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Hate for Bella Ramsey in The Last of Us is the videogame community at its toxic worst

Ayaan Paul
Ayaan PaulJan 18, 2023 | 16:32

Hate for Bella Ramsey in The Last of Us is the videogame community at its toxic worst

Since its premiere this week, HBO’s The Last Of Us has been receiving flak for casting actress Bella Ramsey as its lead character. We take a look at how this culture of hate has been nothing new for the videogame community.

The Last of Us is a post-apocalyptic survival game that follows the journey of Joel and Ellie, two survivors of a fungal outbreak that has decimated the population of the United States. The game is known for its strong narrative, emotional depth, and complex characters, and has garnered a dedicated fanbase. However, when it was announced that Bella Ramsey would be playing Ellie, a significant portion of the fanbase expressed their disappointment and anger.

Bella Ramsey as Ellie in HBO's The Last Of Us

The HBO adaptation of the popular video game was met with mixed reactions from fans of the game, with one particular aspect of the casting causing significant controversy. The young and talented Bella Ramsey, best known for her role as Lyanna Mormont in Game of Thrones, has been cast as Ellie, the protagonist of the game.

Her casting brought with it a wave of hatred and negativity directed towards the young actress, as some felt that Ramsey did not fit their idea of what Ellie should look like. They argued that she was "too ugly" or "not pretty enough" to play the character, and that she did not look like the Ellie from the game.

One of the many other unfounded criticisms directed towards Ramsey's casting is that she is not "tough" enough to play Ellie. Fans have argued that Ellie is a strong and independent character, and that Bella Ramsey does not have the physicality or the acting skills to portray her. This criticism is entrenched in misogyny and the belief that women must conform to societal expectations of femininity, rather than being allowed to express their own strength and independence. It also highlights the lack of representation of strong, independent women in the entertainment industry, and the pressure on actresses to conform to a certain standard of physicality.

“Believe me, I had my doubts, too. It took a long time, actually, for me to accept that I was Ellie, and that I could be her and that I was the right fit. It took me a good while, even after we finished filming.”
- Bella Ramsey on portraying Ellie in HBO's The Last Of Us in an interview with Elle

The backlash towards Ramsey's casting in The Last of Us also reflects the very same toxicity that permeates the videogame community. The gaming industry has long been criticised for its lack of representation and inclusivity, and its tendency to discriminate against women and other marginalized groups. This culture is further perpetuated by fans who hold rigid expectations of who should be cast in certain roles, and who reject performers like Ramsey who don’t conform to societal expectations of femininity.

This kind of hate being levelled against the actress is not only unjust, cruel and outright disgusting, but it also reveals deeper issues in the community, where physical appearance is often prioritised over talent and merit. The idea that a person's physical appearance should be the sole determining factor in whether they are suitable for a role is not only backward but also harmful. 

“I feel about [Ramsey] the way Joel feels about Ellie, which is to say, when I read people saying things that I consider to be cruel, stupid, I want to find them and kill them with my hands,”
- Craig Mazin, co-writer and director of HBO's The Last Of Us in an interview with Elle

It perpetuates the idea that looks are more important than talent and merit, and that people should be judged solely on their appearance. This is not only unfair but also damaging to those who are on the receiving end of such hate and discrimination, especially considering how young the actress is. Its toxic and discriminatory attitudes of the very same kind that undermines the ability for young women like Ramsey to perform in the entertainment industry.

Conversely, Ramsey’s powerful performance in the pilot has also been lauded by critics and fans alike. The pilot episode, which premiered earlier this week, showcased Ramsey's ability to perfectly capture the character's emotions and demeanor to her fullest, making her the perfect choice for the role.

The Internet has flocked together in an attempt to combat the ridiculous toxicity, applauding the young actress for her efforts as Ellie, many convinced that there could be no be no one better. 

Rest assured, we love you Bella. Ellie is in the best hands.

You can watch Bella Ramsey bring Ellie to life in HBO’s The Last Of Us on Disney+ Hotstar.

Last updated: January 18, 2023 | 16:32
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