“If Utopia is not a place, but a people, then we must choose carefully; for the world is about to change… and in our story, Rapture… was just the beginning”. Eleanor Lamb
The Bioshock celebration continues with our second article in this series. We will be examining the politics and religion of Bioshock 2 and contrasting it with the first game in the series.
Bioshock 2 from the very start demands a radical shift in perspective. In Bioshock 1 you are essentially an outsider who must navigate the complexities of Rapture. In Bioshock 2 you play as one of the most iconic symbols of Rapture. You are your own former enemy: a Big Daddy. And to the Little Sisters, you are more than their knight in shining armor. You are their God. You are their religion. They create shrines and altars to honor you all over Rapture. You have the power to save and the power to damn. You are one of the few constants in this ever shifting world. Depending on your decisions within the game, you can end up guiding their morality. And yet, “there is no room for you in Paradise.”
Dr. Sofia Lamb preaches about salvation. She demands that they reject the practices of Andrew Ryan and embrace her socialist theocratical vision. Her philosophy is simple; “we reject the gene, we reject the self, we reject the tyrant.” In other words, she demands a rejection of the world before her. She believes that self awareness is a curse and preaches the morality of collectivism. She demands a complete rejection of the past. Unfortunately, you are one of the most powerful symbols of the past. And in order to move on, Lamb must destroy you. You are the seeds of dissent in her ranks. This is a woman attempting to create Utopia and she will do whatever she must to get rid of you.
One of the strangest things about Bioshock 2 is that, while is speaks out against paternalism, what is more paternalistic than a Big Daddy? And that’s exactly why neither you nor Lamb can survive the game. There must be a clean slate in Rapture.
There is a great amount of Christian imagery in Bioshock 2. And Lamb’s Utopia is built on a kind of monotheistic cult she refers to as “The Family.” Again, this religious symbolism seems in direct contrast to Andrew Ryan’s vision of a Utopia with no gods. Even the names of the characters have religious tones: Lamb, Father Wales and Gracie. However, to say that Dr. Sophia Lamb is a good Christian woman could not be further from the truth. It seems evident that Lamb is simply using these symbols in order to gain more power for herself. And she is a damn good manipulator.
So is Bioshock 2 attempting to say that socialism and religion are the causes of evil? Absolutely not. It is very easy to contrast the evils of this world with the evils of Bioshock 1. Both stem from taking extreme stances on issues. It isn’t just capitalism, it is the most extreme capitalism that brings down Rapture. And attempting to recreate it with its doppelganger doesn’t solve the problem. Rapture might have been a lovely place had Dr. Sophia Lamb and Andrew Ryan worked together. But how much fun is a video game about a utopia?
The next article in this series will look at nationalism, eugenics and Columbia in Bioshock: Infinite.