Twins in Media: Robert and Rosalind Lutece

Screenshot of Robert and Rosalind Lutece from ‘Bioshock: Infinite’. Copyright goes to Irrational Games and 2K Games.

Hey! Hallie here!

We’re starting out this weeks ‘Twins in Media’ with some video game representation! Finally! If you know anything about the Lutece twins, you know this conversation might get a bit confusing. For one, they aren’t actually twins. I’ll get to that whole thing in a second because there’s a lot to talk about. Regardless of the technicality, the plot treats them as twins. Rosalind and Robert refer to each other as brother and sister, and they are officially referred to as the Lutece twins. So I am going to treat them as such in this analysis. As for spoilers, I probably won’t be referring much to the main plot, but I will be using everything and anything of the Lutece’s story at my disposal to decide whether or not they are a good representation of twins in media. So this is somewhat of a SPOILER warning for ‘Bioshock: Infinite’. With that out of the way, lets look at this odd pair!

The Bad:

  • The same person: Literally. I’m not even kidding. This is what I was talking about when I said they aren’t technically twins. Robert and Rosalind Lutece are the same person, just from different realities. This is also what I meant when I said this might get confusing. Rosalind Lutece is a well known scientist within the universe the player is in for the majority of the game. She’s known mostly for her discovery of parallel universes, caused by her desire to have a sister. Since she was a young girl she imagined befriending a girl, like herself but slightly different, so that she wouldn’t be so alone. When she finally found a way to communicate across parallel universes she found a brother instead, or rather, what she would have been if she had been born male. Fortunately, she found this discovery just as satisfying as if she had found a sister. But this right here is the biggest problem with the Lutece twins. There is already a common misconception that twins are basically the same person. Rosalind and Robert further promote this theory by their portrayal as twins. They didn’t have to be twins. They didn’t have to do the whole ‘Rosalind wanted a sibling’ storyline. The writers could have simply made them what they are; the same person but from different universes. But they didn’t. Instead of avoiding this trope altogether or, heaven forbid, actually writing twin characters, they stuck the twin title on them to make them seem more weird and mysterious. I don’t know how many times I have to say this, but, SURPRISE, twins are normal people. There’s nothing weird or mysterious about the fact that we have some physical similarities.
  • Finishing each others sentences: This is ALL of their dialogue. That isn’t an exaggeration. Once again to emphasize their weird and mysterious characters, the writers use a common twin trope. Rosalind and Robert never have a singular thought of their own, or at least they appear not to. That’s because every time you go up to talk to them all they do is communicate the same idea, just while switching off who says what. Not only is this unrealistic, but it happens so often that the player becomes pretty convinced they don’t have anything original to say singularly. As someone who constantly experiences having my opinion ignored because someone assumes my opinion is the same as my sister’s, it’s annoying to see this promoted so blatantly with these two. I can have similar thoughts as my sister. But I can also have completely different thoughts as my sister. Because we’re different people. And we most definitely aren’t on the same page enough to constantly finish each others sentences. I’ve talked about how unlikely it is for my sister and I to say something at the same time before. Well, it’s even less likely for us to finish each others sentences.

The Good:

  • Different opinions: After bashing them for having basically the same brain, I bet you’re wondering why I put this here. Well, if you put in the work to collect all of Rosalind’s Voxophones, which record her scientific discoveries and life overall, you get a bit more information. The reason why I didn’t mention this above is because you can’t collect all of them, especially not the most interesting ones, without unlocking their house within a minigame included with the game. So it isn’t in the main game. In the main game the most you get to hint at their differing opinions is small bickering. “Heads or tails?” or “The bird or the cage?”. That tells you nothing about them as individuals. I’d also like to point out that they’re finishing each others sentences when they ask you these questions. Ok, I’ll move on. Anyway, when you collect all of Rosalind’s Voxophones you learn about their biggest dispute. Robert and Rosalind helped the main villain do something that changed Booker, the player character, for the rest of his life. While Booker doesn’t remember any of it, Robert becomes guilty and decides to use his knowledge of parallel universes to help Booker. Rosalind doesn’t care. She mentions several times in her recordings that she has only ever cared about herself and Robert. Robert, however, is a very empathetic person. The dispute ends when Robert threatens to leave Rosalind forever, making her lonely once again, if she doesn’t help him with his plan. This is the entire reason why the Lutece twins help the player throughout the entire game. It’s also the only major example of their different personalities and it’s a major one at that. If only it wasn’t just a fun Easter egg.

So are the Lutece twins a good representation of twins in media? You probably know the answer to this one. No. In no universe are they a good representation of twins. The main issue here is that the writers stuck the label of ‘twins’ on characters that weren’t twins. By doing that they turned something that could have been innocently odd into something that perpetuated harmful stereotypes. But does this mean you have to hate these two, or even ‘Bioshock: Infinite’? Of course not! Even hating all of these tropes I found these two one of the best parts of the game. They always had a delightfully weird riddle to tell and I could never determine when they were going to randomly pop up. I found enjoyment in hearing them heckle me every time I died in the DLC. I just wish, very very much, that the writers hadn’t decided to ingrain some of the worst twin tropes media has to offer in their writing.

Don’t do anything fun until I get back!

Hallie

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