Was I Wrong About Borderlands 3’s Politics?

In a previous article, I took this stance:

The thing is, the first two games were kind of highly political. They were anti-corporation and anti-colonization. Corporations had completely messed up Pandora and left a bunch of people there to fend for themselves. You are basically a conquistador running into villages and killing everyone there for money and weapons. The third oneā€¦ It seems to have lost something.

The game is no longer anti-corporation. Sure, Maliwan is the one of the bad guys, but we now have Atlas and Jacobs under control of people who we befriend during the story. So, corporations are not bad after all? The main bad guys, on the other hand, are influencers. Yes. Influencers. Something you could mock in side missions, but not really something interesting enough to build the whole story on.

I’ve been playing the game again lately and I was thinking that maybe I was wrong. While Atlas and Jacobs still feel like pushing aside the real dangers of capitalism by inserting a good CEO, I have been thinking about the role the bandits play here.

It’s now the latter half of February 2022 and in my own personal bubble of the Internet, the Ottawa trucker protests are the main topic (aside the “cancellation” of Rogan). The truckers are far from a workers’ movement. They are funded by far-right capitalists from the US and they are doing their best to disrupt the lives of common citizens, which definitely isn’t something leftists would do. Also, their demands are all about vaccines, nothing for the working class. (The real shitty thing is – besides their clumsy DOS attack on local emergency numbers – that they brought their kids to be human shields. Like… fuck you. Fuck you so much.)

Certainly some of them are still just misguided people, who think they are doing the right thing, despite doing it in an extremely asshole way. But we see this everywhere. I already mentioned that I do have my own bubble. While I do believe (with a very good reason) that my personal philosophy has a more robust basis than most philosophies, most people don’t really have an underlying philosophy in their lives at all.

Their thinking is pretty simple: Life is shit, they have tried to fix it or seen someone trying to fix it, but failed, perhaps they’ve been a part of a political movement, but the election of certain individuals didn’t help at all, so they start trying to find other answers. There’s more than their fair share of QANon-people, who used to feel the Bern. They are not all right-wingers.

So, where the people writing Borderlands 3 aware of this? While I still don’t like the twins being the main villains, I have sort of come around to thinking that the Children of the Vault might be inspired by what’s going on in the world regarding this indocrination to various radical, fringe thinking that’s going on.

The problem with this theory is that the game came out in 2019 and had obviously been under development for years before that, so they would have had to have been somewhat prescient. In hindsight, the signs have been there for a long while, but the election of T***p in 2016 and especially his loss in 2020 have definitely brought this all to the limelight.

I might just be inserting something I shouldn’t into the narrative of the game, but on the other hand, maybe the writers weren’t adding this viewpoint consciously. We are always going to be affected by what’s going on around us whether we are aware of it or not.

I’m not sure whether it’s me or the game, but it is interesting that I still think about the game in this way after playing it for over two years. In general we should at least try to be aware of what the media we consume is trying to feed us, but in general I don’t think about anything for this long, which is a testament to the game.

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