In this article, I examine the Machinima film Finding Fanon II, by London-based artists Larry Achiampong and David Blandy, for what it can tell us about the relationship between video gaming and the postcolonial. Evoking Frantz Fanon, one of the most piercing voices of the decolonisation movement of the 1950s and 1960s, in the context of Grand Theft Auto (GTA), one of the most technologically advanced and, at the same time, scandalous video game series of the 21st century, Finding Fanon II amounts to a scathing critique of both the game series’ depiction of race and academic scholarship that has been defending the series on the grounds of its use of humour and irony. Shot in the in-game video editor of GTA V, Finding Fanon II lets this critique emerge from inside the game and as an effect of the artists’ engagement with it. By suspending the game’s mechanisms and programmed forms of interaction, the artwork brings their racialised logic to the fore, pointing towards the ways in which GTA V commodifies black men for the consumption of white players. This commodification has the effect of normalising and naturalising the precarious position of black people in Western society. What the artwork adds to this argument through its facilitation of a Fanonian perspective is a reminder that it is not only the gaming experience of white players that is framed in this way. Players with ethnic minority backgrounds might also accept the white gaze of the game as a given. Acts of self-commodification along the lines of a white Western rationality must thus be seen as a plausible new form of cultural imperialism promoted by the GTA series.
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