Why Did Future Think Releasing a Misogynistic Game Would be a Good Idea?
We love Future's music, but his promotional image is doing him no favours.
“What u think about my new video game? Yeah or No” – Future tweeted yesterday, referring to a promotional flash game for the single “I Won” in which players are invited to throw gold chains at bikini-clad women.
In the game, the backs of Future and Kanye West’s heads rest atop beach chairs while “I Won” plays on a loop in the background. The player uses the mouse to throw chains at running, face-less, semi-nude women with the aim of turning them into trophies; sort of like something on Miniclip, but with pixelated sexism in place of Looney Tunes characters.
It’s hard to tell if Future wants to hear anything other than praise – public figures (let alone rappers) rarely invite anything other than admiration with every hundred-and-forty character dispatch; retweeting compliments and using their “mentions” as lubrication for ego-masturbation. So, it feels strange that Future would even consider his audience not enjoying the game. Perhaps he really wanted to know what you, the audience, thinks of the online time-waster and whether it’s a good way of avoiding work and incessant Facebook group-chat threads. Perhaps he had no real interest in an outside-house promo tool but was forced to tweet about it otherwise he would no longer be able to expense for sunglasses. Or maybe he simply typed into the ether without thinking too hard about it?
The latter is the most appropriate. The “I Won” game – designed by Uprising Creative, the same company that produced the infamous Juicy J stripper promo game – is the result of people not thinking hard enough about the product they’re selling and farting it out. It’s a placement of clichéd misogyny and a backwards move; it sullies Future and the career that he’s building for himself.
The game is conducted in the hope that you will hit the embedded iTunes link afterwards – a tactic that worked with March’s promo game set to “Move That Dope”, a move that helped to shift eleven thousand digital units of the single. But, where “Move That Dope” found a thematic relationship between the song’s hypnotic crime wrangling and the Grand Theft Auto-esque gameplay, “I Won” fails. Not only is it boring after about fifteen seconds, it’s reminiscent of a Leisure Suit Larry title - an old Playstation game that was created for weird men that get turned on by pixelated soft-porn instead of conversing with real people.
Turning featureless-yet-objectified bikini babes into literal objects has gone down as well as you’d imagine; outlets from Spin to Huffpo deemed the game an icy exercise in sexism and it's surprising that Jezebel hasn’t had an aneurysm and put a bounty on Future’s head. Yet, none of the articles lay the blame on the people involved – Uprising Creative, the label, the marketing team – but at the feet of the artists being promoted. For Kanye – a man criticised on everything from his uncomfortable harem depictions to yelling at Sway about Ralph Lauren – this is another day at the office. But Future is still a fairly unproven brand to a mainstream audience outside of hip-hop, and the "I Won" game will cement him in many people’s minds as a lazy misogynist. And the more worrying part is; it’s also his fault and he seems unaware. Surely Future, if he wanted, could have put his foot down and not signed off on the game being released? We contacted Uprising Creative but they didn’t reply.
The “I Won” game boxes in Future, ignoring the reasons as to why many fans love him – his fluidity as an artist. Sure, “I Won” flirts with a gross trophy wife conceit, an idea that finds its home in Yeezy’s papparazo-column verse, but Future’s use of the word “trophy” is more triumph than ownership; he’s celebrating falling in love. He’s a trophy, she’s a trophy; he wins, she wins, everyone wins. It’s a method that Future repeats through his recent Honest album – digging for emotion and finding it, sometimes in swathes of repetition and sometimes going back to the well and finding more and more layers to a single line. Look at the furious-then-mournful repetition of “you remember me” on ‘T-Shirt’ or ‘I Won’ and it’s randy-then-gleeful “That ass getting fatter, and I know it’s because of me!” affirmations – a platitude that’s been flipped on the head as Future uses it to describe how he and Ciara have reached a level of comfort.
Future fits into a number of musical lineages and trends - from Auto-Tuned vocalists to the Dungeon Family’s musical heritage - but that doesn’t hold a candle to quite how alien his music is. In the case of ‘I Won’, it’s layered, smart and emotionally charged, but there stands a chance of it being associated with a gross online time-killer. This is a shame, especially when taking in the artist’s intentions with the song. Talking to Pitchfork last month, Future said “I Won” was about “uplifting women in general”. Yet, one look at the leader board for Uprising Creative’s game shows that mission statement has been twisted or finagled in the process. Kevin, William, Karmal; those bros scored in the game, but off the back of this, it looks like nobody’s winning a damn thing.
Follow Daniel on Twitter: @danielmondon