Taste of Fingers

by V Dobranov


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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful:
Inadequate treatment of themes of racism, October 18, 2021

If you check the about screen before playing, you'll see that this game includes a disclaimer:

Disclaimer: The thoughts, actions and attitudes of the characters in this work do not reflect the views of the author himself and in many ways contradict them.

This game depicts some fairly deplorable attitudes, including racism, without rendering any clear judgments about those attitudes. Note that the author doesn't say anything about his own views.

But, why not?

(Spoiler - click to show)The game is about the main character hiding in a closet due to a pandemic apocalypse; the story is told in flashbacks, exploring the main character's memories.

Later, it becomes clear that a man-made racist disease has spread, a disease that targets different races differently, and that it turns people into zombies.

But, in the twist ending, it appears that the main character was actually a zombie, but falsely perceives everyone *else* as zombies. He sees a couple of people who he thinks are zombies, but turn out to be government officials in hazmat suits, killing zombies. (In fact, we don't even strictly know that the main character's point of view was incorrect, except that there are multiple characters who perceive the main character as the zombie and themselves as zombie killers, and the main character has a nightmare that agrees with their point of view.)

Why tell this story about racists without taking a point of view? Is the moral of this parable that racists and anti-racists are both equally right, or equally wrong? Are they at odds because they're all insane, unable to perceive each other's points of view? (Or is it just the racists who are insane in this way? Are we all insane racists?)

Zombie stories have a long history of racism, and a long history of erasing their history of racism from the public eye. "Pop culture has used the zombie, fraught as it is with history, as a form of escapism, rather than a vehicle to explore its own past or current fears."

I'm afraid that the author's answer is to shrug: I dunno, I just wanted to tell a zombie story about racism because it's fun. Come on, man, can't we tell a fun, escapist story about zombie pandemic racism now and then?

To that, I say, no. Zombie stories don't have to be fun or escapist, but when they are, it's because the zombies are simply evil, without moral complications. There's nothing fun about suspending judgment about zombie pandemic racism. If the author was aiming for fun, the added racism themes and moral dilemmas work against that goal.

And if the author wasn't aiming for fun, then what's the point? To raise the question "is racism as bad as anti-racism?" Why??

Comments on this review

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Victor Gijsbers, November 2, 2021 - Reply
I read it as a parable where the racism *is* the virus. When we see others as less than human, that's when we ourselves become less than human. On that reading, the game actually has a pretty straightforward moral and a good reason for involving racist content. Do you think there's any plausibility to this interpretation?
Dan Fabulich, November 5, 2021 - Reply
(Spoiler - click to show)My concern with this interpretation is that the text says that the Chinese government built this virus in a lab to target white people, and that this worked.

As a result, I read this as a story about racist Chinese people successfully deploying a racist virus against racist white people.

(Perhaps if it were a zombie virus that targeted racists, then I think I could buy in to your interpretation.)
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