Kudos To Naughty Dog For Handling Ellie Correctly
It's the best response a developer has ever given to a supposedly controversial event.
When I saw Ellie kiss Riley in the Left Behind DLC for The Last Of Us, I knew the firestorm would begin. It hasn't erupted with as much force as I initially anticipated, but that's partly because Naughty Dog immediately defused the situation with a perfectly timed, perfectly phrased retort:
The studio clarified by saying they set out to create a good character, and that's that. Good fictional characters aren't saddled with requirements. They don't have to be any particular age, gender, or sexual orientation. Hence, it's perfectly logical to respond in such a dismissive fashion, because it really doesn't matter. The developer also has no cause to defend itself against accusations of having any sort of social agenda, because people with any artistic sense would simply nod at the events in question:
If you know the story, Ellie kissing Riley makes perfect sense. Ellie, a young girl on the verge of puberty, in a nightmarish world that demands vigilance. Survival isn't romantic and chances are, Ellie would never have developed much in the way of sexuality. Given her age and surroundings, there's a good chance she's pretty hazy on the whole issue; she hasn't had a lot of time to flirt with boys, after all. She hasn't had a lot of time to anything but survive. It's why after kissing Riley, Ellie looked pretty confused and asked, "what do we do know?"
Hers was an impulsive reaction to a friend agreeing to stay. If the character of Ellie were real, she wouldn't be able to tell you exactly why she did it. Therefore, the kiss fits; it's a great addition to the story and it makes sense. It's clear as day. Would it have made equal sense for Joel to suddenly kiss a man in a story expansion? Not really, no. Would it make sense for Kratos to magically become bisexual in the next God of War? Ah...no. See, this isn't all that complicated. If you can't tell when a writer has implemented something simply for the sake of getting attention, as opposed to adding a piece of content that rings true, you need to read more. A lot more.
Is Ellie gay? Bisexual? Don't care. She's a good character. End of story.
2/21/2014 Ben Dutka