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

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

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  1. EECHUUTA Jedi Master

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    Me too. I am female, and I have a lot of Native American and European in me, so I am also a 'mutt.' So what I usually think of as white, is someone who is 100% Caucasian.

    When I think of Darth Revan, I think of him as a black male. 'White' Jedi/Sith are ultra-boring and too many of them as 'white' is also "unrealistic."
    Besides, Revan has more of an elegant mystery as a black man [face_love]
  2. CooperTFN TFN EU Staff Emeritus

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    ...which is interesting considering which one grew up in a desert and which one grew up on a spaceship.

    Regarding the "mutt" business: my ancestry is Norwegian, English, Irish, Scottish, French, and German. Does the fact that those are all white cultures make my heritage less diverse than someone who is, say, 50% English and 50% Kenyan? Why is one considered a mutt (not casting aspersions; I know the term's been used good-naturedly in here), and the other not? To bring that back around to the topic, it's also interesting to me that very little attention is given to people having mixed planetary heritage. Everyone is 100% Corellian, Alderaanian, Coruscanti, whatever - or if they are mixed, it's not addressed. By our Earth-based understanding, Jacen and Jaina are half Corellian and half Alderaanian, but they seem to be regarded IU as Coruscanti, if anything. Has humanity evolved to a point where wherever you grew up is considered your only relevant heritage? Picture a world where everyone in America was just that, American, and race or hereditary background didn't factor into it at all.
  3. QuentinGeorge Jedi Master

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    Everyone is essentially a "mutt". Even a pure-blooded "English" is really a Celt-Saxon-Norse-Norman mix. There are no pure-breds... ;)
  4. Havac Former Moderator

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    They're fundamentally regarded as Coruscanti most of the time, but they're also regarded as Corellian or Corellian-Coruscanti when it's relevant -- when discussing the fact that they're Han's children, or when they're dealing with Corellia. I think a lot of it is situational -- it's not that it doesn't matter, but that it matters less, especially since there's not really a visible aspect. Which is its own interesting problem -- there's a lack not just of OOU diversity (where are the Asians? Where are the aliens?) but of IU diversity as well. Where are the Twi'leks who aren't born on Ryloth? Where are the people born on Naboo to parents from Contruum and Ralltiir? Where are the culturally self-identifying Corellians who happen to be Weequays? Conversely, are all identified "Corellians" actually from Corellia, or are they from colony worlds, or Corellian expatriate parents, or space stations (Of the two most prominent "Corellians", Han Solo is of Tralusian extraction, and Wedge Antilles didn't live on Corellia until sometime after the age of fifty)? The EU isn't terrible at this, but much less of this kind of thing than one might like to see.
  5. Lord_Hydronium Manager Emeritus

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    [link=http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/File:Force_Wars-TEA.jpg]Tython[/link], apparently.

    Simply, the cultural context in which that heritage is viewed. In the US, for example, there's a very strong sense of a white/black divide, so someone with both of those in their heritage would be seen as coming from two disparate origins. On the flip side, Americans don't distinguish as much between different European countries anymore, so Norwegian/English/Irish/etc. are all lumped together under the banner of "white". Similarly, someone who was half-Kenyan/half-Nigerian we'd just call "black", though I imagine people from those countries would see it differently. And so on.
  6. JediFreac Jedi Master

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    I always felt the Solo kids identified not with their Corellian or Alderaanian heritage, but with their Jedi heritage the most. So I guess you could say "Jedi" is their ethnicity.

    I mean, you could argue that they get their sense of entitlement from growing up on Coruscant (although they were raised all over the place and that sense of entitlement could just as easily come from being the kids of the heroes of the galaxy) but they didn't even absorb the Coruscanti accent. I did think it was neat that the family visited Corellia in the Bantam Corellian trilogy and Han and Leia got their kids a cultural tutor. I always wondered why the Solo kids weren't more connected to the Alderaanian parts of their heritage though, short of Shards of Alderaan. You'd think they'd be more curious about that facet of their past, the same way they were about the fact that their granddaddy was a tyrant's helper. Y'd think maybe the fact that much of one side of their heritage was lost due to genocide would raise questions or--in Cadeus's case, some moral understanding that it's bad. I always wondered why Alderaanians didn't adopt the Solo kids, especially Anakin, as some sort of figurehead ("Son of Alderaan" or even royalty?)

    With the Solo kids it's funny, because whenever one of them does something swaggery and swarmy or daring then some other character or the narrative goes "oh that's Jacen's Corellian side showing!" or "Jaina's showing her Corellian tendencies!"

    On the other hand, you've got Tenel Ka really grappling with the cultural clash between her Hapan and Dathomiri heritage--even though they are both misandrist, they are still different in many other ways.

    For example, do Selonians have the same "Corellian scoundrel" reputation that human Correlians have? By the way, stereotypes like "all Corellians are rash and impulsive" are usually dispelled by exposure to different people from that group, so if Corellians are so dispersed, where does that stereotype come from? Do some Corellians resent this stereotype? It'd be interesting, for example, if a character were fired from a job based on a stereotyped assumption that he would be "reckless" because he was ethnically Corellian, or promiscuous because she was a twi'lek, etc. It would also be interesting to see more characters like Shug Ninx from Dark Empire, who was half human, half Theelian. And like others have mentioned, characters who are gay, disabled, poor, untalented (rather than being either A) amazingly Force sensitive or B) a piloting prodigy...)etc.

    I would love to see more cultural issues explored in the EU. SciFi is actually almost a safer place to do so, through allegory (District 9 being a recent--and yes, critiqued--example.)

    I attribute a lot of this recent lack of diversity to the fact that most of the recent post-NJO books are heavily focused on the Solo-Skywalkers, and frankly, few of the new secondary characters are all that compelling. There's no real LotF or FotJ fan favorite, it seems (aside from Ben, but that's a given since he's a Skywalker.) These new books have not introduced any new standout characters like Corran Horn, Mara Jade, Tenel Ka, or Jag Fel. (Granted, all of these break-out EU characters have been white, but still.)

    Come to think of it, maybe the X-Wing books are the closest we ever got to representing the true diversity of the GFFA. We had Falynn Sandskimmer, who hated being typecast for coming from Tatooine. Myn Donos, a quiet and not-so-rakish Corellian. And of course, Piggy defying virtually all stereotypes about Gamorreans and grappling with having to "play dumb" during undercover missions. I also seem to recall that Shalla Nelprin was black, although I don't remember how Allston framed it as such, I just remember logging it into my mind. Stackpole's books also featured an anecdote and an entire plot line around interspecies relationships.

    (You know, Lando hasn't gotten his own book since the 1980s.)

    So maybe the answer to creating a more diverse and culturally nuanced GFFA EU includ
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  7. wild_karrde Jedi Grand Master

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    The books are written by a bunch of white guys. People tend to write what they know.

    Personally, I have a much bigger problem with stereotypes in the EU - all Corellians don't like hearing the odds, all Bothans are slimey politicians, all Rodians are bounty hunters, all Wookies are loyal and good with electronics. Not to mention planets being just one type of environment - desert, forest, lava, snowball, etc. So annoying.
  8. Arawn_Fenn Force Ghost

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    And speaking of Corellians, why did WEG or whoever feel compelled to make the MF a Corellian ship in the first place? The only ships implied to be Corellian in the OT are "big" Imperial starships, i.e. Star Destroyer types. Just because Han's a Corellian, does that mean he has to be flying a Corellian ship?
  9. Jedi_Hall Jedi Youngling

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  10. CooperTFN TFN EU Staff Emeritus

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    Something else that occurred to me - wasn't there a point when Gavin and Asyr considered adopting, and she rejected it because taking on a non-Bothan child would be looked down upon? Is that just a Bothan thing, or even just Asyr's clan? I can easily see it just being a Bothan thing, but the only other adoption scenario I can think of is Micah in Legacy. It would be really interesting to explore an overall taboo against inter-species adoption in GFFA culture.
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  11. JediFreac Jedi Master

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    I assume there would be some people pro and some people against--almost like an allegory to the real-world adoption debates.

    For example, China does not adopt to people older than a certain age, single parents, or people who have ever been on antidepressants. And one of the primary arguments against gay adoption is the whole "Kids need parents of the opposite gender! It's not what nature intended!" vs. "That's right. Nature intended for you to fend for yourself unloved and alone in an orphanage."

    So it would be interesting to see what the galaxy's attitude about adoption. In the d20 RPG I run, one of my characters is a wookiee who was raised by humans. (Kind of the opposite of the old "Han Solo raised by wookiees" myth.) This character has difficulty fitting in with other wookiees and we play it straight as part of the wookiee's character development.
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  12. Valin__Kenobi Author: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Praji

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    Interspecies adoption would be a far more complicated issue than our interracial or international adoption. Human kids are all basically the same--not so for alien babies.

    I mean, is a human raising a Twi'lek or a Nosaurian really going to know what the hell to do with it? From both a "mechanical" or a mentoring/advising standpoint? They eat different stuff, have different sleep patterns, go through the developmental stages at different times or even in a different order, and God help the person who tries to raise an alien kid through its' species' version of puberty. :p

    There might even be laws on the books about this sort of thing--for example, at least one parent has to be the same species as the child you are adopting. So Asyr and Gavin could adopt Bothans and humans, but no Devaronians or Nautolans.
  13. JediFreac Jedi Master

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    This is where it gets blurry, though. What if it's a kid from a species like the N'a-kee-tula or a war torn planet where there are not many adults out there to adopt them? Would you argue that these children are better off orphaned than in the care of (albeit operating in the dark) human parents who at least love them?

    The "mechanical" or "mentoring/advising" standpoint has actually been used to argue against single parent, gay, and international adoption. For example, some advocates argue that a gay couple should not be allowed to adopt a female child, because they will not be able to help the girl through puberty when she gets her period, etc. This argument has been shot down by gay parents who simply also find their daughter a mentor of the same gender to discuss female body part issues with. Similarly, American couples who adopt from China try and find their kids Asian American mentors. Could Gavin and Asyr conceivably have raised non human, non Bothan children if the kids had guidance from an adult of their own species?

    Probably the biggest way to debunk your argument would be to point out that the Jedi have somehow managed to raise infant aliens of all species (granted, it takes a village!), including through puberty--abstinent puberty!--despite differences in anatomy, diet, sleep patterns, etc.

    Now we've presented two different arguments on the same social issue in these two posts. I'd be interesting to see them in practice in an actual Star Wars story.
  14. CooperTFN TFN EU Staff Emeritus

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    Precisely. And this...

    ...would be awesome in a story.
  15. JediFreac Jedi Master

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    The character, Gworry, is played and was developed by my friend Marla. What's interesting is that it came out of her reading the Saga Edition sourcebook and wanting to make a character who was a male wookiee but also in the "Noble" class. According to the sourcebook, wookiees have the "racial trait" (species trait?) of "-2 in Charisma."

    So of course we wondered why that was--are there really no charismatic wookiees?--and the character development went from there. I also find it interesting that the stereotypes of the alien species are so ingrained that they are built into the sourcebook as core traits.

    What's interesting is we HAVE seen interesting characters like my friend's RPG character in past books. Remember Ralrracheen from The Thrawn Trilogy? He was a wookiee with a speech impediment and one of the few characters who are differently-abled in Star Wars (unless all of the characters with eyepatches also count.)

    I mean, sure Ralrra was a plot device (handy dandy translator wookiee) and also a relatively minor character. Zhan could just as easily wrote that Leia brought C-3PO or another droid with her to do all of the translating, or wanked that she learned Shirriwook from Chewbacca. But his inclusion--even if he didn't play a huge role--in the story made the planet of Kashyyyk and the worlds of Star Wars feel more rich and real (and yeah, buzzword: diverse.)
  16. Havac Former Moderator

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    Actually, no. They talk about marriage and having children, which means adopting. It's Asyr who says that if they're going to adopt, they need to adopt at least one Bothan kid, and she's surprised when Gavin has no problem with that (and the attendant political considerations) at all. Gavin then goes on to say that he doesn't really care which species they are, and offers Rodian and Ithorian as generic "be they X, Y, or Z" examples. Nobody has any problem with adopting non-Bothans, and it would seem that non-parental-species is a possibility as well.
  17. Darth_Zandalor Jedi Master

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    Well I have some Ideas of different human planets dedicated to certain countries.

    Serroco definitely looks like it is inhabited by Asian folk.

    Mandalore (KT variant) is pretty much the UK with Celtic overtones and both Irish and Scottish people.

    Harrun Kal is vietnam in space.
  18. CooperTFN TFN EU Staff Emeritus

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    Except Haruun Kal was a mostly black population, if anything.

    Hav - oh, cool. Guess I was remembering it wrong.
  19. Valin__Kenobi Author: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Praji

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    Haruun Kal is pretty blatantly the Congo, since it's populated by black people with the colonial interlopers being various races of humans and other species. Shatterpoint was based as much on Heart of Darkness as on Apocalypse Now.
  20. Darth_Zandalor Jedi Master

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    Well, I guess i got the Vietnam idea from watching Full Metal Jacket last week.

    Corellia reminds me of the US. Multi Ethnic and they all sound like Han Solo
  21. JediFreac Jedi Master

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    In the Legacy Comics, Micah Skywalker is a Cathar and the adopted son of Nat Skywalker...so I guess you could even argue that interspecies adoption is a part of the Skywalker family tree now! Micah is also a double amputee and has cybernetic legs, so you could also argue that he is one of the very few differently-abled characters featured in canon.

    Also, Nat Skywalker and Droo's biological daughter, Ahnah, would probably be considered 'biracial' in our world, since Nat is "white" and Droo is "black." Skeeto is drawn as pretty ethnically ambiguous, too.
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  22. Havac Former Moderator

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    None of the kids belong to Nat; Ahnah and Skeeto are both from a previous relationship on Droo's part.
  23. timmoishere Jedi Grand Master

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    DPs need to go back to the way they were during the X-wing series. Divide the factions up, have more numerous species, and even list the characters' homeworlds.
  24. Xicer Jedi Padawan

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    I agree, and that was kinda the point of having a DP. Especially in the X-wing books where callsigns were always being thrown around and I could never keep track of them, and the Wraiths changed their callsigns pretty much every book. DPs in current SW books are pretty useless since they don't give any information that wouldn't be easy to infer from the text itself.
  25. Havac Former Moderator

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    Yeah, Del Rey has had kind of a bad tendency of standardizing anything an individual author does. It used to be DPs were done only by a handful of authors -- generally those managing a huge cast of characters. The X-wing books and BFC had them; I can't think of any others. Stackpole then did them for Dark Tide, presumably just because it was his custom by that point. After that, they got standardized. Every DR book since then has had a DP. And it's not a DR thing -- it distinctly flows from Stackpole including them. Vector Prime had no DP. So now books which have no need of DPs, indeed in which the surprise of new characters showing up is actively sabotaged by DPs, have them mandated anyway. So you either get DPs giving away surprises, being useless, or being screwed around with to make a point (Traviss filled hers up with generic background soldiers and Mandos and left much more important characters off them). We also have most books now getting those little theater-style scene-setters (JEDI TEMPLE, CORUSCANT) before almost every scene, which I think came from Traviss, but which Denning seems to have abandoned. About the only individual quirk that hasn't caught on is Traviss's epigraphs.

    If they'd just do away with the DPs, I'd be perfectly happy.
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