And just to drive the parallel home, when you encounter Wheatley again hours later, he's calm and content to ignore the previous incident. At least, until you cross him again, at which point he becomes even more cruel and abusive. But in the end, you deliver him the ultimate insult -- proof that you didn't need him after all, and worse, that he was actually holding you back from success. And then you exile him to space. Because hey, it's still a video game.
But that brings us to ...
The Game Employs Subtle (But Important) Symbolism Throughout
We'll sidestep any more talk of how your gun shoots vaginas, in the name of keeping this classy. In fact, we'll even ignore that the game is peppered with names like Cave and Aperture, and the potential implications thereof. Instead, we want to talk about the Moon.
Which, as Portal 2 taught us, is in space.
What does the Moon have to do with femininity, we're going to assume you're asking? Well, look around you -- there's a reason menstrual cups are called "moon cups" and snack bars for women are called Luna bars (complete with a Moon symbol in the logo) and new-agey treatments for women have words like Moon Goddess in them. Ask any mythology enthusiast or new age type at your local health food store (if you're not sure who's a new age type at a health food store, it's everyone), and they'll all tell you the same thing: The moon is a symbol of womanhood that's been associated with dozens of goddesses throughout the ages. Also werewolves and crazy people, but mostly lady gods.
Now, the recordings of Cave Johnson reveal that Moon dust is responsible for the liquid goo that you can zap portals onto throughout the game. Initially this just seems like general backstory, but as Cave's ranting progresses, it's revealed that life finally handed him some lemons he couldn't blow up -- the Moon dust was poisoning him. The patriarch of Aperture choked to death on symbolic femininity, which we believe is called irony.
"I just hope my hairline is waiting for me on the other side."
But then the payoff/punchline comes at the conclusion of Portal 2. At the end of your fight against Wheatley, it looks like all is lost because there are no surfaces to hit with a portal. But then the ceiling caves in, you see the night sky, and bam: Your only option is to take a leap of faith and shoot a portal onto the goddamn Moon itself.
Fuck you, physics!
The scene is staged to seem implausible -- the fact that it works is surprising, even though you're the schmuck who tried it in the first place. You pray to the lunar goddess, and she answers. GLaDOS, a woman, is put back in charge of the facility, and she saves your life, while Wheatley is left to his fate. The End.
So what you have is a game that puts the player into the body of a woman, placed in a powerless position in which you are tormented by another woman before finding out both of you are products of a system created by some powerful (and ridiculous) males. You have to overcome abusive father figures and male companions to ultimately take control of your own life.
And to think, all of this came from a puzzle game remembered primarily for its cake memes.
Michael Vincent Bramley writes comics like the successfully funded Kickstarter project 'Sherbet', which is about a lesbian version of Sherlock Holmes from the future who solves paranormal mysteries.
For more video game messages you may have missed, check out 5 Classic Games You Didn't Know Had WTF Backstories and The Insane Stories Implied by 4 Misleading Video Game Covers.
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