Naughty Dog’s masterwork, The Last of Us, and the recent Left Behind DLC sparked controversy and discussion around two issues: Joel’s rescue of Ellie from the Fireflies and Ellie’s kissing of Riley.
On the surface these are two distinct matters. And, in fact, Joel’s morality and Ellie’s sexuality can and should be given due attention independent of one another. Each is impactful, consequential and full of meaning.
But, I argue, it is by thinking through the relationship between both of these issues that we might come to better understand the changing contours of contemporary culture. The ideas expressed in these striking moments of The Last of Us and the Left Behind DLC both concern gender and sexuality. Specifically, they speak to the death of heteronormativity, however excruciatingly protracted and melodramatic that death may be, and our general inability as a society to cope with this change. Continue Reading