Mass Effect 2 is eleven years old in 2021, and that means that when we replay it as part of the Mass Effect: Legendary Edition remasters, we’re going to have to reckon with some things as the series is brought back into the spotlight in a modern era. Whether that be its calculated decision to exclude queer men or the way it treats sex and romance like a trophy to be won. But it sounds like one of the series’ most egregious garbage treatments of women is going to be changed in the remasters when they launch on May 14: the gratuitous shots of Miranda Lawson’s ass.
Miranda is a squadmate in Mass Effect 2, who is a genetically engineered human designed to be “perfect.” She was created by her father to exemplify the best of humanity, which means she’s a genius, adept in combat, and is conventionally attractive. But her insecurity about these things is core to her character arc. She’s a person who has been told she is meant to be the golden standard for humanity, and that’s an unattainable standard, even for someone of her capabilities.
I loved her story of realizing that she doesn’t have to be anything she’s been told she should. By the end of Mass Effect 3, she’s found her purpose in her sister and her own achievements. However, despite the game telling a story of a woman pushing past these insecurities, the games were sure to frame these conversations in the most tone deaf, disrespectful ways by ensuring the camera would frequently frame shots with her backside in them. I’m talking shots with no compositional logic to them. Because they’re terrible, I will not be putting screencaps of them here. If you want to see what I’m talking about, a quick Google search will surely put you in the right direction.
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Well, it seems those might be altered in the Legendary Edition. In an interview with Metro, Project Director Mac Walters was asked about Mass Effect’s portrayal of women, and while sexualized models and storylines won’t be changed, shots of Miranda’s ass were specifically noted as something that would be seeing edits in the remasters.
“I do think a lot of things have evolved since [the original games] but I don’t know if I would say we were ultra-concerned about it or anything like that, but there were considerations,” Walters told Metro. “Kevin actually called out some camera cuts that were just… why was that focusing on Miranda’s butt? So in some cases we said, ‘Okay, we can make a change there’. But ultimately, to change an entire character model or something like that wasn’t really… it was a decision that was made as part of many creative decisions and just showing it at the best possible fidelity that we could going forward is really the choice for all of the art that we had.”
Over the years, the butt shots have been a very specific point of criticism of not only the Mass Effect games, but also, somehow, Miranda’s character. Despite the cinematography of these games existing separate of the writing and her arc in general. For more on how these shots and Bioware’s attempts to justify them, undermine one of the series’ best human characters, read Nat’s Ode to Miranda Lawson.