My thoughts on Cortana’s appearance in Halo 5 (SPOILERS)

Note #1: This post contains SPOILERS.

Note #2: From previews that we have seen of Halo 5, we know that Cortana will have some role to play in the story. We know that, to some extent, she will be guiding Master Chief. For example: On the mission Blue Team, Chief ends up having a vision of Cortana, who tells him to go to the planet Meridian, and that the Reclamation is beginning. Other than that, we don’t know what else she will do in Halo 5. And since all we see of her in Blue Team is a silhouette, it was unknown, until now, if we would even really see Cortana — she what she looked like — in Halo 5. But now, thanks to IGN, we know that Cortana appears at least once in Halo 5. This post is me talking about how I feel about how she looks in Halo 5, since she looks different than she did in Halo 4.

Note #3: This post is me expressing my personal opinion.

October 15th:

Watch 4:56 — 5:17:

My thoughts on Cortana’s appearance in Halo 5:

I feel like 343 caved to people who said that, in Halo 4, Cortana was “sexualized.”

The reason I say this is look at Cortana’s chest in the video above.

Then look at this screenshot of Cortana in Halo 4:

3015300_orig

The difference between these two versions of Cortana is clear: Her breasts are less, for lack of a better word, noticeable.

Here is why I don’t like it:

Cortana, to me, is naked.

But, Cortana’s appearance in Halo 5 calls this into question.

In Halo 5, it looks like Cortana is wearing a skin-tight bodysuit.* Either that, or Cortana is still naked and her two breasts have just merged into one.

To make myself clear:

I’m not objecting to Cortana’s appearance in Halo 5 — objecting to the fact that Cortana’s nudity isn’t as explicit as it was in Halo 4 — because I want to gawk at Cortana, or anything like that.

I don’t know, and I’ll probably never know, the exact reason why Cortana looks the way she does in Halo 5.

All I can do is give my personal opinion.

It is my personal opinion that making Cortana look like she is wearing clothes is a step backward for not only her, but for portrayals of women in popular culture, too.

Here is why:

  1. The female body isn’t something to be feared. I feel like 343 saw all the (unjustified, my opinion) criticism that Cortana’s appearance in Halo 4 was getting. So 343 did damage control.** Hence, Cortana’s new look in Halo 5. But I think this sends a negative message. That message is: The female body can’t be portrayed as it naturally is: It needs to be changed, in order to not offend anyone’s sensibilities.***
  2. Nudity brought something to Cortana’s character that clothes take away. For an explanation of this, click Here.

The reason that I see Cortana as naked is because, to me, for her to be naked makes sense. I see Cortana looking like a naked woman as her trying to get in touch with the human aspect of her being. Nudity also, to me, brings to mind innocence. For example: Eve in the Garden of Eden before the Fall. Since Cortana isn’t human, since she is an A.I., there is an innocence, an “otherness,” to her that is, I think, manifested by her being naked.

UPDATE #1: October 29th:

So the Cortana that appeared in the opening cutscene — the Cortana whose appearance I critiqued in this post — is not the Cortana who appears throughout the rest of the game.

That being said, I am still critical of Cortana’s appearance in Halo 5.

This is how Cortana looks in Halo 4:

Cortana 14

This is how Cortana looks in Halo 5:

Cortana Halo 5

Frank O’Connor says that in Halo 5 Cortana isn’t naked, she just looks like she is.

I can see where he’s coming from. But: Frank O’Connor has said in the past that Cortana is naked. So, when it comes to the question “Is Cortana naked?” I’m getting mixed signals.

Here is my answer to that question:

Cortana will never truly be naked because she does not have a physical body. That being said: In Halo 4, Cortana is naked. Her individual toes, and bellybutton, are visible, and her breasts are sagging — being pulled down by gravity. Frank O’Connor has said that in Halo 4 Cortana is wearing a skin-tight leotard. When I look at Cortana in Halo 5, I can see that.

The reason I am critical of Cortana’s appearance in Halo 5 is because I see it as 343 responding to the criticism they got of how she looked in Halo 4. I’ll explain why I say this:

Cortana Halo 5 Cortana6

What I said earlier in this post — how I feel about how Cortana looks in the opening cutscene for Halo 5 — applies to how Cortana looks throughout the rest of Halo 5:

It is my personal opinion that making Cortana look like she is wearing clothes is a step backward for not only her, but for portrayals of women in popular culture, too.

Here is why:

  1. The female body isn’t something to be feared. I feel like 343 saw all the (unjustified, in my opinion) criticism that Cortana’s appearance in Halo 4 was getting. So 343 did damage control.** Hence, Cortana’s new look in Halo 5. But I think this sends a negative message. That message is: The female body can’t be portrayed as it naturally is: It needs to be changed, in order to not offend anyone’s sensibilities.***
  2. Nudity brought something to Cortana’s character that clothes take away. For an explanation of this, click Here.

UPDATE #2: October 29th:

Frank O’Connor has said: Cortana is not naked.

“She’s not actually nude because she has neither clothes nor private parts. She’s effectively just wearing kind of a holographic body stocking; that’s the conceit.”

“[…] one of the reasons she [dresses as she does] is to attract and demand attention. And she does it to put people off so that they’re on their guard when they’re talking to here and that she has the upper hand in those conversations.”

I still, personally, see Cortana as naked, and one of the reasons why is this:

As I pointed out Here earlier, Frank O’Connor has said in the past that Cortana is naked. My point being: Frank O’Connor’s answer to the question “Is Cortana naked?” has not been consistent.

Also: Watch 3:36 — 3:42

UPDATE #3: October 29th:

This YouTube video that I found expresses my thoughts on Cortana’s appearance in Halo 5.

Watch 10:06 — 12:24

For further reading: Analyzing Cortana: What Does It Mean To Be Naked?

*I have no objection to people saying “Cortana isn’t naked. She’s wearing clothes.” After all, even in Halo 4 Cortana’s appearance is open to interpretation: In Halo 4, you could say that Cortana is naked, someone else could say she’s wearing a skin-tight bodysuit, and you’d both be right. There is no wrong way to look at Cortana’s appearance. As the old saying goes: “Different strokes for different folks.”

**An acquaintance of mine brought up this possibility: Though Halo’s Mature rating has never had anything to do with sexual content, 343 didn’t want to face criticism for including breasts in a Halo game rated Teen. That’s the reason why 343 got rid of Cortana’s breasts.

***In Halo 4, Cortana’s nipples, vagina, and butt are not visible, but her toes, breasts, and bellybutton are. The reason I believe this is so is because 343 didn’t want to make her nudity as explicit as it could have been. A cursory glance at Cortana and you can tell that she is naked; being so explicit isn’t necessary. (Plus, such explicit nudity would have earned the game an “Adults Only” rating.) I know it’s not natural for a woman to have no vagina, nipples, or butt. My point is this: Out of all the Halo games, in Halo 4 Cortana looks the most like a woman naturally would.

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