I finished Deus Ex: Mankind Divided a few days ago, and if you don’t have it, I highly recommend it. But I’m not here to talk at length about how awesome the game is. No, today’s topic is about the discrimination in fiction that is known as “Fantastic Racism”.
Fantastic Racism is where instead of real world discrimination, other fantasy (hence the name) groups are used in place of real world groups. The only exception that comes to mind would be discrimination given and received by humans. In this case, I always wondered about the tendency of humans to be presented as the “right” group. Well I do know, and it probably has to do with how, as far as we know, all writers are human, and we humans like to shill ourselves.
But enough of that. The racism seen in Mankind Divided has many, MANY parallels to the real world, in some ways that may not be readily apparent for some. The marginalized group in this case would be those who have been mechanically enhanced, or augmented. I am not going to go into too much detail, but there are many cases of segregation, unfair treatment by the police, and stereotypes put in place. One might begin to wonder how augmented people could be oppressed considering that they are, you know, enhanced and would probably have little problem turning the tables. And when one begins to think like this, the biggest problem of this trope begins to show.
Some writers don’t want to spark controversy (though I don’t see why pointing things out are controversial), so instead, they use allegory to show what their thought are. This is not always the case, but it seems that it is the main reason. Because of this skirting around, the message that the writer was trying to spread will come across as being shallow for some, especially for the more cynical of people. And they aren’t entirely wrong either.
People have pointed out that the augmented chose to be that way, and that one would have to be wealthy to afford them. Having played the previous game, Human Revolution, I know that the thoughts are not true for everyone, but it is easy to make that generalization just from a glance. In fact, it is easy to make the conclusion that creating parallels between a fantasy world and the real world is doomed to failure since the circumstances will most likely be different somehow, as some would say the case is for a famous example, the X-Men.
I personally have mixed feelings toward this trope. The more cynical side of me gets annoyed when writers don’t just stop trying to be dodgy, and address what they want to talk about more directly. But in the right hands, this trope can be used to examinr the ongoings of the real world. In the end, it is about juggling between fantasy and reality.