By Kittie and Purrsephone
Kittie: According to legend, Pac-Man creator Toru Iwatani of Namco was looking @ a pizza with one slice missing and decided to make a game about eating. The result, Pac-Man, was a, if not THE videogame sensation of the time. With its simple controls (one joystick, no buttons) and singular dot-munching mechanics, it remains a classic and a fucking blast to play today. If you disagree, you either think videogames were invented by Shigeru Miyamoto or can't fathom any game that doesn't involve a "space marine" waving his giant railgun/plasma-cannon penis substitute around in (usually) 1st-person perpsective.
Pac-Man also broke with its contemporaries and immediate successors, which for the most part had to do with war (usually …in space!) or sports. Things like Space Invaders, Asteroids, Pong. Pac-Man and his googly-eyed ghostly adversaries were *cute* and in their maze, with its dots and pills and cherries, et cetera, inhabited a plane that didn't make much sense. But apparently nobody cared enough abut backstory to not keep pumping quarters into the machines.
Then a team of enterprising Yanks @ General Computer and Midway decided to 1-up (geddit) Namco and make their own Pac-Man sequel. So they made Pac-Man a girl. I mean, wouldn't you? Like Empire Strikes Back, Ms. Pac-Man was a sequel arguably better than the original; Ms. Pac-Man's mazes *changed* ffs. Also like how the rest of the Star Wars saga is utter pish, Namco and Midway couldn't improve on Ms. Pac-Man... the half-pinball-machine Pac-Man Jr. being The Phantom Menace of the lot... oh, OK, I'll give them the recent Pac-Man Championship Edition. Anyway, Ms. Pac-Man can stand by her man, not as an equal but as a superior, the game has endured the best out of any of the old ones.
Yeah, I said, "her man", much like they changed the name of the game from the vastly lulzier "Puck-Man" (for obvious reasons) they musta thought, "hey kids are gunna think Pac-Man got a sex change hurr durr durr" ... maybe all those pills Pac-Man ate were really estrogen? So they made Ms. Pac-Man his wife/girlfriend. And inserted cutscenes of them meeting cute, or as cute as a couple can meet whilst being chased by homicidal ghosts. But I know drag when I see it. I say Pac-Man is a trannychaser and Pac-Baby is adopted.
Curiously, the orange ghost/monster was renamed "Sue". Did "Clyde" refuse to fight girls? Did he call in sick and his sister Sue filled in? Or was Sue really "Clyde" once upon a time? I don't know. One would think "Pinky" would be the girl but maybe he's just gay. Or just likes the color pink.
Purrsephone: Anyone who thinks we’re reading into the “ambiguous gender” of the first lady of video games needs to check out this 1982 ad.
Let me get out my “drag queen checklist”. Heavy, costume-y makeup. Check. Long gloves to disguise large hands and muscular arms. Check. Stole so furry it would make Alicia Silverstone cry until she died of dehydration. Check. Unreasonably fabulous legs and ability to walk in high heels without tripping or complaining every five fucking seconds about how uncomfortable they are. Check and check.
Yeah. Sorry, Pac-Man. You’re secret’s out. But don’t worry, we won’t tell anyone.
Judging by the SS officer waiting for her at the limo, it’s probably in our best interest to pretend we didn’t see anything.
Kittie: Get this, it's Ms. Pac-Man, not "Miss" or "Mrs.", she's a *feminist*. The 70's had just happened, after all. But a "sexy" feminist. Even before Madonna, a primitive videogame prefigured the stuff of countless tl;dr Camille Paglia rants. And you didn't have to listen to Madonna. Or Camille Paglia. By being more sucessful than Mr.Pac-Man, she's also smashed through the glass ceiling, at least as measured in quarters. And as the first real videogame heroine, Ms.Pac-Man also paradoxically marked the first, and nearly the last time women weren't objectified in games. (Even Samus strips down, you know.)
With her giant bow, huge fake eyelashes, red lipstick and Monroe beauty mark (again beating Madge to the punch) Ms. Pac-Man flaunted a kind of retro pin-up glamour. It wasn't trendy yet, but it's classic. And a lot better than alot of the fashion disasters of the 70's and 80's. She's sultry, she's sassy, she's fierce. Ms. Pac-Man is running things, at least until the ghosts catch up to her. And while she may be there for your entertainment, boys, just give her your quarters and fuck off.
And as a BBW, Ms. Pac-Man stands, proudly, for fat acceptance. She's not any skinnier than her boyfriend (Nia Vardalos approves) and honestly, what would you expect of the Pac-People? They do a lot of running around, true, but it's only to eat. And eat. And eat. Maybe the dots are really falafel. Or hushpuppies. Or donut holes. Hey, I feel hungry. Actually, maybe she's the clean, videogame Mae West (another rumored transwoman, who @ the least she took parts of her stage persona from drag queens.)
Oh, ok, Ms. Pac-Man's designers really had a limited number of pixels to work with. Like how Miyamoto couldn't give Mario a mouth but gave him a non-ironic pornstar stache (for which we are grateful). They did a pretty good job. Considering they coulda given her pigtails. Or tits. You know they thought about it. But that wouldnt fly in a family arcade game. At any rate, if pixel artists were ffs surgeons, Ms.Pac-Man would look like she had some work done, but better than Calpernia Adams.
Purrsephone: Calpernia Adams is faker than pro wrestling and more overhyped than that concert I went to on 6/6/06 where the band was supposed to invoke Satan but only managed to summon the Fire Marshall and my eternal shame.
The one thing I’ll say about Ms Pac-Man’s style is that it’s timeless, and fortunately so. Pin-up is forever and not just because that’s the horse I’m backing these days.
If you walked into an arcade and saw her sprawled across the top of the machine in leg warmers and teased hair with an oversized t-shirt with the excess fabric held together with a neon clip on one side of the torso, you and your friends would have gone “oh great, Molly Ringwald got her own video game. Fuck this, I’m playing Tempest” and that would have been it for her, the Pac franchise, women as protagonists in video games, and since this is my scenario, would cause a chain of events leading up to Ronald Reagan overthrowing Congress and becoming dictator for life until he goes off in search of the fountain of youth and returns with a bag of milk and some gummi bears and a way too proud look on his face.
The best kind of retro styles are the ones that actually looked good back when they were “the fad”.
Kittie: Well, yeah. She is garish. Maybe you wouldn't bring her home to Mom. I imagine Pac-Man's parents being kinda old and convinced their son is gay, were more than happy when he brought her to Thanksgiving dinner - even if she looks like she may have a penis, asked Pac-Man for his credit card number first or was imported from Thailand. (or all 3!) Maybe she can tone down the makeup.
I think she should keep the bow, it's sweet. Which brings up another point. clothes? With no visible naughty bits, Pac-People might not need clothes. And it may be hard to find clothes when your body mainly consists of a large, mouthy head. But what if they updated Ms.Pac-Man to dress lolita? Wouldn't that be kawaii? ^_^ Ok, no... but of course it would! Or in keeping with her pin-up style, maybe a bikini. Or a sexy dress. With fishnets. If you're already looking halfway like a drag queen or whore, why not go all the way? Add a feather boa. A tiara in place of the bow?
Or hair? Again, Pac-People may be bald. But maybe some nice bettie-banged locks. In red to stand out against the black of the maze? Or in keeping with her 80's origins, something like Jem... maybe I'm reaching here...
Actually one could almost applaud Namco/Midway for not putting her in a "Let's Play Dress-Up, Girls!" game. At least not to my knowledge.
Purrsephone: I used to have “Bettie Page bangs”. They gave me OCD. I was constantly checking them in the mirror to make sure they were even, lest one hair miraculously grow out faster than the others.
I always thought they should have done a two-player “Mr & Ms Pacman” game where you and a friend worked as a team to eat all the ghosts or whatever, and Pacman would wear a derby hat and a tie, and Pacman would wear a polka dot dress, to sort of play up on the whole “video game sitcom couple “ theme they toyed with in the cartoon.
It should be noted that in the television series, they gave her hair, along with matching pink high heeled boots to go with her bow. Perhaps not surprisingly, this doesn’t disqualify our “tranny Pacman” theory.
When you take into account the lack of hair and the atrociously applied makeup, it does leave you to wonder if Midway was trying to trick boys into playing this game by saying “see? Boys can play this. That’s not really a girl, it’s just Pac Man playing a joke on you.”
The sad part is that in my head that actually made sense.
Kittie: This means that Ms. Pac-Man is the ultimate Trapped in the Arcade character? Y/Y
While I didn't dare to search for Rule 34 images of her, a Google image search for "Ms. Pac-Man" brings up this lovely from (where else?) DeviantArt :
Purrsephone: Ms Pac Man’s outfit, much like her conception, didn’t have a whole lot of motivation beyond “it’s like boy Pac-Man, but different”. On the other hand, you can’t discount the good work she’s done for women in video games and all that other hippie bullshit.
I give her a solid 3.5 out of 5 cherries.
Kittie: Despite all the good she did, and her stab @ classic style, Ms. Pac-Man is still the fashion equivalent of clearing nearly the whole damn board in record time, along with eating all four ghosts repeatedly, only to have two of the resurrected fuckers trap you from either direction with no other exit. With one dot left on the board. All because you had to get those damn cherries.
3.5 Cherries it is.