The taboo: There's apparently a lot of confusion here. “Animal husbandry” doesn't mean what you think it does: neither Civilization nor Samurai Shodown are actually filthy, oddly hilarious works of perversion. But by the same token, “Zoophilia” is not a U2 album. Just recently, a New York cocaine mogul got those basic notions confused, and a news story rife with nauseating details ensued. Don't make the same mistake! Loving animals is fine; loving animals in the Biblical sense, not so much so.
Pushing the limits: It's tricky to pin down exactly what constitutes bestiality in a medium where homo sapiens are often in a minority. Is it bestiality when The Elder Scrolls' humanoid Dunmer get freaky with regular human beings? If PaRappa is a dog, does that make it bestiality when he tries to get it on with a talking sunflower? When Assassin's Creed 2 tells you, “dude's been doing his livestock and you need to tell him to quit it,” it's a moment of refreshing (if gross) clarity.
Going too far: Talking animals for kids? Fine, cute, delightful. Talking animals for hormonally-charged teenagers, mixing with human folk?
A thousand times no.
The taboo: Whether it's games, movies or shock-rock, the vast majority of corpse-sex call-outs are along the lines of Clerks' infamous body-in-the-bathroom scene. Anyone who wants to treat the subject with maturity – such as the movie Kissed or Chuck Pahlaniuk's book Lullaby – has a lengthy history of perverts, serial killers and wildly unqualified undertakers to deal with.
Pushing the limits: “What's the penalty for necrophilia in Cyrodiil?” asks Oblivion's personable necromancer. When you tell her, she smiles: “That's much more lenient than in Morrowind!” That's a fair representation of the level of most necrophile references – in games or elsewhere. Scenes like Indigo Prophecy's creepily compassionate corpse-pashing sequence are much rarer.
Going too far: Leave it to the pervs at Nintendo to push the necrophile boundaries. After Super Paper Mario had primed players to think that there was nothing weird about a turtle being in love with a ghost, nobody batted an eyelid when The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks presented a protracted love story between a boy and a disembodied spirit. Either that, or they'd tuned out during the game's five-year cutscenes.
The taboo: Whether it's stranded pioneers, rugby players forced to consume human flesh, or serial killers real and fictional alike choosing to violate the ultimate taboo, the fascination with cannibalism is matched only by its status as modern society's most prohibited act. Consequently, films, books and games alike are replete with descriptions of the taste of the most forbidden of foods. (Much like pork, apparently.)
Pushing the limit: In Fallout 3, the player infiltrates a cannibal cult who do their damnedest to justify their lifestyle: you'll let them eat anything if it would stop their yakking. But this is that rare game where cannibalism is a viable player choice: much more common is the subject's vilification in games like Jade Empire or F.E.A.R. Arguably gaming's weirdest cannibal moment comes in Terranigma, where a trapped character eats her husband's corpse for the nourishment she needs to escape. And you thought the SNES era was the golden age of overcensorship.
Going too far: Once again, it's Nintendo who lose the plot. Having stated their position on cannibalism in Super Mario Bros 2 (try getting through the game without having Toad feast on his own kind), Big N made a franchise out of anthropophagy with the Kirby games. Sentient, intelligent, alive or dead, the little pink maniac eats anything he can fit his insatiable maw around – up to and including fellow whatever-the-hell-species-Kirby-is creatures like Meta Knight. Oh, and then he wears their eviscerated skin as a costume. Ed Gein had nothing on Kirby.
May 28, 2010
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