Grand Theft My Heart (A Queer Edit of Grand Theft Auto V)

Grand Theft Auto V is considered to be one of, if not the most successful video games in history. It is the highest selling narrative game of all time; it surpassed a billion dollars of revenue within the first three days, making it the fastest selling entertainment product in history. A commercial and critical success (with over 35 awards to its name), Grand Theft Auto V has become one of the most well known narratives in entertainment history.

It is also an infamously controversial game, very much associated with toxic hyper-masculinity and misogyny.

The main protagonist is Michael (Ned Luke), a retired bank robber who has been living in witness protection with his family after faking his death in a botched robbery ten years prior. When his past criminal accomplice Trevor (Steven Ogg) discovers he’s is alive, Trevor feels betrayed and lied as, he had thought his best friend was dead for the past ten years. When the two reunite, Michael is conflicted between the thrill of going back into a criminal lifestyle, and staying loyal to his family. Trying to play both sides, his erratic behavior causes his family to leave him. However, he still isn’t committed enough as a criminal to satisfy Trevor’s hopes of reliving their past.

Obviously, as a game with 50+ hours worth of content, this is a very simplified fraction of the plot. However, it is the most relevant regarding what I edited.

Here is the official trailer released that focuses on Michael (which utilizes the same “What do you want, Michael?” conversation I used as the beginning/crux of my edit):

In my edited version, Trevor is a past lover of Michael’s, who has returned after ten years of separation. Since their affair, Michael has gotten married to a woman and has had children. Trevor is comfortable with his sexuality, and criticizes Michael for hiding who he really is. Having returned, he hopes for Michael to reignite their relationship. Upon this reunion, Michael’s wife Amanda grows frustrated, having knowledge of Michael’s past with men, and leaves him claiming that he hasn’t changed. Michael becomes conflicted with what he really wants; a comfortable “normal” life, or true love.

I tried to isolate a lot of conversations about Michael’s internal discord about being a criminal and living a normal life, and tried to re-edit them and use the context of other clips to portray it as  having a “normal” life versus being true to his queer identity. Although Trevor canonically has non-straight moments and hints of queerness, the bulk of my edit focuses on adjusting Michael’s character to take on a queer identity.

With this, I really hoped to challenge the toxically masculine energy of video game culture, as well as challenge homophobic video game players by implying their favorite characters could be queer. Surprisingly, to many people, this extremely insulting (x) (x)

Here is a short breakdown of how I changed the original content in my edit:

When Michael’s therapist asks, “What do you want Michael?” I show a clip of Trevor greeting Michael in his house. As the conversation goes on, I hoped to imply that when Michael references “Caring about two things at once” and laments “I want the other stuff too”, he is talking about his sexuality or, more specifically, Trever. In the actual game, he is referring to his struggle between being a good father/husband and being a criminal.

In the GTA V mythos, it’s referenced that Michael and Amanda have a strained relationship that comes from a history of them cheating on each other, as well as Amanda’s disproval of Michael murderous tendencies. When Michael’s psychologist asks, “Anything else? Anything sexual?” And Michael replies, “I’ve had thoughts, but I’ve been good”, I was hoping to imply that Michael was in therapy to try to “straighten” himself out (pun intended), rather than having thoughts of cheating with other women. When Amanda accuses Michael of doing “God only knows what”, I hoped to change the real meeting (murdering/robbing), to having affairs with men.

In the game, Trevor takes pride in the fact that he is unaffected by the guilt of this lawless lifestyle. He kills and steals without remorse. In fact, many players have taken to believe that the three playable protagonists of the game (Michael, Trevor, and Franklin) are meant to symbolize the Freudian model of the psyche; with Trevor representing the id. Because of this, Trevor often criticizes Michael’s fence-sitting, claiming that he’s a “fake” for not following his primal urges. On the other end, Michael often condemns Trevor for being psychopathic and dangerous.

I used this to my advantage by isolating fights or conversations between the two that could be interpreted as Trevor’s disdain for Michael being closeted. For example:

“Just because I like the life, and you feel guilty about it, doesn’t make you more of a man than me.”

“I express myself, my actual feelings. You don’t. You’re so repressed.”

“You hate me, because I’m not tied down.” (Which I proudly stitched together with Michael yelling, from another scene, “Well then what the fuck did you come back for?”, implying that the only thing Trevor is ‘tied down’ to is Michael.)

“This is a fucking way of life.”

In the game, Amanda and the children move out when Michael starts to get involved with criminal activity again. I tried to portray this as Amanda warning Michael that she’ll leave him if he continues to have an affair with Trevor.

By the end, I tried to stay optimistic, concluding with a fight in which Trevor yells “I’ve got nothing! No one gives a fuck about me!” To Michael confirming, “I do.” Though, to be candid, this is an actual conversation in the game, and I don’t really have a straight explanation for it.

So here it is! My completed Queerified version of Grand Theft Auto V:

 

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