Mundfish Apologize For Old Soviet Union Cartoon Clip Accused Of Racism In ‘Atomic Heart,’ Says “We Will Edit The Parts In Question”
Mundfish have apologized, after a clip from a Soviet Union-era cartoon in Atomic Heart featured a racist depiction of a black person.
Mundfish apologized for the inclusion of a clip from a Soviet Union-era cartoon in Atomic Heart that has been accused of racism.
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The game is set in an alternate 1955, where the Soviet Union became a superpower via advanced robotics and technologies. To compliment the Russian setting, players can find clips from classic Russian cartoon Nu, Pogodi! The series launched in 1969 and ran until 2017. In 2014 it reportedly won a poll for Russian’s favorite cartoon.
The series features a wolf attempting to catch a hare, with cartoon slapstick as the wolf’s plans go wrong. While almost entirely devoid of dialogue, the wolf’s catchphrase is “Nu, Zayats… Nu, pogodi!,” roughly translated as “Well, Hare… Well, just you wait!” or “Well, wait a minute!” giving the series it’s name.
However, gaming press took offense to a clip from the 1978 episode “Museum.” In the scene that appears in Atomic Heart, the wolf attempts to force the hare out of hiding by launching stones from a catapult.
One of the rocks bounces off the wall, hits a mannequin, and causes a chain reaction that results in the wolf having to dodge various weapons before landing on the catapult himself.
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The accusation of racism came from the mannequin — on screen for less than two seconds — being a dated depiction of an African “tribal” person. Along with jet-black skin and giant red lips, they are wearing a a costume made of yellow and red feathers.
The other mannequins — a Roman and European soldier — aren’t depicted with a face, with stereotypical but basic costumes.
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The clip was discovered by streamers such as Ravs_, who were aghast at the dated depiction, or even possibly fearing a ban from Twitch. The gaming press also caught wind, including PC Gamer’s Joshua Wolens.
Wolens claims that it was “disturbing” that it was included without any content warning or context as some other classic cartoons had in re-releases. He wrote, “It’s the kind of thing—like Dumbo or the Jungle Book—that would get a “This programme includes negative depictions and/or mistreatment of people or cultures(opens in new tab)” warning if it were shown on streaming services like Disney+ or Netflix, and it’s disturbing that it’s included in Atomic Heart without any warning or contextualisation.”
Ironically, as noted above, Atomic Heart’s setting is in the Soviet Union in 1955, complete with their attitudes to the people of any nation that wasn’t part of the Union.
Responding to IGN, Atomic Heart developer Mundfish issued an apology, and stated there would be edits made, “The Mundfish team thanks the PCGamer contributor for bringing this lack of sensitivity to our attention. We apologize if using the vintage cartoon or music has caused hurt or insult. We will edit the parts in question.”
How the clip in question will be edited was not revealed at the time. Based on continuity (the rock hits the mannequin, making it shoot an arrow into another mannequin), it seems unlikely Mundfish would be able to remove the offending segment. This would mean they may rely on extensive redrawing, or removing the “Museum” clip in its entirety.
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While numerous gaming outlets such as Game Rant, Dual Shockers, and EuroGamer took offense at the depiction of the African warrior and decried it as racist, none of them reported on stereotypical depictions of another Nu, Pogodi! episode in Atomic Heart.
The 1980 episode “Olympics,” shows sportsmen arriving by plane, each an anthropomorphic rabbit or hare. Aside from a boxer with brown fur and curly black hair on his head (possibly representing the Cuban boxers who would go on to almost entirely sweep the gold medal positions at that year’s Summer Olympics), there is also a rabbit which seems to utilize Japaneses stereotypes.
The rabbit has yellow fur, black hair on its head, and is wearing a kimono. Along with squinting, the rabbit bows to the cheering crowd, before performing a kung-fu style kick.
He’s likely a contender in karate, also indicated by the karate chop style handshake he gives to the hare. When walking onto the bus, he is also in a stereotypical Japanese pose, with his hands together as though he was about to bow. While the character does have buck teeth, he is a rabbit or hare. The teeth are no larger than the other character’s.
Ironically, none of these gaming outlets that accused the cartoon of racism didn’t go after other stereotypical depictions of other cultures featured in the other episode. Obviously, stereotypical depictions of cultures are not inherently racist. They are stereotypes for a reason. But it begs the question as to why they would object to the African warrior and not these other depictions.
Mundfish may have more pressing matters, as the Ukrainian Government have stated their intent to request Atomic Heart be banned from sale in not just Ukraine, but also “limiting distribution” in other countries. They fear the game may help fund and glorify Russia.
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