Mad World: Is the Bayonetta Campaign Innovative Advertising or Sexual Harassment Training?

Anita Sarkeesian
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The widely popular video game Bayonetta boasts an advertising campaign that rivals the onscreen sexism of the game itself. In Tokyo, a large billboard in the subway invited passersby to literally strip off flyers to reveal Bayonetta naked underneath. The campaign perpetuates and encourages sexual and physical harassment against women, an epidemic in Japan (and many other countries, including the United States). Check it out:

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Links to Bayonetta Billboard Images:

Full transcript available at This video has English subtitles on YouTube and is available to be translated at DotSub into many different languages. Please help reach global audiences by translating!

Anita Sarkeesian is a feminist media literacy advocate, pop culture critic and fair use proponent. She maintains an ongoing web series of video commentaries from a fangirl/feminist/anti-oppression perspective at her website

OH_Logo.jpg This project was made possible in part by a grant from Oregon Humanities (OH), a statewide nonprofit organization and an independent affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, which funds OH’s grant program. Any views, findings, and conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of Oregon Humanities or the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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5 Comments Have Been Posted


I completely agree with all the points you make in this video, but just as a note, the in-game logic for why she has to take her clothes off to use her hair as a weapon is that the black suit she wears all the time actually is made of her hair. She unwinds it from its standard skin-tight position around her body to use it for other purposes.

The misogynistic elements of the game are particularly upsetting to me because mechanically, I find Bayonetta the most innovative and thrilling game yet this year.

So much love for this series

Anita, you fucking rule. This video series is so great. I love the fact that you made the connection between the subway poster campaign and the problem of harassment on Japanese subways. The Japanese game Rapelay, which I think has been discussed on this site already, also has scenes in subways where the player stalks and assaults female passengers, but honestly just thinking about that game makes me feel ill and detracts from thinking about how awesome your deconstruction is.

Another great job! thanks

Another great job! thanks for your critique.

Caro is right. Also, she's

Caro is right. Also, she's not a single mom. You make a lot of great points, but you don't have all the facts. These facts aren't clearly huge, and they don't defend the obvious flaws of this game. But it is a fun game, and it is one of the few games that are as well-made and have a female lead. As a woman who enjoys gaming, it was really nice being able to play as a woman. Despite the awful over-sexualization...

Bayonetta is sexual empowering, not sexual objectification

First off, I'm a guy so maybe I'm severely biased to video games. But to answer the journalist's question, I believe the Bayonetta campaign to be innovative advertising simply because it's new and no one has done that before. I have no say about the other matter simply because I haven't been to Japan myself and I don't trust statistic that much to form such a negative opinion about a video game ad campaign. This is like Jack Thompson's argument over GTA making kids going nuts, a strawman argument.

About the Bayonetta parts itself, I see that the journalist is successful to reveal the sexual nature of Bayonetta, yet she deems this as a bad thing because it's pervy. I say nay to this. Erotica is different than to porn. Erotica is about appealing, being attractive and ultimately about the arousal of sexual desires. Bayonetta is about this, the character, the game, the whole point of the story and setting are the celebration of sexual security and freedom. This is not porn, this is not degrading the body parts of a female/male to stimulate boners. I find it funny that the journalist lists one single thing as positive for Bayonetta and completely fails at it because she didn't play the game, yet she conveniently forgets that she's strong, independent, sexy, and self-aware that she's sexy. Are these negative traits now? Over-sexualization is bad when there is no point for it and it's only there for service and jerk off, but sexualization is the whole point of this game, it is not irrelevant to the story nor context, Bayonetta knows she's attractive and she shows her attractiveness with confidence and with total choices of her actions and without anyone forcing her. That's pretty progressive and is the opposite of misogyny.

To sum it all, Bayonetta is not sexist or misogynist at all, in my opinion. And I know this is too much for ask for the modern, "blogging" kind of journalist, but shouldn't the journalist at least do some research before writing a piece? Especially about a video game, shouldn't Mrs. Sarkeesian plays it first before making judgements? Isn't that basically prejudice?

Well, that was a long reply. Thanks for reading.

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