The blog, “It’s Very Bad,” has written a “rebuttal” to my Metal Gear Solid V analysis: http://temporaldistortion.net/2016/11/a-rebuttal-of-mgs5-narrative-analysis/
I will attempt to respond to every part of the rebuttal, but there’s a catch… it’s written in Russian. I don’t speak or read Russian, so I am relying on a Google translation. It’s entirely possible that Google might misinterpret some parts, though some sections definitely get their intentions across anyway (like, “To hell with this ‘analysis,’ which invites us to swallow it”). If the author of the rebuttal believes I’ve misunderstood anything, he should feel free to point it out.
I’ll break down my response into 10 parts to correspond with the rebuttal. In each part, first there will be an excerpt from my original analysis in blue, then there will be the Rebuttal in red, and then there will be my response bolded in black.
> Metal Gear Solid 1 is a cheesy action-story with a legendary badass fighting paramilitary terrorists in a cool doom fortress, but it’s also a meditation on the psychological effects of being a soldier, a primer on the future of genetic engineering, a lamentation of the eternal arms race between major nations, a tale of familial revenge, a love story, a small component of a massive half-century long civil war within a global shadow government, etc. The different layers and plots weave together to create some of the most deeply textured storytelling I have ever seen in video games or any artistic medium.
Except they do not.
I really like the first part of the IGU, however, argue that there is something intertwined, – it means unfairly overpraise. mgs1 scenario includes some of these things, yes, there are discussions about what it means to be a soldier, and an hour earlier is a monologue about how bad things with yaderku. However, these topics addressed very superficially, do not develop and does not intertwine. It’s just a series of ten-minute monologue on various topics. Without a doubt, the fact that in 98 of these general topics raised in video games – it’s good and sometimes have mgs1 unable to submit them quite sensibly. However, the genetics of the game just ridiculous, “the story of family revenge” – to be ashamed of hackneyed cliches and “global shadow government” during the time mgs1 not yet been invented.
This common problem of such “raft-analysis”: they take the actual facts of the game and start to dance around them, adding a gag, and the unsophisticated reader delights in thinking that he opened his eyes.
I admit that the last sentence quoted in my analysis is overstated. I think that sentence applies to the Metal Gear series as a whole, but not especially to MGS1. In general I think MGS1 tends to be a tad overrated due to the nostalgia factor associated with it.
But even still, what makes the Metal Gear series my favorite piece of media of all time is that it isn’t like anything else. I won’t claim that it’s always deep, or always clever, or even always makes sense, but there is nothing else out there with its sense of… everything. There is nothing else out there which mixes camp with depth, fantasy with reality, and comedy with tragedy in the same way Metal Gear does.
The Rebuttal’s problem with what I wrote here can be broken into two parts: (1) MGS1’s take on many topics is shallow, and (2) MGS1 has a lot of campy, stupid parts.
On the first part I don’t entirely disagree. I actually think a lot of Hideo Kojima’s themes aren’t particularly well-thought out, but in the context of an 8 hour action game, that’s ok. The sheer ambition of saying so much in such a short span of time is impressive. MGS1 is a tad clunky in that regard (though I don’t think the badly handled themes are quite confined to “10 minute monologues”) but MGS1 was also the first Metal Gear game to really take on these complicated/topical issues, with the exception of some minor allusions in MG2.
In other words, Kojima was still trying to figure out what he wanted the Metal Gear series to be in MGS1. He clearly had a million ideas and so he packed them all into one game; the fact that the final narrative result was only a little bloated and not a complete disaster is a testament to his abilities. Ultimately he would improve on his delivery in the subsequent Metal Gear Solid games (except MGS4).
On the second part, I couldn’t offer a better argument than George Weidman’s analysis of MGS3.
Yes, the Metal Gear games can be really campy and dumb. I’ve even heard it suggested that despite a lot of mature content, the style of the series was built for young teens (I started with the series when I was 12). That may indeed be the case, I don’t know, but regardless there is something uniquely Metal Gear about how Kojima intertwines dumb 12-year old fantasies about giant fighting robots, big-boobed bad ass women, and petulant family drama, with legitimate questions about the nature of morality, the psychological costs of warfare, and the geopolitics of nuclear weapons. It’s definitely not a style for everyone. A lot of people will never get passed getting pissed on in MGS2, or ohnny shitting himself, but for players who can wrap their minds around a world filled with both juvenile nonsense and genuine depth, the Metal Gear series is a marvel of creativity.
> It is undoubtedly true that Cipher played a significant role in creating these revolutions through its own actions (ex. Creating Liquid Snake and Solidus Snake to begin with). But even still, Cipher did play a considerable role in keeping the world relatively safe and stable for over forty years
This is utter nonsense. The Patriots have not only created the Snake, by which they themselves played the violin. They could prevent the same plan Solidus hundreds of times, but instead decided to put the mad experiment of Raiden (which, judging by the mgs4, they gave nothing and learned nothing). They themselves have turned the whole world into a battlefield in mgs4 – is anything but security and stability. mgs4 destroys all this rhetoric (and the essence of the second part). The aim has always been like the Illuminati Order, for which they always set their totalitarian control of everything. The author himself says that Zero wanted »to unify the world under a single organization capable of controlling the natural violent impulses of the common man». But mgs4 no unity of the world, no control over “violent impulses.” On the contrary – only destruction and chaos. To justify the Patriots after mgs4 impossible.
I agree that the “War Economy” of MGS4 is not a form of peace or stability. Hence I said, “Cipher did play a considerable role in keeping the world relatively safe and stable for over forty year.” The Patriots were originally formed in the early 1970s, so forty years would take them to the 2010s, which precedes the “War Economy.”
As I reiterated numerous times, the Patriots are undoubtedly evil and trying to run the world with 1984-style totalitarianism is wrong. But there are worse things than a manipulative shadow government, like nuclear war or chronic global low-level warfare. By MGS4, Cipher’s control (though probably not their aims) had fundamentally changed.
> Basically Big Boss wanted to replace the world’s conniving politicians and the civilian nations they run with mercenary companies operated by charismatic warlords like himself
Nothing in the above quotation from the Big Boss pisvokera finals on is not indicated. He spoke exclusively about the denial of existing governments and countries, the formation of micronations mercenaries, rather than changing the world order – what he just unlike Zero, did not attempt. He built his local “Paradise” and acknowledged that its continued existence, he would have to take external contracts. One – a global order, the other – Local Chaos. The scale can not be compared. As consequences: Big Boss bred parochial conflicts around its Zanzibar Patriots torched them all over the world.
In Metal Gear 2 Big Boss tries to use nuclear weapons to hold the entire world hostage. He also collects soldiers (including child soldiers) from battlefields around the world and attempts to inspire them to join him in resisting the dominance of their former governments.
But even besides that, I think you underestimate the destabilizing impact thT nuclear/metal gear armed micronations filled with unaccountable mercenaries springing up all over the world might have on the global geopolitical order.
So he’s not quite an exporter of revolution in the Marxist-communist sense, but he certainly seeks to inspire people to stop serving the current governments in the world. And if a solider isn’t serving a government, he has nowhere to go but Diamond Dogs-style mercenary companies.
> This is what happens to Venom Snake through the PBBP. We (the players) may not have known anything about Venom before the events of MGSV but that does not change the fact that he was a real person within the Metal Gear universe. He had a life, a personality, people he knew, ambitions, ideas, virtues, vices, and every other facet of consciousness known to man.
Ooty fucking way. This does not change the fact that there was something, the game says.
And I say that if it is important (and this is, without a doubt, it is important), it is necessary to show and to disclose. At least in the same Danganronpa, which was exactly the same overwrite individual.
Medic as was nobody, and nobody left. We do not see that he had lost, we do not even see any intelligible his reaction when he finds out about this.
Moreover, the chances are that he was a fanatic in the cult of Big Boss and, as a consequence, no personality, and really did not have (cultists because the Nazis, not the people and the characters do not have, we know).
By the conclusion of MGSV, we (the players) don’t know anything about Venom Snake’s past prior to the start of the game. Who else doesn’t know anything about Venom’s past…?
Venom Snake himself!
This was a narrative technique purposefully done to link the experiences of the player and the protagonist. Kojima easily could have inserted a flash back, or a written report, or an extended cassette tape conversation where Venom’s past was revealed, but he didn’t.
In this way, the player is in the same position as Venom: both know Venom’s past was lost but neither know its value. We don’t know if there is some grieving loved one somewhere wondering when her medic-husband is coming home. We don’t know if Venom made a bunch of friends when he was getting his medical degree at Johns Hopkins. We don’t know if Venom one day dreamed of being his own Big Boss-style mercenary leader. All we know are the tiny bits of info the game gives us, which amount to: Venom was a medic in MSF and one of the best soldiers in the army.
It is precisely because neither Venom nor the player know his past that it is so easy for Big Boss to manipulate Venom into carrying out Big Boss’s plans. We don’t know what Venom lost. We don’t know what he continues to miss by being Big Boss.
So I absolutely love that Kojima did not reveal Venom’s past.
And I don’t think the claim that Venom was likely a Big Boss fanatic and therefore had no personality holds any water. Both through personal experience and my understanding of history, fanatics are not devoid of personality.
> Meanwhile, Big Boss sits in the background of international affairs safety and slowly accumulates power without attracting the Patriot’s attention since they were too busy dealing with Venom.
But such nonsense just painful to read.
The MG1 Big Boss Big Boss appears.
It sits at the head of FOXHOUND, the top American operatives.
Patriots control the whole of America, and understood that they did not notice the Big Boss, who sits in their mind, without hiding any of its face or in his own name?
To hell with this “analysis”, which invites us to swallow it.
Because Metal Gear logic. This sort of stuff happens in the series all the time.
How come Sniper Wolf didn’t just shoot Solid Snake instead of Meryl when she had the opportunity in MGS1? Actually, why doesn’t anyone just shoot any of the Metal Gear protagonists when they aren’t looking (like The Fear did that one time)?
And if Liquid was actually leading Snake to Metal Gear Rex so he could input the nuclear launch codes throughout almost the entire game, why did he send Sniper Wolf, Vulcan Raven, and Psycho Mantis to sacrifice their lives in fights against Snake?
How did Solidus Snake get elected president of the United States? Even if he got a falsified birth certificate (he’s not 35) and went to college when we was a young teenager or something, why would America elect a president who looks exactly like a global terrorist leader?
Because Metal Gear logic. You just kind of have to accept that crazy shit like this happens in the Metal Gear world. I’m not talking about the magic and future technology, I’m talking about the “just so” logic of a lot of events in the Metal Gear timeline.
The events surrounding Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2 are especially canonically hazy. Much of it has already been retconned. Most famously, there is no mention in Metal Gear 2 that Big Boss is Solid Snake’s father, yet Solid Snake claims (during MGS1) that Big Boss told him so (during MG2).
In this particular instance, I’m not even speculating. It is official Metal Gear canon that Big Boss lead FOXHOUND. I don’t know how exactly Big Boss went from secretly roaming the world after Ground Zeroes to leading a military organization in the heart of Cipher territory, but according to the Metal Gear wiki and the games themselves, that is what happened.
Do you have any direct evidence to contradict this?
I’ll break down this next section a little more:
> Finally, once Big Boss feels like he is strong enough to launch his revolution, he kills Venom, reassumes command over the Outer Heaven Movement, and more or less steals the reputational and moral credit accumulated by Venom over the preceding nine years to bolster his own coup. This is the heart of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. This is the moral downfall built up by Kojima throughout the game’s marketing.
No, it’s not the heart mgs5. And no, this is not the slightest sense.
Because Venom was obedient to Big Boss, and it made no sense to kill him.
Yes, Venom was obedient to Big Boss, but as is often said throughout the series, “there is room for only one Boss.” For whatever reason, the mantle of Boss is singular, and once Big Boss was ready to reappear on the international scene and complete his mission, he disposed of the other Big Boss.
Because Big Boss does not come over the years, which would make it a “revolution” more meaningful.
Because what the hell a “revolution”? Where, in Zanzibar?
If I recall correctly, the Zanzibar Rebellion was explicitly referred to as a “revolution” in the Metal Gear games (the events of MGSV may have been too, I don’t remember). More importantly, Zanzibar was a revolution because it was an attempt to break Cipher’s global dominance via a military uprising.
Because the reputation of Venom is no better than the reputation of the original Big Boss at the time of the start of GZ. The world knows nothing about, and Sahelanthropus skull.
Understanding the reputation of characters in the Metal Gear universe is not an easy task.
Apparently Big Boss was so well known after MGS3 that soldiers throughout the world wanted to join his new mercenary company. This is despite the fact that the events of MGS3 were part of a presumably top secret CIA mission and I can’t think of any conceivable way that random people all over the world would know anything about it.
But whatever, that’s just the way the world works. Presumably soldiers in the Metal Gear world gossip a lot. Hence Venom’s exploits in MGSV presumably grew Big Boss’s legend. Big Boss himself even says this in his end game cassette tape to Venom.
Because even if it was all so similar use Zelotes fanatic – quite a common thing for such a warlord, as Big Boss. It is like a soldier on a mission to send (just do not ask him, because he is in a coma). And if asked, the opportunity to live ten years in the form and appearance of their idol, the coolest mercenary on Earth – it is a great happiness for those who volunteered for the army of Big Boss accumulates.
I think I fully addressed this in my analysis, but to reiterate, it is not cool to kidnap someone, wipe his memory, and manipulate him into the role of human shield. I don’t care what role Venom was given or how fun it might be to live as Big Boss: a man’s mind was stolen. A soldier’s life was sacrificed.
Nevertheless, the author is very insisted that « Big the Boss’s the ultimate moral turning point CAME the when he Went Along with the Zero’s off-plan to use the Venom Snake as with a phantom «.
And this. Passes. Behind the scenes.
If it is – the heart of the game, it is not simply in the wrong place, it is not at all in the body is, and lying under a bush some.
We do not know anything about how the Big Boss’s reaction. When he woke up from a coma, it is obvious that the plan to transform the Medica in his copy was already almost finished – he could do in this case? How can all blame the Big Boss that began without his consent and could not stop?
Big Boss couldn’t stop Zero’s plan but he certainly could have refused to embrace it. He could have said, “Sorry Venom, Zero was a dick and brainwashed you. The least I can do is not let you live with a target on your back for the rest of your life. Come with me and we can at least try to give you an iota of mental freedom instead of enslaving you to do my bidding via brainwashing and manipulation.”
> This is the Phantom Pain. It’s the pain Venom Snake feels when he is forced to live as Big Boss.
False, there is no pain. Prove the opposite.
The game gives us such a grain, trying on their basis to make such a loud statement – a thankless task. If it is not disclosed and is not shown in the game, it is simply not provable. Generally speaking, Venom smiles when he hears the call to him from the Big Boss. And no one makes: in this very outstanding Big Boss tells him that he is free to live as he wants.
And if you give an argument that he rewrote the minds and say otherwise he can not, then the subject of phantom pain had to reveal, show the dissonance between his deeds and his desires, for example. Even disgusting anime Danganronpa 3 is shown.
Then the author argues wonderful: that Venom is no reason for revenge. And this despite the fact that he was part of MSF has, he suffered no less Caza due XOF he fucking personally saw Skallfeys made with Paz.
But the author here maketh a phenomenal brain somersault and stated that Venom has never said anything about what motivates his revenge.
That is what Venom said anything about revenge, it means that it is not motivated by revenge. And what did he say anything about the other – on their own phantom pains, that he thinks of Big Boss, but in general about everything – obviously mean that’s all you can think out of it.
Then it turns out that the author thought: that Big Boss was batthertnutym Sinister like Caza, but that there is no evidence. There is nothing that would indicate that. This text is devoted to the half – reasoning that Venom is different from the Big Boss, the fact that Venom has its own “philosophy”. The fact that the demon – is Big Boss, about how Big Boss villain, and so on.
I was there wrote a refutation different arguments, but thought and erased. Because here details of any irrelevant. In Peace Walker Big Boss – not a scoundrel, not a villain. We did not see it go to the dark side, and the author of all the text has to repeatedly cite only one final monologue and build some dodumki based on it. Big Boss is not in a situation which was at Venom, and talk about how he would have done, is not very feasible. In the end, he did not try Zadornov, such as the (more enemies, prisoners, I do not remember him), and in general was quite gracious and not in any way a demon, what the author is trying to expose. In the end, even yaderku he had as a deterrent.
Venom same – even if he does not like this Big Boss and arrives too soft – certainly does not have any of its “philosophy”, and the ending is great stresses. When he was Big Boss says “now you know who you are, and you can do whatever you want yourself” – and he makes the following ten years exactly all the same, that would do or would like to do Big Boss, the difference is erased between them. The author takes this as a «It’s the personality that the real Venom abandoned once he heard” The Man Who Sold the World “cassette tape from Big Boss», but this is ridiculous. You do not take or refuse at the flick of the fingers on his entire personality – especially if, as the author himself says this person is so strong that it overcame the demonic personality Big Boss and did everything in his own way. Oddly mgs5 look at, it does not work. As this text.
There’s not much I can say here. The author just says he doesn’t buy my arguments, so be it. I think I made my case, and while I admit a lot of my arguments are based on inferences and educated guesses, I think they are the best possible thematic unifiers for the game.
Some parts are also difficult to understand due to the translation.
Though I should point out, in response to the second paragraph, that in the very next scene Venom is drenched in blood and looks miserable.
> A thematic point which supports the argument that Big Boss purposefully killed Venom is the claim often repeated throughout the series that “There’s only room for one Boss”
Complete nonsense, because you are in such a case, you do not wait 11 years, constantly risking the open to kill his double.
Big Boss wasn’t in a rush to kill Venom. He specifically went along with the Phantom Big Boss Project to give himself time to rebuild his power base and launch his revolt against Cipher properly. Apparently it took him about 11 years to get set up.
> A wonderfully subtle touch in MGSV is how Venom manages to rapidly build up a private army to go after Skull Face despite not doing or saying much of anything. You would think that it would take a lot of effort to convince soldiers to abandon their country or organization to work for a private military company, especially when the company is directly opposed to their old organization. Yet Venom effortlessly recruits hundreds of ex-Soviet, PF, and even XOF soldiers to his cause.
This author calls wonderfully subtle touch. In my opinion, this is a complete idiot, that can not be explained by any reputation. Especially in light of the fact that Venom due taciturnity charisma slipped.
Again, not much I can say here. I think within the craziness of the Metal Gear universe, Ultra-Stoic Venom Snake worked. Apparently a lot of people disagree with me on this point.
Well, the final main topic of this analysis is that the game, they say, especially so structured as to show us that Big Boss – a villain and a scoundrel, moving us into the role of a character, with whom he manages meanly and in brutally: that is, how Raiden in mgs2 looked at Snake from the side, as well, and we are after the previous issues have to look the part of Big Boss and understand what he ghoul.
Noup. It does not work. It is not that we say, did not understand in the previous parts that Big Boss – the villain, because looking at all its prospects. Facts never distorted, we have seen all his conversations and actions. The fact that he himself took Nuku, the author paints a incredibly bad thing, when in reality it is complete nonsense. In Big Boss does not have its arches, while Venom and if there is, then it is also crossed out the ending, in which he tacitly accepts himself as a makeweight Big Boss.
You can not take half of the scene, and based on them to start to say that in this game such an incredible de narrative. It is impossible to say that you show as Big Boss slide into evil, and then say “actually it in this game do not, he just lied to you and popolzovalsya you, so he’s a villain.” With all the expectations of the substitution of players and with all his bullying mgs2 gave yet what she wanted from – continuation of the story of Solid Snake, though not with his prospects. A mgs5 was unnecessary side story, which probably would have been even though any sense if Venom, as the author says, would have been as a result of an independent person. But no – and we got a huge game with a completely empty and useless hero, missing the main anti-hero, with utter nonsense in the script and with enormous holes in the timeline series.
The translation here is particularly rough, but I think the author is saying that he doesn’t buy Big Boss’s descent into evil because we never actually see it happen, it is merely implied to have occurred off screen.
Yeah, this is a big hang up for a lot of people. I don’t mind it. I think it was extremely creative of Kojima to tell a story that everyone knew from a different perspective. A perspective which not only blindsided the player, but also served to reinforce the downfall of Big Boss by forcing the player into the perspective of the person Big Boss hurt most.
That’s pretty damn cool if you ask me.
EDIT – The Internet Fighting continues in the comments.