Portraying Himalayan Culture in the 21st Century


This is how the people of Nepal are represented in the entertainment industry in 2014. No longer the helpful Sherpas and overly friendly Billy Fish-types, in Far Cry 4 they are now completely disempowered. But it’s okay, because Ubisoft’s developer diaries state that they wanted an “authentic” experience (Everyone speaks Hindi, no other Nepalese language appears in the game), and that they respect Himalayan culture (Pre-order today and get the yak farmer mission!), and that the cover of the game (pictured above) is totally fine because, you know, unlike the other Far Cry games where the white protagonist on some kind of frat party trip accidentally saves indigenous cultures, this protagonist is Nepalese born and raised (He speaks English in a strong American accent, and spent most of his life in the USA). Ubisoft are blaming the victim, releasing a statement claiming the accusations of racism make them “uncomfortable”. They were also quick to point out that the villain in the funky pink suit, Pagan Min, is not Caucasian. He is in fact mixed-race from Hong Kong. I suppose in their eyes, this makes a blonde haired man declaring himself King of a fictional Himalayan country a la The Man Who Would Be King totally not racist.

All this said Far Cry 4 looks absolutely stunning, and at least in visuals and geography seems to be a very accurate and very beautiful rendition of the Himalayas. At the moment it is yet to be released, so perhaps they will change the cover or retcon in some more acceptable details, so I will update my impressions of the game once I’ve had a chance to play. There is also currently a petition underway regarding the use of Hindi in the game.

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