• Hey, guest user. Hope you're enjoying NeoGAF! Have you considered registering for an account? Come join us and add your take to the daily discourse.

Bayonetta, Art Nouveau, and the Complicated Birth of the New Woman [GIF Warning]

Dyle

Member
Dec 20, 2014
1,285
0
255
Appleton, WI
Bayonetta draws upon a wide variety of sources of inspiration for its visuals, story, and action, but none are as distinct or complicated as the game's relationship to Art Nouveau, the misunderstood flash in the pan of the fin de siècle. I highly suggest taking the time to read through this whole post before commenting, as I will likely be answering many of your questions. This post is more or less a rough summary of a paper I wanted to do for a seminar on Art Nouveau, but as you will see eventually, I was unable to develop a rock-solid thesis and had to abandon the project in order to study the influence of Alphonse Mucha on fanart posted to DeviantArt. (Yes, I'll post some of those later in this thread) This thread will be pretty much limited to the first Bayonetta, mostly due to my own lack of time. So, without further ado, What is Art Nouveau? There genuinely is no good answer, largely because Art Nouveau, unlike say Cubism or Abstract Expressionism, is not defined by an ideology but by an admiration of beauty and the natural world that was expressed in a wide variety of ways. Separate schools developed in Paris, Brussels, Glasgow, Turin, Chicago, Vienna, Barcelona, etc. each with their own ideas and style. It grew quickly from nothing in the late 1890s and by 1905 had effectively died, only to be revived in the 1960s. Bayonetta draws primarily from the artists and events in Paris, so it will be the biggest focus.
The clearest, and least disputable of Bayonetta's sources from Art Nouveau can be seen in the strange architecture of Vigrid. Much of Vigrid's large buildings bear clear influence to Antoni Gaudi, the architect from Barcelona whose works with the Güell family and plans for the Sagrada Familia incorporated strange organic, yet amorphous forms covered in glittering mosaic tiles. Hector Guimard's famous entrances to the Paris Metro also influence the design of the message boards within Vigrid that provide a little backstory to the city.
The train station the game begins in is another place where the influence can be clearly seen, as a mesh of Louis Comfort Tiffany's stained glass and Guimard's ornate cast-iron railings. Other places such as Rodin's bar, the Gates of Hell, also look as if they could be plucked from an alternate universe Art Nouveau that embraced Gothic sensibilities as well.
Magical hair is also a consistent theme in Art Nouveau prints, especially Alphonse Mucha's advertising masterpieces. Unlike Bayonetta's hair though, the hair he depicts is flighty, weightless where Bayonetta's weaves are heavy and powerful, exerting gigatons of force. Mucha's hair is beautiful, but weak while Bayonetta's manages to be both attractive and strong. Also note the circular emplems which are quite similar to the Umbran portals through which Bayonetta sends out her Wicked Weaves.

However, and this is where I began to run into trouble in my research paper, I am going to make the argument that the comparisons between Bayonetta and Art Nouveau go much, much deeper than just art design aesthetics. I argue that the gameplay, story, and Bayonetta's complex depiction as a character are all indebted to Art Nouveau ideas and historic events. I argue this due to my own interpretation of the game, as the primary sources for this read are thin, at best, and not indicative of much influence. In the few interviews translated into English, the art design of Bayonetta 1 is referred to as old-style or traditional while Bayonetta 2 is modern. There are no specific references to Art Nouveau in these primary sources, so most of this hot take is developed from my experience with the game and my knowledge of Art Nouveau. Hopefully I'll show you how to look at Bayonetta in a new light. I'll be making my case by looking at an Art Nouveau dancer Loie Fuller, the popular story of Salome, and will look into the ways gender evolved and was understood at the turn of the century through Art Nouveau, in ways both positive, encouraging the development of the "New Woman",and, at times, blatantly misogynistic.

So, Loie Fuller is the first of the 2 female performers who took Paris by storm. Loie Fuller captured the imaginations of Parisians through her unique form of dance, which involved wearing a gigantic, and extremely heavy, outfit like a sail cloth and spinning and shaking at great speeds alongside lights and music. Just take a look at this wonderfully weird performance Look familiar? Loie Fuller's performances were full-on spectacles that used light, music, and Loie's strange choreography to create an otherworldly experience whose flowing forms are evocative of the way Bayonetta's hair turns into weapons. (The comparison is probably more clear here with these posters which look nothing like Loie herself, there's a story from her autobiography about a young girl wandering backstage and seeing Loie, who was by no means sprightly as she needed serious muscle to hoist her costumes, and saying "You're not Loie, the Loie I saw was a fairy!")
The story of Salomé is another link between Bayonetta and Art Nouveau, providing an example of a femme-fatale who used her seductive powers for her own means. Salomé became significant in the 1890s due to Oscar Wilde's play, which was banned from being performed in England due to its Biblical content, so Wilde translated it into French and, unsuccessfully tried to get Sarah Bernhardt, the other Art Nouveau superstar performer, to play the titular character. Something about Wilde's Salomé was so fascinating and strikingly bold that it triggered a state of "Salomania" in Paris and led to many copy-cat performances. The story is more than a little similar to Bayonetta's, as Salomé uses her beauty to seduce and ultimately betray her step-father by killing John the Baptist, who in this version of the story had failed to respond to Salomé's advances. (Yes it lacks the weird time-travel paradoxes and has a love interest unlike Bayonetta, but the core principal of the femme fatale using her power, expressed through some attribute of physical beauty, to betray a father figure is present). It also raises questions about what to what degree a female character in an artwork can express agency through their actions while simultaneously being "onstage" performing for an audience in ways otherwise would look exploitative. Is Salomé's dance for King Herod is both the ultimate expression of power for her character and a tantalizing peep-show for a cosmopolitan audience accustomed to much more subdued sexual content in their entertainment. Sound familiar? (Below I've included a couple of Sarah Bernhardt's posters to demonstrate how her stardom was not built upon the kind of raunchy appeal to drama that is such a central component of Wilde's Salomé and the most famous image from Aubrey Beardsley's 16 piece series made to accompany Wilde's Salomé, which took a different, but no less effective approach to creating an empowered female character. The poster for Richard Strauss' opera version of Salomé is also remarkable given that it was made in 1910 after Art Nouveau had passed out of style.)
Art Nouveau both deified women and objectified them, which makes it challenging to say whether it had a positive effect on their lives. To understand this we have to remember what Paris at the turn of the century was like and how new developments in technology and changes in societal structure were allowing women to get out of the home and gain independence. Electricity first began to reduce the burdens of everyday life during this period and as Paris grew larger under Haussman's urban design women had to, out of necessity, leave the home, which due to the bicycle, they could now do with relative ease. No longer did an upper class woman have to wait for a male chaperone wit horse and carriage to take them to their destination, they could simply hop on a bicycle and get there themselves. This was a huge controversy in Paris at the time and saw fierce debate, but it quickly became normal and businesses quickly responded to the new influx of female customers by designing department stores that would most appeal to them. The bicycle was both a tool of liberation and a sign of a society heading down the wrong path. (Note that there are tons more posters with naked ladies holding bikes and I'm not really sure how to read them, some seem empowering while others are awful examples of male gaze. The photo of Bayonetta and Jeanne from Bayo 2 is so evocative of department store culture that I couldn't resist throwing it in too, even though it's closer to Art Deco glamour of the 1920s, it's still a nice shout-out to the new level of freedom made possible by consumer spending.)
Much of Art Nouveau actually came to represent those who saw female liberation as a mistake, as part of the market shifted towards bitter old men. Art Nouveau jewelry explicitly turned female forms into wearable tokens that reduced them to mere objects, often melding female forms with plants into strange chimeras. And lets not get started on Rupert Carabin's carved wood furniture, seriously, it's all tastelessly misogynistic(and very NSFW). What makes Bayonetta powerful is not just her hair, but her choice to exercise her free will and go out and kick some Angel ass, the same type of moral freedom that many at the turn of the century worried would throw society into chaos. By fetishizing the female form, without actually respecting the women who actually emobided those forms, Art Nouveau artists and patrons looked to control them and prevent them from acting out. So much like Bayonetta, there are valid concerns that Art Nouveau also objectifies women through use of the othering and the male gaze, but whether those elements outweigh the positive, empowering depictions is up to the viewer.
So, in summary, the art team at Platinum drew upon the alluring stylistic elements of Art Nouveau to help make the game look like nothing else on the market, but the relationship with the art style is also closely related to the story and specific historic trends that were occurring in tandem with Art Nouveau. What are your thoughts, did Bayonetta's art style draw you in or repel you? Is your Japanese better than mine and can you tell if the designers were actually talking about Art Nouveau?

Thanks for reading this far, hope you enjoyed the pretty pictures. If you enjoyed this thread then I'd suggest you check out my last thread on how Breath of the Wild draws upon 19th century painting for its style and scenery.
 

purseowner

Member
May 31, 2015
6,310
4
0
Wow OP. This is amazing. Will read in full later - seriously impressive work, would love to see more like this on GAF.
 

jordanhowe

Neo Member
Feb 19, 2015
33
0
0
This honestly might be the best OP post I have read on GAF. Bravo Sir.

Will most definitely be checking out the Breath of the Wild thread too.
 

Raptomex

Member
Sep 1, 2011
9,352
63
645
29
gamingpastime.com
This is both awesome and informative. As a graphic designer, myself, I love seeing how seeing art inspires people's work. This is a great analysis of the game's connection to Art Nouveau.

I love Bayonetta. One of my favorite female protagonists in games. She's badass, stylish, and kicks ass. Plus, the world she inhabits has some great art design.
 

Liabe Brave

Member
Jan 23, 2007
4,509
0
1,000
Lawrenceville, GA
There's a lot here to respond to, but my initial thoughts can be summed this way: there's too much techno-fetishism in Bayonetta for it to be fully aligned with art nouveau. I think it has more in common with art deco throughout. The complex flat designs such as the umbral portals use little of art nouveau's variable-width vegetal line, and have more in common with mandala art.
 

popyea

Member
Aug 24, 2012
1,764
0
0
www.popyea.tumblr.com
Thanks for writing this! I recognised the art nouveau elements of Vigrid, but didn't realise how much they inspired the character and her surrounding iconography. Stuff like the ribbons in her hair and gold detailing on her costume are connecting with Art Nouveau really obviously for me now.
 

Dyle

Member
Dec 20, 2014
1,285
0
255
Appleton, WI
Wow OP. This is amazing. Will read in full later - seriously impressive work, would love to see more like this on GAF.
Me too, Art History-GAF is weak af
There's a lot here to respond to, but my initial thoughts can be summed this way: there's too much techno-fetishism in Bayonetta for it to be fully aligned with art nouveau. I think it has more in common with art deco throughout. The complex flat designs such as the umbral portals use little of art nouveau's variable-width vegetal line, and have more in common with mandala art.
That's a good point and one that didn't really fit in the OP. I think much of this is due to Bayonetta existing in a world where both the high-tech metropolis of Isla del Sol and the sleepy Art Nouveau town of Vigrid are a mere highway apart. The lack of any interest in the organic world of vines and flowers is definitely the main missing aspect of Art Nouveau, which doesn't quite fit in Bayonetta. The big tower that makes up the penultimate level is some wonderfully dystopian Art Deco nonsense. Much of what prompted the creation Art Nouveau was a deep unsettling fear about how new tech and societal norms where changing life for the worse, and we see the same concept in Bayonetta where the evil foes use their Art Deco tech to intiate the rebirth of Jubileus. Bayonetta, like all of Kamiya-san's games, are so full of references and diverse inspirations that it's hard to pin down any one idea or style.

 

Net_Wrecker

Member
Jul 16, 2009
32,837
0
0
Thanks for this. Fascinating read. Bayo 1 received a lot of flak for the way it uses light/color, but I've always felt there was some credit due to the way it commits 150% to its dense hodgepodge of styles. This thread puts a new twist on some other areas of the game's visuals that I'd never make a connection with otherwise. Also, idk why, but that Loie Fuller vid hypnotized the hell out of me.
 

Asriel

Member
Oct 29, 2011
879
0
0
There's a lot here to respond to, but my initial thoughts can be summed this way: there's too much techno-fetishism in Bayonetta for it to be fully aligned with art nouveau. I think it has more in common with art deco throughout. The complex flat designs such as the umbral portals use little of art nouveau's variable-width vegetal line, and have more in common with mandala art.
I'm in agreement with Art Deco over Art Nouveau, but a really interesting writing.
 

JonnyDBrit

Member
May 14, 2015
7,470
1
0
I feel like Bayonetta may have sort of a general... 'Golden Age' aesthetic as such, covering the post-World War 1 period up to World War 2. Many of its cutscenes are rendered like reels of film - cinema being the hot medium of the age - the airplanes are inspired by the likes of the Martin M-130, and as mentioned above, the evident artistic references to Art Deco and Art Nouveau. Hell, one can tie the game's fascination with witches in a religious context to movements of the time, inspired by the likes of Margaret Murray, promoting the Witch-cult hypothesis. It is a cavalcade of era appropriate inspirations - which makes it really nice to have an in-depth examination of one of them, as in the OP.

Good work.
 

Vandole

Member
Aug 11, 2013
1,160
8
365
Great post. For more slightly gamer related examples of Art Nouveau look up the Little Nemo in Slumberland. The NES title (and forgotten arcade game) was based on the box office bomb Little Nemo Adventures in Slumberland, but both the game and movie had some nice tributes to the original comic strip.

 

gabbo

Member
Jun 25, 2011
13,377
0
0
Ontario
By fetishizing the female form, without actually respecting the women who actually emobided those forms, Art Nouveau artists and patrons looked to control them and prevent them from acting out.
I think there's more to mine from this idea in relation to Bayonetta. She is depicted as a liberated female who can survive on her own and can get around of her own accord without needing a male, but the character model is also highly fetishized (her sexuality is the subject of several threads on GAF, go search them out).

Of course, due to the the very nature of video games she is a literal woman as object that players control the actions of, a modern extension of the jewelry analogue from the turn of the previous century. She can only act in ways that are both predetermined by the code of others and by the person holding the controller.
 

JonnyDBrit

Member
May 14, 2015
7,470
1
0
I think there's more to mine from this idea in relation to Bayonetta. She is depicted as a liberated female who can survive on her own and can get around of her own accord without needing a male, but the character model is also highly fetishized (her sexuality is the subject of several threads on GAF, go search them out).

Of course, due to the the very nature of video games she is a literal woman as object that players control the actions of, a modern extension of the jewelry analogue from the turn of the previous century. She can only act in ways that are both predetermined by the code of others and by the person holding the controller.
Plus in the story itself, Bayonetta is manipulated by a man and basically treated as little better than an object despite his platitudes, as touched on in the parallels to Salomé. The one to save her from basically being a battery for Jubileus is a woman similarly manipulated by that same man. Indeed, Bayonetta's imprisonment comes about because of a jewel she wears upon her person.
 

SilentRob

Member
May 27, 2015
2,876
0
0
THis is really, really cool and interesting. You should try apporaching Kotaku, Waypoint, Polygon or someone along those lines with this idea, I'm sure some of them would be interested in a biggert article examining games from this perspective.
 

Drinkel

Member
Sep 14, 2010
773
0
0
Wow this is one of the most informative posts I've seen on GAF. Thank you!
I don't really have much to add, I've always been very fascinated and conflicted about the style of Bayonetta and it's good to know about the history behind a lot of these things.

unrelated but I'm guessing the artstyle of Abyss Odysey is also based in Art Nouveau?
 

Astral/H3X

Member
Aug 17, 2012
10,178
0
0
SOMEWHERE. In Indiana
Plus in the story itself, Bayonetta is manipulated by a man and basically treated as little better than an object despite his platitudes, as touched on in the parallels to Salomé. The one to save her from basically being a battery for Jubileus is a woman similarly manipulated by that same man. Indeed, Bayonetta's imprisonment comes about because of a jewel she wears upon her person.
That being said, in both Bayonetta and Jeanne's case, they break free of that influence.

And then punch god into the sun
 

Dyle

Member
Dec 20, 2014
1,285
0
255
Appleton, WI
Damn. If Killscreen didn't screw up I'd ask you to contribute to them.

Looking forward for when you'll try to do more focused, more polished exploratory pieces. I know that the wonderful http://www.heterotopiaszine.com/contact/ looks for that stuff so you may want to look into that?
THis is really, really cool and interesting. You should try apporaching Kotaku, Waypoint, Polygon or someone along those lines with this idea, I'm sure some of them would be interested in a biggert article examining games from this perspective.
Glad you enjoyed it. Video games and art history have never quite meshed as well as I wished they did and so there's tons of interesting research to be done on topics like this. I'd love to freelance write about this stuff, maybe some day.

Thanks for this. Fascinating read. Bayo 1 received a lot of flak for the way it uses light/color, but I've always felt there was some credit due to the way it commits 150% to its dense hodgepodge of styles. This thread puts a new twist on some other areas of the game's visuals that I'd never make a connection with otherwise. Also, idk why, but that Loie Fuller vid hypnotized the hell out of me.
Loie is the best, I wish we had full color videos with sound and everything to really get a full sense of whatever the hell she was doing. Her life story is super wild, most of the money/acclaim she made from her productions was actually not from the shows themselves, but from patents relating to her use of theatre lights and rudimentary special effects. Loie was a savvy buisnesswoman who is too often only remembered for her dancing.

I love Bayonetta and Art Nuveau, the OP is amazing.

Mucha's influence can also be seen in the alpha gameplay trailers:
https://youtu.be/1RIbvKYYc4k?t=292

Where the game and menu UI was much thicker
Oh, I'd never seen that before. That UI is absurd, in the best way, I'd be awesome if someone could mod the Steam version to have that.

I feel like Bayonetta may have sort of a general... 'Golden Age' aesthetic as such, covering the post-World War 1 period up to World War 2. Many of its cutscenes are rendered like reels of film - cinema being the hot medium of the age - the airplanes are inspired by the likes of the Martin M-130, and as mentioned above, the evident artistic references to Art Deco and Art Nouveau. Hell, one can tie the game's fascination with witches in a religious context to movements of the time, inspired by the likes of Margaret Murray, promoting the Witch-cult hypothesis. It is a cavalcade of era appropriate inspirations - which makes it really nice to have an in-depth examination of one of them, as in the OP.

Good work.
Yes, this is sort of why its difficult to talk about this topic. There are so many similar but different sources of influence that can easily be conflated and turn a thesis into a mess, which is why I chose to focus on Art Nouveau works. Someone could totally write a whole book just running down the TV Tropes pages for the games and identifying where Platinum borrowed and built upon established ideas.

I think there's more to mine from this idea in relation to Bayonetta. She is depicted as a liberated female who can survive on her own and can get around of her own accord without needing a male, but the character model is also highly fetishized (her sexuality is the subject of several threads on GAF, go search them out).

Of course, due to the the very nature of video games she is a literal woman as object that players control the actions of, a modern extension of the jewelry analogue from the turn of the previous century. She can only act in ways that are both predetermined by the code of others and by the person holding the controller.
Plus in the story itself, Bayonetta is manipulated by a man and basically treated as little better than an object despite his platitudes, as touched on in the parallels to Salomé. The one to save her from basically being a battery for Jubileus is a woman similarly manipulated by that same man. Indeed, Bayonetta's imprisonment comes about because of a jewel she wears upon her person.
The sex and gender politics of Bayonetta are insane. I imagine we'll still be trying to determine to what degree the game exploits, satirizes, and tosses aside female stereotypes many years from now on NeoNeoNeoGaf. One thing that is interesting to me is how the use of jewelry in Bayonetta 2 switches from being a core plot element to simply window dressing, thus changing the relationship between Bayonetta and her clothing. While her outfit in Bayo 1 dictates her actions in the story and in part perpetuates the dumb amnesia trope, in Bayo 2 she simply wears sparkly jewelry because she can; it holds no power over her. We can see this same shift in Art Deco jewelry which moved away from the somewhat creepy designs that turned female bodies into chimeras of dragonflies and jewels in favor of simply letting the valuable minerals speak for themselves. Consider how women in the 1920s saw another level of social freedom by wearing flapper dresses and cutting their hair into bobs, a shift in style similar to Bayonetta's new look in the sequel.
Wow this is one of the most informative posts I've seen on GAF. Thank you!
I don't really have much to add, I've always been very fascinated and conflicted about the style of Bayonetta and it's good to know about the history behind a lot of these things.

unrelated but I'm guessing the artstyle of Abyss Odysey is also based in Art Nouveau?
Oh totally, that looks really nice. I'll put it on my steam wishlist
 

JonnyDBrit

Member
May 14, 2015
7,470
1
0
That being said, in both Bayonetta and Jeanne's case, they break free of that influence.

And then punch god into the sun
Yep, which complicates the whole notion of liberation vs exploitation in and around the text even further.

The sex and gender politics of Bayonetta are insane. I imagine we'll still be trying to determine to what degree the game exploits, satirizes, and tosses aside female stereotypes many years from now on NeoNeoNeoGaf. One thing that is interesting to me is how the use of jewelry in Bayonetta 2 switches from being a core plot element to simply window dressing, thus changing the relationship between Bayonetta and her clothing. While her outfit in Bayo 1 dictates her actions in the story and in part perpetuates the dumb amnesia trope, in Bayo 2 she simply wears sparkly jewelry because she can; it holds no power over her. We can see this same shift in Art Deco jewelry which moved away from the somewhat creepy designs that turned female bodies into chimeras of dragonflies and jewels in favor of simply letting the valuable minerals speak for themselves. Consider how women in the 1920s saw another level of social freedom by wearing flapper dresses and cutting their hair into bobs, a shift in style similar to Bayonetta's new look in the sequel.
...God, hadn't even thought about that. That latter point especially I think is worth noting. Bayonetta visually goes from 'very obviously a witch', even wearing it as her regular outfit when driving around with Enzo, to being much more a woman of modernity, wearing what she wants as she goes shopping in the sequel; from being defined by the archetype/stereotype to greater defining herself.
 

Sub Boss

Member
Mar 6, 2013
20,397
22
485
Bravo op 👏

The technical aspects were crude on the first game but its clear alit if thought was put into the art direction and characters. Very little Bayonetta 2 and its venice inspired setting though :(
 

Vilix

I think Bayonetta and Samus are more iconic than Lara Croft.
Aug 9, 2006
9,054
0
1,175
Great job, OP! I didn't realize Bayonetta's art was based on a certain art style. Awesome info.
 
May 22, 2011
30,475
2
0
Yep, which complicates the whole notion of liberation vs exploitation in and around the text even further.



...God, hadn't even thought about that. That latter point especially I think is worth noting. Bayonetta visually goes from 'very obviously a witch', even wearing it as her regular outfit when driving around with Enzo, to being much more a woman of modernity, wearing what she wants as she goes shopping in the sequel; from being defined by the archetype/stereotype to greater defining herself.
IMO that sounds like an allegory to the game itself too.
 

Sub Boss

Member
Mar 6, 2013
20,397
22
485
Plus in the story itself, Bayonetta is manipulated by a man and basically treated as little better than an object despite his platitudes, as touched on in the parallels to Salomé. The one to save her from basically being a battery for Jubileus is a woman similarly manipulated that same man. Indeed, Bayonetta's imprisonment comes about because of a jewel she wears upon her person.
No it doesn't. The Eyes wete not jewels
 

sleazefrenzy

Member
Jul 23, 2013
266
1
320
UK
Great read! I fell in love with Paris whist visiting for a week, in no small part due to its Art Nouveau touches all around the place. I really should pick up a decent art book and read up on it more.

As someone else said above, I made the connection between Vigrid and Gaudi's work but had no idea about Loie Fuller. Some of the video footage of her on YouTube is hypnotic.

Cheers for spending the time to write this up.
 

JonnyDBrit

Member
May 14, 2015
7,470
1
0
No it doesn't. The Eyes wete not jewels
I realise that in the context of the game's narrative the Left Eye isn't literally the jewel Bayonetta wears - rather it's Bayonetta herself - but it does play a part in...

Hold on...

God I replayed this recently and the story is still annoying to parse.

*one google search later*

Huh, so the jewel is what Jeanne used to seal her away all those years ago (or tried to). Which sorta vaguely fits into what I was talking about but not quite due to lack of association with Balder. Ah well.
 

Astral/H3X

Member
Aug 17, 2012
10,178
0
0
SOMEWHERE. In Indiana
Yep, which complicates the whole notion of liberation vs exploitation in and around the text even further.



...God, hadn't even thought about that. That latter point especially I think is worth noting. Bayonetta visually goes from 'very obviously a witch', even wearing it as her regular outfit when driving around with Enzo, to being much more a woman of modernity, wearing what she wants as she goes shopping in the sequel; from being defined by the archetype/stereotype to greater defining herself.
You could probably make a good argument in that the story of Bayonetta is about her liberating herself, especially with the elements mentioned of Bayo 2.

But, all of that is going very meta -- it's possible we're going beyond what the creators ever even thought about.
 

Aske

Member
Jul 25, 2006
5,801
0
0
Canada
You could probably make a good argument in that the story of Bayonetta is about her liberating herself, especially with the elements mentioned of Bayo 2.

But, all of that is going very meta -- it's possible we're going beyond what the creators ever even thought about.
Which creators were responsible for which elements of the game's design is also crucially important; because it helps to contextualise the motivation behind their artistic choices. Bayonetta's look (and proportions) were dreamed up and drawn by a woman, but she was obliged to incorporate glasses for example at Kamiya's insistence.

Looking at the game in a vacuum, it's easy to read feminism, misogyny, and/or nothing but irony into its design; but if the whole team was comprised of women, it would be interpreted by its audience very differently.

The awesome (but problematic?) carved wood chairs linked in the OP which incorporate BDSM imagery are another example of the necessity of context to inform interpretation. There's a big difference between art that illustrates the sexualised enslavement of women, and art that celebrates the sexual liberation of a consensual and mutually pleasurable dom/sub relationship.
 

Yabberwocky

Member
Jan 25, 2013
3,959
1
0
Fantastic post, OP, thank you so much for sharing. I hadn't realized some of the pose homages, too, wow.
 

grandwizard

Member
Sep 15, 2013
3,649
0
0
Bayo 1's artstyle is kind of why I never really minded the 'piss filter' that gives it that washed out, otherworldly look. They were clearly going for a style and hitting it, and I do think Bayo 2 while initially more pleasing to look at beacuse of it's high contrast doesn't have as striking a look as the first game because of it.