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

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

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  1. JediFreac Force Ghost

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    Hawk, I contest!

    I don't know if the kids know they're "Skywalkers," but they definitely consider Nat Skywalker their dad.

    Obviously Micah isn't either parent's biological kid, Skeeto was adopted by both, and Anah is only biologically Droo's daughter, but that doesn't mean that Nat does not consider himself their father.

    I would argue that Nat's relationship with these kids is very different in terms of paternity from say, Luke's relationship with Uncle Lars. It is closer to Leia's relationship with Bail Organa. I don't think the fact that she wasn't biologically related to Bail or aware she was a Skywalker undermined her inclusion in either family.

    Micah even calls Nat pops. I would argue that this is indeed an example of interspecies adoption within the Skywalker family.
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  2. Havac Former Moderator

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    I'm not saying they're not adopted; I'm just saying Nat being white has no impact on whether or not Ahnah is biracial, since he's not her (biological) father.
  3. Arawn_Fenn Chosen One

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    The audio recording of Depa is pretty much right out of Apocalypse Now.
  4. Valin__Kenobi Author: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Praji

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    ^ Very true.

    Incidentally y'all can check out some of Stover's comments on HoD/Apocalypse Now in relation to Shatterpoint in the interviews here and here.
  5. neo-dragon Force Ghost

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    Apr 15, 2004
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    The thing is, the real world is populated by humans exclusively, and human readers want human characters that they can relate to. Hell, in franchises like Star Wars and Star Trek most of the aliens just act like humans with a gimmick or two like Saba's weird speech and predator mentality. I'd actually rather have complex and believable human characters than aliens for the sake of aliens.

    As for diversity within the human cast, SW novels have the troubling problem of finding ways to tell the reader that a character isn't white. Aside from the occasional reference to a "dark skinned" human (and any number of ethnic groups could be called dark skinned compared to a typical Caucasian), what can you do? How do you describe a character as looking Oriental or Arabic without references to Earth cultures? It's not impossible. You can mention that a character has epicanthic folds in their eyelids (ie. Oriental appearance) but it's awkward and probably doesn't seem worth the effort.

    I guess you can blame the artists as well. Since ethnicity is seldom mentioned, would it actually contradict anything if the first official pic of an EU character like Cal Omas portrayed him as something other than white?
  6. QuentinGeorge Force Ghost

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    Dec 12, 2003
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    Since his eyes are blue....he pretty much has to be Caucasian.

    Again, Star Wars authors and their fetishes for red-heads ups the amounts of Caucasians by itself.
  7. CooperTFN TFN EU Staff Emeritus

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    Your opinion.
  8. CaptainJackBauer24 Jedi Grand Master

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    I like to ask people what they want out of Star Wars...for me, this isn't it.

    I'd like to see characters treated as individuals (which seems like a dirty word here) not judged by their outward appearance or their reproductive organs. I mean it seems the only reason you want these other characters is solely based on race or gender. Maybe you have a chip on your shoulder or something IDK. If you had been pushing for the inclusion of Cilghal and Saba in the DP because they are great characters who have accomplished great things or merit or even seniority I might be more sympathetic, for example; Cilghal has been with Luke's order since he founded it. She should be included. That would have been a merit based argument but the only reason you want her included is because of her species.

    Another reason could be that some readers couldn't follow the book if every other main character was Weequay, Rodian, Twi'lek, Trandoshan, sure the fans here could comprehend just fine, but not the casual reader who doesn't know a thing about them. The casual fan could stop every time they see a new species name in a book, look it up on the Wook and say "Oh yeah, Weequays were in ROTJ." but I don't see them doing that.

    And if you think about it comics don't have to describe species because they're visual, the reader (big fan or small) could recognize a familiar face from the movies. There's all kinds of reasons for the FOTJ DP to be the way that it is but the fact that you automaticly jump to the conclusions you do might say more about you than the authors.

    As to your question I like my star wars just fine the way it is.


    EDIT: I hope no one takes offence because none was intented. :D
  9. MercenaryAce Force Ghost

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    Aug 10, 2005
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    Does he? [image=http://images1.wikia.nocookie.net/starwars/images/thumb/9/94/Christophsian.png/250px-Christophsian.png]

    Red hair: Well I imagine they have hair dye in star wars, so no, that really isn't a clue either.

    Not to mention is is far from impossible for mixed race people to have red or blond hair and/or blue eyes. Now, brown eyes and hair usually when out, but it happens. Heck, even amongst "pure" Asians (since gene flow has been constant throughout history, no group could really be called pure), green eyes and red hair is not unheard of.
  10. JediFreac Force Ghost

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    No one is saying tokenism is the answer. A number of people in this thread have been critical of forced tokenism.

    I too want to see characters portrayed as individuals, and to me that includes creating a cast that is not comprised of homogeneous Caucasian Jedi. An example I keep bringing up is the cast of Wraith Squadron, where the author skillfully created a squadron where each member had a distinct personality and memorable individuality. While it's arguable that Allston could have accomplished that if Wraith Squadron were only made up of classically handsome Caucasian men, I think the diversity of the cast really helped each individual character stand out as unique.

    "Chip on a shoulder" is a rather insensitive and dismissive way to address the concerns of people who are not represented in Star Wars or other media, and their supporters.
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  11. Valin__Kenobi Author: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Praji

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    Bingo. And the same goes for any fantasy/sci-fi that's not set in an obviously Earth-based milieu..

    Yeah, they are almost exclusively white, or at least all the major ones that I can think of. At least the novel writers have Steven Barnes. Not saying any of these artists are racists, of course, but like we've established, you tend to draw/write what you know.
  12. CaptainJackBauer24 Jedi Grand Master

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    Oct 15, 2008
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    I too want to see characters portrayed as individuals, and to me that includes creating a cast that is not comprised of homogeneous Caucasian Jedi.

    Yeah but you would like to see characters portrayed as individuals only after you've enforced your on brand of "diversity". In the real world that kind of thing doesn't always put the most qualified people in the places they need to be.


    An example I keep bringing up is the cast of Wraith Squadron, where the author skillfully created a squadron where each member had a distinct personality and memorable individuality. While it's arguable that Allston could have accomplished that if Wraith Squadron were only made up of classically handsome Caucasian men, I think the diversity of the cast really helped each individual character stand out as unique.


    It wasn't as diverse as you think, they're were 8 humans, Jesmin, Piggy, Runt, and the female twi'lek(can't remember her name). That's 2/3 human. IMO that wasn't why the characters were unique, it was because the author gave them their uniqueness. There's a few new non-human Jedi in FOTJ and they didn't seem very unique, it's all in the author and his/her ability to write.


    "Chip on a shoulder" is a rather insensitive and dismissive way to address the concerns of people who are not represented in Star Wars or other media, and their supporters.

    In my vast experience :rolleyes: it's only insensitive to people who are insecure about their own feelings towards folks from different backgrounds or maybe they hold some kind of guilt within them and they lash out at others they think aren't being "fair" IDK, I just think the folks writing these books are doing just fine. And there are probably any number of reasons the DP's are the way they are.


  13. Point Given Mod of Literature and Community

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    Ah, "white guilt"

    How about those of us readers who find their race under-represented in Star Wars, and don't harbor any guilt or insecurities towards those of other races?

    I come from an Indian background, and Indians make up 1/6th of Earth's population, yet with the exceptions of Depa Billaba and Githany, (what positive depictions!:rolleyes:) I haven't never seen any other depictions of Indians in Star Wars.
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  14. Jedi_Hall Jedi Master

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    maybe some authors are simply more worried about writing a good story than making sure the meet the politically correct quota for the day.
  15. Point Given Mod of Literature and Community

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    If that's the case, then they're not doing very well on the "good story" part. Maybe they should quit their fixation on white humans then.

    Anyway, Jedi Hall, in LotF and FotJ, why don't you name the major white characters and contrast them with the major characters of other species or ethnicities. Then revise your statement about politically correct quota since you will have realized that it is laughably false.
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  16. Xicer Jedi Master

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    Aug 21, 2008
    star 4
    Well, there's Kitster. But yeah I see what you mean. I come from a Pakistani background so I'm in a similar situation, but I'm not always bothered by it. Sometimes I might ignore the description given in a novel and assign whatever skin color I feel fits best with that character. For example, I've always imagined Fiolla from Han Solo's Revenge as looking Indian. She's been described as "tan" in the CSWE but that's not much of a description.

    Speaking of the Han Solo books, did anyone else imagine Rekkon as a buff Morgan Freeman when reading Han Solo at Stars' End?
  17. neo-dragon Force Ghost

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    Apr 15, 2004
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    Not just my opinion. Apparently it's also the writers/publishers opinion. As well as tv and movie producers in other sci-fi franchises.

    While I'm sure that most fans wouldn't object to more aliens being featured, I would bet that the majority either don't care or are happy with a strong human majority.



    This is a good point as well. I've been a fan of the Star Wars films and EU for almost 15 years and I had to pause and say, "what the heck does a Brubb look like?" when one was featured in "Omen". I did wind up going to wookieepedia so that I could envision the character accurately rather than having a generic alien image in my mind as I read. That may be off-putting for a more casual reader.
  18. Point Given Mod of Literature and Community

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    Heh, I completely forgot about Kitster, well at least he wasn't crazy, like the other two examples I mentioned.

    I always imagined Rekkon looking like Richard Roundtree, but that's probably because Roundtree was his home planet. I can definitely see him as a ripped Morgan Freeman though.
  19. TalonCard •Author: Slave Pits of Lorrd •TFN EU Staff

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    To me at least, it's not even about trying to kowtow to 21st century "politically correct" perceptions of diversity. (This isn't 7th Heaven here.) It's about matching the diversity within the films and other visual sources. The supporting casts of, say, the prequel films are incredibly diverse, featuring both newly designed and classic Star Wars aliens and actors of different backgrounds playing humans and near-humans. It's just something that deserves more attention from the novelists and the artists who create the definitive visuals for the novels could stand to pay a little more attention to.

    TC
  20. Jedi_Hall Jedi Master

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    Nov 30, 2007
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    Apparently this is a big issue. I'm I the only person who never once before this thread ever considered diversity in a Star Wars novel?
  21. Arawn_Fenn Chosen One

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    :confused:Martin Sheen's character was named Willard.
  22. patchworkz7 Force Ghost

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    Mar 26, 2004
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    QFT.

    I'm not coming from an angle of "white liberal guilt", I'm coming from an angle that SW doesn't even represent the people in my circle of friends. It's not just a color issue either, as I stated earlier; it's about the diversity of viewpoints, of having Corellians that don't drop the cliche about not worry about odds, it's about representing a world that I recognize in fiction, which is why the inclusion of a gay couple was such a welcome change. In this huge universe I fail to understand why so many authors fall back on pale redheads as the stock female (there really are too many gingers in SW, lol).

    As I said earlier; it's not just about ethnic types, but about personalities, looks in general; where are the pink-haired girls, the pierced up guys, the tattooed women?

    Why does everyone in a giant galactic civilization sound like middle class America circa the 1980's?

    And it isn't that people can't enjoy SW stories without those things, but I know people who would 1) give them more of a chance, and 2) like them a lot better if they had that diversity and had a sense of a really rich collection of characters that don't all look the same.

    The comic books do have it easier and tend to do better because they are a visual medium, but that doesn't mean that the books can't do a little bit better, and all it takes is one line to get something like that established. The line in CW:NP about the ashes on Hallena's black skin established that she was a very dark skinned black woman.

    That's all that was needed. ONE line. It's not about passing a PC test or any quota system but about fans asking why SW is so bland when it comes to representing characters, and I think that's a fair question, especially when the movies at least made an attempt to change things up with the PT and the comics show a lot of bacground characters who are more diverse.
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  23. Dawud786 Force Ghost

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    Dec 28, 2006
    star 4
    The thing is, non-human characters are simply Other Races of Men as Micheal Reaves current co-author(I can't remember her name, Bohnhoff I think) refers to them on her blog. I think that's smart. This way we get a diversity of interesting looking people that we can relate to regardless of whether or not they have the same general facial features and body shapes that we do as a species. Kind of like how Elves and Orcs and Dwarves and Trolls and etc are basically just Other Races of Men in most fantasy franchises. In Terry Brooks' Shannara, for instance, Dwarves Trolls and Men are all genetically related and the only difference being that Dwarves were humans that stuck underground after our society nuked itself to death and Trolls are mutants.

    So the question is, how is a compelling Twi'lek you can relate to different from a compelling human character you can relate to? The differences are only superficial, and maybe a little bit different culturally. If you want to read only about humans rather than having aliens for the sake of aliens, go read Dune... because that's all human. Star Wars has always had aliens just for the sake of having way cool aliens, and from the get go they were depicted as being basically human with different physical features than we are used to.
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  24. neo-dragon Force Ghost

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    It's not much of an issue for me either. I'm used to caucasian humans dominating the books, movies, and tv shows I enjoy.

    Actually, Dune is one of the greatest series in sci-fi literature specifically because it's all about exploring humanity without getting bogged down by the usual sci-fi trappings of fancy technology and aliens. So yes, I do read Dune and many other sci-fi works besides Star Wars. But you're actually agreeing with a point that I made. Aliens in Star Wars have mainly superficial differences anyway. If you want truly alien aliens you need to go to hard sci-fi like Larry Niven's "Known Space" works. In stories like those there aren't just aliens because a certain percentage of the galactic population should be non-human, but rather because they present a significant contrast to human thinking. Aliens in Star Wars don't really do that. A Hutt, for example, just thinks and acts like a greedy amoral human.
  25. Armchair_Admiral Force Ghost

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    Concerning the novels, I would think greater diversity would have been achieved if the authors we have now simply cared more for making characters as unique as possible. No matter what your opinion is, it's quite clear that making humans ethnically diverse is an easy way to help make characters stand out. As the novels these days are quite content to focus only on those closely linked to the Big Three and their spawn (or else is a pet character), everyone else tends to become random names where all we remember about them is who their parents where or what they did in some random book instead of some quirk or attribute.

    Personally, I think this SW "diversity problem" is merely a manifestation of general issues concerning the overall quality of Del Rey's books (keeping in mind that Del Rey publishes sourcebooks which contain pictures of EU characters in the first place). The rest of the modern-day SW franchise has about the same amount of diversity as other popular franchises.
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