The plight of Keith in Far Cry 3

What lurks beneath...

What lurks beneath…

There will be spoilers in this post about Far Cry 3, so if you don’t want anything from the story ruined – please stop reading this post.

Yesterday, I played through a good chunk of the main campaign in Far Cry 3‘s story mode. This included when Jason finally rescues Keith from Buck. Now, I’m not the first person to write about this, but I have spent the past day thinking over what happened to Keith and the game’s portrayal of his alluded to rape.

Joseph Bernstein (in that last link) ponders why Keith’s rape has such a limited depiction in the game and compares it to similar events in the film Pulp Fiction. I agree with Joseph (and John Walker over on RPS) that the way Keith’s abuse is handled does come across as short and there for just hitting a “beat”, but only to a degree.

But I’m not sure if the game could have handled the matter any better under the narrative constraints it places itself under: mainly being a first-person-shooter that is from a single character’s viewpoint. In order for the matter to have been given a thorough examination, it would have had to have come from the character we play as – Jason – and his friends, family and himself have already been through so much that I’m not entirely sure Jason had capacity left to care or to show emotion regarding what happened to Keith.

By the time Jason rescues Keith, it’s been made apparent that Jason has become increasingly distant from the friends and family he had been on holiday with. This detachment is quite clear from his treatment of Liza, which by this point has become quite hostile.

Keith.

Keith.

Should Keith’s plight have been different in the game? I don’t think it necessarily should have been a different scenario and I don’t think they should have gone into further depth on the matter, because it wouldn’t have worked from within the constraints the game is set-up in. The closest we could have gone with the style of narrative that is attached to Jason is he’d have hallucinated what Keith had implied or had witnessed it himself – but I don’t think depicting the act itself would have been any more respectful.

Okay, Keith’s character could have tried talking about it to Jason, but Keith choosing not to and wanting to ignore it is a cruel and realistic depiction of our own reality, where male rape victims are even less vocal than their female counterparts. And while this is a norm that nobody wants to continue, there are many other normalised beliefs, characterisations (not too keen on the depiction of the indigenous peoples) and behaviours in the game that are also undesirable and are present.

Then there’s the accusations that Keith is a throwaway character anyway. But the same could have been said with most of those who had originally been close to Jason before the game’s main events. It’s not even particularly clear how strong Jason’s relationship was with Liza prior to them being taken hostage, for instance.

One thing is clear though – the disjointed and shocked feeling that people have felt from the revelations of Keith’s plight shows at least a redeeming quality to the scenario – you paid attention, you noticed. That’s more than can be said for the plight of the hundreds of thousands of rape victims the world over, each year.

To be honest, I don’t believe there’s any respectful way to depict the rape of men or women – because each experience is horrifically unique. But a dialogue needs to start somewhere and what happened to Keith is perhaps one of those somewheres.

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