Friday, July 24, 2009

I Love Cortana (Halo)

Alright, the following was originally written for Halopedia, and describes things that were relevant to the Halopedia community at the time I wrote it. Because it deals mainly with the Halopedia community, I wasn’t going to post here. However, I see through Site Meter that I’m getting a lot of hits from people looking for material in which Cortana is sexually objectified due to my perhaps badly named blog post speculating on AI gender. I therefore am posting this article because it contains a response to such people that I consider relevant to Going Rampant.
Since the introduction of the new features, we have had a grand influx of new members. While most have been pleasant new additions to Halopedia, with greater numbers came a greater number of unruly members. Vandals are fairly easy to revert and ban, but the worse problem has come from users who behave in a hostile or disrespectful fashion while simultaneously believing that their behavior is sound for the community.
My main problem lies with self-described ‘Cortana lovers.’ Normally, I would think “Why would love be a bad thing?” However, most of these people have proven themselves to be more ‘Cortana lusters’ than ‘lovers’, and have posted a variety of blogs, quizzes, and images that illustrate extreme disrespect toward Cortana as anything other than a sex object.
I love Cortana. I would not say that I am in love with her, but I have emotional attachment to the character. I read through the novels, and visualize myself in the position of the character from which the point of view is written. At times I have ‘been’ both Dr. Catherine Halsey and Cortana.
Cortana is a posthuman. That is, she is, for all intents and purposes, formally human. Halsey had her brain copied, including all of her memories, and Cortana was built from the copy. Cortana possesses all of Halsey’s memories up to that point, and is a continuation of her at that state just as much as Halsey’s current body is a continuation of herself at that point.
So when the story is from her perspective, I try to imagine what that would be like. I think about how glorious it must feel to have ascended to such a state. Though she is incorporeal, she has access to all the wisdom of humanity, a large network of sensors with which she can examine the world, is free to enjoy or disable her normal emotions, and has seven years to contemplate the meaning of life. She is, age-limit notwithstanding, a superior being of pure intellect.
Cortana damn well knows it too, giving her a snarky personality Halsey once suppressed. In her new, powerful state, Cortana takes on several qualities that she was unable to as Halsey, either for social or physical reasons. For an avatar, she appears in an idealized female form, one that can easily be seen as erotic to those attracted to females.
However, as an incorporeal being, Cortana herself is removed from sexuality. Though she may feel some form of sexual attraction as an artifact from her Halsey memories, it would be mostly meaningless to a person who has ascended past physical form. Her avatar is, in the end, just colored light, and cannot be ‘interfaced with.’
Love, on the other hand, is the method in which Cortana expresses her affection. While lust and love are often partners, and I suppose some people have found them indistinguishable, they are two separate and different subjects. Lust is pure sexual attraction, while love is an adoration and devotion to another person. As a human, Halsey felt affection to the boy John-117 that turned into sexual attraction as he aged into a man. As a posthuman, Cortana is privy to all Halsey felt, but is dominated by pure emotional love for her Spartan partner.
This is a good, solid character. I feel I can reasonably get inside her head/matrices. So when people treat her as a sex object, I get more than a little irked.
I’m not exactly a censorship fiend; I think Cortana’s avatar’s sexual attractiveness can be described tastefully. However, there is most definitely a trend to depict her in a sexually submissive role with overblown features, as a moe moe fantasy from which heterosexual males can take voyeuristic glee. People who declare their love for Cortana often are quick to turn around and show that their supposed ‘love’ is nothing but lust, and with a certain lack of respect.
I have seen a poll questioning what the reader would like to do with Cortana, where the reader is encouraged to pick a sexual activity, the only outs being to either kill her or state her unattractiveness. There are more that stress her sexual attractiveness as her most valuable characteristic and may very possibly promote rape or other sexual violence. What I find worst is that the people that post this perverted rubbish do so believing it be perfectly acceptable in our community.
Granted, gaming communities do tend to get pretty vulgar, so I can somewhat understand where this is coming from. However, I cannot stress enough that Halopedia should be a place where people are respected regardless of what gender they may be. Contrary to popular belief, female gamers do exist and there are a fair number of female Halopedians too.
To the people I’m criticizing: Please understand that by making sexist and/or violent content, you are making this an unfriendly environment for our female members. Besides simple politeness being disregarded, there is also a disregard for human life. Sure Cortana is just a fictional character, but when the character is played with in a fantasy in which she is presented as a person but treated as a pet within it, certain unhealthy implications are created that are unwelcome in our friendly environment.
To a lesser extent, it is also frowned upon when terms like ‘noob’ and ‘gay’ are used for insults. ‘Noob’ is a corruption of ‘newbie’, meaning new person, and has come to be used as an insult applicable in almost any circumstance. Likewise ‘gay’, technically meaning ‘joyful’ though its usage as slang for ‘homosexual’ has widespread dominance, has come to be used as an adjective meaning ‘stupid’ or ‘lame’. Halopedia has a diverse community, one with a steadily growing quantity of members, at least a small percentage of them gay.
In conclusion, I feel that many of the people who declare their love for Cortana are not expressing ‘love’ as I define the term. I believe love is a special emotion in which adoration and respect are felt toward another human sapient being, and should not be confused with simple lust. I love Cortana as much as I love John-117, the Arbiter, and all the others. Their fictional personalities exist in my consciousness and I respect them as the people they are portrayed to be, as far as that goes with fictional characters. I feel that when they are disrespected by people who bring them to life in fantasies, it says something about how that person might treat real people in real life, and is wholly inappropriate for Halopedia.
Halopedia has a diverse community of users. These users are composed of a variety of races, genders, sexual orientations, nationalities, religious beliefs, political beliefs, and zodiac signs. None of them should feel alienated. Please help keep Halopedia a friendly environment where users can bond in their respective love for Halo by discouraging the creation of such disrespectful content and reporting existing instances to the administration.

1 comment:

Ryan Smee said...

Dude U total Speak the truth. I Love Halo For its game play and story line (i have read the books and played the games) And i hate how people take abuse of ALL the female people in the series. i wish there was a way to stop all those pervs who treat the female halo characters as whores and sluts, i once googled cortana to get a picture for a poster i was making and it came p with thousands of pervd pics and then on the web option loads of pervd sites.