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Do you think the Sonic series is kind of sexist?


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E-122-Psi

I feel like how 'sexist' the series is shouldn't really be based on stereotypes because the series relies on them A LOT. In fact most franchises do, both male or female. For every damsel in distress and fangirl on the female cast, there's a Homer Simpson-esque meathead or arrogant nebbish on the male cast. I could argue some western works are actually MORE 'sexist' in this regard, because they rely on positive discrimination, which ultimately is still discrimination. A girl is still being singled out even if it's to make them the most competent rounded action character in the main cast who wins every argument.

Boom uses girly stereotype scenarios for Amy for example, but it also uses crude boy stereotype scenarios for Sonic and Knuckles. It's not so much discriminating as much as just what some characters of their archetype are like. I could argue the fact writers feel comfortable making fun of BOTH sides indiscriminately makes them less sexist.

There is definitely some off putting elements in certain works like Archie but they're often the result of not being soundly written all around and the writers digging themselves in too deep by trying to tackle something grown up without thinking it through (eg. a LOT of Penders stuff). The whole 'only male hedgehogs' thing is dumb but I think it's more just excusing NO ONE ELSE but the three main characters turning super, they'd likely add MORE flimsy stipulations if there were another male hedgehog there that wasn't the main focus. 'Only male hedgehogs....that wear size 9 boots can turn super'.

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Dr. Mechano

I honestly think Sonic is pretty good at equal-opportunity "damseling." 

Yeah, Amy and Cream have been kidnapped. But Tails, Knuckles, Eggman, Mighty, Ray, and even Sonic himself have been captured and needed to be rescued multiple times.

I still think the series struggles with mild sexism in other aspects, but the damsel-in-distress trope really isn't one of them.

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E-122-Psi
15 minutes ago, Dr. Mechano said:

I honestly think Sonic is pretty good at equal-opportunity "damseling." 

Yeah, Amy and Cream have been kidnapped. But Tails, Knuckles, Eggman, Mighty, Ray, and even Sonic himself have been captured and needed to be rescued multiple times.

I still think the series struggles with mild sexism in other aspects, but the damsel-in-distress trope really isn't one of them.

True, plus even the strongest male characters recurrently suffer from The Worf Effect.

One detail I also admittedly like about the games series at least is that it tends to be pretty equal opportunity about 'idiot ball' moments, ie. a character getting into trouble specifically because of some defining flaw or lapse of judgement they themselves committed. It's generally the trend to have the girls the straight men, always having the right answer, avoiding bungling, and warning the boys not to act like morons and screw things up (eg. Satam) but in the games and some other works like Boom it tends to be pretty even ground depending on what vices each character has to match the circumstance.

Slapstick is also free game most of the time, Amy even has an attack based around her pratfalling on her face. :P Shadow is the nearest to Mr 'no jokes', otherwise both girl and boy tend to be pretty whimsical (I love Blaze is serious but COMICALLY serious, her dignity gets compromised constantly, archetypes like her in the west are almost NEVER the butt of jokes).

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Dr. Mechano
Just now, E-122-Psi said:

True, plus the male characters recurrently suffer from The Worf Effect.

Mm, I wouldn't say that's limited to male characters but it does tend to happen to them more often, sure.

We have seen girls in the series get defeated to demonstrate how powerful an enemy is. Amy is initially bested and captured by Zero, who's built up a nigh-invincible foe until she finally defeats him at the end of her SA1 story, and Blaze is taken out by Eggman and Eggman Nega in Sonic Rush's last story, to build up how powerful their final mech is before the big Super Sonic/Burning Blaze battle.

The girls get worfed sometimes too, which is fine.

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E-122-Psi
2 minutes ago, Dr. Mechano said:

Mm, I wouldn't say that's limited to male characters but it does tend to happen to them more often, sure.

We have seen girls in the series get defeated to demonstrate how powerful an enemy is. Amy is initially bested and captured by Zero, who's built up a nigh-invincible foe until she finally defeats him at the end of her SA1 story, and Blaze is taken out by Eggman and Eggman Nega in Sonic Rush's last story, to build up how powerful their final mech is before the big Super Sonic/Burning Blaze battle.

The girls get worfed sometimes too, which is fine.

True, but for obvious reasons, it's easier for the plot to smack around one of the male characters to sell a new character's prowess.

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Dr. Mechano
Just now, E-122-Psi said:

True, but for obvious reasons, it's easier for the plot to smack around one of the male characters to sell a new character.

Well, I wouldn't necessarily say it's because they're male. Not directly because they're male, anyway.

This is just a compounding effect of the main character and his most direct sidekicks and enemies being male. The characters who get "worfed" the most tend to be Sonic himself or Eggman, after all - usually to build up the new villain/rival character of that game. Which makes sense narratively; You show how tough the new guy is by having him win against the franchise's main hero or main villain.

But when it suits the narrative, like in Amy's SA1 story (where Zero was her personal antagonist) and Sonic Rush (where Eggman Nega is Blaze's nemesis), it made more sense to focus on those characters being temporarily defeated to build up the new bad guy instead, because they were the characters with more of a personal stake in those stories.

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E-122-Psi
Just now, Dr. Mechano said:

Well, I wouldn't necessarily say it's because they're male. Not directly because they're male, anyway.

This is just a compounding effect of the main character and his most direct sidekicks and enemies being male. The characters who get "worfed" the most tend to be Sonic himself or Eggman, after all - usually to build up the new villain/rival character of that game. Which makes sense narratively; You show how tough the new guy is by having him win against the franchise's main hero or main villain.

But when it suits the narrative, like in Amy's SA1 story (where Zero was her personal antagonist) and Sonic Rush (where Eggman Nega is Blaze's nemesis), it made more sense to focus on those characters being temporarily defeated to build up the new bad guy instead, because they were the characters with more of a personal stake in those stories.

That as well.

(Though for a while poor Knuckles just couldn't catch a break. :P)

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Scritch the Cat

Maybe not now (or maybe so; I haven't really played any recent Sonic games), but a bit in the Adventure era and mostly with Amy.  There are positive aspects to Amy's character in that era, but the degree she's obsessed with Sonic wouldn't fly today; it would probably get criticized by female and male viewers.  Female, because they're annoyed by female characters whose motives center entirely around obsession with male characters, and male, because they hate double-standards about stalking and harassment.  If it's wrong for a man to stalk, chase and obsess over a woman who clearly does not want it, then it should be equally wrong if the genders are flipped.

As for capabilities, they're a moot point because nobody is allowed to do much these days unless they're Sonic.

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Dr. Mechano
57 minutes ago, Scritch the Cat said:

If it's wrong for a man to stalk, chase and obsess over a woman who clearly does not want it, then it should be equally wrong if the genders are flipped.

I mean, it is wrong.

Amy's pursuit of Sonic is never framed as a good or acceptable thing. Sonic consistently finds it annoying and burdensome. I don't think the games ever framed Amy's obsessive crush as okay. It's a character flaw, and handled properly, that's fine.

Obviously some games are hit with this harder than others. Some games depict it as a lighthearted precocious crush, while others - like Sonic Heroes - go so far as to have a boss fight that begins with Amy declaring "There's no way out of marrying me" and ends with either Amy or Sonic throwing the other off a building.

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This is a case where the series took a joke too far and people missed the point of it. Amy's entire schtick was meant to be comic relief, how among all of this crazy shit happening, here's this normal girl who's main goal is just hanging out with the main hero. Its even Sonic Adventure when Amy wants Sonic to drop what he's doing to focus on helping a bird, and Sonic is just as incredulous as the player is. 

However, as time moved on and the perception of females in gaming changed, what used to be seen as lighthearted comic relief started to become overbearing and obnoxious. And given that Amy is the franchise heroine, she basically served  as the main representation of females. 

 

So yea, I'm not surprised people have more of a problem with her old behavior in 2021. 

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KnuxDLX
1 hour ago, Dr. Mechano said:

and ends with either Amy or Sonic throwing the other off a building.

Relationship goals!

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Dr. Mechano
1 minute ago, Kuzu said:

Its even Sonic Adventure when Amy wants Sonic to drop what he's doing to focus on helping a bird, and Sonic is just as incredulous as the player is. 

SA1 is pretty tame as the series goes.

Other appearances in the 00s sometimes verged on "date me or I will hurt you" territory.

See the Heroes example above, as well as the end of Sonic Rush:

image.png.b73d9589f3fbea28ed42d0a8c9df77a8.png

There was a brief period of time when Sonic Team teetered on the brink between "fangirl Amy" and full-blown "yandere Amy." I feel like this was pushing things a bit far.

Of course, they've definitely reversed course since then - arguably so much so that Amy's crush is barely even acknowledged at all in recent games - which I'm not entirely sure how to feel about.

On the one hand, I think it's good to not solely define Amy by her crush on Sonic. On the other hand, I don't feel like they've replaced the Sonic crush with much of a character beyond that. She's just kind of become another straight-laced generic hero character without much in the way of unique personality quirks. Try to describe Amy's character in Sonic Forces, because I can't. All she really did was spout exposition over the radio, and I feel like if you swapped her lines with anyone else's they'd work just as well.

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24 minutes ago, Kuzu said:

This is a case where the series took a joke too far and people missed the point of it. Amy's entire schtick was meant to be comic relief, how among all of this crazy shit happening, here's this normal girl who's main goal is just hanging out with the main hero. Its even Sonic Adventure when Amy wants Sonic to drop what he's doing to focus on helping a bird, and Sonic is just as incredulous as the player is. 

However, as time moved on and the perception of females in gaming changed, what used to be seen as lighthearted comic relief started to become overbearing and obnoxious.

Yeah, Amy's crush on Sonic was never meant to be as flanderized as it became (mostly from the DIMPS games & Sonic X sometimes), but because they tried to overplay the humor aspect of it, it got driven into the ground hard for many fans. 

I don't think the main games were as bad since they still kept it mostly balanced (even the Heroes scene didn't lead to much outside of Sonic running away & Knuckles busting his chops for it), but a lot of the side media during that time did help create the perception of "tsundere Amy," at least imo.

Which is funny, since the more recent side media like IDW & post-reboot Archie has handled Amy & Sonic's dynamic the best, with her "flirting" being more playful again.

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21 minutes ago, Dr. Mechano said:

SA1 is pretty tame as the series goes.

Other appearances in the 00s sometimes verged on "date me or I will hurt you" territory.

See the Heroes example above, as well as the end of Sonic Rush:

image.png.b73d9589f3fbea28ed42d0a8c9df77a8.png

There was a brief period of time when Sonic Team teetered on the brink between "fangirl Amy" and full-blown "yandere Amy." I feel like this was pushing things a bit far.

Of course, they've definitely reversed course since then - arguably so much so that Amy's crush is barely even acknowledged at all in recent games - which I'm not entirely sure how to feel about.

On the one hand, I think it's good to not solely define Amy by her crush on Sonic. On the other hand, I don't feel like they've replaced the Sonic crush with much of a character beyond that. She's just kind of become another straight-laced generic hero character without much in the way of unique personality quirks. Try to describe Amy's character in Sonic Forces, because I can't. All she really did was spout exposition over the radio, and I feel like if you swapped her lines with anyone else's they'd work just as well.

To be honest, I wish they'd just go and accept that not everyone is going to like every character and that's ok. You've gone on record saying you don't like Shadow at all, and there are plenty of other people who don't like him or Amy, but it hasn't really damaged their placing in the series all that much before. 

Except in trying to address those complaints, they've arguably changed what made the characters even likable to begin with. So now, as opposed to Amy's characterization being somewhat polarizing, now she just...exists and nobody cares about her. What an improvement....

 

 

It's one of those cases where I get the logic and reasoning, but nobody on the staff really cared to address the actual problem and just took out all of the stuff people complained about and called it a day. 

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Dr. Mechano
2 minutes ago, Kuzu said:

Except in trying to address those complaints, they've arguably changed what made the characters even likable to begin with. So now, as opposed to Amy's characterization being somewhat polarizing, now she just...exists and nobody cares about her. What an improvement....

I still think giving her other interests besides Sonic is ultimately a good thing.

The problem is that they didn't do that. They downplayed the crush but didn't fill the resulting space with much of anything else. The crush-downplaying itself is not the problem, and I'd argue could be really great for her character if done well.

But yeah, as it stands, they turned a largely one-note character into a no-note character.

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For better or worse, Amy was designed as a sort of love-interest for Sonic, downplaying her feelings for him runs counterintuitive to that. 

 

A good comparison is Ms. Tifa Lockhart and Aerith Gainsborough from Final Fantasy 7; original game they're more or less just there to fawn over the hero Cloud (and die in the latter's case) and not much else. Final Fantasy 7 remake keep their feelings for Cloud in tact, but add more traits on top of that, including striking up a friendship with each other

That's what you do; you just build on what's there. I hate how this series operates when it comes to that. 

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40 minutes ago, Dr. Mechano said:

I still think giving her other interests besides Sonic is ultimately a good thing.

The problem is that they didn't do that. They downplayed the crush but didn't fill the resulting space with much of anything else. The crush-downplaying itself is not the problem, and I'd argue could be really great for her character if done well.

But yeah, as it stands, they turned a largely one-note character into a no-note character.

They had the whole thing of her being into mysticism and fortune telling and just never did anything with it, coulda been a good choice to build on her. I always kinda linked that as the reason why she can make a hammer poof out of nowhere. A "reckless magic hobbyists" is a cute idea to me.

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Dr. Mechano
14 minutes ago, Kuzu said:

For better or worse, Amy was designed as a sort of love-interest for Sonic, downplaying her feelings for him runs counterintuitive to that. 

I mean "downplay" in the sense that she's not utterly defined by it, but it's still there.

What does Amy like to do, purely for her own sake? We've seen little bits and pieces in the series at various times - tarot card-reading, boxercise, etc. But these tend to pop up in one game and rarely get referenced again.

The Sonic crush is fine. Giving her more dimension beyond that - and focusing less on the crush while still allowing it to exist on some level - is also fine, and I don't think it runs counterintuitive to her character.

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Kaotic Kanine
17 hours ago, Dr. Mechano said:

I mean, it is wrong.

Amy's pursuit of Sonic is never framed as a good or acceptable thing. Sonic consistently finds it annoying and burdensome. I don't think the games ever framed Amy's obsessive crush as okay. It's a character flaw, and handled properly, that's fine.

Obviously some games are hit with this harder than others. Some games depict it as a lighthearted precocious crush, while others - like Sonic Heroes - go so far as to have a boss fight that begins with Amy declaring "There's no way out of marrying me" and ends with either Amy or Sonic throwing the other off a building.

I've said it a thousand times already, I'll say it a thousand times more: can we stop insisting Sonic Heroes was one of the worst portrayals of Amy, strictly because of that one stupid cutscene?

Heroes accentuated Amy's open crush on Sonic more than both Adventure games did but outside of that one cutscene it wasn't even remotely bad. Sonic was a motivation for Amy in Heroes, but the prime objective for her was finding Chocola and Froggy for her new friends and sought out Sonic in the beginning because he was implicated in their disappearance. After it became clear he had nothing to do with Chocola and Froggy, Amy shifted focus on finding those two with impressing Sonic (via defeating Eggman) being a bonus. And need I remind y'all that the one cutscene everyone keeps harping on is one of the four "team boss battles", in which all involved characters act OOC and overly hostile to facilitate the following boss fight (which indeed involves the two teams throwing the other off a building/into jungle water). Team Dark and Chaotix's equivalent cutscene has Rouge get insanely aggressive with and attack Team Chaotix for no reason. Chaotix vs Rose would see Espio threatening Cream to hand over Cheese, to which Cream became uncharacteristically violent towards the three. And Team Sonic vs Dark has Sonic call Shadow "stubborn and full of surprises" and then attack Shadow because "Hey! That's my line!". I really don't understand why Amy is singled out by everyone (including Ian Flynn himself) for her dialogue/actions in 'Team Sonic vs Rose' when it's no worse than Rouge, Espio, and Sonic's own dialogue/actions in their respective "team boss battle cutscenes". If you want to cite a game that had Amy at her very worst, point fingers at Battle or Rush! Heroes did Amy good outside of that single cutscene, which is part of a group of cutscenes that had everyone act like assholes. 

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CrownSlayer’s Shadow
1 hour ago, Kaotic Kanine said:

I've said it a thousand times already, I'll say it a thousand times more: can we stop insisting Sonic Heroes was one of the worst portrayals of Amy, strictly because of that one stupid cutscene?

You’re gonna have as much luck with that as getting people to stop bashing Sally Acorn for “The Slap.”

 

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E-122-Psi
1 hour ago, CrownSlayer’s Shadow said:

You’re gonna have as much luck with that as getting people to stop bashing Sally Acorn for “The Slap.”

 

I feel there were FAR worse portrayals of both characters in that regard.

Concerning Amy, yeah Heroes was mostly good besides that one jerkass ball EVERYONE committed, though it does probably count as franchise original sin, with tons of other works flanderizing that quirk on that note. The Dimps games, Sonic X, even Flynn kept up 'psycho temper' Amy for a long while in Archie, something that wasn't even that prevalent in that moment in Heroes, which came off more like a playful spar provoked by her being clingy (compare to Rouge who just randomly goes into 'shoot on sight' mode when the Chaotix appear).

Granted I do think that while Heroes was mostly a good compromise of Amy's bubbly childishness while still becoming more of a leader, take charge type in her own right, it still shown a bit of a problem with her. Cream and Big had personal quests, but without her crush on Sonic, Amy was just kinda there for the ride helping out, sure she could lead, but she lacked the same personal investment. I think that's why the crush on Sonic still ended up seeming like a crutch for her, since, as mentioned, there isn't as much of a long term personal 'drive' for her besides it.

Boom did TRY with Amy, giving her more entrepreneur or 'team mom' traits and still keeping her energy and occasional temper there as moderated vices, being the 'everygirl' of sorts in role, she does work best in more 'slice of life' roles, but of course there's only so many of those you can put in the action packed games.

Granted she's arguably still better than a lot of other characters that are just 'hero agency' in terms of drive.

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Amy already had a lot comparative of shine as far as personal moment in the first couple of 3D games. I think it's fine if she's just a good friend that's propping up Cream sometimes. Might be a good avenue to give Cream more to do.

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Dr. Mechano
1 hour ago, CrownSlayer’s Shadow said:

You’re gonna have as much luck with that as getting people to stop bashing Sally Acorn for “The Slap.”

That was legitimately awful though.

Heck, the dialogue following that isn't much better. "What's more important to you, fighting Robotnik, or being with me?"

Everything about that entire situation was terrible. Hitting your significant other and then justifying it by lamenting that they'd dare find something in their life more important than "being with you" is unambiguously abusive behavior.

We can argue that it doesn't make Sally an irredeemable character, or that Ken Penders was mishandling her, or that Ian Flynn redeemed the character by writing her better later on, or a number of other things. That's fine and totally valid. But that moment was indeed awful and Sally should be viewed as being in the wrong there.

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Ya know, thinking about the slap again makes me thinkSally's attitude is eerily similar to the Amber and Teela's attitudes in Invincible and the new He-man series respectively.

Won't dive into spoilers, but the gist of it is that all three situations have the female love interest lash out because of their own personal feelings about their SO's heroic exploits. 

 

Like, I know the writers were attempting, but there's no way anybody is gonna sympathize with that attitude versus saving the world and it was a bad move to weight those things.

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Dr. Mechano
6 minutes ago, Kuzu said:

Ya know, thinking about the slap again makes me thinkSally's attitude is eerily similar to the Amber and Teela's attitudes in Invincible and the new He-man series respectively.

I'm only familiar with Amber, but (incoming Invincible spoilers)

Spoiler

at the very least, she never hit Mark. She only broke up with him, which - I mean - is fine.

You don't need a "good reason" to end a relationship, other than you no longer being happy with the other person. Even if I don't think Mark was really in the wrong for keeping his identity a secret, and I also feel like Amber was a little too harsh with him, I don't think breaking up with him itself can really be called "wrong."

People fall out of love all the time, and always have the right to opt out of a romantic relationship at any moment for any reason.

Sally's infamous slap scene is different, I think, because she physically attacks her significant other and then justifies it by citing Sonic caring about something else (in this case saving the world) more than "being with her," which is just despicable.

 

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