As some of you may have guessed, I’m off from classes all week so I’m doing Fallout related posts every day. Good times for all. Today, I want to tackle another major argument that people often have in response to the outcry over the forced heterosexual opening. Specifically, I want to address the 1950s aesthetic that is prevalent in the Fallout universe, and more importantly, why that argument doesn’t extend to the values of the people in the 2070s leading up to the apocalypse.
So, that said, one point of argument that is often made is that the Fallout world is not ours, which is true. However, it WAS our world until some point between the end of World War II (September 2, 1945) and the year 1961. Before that point, our world and theirs were one, and it’s after that point in which they diverge. That set of possible dates is important, because one of the major factors that these people argue is that homosexuality was taboo in the 1950s. Which is true, but that may only apply to our world. See, in our world, from the years 1950-1956, a senator from Wisconsin by the name of Joseph McCarthy started a series of witch hunts against communists and queers, which led to the increased stigma over homosexuality. Notice how the years for that (1950-1956) fall smack dab in the middle of our range for the potential date of divergence. If the worlds diverged before McCarthy’s rise to power in 1950, then that increase in the taboo over homosexuality may never have happened.
Another thing to note is that while these games have a 1950s aesthetic, that doesn’t mean there wasn’t progress in other areas. For example, no one blinks an eye at the possibility for you having an interracial marriage, despite the fact that it was illegal in roughly 1/3 of the states until the Supreme Court repealed laws banning it in 1967, a full 6 years past the potential last date for our timelines to diverge. I mean, sure, there’s the rare instances where modern social views on it shine out, like this kid speaking about what society has taught her about it.
Which leads to the second half of this argument. Those who are in favor of the option for a same-sex marriage at the start, like myself, will often point out that while there is the aesthetic of the 1950s, the war happened on October 23, 2077 (the actual war that ended it all was only that one day, though there were resource wars starting in the 2050s). To counter this, we use canonical proof that there were same-sex (and interracial) relationships in 2077. So where do we turn? To the release trailer, of course.
In a blink and you miss it moment, as the trailer scrolls by with everyone running because the bombs are falling, you can see an interracial lesbian couple. See that picture above? They’re over there on the far right. Now, those who are opposed to there being same-sex relationships before the bombs drop say things like “they’re just friends” and “what, two ladies can’t hold each other before the end without it being gay?”
Well, no, not the way these ladies are holding each other. Let’s take a closer look at that couple.
In this image, you can see clearly that the black woman is holding the white woman, with an arm around her waist. Not holding her like a hug of fear with both arms, or up high, but relaxed, right on the waist, as though confused by why everyone is suddenly running. In addition, remember that bit I mentioned before about how prevalent racism was in the 1950s? If this world really were like our 1950s, them even talking to one another outside, let alone hugging in broad daylight like that, would have been called out by their neighbors, possibly with more than just verbal harassment. But that doesn’t happen.
So what? That’s just a bit put into a trailer. That couple isn’t actually in the game right? Wrong. And even more so, the game proves that they are in fact a couple.
Aww, look, they’re hugging each other in a more romantic manner, even if it is fear laced. And what’s that? “We’ll drive to the coast.” Hmm, sounds like “we’ll move somewhere safe, together.” I haven’t got the game yet, but you better believe once I do get it, I will be checking this couple out more to milk all of their potential dialog to share here. Sadly, most people want to run through character creation fast and get to the future, not enjoying what little time we have in our first real look of 2077 ever in the games (Operation Anchorage doesn’t count as it was a military sim, not actual day-to-day life).
However you look at it, the fact of the matter is this: while there is a 1950s aesthetic to these games, the world progressed 120 years from then before blowing itself up. Progress was made, even if it wasn’t the same progress on the same dates as it has happened here.
Also, fun fact out there for those who love these games. You may have noticed that the American flag as it is represented in the games has 14 stars on it, 13 in a circle with a 14th in the middle. The reason for this is that in 1969, states were dissolved and the US was instead divided into 13 commonwealths, each of the stars in the ring representing a different commonwealth with the center star referring to the nation as a whole and the federal government. Hmm, where else have we heard about America being divided into 13 different areas… districts maybe? You think that Suzanne Collins took some influence from the Fallout series when writing the lore aspects of the Hunger Games books? Food for thought.