Final Question

2

Either: Film noir’s portrayal of the “femme fatale” supports the existing social order by building up a powerful, independent woman, only to punish her.
To what extent do you agree with this in relation to the portrayal of women in ‘LA Noire’?

When you consider arguably the most powerful female character in L.A. Noire (in terms of her presence in the game’s storyline and the impact she has on the protagonist’s life), Elsa Lichtmann, you can see the epitome of the film noire ‘femme fatale’ – strength and independence, underlined by corruption and volatility. When her character is introduced to Cole, she undermines his family values (depicted by the initial scenes of L.A. Noire in which Cole kisses his wife goodbye before going off on the first mission) and causes the downturn of his flourishing career. Moving on to look at the other female NPCs it is undeniable that all those that display any kind of feminine strength or power are no doubt deceiving and manipulative, often using their sexuality (or in the case of June Ballard, another female’s sexuality) to fulfill their own goals – Lorna Pattison exploits her extramarital relationship with Leroy Sabo for financial gain, Candy Edwards similarly exploits Albert Hammond for money and Gloria Bishop reveals that she is fully aware of her husband’s sexual preference for underage girls, but remains with him, out of bitterness or greed. Though these women present extremely strong characters, they are highly disruptive, if not one of the main causes of disruption in the city. During Phelps’ time on the homicide desk, we see a string of strong but irrational and volatile women struck down by a patriarchal enforcer with religious motives: though justification for the case being swept under the rug is clearly attritbuted to the murderer’s links with political figures, it remains that there is no real accountability for his actions – the case is never exposed to public knowledge, there is no opportunity for public discussion or indeed reflection on the culmination of male dominance. I would go so far as to say that there are no examples of positive female figures in the game whatsoever. The classic ‘femme fatale’ may be a strong presence in the game, but she has weakness at her core, and for that she suffers dearly.

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Comments

  1. i7931482 / Apr 30th, 2012 18:12 Quote

    I agree that women are often seen as self-serving (even if they could be seen as victims) in the game almost right from the start, for example Clovis Galletta at the beginning is more concerned about her pearl earrings than the death of her boss.

  2. Thomas / Apr 30th, 2012 19:03 Quote

    I did find it interesting how much of a minor character Phelps’s wife is in the narrative. For someone with strong convictions and morals like Phelps, you’d think that his family life would be featured more – I can’t recall if his daughters actually had any lines or not. I do like that Phelps actually repects woman, especially compared to other police officers, but a closer examination of his relatioship with his wife might have helped make this point.

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