Gearbox Writer Responds To Allegations Of Racism In Borderlands 2 Character ‘Tiny Tina’
Like its predecessor, a distinct attribute of Borderlands 2 is its crass humor—especially in its depiction of stereotypical characters, who are often played up for laughs. Notably, Scooter the mechanic is depicted as a stereotypically incestuous redneck who has a crush on his morbidly obese sister. Arguably, it is these characters who lend the game much of its flair.
Despite its low-brow humor, the game has never been accused of racism—until now.
The issue was brought up by @mikesacco, who expressed his discontent over Borderlands 2 writer Anthony Burch’s depiction of Tiny Tina as an ebonics-slinging potty-mouthed teenager.
“I really like BL2′s writing, but Tiny Tina’s trope of ‘white girl talkin’ like them urban folk!!’ has got to go,” wrote Sacco.
“Have you never met white people who use that kind of language? Tina is based on several I know personally,” wrote Burch, who appeared confused as to why it could be considered ‘racist’ that Tiny Tina used ‘black lingo’ (his words). Burch further elaborated that his use of certain words in Tiny Tina’s dialog were more for their rhythm than any racial or class allusions.
Other users on Twitter were quick to join in the ensuing back-and-forth, with some offering their support for Burch, and others for Sacco. One user, agreeing with Sacco, equated Tiny Tina’s speech to “verbal blackface.”
Randy Pitchford, Gearbox president, expressed his support for Burch. “Tina is not racist because you are not racist. You’re a pillar of tolerance and inclusion,” wrote Pitchford.
In concluding the dialogue, Burch conceded that he is intent on soliciting feedback and willing to alter Tiny Tina’s use of ebonics for future content if need be.
“I’m just not convinced that a character using lingo like badonkadonk/crunk is inherently racist. If I’m wrong I would like to know why,” wrote Burch. He continued: “The last thing I want to be is exclusionary or prejudice, so if Tina truly is problematic I’ll change her.”
The dialogue has since garnered the attention of Kotaku, prompting even more users to contribute their opinions to the matter and respond to Burch.