Twitter conversation addresses Tiny Tina as “using verbal blackface”
The twitterverse was aflame last night as claims were thrown around about everyone’s favorite explosives expert, 13 year old Tiny Tina, being a tool used for the expression of racism from the writers of Borderlands 2. Okay okay, that may be a bit of an overstep; she’s not really everyone’s favorite… In the game, Tina speaks using “African American” lingo, in a way that one Twitter user compared to “verbal blackface”.
It all started when creative developer of Cryptozoic Entertainment – a creator of trading card and iOS games, Mike Sacco, sent Borderlands 2 lead writer Anthony Burch this tweet:
Burch immediately responded to with a stern: “Well, it’s not going to” which he then followed up with “I do appreciate the feedback, but yeah — a lot of people love her, some find her irritating as hell. That’s okay.”
This set twitter ablaze with tons of people agreeing with Sacco’s accusation saying things like “If a white character had a cheesy Asian accent and said ‘me love u long time’ it would be racist” Others agreed, tweeting responses like, this one:
Another user pointed out that, “She equates stereotyped ebonics with wacky.” To which, Burch replied, “Hrm — that’s an interesting point. I meant to make her a mishmash of stuff (ebonics/fairytale/naivete) but I see what you mean”.
Just as many people of the twitterverse sprang to Tina, and Burch’s, defense. Gearbox head Randy Pitcford claimed,
“Tina is not racist because you are not racist. You’re a pillar of tolerance and inclusion.”
Burch finished by saying, “The last thing I want to be is exclusionary or prejudiced, so if Tina truly is problematic I’ll change her,” but added, “I’m just not convinced that a character using lingo like badonkadonk/crunk is inherently racist. If I’m wrong I would like to know why.”
He also confirmed that any potential change to Tina’s character would only apply to future content. When asked if he’d re-do her sections, Burch replied, “That’s not actually feasible within the technical constraints of the game, but I’d alter her dialog in any future Borderlands 2 stuff.”
So I want to know what you guys think? Me personally, well, Tiny Tina is my favorite NPC in the second Borderlands game and I really don’t see it as a big deal. I’ve seen and heard plenty of people of all races speak much like Tiny Tina and I think changing her in any way would break her as a character. But that’s just me, what do you guys think? Would it be a good idea for the Borderlands 2 team to change Tiny Tinas’ lingo in the future?