The creator of Cyberpunk 2020, Mike Pondsmith, who is also consulting on CD Projekt Red’s Cyberpunk 2077, recently responded to the Cyberpunk 2077 transgender controversy.
Pondsmith took to the Cyberpunk 2077 subreddit to respond to a thread about an in-game advertisement that a number of people viewed as transphobic for sexualizing a character with male genitalia on a female body.
Pondsmith wrote, “Want to say this just once. I am really tired of well meaning people on internet chat boards paternalistically telling me what I, as a black person, should be offended by. You want to be my ally? Go gird up your loins and at this year’s Thanksgiving dinner, have the nerve to tell your racist Uncle Bob to STFU for a change.”
Pondsmith is not the only one to defend the advertisement. CD Projekt Red’s art director Kasia Redesiuk defended the in-game advertisement telling Polygon:
“This is all to show that [much like in our modern world], hypersexualization in advertisements is just terrible. It was a conscious choice on our end to show that in this world — a world where you are a cyberpunk, a person fighting against corporations. That [advertisement] is what you’re fighting against.
I would say it was never the intention to offend anyone. However, with this image of an oversexualized person, we did want to show how oversexualization of people is bad. And that’s it. I think that sexy bodies are sexy. Full disclosure: I love female bodies. I love male bodies. I love bodies in between. This is who I am. However, I hate it when it’s used commercially. And that’s exactly what we want to show by doing this exactly, by showing how big corporations use people’s bodies against them.”
Redesiuk would elaborate in an interview with Eurogamer:
“I’m currently taking care of in-game media, so branding and advertisements for the various corporations. And in this dystopian future, these megacorporations are oppressive, they’ve basically taken over and prescribe who [sp?] people live. They constantly, aggressively sell everything.”
“You’ll notice many advertisements – for anything, a table, chair, a roof tile – slap a random sexy person on top and say ‘hey, buy this’. This shows the sexploitation of those people, and many of our advertisements feature this sexualisation. We sexualise men, women, and people in between, all to show how terrible this is.
With our advertisements, we want to say something. For instance, there’s an advert for a fashion shop with the Colosseum – this beautiful piece of architecture – which has been taken over and turned into a marketplace. It’s art destroyed for consumerism’s sake.”
Redesiuk then explicitly addressed the in-game advertisement in question.
“So yes, we have a person with both breasts and a penis on an advertisement, done on purpose, because it’s terrible to exploit people’s bodies like this. We thought this would be a brand which would slap a body on the advert and think nothing of it. It’s a terrible thing to say ‘mix it up’ [the poster’s tagline]. We’re emulating what a company would say in Cyberpunk 2077.”
She adds, “It was meant to make people feel uncomfortable. Not because they’re seeing someone with breasts and a penis, but because the body is being exploited. I didn’t slap the penis there for people to laugh about it. There is a beautiful body there being used to sell soda.”
What do you make of Mike Pondsmith’s response to the criticism? What do you think of Kasia Redesiuk’s comments on the matter?