Spoilers for Red Dead Redemption 2 and the story about Boy Calloway and the author
Game….I got thoughts.
Not white hot rage thoughts. Confusion. Mild annoyance. Thoughts.
So killed Calloway. I rather liked the bit on the river boat. “You have to prove something…to you!” Then my heart sank cuz there’s another city? Amesbury or whatever? WHAT? Anyway, did all that. And there were themes! Discussable themes! Being free from truth to be able to write “real westerns?” The fact that there will always be gunslingers as “there will always be someone who’ll shoot you in the back and rewrite history?” Thing was brimming with themes! Good themes! It was really, really good!
It’s not what it had that is filling me with confusion. It’s what it didn’t have:
Not a mention. Not a nod. Not an allusion. Nothing.
And that confuses me.
This was a great quest. This quest had more themes in it, more good narrative, than whole games we’ve played. Within this very well written quest appeared one of the best characters in the game. And when it’s all wrapped up she’s forgotten? Really? That seems like awfully lazy writing in a quest characterized by fantastic writing.
Are they making a point that even awesome women get ignored by men who write the “real stories?” Maybe? I don’t know! Ergo, confusion.
I’m holding out hope that this means she’ll show up later and be awesome.
I’ll tell you what I want to see. It’ll never happen, but dreaming is something to cling to. I want Belle to meet Sadie, and ask her to take over being Black Belle, like the dread pirate Robert in The Princess Bride. Teach her to wear the widow’s weeds (see?) and become the terrifying outlaw Black Belle for a new generation. Then I want to play that, as a whole game, as Sadie.
Make it happen, Rock Star. I’ll press X to preorder. Even Femmy would play that.
But as that hasn’t happened, confusion.
We’ll talk on the themes that are already there, too. But first, confusion must clear.
The mild annoyance, too. That stems from the fact this game, once again, has urged me to do a quest at this moment that, when it ended, plopped me pretty much as far away from the next thing as I can possibly be. Where the fuck am I? I’m way up north by a weird town with nothing in it. Dutch is…..WAAAAAAAAAAAAY down there.
Game? That’s mildly annoying.
At least I found an abandoned house with a map in the chimney. That’s something. Right?
OMG I would preorder that so hard! The only concern is that we and the game have spent all this time talking about how this is the end of the era of outlaws in the west and so forth, so I’m not sure exactly what they’d DO. Watch the very, very end of that era and write their memoirs? Or spend all their time trying to think of new ways to make money…new, modern scams? Hm.
I would still play it, though.
And you’re right, the conspicuous absence of any mention of Black Belle is…interesting. As you say, it could be a very telling example (whether planned that way or not) of how women’s stories tend to be forgotten. Not even maliciously or intentionally, they just…don’t occur to the person writing the history as interesting. EVEN THOUGH that person had her on his list of famous gunslingers at the beginning–it was his idea to look for her! And EVEN THOUGH she was the only one on that list who was still alive when Arthur left them! You’d think that would be interesting! But no. She somehow just slipped everyone’s minds.
Maybe she used a Jedi mind trick. I would also probably play a game where it turned out Black Belle was a Jedi, although the collision of those two genres would potentially be messy.
Anyway. That aside, I agree that this was a very interesting quest. Again, those questions of truth and (mostly) lies, and history (mostly made up) and who tells the stories (mostly people who weren’t there). And old grudges, and how those can poison someone’s whole life. I felt pretty bad about the Marshall. He seemed semi-decent, and to have actually put the old grudges behind him and moved on with his life, in a laudable fashion. Boy Calloway being unable to similarly let it go, and shooting him in the back…damn. The grudge turned him into the lowest of the low: no longer a brave, daring gunslinger, just a coward who’d shoot a man in the back.
Again, holding onto the past is seen to be unhealthy and a bad choice.
I’d play that in a second. But really, one of the rather odd things about this game that I’m sure millions of other people understand is that, yes, it talks so much about being the end of an era yet is it a PREQUEL. So I guess the whole era lasted long enough for at least one more long assed game. We could do the Black Belle stuff concurrent with that, time wise! Works fine!
Make it happen, Rockstar!
Yes! It wasn’t as if Arthur stumbled upon her and was all “Hey, she’s a gunslinger, too!”
You think it really WAS a bunch of male writers at rockstar who really did forget to put her in? Life imitating art? I dunno, man. These guys seem pretty careful.
Holding onto the past is a bad choice, or, and this is something that could be argued the writer, or we all, are doing: Trying to fix it. Yes, the grudge turned him into a coward who shot a man in the back, but what killed him was trying to correct that, trying to become a daring gunslinger again. He knew he had become a coward. He was crying about it. His reaction was to turn to Arthur and say “Fight me!” Arthur all “Why? No.” The only reason was that Calloway wanted to fix his mistake and, oddly, he did. By dying right there, right then, his story is going to be that he shot the Marshall in a fair duel, and was shot in the back himself by the Marshall. Right?
Now I’m driving myself in circles. Did he get what he wanted? Did he “fix” the past? Or did his trying to fix the past turn out to be a stupid decision that got him killed? Or both? Both, maybe.
And yet, so many of the stories we tell, about ourselves and others, are really about fixing things, editing the parts of the story of life that don’t quite fit, that don’t quite sit right. It’s more than just making them more exciting, making people more eager to hear them. It’s about making them stories that we want to hear, period. After all, the guy didn’t say “Now I get to write really cool stories.” He said “Now I get to write REAL Westerns,” emphasis mine. Now REALITY is up to him.
Maybe that’s why we didn’t see Belle. Belle, in her way, got to tell her own story on her own terms. She didn’t need any embellishment at all, cuz she was super cool. She even had her character down pat, right to the costume. And yes, she lived. She was able to keep writing her own story, her way, with no pesky details to edit and correct.
That’s a good point–it is a prequel! So yeah, Black Belle and Sadie can totally have an entire long-ass game that runs concurrently with Red Dead 1. I’m into it.
DO IT ROCKSTAR. DO IT NOW.
It’s a good point, as well, that much of telling stories is ‘fixing’ them–if not through actively trying to make a specific person look ‘good’ (which I agree is what Boy Calloway was after–trying to stay a strong protagonist in his own story), then simply through trying to make them MAKE SENSE. A ‘good story’ is a story that makes sense to us, and telling history is about not just describing things that happened, but trying to explain why: trying to make sense of them. Trying to apply a logical narrative to a bunch of semi-random events that took place.
And I guess Boy Calloway got what he wanted, although he died before he knew about it. He died knowing he was a coward–after the fact the story was changed, and if he were still alive he’d have been happier with the new story, but does that do him a damn bit of good? No.
Maybe that, too, is part of the point of Belle: she’s left out of the ‘official’ story, which means she gets to go do her own thing, and she’s still alive to appreciate whatever she makes of the rest of her tale. Maybe part of the reason the author isn’t interested in her is that she IS still alive, as far as we know, and therefore could still contradict his written interpretation (either literally by showing up to say he was wrong, or simply by living in some way that inconveniently doesn’t fit with what he wrote). It’s great for him that everyone else he was writing about is dead–their stories are now done, and he’s free to tell them however he wants. No wonder he seemed so cheerful about it!
That’s it! We gotta get a petition.
Man, we have such good ideas for games. If only there was a job for coming up with great ideas and then telling other people who know how to make games to make them while we go off and sell candles.
About the gunslinger, I dunno. He knows that Arthur shot him, right? At least for a very small moment?
And that’s exactly why the author was cheerful! Arthur is all “Sorry I killed him…” and the author is all “Sorry? What for? This is great! I’m so happy!”
That said….there should have been some mention of Belle. Would it have been so hard to add a line like “Well, I suppose I’ll have to leave her out because her story is yet to be told” or something? Leaving it completely out so that bloggers can start a lot of sentences with “maybe” isn’t the best way to make this particular point. Or any point, for that matter.
It’s true, being extremely vague is very rarely the best way to make a point about something. I won’t say never!–but rarely.
And in this case, certainly, not saying anything about Belle was not a very good way to make a point about her, unless the point was–as you initially suggested–that women and their stories are often overlooked.
In which case, nice job! I just wonder if they did it on purpose.
It would be a supreme irony if they did this by accident.
But supreme irony has happened before.
I still hope she turns up later.
Yeah. I would absolutely play a game with her and Sadie. Or just her, like we talked about before when she first showed up–a prequel to this prequel.
I haven’t seen or heard of her so far (of course, I never read the newspapers I buy, so I could have missed the front page story of her dramatic death), but you never know. I’m only on chapter 6.
Oh, and I wandered by Valentine last night and ran into those two brothers again and finished (I think) their story. We can talk later if you get around to going back there. Or I’ll just tell you how it ended if you don’t.
Only. Only on chapter six, huh? Only.
And I won’t get there tonight because I’m ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE FUCKING MAP. It’s gonna take me a good hour to get back to Dutch. Or it will feel that way.
Seriously, game. Not cool.
As for the brothers, well, if you wandered back there, I’m sure there was a reason. A reason I will, at some point, get. I’ll check it then.