So I was watching TMZ Live because it’s not like I have anything better to do and I saw this story. You can read the story at IGN if you click the source. There’s a new videogame called Beyond: Two Souls which I’ve seen advertised on TV (holy shit! I just saw it now while I was typing!) and it actually stars Ellen Page as both the voice and likeness of the character which is kind of rare in videogames but something I think is becoming more common.
They use “performance capture” like in Avatar etc to animate the actors. So they wear the black bodysuit and everything and they animate whatever clothes over the top.
But in a particular scene, they’ve animated no clothes and the digital likeness of Ellen Page is nude in a shower scene. While nothing private should be seen, a hacker was able to change the “camera” angles and see everything. It isn’t actually Ellen Page’s body, it is what an animator imagines it to look like. It might not even have been Ellen Page doing motion capture for her body, maybe just her face but I don’t know.
This isn’t the first time someone has been digitally undressed in this way. Jessica Alba who won’t do nude scenes was digitally made nude, (again in the shower!), in a recent film, (Machete I think but don’t quote me). And Angelina Jolie in Beowulf was just her head on another actress’s body, not strictly speaking nude either because she was covered in like gold paint. And actually the main dude in Beowulf is real old and fat in real life while Beowulf isn’t so that probably wasn’t his body either.
But these things are done with the actors’ knowledge and permission. Being digitally nude is something they agree to as an alternative to being nude in the flesh so to speak. And while in that situation it is an agreeable and preferable option for them, consent to this should not be seen as automatic. As technology advances and we can do this more easily and in better quality, we need to establish what rights someone has to their likeness and how it may appear.
I guess my main thought though is “Why did her character need to take a shower at all?” You know? Free camera angle debug mode wouldn’t capture a nude “performance” if her character was never seen in the shower. Regardless of the camera angles you were supposed to see, shower scenes are designed to titillate. Female characters disproportionately tend to take showers in movies and comics and in such a way that is sexualised. “Oooh, I’ve had such a hard day. I must literally and/or metaphorically wash myself …” and the camera pans up her legs, you get a little sideboob, soapsuds, little rivulets of water run down her decolletage towards … even if you never see them it’s overtly sexual.
I think it’s really sad because the inclusion of the scene in the first place was there for the male gaze. There are still so few games with female protagonists and this one with its Hollywood star cast and TV advertising seemed like one which its publisher was willing to get behind and really support. But the inclusion of scenes like this show that the audience for games like this is still assumed to be overwhelmingly male, or that the male audience requires cheesecake to make up for the gender of the protagonist.