CD Project Red Responds to Transphobic Criticisms by Saying the Ad is Meant to Reflect Corporate Exploitation

CD Projekt Red is facing backlash over a screenshot of an in-game advertisement that began circling during E3. The advertisement in question displays a possibly transgender model promoting a fictional drink. The slogan accompanying the fictional model reads “Mix it up” and “16 flavors you’d love to mix”. The criticisms are coming from a rather small community as opposed to universal condemnation.

Ana Valens, a transgender writer, and activist, recently tweeted saying, “If Cyberpunk 2077 treated girls’ dicks as just another facet of life, it would be fine. This ad shows that CDPR thinks trans people are weird, shocking, and fundamentally sexual. How do you “get” the joke? By looking at the model’s bulging erection. It’s a trope.”

In response, the artist responsible for designing the advertisement, Kasia Redesiuk, met with Polygon. She says”… this model is used – their beautiful body is used – for corporate reasons. They are displayed there just as a thing, and that’s the terrible part of it.” Corporations in Cyberpunk are targeting the trans community because it has become a lot more prevalent and accepted, with many transgender people finding success and wealth.

Redesiuk speaks about the aggressive marketing techniques of the companies, saying “hey create those very aggressive advertisements that use, and abuse, a lot of people’s needs and instincts. So, hypersexualization is apparent everywhere, and in our ads there are many examples of hypersexualized women, hypersexualized men, and hypersexualized people in between”.

“It was a conscious choice on our end to show that in this world—a world where you are a cyberpunk, a person fighting against corporations. That [advertisement] is what you’re fighting against.”

It seems that considering the companies are the antagonists then perhaps the story designers ability to harken so much real emotion speaks to their skills. Few people can become truly immersed in a game when the villain’s motives and deeds have no true impact on your psyche.

Valens responds to Redesiuk’s defense, stating “Cyberpunk is a complicated speculative fiction genre. Good commentary about trans experiences with gender can only come from a team actively embracing trans perspectives and commentary on gender, whether by working with trans people in sensitivity readings or outright letting them lead in writing and art creation”.

Valens response appears to be defiant in refusing to admit any overstep by her criticism. While it’s important to ensure transgender rights are protected and upheld, and people should do their best not to offend others, it is illogical to assume that you can not understand a phenomenon unless you experience it. Valens does bring up a good point that transgender people could be involved in better understanding the reasons – it is always better to diversify opinions and perspectives. It would also help percent any oversight or misunderstanding of complex, personal issues.

On the other hand, there is also the question of precedent to consider. Is it responsible to censor content because we are offended by it? Even if the point is to offend you and thereby make you despise an antagonist? Does it make sense for a villain to be politically correct?

How do you feel about the ad in Cyberpunk 2077? Let us know in the comments section below!