When I was a young boy, I used to look upon “mature” movies with envy. I wanted to be older and feel cool. I wanted to watch the crazy antics of Stallone and 007 and pretend I was a super spy. I yearned for the glitz and glamour of adult life, all without understanding any of the hardships of the world.
To late 90’s me, Duke Nukem gave me the chance to feel older. He was crass, rude, and outlandish. His antics were held back by no one. If you mocked the Duke, he would kick your head in. He even delivered quotes with curse words in a hilarious voice. Playing Duke Nukem 3D when you’re a kid is the purist form of escapism I can imagine. You’re transporting yourself to another realm where life revolves around you. If someone doesn’t agree with your attitude, you blow them up!
Peeling away all the nostalgia reveals that Duke really isn’t the best of role models. He exhibits all the typical patterns of a sociopath and treats others like garbage. Instead of even listening to the women he so gleefully exploits, Duke just has his way and then swears a bit. This isn’t an article dissecting Duke, though. There are plenty of other things written about him to do that. I want to take a look at the follow-up to Duke Nukem. A mysterious, crass, and exceptionally racist man named Lo Wang.
Now, Lo Wang isn’t actually a racist himself; he pretty much is just Duke swapped for an Asian analogue. No, the way in which Wang is written and voiced just screams pure ignorance. His voice is a direct rip on Charlie Chan from older TV shows. When firing a missile launcher, Wang will shout, “Just like Hiroshima!” His trademark catch phrase is, “Who want-a some Wang?”, uttered in an insensitive, stereotypical fashion. There are even numerous instances where, upon finding a hidden area, one will hear, “Ancient Chi-a-nese Secret.”
Wang treats women like garbage. There’s a line about washing his “wang” that made me cringe when I heard it (I sadly replayed it because I was in disbelief). An older woman appears in one level and Wang commences to tell her she’s ugly. “You got-a beaten wit ugly stick,” I believe is the line.
I fail to see where the humor is coming from. Apparently, Kung Fu movies had notoriously awful dubs in the 80’s. I am a massive fan of Kung Fu cinema and have prided myself on collecting movies in their original language. While I see clichéd characters, they are usually presented with positive traits and attitudes.
Did 3D Realms want to solely spoof Kung Fu films? Are they as uninformed as the general public on Asian culture? I find it hard to believe that anyone could write something like Lo Wang without even a basic understanding of Eastern ideals. Would a character like this be viable in today’s gaming market? Are people forgiving of psychopathic clichés when a game is half-way decent? For as awful a character as Lo Wang is, Shadow Warrior wasn’t necessarily a bad game.
Flying Wild Hog, developers of Hard Reset, seem to see something with the IP. Maybe inherent racism isn’t on their minds; one would hope so, anyway. The original developers of Shadow Warrior, 3D Realms, have even gone on record saying that Lo Wang was intentionally written to be shock humor.
“We intentionally mixed the nationalities of protagonist Lo Wang, not out of ignorance, but because we knew it would generate mass amounts of flames and e-mail debates online. We just wanted to give people something to talk about,” stated creator George Broussard.
Flying Wild Hog doesn’t want that. They want a Lo Wang that might start off ignorant, but evolves over time. Nigel Lowrie, the marketing lead of publisher Devolver Digital and this reboot, has said, “One thing we did take out was a lot of the cheap jokes that had a lot of racial stereotyping and kind of sexist jokes.”
This is very good. Instead of a game selling by offensive content alone, Shadow Warrior (2013) will be noted for its gameplay refinements and style. There won’t be a need for any heinous reviews or examinations of deplorable content.
Still, Duke Nukem Forever actually sold pretty well. Maybe fans bought the game for nostalgia? I know my copy was purchased since I had been waiting 14 years of my life. If I actually stood back and evaluated the content, I probably could have saved myself $30 and 8 hours.
Maybe the spark of controversy is actually good? Without an example like Duke Nukem or Lo Wang, how would we know where to draw the line in comedy? Imbecilic writers will always exist, and having some kind of gauge for what is right and wrong is not a bad thing.
You can’t hope to prevent further mistakes if the past is flawless. For Flying Wild Hog, studying the original Shadow Warrior is probably going to make the reboot an impeccable game. With Duke Nukem Forever being critically hammered, there is also ample evidence for how to not produce a reboot.
Whatever the case may be, I have decent hopes for Lo Wang in the future. As he stands now, I wish to never see a repeat of his “charm.” I really love Asian culture, though, and having a positive Asian role model in gaming would overjoy me.
The World could use some Wang. Let’s just hope Wang cleans himself up a bit…and I promise to never make that joke again.