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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Some minor spoilers for Red Dead Redemption 2

Butch:

Played a little!

Did what I think was your bugged quest. Moonshine? Braithwaites? Raiders? That sort of thing? I’m guessing because I was toodling through it, and got to a point where it said “Go left/go right” and immediately panicked, tried to remember which one you did that bugged it, and froze for, like, thirty seconds wildly thinking. Couldn’t remember, but whatever. No bug.

So the thing that makes me ponder is Dutch’s reaction to the whole situation. Specifically, he said “We have finally found a backwater so backwards that even we are geniuses.”

This game is being HARSH to the whole idea of Lemoyne and the raiders. Now, that could be just lazy because the game needs more Kevin. Racist scumbags who want to bring back slavery are easy Kevin, and games need some degree of Kevin. That said, Lemoyne sure feels symbolic, and, if it is, the game’s judgment of it speaks loudly.

Yes, part of that is that the game, rightly, is denouncing the ideals of the Confederacy in general. That’s easy. But if Lemoyne is a stand in for the south in general, even the modern south, painting it as a backwater filled with stupid people is intentionally playing into a stereotype, and an intentionally judgmental stereotype at that.

I’ve said that the metaphor reads, to me, as Dutch’s gang playing the part of people who (futilely) cling to the present and the Raiders playing the part of people who (futilely) cling to the past. I see no reason to change my mind. But to have one group be so dismissive of the other is saying what? Is it just supposed to be ironic? Are we supposed to think that Dutch’s gang isn’t all that far from idiots who live in backwaters themselves and Dutch fails to realize it? Or are we supposed to think that Dutch’s gang really is a bunch of geniuses compared to the raiders without any irony? Maybe a little of both?

I don’t know. That sure was a loaded line. How’d you read it?

Feminina:

That’s the one! I originally went left and that’s when Dutch and the deputy got stuck starting into space, but it probably wasn’t specifically about one direction. Glad it didn’t show up for you.

The game is extremely harsh toward Lemoyne and the Raiders. Even though, if you listen to their arguments at all, they don’t sound THAT different from Dutch’s own ambitions. Living free from the tyranny of the US government and all.

And yeah, the big difference is that they implicitly want to return to slavery, whereas Dutch’s gang is quite egalitarian, and that is indeed a significant difference, but I’m struck by how oblique it is. I mean, they never SAY anything about that, do they?

Which I guess is fairly representative of the way the whole narrative of “oh it wasn’t about slavery, it was about state’s rights! (to have slavery)” started to take hold almost immediately after the war. Maybe the game is kind of referencing the way history gets rewritten all the time (we’ve certainly seen this before in references to the mythologizing of the West), and reminding us that fancy words can be used to justify a lot of things, including slave holding, so we have to be careful of fancy words…?

Including Dutch’s, to be sure. And maybe there’s a bit there about how you can’t just go by words, you have to look at what people do… Whether that’s fight to uphold slavery, or allow people of all races equitably into your outlaw gang.

As for Dutch’s comment, indeed, interesting. It’s a bit of an acknowledgement (though in a joking manner) that maybe Dutch isn’t quite as smart as he thinks. “Even we” who aren’t that bright, look smart! And yeah, the “backwater” comment makes one think of “backward,” and that connection of people holding onto the past (reaching backward) compared to Dutch’s holding onto the fading present (reaching not quite as far backward, but certainly not forward) is telling.

I think there’s also perhaps a touch of overconfidence… “These people are a bunch of backwater hicks, this will be easy!” Hm. We’ll see whether or not everything goes as smoothly as Dutch expects. I wonder if he’s being overly dismissive of the potential difficulties, just as he apparently tends to be (always optimistically telling people that things are going to be great soon, right after whatever big thing is underway…).

And maybe there’s a subtle bit there about how widespread the stereotypes of southern hicks are, and the problems of judging by stereotypes…hm.

Butch:

Figured. There was a moment of pure bug terror, as I did not have extra time to go back and do it again.

I have not yet heard any implicit references to upholding slavery. Yes, saw Klansmen. The deputy did rather snarkily say that the Braithwaites’ fortunes were reduced by a “change in labor laws,” but no, I have not heard much about slavery.

But then, historically, the lower class Confederates didn’t really fight for slavery per se. Sure, the politicians and the Braithwaites did, but the vast majority of Southerners did not own slaves, and were too poor to ever dream of it. We certainly get the sense that the raiders aren’t the former rich of the south, so maybe they aren’t really about slavery. Still, it’s easy to lump them into “racist scum so Kevin.”

That said, the raiders REALLY aren’t egalitarian. Sure, we get a sense they’re racist and wouldn’t let the likes of Lenny or Charles or Javier join them. But, shit, they don’t like ANYONE. Even Dutch and Arthur! Dutch and Arthur are white, and they don’t exactly go around preaching acceptance as soon as they walk into town. Still, the Raiders make a point of scowling at Arthur all “This is Lemoyne territory” right off the bat. It was hardly “Welcome to white paradise, white brother!”

Dutch has many flaws, to be sure, but ultimately he wants to be left alone. He isn’t actively fighting anything. He isn’t a veteran of a war that he lost. The Raiders are still actively fighting, are veterans of a war they lost. Dutch doesn’t really see “enemies.” The raiders do.

Well, hmm. I take that back. He sees the O’Driscolls as enemies, but that seems far more personal, not so much “I must eradicate this force that is against my way of life.”

Though, what did you make of Arthur’s aside about Dutch not liking Lemoyne because Dutch was “trying to avenge his father” (who I suppose died at Gettysburg, maybe)?

As for his underestimating… Do you know something I don’t?

Feminina:

I know many things you don’t, for I am 45% done. I’ve been places, seen things, done things you can’t imagine. The horror! The horror.

And still only 45%. I’m not sure this game is ever going to end.

Butch:

Nah, it’ll end. I’ve noticed that every time I study something in my vain pursuit of a perfect rabbit I get, like, .2%, which adds up. We never, EVER get close to 100% completion, even in games we adore, so when you figure how much this game has that we will cheerfully either ignore or not give a fuck about (animals, hunting, crafting, legendary animals, cigarette cards, challenges, dinosaur bones of which I have found exactly 0 out of 30), we’ll be WAAAAAY short of 100% completion. I bet, 45%, you’re 3/4 done. Seriously. If you go to “completion,” it even separates out “story” from “overall,” and the percentage on your save is, I think, overall.

And when you figure we’ve only been playing this about six weeks, I figure you have another two, three weeks before the credits roll. Four at the most.

That’ll mean we’ll get through it in half the time it took us to play Divinity. Not that long.

I think it’s kinda Skyrimesque in that you can do a lot of it, and get through the story, in a couple of months, or, if you like, you can play forever, which is why people say it’s so big.

Even though I like it more than you do, I don’t want to play forever.

Feminina:

You think? I feel like every time I complete a yellow or white mission I get about 1%, which adds up but so…slowly….

Of course you’re right, we never get to 100%, so if it finishes the main story at 70% or something… Yeah, I guess.

I have not found any dinosaur bones either. I’d like to help that lady, but…eh. I’ve found about three total cigarette cards. No anything for the taxidermist, nothing for the guy who wants cave paintings, no clues on the serial killer.

I’ve helped the photographer a few more times, because he actually shows up on the map. I mean, I’d be all about finding things for people if there were any indication of where to look, but I’m not going to just roam the range forever waiting to spot something someone wants.

It’s a kindness on the game’s part, really. If all these things were on the map, I would be obsessively hunting them all down, but because they aren’t, my laziness can get the better of my obsessiveness, and I didn’t have to spend an additional six weeks finding mosaic shards or Animus fragments.

Thanks, game! We’ve had our issues, but you did me a solid on this one.

Butch:

Cave paintings? I haven’t even met that dude.

Did find that dream catcher. One of twenty!

So I’ll be nineteen short.

I only find cards by accident. The dude only wants complete sets, and every time I find one it’s a new set. I have one of twelve in maybe ten sets.

Dudes gonna be waiting a while. Like, forever.

I totally forgot about the serial killer.

So see? That percentage is misleading.

Feminina:

Yeah, there’s a guy who wants you to find paintings. Or I guess maybe they’re rock carvings, not cave paintings. Can’t remember. Oh, and a guy who wants you to catch giant fish for him, did you meet him? There are a lot of “finding the thing” quests in here.

I expect I will complete zero of them. So good point, the percentage is misleading. I mean, even if all those find quests are only a percent each, that’s, like 87% of the total!

I jest. But you’re right, it does suggest there’s not THAT much left. I just got to chapter four! That’s got to mean something.

Butch:

Oooo! Chapter four! Am I close?

I met fish guy. I like the idea of a “Legendary Catfish.”

“Son, when I finally catch him, I’m gonna whip up some extra remoulade and we shall eat mightily!”

I’m not catching anything because I’m not schlepping out to the bait store which is in the middle of nowhere just to catch fish. Nope. I can’t catch it with cheese, it ain’t getting caught. Even then, it’s damn unlikely to be caught.

I believe in living free, whether you’re an outlaw or a tasty catfish.

I did, once, try to find a dinosaur bone. I was in this gully, and the dirt was all exposed, and I said “That’s the kind of place that would have dinosaur bones!” I don’t know why I said that, as what the fuck do I know about finding dinosaur bones? So I looked, realized I have no idea what they look like, figured that was in character, and moved on.

Feminina:

Well, you still have a fair amount of stuff to do in Rhodes and the surrounding area, but after that, chapter four!

I would have looked there for dinosaur bones! But I didn’t. Because in-character, what does Arthur know about that?

Moving on makes sense.