what I have been asking for by writing this blog. I can’t emphasize how important the not-sexualized aspect of that is, either. See, Liara should look like this:

See? Awesome sci-fi female character in a non-sexualized pose displaying emotion that’s not OH GOD PLZ SAVE ME HALP or I AM TEH SEX.

But that doesn’t mean that she shouldn’t also look like this:

Again, awesome. Again, non-sexualized. Competent? Definitely. Badass? Yup. This, too, is acceptable.

But not this. Never ever this:

WHAT THE CRAPPING CRAP. THIS IS NOT MY LIARA AT ALL.

Seriously, what the hell is it? What is this pose? Her back is arched, her ass is thrust out, and she’s squeezing her tits together to make her cleavage look huge – none of which, I might add, will help you aim better. In fact, I’m going to go on a limb and say that it would present a bit of a handicap.

Honestly, let’s do a little comparison between Liara in the game and this b.s. Liara statue:

Let’s review. You didn’t do so hot when it came to female crew in Mass Effect 2. There was Miranda of the ridiculous ass cleavage, Jack of the absurd leather nipple-strap, and Samara the Space MILF. Besides Tali, Liara was the only female who wasn’t Shepard who got to wear some damn clothes without having to fork out extra cash for a DLC that would fix their various wardrobe issues.

So what happened? Were your male fans upset that Liara wasn’t sexy enough? Because I just don’t understand this blatant pandering. Even after you said that FemShep would only be on the collector’s edition cover of ME3, I was still encouraged and elated that you were making such a step at all. You’ve been talking with your fans this time around – letting us choose the FemShep we wanted on the cover, promising a FemShep trailer… It made me think that you were maybe, finally turning over a new leaf.

And then this. I feel upset. I feel angry. I feel betrayed.

I mean, come ON! You guys aren’t Atlus, here.

You said on your facebook page that you wanted to know what we thought of this statue? Well comments are closed, otherwise I would have commented, but I hate it. I hate the design, I hate the concept, I hate everything it represents.

I think the most upsetting part of all is that I can’t refuse to vote with my dollar because there’s nothing else to vote for. This kind of pandering is the sort of bullshit that tells us female fans that we do not count, that we are not welcome. This Others us, pushes us to the margins. And I can’t even ‘take my ball and go home’, because there’s nothing to go home TO. As angry as you make me, as upset as I am with you, you’re the folks who make games that insult me the least.

So, come on, BioWare. I don’t want to be this angry with you. You guys are masters of your craft. The art, the writing, the game play – you guys are industry leaders in all of these things. When are you going to see that you don’t need bullshit sexism to push your titles? Your games sell because they’re good games, and anyone who says that they’re not going to buy ME3 if it doesn’t have enough hawt T&A in it is lying. Anyone who has played ME1 and ME2 is going to buy ME3 because we know it will be awesome and we want more Shepard.

Please, I implore you, if you sell a Liara statue – make it something true to the design and the character that you created, not this dumbed down, sexualized version of an awesome character just so you can make a quick few bucks. BioWare, you’re so much better than this.

Sincerely,

~wundergeek

65 thoughts on “New Liara Figure: DO NOT WANT

  1. I think most of the reactions were negative and hope they terminate that project, that statue would make sense for Samara for example even if was bad, so i really did not get why they pick someone like Liara, it’s like bioware is trolling or something.
    I even read an article on Destructoid about that, the guy was complaining about the strong negative reaction of the fans and saying that they probably hated anime and japan and after the SHIT STORM in the comments (it was hilarious by the way) he posted porn pictures of Liara, some people just never learn.

  2. Would it matter if I said that it looks like she is actually in a reasonable shooting stance (weaver stance I think) and practicing good safety technique (not aiming at something, so firearm pointing down, although I think her finger is on the trigger which is not so good) ?

    Not so fond of the face though and I usually like anime stylings.

    • Actually, there are several main shooting stances, and Weaver is specifically avoided by many more well-endowed women (which Liara certainly qualifies, even before they took a bicycle pump to her chest) precisely because the breasts can get in the way of shooting from that position. She’d more likely assume Chapman, which is less likely to get in the way.

      Besides, for her to assume Weaver properly, she’d have her biceps ABOVE her breasts, pushing them down and apart, not below, pushing them up and together, precisely to keep them from getting in the way when aiming (or, in this case, lifting her arms at all, since in Weaver (and pretty much any shooting stance), having your elbows bend out instead of down is a big no-no.

  3. I think this is in no way shape or form supposed to be an “official” figure, but rather an offshoot one designed by a company who specifically caters to the disgusting nerd audience that gets off on molded plastic. I’m really surprised that Bioware posted this on their facebook and asked for feedback though, seems like they almost ARE saying this is the official one.

    That Catherine figure is made by the same company, they overly sexualise comic book, anime and video game characters for a very specific audience. Seems strange that Bioware would approach them or agree to them creating a complete mutation of Liara’s looks. Either way it seems to have been made very clear that this figure is not getting a great reception, I doubt they will finalise it. After all it is the unpainted/unfinished version posted exactly for the purpose of gauging consumer responses. I wouldn’t stress too much.

    • CMIIW, that Catherine figure is made by Max Factory, mostly known by their poseable figma line and this Liara figure is made by Kotobukiya, mostly known for their PVC figures the one that also does that Marvel&DC Bishoujo statue line.

      Either way, I’m surprised one of those Japanese companies make this Liara statue. The Bishoujo statue line strikes me as somewhat redundant because the strife between “otaku” and “geek” fandom.

      As for the statue itself, I’m no fan of plastic figures, especially Japanese ones that almost always emphasizes sexuality, so yeah, I say do not want too.

      Perhaps one could argue that it serves a purpose, albeit a primal one, and anyone other than that intended purpose doesn’t have to care, but still, I think these kind of merchandise encourages the objectification of women that given enough time and positive feedback can creep into the main product itself. Why do you think (most) anime has become the beast that it is now? My line is drawn when Macross Frontier became what it is (good God, I love the space opera and mech aspect of Macross but the girls in Frontier just makes me MAD).

      And so I’m rather glad to know that the fans have a strong negative reaction to it.

      • Anime side note- I watched the first movie of Macross Frontier and agree with you, but I think the EXTREMELY oblivious and almost pathetic (socially) main character sorta balances things out (only IF their were more “normal” girls thrown in)…

        Also I more or less agree with this persons word things!

      • Yeah, that Liara statue is meant for Japanese figurine collectors, so oversexing her up was probably key to selling it to otaku hordes in Japan. No need to worry about any part of Kotobukiya’s “bishoujo” figure collection getting forced down our throats here. ^_-

        • … ah shit, just read the Facebook post and realized they really do wanna market a Liara statue on this side of the Pacific. Simple solution then: let any other company that’s NOT based in Japan make it.😛

  4. Seriously, I could get over the face – it’s anime style after all. But those boobs?! Combined with the ridiculous pose? No thanks. DO NOT WANT indeed.

  5. As soon as I heard Kotobukiya, I knew it was going to be a wash, and I am completely unsurprised. Especially Yamashita; he’s good but usually makes girls very soft and young looking (so that accounts for the face) and not at all what you would expect from Shadow Broker Liara. Sadly, it could be MUCH worse; look for a picture of Ghostbusters Bishoujo Lucy, or DC Bishoujo Supergirl if you want to be pissed off. The sculpts are so nice and the quality of the statues themselves are excellent but the poses and proportions are just terrible, it really disappoints me every time. Then again, I’m fairly sure fan-service is the point of PVC figures.

    It’s funny though, even though the concept art was really cheesecake-y, they ramped it up in the statue itself (for example, there was no boob squishing).

    • I’m a fan of Shunya. Here’s the actual image this statue was made from, and like this person said, there was no boob squishing. In fact, her chest was about half the size it is in the figure:

      I will however say, in regards to this blog post itself, well..:
      http://www.hobbyfan.com/

      Many garage kits/PVC statues that aren’t mecha are made for the purpose of fan service. Garage kits are also often made independently, without the direction of the company that owns the characters. In other words, they’re just 3D fan art. That being said, a letter to BioWare probably won’t do much. Since it’s essentially fan art, it’s along the same lines as artists selling 2d fan art in print format in AA at cons and on DA.

      It’s okay to be outraged by this, but it’s yet another thing that you really just have to shrug off. You can’t control fan art.

      • There’s a difference between fan art fanservice and officially licensced fanservice. The fact that this would be officially sanctioned by BioWare is particularly reprehensible.

  6. Actually the fans do not want this, so the negative response is really heavy. I was an anime fan and bishoujo is not the synonymous of ecchi or loli. Bishoujo stand for beautiful girl, so yes it is a style but that doesn’t mean it about fanservice, the same goes to bishounen and believe me the guys on that line of figurines are not bishounen. They are capable of doing a replicas of the original artwork, so why are they doing the fanservice version? The rage was not bigger because there are not going to do the FemShep but the MaleShep, believe me bioware is doing this on purpose.

    As for the Masculinists argument well actually there are people of both genders who to not like hypersexualized males. First let’s just say that are really rare official canon with hypersexualized males on the western games, most of them are fit characters with normal anatomy which implies he being a badass with power, the other side is female characters having a lot of fanservice just because… which means sexual object. This two are bad stereotypes but there are still different.
    With this in mind I am going to give two situations when people do not like the fanservice male.

    I remember some time ago the rage that most male fans made because Geralt(a guy from The witcher game) was to beautiful, yup there was a big discussion on the official forum saying he was not a Hollywood guy, he was always describe has ugly and that firsts version of him was bad because he was “beautiful”. And recently on tumblr there was someone saying that Anders(character from DA2) was drawn with to many muscle in most of the fanart.
    I have nothing against sexy characters(I love Isabela from DA 2) but the sexy has to be a part of them and not just because it for the male gaze, female gaze or tree gaze or whatever.
    The problem is when companies do this officially, it not fanart it’s oficial that’s the difference. Bioware since ME 1 is starting to put a lot of fanservice in there games, I still remember when Ash look like a heavy soldier and Kaiden look like a light biotic, now it a mess really.

  7. That just doesn’t even look like Liara for me. Regardless of the horrible sexualization that is clearly over the top, it’s just a badly done rendition of a character that we already know. Very poor execution, for shame.

  8. “The art, the writing, the game play – you guys are industry leaders in all of these things.”

    That part about writing made me think if you’ve played any Obsidian games? Fallout: New Vegas pretty much completely beats BioWare when it comes to depicting women (as well as gays). Not to mention how great Chris Avellone’s past characters Kreia and Ravel (from Knights of the Old Republic 2 and Planescape: Torment respectively) were. I can’t recall you ever writing about those games, though it just might be I have a faulty memory.

    Anyway, the problem with the statue’s face isn’t even that it is anime. Anime style face could still look adult-like, but in this statue she looks like a toddler. It’s really grotesque. Also I wonder why they decided to choose Liara if they were going to make a hyper-sexualized statue, instead of Miranda (not that that would’ve been any better).

    • Generally I stick to RPGs and intensely dislike playing shooters. The Mass Effect series I enjoy because there’s still enough RPG in it that I have fun with the gameplay. Sadly, Fallout is just too much of a shooter for me to enjoy.
      (and I did forget that KOTOR2 was Obsidian.)

      • Fallout 3 was more about the story and character development than FPS combat, in my opinion. Yes you had a myriad of projectile weapons to choose from, but there were tons of blunt and hand-to-hand weapons as well, which was nice. Hell you don’t even have to aim in order to inflict serious damage on an enemy with your gun, you can use V.A.T.S. I truly believe that you’re missing out if you pass up FO3 because it’s “somewhat” of a FPS. The main story is phenomenal, the side quests are fascinating, there are so many interesting characters to interact with, character development in always entertaining and it’s all done in a polished, surprisingly non-sexist way (New Vegas notwithstanding… -_-). As a feminist gamer, Fallout 3 is near the top of my list of favorites.

        • I understand your points, but I did not find Fallout enjoyable as a game. Yes, I know liking Mass Effect and dislike Fallout makes me weird. Whatever. Personal preferences vary.

          • It isn’t weird and yes of course personal preferences vary. However I just thought you didn’t like FO3 simply because of the combat elements. If you don’t like the game in it’s entirety that’s a whole other matter. I wasn’t making a judgement call, so I apologize if it came off that way.

        • I have to disagree. Fallout 3 was only slightly better than series lowpoint (Fallout 2), story is something a highschooler could write and only about two sidequests are somewhat memorable (I did them all and I only remember the one about geting the satelite dish and the fire ant one).

          • “…story is something a highschooler could write..”

            Blatant ageism aside, what makes you say this? What makes a story a “good” one?

            • Let’s not derail the topic too much please. The subject of the post is interesting enough to talk about. What do you think about the figurine?

              • I’m making an inquiry because I genuinely wish to understand why Trollock feels that the FO3 story was inadequate. If Wundergeek has a problem with me “derailing”, then fine, she can tell me. However, I would appreciate it if you would leave that up to her. Thanks.

              • [I’m going to say that this conversation is derailing. Hating on something people have expressed a love for that is tangential to the original topic is derailing, though I get that your intentions were pure, Cole.]

      • You must be thinking of Fallout 3, which was made by Bethesda. Fallout 1 and 2 are classic role-playing games, in fact they were genre-defining and considered by many to be the best RPGs ever made. Non-linear, with dialogue trees, various ways to solve quests, actual character building with stats, the works. Fallout: New Vegas was made by Obsidian and it is closer to the two first Fallouts than FO3 was, and also it is in every way far more of an RPG than Mass Effect. I mean, I love ME2, but an RPG it is not.

        I really do recommend that you try New Vegas out if you ever find the time. It pains me when people praise BioWare with its Mirandas and blue stripper races, when New Vegas’ Veronica and Cass go unmentioned. (Playing FO3 isn’t needed at all, but the game is a lot more fun if you’ve played the original Fallouts in the past. Not that many have, these days.)

        • Guys, your recommendations are appreciated but Fallout in any of its iterations is not a game that interests me. I know that makes me a bad gamer and maybe a bad feminist, but I’m just not that interested in playing them. I’m sure they’re fantastic games, but please don’t try to shove games I don’t want to play down my throat.

          • I don’t think anyone’s trying to shove Fallout down your throat, they’re just making well-meaning suggestions- you said you didn’t like Fallout because you “dislike playing shooters,” and they were just rebutting to let you know that it’s not much of a shooter in the first place.

            It’s completely fine if you like or dislike particular games, it’s just that your first comment made it seem like the shooter aspect was the only thing putting you off from the series… No one’s calling you out for not wanting to play a game.

            -C

          • I apologize. Claire Hummel was right in her comment, that I more or less answered to the claim that these games aren’t RPGs, and I thought you might want to know that it isn’t so (as an RPG fan, I would be delighted to come to know of a classic I have had misconceptions about before). I didn’t call you a bad gamer or bad feminist either. But my apologies, in any case.

  9. Do not want!
    A thing I like about Liara is that while she is slim, she he is not ultra super skinny slim, there a vague sturdy roundness about her that I appreciate. This ridiculous statue, beside her stupid sexualisation, eliminate this by slimming her down.

  10. The figures are terrible, but I’m pretty sure Catherine there was supposed to be creepily hyper-sexual to the point of being outright off-putting in the game. Either that, or myself and most people I know had entirely the wrong reaction to her. (comparisons to succubi or malevolent faerie lovers run rampant)

  11. You’re in the right about this statue representing women just don’t count. But it’s also a “fuck you” to guys who care about Liara for something other than her tits. I enjoyed LotSB too, and liked the way she didn’t suddenly became Rambo. Instead, you can see development and by talking with her you can see she’s a more hardened and experienced Liara, but still her. This statue however is simply not like her. A depiction is supposed to capture something of the subject’s personality, isn’t it?

    To be honest, I think the statue displays two major anti-woman items at the same time: sexualization (boob-squeezing pose, curved spine, bigger boobs) and infantilization (baby face). Then, for what I’ve heard, sexualizing little girls is a profitable, mainstream branch of anime.

    • I want to elaborate a bit about depictions capturing personalities through an example: this Julius Caesar bust which happens to be my favorite sculpture. His face doesn’t convey directly any expression, it’s a serene face but very severe at the same time, due to the wrinkles and the little frown. Overall it irradiates self-confidence and, to me, majesty. Which is exactly what an idealized depiction of Caesar should do.

      Now look carefully at Liara’s face in that figurine and tell me what it conveys. We know a lot about Liara. She’s a former archaeologist and adventurer; she’s faced great dangers with Shepard and on her own; she holds a grudge with the Shadow Broker that provokes a great deal of anger in her; finally she succeeds in her quest against the Shadow Broker and assumes his role. Even letting aside the sexualization, I don’t see anything of Liara’s history or personality in that statue. So on top of being sexist, I’d say it’s just bad sculpture.

  12. Being a guy in my mid 20s, and a nerd, I assume it is targeted at me. And… yeah, not even close. Honestly, I hate Miranda’s outfit as it is (Samara’s is pretty bad too, though for some reason I didn’t mind Jack’s. Kasumi’s is good, but that’s DLC). I loved Miranda’s CHARACTER, voice, etc, but the outfit was ridiculous. Not something that someone who is essentially a trained commando wears in combat (compare to femshep, Tali, or Asari commandos). Ditto here. And she’s wearing high heeled boots, plus some sort of… jacket…. thing? Bleech.

    I just resent this sort of fan service. It’s puerile, and just adds fuel to the “video games are for adolescent boys” nonsense that forces me to keep my status as “gamer” a secret until I get to know someone. It’s entirely possible to make a character attractive, and even sexual, without acting like the spring-eyed wolf from old cartoons. And frankly, they did it just fine with in-game Liara.

  13. As an equalist(equalist is for equal gender rights, not feminist which means SLIGHTLY SUPERIOR WOMEN’S RIGHTS)and a huge mass effect fan this made me sick. not just because she is in extremely sexualised pose and has humungous boobs and a baby face, but also because it dehumanizes Liara, an awesome mass effect character. Kotabayaki should go out of business. He deserves it. The misogynist freak.

  14. “…not feminist which means SLIGHTLY SUPERIOR WOMEN’S RIGHTS…”

    Might want to crack open a dictionary one of these decades, Jack… I’m elated that you’re all for equality between the sexes, but come on, you’re killing me. -_- The “Feminism is only about female superiority” trope is just as harmful to the plight of equality as Kotobukiya’s work.

    “Kotabayaki should go out of business.”

    I’ve been hoping this would happen for a very long time now. Unfortunately there are many people who are willing to purchase his so-called “art”.

  15. Just a note on the Catherine figure though – I believe that character is SUPPOSED to be hyper-sexualized, as she is, in fact, a (spoilers!) succubus, and is in fact supposed to pander to the fetishes of the target in question.

    That being said, that Liara statue…looks like an amateur fanartist decided to have a go on her, and what a doozy that was. Yikes.

  16. “I think the most upsetting part of all is that I can’t refuse to vote with my dollar because there’s nothing else to vote for.”

    Luckily we’ll get to vote with our dollars soon. Sideshow has already acquired the Mass Effect license. A Liara PF Statue isn’t far off… I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s ready around March for ME3 launch.

  17. […] Go Make Me a Sandwich: Even now that the afterglow of having finished my first ME2 playthrough has faded (at least as much as it’s ever going to), the Lair of the Shadow Broker DLC remains one of my favorite parts of the game. Liara is an awesome, competent, not-sexualized female character who has her own agenda – which is exactly what I have been asking for by writing this blog. I can’t emphasize how important the not-sexualized aspect of that is, either. […]

  18. At least she looks better than the new character from “resident evil revelations”. That’s what I call a fail.

  19. The remarkable thing about the statue is that it has managed to piss off both male and female Mass Effect fans. If this was an attempt to appeal to male gamers, then it was a spectacular miscalculation. Right on the back of the controversy concerning the public femshep vote — what were Bioware thinking?

    This “bishoujo” thing doesn’t belong anywhere near Mass Effect.

  20. Bravo, bravo, bravo. Bioware SHOULD be better than this. One of the things I loved about Mass Effect and ME2 were the bold steps they took to discard some of the negative gender stereotypes that are so pervasive in video games. I wanted them to go farther and really get to full gender equality, but even in ME3 there is still a lot of white heterosexual cisgender male as the default in the game’s presentation. It would be cool to see ME3 packaging showing many different types of Shepards — multiracial, male, female, androgynous, whatever.

    This post, along with “You May Call Me Valkyrie” ( http://www.geardrops.net/2011/09/02/you-may-call-me-valkyrie/ ) are part of a growing body of awesome posts that say “enough is enough.”

  21. I just found your blog and I just wanted to leave a comment on how fantastic it is! I had a similarly “WTF IS THIS SHIT” reaction when I saw this statue, especially since I too came to respect Liara 100x more after playing Shadow Broker. Ugh, ugh, ugh.

    (Also I really enjoyed your post on the League of Legends character designs. Those aren’t even some of the worst skins in terms of boobage and outfits patterned off of “Sexy ______” Halloween costumes.)

  22. Actually, that statue thingamabob is so offensive, that if I cared about this game at all, I would probably just use the developer’s house for target practice. No really, think about it. You get an empty job slot which needs to be filled (preferably by a woman) AND you get rid of the bozo.

    But first, I would be demanding somebody be fired over this. It’s just beyond inappropriate. What, are they a bunch of rapists over there? Do the female employees realize that this alone qualifies as “hostile environment”?

    • While I don’t like this figure, I’m not about to argue that the creators should be called rapists! Yes, the figure sucks, but at least there’s not the non-consenting aspect you get with stuff like HTK’s artwork. So, yeah, I’ll agree that I feel kind of bad for female employees, but I have to disagree vehemently(!!!) with the idea that the Liara figure makes BioWare employees racists.

  23. Have you folks considered pirating your games? Seriously, I would NOT be supporting them. Pirate, and tell them why you are pirating. Believe me, they pay attention to that shit.

    Anyway, I’ll be calling these fucktards a tomorrow.

    Downturk.com

    • No. As I said in my previous letter, I’m going to continue supporting BioWare because they make games that insult me the LEAST. There’s still stuff worth supporting, though, like FemShep and their progressive stance toward same-sex issues.

  24. Statue isn’t done by bioware, it’s done by a japanese company, hence the anime style. And I understand your point about the mistake of sexualizing a non-sexualized character. My problem with it though isn’t that it’s unnecessary and potentially offensive, I get it but that’s not what bothers me about the statue, it’s that it’s just not my character. You love a piece of entertainment enough, you develop a sense of ownership for it. I love Liara and I like the idea of getting a little desk staue of her character, but that is not my Liara.

  25. I don’t think it’s so exaggerated.
    It’s said if you want to know what a girl will look like in, say in her case a few centuries, look at her mother.
    Look at Benezia, now back at the figure… I rest my case.

    • That’s absurd. If you believe that all women end up resembling their mothers, you may need to surround yourself with more females, or at least take a basic course in genetics… -_-

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