As seems to be a growing trend among entertainers in the age of social media, Horizon Forbidden West: Burning Shores actress Kylie Liya Page responded with a stream of insults after misunderstanding YouTuber Melonie Mac’s criticism of how Guerilla Games designed her in-game character model to “look like a dude”.
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Introduced in the recently released Burning Shores DLC, Page’s character of Seyka is a resident of the titular coastal region who has found herself stranded from the rest of her tribe due to a spaceship navigation accident.
Crossing paths with Aloy shortly after the red-headed heroine arrives at the Burning Shores, Seyka agrees to help her snuff out the last remnants of the villainous Far Zenith in exchange for her help locating the lone woman’s fellow survivors.
Having grown close over the course of their time together, Aloy and Syka have the option – should the player choose to engage with it – to close out their adventure by confessing their romantic feelings for each other, ultimately saying good-bye for the time being by sharing their first kiss.
Unsurprisingly, many players were quick to lap-up this reveal and praise it for its supposed ‘representation’ – but Mac was not one of them.
Taking to her channel on April 24th to weigh in on the reveal that Aloy is attracted to women, the YouTuber opined, “Given that this is a DLC thing, this feels rushed, this feels like pandering, and it just doesn’t feel authentic, organic, or anything like that.”
“Especially because they had to do it in a DLC, y’know, because they don’t want their game banned in different regions, and so and so forth,” she added.
[Time Stamp: 09:46]
Further, Mac also took issue with how Forbidden West’s female characters looked more ‘masculine’ than those in the original, which she speculated was done so that the developers could feature a lesbian relationship which men found unappealing.
“They want the woke points, it’s agenda driven, all that kinda stuff, but when you factor in ‘okay, they’re gonna have a lesbian story here’, that’s kind of a male fantasy to see girls kissing.” Mac continued in her criticism [Time Stamp: 13:50]. “So, because of that, they had to make Aloy uglier because you’re already going to have two girls kissing and they don’t want to appeal to the men. So, they had to make Aloy uglier.”
Turning to Seyka specifically, the YouTuber then asserted, “And they had to make this girl look like a dude, pretty much.”
Pulling up a picture of the pony-tailed survivor, Mac explained, “Let’s be real. Cut off all the hair and just only look from here up? That looks like a man’s face.”
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Four days after its publication, Mac’s video would eventually reach Page herself.
Mistaking the YouTuber’s criticism of Guerilla Games’ poor translation of Horizon‘s actresses to their character models for an attack on her real-world appearance, the actress responded to Mac with a string of dismissive insults.
Filming herself in front of a monitor playing Mac’s video for a now-deleted TikTok (which can be seen at 02:43 in Mac’s below response video), Page shared the YouTuber’s above criticism of her character model’s ‘mannish face’ and shot back, “Okay, first of all, you do not look more feminine than I do.”
“Second of all, if you lived in a post-apocalyptic world in the future, you might put your hair up in a pony tail because it gets really freaking hot battling all these machines,” she continued. “And I’m definitely not one to post videos online judging how video game characters look, but if I were to say something, I would definitely say that it looks like you just jumped off some hairy guy’s Harley Davidson in Minnesota. You have some soul searching to do.”
(In response to that closing insult, Mac would assert “That sounds amazing! Thank you! And also don’t you think that’s a little bit elitist and classist of you to imply that YOU live in Los Angeles and the peasants are off in Minnesota!)
In the post’s caption, Page seemingly attempted to portray Mac’s criticism as racist, writing, “I was adopted as a baby and I’ve learned to love my unique face & I’m not just going to sit back & let this lost soul insult me.”
“#Seyka is a powerful warrior and a great influence,” she affirmed. “I’ve received beautiful messages from the asian community about how much it means to see this character come to life. Stay strong fam!”
Refusing to let the actress have the disingenuous last word, Mac would retweet Page’s video and explain, “Notice I said ‘They made her look masculine’. As in: the devs made the character model look masculine. Same with Aloy.”
Offering up a comparison between the main character model for the female player character Sara Ryder in Mass Effect Andromeda and her real-life basis Jayde Rossi as an example of the ongoing ‘de-feminization’ issue she was talking about, the YouTuber reiterated, “had nothing to do with the actresses, everyone knows they’ve been uglifying female characters for a long time now despite the actresses being pretty, as seen here in as well.”
Following up her brief retort with a lengthier video response, Mac would ultimately reveal that though she wanted to give Page the benefit of the doubt that their exchange was entirely predicated on a miscommunication, she ultimately felt that her TikTok response was a deliberate act of disingenuity.
“This had nothing to do with her and everything to do with the character model and how the devs designed her,” said Mac. “Because to me, [Page] is way cuter than her character model. I think she’s quite a cute woman.”
“Clearly, in no context, was I ever making a dig at the actresses,” she continued. “That was just common sense to me, but maybe someone who doesn’t understand video games could misunderstand that. But the fact that she left out me talking about Aloy leads me to believe that this argument was in bad faith on purpose.”
“I am allowed to critique video games,” she concluded. “There is nothing wrong with critiquing video games, or movies, or TV, or this or that. And if a character is made to look uglier, I’m allowed to say it! And if an actress is made to look worse on camera, I’m allowed to say it!”
“If I’m put in a game and they make me look ugly, go off!” Mac ultimately exclaimed. “Say something! I don’t care! Good for you, I’ll probably agree with you!”
[Time Stamp 06:00]
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