Domain Query: HALO 4 and the Red Pill

A drive-by commenter had a few questions about my post on dual-wielding:
I don't necessarily disagree, but were I to make the same argument, I don't think I'd pick as my primary example, games where the dual-wielder in question is an explicitly superhuman cyborg supersoldier/demi-god with an equally hax AI in his brain... ;-) That said, I'm curious to know more of what you thought of Halo 4 (as you seem to have enjoyed it) from a "Red Pill" perspective, or whatever. I haven't played it, and likely won't, being a PC-only sort of gamer, but from what I can gather, it seems a bit Feminist-slanted, what with the new UNSC SPARTAN chief being a woman, and the Librarian manipulating everything, and Catherine Halsey being her usual self.
Now normally I would not bother publishing an anonymous comment, let alone actually responding to one. However, this one addresses two of my favourite subjects, and given that this blog is explicitly about HALO and the Red Pill (at least in part), it seems apt and apposite to address these questions.

(Note to whoever asked these questions- blog policy is very simple. No anonymous comments. Post under some sort of name next time and you'll likely get a much quicker answer.)

There is no question that the Master Chief is a badass among badasses. I revere the Master Chief above all other pop-culture icons of masculine strength and heroism- even Batman. Of course, having a very hot and semi-insane naked blue chick inside his head all the time, who is possibly even better at blowing stuff up than he is, certainly helps. That said, the relationship between the Master Chief and Cortana, as portrayed throughout HALO 4, humanised the SPARTAN in a way that the novels and graphic novels simply couldn't. Watching Cortana's rampancy and eventual death through the eyes of the Master Chief, as he fights ceaselessly and, at times seemingly hopelessly, against the awesome powers of the Ur-Didact, is very poignant indeed for any longtime fan of the series. When you get to the end of the game and watch Cortana dissipate away into the aether, you do feel a real sense of loss, as if you've said goodbye to a dear friend. And that, ultimately, is precisely the point.

As for the feminist leanings in the HALOverse, well, I can only agree about that. There is no question that Bungie originally made the HALOverse very politically correct in their own way- hell, they even renamed the Arbiter to avoid offending Muslims. (This was a pointless exercise, as Muslims have a very irritating tendency to be offended at anything that they perceive as "un-Islamic"- i.e. everything.) The HALO universe today is one populated by female marines- a laughable concept on its face, given the news we had recently about female grunts in the modern-day USMC. There are also female ODSTs- again, absurd for exactly the same reason. And now we also have female SPARTAN-IIs, SPARTAN-IIIs, and SPARTAN-IVs. Commander Sarah Palmer, who leads the UNSC Infinity's contingent of SPARTAN supersoldiers, is a combination of all three- a female marine, then a female ODST, and finally a candidate for the SPARTAN-IV programme. Add to that the fact that the head of the Office of Naval Intelligence is a woman- and a very, very scary one at that- who passes on her role to her protege, a former SPARTAN-II washout named Serin Osman, and you have quite a lot of estrogen in the mix already. And that's not even counting Catherine Halsey and the Librarian.

When all is said and done, the reason I still love HALO despite all of this feminine wishy-washiness (read the novel HALO: Ghosts of Onyx, where Halsey effectively kidnaps a SPARTAN-II for sentimental reasons of her own to see what I mean) is because it is still a very masculine universe which represents very masculine ideals. The Master Chief embodies the very traits and virtues that every deep introvert should aspire to show: courage, honour, compassion, extraordinary martial prowess, absolute and unbreakable loyalty to his in-group, and a will of iron. The "strong, silent type" of protagonist that serves as the player's avatar throughout all of the HALO games- Noble 6 in HALO: Reach, the Rookiee in HALO 3: ODST, and the Master Chief in the rest- is an exemplar of explicitly masculine virtues and strengths. And long may this remain the case.

As for HALO 4, all I can say is that I loved the game, even leaving aside some of its questionable angsty moments and some of the more confusing plot twists. I really came to love it after I finished reading the Forerunner Trilogy by Greg Bear, because only then did the plot really make any sense, but the gameplay, graphics, and voice acting were all enough to make the game a tremendously enjoyable experience for me. Despite the clearly politically correct approach that Microsoft has also taken with the series- unsurprising, given that it's freakin' Microsoft in question here- it's still the most enjoyable sci-fi universe out there by miles, and that includes the Warhammer 40K universe.


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