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My Pyramid Head cosplay (2010-2011)
My cosplay for 2010-2011

Silent Hill is sadly one of the most misunderstood game franchises in existence. Part of this is due to the fragmentary and disjointed way in which the original games tell their stories. The designers of the first three games didn't just tell the player what the game's story is. There is no “Bond villian wrap-up” at the end. The designers respected the intelligence of the player, gave us clues piece by piece over the course of each game, and relied on us to put it all together in the end.

But too many fans rely on information that has been circulated by many third-party documents, including some “official” strategy guides and plot analysis that contain possibly inaccurate information that ignores information specifically provided within the game. And when Team Silent disbanded after Silent Hill 4, this erroneous information became the basis for the plots of the future games (and the movie), further tainting people's ideas of the original plots.

As such, this is going to be the first in a series of analysis and interpretation articles that I will be posting on this blog in anticipation of the upcoming Silent Hill Downpour.

The “Rape Time” myth

One example of an unfortunate misunderstanding with the franchise is that Silent Hill fans have latched onto this idea that Red Pyramid Thing (a.k.a. “Pyramid Head”) is a raving serial mannequin-rapist. I believe that label is unjustified.

The idea that Red Pyramid Thing is a mannequin rapist comes almost exclusively from this first major encounter with the creature in the apartment buildings.


Turn off the friggin' flashlight you moron!

First sighting of the Red Pyramid Thing in Silent Hill 2
First sighting of Red Pyramid Thing

Prior to the above sequence, the monster had only been glimpsed once. Through bars in a hallway in the apartment prior to entering the room in which James heard a gunshot (this room happens to be one of the most interesting rooms in the whole game for many reasons which I won't discuss here). At this point, however, Red Pyramid Thing is just standing behind the bars motionless. The player cannot interact with it at all, and it is unclear whether the thing is alive, or just something propped up on the other side of the bars similar to the myriad of hanging bodies present in the first game.

While the actions of Red Pyramid Thing in the mannequin scene do appear to have sexual connotations, no actual physical “rape” occurs. Many viewers of this scene symbolically attach the idea of rape to it, probably because the scene so closely mirrors a scene from the 1980's movie Blue Velvet, in which a character witnesses an actual rape by looking through the shutters of a closet.

Silent Hill 2 v Blue Velvet closet rape
Thanks to NUR_EIN_TIER from the Letters from Silent Heaven fan site

In the end, any implications of “rape” are symbolic at best, as the Red Pyramid monster's obvious intent is to dominate and kill the unfortunate mannequin monsters. At the beginning of the scene, they are alive and struggling against Red Pyramid's grasp while he apparently is trying to shove the mannequins down the sink's garbage disposal. In the end, they are lifeless and motionless, and Red Pyramid Thing simply drags them out of the room. So while the “rape” idea is implied by the scene, the “murder” aspect is explicit.

The rape idea is seemingly supported by this boss encounter at the end of the apartment section of the game.

But whether or not the Red Pyramid Thing is actually “raping” the monster, or if it is just trying to eat or smother the mannequin is unclear. In either case, Pyramid Head does kill the monster. So again, “rape” is only implied, whereas murder is explicit.

After this, Red Pyramid Thing never interacts with another monster in the game. What other significant event occurs in the game's narrative after leaving the apartment?

Maria, nurses, the “Abstract Daddy”, and the role of Pyramid Head

The introduction of Maria in the park immediately follows the first “battle” with Red Pyramid Thing. From this point on, Red Pyramid Thing seems to focus all its energy on killing Maria as many times as it can.

Mary from Silent Hill 2
James' wife Mary
Maria from Silent Hill 2
The sexy doppleganger Maria

Why doesn't Red Pyramid Thing attempt to rape Maria? She is supposed to be Mary reincarnate. And an even more sexual version of Mary reincarnate to boot! So you'd think that if Red Pyramid Thing is supposed to represent Jame's desire to have sex with his (dead) wife, then you'd think that Pyramid Head would be all over Maria.

But that isn't the case. Unless you consider killing her by impaling her with a spear (twice) to be symbollic of rape. Otherwise, Red Pyramid Thing takes no sexually aggressive action against Maria.

Silent Hill 2 nurse
Nurse from Silent Hill 2

What about the nurses? They are a very sexualized monster with their exposed cleavages and miniskirts. But Red Pyramid Thing never interacts with them. In fact, the only time it even shows up in the hospital is to push James off the roof.

Anyway, Red Pyramid Thing doesn't have to be a representation of Jame's repressed sexual urges because Maria is already doing that. That is, in fact, Maria's whole purpose in the game.

Furthermore, Red Pyramid Thing's presence as a rapist doesn't fit in well with its primary role of being a punisher for James. How does raping mannequins “punish” James? Is James supposed to be jealous? Is Pyramid Head being a cock-block? “Hey you! Go away! I was gonna rape those mannequins!”

Besides, if we characterize Red Pyramid Thing as a representation of Jame's sexual urges, and we accept that it is “raping” other monsters, then we are really implying that James is a rapist. But other than Angela's unfounded and paranoid accusations (which even she immediately dismisses), we have no indication within the game that James is capable of commiting such an act.

Abstract Daddy from Silent Hill 2
The Abstract Daddy symbolizes rape

In fact, there is already another monster in the game that is exclusively dedicated to being a representation of sexual assault: the “Abstract Daddy” (a.k.a. “Doorman”) monster. Angela was a victim of sexual molestation by her father, and the abstract daddy is a symbol of her father's sexual abuse. This is a literal and explicit symbolism because Angela directly refers to the abstract daddy monster as her daddy before and after the fight, and she accuses James of wanting to take advantage of her “like he always did” (pointing directly at the downed abstract daddy body).

Why do we need two monsters in the game dedicated to sexual assault? In addition to a victim character? And two other characters already devoted to exposing Jame's sexual frustrations? The fans seem to have gone out of their way to unnecessarily overlap Pyramid Head's role in the game with that of other monsters and people who already explicitly fill that role, and making everything in the game about sex. Yes, sex is a big element of Team Silent's style of horror. But not everything in the game has to be symbolic of it.

But I have to admit, that Pyramid Head is pretty sexy...

Regardless of all that I have said, to deny the sexual symbolism of Red Pyramid Thing would be absurd. It is in many ways a Freudian construct. Its body is roughly shaped like an erect penis. It carries around an oversized knife - which it does still continue to use (albeight only briefly) after James encounters Maria. And it likes to impale women with a spear (or two).

Pyramid Head concept art
Pyramid Head
a dildo (for comparison purposes)
“model” of a penis
Pyramid Head is a work of fiction. Any similarities to actual penises, alive or dead, is purely coincidental.

Now, I want to stress a very important point here: I am not suggesting that the scene of Red Pyramid Thing assaulting the mannequins in the apartment should not be taken sexually. There most definitely is an element of sexual abuse/molestation occurring. What I am saying, however, is that Pyramid Head's intent is not to “rape”. Nor is that actually what it is doing. Pyramid Head's actions are acts of violence. Not acts of sexuality. The violence only appears sexually suggestive - and this is, in fact, by design.

Red Pyramid Thing does not get its jollies from pretending to make little-red-pyramid-things with the mannequins. Its purpose in the game is to punish James and to force James' subconscious to come to terms with the events surrounding his wife's death, rather than allowing James to fall victim to the seduction of Maria.

Red Pyramid Thing and Maria are at war with one another. They are contrasting sides of James' psyche battling for supremacy in the real world. With James watching.

Occam's Razor

So if Red Pyramid Thing isn't raping those mannequins, then what is it doing?

The most likely alternative is that it is attempting to destroy them.

As stated above, Red Pyramid Thing's purpose in the game is to torment and punish James, and make him come to terms with his past. It does this most effectively by attacking and killing Maria (who resembles his wife, Mary), and therefore constantly reminding him of the death of his wife.

After the appearance of Maria, Red Pyramid Thing devotes all of its attention to killing her repeatedly because she is a definitive, physical representation of Mary. She is the one thing in the universe that reminds James of Mary more than anything else. But prior to James meeting Maria, the Red Pyramid Thing doesn't have any one person or any one thing to pick on specifically. Or does it?

Mary mannequin in Silent Hill 2
A mannequin dressed like Mary holds the flashlight

Recall that at the beginning of Jame's quest through the apartments, he finds the flashlight. Where is the flashlight? Tucked into the neck of a shirt being worn by a mannequin. A mannequin that is dressed up like Mary. I repeat: the mannequin is dressed up like Mary.

Do you get where I'm going with this?

That mannequin establishes a precedent that the mannequins are “Mary-ish”. So all violence commited against them by Pyramid Head (or by James) can be seen as symbolic violence against Mary.

So in summary:

A mannequin is dressed up like Mary. Therefore, mannequins represent Mary.

So Red Pyramid Thing assaults and kills mannequins to remind James of the death of his wife.

But then Maria comes along, and Red Pyramid Things says “Whoa! Why am I wasting my time butchering mannequins when that hot piece of Mary-look-alike ass is strolling around town?”

Red Pyramid Thing doesn't have to go back to assaulting mannequins - or any of the other monsters from then on, like nurses - because it has zeroed in on a single, ultimate target: Maria.

It's that simple. And you know what they say about the simplest explanations.

In fact, given this revelation, I can't help but wonder if maybe the number of mannequins that you kill might factor into whether the player receives the “Leave” ending or the “Maria” ending...

So why do so many Silent Hill fans insist that Pyramid Head is a mannequin-rapist? To the point that they cosplay as Pyramid Head wearing the movie helmet, black business suit, briefcase, and oversized wristwatch on which all the numbers have been replaced with the word “Rape”? I don't know. But this scene from Blazing Saddles just might sum it up nicely:

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Comments (13) -

Joe
Joe
05/09/2012 16:54:20 #

This is not only a nice analysis of Pyramid Head, but also a great debunking of popular SH fanboy nonsense. Cool job!

05/10/2012 10:42:57 #

Thanks, Joe! I appreciate the feedback. Be sure to share with your Silent Hill fan friends!

Hawthorne
Hawthorne
05/11/2012 09:51:49 #

Thank you for clearing that up. You don't know how long I've been trying to talk to my friends about this xD

Lisa
Lisa
10/07/2012 22:34:48 #

CLEARLY, Pyramid Head is acting sexually towards the mannequins, there are way more scenes than just that one in which he does so. www.youtube.com/watch

Jane Doe
Jane Doe
10/23/2012 19:47:30 #

Okay, first of all, just because there was no physical penetration doesn't make it any less sexual. Red Pyramid is clearly, and I mean plain as day, enacting strong sexual violence on the mannequin monster. Secondly, the Red Pyramid thing is caught multiple times in violent sexual encounters with other monsters like the Lying Figure. Look closer at the monster before the first boss fight, it's a Lying Figure not a Mannequin (clue: it has a head and no arms) so that alone kind of debunks your Mannequin = Mary theory and makes me question whether or not you actually played the game. I don't understand how you can admit the incredibly strong phallic imagery in the monster's appearance alone but deny it is clearly forcing other monsters into submissive and highly suggestive positions. I can bring up other games and even the movie for more evidence of Pyramid Head's actions but there's plenty in the first game alone. It is not a myth, the Red Pyramid Thing is a sexual predator, penetration or no.

12/06/2012 18:00:45 #

@Lisa: Actually, no. The two scenes presented are the only sexually suggestive scenes featuring Pyramid Head in the entire game. The Fukuro video doesn't count because it isn't in the game. It was made later, after the game had released and the "Pyramid Head rape" meme had already started to propagate within the Silent Hill community.

@Jane Doe: Yes, I did play the game. I've personally completed the game four times (getting each of the default endings at least once), as well as watched three (going on four and maybe five or six) different friends play through the game in its entirety. You are correct that the second scene features Pyramid Head assaulting a Lying Figure. That was an honest mistake on my part, and the "Mannequins = Mary" thing is is intended as more of a food for though kind of idea rather than a game-changing absolute interpretation.

As for PH being a sexual predator, please reread the section titled "But I have to admit, that Pyramid Head is pretty sexy". In it, I state that there is absolutely an element of sexuality in Pyramid Head's design and actions. I also concede that the "rape" scene in the apartment is certainly intended to remindthe viewer of a "rape". The allusion to Blue Velvet in the framing of the shot makes that pretty obvious. But members of Team Silent will be the first to admit that one of the things that they strive to achieve in their games is to present an unclear image and let the player's mind wander. I believe there's a quote from SH2's director along the lines of "What your mind can imagine is far more disturbing than anything we can show on-screen".

The scene is not an explicit rape, but it sure is designed to look like a rape! This is done to make the scene more uncomfortable and unsettling for the player. The designers planted the seed of sexual symbolism in our minds, and the fans took it to the extreme! If Pyramid Head were a symbol of sexual frustration, then he should have been dry-humping Maria up and down the town. But PH doesn't. Nor should he, because he's a representation of Jame's unconscious guilt, and James (as far as we can tell) is not a rapist! James himself states "I needed you to punish me", not "I needed you to remind me of how horny I am."

kokihi
kokihi
06/24/2013 10:44:29 #

This article assumes that rape is about sex, which it is not. And like Jane Doe said, not all of the monsters Pyramid head attacks are mannequins.

07/18/2013 07:25:22 #

About what you said up there: "Pyramid Head's actions are acts of violence. Not acts of sexuality." I must say that rape is mostly an act of violence, and it is also about power and submission. Rape is not a sexual relation, it is VIOLENCE. That is why the scene sugests rape and that is also why it is so fiting for such a violent character.

07/25/2013 09:37:18 #

@Lara, that is kind of the point of this whole article. Pyramid Head is a representation of Jame's guilt over his acts of violence, and NOT a representation of repressed sexual urges.

One thing that I am kicking myself for missing in this analysis is that at the end of the game, after James has killed Eddie, a second Pyramid Head appears! This cements the symbolic nature of Pyramid Head as being a representation of murder and not sex, since James certainly doesn't have any sexual intentions towards Eddie.

Outlaw
Outlaw
08/28/2013 13:06:20 #

You're trying to single-handedly knock out a symbolic "definite" meaning for a creature that exists in a dimension whose integral themes are a completely chaotic medley of overt and repressed sexuality and violence.

So relegating the MAIN bloody protagonist to something of a straightforward ruffian makes absolutely no sense.



Neurivita
Neurivita
01/11/2014 01:26:08 #

No idea if this comment system will work, but hey let's give it a go.

I just wanted to say that, everyone's swinging about Pyramid Head being this manifestation of James' violence; but if you think about it for a moment, ignoring all the finger pointing on 'rape' and 'not rape'. If James was not violet towards Mary, yet grew frustrated from her illness & verbal abuse to him. -- Pyramid Head being the entity of his violence -- Who is to say that, the aforementioned "sexual urges" as to the excuse of why the manifestations to the Mannequins/Nurses exist; isn't also manifested in Pyramid Head? James was sexually deprived throughout his wife's illness. If he was restraining his dick, like he was restraining his frustration/violence (though he ultimately gave in to both put her out of her misery and to 'vent' as is implied), Pyramid Head would be the focal vent for both.

Remember boys and girls, this is a game that was intended to make sales with public audiences, if there was a physical/rendered penis, and the act of brutal rape, this game wouldn't of been on shelves unless the scene was deleted, that's just how things work.

Now my opinion on the scene that started this all is simple: It looked more like a struggle, rather than hip-thrusting whilst holding them down to preform any act. Hell, unless he came in 5 seconds, I'm pretty sure he wasn't having sex with them. At the end, when the Mannequin's legs were spread, that was the mannequin doing it, not PH. The creature itself (mannequin) is sexual, and PH not once knelt down to get to 'business'. - However, I do agree with the whole analogy on how that scene was made to plant the seed of sexual symbolism, particularly with the peeking-shutter-door point. But in itself, it was not a rape scene, it was just a murder with 2 monsters that are perverse in themselves. If you saw 2 clowns flailing around in the mannequin's place with the exact same movements, no one would even 'THINK' about it being rape.

The notorious "Fukuro" cinema (assuming that's it's official name) and that short scene before the boss fight of PH clearly humping in to the monster -- sorry but I refuse to take that as 'smothering' -- could very well be sexual acts, yes. Though we could still argue if it's actually rape or if the monster is willing/enjoying it. But that's just an endless debate that'll never be answered, so there's little reason to bring -that- in to fruition.

On a footnote, people say James isn't capable of such a foul act of sexually assaulting someone, though not once did they specify what his supposed Sins (plural) were outside of the fact that he smothered his wife to death. Remember that he drank heavily when she fell ill, and was battling with sexual restraint; he didn't want to do anything because he was already hitched with Mary. He may of been in love with her, but that implies he had other thoughts lingering in his mind. - Now I'm not trying to vilify the beloved James, because in sanity he's a good guy... but everyone has a dark side.

Bottom line here is simple: Pyramid Head is just as likely to be a manifestation of James' sexual exertion as he is to be James' violence incarnate. Flipping the coin to the other side, one could also say that he hated himself for both of those lingering thoughts/desires, which would only ~add~ to Pyramid Head being a grand personification of his desire for punishment (what he hates in himself/of himself). Silent Hill is a very, very intricate art piece, with more than one perspective, and more than one right; as more than one wrong.

As for this review, honestly I think it had a good roll going up until the Penis equivalent... No offense.

Conclusion? Pyramid Head isn't a traditional 'rapist' as we'd imagine someone with such a title, but a manifestation of -pain-, which governs all elements of James' repressed emotions. It's an alternate dimension, it's his sub-conscious coming to life, keep that in mind.

shaun
shaun
05/12/2014 02:58:39 #

This has all of the answered you could ever want ;)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i_7-Vp5tvVQ

Hope it helps

silent hill fan 1
silent hill fan 1
07/12/2014 14:41:42 #

People need to get over this rape stuff  it happen there nothing we can do about it

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