"a fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun"
for 3 August 1998. Updated every WEEKDAY.
Breast of Burden



A broken clock is right twice a

day. So, even Douglas Coupland,

our favorite Zeitgeister who

stopped winding himself when the

Cold War was won, gets kudos for

his wonderful and imaginative

paean to Lara Croft. When it

comes to tapping into the global

lust for Lara, he's so wrong,

he's right. Sure, the animated

heroine of Tomb Raider is a

metaphor for postindustrial

technosolipsism. Sure, she

simultaneously personifies the

highest and lowest in human

nature. Sure, she's the last

best hope for an Internet

cyberlebrity. Most important,

though, she's got huge tits.


These digital days, when you

can't crack a glossy without

bringing to light another lame

hagiography of some punk gamer

in Silicon Valley, Lara's Book

is the next step in a

canonization that may not get

off the ground. In more candid

language, it's a nice little

lift for a sagging brand, but it

may not be enough. To have

hitched her wagon to

Coupland's dimming star was a

stroke of near-brilliance,

undoubtedly issued from some

second-string marketing

department. Like Coupland,

Lara's moment has already come

and gone. And in spite of a

planned live-action film

currently in development at

Paramount, it's hard to believe

her creators can successfully,

erm, milk her for yet another

million-selling iteration slated

for Christmas.



In a rare moment of adolescent

recklessness with its hallowed

property, Eidos has allowed

Lara's "résumé"

and "vital statistics" to slip

into the book. The latter

divulges her measurements:

34D-24-35. This begs the

question of whether Lara has had

a boob job. Whereas she

originally had an impressive

set of rocket launchers on her

pointy pixelated chest,

she's shown to have become

a balloon smuggler on

Tomb Raider 2. The

folks at Eidos tactfully assure

us that there was "significant

improvement" in "Lara's engine,"

which allowed her knavish

designers to "add polygons to

her torso"; in other words, a

digital augmentation to round

out her finer points. All of

this binaryspeak just makes us

want to holster those Uzis and

get our ones between her zeros.


To be fair, the success of Lara

is not entirely a result of her

redoubtable rack. Considering

the fact that she faces front

and center throughout the game,

it's also her ass. After

polishing off 30 levels, the

whole time staring at Lara's

perfectly sculpted poop-chute,

any 13-year-old PlayStation

jockey can tell you this baby

got back. While Lara may have

been just another geek's sad

appropriation of a Vargas

pin-up, her real pedigree is

closer to home: If Barbie left

that pussy Ken and had a

turbulent, codependent,

self-destructive fling with GI

Joe, the product of their wicked

union would be Lara. Now she's

the kind of doll with whom a

modern boy can be proud to play.

And the inevitable proliferation

of Lara softcore (and an alleged

"Nude Raider" game patch that

will render Lara naked) on the

Net is nothing if not a gauge

for the ingenuity and declension

of teenage boys.



With extensions like that, though, it

was only a matter of time. Of

course there are many remarkable

precedents for the American love

of outsized mams, from Marilyn

Monroe to Divine, from Cherry

2000 to Pocahontas. Honestly,

though, what is it with these

huge knockers? Whatever happened

to that chestnut of ancient

wisdom of a manifestly foreign

origin that more than a handful

is a waste?


More than that, Lara's pairing

of huge headlights and heavy

artillery is indicative of a

larger, scarier truth: Big tits

are just as deadly as guns (and

undoubtedly just as sacred to

the NRA). A month ago, Dow

Corning agreed to an

out-of-court settlement paying

more than US$3 billion to 170,000

women who have had silicone

breast implants. Two weeks

later, the government convened

yet another panel to look into

the demonstrated fact that

breast implants are dangerous.

Even if implants weren't

responsible for any clear

clinical condition - which most

American male doctors seem to

believe, in spite of the

complaints of a million women -

it's hard to argue with the

simple fact that breast tissue

kills. Dusty Springfield, Olivia

Newton John, and Linda McCartney

could have told you that breast

cancer is responsible for 43,000

deaths in the United States

every year, four times the

handgun homicide rate.



Ah, but that's the beauty of

Lara Croft. Her capacity for

success is limited not by

biology but by the technologies

of CAD breast enhancement.

She'll never have to worry about

malignancies any more damaging

than the indifference of the

gaming community. Which may not

be so sad. But it'll inevitably

be just as fatal. Still, when

Lara's gone, there'll be another

binary bimbo to take her place.


All this hype about cybersex and

its techno-prefixed variations

is as old and moldy as Mondo

2000. Whether it's phonesex,

nanosex, or extropian sex, we're

talking about good old-fashioned

self-service, one of the few

real core competencies of

teenage boys. Between videogames

and masturbation, their

limited-range, repetitive-motion

motor skills should give pause

to even the most young-at-heart

adult. That the male gamer's

view of women is more grotesque

than sexy is not very

surprising: It's the

simultaneous titillation and

horror that only a teenage boy

or a gamer (in other words,

anyone who's never had a face

full of the real deal) knows.

Among these young innocents, it

seems to be a point of pride to

confuse silicon and silicone. We

can just imagine the epitaph

they've reserved for the world's

not-so-richly endowed: Flat as a

board game.

courtesy of E. L. Skinner