Sander Cohen is the primary leader in arts and culture in the underwater city of Rapture, seen in decay in BioShock. He is an artist, composer, sculptor, and playwright, producing art that supports Andrew Ryan’s (the founder of Rapture) vision for the city, and for this compliance he is sometimes criticized by other characters as a hack or a sellout with little real talent. These criticisms make Cohen paranoid, and also drive him to eliminate any competition that he cannot control. After Rapture’s descent into chaos, Cohen’s art takes an even darker turn, and he often murders those who disagree with him or disappoint him, and encases them in plaster as a twisted form of sculpture. In BioShock, he forces the player to do this to several of his former disciples, photographing their bodies to add to his “masterpiece.”
Cohen returns in BioShock Infinite: Burial at Sea, where he is hosting a party and art exhibition. He asks the player and Elizabeth to dance, and shortly after electrocutes them when he is dissatisfied with their performance.
While Cohen’s sexuality is never explicitly stated, it is heavily implied that he may have had sexual relationships with his male protégés, with one referring to him as an “old fruit” and another recounting “the things that man had me do…” Cohen’s sexuality has been further confirmed in developer interviews. Cohen’s portrayal is often negative, antagonistic, and neurotic, though these traits are never directly tied to his implied sexuality.
LGBTQ references in this game series:
BioShock (2007): Sander Cohen
BioShock 2 (2010): Brute Splicers
BioShock Infinite (2013): Guard NPC
BioShock Infinite: Burial At Sea Episode 1: Unnamed Gay Couple
- Chang, Edmond. (2011, October 10). Queering Bioshock. Ed(mond)Chang(ED)Agogy. Retrieved from http://www.edmondchang.com/2011/10/10/queering-bioshock/
- Sander Cohen. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://bioshock.wikia.com/wiki/Sander_Cohen
- VorpalBunny. (2011, March 24). Queer Characters: Bioshock. Gaygamer.net. Retreived from http://gaygamer.net/2011/03/queer_characters_bioshock.html