Main Grand Theft Auto 6 art showing the main two characters. (Rockstar)

The Very Predictable Reactions to the ‘GTA 6’ Teaser Trailer Are Tiring

After some people leaked the video a day early, Rockstar Games dropped the trailer for their much anticipated Grand Theft Auto 6 on December 4. Chipping away from the general excitement are the loud bigots online, who are mad that a game set in a fictional Miami looks like a real Miami.

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Immediately following the memes and jokes about how much time has gone by since the last game (a decade), the worst people came out to complain about the inclusion of different bodies in the game. I told myself I wasn’t going to say it, but it’s hard to talk around it. If GTA 6 released right after GTA 5, the trailer would have garnered the insult “politically correct,” or maybe something using the phrase “social justice warrior.” However, it’s the 2020s, so the word of the moment is “woke.” Yeah, people are calling GTA woke.

The politics of the satirical game are complicated. Through a compelling crime narrative, GTA lampoons American society and culture. Because society is largely conservative, the games more often (but not exclusively) made fun of conservatism. Like many violent games, it’s been blamed for a lot and criticized by a wide spectrum of political backgrounds. Over the years, Rockstar made improvements like coding out the NPC transphobia in the latest editions of GTA 5 and expanded the role of women in games like Red Dead Redemption. Also, the company claimed they stopped the anti-labor practice of release crunch. However, that hasn’t stopped people from accusing the latest trailer of pandering to people they hate. (Me.)

Looking at Lucia

Lucia in Grand Theft Auto VI trailer holding money in a car.
(Rockstar Games)

Now, “anti-SJW” voices online have criticized elements GTA 6 since game footage leaked last fall. That’s simply because the rumor that a Latina would lead the new game (if not co-lead) looked like more of a reality. A brown woman existing in media often immediately means “agenda” to the capital “G” gamers that took the wrong message away from “Gamergate.” (This includes those that look at those years as an isolated moment in time.)

The ire doesn’t just come from the leading lady, Lucia, being a women of color. Daniel Keem, a.k.a. Keemstar of DramaAlert, trended for reporting the “rumor” that Lucia is trans. Many people saw it and immediately began accusing him of just making this up and stirring up Gamers™. While that’s definitely Keemstar’s MO, I think there’s a good chance this really was a rumor that sprang up on some more gruesome parts of the web—places where terrible people congregate and professional vultures seek to report on without weighing the value and harms.

Regardless of the rumor’s origin, transvestigators jumped on this. They love to do it to any woman not made to appeal to straight white male fantasy. However, it’s a common accusation (that’s not even an insult) thrown towards Black and brown women. People see us as inherently more masculine in actions and in our bodies. If Lucia were queer in any way, she wouldn’t even be the first LGBTQ+ character in GTA. One of the three leads from the last game, Trevor, is a bisexual man and a Canadian immigrant.

Coast to coast

Grand Theft Auto 6 beach scene.
(Rockstar Games)

It’s not “just” anti-trans trash, though. Gamers™ complained about the broad and varied inclusion of women of color in the trailer in general. One viral tweet from a blue checkmark collaged nine images of Black people in the trailer with the text “It’s all so tiresome.” As Stoney Tha Great on TikTok pointed out, all the games have lots of Black and brown representation. This includes San Andreas, the second best-selling GTA game of all time.

Also, like the other GTA games, GTA 6 is set in a real-life diverse metropolitan area. Others have been set in the major cities of New York (Liberty City), Los Angeles (Los Santos), and Miami (Vice City). GTA 6 is set in Vice City—most of Miami is POC! There’s a lot of classism, racism, and colorism, but the majority of the population is not white.

Additionally, entire active threads on multiple major social media sites remain obsessed with the two-second beach scene. Here, people complained about a single fat, Black woman (still hourglass shaped and single-chinned) in a sea of people. I wish I could say that this reporting is just coming from the weirdo influencers online.

However, fake online university—funded by billionaire oil and gas executives—PragerU also complained about all of this. Even with my reservations and knowing I’ll have to wait until possibly the end of the decade for a PC port, I’m already tired of the hateful discourse about this game. Even more so, I hate that the third time I saw a brown woman onscreen, I knew it was all coming.

(featured image: Rockstar)

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Alyssa Shotwell
(she/her) Award-winning artist and writer with professional experience and education in graphic design, art history, and museum studies. She began her career in journalism in October 2017 when she joined her student newspaper as the Online Editor. This resident of the yeeHaw land spends most of her time drawing, reading and playing the same handful of video games—even as the playtime on Steam reaches the quadruple digits. Currently playing: Baldur's Gate 3 & Oxygen Not Included.

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