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

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

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  1. QuangoFett Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 11, 2011
    star 4
    This is something that fascinates me.

    In the British Empire, people from regional UK backgrounds which had deep problems with the centralised Southeast England establishment (and still do to this day) often rose to fairly high positions. For instance, the military officer whose campaigns won the British East India Company control over Bengal was Hector Munro, born and raised in a village in the Scottish Highland district of Ross.

    The reason was, of course, that Munro was Scottish and only the most bigoted of Anglocentrists did not see the Scots as part of the "in-group". As a result, a Scot was allowed to rise to the top of the UK's Indian military hierarchy with practically no objections. The Viceroy of India who began development of the Indian rail network was another Scot, George Dalhousie. The same took place on numerous occasions, with hundreds of people from outside the London commuter belt rising to the top of the UK's power structure. They were different from the elites, the primary beneficiaries of the Empire, residing in London and SE England, but they were still part of the in-group. Many of them were still zealous British nationalists and imperialists.

    If the Galactic Empire has a policy of Humanocentrism, why isn't there a broad variety of humans in leadership positions? Non-white humans, human women - they're all part of the "in-group", are they not? However, the only powerful Imperial non-white human I can recall off the top of my head is Oron Jaeger of the Fel Empire. Clone commanders seem to make up most of the non-white Imperial military elites in the EU I've read.

    It's intriguing.

    Of course, I've seen the argument before that the Empire idealises white humans over non-white humans and that the Core-centricism influences where their officers come from. From what I know of Earth's history, that argument doesn't sound very plausible as an explanation for the complete lack of non-white humans.
  2. JediFreac Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 7, 2002
    star 4
    There's a lot of resistance even to this argument or just for merely pointing out that almost all of the main characters are white.



    I'm dreading poking around the Revan/Exile threads. Did they really make both of them white? >_<
  3. Rouge77 Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    May 11, 2005
    star 5
    Panaka got to be a Moff eventually, but that was unseen.

    I have a theory: Many of the Near-Human and even Humanoid species differ from Humans often most noticeably through their skin colour. Many Humanoid species and especially Near-Human species seem to come in just one skin colour. There are greater and lesser more subtle differences, but that's a very common one. So, it might be, that as "white" aka light pink seems to be the most common skin colour for Humans, it could have become culturally to often seen as THE "Human colour" and Human populations where other skin colours dominated, would have eventually often - un-officially at first, at least - "relegated" to the position of Near-Humans. So, being Human would have become synonymous to being of light pink skin colour.
  4. CooperTFN TFN EU Staff Emeritus

    VIP
    Member Since:
    Jul 8, 1999
    star 6
    ...yeah, that should go over like gangbusters. :p
  5. MercenaryAce Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 10, 2005
    star 5
    I do remember one Imperial who kept getting discriminated against as a alien because his human culture practiced extensive tatooing and made him look multi-colored.
  6. Havac Former Moderator

    Member Since:
    Sep 29, 2005
    star 7
    Grand Admiral Nial Declann is black, Grand Admiral Octavian Grant is Asian, and Grand Admiral Ishin-Il-Raz appears Hispanic, or possibly Middle Eastern. Among the Grand Moffs, I can't find any depicted as other than white, but there are many who aren't depicted at all, and many of the ones who are depicted are in black-and-white line art that doesn't preclude them from being, say, Hispanic or Arab in appearance. I couldn't find any definitely nonwhite members of the Imperial Court, either, but there are several who aren't precluded from being so, among the most notable being Alec Pradeaux. When you include the nonhumans (and Grand Moff Grand Moff 4-8C), the very top levels of the Empire are actually its most integrated, with the middle and not-quite-top ranks being the most overwhelmingly white-human (though they have a greater proportion of females than the elite levels).

    Panaka is the only nonwhite Moff I can find (Adria Reyn is ambiguous [and female]), though again, there are many in the same situation as the majority of Grand Moffs. Most Imperials at every level are undepicted, given the sheer amount of material spinning out names left and right and the uncolored nature of the WEG artwork that illustrated most of those who did get illustrations. There are a handful of depicted generals who appear nonwhite: Tessala Corvae looks rather Asian; General Freja Covell from TTT has brown eyes, black hair, and a dark complexion; and the warlord General Arndall Lott looks as if he may have been intended to be Asian. It's hard to tell from the art. I can't find any distinctively nonwhite admirals, though Admiral Terrinald Screed and Admiral Mordur both appear to trend in that direction. There are many very significant Imperial admirals, however, who have not been depicted or described in any way that precludes them from being nonwhite, such as Teren Rogriss and the warlords Harrsk and Teradoc. Hopefully we can get some illustrations of them that vary from the standard formula.
  7. CaptainPeabody Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 15, 2008
    star 2
    I keep wanting to postulate that the preponderance of lighter-skinned humans among the Imperial elite has to do with the fact that the stars in the Core tend to be older and so dimmer than those in the Rim and so their planets tend to be colder and with less sunlight, and this tends to lead to more lighter-skinned people than in more temperate, Earth-like planets with more diverse biomes.

    ...but then I remember Anakin and Luke Skywalker and the Lars family living on Tatooine and yet remaining white as daisies with nary a tan or a sunburn in sight, and I give up.

    But do you think such a theory might apply here?

  8. Sock2008 Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jan 15, 2008
    star 3
    More stars are born in the core regions of galaxies than in the outward areas usually. Most stars tend to increase in brightness as they age, like our Sun is very slowly doing. So that isn't an answer. In SW planets tend to have just one climate, so a relatively cold planet like Alderaan should - if it would have been in isolation, which hasn't been the case, so immigration is a big unknown - have more lighter skinned people.

    Another big unknown is Coruscant. It needs orbital mirrors to warm it, so it probably was a relatively cold planet, but for 95 000 - 100 000 years - differing in sources - it has been as it is now, unnatural man-made city planet. Enough time for the urban environment to influence evolution, and for some 70 000 - 75 000 years of those Coruscant was totally or largely cut-off from the rest of the galaxy. What living in an ecumenopolis for that amount of time would have done to the human species and would there have been adaptations to their pigment is a totally open question at least for me.
  9. Barriss_Coffee Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2003
    star 6
    Those of us on this board who aren't 100% white would probably sorta kinda take issue with this. A little.
  10. CaptainPeabody Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 15, 2008
    star 2
    Ah, well, I don't know that much about astronomy. Just throwing out a theory that had occurred to me.

    But yes, I've also thought a little about the effect living on Coruscant would have on human genetics and skin-tone, and the answer is, of course, who the heck knows? But from what we've seen onscreen, besides some freaky mole-people in the lower levels, most of the Coruscanti we've seen have been pretty British-y types. And because Coruscant is pretty much climate-homogenous at this point, we wouldn't expect to see much diversity in terms of skin-tone among the native Coruscanti at least (obviously non-natives would be very diverse, as we've seen). But, of course, while it is climate-homogenous horizontally, vertically is a whole different matter. So who knows what that means.

    It seems to me, though, that just a few of the major Core worlds having cooler, more homogenous climates might be all we need to explain the pretty homogenous nature of (for instance) Imperial officers and some colonies; and we have a few already that do so. Coruscant, especially, should realistically have a pretty MASSIVE population, so that alone could account for some of the weightedness we've seen onscreen, if a lot of colonies and the Imperial fleets draw their recruits disproportionately from Coruscant and a few other Core worlds.

    As for the idea that non-white humans are "Near-Humans," I don't see how that could possibly work. We have not only the example of people like Lando and the Imperial Grand Admirals, Admirals, and Moffs in the highest echelons of Human High Culture, but also we've seen a lot of (for example) black Kuati (from one of the major Human Core-worlds), Asian human Jedi, and the like. Star Wars may not be diversity paradise, but we've gone a lot too far for something like that to still work.
  11. Rouge77 Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    May 11, 2005
    star 5
    It's a theory to explain the apparent, relative lack of non-pink Human characters and the seeming abundance of Near-Human species who seem to be just non-pink Humans. There needs to be some reason - if it is only a problem with our in-universe "samples", them not being representative of the whole. Nothing more. For what it matters, I could perhaps pass as an Epicanthix in in-universe myself and certainly am very far from being blond and blue-eyed etc... ;)
  12. Rouge77 Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    May 11, 2005
    star 5
    With characters like Lando what "protects" them in my opinion it's a case of coming from a Human society or culture that is largely of pink pigment. In his case, he comes from a Corellian colony world. Characters like him don't, as I see it, get thrown to the Near-Human status, because the societies they represent can't really be put into that status. But when we have Human cultures with mostly or totally non-pink pigments, it seems to me that these cultures are very easily given Near-Human status, even when it's clearly just a case of cultural differences.

    In some cases, naturally, some Human culture - perhaps an isolationist one - might want itself to distance itself from the mainstream of Human species by presenting themselves and wanting to be seen as Near-Humans.

    Kuat, considering it's an industrial power house, probably has had a large immigration surplus for a long time, which might have had protected it's local culture so that it has been continued to be seen as a Human one, instead of them being thrown in to the Near-Human group - and naturally, wealth alone might be enough to buy full Human status in situations where possible racism from the part of the (supposed) majority culture might dictate otherwise.
  13. Ulicus Lit'ari

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Jul 24, 2005
    star 6
    Sooo... Revan and the Exile. What are we thinking, there?

    Yup.

    Brown haired white folk. The both of them. [face_tired]
  14. Rouge77 Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    May 11, 2005
    star 5
    What did anyone expect then? As a positive step based on the Exile gender decision, it's not a White Man's fictional universe in the same degree as it was - it's a more like White Person's fictional universe... Considering that the Exile's gender has caused "complaints" for years, making the characters something else than the Stereotypical Caucasians would have been asking for more "complaints". Status Quo is a safe if not a terribly brave choice, which leads to an increasing number of very similar major characters in Star Wars and when even a minor steps to other direction are taken - Satele Shan looking like she might not be a Caucasian Stereotype as she has eyes that don't fit that Stereotype etc - we get the typhoon in a tea cup from part of the fan base. A small part, but a vocal one.
  15. Ulicus Lit'ari

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Jul 24, 2005
    star 6
    People have complained about Satele? Really?

    Christ.
  16. Rouge77 Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    May 11, 2005
    star 5
    A lot of complaints on the official forums that she looks like an "Asian". She's often also called "Pocahontas" in there by fans who would have preferred her like she looked in Threat of Peace or in the Holonet biography picture of her.
  17. Barriss_Coffee Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2003
    star 6
    Good thing they changed it. Don't want to go upsetting the status quo, oh no.
  18. CaptainPeabody Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 15, 2008
    star 2
    To be fair, though, a lot of the complaints weren't so much about race as they were about age. The old design for her was of a much older woman with greying hair and a lot of maturity. Now, she's much younger, with pig-tails, and she does look...well, it's really hard to say what she looks like. She could be Asian, or she could be Caucasian, or some combination thereof. Unfortunately, the race thing often gets brought up as a bludgeon when it really doesn't have to be.

    It is somewhat of a shame about the Exile/Revan pairing, though. I think a Middle-Eastern, perhaps Indian-esque Exile would have been nice to see, and would have fitted pretty well with her character, actually. But, then, the names and races of those two don't really have much to do with defining their characters, anyway, so you really could have gone almost anywhere.
  19. Likewater Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 31, 2009
    star 4
    I hope they kept Satele Shan as she was seen in Hope and Return, When I saw the threat of Peace, the first thing that went through by head was.

    "Another caucasian ginger?"

    Am I a fan of Mara Hade? yes

    Amd I a fan of Tenel Ka? yes

    Should every female Jedi hero be a caucasian red head?




  20. Rouge77 Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    May 11, 2005
    star 5
    They are using the Hope version. :)
  21. Ulicus Lit'ari

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Jul 24, 2005
    star 6
    How old is the character meant to be now, anyway? Seems like BioWare changed their mind on the timeline once or twice. I haven't really kept up.

    I remember at one point they were saying that the game took place thirty years after the Treaty of Coruscant... and then at another that it actually took place ten years after. And then I stopped listening.
  22. Rouge77 Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    May 11, 2005
    star 5
    The game starts 10-12 years after Treaty of Coruscant and apparently takes a few years, they are deliberately keeping it ambiguous because different classes can start at different times and their class stories take a different amount of time according to developer comments on the subject. Between different acts alone months will pass in in-universe according to developers, although it isn't shown and told - it's basically MF traveling to Bespin in ESB all over again.

    So, Satele should be from late fifties to early sixties in the game, depending on her age in Return and how long the game does take.
  23. Kylun Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 26, 2008
    star 2
    Well, in-game Satele does look a bit older, with quite a few wrinkles iirc. Just no gray hair, which would have been a nice touch. I guess they didn't want to go overboard, or something :confused:
  24. instantdeath Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 22, 2010
    star 5
    Wasn't Revan described in the novel to have black hair? And the only KOTOR faces I can remember that had black hair were the Asian faces... [face_thinking]
  25. Sock2008 Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jan 15, 2008
    star 3
    SWTOR has given him a face. Asian it is not. ;)
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