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Sindel General Discussion Thread

abyson

Noob
They basically made her the cliche dumb bad guy i mean like if shao khan could somehow trust shang tsung i would expect her to be be the smarter one but she was just too busy caressing his sand paper skin.
 

Zviko

Noob
Can someone lab Sindel's scream vs Sheeva's teleport? I was playing Loud and Klear against Sheeva and on knockdown I set up a scream and hold it. Sheeva does a tp on wake up and I think it traded, but I got a restand and full combo. I wanna know if that's legit tech against it. Just do a scream and it will anti air? Also I didn't hold a button, maybe it's even a KB.
 

LoveBites xo

Killer Kween
Although I understand people’s frustration with Sindels backstory being completely changed, i for one actually prefer her being an evil character and feel that it suits her much better than to be this damsel in the distress when she never looked like a ‘typical’ nice girl of that makes sense. She’s always had a more sinister look to her which is why I think it makes more sense however NRS should’ve done a better job of changing it instead of just saying ‘yeah she’s evil now and that’s that ‘
 

HeavyNorse

#BlackLivesMatter
Empowerment vs. Emancipation: What went wrong with Mortal Kombat 11’s Sindel

Warning: Heavy spoilers for Mortal Kombat 11 and its expansion, Aftermath.

Ever since its first release in 1992, the Mortal Kombat franchise is known for its extreme, action-packed violence and gore that led to the creation of the ESRB. It’s also known for its controversial depictions of scantily-clad women; however, did this not deter female gamers from becoming fans of the franchise, myself included. Admittedly I am one of the fans of Mortal Kombat who was late to the party, partly due to my age and inaccessibility of gaming platforms, only discovering Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 in 2010 while playing with my older cousins, who were mostly boys.

Eyes fixated on the pixelated, motion-captured sprites on the screen in wonder, I remember being a fan of characters such as Raiden, Nightwolf, and Sindel. Especially Sindel, whom I grew to adore because of her regal, gothic appearance. Due to the stereotype that gaming is a masculine interest prevalent during those times, I felt alienated at times, having no other female playmate aside from my younger sister. However, seeing female characters such as Sindel gave me characters to identify with in my formative years.

A decade later, I still am a fan of the franchise, and of those characters. With the years that passed, there had been significant changes in the video game industry, and clamor for better depictions of women, people of color, LGBTQIA+ individuals, and other minorities. Mortal Kombat is one of the franchises that changed with the times, even introducing their first confirmed gay character Kung Jin in Mortal Kombat X, and depicting classic character Mileena and 3D era character Tanya as lovers in the same game, confirming that Mileena is indeed canonically bisexual.

Mortal Kombat X’s female character designs were diverse and realistic too; there were some female characters whose designs didn’t show too much skin, like Sonya Blade’s main costume, befitting her role and demeanor as a tough-as-nails general, and there were female characters like Mileena who had more skin in her costumes, justified by her character’s desire to compensate for her monstrous Tarkatan genes. It’s not perfect, but overall, Mortal Kombat X is a breath of fresh air to the franchise. As a bisexual, an Asian, and a woman, I felt seen. I felt good, because minorities like me are respectfully represented.

As for its sequel, Mortal Kombat 11, there are some noteworthy depictions of real-life social issues in the game, such as colonization, which is explored with Nightwolf’s revamped lore. In the rewrite, Nightwolf is depicted as someone who used to be angry that his people, a fictional Native American tribe called the Matoka, resigned themselves to colonizers in his youth, but was blessed by his tribe’s deity, the Great Spirit, with power to help his tribe move forward after he defended the Matoka’s honor against Kano. The subject of race is also explored with Jax’s ending, where he uses the power he obtains from the hourglass to create a world where Black people were never enslaved, which garnered manufactured outrage despite the lack of any real controversy. Another example is Fujin’s ending, where he uses his power to experience the lives of mortals of different races, realms, genders, and faiths, putting emphasis on the value of integrating with the masses in order to understand and serve them better.

However, there are some aspects of the game that left a bad taste in my mouth. No, that would be an understatement. It left me furiously disappointed.

John Vogel is the lead writer for the franchise since John Tobias’ departure, writing the bulk of the story until he left around after Mortal Kombat X. Dominic Cianciolo becomes co-writer, alongside Shawn Kittelsen. Cianciolo is credited as the Story Director for Mortal Kombat 11, and thus responsible for the bulk of the plot.

After being unplayable in MKX, Sindel returns to the MK11 roster in a Kombat Pack, expansions featuring characters who aren’t present in the main story or are guest fighters from another franchise, such as Nightwolf and the Joker from the DC Universe. At the announcement of their return, I was ecstatic. The way Nightwolf’s character is handled and the added lore left me positive and hopeful for Sindel’s return.

But then, the retcon happened.

Originally, Sindel is the deceased mother of Kitana whose husband was killed by Shao Kahn. She then sacrificed herself through a suicide pact in order to protect the realms, and was brought back to life as an evil queen by Shao Kahn milennia later, but then escapes his hold. Here, she is made to be evil all along, responsible for her husband’s death and willingly coming with Shao Kahn to rule alongside him. Sindel becomes a character from her society’s ruling class who is obsessed with preserving her privileged position. Some fans claim that this new depiction is “empowering”, but is it really progressive?

Today, the terms “empowerment” and “women’s empowerment” are becoming buzzwords used by advertisers and big industry writers in an attempt to sell their product to a growing number of women who takes part in geek culture or play video games, and a society with values that are getting more and more progressive. Some people call this phenomena “woke capitalism”, where a corporation adopts progressive political causes. The gaming industry is not exempt from that; people pay for games, downloadable content, and microtransactions after all.

More often than not, when male writers write “strong” female characters, they tend to focus solely on enhancing traditionally masculine values, such as fighting ability, ignoring what other values female characters have that make them strong, or they tend to be horribly, horribly tone-deaf, which I will explain in detail later. These representations of “women’s empowerment” should force us to reexamine the media we consume, and discern whether these are genuine depictions of social issues or woke capitalism disguised as such.

In the first place, why are so many writers obsessed with “empowering” female characters, instead of writing them as characters capable of fighting for their emancipation?

Empowerment is passive; it’s something granted by those who hold power, not earned nor fought for. In the rewritten Sindel’s case, she is empowered by Shao Kahn when he took her as his wife and gave her the privileges he enjoys. Sindel’s empowerment is selfish; her rise to power did not empower, emancipate, nor liberate her daughter Kitana, nor Jade, nor Mileena, nor the women of Outworld. On the contrary, it made life worse and oppressive for all of Outworld’s denizens, including its women, who now have to serve not one, but two privilege-drunk monarchs who rule with an iron fist. If that’s the values the writers want to impart on their audience, I have serious doubts on the sincerity of their “wokeness”.

The release of Aftermath takes things up to eleven, where Sindel betrays her own daughter to be with Shao Kahn, who, originally, enslaves her and forces her into marriage, which holds so much unfortunate implications for those in abusive relationships. It doesn’t help that Cianciolo liked a tweet from a fan that said the original Sindel, an abuse survivor, was never an empowered female character and a was bad mother for killing herself and leaving her child behind, bringing even more unfortunate implications not just for women in abusive relationships, but also for people who struggle with suicide. Somehow, Cianciolo and the fans that agree with him ignore these implications altogether and believes that the new haughty, tyrannical Sindel is an example of a strong female character. This isn’t the first time male writers tried their hand at feminist writing and ended up with tone-deaf plot decisions.

Cianciolo took a nuanced and well-written character and turned her into Shao Kahn 2.0. What happened is essentially the creative butchering of Sindel’s character; she went from being a survivor to an oppressor. Shao Kahn already fills the role of a cruel tyrant who refuses to relinquish his privilege for the good of the masses, and rewriting Sindel to become his distaff counterpart is not necessary at all. This treatment of her character isn’t feminist or progressive at all; it’s poorly-disguised misogyny. It’s implying that a woman can only be powerful if she submits to her husband so that he may grant her a taste of privilege reserved for powerful men, an antiquated sentiment best left to the feudal ages. Granted, the fictional realm of Outworld is ruled by a monarchy, but Sindel’s previous characterization is proof that writers can refuse or avoid using that trope.

Emancipation, on the other hand, is an active role; according to Ruane and Todd, it is “a process by which the participants in a system which determines, distorts and limits their potentialities come together actively to transform it, and in the process transform themselves.” This concept can be applied more appropriately to pre-retcon Sindel.

Going back to my days as a highly impressionable teenager, though I grew interested in her for her benevolent demeanor despite her intimidating appearance, Sindel’s roles as a survivor and a leader are what cemented my love for the character. Shao Kahn murdered her husband, usurped the throne, conquered her kingdom, and coerced her to be his wife. Later, she sacrificed herself for the greater good of a realm, and after being resurrected as an evil brainwashed puppet, she finally broke free from her abuser. With her newfound agency, she became a queen of Outworld who recognized her privilege and used it to stand with its masses against tyrants, and she also becomes a doting mother to Kitana, demonstrating great love for her family. When finally removed from her abuser’s influence, Sindel chose to be free, she chose to lead her people benevolently, and she chose to be with her true family. This Sindel broke free from the traditional Outworld power structure that Shao Kahn perpetrated for thousands of years, no longer a bride to be forcefully taken, nor a pawn to be manipulated by its emperor.

If you can look past the scanty costume design standard for video games of that era, the original Sindel could be a female character ahead of her time. Original Sindel not only can kick ass, she also has agency, willpower, and a heart; a strong female character with good writing. For those reasons, Cianciolo’s Sindel is #NotMySindel.

https://medium.com/@adarlingrants/empowerment-vs-emancipation-what-went-wrong-with-mortal-kombat-11s-sindel-eb8f9cfe390e
 
Sindels old backstory was so uninteresting to me I wouldn't have noticed the retcon were it not for people complaining. All I knew was she was cool, married to Shao Khan and powerful.

When it seemed like they had gone back on the retcon in the story I was disappointed as she's just not a good guy to me, so I loved her betrayal. Even more so as Kitana is so pathetic in the story I loved seeing her destroyed and betrayed. Plus her and Shao plowing through everyone was badass, my only complaint was they weren't smart enough to turn on Shang.

#ThatsMySindel
 
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ScreamQueen

Rockin' Sindel since '95
Premium Supporter
While I have enough thoughts on the retcon to write a book, obviously, I'm not about to spill them all right here right now.

But I can tell you for sure that making Sindel a character who is now pro-genocide, pro-milicide, references slave-trading and human breeding for sport, and instinctively hates the lower class cannot be referenced as a positive form of "empowerment". Any writer who truly thinks that word fits the bill as a superlative is wildly misinformed.

Cliff notes: I still love this character. I am disappointed in what they've done to her. I also struggle to believe anything, anything, in MK is either canon, will last forever or is "the way it is" anymore, because honestly, like the "Major League Comics" the brand has chased so desperately chased since the reboot, "canon" is just mess upon mess at this point.

One other thing: Regardless of where you stand on new Sindel, Mara Junot did an amazing job with her voicework throughout, second only to Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa's awesome turn as Shang Tsung.
 
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Zviko

Noob
I just realized I have 21/23 finishers for Sindel. Did they add something cause I'm pretty sure I had everything unlocked for her?
 

Lt. Boxy Angelman

MY SHAPE IS MY SHAPE
Premium Supporter
As a lifelong fan of Good Sindel I 10000% love Aftermath Sindel, who is fucking hilarious and owns.

"WIFE!" "HUSBAND!"
I was not crazy about the retcon because it made no sense, but that line might've been the best one in the whole Aftermath story mode. I've never seen Shao Kahn express actual love or happiness, let alone give a hug.