Once more, CD Projekt RED has had to respond to backlash concerning a Cyberpunk 2077 controversy. This time, the issue involves an in-universe ad featured in a Cyberpunk 2077 screenshot. The ad in question depicts a female-identifying transgender person casually sipping soda named Chromaticure. It’s a fitting brand name, considering its “16 flavors you’d love to mix” slogan and the “Mix It Up” tagline. However, upon closer inspection, fans noticed the trans woman was depicted with a penis, a seemingly insensitive portrayal that warrants discussion at least, especially since the studio has been embroiled in similar controversy before. With E3 2019 well underway, a representative of the studio was asked to address the brewing contention.
During a meeting with developers, Polygon writer Charlie Hall spoke with the artist behind the advertisement, Kasia Redesiuk. When questioned about the use of a transgender model, Redesiuk cited an in-game reason. This model is being used by an in-universe corporation as just “a thing.” The artist explained, “Personally, for me, this person is sexy. I like how this person looks. However, 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.”
This ad, then, represents an example of the hypersexualization seen across modern advertisements, with a futuristic, transhumanistic slant added on. Because there are people in Cyberpunk 2077’s world who can afford to leisurely augment themselves and enjoy publicly showing that off, megacorporations exploit them. Therefore, those who identify as gender non-conforming are a corporation’s preferred means of selling products.
According to Redesiuk, the advertisement was crafted to give the audience pause. Not because of the trans model, specifically, but to shine a light on the horrors of a megacorporation-ruled dystopia. Redesiuk continued,
Cyberpunk 2077 is a dystopian future where megacorporations dictate everything. They try to, and successfully, influence people’s lives. They shove products down their throats. They 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.
This is all to show that [much like in our modern world], hypersexualization in advertisements is just terrible. 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.
When asked to address the concerns of those offended by the poster, Redesiuk said it was never the studio’s “intention to offend anyone.” The ad was meant to “show how oversexualization of people is bad. And that’s it.” She added,
I think that sexy bodies are sexy. Full disclosure: I love female bodies. I love male bodies. I love bodies in between. This is who I am. However, I hate it when it’s used commercially. And that’s exactly what we want to show by doing this exactly, by showing how big corporations use people’s bodies against them.
Finally, Redesiuk said she hopes such ads will open the door for others to feel empathy towards the LGBTQ community.
We need it. I honestly think we need it because we need more acceptance in the world, and we need to also show how the goodness of people is sometimes used against them. And I would really love for the world to change and be a better place for everyone.
Could Cyberpunk 2077 bridge that gap, inspire discourse that many don’t often feel comfortable engaging in? It’s possible. After all, science fiction has always turned a mirror to contemporary social issues, encouraging people to think beyond their own personal experiences and biases. Perhaps one day the same will be said of CD Projekt RED’s upcoming title.
CD Projekt Addresses Controversy About In-Game Cyberpunk 2077 Ad
Cyberpunk 2077 will launch on April 16, 2020 for the PlayStation 4, PC, and Xbox One.