Lit Beating a Dead Eopie: The Diversity Thread (various spoilers)

Discussion in 'Literature' started by CooperTFN, Aug 20, 2009.

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  1. CooperTFN TFN EU Staff Emeritus

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    Rather than hijack other threads every time this comes up, I'm gonna keep this thread as my official place for complaints about the ongoing whitewashing of the early Legacy Era.

    Just cracked open Abyss this evening, and as usual, the first thing I see:

    Ahri Raas - Keshiri male
    Ben Skywalker - human male
    Han Solo - human male
    Jagged Fel - human male
    Jaina Solo - human female
    Leia Organa Solo - human female
    Luke Skywalker - human male
    Olaris Rhea - human female
    Vestara Khai - human female
    Yuvar Xal - human male

    Aside from one near-human character (which means it officially beats Outcast in this area), the entire DP is human. And while it's not actually mentioned in the DP, meaning it's officially not a problem, they're not even multi-ethnic humans, just a bunch of white folks. Granted, I'm not certain at this point what Rhea and Xal look like, but I'm not exactly getting my hopes up.

    Why aren't Allston or Denning creating any new DP-worthy alien characters? Why aren't they working more extensively with the pre-existing ones? For that matter - is Cilghal, at the very least, really not deserving of a DP spot in either Outcast or Abyss? For that matter, why wasn't Lando in the DP for Outcast? And I know this next bit is hard to address in prose, but as long as I'm asking random diversity questions, where's the planet full of Japanese people in this galaxy? Indians? Persians? Inuits? White people are not the freaking "default" switch for this species. And humans shouldn't be.

    I like to ask people what they want out of Star Wars...for me, this isn't it.
    Contessa likes this.
  2. trooper0074 Jedi Knight

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    1/3rd should be Alien at a minimum. It is a shame to waste the diversity that is in the Galaxy.
  3. Sacredot Jedi Padawan

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    Aug 20, 2009
    Meh, humans are like bunnies. White, fluffy bunnies everywhere.
  4. Lumiyas_Head Jedi Grand Master

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    Just because "the main cast" isn't alien doesn't mean non-humans are pushed to the side, we had a lot of alien interaction in Abyss and FOTJ in general.
  5. CooperTFN TFN EU Staff Emeritus

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    I think recent Western culture has proven that tokenism isn't much of a step up from lack of inclusion altogether.

    Caveat - again, I'm only just starting Abyss. It could be full of fascinating 3-dimensional alien characters who have very important roles in the story. I'm just not really expecting it.
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  6. MasterKenobi1138 Jedi Knight

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    Well, we did get the Maori New Zealander planet of Concord Dawn thanks to Temuera Morrison, as well as a kind of Latino world thanks to Jimmy Smits. So... yeah.
  7. CooperTFN TFN EU Staff Emeritus

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    Oh, the movies are great in this regard. But compare this...

    [image=http://www.freewebs.com/jediarchive/Jedi%20Council.jpg]

    ...to a mental image of the Legacy-era council. Thank god we beat those dastardly High Human Culture folks, huh? o_O
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  8. Sacredot Jedi Padawan

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    Aug 20, 2009
    But there are many times more humans than aliens in the galaxy.

    Plus, you can't expect diversity on earth to represent diversity... IN SPACE.
  9. TalonCard •Author: Slave Pits of Lorrd •TFN EU Staff

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    To be fair, most of the current Jedi Council members are characters from preexisting sources that you'd expect to be on the Council at this point...Corran, Kyle, Luke, Mara before she was killed, etc...the fact that most of them are human isn't exactly coincidence, but it's not the fault of the authors who staffed the Council.

    This seems to be a problem with the novels, mostly. The films (particularly the prequels) and the comics seem to be much more diverse.

    TC
  10. CooperTFN TFN EU Staff Emeritus

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    Yes. Legacy, in particular, is doing wonderfully at this. Which goes to show that it's a lot easier to create a diverse cast of characters from scratch. The Legacy novels, like you say, are basically a conglomeration of main characters from older, perhaps more diverse books - Corran, Kyp, Jag, etc. So the real problem might be that all new main characters are white humans in the first place.

    Very common, yes. More populous than all other species put together, I have a hard time buying. And to whatever extent it is true, the entire "ubiquitous human" cliche only exists in the first place because of how few people want to deal with alien main characters. There's no IU reason that humans should be so much more populous than everyone else.
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  11. Armchair_Admiral Force Ghost

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    I see that as the least of the problems the EU has, considering that I find the current main cast of characters in the Del Rey novels to be woefully unmemorable anyway, maybe because they're mostly the children of previous heroes rather than truely original characters. I simply can care less for the FOTJ-era Skywalkers, Solos, and Fels by this point. [face_not_talking]
  12. Sacredot Jedi Padawan

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    Aug 20, 2009
    What would you change if you could?
  13. RebelJoseWales Jedi Grand Master

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    Meh. Most writers are human, most readers are human. Since the majority are represented, the rest don't matter. That's how democracy works. :p

    Seriously, though, it really doesn't bother me to have a human-heavy line-up.
  14. Valin__Kenobi Author: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Praji

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    @ Sacredot and Coop:

    IIRC, humans are the most populous individual species, but are still just the largest minority.

    In other words, they have a plurality but not a majority.
  15. Liliedhe Jedi Knight

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    Feb 22, 2009
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    It's kind of unfair to just hang the book on the DP, most of which are 'old' characters, since a great number of the other characters who are introduced in this book are alien - Bothan, Ramoan, Givin, Gotal, Zoolli (whatever that is), Rodian etc. I even took special notice of that "can't they meet another human anywhere"?
  16. Sacredot Jedi Padawan

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  17. patchworkz7 Force Ghost

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    I agree with you Coop, and I know we've touched on this sort of thing before in discussions, but this has reached the tilting at windmills stage. As much as I agree with you, I don't see it changing, and I also don't think it's an EASY thing to change. Some of the difficulty comes from the limitations of prose and the fact that the SWU isn't our world and authors can't simply indicate racial features in earth terms, but on the alien side of things; people are going to want to read about humans or at least VERY close humanoid aliens, and it's really harder to write from the perspective of a Wookiee or even a droid (although such a book would be great).

    I also think the DP's are partly for newcomers and meant to not alienate new readers who might be confused with a slew of alien names and descriptions in the DP. I actually hate character lists in books for the most part, tbh, and wish they'd just do away with them, but since they aren't going to, I share your feelings on the situation.

    I will say that I totally agree with people who say it's easier to show diversity in comics and movies/TV than novels, but things like Hallena Devis being black are things that are not that hard to drop in. It's not about dwelling on someone's race, but at least giving a nod in the direction that not only is the galaxy not all human, but not all white gingers.

    Again, this is something that's harder to get across in the prose medium, but I do want more diversity even in humanity; gays, other racial features at least being talked about (again, something other than pale, white gingers populating the galaxy), and where's the punk rocker looking humans? The hipster looking Corsucanti? Redneck Corellians?

    That's before we get to the aliens, and I'd like to see diversity among them as well. If there's one thing that has always bothered me about SW, it's the racial trait angle, where a few trait covered the whole of the race, or a race only has one cultural stock.

    Again, I think complaining about it has a touch of tilting at windmills, both because I don't think most people care, and also because I think that it's going to be harder for prose authors to drop in without things seeming weird or OOU in the story.
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  18. QuentinGeorge Force Ghost

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    Dec 12, 2003
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    where's the punk rocker looking humans?

    Right here.

    [image=http://images3.wikia.nocookie.net/starwars/images/5/5d/Sedriss_NEGTC.jpg]
  19. YodaKenobi VIP

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    That picture is just waiting for someone to photoshop a Flying V in it.
  20. Thrawn McEwok Co-Author: Essential Guide to Warfare

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    THey're all either relatives, or members of the élite in societies with heavy ethnic stratification. :p I think that may be deliberate, or at the very least, reflects the narrative. ;) The fact that there was a Keshri at all in that group is significant "positive discrimination".

    Are we allowed to discuss how the balance adjusts if we look at the rest of the characters? [face_thinking]

    - The Imperial Ewok
  21. QuentinGeorge Force Ghost

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    Ahri Raas - Keshiri male
    Ben Skywalker - human male
    Han Solo - human male
    Jagged Fel - human male
    Jaina Solo - human female
    Leia Organa Solo - human female
    Luke Skywalker - human male
    Olaris Rhea - human female
    Vestara Khai - human female
    Yuvar Xal - human male

    First, let's take away everyone who is part of the same bloodline....

    Ahri Raas - Keshiri male
    Jagged Fel - human male
    Olaris Rhea - human female
    Vestara Khai - human female
    Yuvar Xal - human male


    Leaves us with four humans, and one Keshiri. Of the four humans, we only really know the ethnicity of one of them. It's only the EU's over-reliance on Skysolos that skews the demographics.
  22. DarthIktomi Jedi Master

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    Ahri Raas - Keshiri male
    Ben Skywalker - human male
    Han Solo - human male
    Jagged Fel - human male
    Jaina Solo - human female
    Leia Organa Solo - human female
    Luke Skywalker - human male
    Olaris Rhea - human female
    Vestara Khai - human female
    Yuvar Xal - human male

    Five of them are the same bloodline, and all the Lost Tribe are specifically dedicated to their standard of perfection. Human perfection. Ahri Raas is an example of tokenism.
  23. Dawud786 Force Ghost

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    You know, this bothers me about pop culture in general... but why the kark do they always save the punk rocker look for the bad guys? We can't have a good guy with a leather jacket and a mohawk... oh no, that wouldn't be good. We can't even have a punk rocker in an innocent bystander position. He's always gotta be the bad guy.
  24. DarthIktomi Jedi Master

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    But don't you get it? Punk rockers are threatening.

    If you're approaching 90.
  25. Grey1 Host: 181st Imperial Discussion Group

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    How good and useful are the DPs anyway? I think I remember finding them a bit handy with the Vong characters, but if it's just a list of all the "well-known" characters you'd expect in the book anyway plus characters which might be meant as a mystery for the novel but then get explained on some sober planet/profession level...

    And notice how a newcomer wouldn't get basic information like "Jaina is Han and Leia's daughter". They'd only get useless stuff like ranks and home planets which do not really relate to "what's he doing in his faction" (so, Han is a captain) and where they are when the story starts. Ranks and home planets are more important to hardcore fans who like to see such statistical/technical stuff spelled out.

    Classic Dramatis Personae pages like in old stage plays at least tried to order characters in some sensible manner, not just alphabetical. Look at Romeo and Juliet - both families seperate from each other, ordered in a way that you could recognize head of the family from first-born son and so on. Not that I say that readers necessarily need that information, either, but it just makes more sense.

    I'd say they should do lists like with the GODV books (pictures! :D) or at least like the Last Of The Jedi series, where you could easily catch up on the host of non-cover characters (which that series had a lot of). Either that, or abandon them altogether. Or did anyone enjoy Mindor less because they didn't know beforehand that Nick and Kar were in it, or which ranks the Rogue pilots had?
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