#Cancel Final Fantasy


Say goodbye to systematic oppression, sheeple

It's hard to be a voice of dissent, and for years, I lacked the courage. I've always thought that the many, many regressive ideas disseminated by the Final Fantasy series of video games were beyond gross, but I was afraid to speak out; instead, I hid like a coward and said I liked playing JRPGs because I have OCD and enjoy sorting imaginary items. Only now -- with the advent of hashtag activism -- can I be sure that our social discourse is truly mature enough to handle the groundbreaking dialogue I'm about to start.

Now, I know that I'm just painting a target on myself; that the Moogle Industrial Complex is going to try to portray me as some kind of hysterical extremist, when all I'm doing is exposing the genuinely toxic, hurtful content of these so-called games. But regardless of what happens to me, which may or may not involve people calling me names on the internet, I'm going to persevere, because this is important: it's just the right thing to do. And I've provided hashtags so that you, too, can begin voicing your dissent...if you can find the courage within yourself to do so, that is.

Changing the world is not for the faint of heart.


1. Promotes Chocobo Abuse


The working conditions for Chocobos in every Final Fantasy game are simply abysmal, and I for one am not going to take it anymore. The Golden Saucer Chocobo Races are nothing more than a glorified sweat shop, where the bright neon lights and catchy BGM can't quite drown out the sound of mutli-colored birds crying into their feathers each night. Chocobos are repeatedly forced to travel grueling distances, carrying heavy spiky-haired protagonists, with nary meal nor rest. 

Sometimes we even see them running in giant hamster wheels to generate power, even though we know mages can generate all the power the world needs by casting Thunder on electrical appliances. If humans can produce electricity, why even subject chocobos to this indignity? To humiliate them, obviously. To keep them from getting any ideas above their station. And don't even get me started on chocobo breeding, which is a sick series of eugenics experiments if ever there was one.

Now, you could make the argument that the Final Fantasy economy can't run without chocobos, but you know what else they said that about? Slavery. If you enjoy chocobo minigames, you are literally supporting slavery. We all need to stand up (on Twitter) and say something about the structural violence that's being inflicted not only on chocobos, but the player who is being shaped by these chocobo-abuse-fueled narratives.


2.  Is Racist Against Fire


Have you ever noticed that Ifrit is usually one of the first summons you receive? You generally get Ifrit first because the implication is that it's not as powerful as the other summons; in the Final Fantasy narrative, fire is weaksauce, while space dragons, sentient trains and Arthurian knights are king. But Ifrit isn't the only victim here; look at Bombs, the enemies which appear in every FF title. The primary fire-elemental creature is portrayed as so pathetic, it can't even hurt you without committing suicide with Self-Destruct...which, come to think of it, doesn't even do that much damage in the first place. The fact that these creatures literally kill themselves because they can no longer take the pain of their marginalized existence may be the most extreme example, but the fact is that the constant microaggressions against the element fire start early in each game and pretty much never stop.

The shocking lack of agency given to fire-elemental creatures is just plain racism, and we shouldn't let a mainstream game series get away with this stone-aged thinking anymore. Even when the narrative isn't outright racist, fire-elementals still suffer from the subtle bigotry of low expectations; you just don't expect Firaga to do as much damage as Flare, or even Holy. It's time for Final Fantasy to stop treating fire like a second-class element and come to terms with the structural violence it's inflicting on open flames.


3. Promotes Protagonist Privilege


It's one thing that only the protagonist chooses where to go in these games, but what's disgusting -disgusting -- is that the other characters are literally invisible. I don't mean they're so marginalized that they may as well be invisible, I mean they are literally invisible on the screen, because that's how overpowering the protagonist's privilege is. True, in some cases, like FFVIII, the other characters can sometimes be seen tagging along behind the main -- but in a way, that's almost worse. Instead of having agency, being able to choose where to go, they're forced to follow the protag...even if he's running in circles like a moron trying to get his next SeeD payment to come in.

Now it's bad enough that Final Fantasy promotes this degree of privilege, but what's worse is that it goes completely unacknowledged. Nothing makes privilege more egregious than being completely blind to it.

Apologists may choose to bring up that part of FFVII where you can pick Tifa and Cid to be your replacement protagonists-- perhaps checking Cloud's privilege, albeit temporarily. This, my friends, is nothing but the most blatant appeasement. If we want to stop the structural violence that Final Fantasy is inflicting on everyone who isn't a protagonist, we need to reject these facile attempts at appeasement politics.


4. Is Disgustingly Ableist


Party members are largely identified by their skills; casting attack spells, buffing, summoning, gaining items, etc. What if a character can't do any of these things? Well, they won't be getting adequate representation in your party, that's for damn sure. Only characters who have the ability to do things get respect in Final Fantasy; the level of discrimination against anyone who isn't fortunate enough to be able to cast Demi or summon Bahamut is unconscionable. This is systemic, structural violence against people who can't do cool shit.

Now, I must admit, FFX gets a partial pass here; that game includes Kimahri, a character who gets to be in the active party while possessing zero useful abilities whatsoever. Still, given the franchise's abysmal track record on this issue, I think we're going to have to view Kimahri's existence as an anomaly; to remain relevant, the series desperately needs to diversify by including people who cannot actually do things.


5. Spreads A Capitalist Narrative

Just the worst

The story is as trite as it is predictable: get more gil and you can buy bigger weapons, better items, and greater participation in whatever dumb minigame is devouring your time like some kind of ravenous temporal vampire. It's the same in every game: gil means power, and it's hard to argue that the characters who don't have gil are oppressed compared to your party. Do you think all those NPCs hanging around in the background have cool weapons with great stats that inflict multiple status effects? No, they have crap like the Revolver and Official Ball.

This gil=power=good meta-narrative is just the same old case of capitalism being used as a vector to spread oppression. Thanks to intersectionality, when you buy a cool weapon for one of your characters, all you're doing is enforcing the idea that money and power and violence are all the same thing, drowning out all other voices that promote peace and equality. This is structural violence against the idea of anything ever not being violent --and also, capitalism sucks because Ayn Rand wrote books.


Just so awful

All that, and I haven't even started on how the persistent emphasis on thieves and stealing in these games contributes to Theft Culture...or any of that genderist, heteronormative garbage with Jumbo Cactaur (think about the fact that he has a mustache!) But I guess I should leave it at this; the world can only handle so much revolutionary thought at one time. Plus, I don't want all my Twitter campaigns to cannibalize each other.

Please use these hashtags to spread the word about how awful Final Fantasy is, and how those of us with any kind of social conscience are not just going to sit back and take it anymore. By the way, if you're a Final Fantasy-apologist, please don't even bother responding to this article; the world is full of your kind, oppressors, and it's time for you to shut up and listen for once. This may be about having a dialogue, but if you don't agree with me, frankly that's a sign that you just don't understand the first thing about history, or modern society, and need to educate yourself.

I mean, try looking at things from someone else's perspective for a change; is that so hard?

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Karen Mead
Karen MeadContributor   gamer profile

Hi, I'm a former newspaper journalist who got tired of having a front row seat to the death of print. There probably could be some interesting story there about a disenchanted reporter moving on ... more + disclosures



Filed under... #feature #Final Fantasy #top stories #Video games



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