I can’t separate the art from the artists in Netflix’s Arcane

First and foremost, I’d like to get it out of the way that this article contains my opinion and not the expressed opinion of AppTrigger. It’s my opinion. I’m doing this so no one else but me has to deal with the comments but also to let you know this is gonna get spicy.

Secondly, I’m going to be completely transparent. I do not like Riot Games. Not their games, per se. They’re fine. I don’t play them myself but they made something a lot of people like. I haven’t so I have no reason to dog them. I’ve gotten one spec script picked up in my entire life and League of Legends has millions of players the world over. Point Riot.

It’s the company themselves I do not like. It’s not a secret that Riot Games has a massive problem with both “bro culture” and their treatment of anyone that isn’t male. In fact, the company is very aware of it. It’s at the point where to work there you have to sign an agreement that you won’t engage in litigation against them. Something that is completely being broken as more and more people come to the surface.

Riot’s response has been absolutely minimal and while they say they’re trying to be more inclusive, the result of that is usually just more K/DA videos in which their tougher female characters become dancing pop stars. Though, they got some bops. Drum Go Dum? It’s catchy, won’t lie.

But recently a friend of mine showed me the first episode of Arcane, a new animated series based on League of Legends. It was a long time coming, to be honest.

When League of Legends was constantly dropping animated shorts we kept wishing they would just turn them into a full-blown show. Arcane is finally that show.

It was really good. It’s not an original story by any means, and you can feel how it’s going to go enough where I don’t entirely feel like I’m missing out on not seeing the other two episodes. Someone told me I should watch it for the twist in the third episode and I was like “Oh, is [X] going to accidentally kill [Y] setting in motion the events that turn them into [Z]?” Spoiler: pretty much.

But my issue with the show is that it has become a smokescreen for Riot execs. Riot’s press tours went from them trying to explain what they were going to do to solving the glaring problems with their company to showing off their shiny new show and bringing up the fact that it features two female characters as main protagonists.

I mean, I guess we’ll skip over the bit about the fact that almost everyone, including the writers, on the show is male. Or that every female character on the show is pretty and dressed in cool outfits, while every guy is shlubby looking and/or wearing a uniform mirroring the common gala theme of the women having to be pretty all the time. I guess we’ll skip that bit.

But I can’t watch it. I wanted to. I think the animation studio did an amazing job. The art pops. The voice acting is also phenomenal and I think JB Blanc, Mia Sinclair Jenness, and Hailee Steinfeld all deserve props for making their characters so damn real in the way their lines were delivered.

But whenever I watch the show I keep seeing bro culture sneak into it, to the point where some of the things are being viewed potentially more problematic than they are or just more obvious because I know who I’m dealing with. Men talk to each other with verbal jabs that I’m surprised don’t end in ball taps whereas women are treated with big m’lady energy.

I asked him to give me a count of the character deaths too and he showed me the clips of characters dying. While the show has a high death count, every man that dies is given some violent bloody send-off while every woman gets a death so off the frame that you might have assumed they just left, if not for the fact that they’ll show you the body afterward.

As I said, I want to be able to separate the art from the artist, but when the show has become such a massive smokescreen to distract from the problems that Riot is desperately trying to get the media’s attention off of, the whole thing leaves a terrible taste in my mouth.