Damn near every black character in Street Fighter
I have said this once and I will say it a million times, Capcom writes black characters like they met one once in a line and heard the rest through audio retelling. Monster Hunter has practically none. Mega Man is the whitest timeline and the same with Devil May Cry. Most of their black characters live in Street Fighter and, to their detriment, they do have the most black characters of any successful fighting game franchise — which is saying something.
The issue is how they’re all represented.
You have Balrog, a money and swag-obsessed boxer who doesn’t care who he has to hurt as long as he’s paid. There’s Birdie, where they took a white character and reimagined him as a black British punk rocker with racist facial features that looked like they came off racist ads from the 1920s. There’s a Jamaican dancer who was introduced mostly because someone at Capcom saw a Billy Banks ad and thought it looked interesting. Not kidding. We also have a white-haired African royal ala Storm, a Ken Masters fanboy whose primary difference is he insists on bringing his basketball into the fight, and then Dudley. Precious Dudley. While I’m a Dudley main, it’s not a coincidence that Dudley showed up around the same time Capcom was being questioned about the racial profiling in their character design and decided to make a black man into an affluent successful man in a suit wearing a handlebar mustache. There’s never been a grey area with Capcom’s black characters. They either go all in one way or the other. They have to be bombastic.
There was going to be one that was actually a fairly normal character. There was going to be a character named King Cobra, introduced into Street Fighter 4. He looked cool as hell.
Designed by Daigo Ikeno, King Cobra was set to be an energetic fighter that uses a mixture of martial arts, gymnastics, and dance. Ultimately though, they decided this character was too boring and gave his slot (as well as his moves) to the obese white character Rufus. Wonderful.
That’s right. I’m going after M. Bison. See, M. Bison is one of the most iconic villains in gaming so I can see people getting defensive here. And he did a lot of things before they were cool. Like Elon Musk today, M. Bison’s whole thing was trying to gain power by pushing a new form of currency, stealing power from others, and using materials and wealth that came from questionably moral mining operations.
Unfortunately, those aren’t the only villainous thing M. Bison shares with Elon Musk. He also likes to surround himself with easily manipulated young women. Much like how villain fans gloss over the fact that DC villain Deathstroke is a pedophile, we often gloss over the fact that M. Bison has a program where he makes “Dolls.”
And while out of context that already sounds creepy, its true purpose is WAY worse. The Dolls are 12 women that he kidnapped from different spots in the world — 22 very young women. He then takes them and brainwashes them to be his “Dolls,” mind-controlled bodyguards who wear one-piece bathing suits and are convinced they love M. Bison. And again, these are YOUNG women. And this idea is entirely M(att Gaetz) Bison’s idea.
Drug rings, terrorist cells, assassination plots, and attempts to overthrow the government are all things that are par the course for video game villains, but stealing girls and brainwashing them to love you and to put themselves in harm’s way for you?
If you need a palette cleanser from all that though, let me remind you that in the live-action Street Fighter: The Movie, M. Bison was played by Raul Julia. Raul Julia was a fantastic human being who did amazing things for charity and took the M. Bison role despite being in constant pain from cancer that was overtaking him, specifically because his kids loved the Street Fighter games. He studied dictators, learned the accent, and put his whole ass into the movie specifically for his children, even bringing them to the set so they could watch the movie be made. So when you see that movie, and you see the sheer amount of omph Raul put into his portrayal of M. Bison, know that that was a good dude absolutely fueled by love.