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Beltway Confidential

Is there racism and sexism in 'Angry Birds'?

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Beltway Confidential,Ashe Schow,Race and Diversity,Gender Issues

Galen Ciscell, visiting assistant professor of sociology at Pacific Lutheran University, sure thinks so.

Not only does he have the time to play the popular game Angry Birds, but he has the time to find issues of race and gender as well.

It seems that in the "Star Wars" versions of the game, birds that represent white, male characters in the movies appear as yellow, red, or tan.

But, gasp, black male characters in the movies (such as Mace Windu or Captain Panaka), are represented by brown birds.

On top of that, the two female characters in the game are both portrayed as pink birds.

Go ahead and punch something, I know this probably infuriates you. I’ll wait.

Are you back? Good, let’s continue.

Ciscell’s reasoning behind this blatant racism and sexism is that, for white males, the color of the bird doesn’t matter, but for blacks and women, it does.

“Well, for white, male 'Star Wars' characters, skin color is unimportant; white characters can be represented by a bird of any color. It is the costuming or props used by these birds that convey the essence of the character,” Ciscell said. “But for black 'Star Wars' characters, their skin color (brown) becomes the defining element conveying the essence of the character.”

Ciscell comes to the same conclusion for female characters.

“Again, the color of the bird is unimportant, unless the bird is female, in which case the character’s gender (denoted by its pinkness) becomes the essential element of that character,” Ciscell said.

As a woman, this doesn't offend me. Mostly because I don't get offended over trivial things, but also because they're freakin' birds. I guess a better choice for Mace Windu would have been to make the bird purple, since the character and Samuel L. Jackson, the actor who plays him, are well known for liking that color.

What Ciscell pointed out about the color of the birds is a fact. Yes, the two black male characters are represented by brown birds, and the two female characters are represented by pink birds, but does that really show a bias?

Has society become so entrenched in the need to find bias that it can no longer enjoy a children’s game without finding a hidden message?

Note: Ciscell is a self-described avid gamer and has even designed a board game called Atlantis Rising, which looks pretty cool.

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Author:

Ashe Schow

Commentary Writer
The Washington Examiner