As a pinay (and the token Filipino of Boston), I don’t have an issue with Josie Rizal.
Recently, Josie Rizal has been getting a ton of heat from culture critics after Tekken 7 announced the latest character. Josie Rizal is a pinay (not sure if she’s Filipino American or just Filipino) and she’s a kick boxer and utilizes Filipino martial arts. Filipino martial arts has been used in a ton of Hollywood movies lately. Most notably, The Bourne Identity films have utilized this fighting style. Fighting games don’t have a ton of Filipino characters. Certainly, there’s Talim in Soul Calibur, but it’s just something that always surprised me that there wasn’t more of. I would have been fine if Josie was male, female, trans (considering Manila is the #2 spot in Asia for gender surgeries), etc. I would have been fine if Josie was also a cross dressing guy.
Sources have mentioned that she’s not Filipino enough, whatever that’s supposed to mean. Critics point out her outfit is not Filipino enough. If it were a guy, would you wanted to have him don Ifugao tribal wear or a barong? Even if Josie Rizal did wear a sexified version of a Maria Clara outfit, she would still get critique. Considering that we live in an era where what video game characters wear are scrutinized, she would be under harsh critique by culture critics anyway. Critics also want her speaking in Tagalog. Guess what? My parents, the relatives that still talk to me, and my crossdressing hair stylist also want me speaking more Tagalog! I’m more likely to say “Oh shit!” if I’m hurt than “Aray!” Most Filipinos overseas are actually fluent in English, believe it or not. If the creators were to reveal she’s Catholic, then culture critics would then say she’s a victim of colonization and needs to detox her colonialism asap. You can’t please them all.
I’m totally fine with people having differing opinions and thoughts on the media we enjoy. However, Tekken 7 has not come out yet. We know so little of Josie. People are just ready to jump at her like the killer in a Kris Aquino slasher flick. If anything, I’m happy she’s not done up like some AZN (ie: Asian American appropriating afro-urban culture, see rice rockets) pretending to be Black just like some of popular pinays (with serious identity issues) I went to high school with. Josie looks cute, she kinds reminds me of my fellow pinay friend, Cherry Tea Girl from the cosplay scene. I just want her to have her own personality and not have her be a token. Granted, I have ideas of what I’d like her to be like, but that’s just my imagination (bonus karaoke scene, yes?).
Bottom Line? Tekken owes these critics nothing. I’m actually looking forward getting into Tekken a lot more leading up to Tekken’s release. I’ll admit I’ve only seen the movie and watched friends play the game. In my early 30s, it’s often tough to find the time between professional life and a time to sit down getting into a new franchise that I’m not already immersed in. Until then, I’ll wait until the reviews and let’s plays for Tekken 7 to come out. If anything, I’m looking forward seeing more of her story arc. Before we jump to conclusions, let’s wait until the game comes out, yes?
I’d also want to point out that Tekken has a bear, kangaroo, and a panda as playable characters. Keep the franchise funky and fresh!
– Eri Kagami of the Blue Rose Society
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