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

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

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  1. Monosyllabic Jedi Knight

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    There's only like two characters in that picture that are DP worthy Yoda and Mace. If you made a DP of the movies it'd be pretty much all humans too.
  2. Valin__Kenobi Author: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Praji

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    Too true. Michael Reaves' stuff being the main counterexample--MedStar and Coruscant Nights have more truly "alien aliens" than most of the rest of the Del Rey run combined.
  3. jSarek VIP

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    Hardly.

    (You'll probably want to mute it before the Hannah Montana kicks in. And the vid itself is only about half as long as it claims, since the creator seems to have been mostly clueless when creating it.)

    You imply a disparity where none exists. To write a good story for a multicultural audience requires it not be exclusionary. Unless your goal is to marginalize a significant fraction of your potential audience (which, in addition to any bad PR that might arise from it, is just a bad business idea), your writing needs to be inclusive.

    And, as others have pointed out, the Star Wars galaxy is just as colorful as America is. To ignore that in the stories is to ignore the milieu in which they are written, another disservice to the readership.
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  4. Tricky Jedi Grand Master

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    Just like to pop in & say I'm really liking this thread, it's good & quite interesting reading.

    Did'ja notice that Lando Calrissian wasn't the only non-white human at Bespin. As opposed to any Imperial scenes which weree a sea of white guys & guys in white armor, watching the Bespin scenes in ESB you catch a glimpse of a an asian guy in blue walking around a corner, or another black guy in orange running around with an icecream maker, & another black guy in blue pulling blasters on ST's, or some indian looking woman running down a hall. Then there's AotC in the Geonosis arena with the pagentry of 200 Jedi, a scene which dispelled any rumors that Lucas was any kind of racist.

    As a black male that is always looking for a conspiracy be it racist or otherwise, I'd have quit reading about this predominantly white cast of SW long ago, if I didn't have a way to shut off my hater switches & turn on my blissful entertainment receptors. Reading Troy Denning's Abyss, I come to it with preconcieved notions of what the man is like so I finish up quite unsurprised. It's why he's one of the worst SW authors ever, IMHO.

    I'd love to see more diversity in SW lit tho & I think the best place to start is a return to the "Tales of" books. Walter Mosley could write, Traviss could come back to contribute, William Gibson could do, so could Levar Burton & in the end everybody wins cause there more SW stuff to read & new but well established authors are getting their turn to try a SW story.
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  5. neo-dragon Force Ghost

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    Levar Burton writing Star Wars... That'd be weird.
  6. Xicer Jedi Master

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    And by weird you mean awesome.
  7. CaptainJackBauer24 Jedi Grand Master

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    Oct 15, 2008
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    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.

    I've noticed that people with white guilt are the first ones to say "I have a diverse circle of friends." When I think of my friends I think of the the joy they bring to my life and our common interests, coming from that angle SW represents me just fine. Is your circle more valid than mine?

    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.

    Clones are exactly indentical but have a diversity of viewpoints. And with Beevin and Medrit it's only welcome to you because they were gay, not that they were interesting individual people, If they were straight would they still be interesting? It seems you think their only good quality is sexual orientation. Do you remember anything else about them?


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

    That's because the 80's rocked and Reagan was tops!!!

    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.

    So the folks you know would read an absolutley boring book full of plot holes and bad grammer as long as no two characters shared a common outward appearance? Do you honestly think that would last and the publisher would stay in business? Forced diversity or forced anything isn't right, you'd be imposing your own way of thinking instead of letting things flow freely. (Can I beat a dead eopie in the beat a dead eopie thread?) Look at the clones again, they were pretty much indentical but seemed to have different personalities. Rich collection of characters and a large roster of aliens aren't mutually exclusive, It's possible to have 10 human masters, Saba and Cilghal be written just as well if not better than the TPM council.

    To write a good story for a multicultural audience requires it not be exclusionary.

    You assume some folks from different backgrounds have a victom mentality and easily take offence to not seeing someone with a similar background represented in a book. Not everyone is hung up on race. And throwing in a member of every species from the essential guide to alien species doesn't make a good book.



    If you really want real equality and genuine diversity, you can't force it. It has to happen naturally and for it to happen that way you have to stop using titles and hyphenating people. Stop making threads like this. We know the authors swing by every now and then, and if I was one I'd be concerned that if I did include an Indian character and didn't portray him culturally correct to pointgiven's ideals that I'd be labeled a racist or insensitive to Indian people. I'd just keep it safe and villify the "white man".
  8. Lord_Hydronium Manager Emeritus

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    This sort of loses its effect coming after a page-long screed about how wrong it is for people to think of having minorities in Star Wars.
  9. patchworkz7 Force Ghost

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    Goran was had a kindness about him and a general good humor, and he was also able to put his friendship with Fett in perspective. I identified with him because I've had friends who act like jerks and I've gently called them on it, not unlike the purpose Goran served. Medrit had a hard exterior that covered his acts of kindness that to an outsider might seem harsh; he makes armor for Fett, but he resent the fact that Fett takes his lover away on dangerous missions, but he still shows his respect for Fett in many small ways. He also opens his house to war orphans without a second thought, and he has a good rapport with Goran and later is one of the Mandos who doesn't seem to feel the need to prove something with Jaina.

    And Clones are not identical, because each one goes through different life experiences and thus (unless you believe in genetic determinism) learns from life as they go.

    Do I like the fact that SW included gay characters? Yes, because that opened up discussions with gay friends and family members, and the fact that they weren't stereotypical gays helped.

    I like how my having a diverse circle of friends instantly slips me into white liberal guilt territory. Normally, I wouldn't mention the make-up of my friends because it's a non-issue, but in this case, talking about the fact that in the real world, which SW is an analogue of, that I look around and not just among my friends buy looking out my front door I see nothing but diversity (okay, I recently moved to the SF Bay Area...but still, I saw this kind of diversity even in the midwest), it's a valid point to bring up.

    I don't want quota's, I don't want long screeds, because that kind of thing has no place in SW because there's no historical weight behind racial characteristics and social problems as in the real world, but I have to turn the tables and ask what the big deal about asking that the SWU reflect the type of world that most of us see out our front door, which is a world of people of different colors, belief systems, hair colors, skin colors, different clothing, tattoos, piercings, sexual orientations, etc.

    The comic books are better suited for this, because of being a visual medium, but the SWU isn't the sterile future of Star Trek where everyone wears unitards. It's a galactic civilization that has room enough for all, and I don't really get why people get so opposed to just showing that fact. No one, not a single person, has asked for A VERY SPECIAL ISSUE OF REBELLION where Judd Winnick comes in and writes PALPATINE AND ME and describes in detail Vader's coming to terms with Palpatine's homosexuality and the dark side eating him away from the inside out as a metaphor for AIDS.

    (yes, I'm being hyperbolic and silly now)

    All anyone has asked is; "Can we get some more character types?"

    Is that really so horrific?
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  10. patchworkz7 Force Ghost

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    L_H continues his long tradition of saying in one sentence what it takes me several paragraphs to say...
  11. CaptainJackBauer24 Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 15, 2008
    star 1
    Hey now, since your the gardener, maybe you could go back and weed out that phrase for me. [face_whistling]





    Goran was had a kindness about him and a general good humor, and he was also able to put his friendship with Fett in perspective. I identified with him because I've had friends who act like jerks and I've gently called them on it, not unlike the purpose Goran served. Medrit had a hard exterior that covered his acts of kindness that to an outsider might seem harsh; he makes armor for Fett, but he resent the fact that Fett takes his lover away on dangerous missions, but he still shows his respect for Fett in many small ways. He also opens his house to war orphans without a second thought, and he has a good rapport with Goran and later is one of the Mandos who doesn't seem to feel the need to prove something with Jaina.

    Yeah Um... You weren't supposed to remember that. [face_shame_on_you]




    but I have to turn the tables and ask what the big deal about asking that the SWU reflect the type of world that most of us see out our front door, which is a world of people of different colors, belief systems, hair colors, skin colors, different clothing, tattoos, piercings, sexual orientations, etc.

    It's no big deal, were just talking. Seriously, we've seen characters of every shade, different Force beliefs, hair color. Except Jedi and the military types I've found most clothing to be original and different, tattoos could be associated with Sith so folks don't do it as much. Piercings, well not all are visible in stardard dress, Maybe homosexuality is exclusive to earth IDK. Like I've said before If someone wants Cilghal included in the DP because of how long she's been a character and how long shes served with Luke from dealing with Kun's ghost, through the Vong, the Darknest and Caedus thats a fine argument. But wanting her inclusion because she Mon Calamari is something I don't agree with.




    All anyone has asked is; "Can we get some more character types?"

    Is that really so horrific?


    It's not horrific at all and if a whole slew of characters showed up in Backlash none of which were human I wouldn't have a problem whatsoever. But if Allston were forced to add those new characters and the story suffered for it that would be an issue for me.
  12. Valin__Kenobi Author: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Praji

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    [image=http://i108.photobucket.com/albums/n32/Dr_Zoidberg71/thePoint.jpg]
  13. Point Given Mod of Literature and Community

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    Wow, you apparently like to assume the worst about people. Patchworkz said that the lack of diversity doesn't represent the people that he knows, and you jump immediately associate him with those who have "white guilt"


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

    A rather subjective statement. I don't like Reagan and many people do not.



    Of course they would not, but they would be more likely to pick it up if they could see a bit of themselves in the universe. It's kind of hard for minorities to do that when the universe is so predominately white, and its hard for a series to call itself science fiction (in my opinion) if the major characters are almost always human.


    And yet you seem to assume that just because some posters here want to see more diversity in Star Wars, that they suffer from "white guilt". In fact, by that phrase, you seem to assume that the posters here are white, which some of us aren't.


    Here's the thing that you seem to be not understanding. No one here is forcing the issue on the authors or the Del Rey team. But this diversity? It is NOT happening naturally. For example, the newest characters that were introduced have been the Lost Tribe of Sith, and so far they all seem to be white. Jaden Korr is having a new book written about him, and the cover art for that book Crosscurrent? It portrays him as Caucasian. Random characters such as Seha Dorvald are white. You see my point?

    Have I labeled the portrayals of Githany and Depa Billaba as racist? I think it's rather amusing that they both are mentally unstable, but am I raging on the forums calling people racist? Nope. You're the one putting words in other people's mouths.

    Oh and my ideals? Well I'd like to see more Indian ch
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  14. Xicer Jedi Master

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    Actually, that's not Jaden. It's a Jedi from the GHSW named Relin.
  15. Point Given Mod of Literature and Community

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    Nice, I feel better then.
  16. JediFreac Force Ghost

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    CaptainJackBauer24 assumed I had white liberal guilt too, and the weird thing is I'm not even white.

    To be generous, I'll assume you misinterpreted me rather than put words in my mouth. I never said it was a before and after. Even if Star Wars is as homogenous as it currently is, I still want characters portrayed as individuals. I think diversity is one of several ways to achieve that goal and that skillful character portrayals and diversity are both something currently missing from DelRey's books.

    In the real world, discriminatory barriers and lack of representation are also reasons why some of the most qualified people aren't in places they need to be. It cuts both ways! Granted, this is fiction so a character's qualifications (and who is qualified and who is not) are determined by the author and the franchise, anyway. Apparently, Caucasian human males in Star Wars "happen" to be the most overwhelmingly qualified.

    So, should the most qualified people in the Star Wars galaxy always be depicted as white? Is the request for added diversity going to be taken as reverse racism, instead of what it simply is--a request for more diverse, nuanced, and different characters? Characters that are not tokenized and not affirmative actioned into the story--therefore eliminating those arguments against their inclusion. For diversity to happen "naturally" in Star Wars, people have to at least give it a chance instead of insinuating that any effort would be trite or some sort of reverse racism.


    I've been having this conversation on Star Wars message boards on and off over the past ten years and while responses like these are discouraging, one of the things that keeps me hopeful is that I am seeing responses like these less and less, and there are people who see where I'm coming from. Don't get me wrong, there are still people who insist that the Star Wars galaxy is post racial and "colorblind" without realizing that it isn't even color inclusive. (You think you've jumped from point A to point C, but you're really still stuck at pint A and in denial.)

    But, I'm also seeing more and more fans who value and see the need for more diversity in Star Wars. Over time, the weak arguments and excuses used to justify the lack of diversity in Star Wars begin to make less sense.
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  17. CaptainJackBauer24 Jedi Grand Master

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    Oct 15, 2008
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    I understand Patchworkz's point just fine -- My point is that it seems (and I may be wrong) the first thing that came to his mind when telling us about his friends was diversity while my first thought was not. I'm trying to say skin tone doesn't matter to me, it's the furthest thing from my mind while with some posters here it's the first.



    And yet you seem to assume that just because some posters here want to see more diversity in Star Wars, that they suffer from "white guilt". In fact, by that phrase, you seem to assume that the posters here are white, which some of us aren't.

    "Chip on a shoulder" and victom mentality applies to minorities too, for example someone's father or grandfather was dicriminated against because of skin color back in the day and even though the child has never had that happen to them they still develope a chip. They go on to assume someone is going to hold them back or discriminate against them and don't live life to the fullest and then they become angry and resentful.... Then Democrats see a vote -- just kidding.

    In the real world, discriminatory barriers and lack of representation are also reasons why some of the most qualified people aren't in places they need to be. It cuts both ways!

    If it cuts both ways then who's wrong? I wouldn't care if our Government was made up of all Americans who have Indian ancestry -- All long as they are qualified and do a good job that's ALL that matters to me.

    To be generous, I'll assume you misinterpreted me rather than put words in my mouth. I never said it was a before and after. Even if Star Wars is as homogenous as it currently is, I still want characters portrayed as individuals. I think diversity is one of several ways to achieve that goal and that skillful character portrayals and diversity are both something currently missing from DelRey's books.



    I' don't mean to put words in your mouth but you did say you'd like to see characters protrayed as indiviual after they diversify the cast not the way it is currently.


    Well it's been fun but I think I'll concede defeat and wish everyone well.

    MTFBWY



  18. Dawud786 Force Ghost

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    In my experience, people who say what you're saying, "diversity doesn't jump to my mind when I think of my friends" and "skin tone doesn't matter to me" are usually the folks with the most homogeneous circle of friends. You're also making an assumption, from a karking internet post, that the first thing that sprung to Patch's mind was that his group of friends is diverse. You couldn't possibly gauge that simply from a post referencing the diversity of a person's group of friends in a discussion about diversity. Does Patch need to say "well, my friends bring tons of joy in my life and I love that. We are a really diverse group?" Silly. You're only making a point about it because it obviously makes you uncomfortable in some way, and that's a red flag to me.

    People with a diverse group of friends often end up having to deal with some of the issues that result from people who are not welcoming to diversity. Most of my friends are black; and they have often been treated quite differently by police than me or my wife or any of my other white friends... despite being school principles and teachers. Much more well educated than I am. I'm friends with a baby boomer, civil rights generation man whose family in the 30s(his grandparents) were trying so hard to distance themselves from their blackness and the social stigma of being black in that era that they somehow managed to pass themselves off as Arab and learned Arabic and adopted Arab customs and culture. It wasn't until the 60s that my friend realized it was all bogus and that he was, in fact, a black man. His experiences in life influence the way he thinks, and that in turn influences the ways in which he interacts with the world and with me and what we talk about.

    The diversity of my circle of friends, stang the circles that generally move in period, is on the top of my mind not as some kind of badge of honor... but because it influences how I have had to expand my thinking and the points of view that I allow myself to take in and evaluate and how I interact with the people I interact with most often. It's a whole lot different than how I interact with my white family in rural Ohio and Indiana, that's for darn sure. Growing up the most diversity I saw was average white Americans or Amish people. Very few people of color, there were, that I interacted with. That changed in my 20s, especially when I moved to the east coast.
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  19. JediFreac Force Ghost

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    Mar 7, 2002
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    I have already pointed out why it is problematic to assume that a person who is bringing up issues of race is simply being self serving or trouble-making. However, assuming that a person who is a minority in the States has never had discrimination happen to them also shows a glaring lack of understanding of how minorities are treated in this country. It still happens, sometimes on a daily basis, and it's hurtful. It even happens to people who are white, although less systemically and often more in the form of 'positive discrimination.' Sometimes people ARE held back from living their life to their fullest because of their race. While others may burrow into resentment, there are still a lot of people who are fighting to live life to the fullest and they should be given a chance, too!

    When discrimination happens to someone because of race, regardless of their race, it hurts. And those hurtful feelings that develop should not be dismissed as a "chip."

    If all complaints about the lack of diversity are attributed to a chip on the shoulder, then I guess that makes it easier for you to dismiss the argument for diversity. But that doesn't change the fact that discrimination happens, on an alarmingly regular basis.

    To me, this is indicative of a simplistic thought pattern when it comes to race issues in this country. First of all, it's not about whose "wrong." Rather, it's about how both sides of the equations need to be constantly readjusted and addressed to ensure not only equity, but equality. The pendulum swings both ways. If people overcompensate for discrimination in the past then yes, there is a chance that someone could be treated unfairly and the system would not be merit based. At the same time, if no efforts are made to help people who are at a societal disadvantage become successful, then they are always going to be starting off at a hobble.

    For example, in the United States, one of the biggest indicators and tools for success is coming from a family that has land and a home. While this can be said for many white Americans--some for several generations, ensuring financial stability--the same cannot be said for many minorities and recent immigrants. Generationally, they had a more difficult time accessing a home, for a myriad of reasons: being discriminated at the bank, not having access to the best jobs or an education, losing their home (such as when Native Americans lost their land or when Japanese Americans were forcibly interned), arriving in this country as a refugee with nothing on their back,etc. Obviously, there are also generations of poorer white Americans and they face many of the same disadvantages when it comes to accumulating wealth and financial security. The difference is that it's arguably slightly easier for someone who is white to get back on their feet. Even though they may be poor, they may not receive the same probing questions and discrimination that people of color face. This is something many people do not want to acknowledge, since they would rather believe that racism is over.

    I can see the same conflicts played out in Star Wars. Historically, science fiction has been a great arena to address society's issues. For example, there WAS a Yuuzhan Vong war just recently. What happened to all of the r
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  20. TalonCard •Author: Slave Pits of Lorrd •TFN EU Staff

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    Most people I know whose fathers and grandfathers (and mothers and grandmothers) were discriminated against "back in the day" have had it happen to them too--the improvement is only that it happens less often and less systematically, not that it's been eliminated entirely. I've seen it happen myself.

    And this too, works both ways. People still hold the same attitudes their fathers and grandfathers (and mothers and grandmothers) held "Back in the day", even though the public acceptance and systems for maintaining them are things of the past. You hear some of ugly, ignorant things when you're a white person in a room full of white people. I doubt the person who told the joke "I don't feel sorry for all those black people comin' outta New Orleans. How come they could get a million people to march into Washington, but they don't have sense enough to leave when a hurricane is comin'?" I doubt that person is going to treat someone of a different color equally regardless of their merit. And then the *insert political party here* sees a vote...oh, I was just kidding. Funny, huh?

    TC
  21. Tricky Jedi Grand Master

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    Jul 26, 2001
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    Hey guys, I hate to be the one saying this cause personally I don't know if "our" Captain Jack here is a racist, ignorant or what, but he's practicing his right to freedom of speech, however twisted his views may seem, & he's shown that he knew he was getting in too deep, so he bowed out of the conversation. Just leave him be, I guess is what I'm saying. He'll either read our responses & see the light or he'll keep on believing that everyone here is expressing "white guilt" & nothing will change.

    I remember that right before the millenium, I was all set to join a cause for RACE WAR. The movement was instigated by menbers of the rap group Public Enemy & other prominent black leaders, we were going to declare a new Civil War on AmeriKKKa & take back what we thought was rightfully ours, by any means necessary. Luckily nothing happened & we saw the errors of our ways or whatever cause if we went to war alot of innocents woulda been caught in the crossfire.

    As far as finding diversity in SW EU, you've just got to pick & choose the right authors to read, you'll be much happier. I don't know why a "white" guy like Stover likes to write about such a multicultural group of characters in his books, or why Reeves, Traviss & a few others here can do it so well, but it's what I like to read & I'm just happy things turned out that way.

    Still, this thread is a good read, very cool.
  22. neo-dragon Force Ghost

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    You might be surprised by how many black people would actually laugh at that joke. Have you ever heard a Chris Rock routine? I don't find anything particularly wrong with ethnic jokes just so long as they're only jokes.

    I should mention that I'm black myself, by the way.
  23. TalonCard •Author: Slave Pits of Lorrd •TFN EU Staff

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    Yeah, that's kind of a muggy gray area. I have a pretty low tolerance for jokes made in bad taste in any case, so that one rubbed me in all the wrong ways. (It's a false correlation, it's historically inaccurate, it makes incredibly broad generalizations, it makes light of an important struggle and a terrible natural disaster that resulted in many deaths. Maybe I don't have a great sense of humor, but I don't find it that funny.)

    I know there are people who can make those kind of jokes and not mean them on any level, so I tend to bite my tongue and reserve judgment until I know the people who are making them better. I'd worked with this guy for several years, though, so I was well aware of what he meant.

    I find that the people who don't mean what they say have no problem making that kind of joke in front of the people from whatever group they're making the joke about. I have one friend who says those kinds of things all the time, and his mixed group of friends think he's hilarious. My roommates from last year would make those kind of jokes among themselves, and barely spoke to black people. Those who only joke tend to also joke about the positive (albeit ridiculously stereotyped) perceived traits of whatever group they're making fun of; those who express their prejudices through humor don't.

    Racial jokes and words can be devilishly tricky to use, though. I'm baffled at a few of my friends, who'll use a derogatory word to describe their own group, but will become absolutely infuriated if anyone else uses it in any context. People are complicated. :p

    TC
  24. CooperTFN TFN EU Staff Emeritus

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    This.
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  25. JediFreac Force Ghost

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    So I purchased my copy of The Essential Atlas today. I'm currently marching through the first chapter, but already I can tell it's a big labor of love. It's obvious the people who worked on this beast were huge fans.

    I came across this passage on page 7:

    *I find it interesting that they call Hutts "ruthless gastropods." Guess the writer is biased afterall...

    It then goes on to talk about how the Rimma Trade route was developed by aliens, yet the most powerful worlds are human ruled. It also mentions that the Corporate Sector was advertised as being alien-free and that some aliens found in the sector were even exterminated. Also of course the Empire's pro-Human prejudice, the Krytos Virus, Diversity Alliance, Yevetha, and how aliens privately cheered this anti-human sentimet. It also mentions how some aliens felt the Yuuzhan Vong invasion was comeuppance for humans' poor treatment of them, initially.

    It's kind of cool that this "speciesism" is addressed in this book! I never thought how the Vong invasion from a bitter alien perspective might look like comeuppance.
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