Saturday, 7 February 2015

Resident Evil: Unmasking 'clean' modern warfare

Of course, a gigantic mutant infected with a tentacled parasite or a viciously effective virus is not instantly comparable to the intense occupation and warring associated with modern warfare and the nations it is most stereotyped with, but this picture can be seen as simply a blown up, over the top representation of, say, the brutal military campaigns and the results of constant drone bombing in the Middle East, or even the violent internal conflicts associated with certain areas in locations such as Africa.
The roots of this representation in Resident Evil 1 and some of its successors as being in America, I hope are a bit obvious, and if anything rely on a trope used again and again in zombie fiction; a government funded research institution somehow manages to leak a virus theyve been working on into the surrounding populace, the unfortunate fictional location of Raccoon city. The trope of an outbreak is played on often enough in the vast resident evil franchise, spanning many spin-offs attached to the series, as well as a terrible series of films.
Its when the bio-weapons are controlled it gets really interesting, especially in regards to foreign policy in a contemporary global context. In this fictional world, all manner of conflicts use bio-weaponry. Asides from simply warning against the very real threat of weaponized infection, this unreal look at bio-weaponry can instead be considered to represent the very onslaught of war itself.
Theres a strange generalisation with modern warfare that it is in some way clean. It is seen (mostly because of an external, removed viewpoint) as being a series of paperwork signed or unsigned, mistakenly signed; its a process from a book, even if mistakes are made. This covers up a great reality of bloodshed and trauma, with a much higher loss of civilian life than was typical of wars in an older era.
Within the fictional world, the weapons used are themselves objects of extreme horror; zombies for one thing, but bloody, flesh eating mutants with an appearance and behaviour entirely inhuman, and even sometimes grossly distorted and mutated animals. The results of the infection, as well as the infections themselves, target anyone regardless of position as soldier or civilian, representing the very real risk to civilian life that modern warfare poses, increasingly apparent after numerous atrocities and genocides that have occurred, made all the more horrific with the proficiency of automatic weaponry. This depiction of dead civilians as not dead civilians but ‘zombies reflects the barely considered brushing over in media of civilian deaths in warfare; they become Victims with a capital ‘V, not humans.
The carefully chosen warzones within the franchise reflect a desire to show the horrific occurrences of the games as part of the modern environment; there are numerous ‘Bio-terrorist attacks, extremely relevant in an age that has seen the rise and fall of IRA bombings in Britain, and the increasing of the suicide-bomber phenomenon, such as in the 9/11 attacks in New York City, and the increase of activity by the Islamic State, drawing on recruits the world over. As well as acknowledging modern terrorism, there are outbreaks of weaponized infection in Eastern Europe, among conflicts in the fictional Edonian and Eastern Slav Republics, reflecting the horrific genocidal conflict between Bosnia and Serbia, and the eventual collapse of Yugoslavia. Further outbreak in a fictitious African nation named the ‘Kijuju autonomous zone emulate the violence and, again, genocide of conflicts within nations of Africa, usually civil wars, including in the Congo, the Rwandan civil war and following genocide of the 90s, the Angolan war, conflict in Liberia, the Sierra Leone civil war (also of the 90s) and the very recent horrors commited by the unofficially named Boko Haram in Nigeria. The very nature of weapon trade from the U.S.A to other nations is represented, with the fictional nation of Bajirib, supposedly in South America attempting to negotiate the acquisition of the T-virus. This seedy dealing reflects Americas foul part in giving weapons and funding to various groups across South America (and the world) including Cuba, Nicaragua, Chile for their own eventual gain.

Although warfare in the modern world is not as strange and grotesque as the unique, bloodthirsty infections and creatures of the resident evil series, it is in no way clean or ‘by the book. War is war, plain and simple; it is bloodshed, murder, disfiguration and manipulation. There can be no crime within war, because war by its very terrifying nature is a huge crime; the worlds worst wound, as Siegfried Sassoon claimed WWI to be.

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