Lit Ignorance is Bias: The Diversity Manifesto

Discussion in 'Literature' started by CooperTFN, Sep 2, 2012.

  1. CooperTFN TFN EU Staff Emeritus

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    Well even the movie's most die-hard critics, I don't imagine, think that Shyamalan of all people set out to make a film that did damage to the cause of diversity. The movie's biggest, or at least most likely, sin is that given the source material, it should've done way more good than it ultimately could be bothered with. And, per Reveen, being a bad movie didn't help matters. :)
    Last edited by CooperTFN, Mar 13, 2013
  2. GrandAdmiralJello Community and Lit moderator person

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    Rob -- Well, the reason I "oversimplified" is because it came across that it was just the numbers that mattered. In your pentultimate post, you brought up the imagery having a non-white group take on the role of a colonial power and how different that was. And while it's true, that is still a problematic portrayal: it's possible for non-white ethnic groups to discriminate against each other, and it's rather convenient that the director's own ethnic group happens to be the powerful, most civilized group.

    And yes, the Fire Nation was complex and not all evil -- but that's something from the original source material, too. And that's the thing: you said that as a movie-only viewer, you were impressed with the complexity of the presentation. But from the perspective of a show viewer, the complexity is a remnant of the original writing that is being undermined by the casting choices. In other words, if the show is 80 and the movie is 50, while your expectations of Hollywood are 25 -- the movie is still problematic.
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  3. Zorrixor Chosen One

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    This thread's belief in loyalty to source material is refreshing after the Disney thread. :p
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  4. Robimus Force Ghost

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    To an extent I guess it is. They certainly could have been cast differently.

    It does seem like there is something of a naive veiwpoint at play here. The cartoon apparently put a white kid in clothes like a Shaolin Monk, voiced by a white guy, looked its viewers in the eye and said "Here is an Asian character!"

    Am I really suppost to sit here and compliment the creators because people have fond memories of this show? Something about this doesn't add up at all.
  5. CooperTFN TFN EU Staff Emeritus

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    For what it's worth, I never touched this franchise until around six months ago. I'm about as clear-eyed on the matter as you can get.
  6. Skaddix Jedi Grand Master

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    Not really its an anime style and an anime character eyes are always big. Just because westerners have a stereotypical view of Asians mostly based around the eyes does not mean Japanese or Koreans have it for themselves or are going to carry it over into their art style.

    And as I said race of voice actor means nothing. Vader is not black just because James Earl Jones is voicing him.
    Last edited by Skaddix, Mar 13, 2013
  7. GrandAdmiralJello Community and Lit moderator person

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    n00b


    I didn't get to watch the OT in theaters, so I can be an Avatar snob instead.
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  8. Skaddix Jedi Grand Master

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    Well given my age watching the OT in Theater would have been impossible for me.
  9. CooperTFN TFN EU Staff Emeritus

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    That's nothing--the first time I saw Star Wars was the Special Editions. I was 14.

    Corollary: therefore, I'm the only person I know of my age whose first time seeing the OT WAS in theaters. :D
    Last edited by CooperTFN, Mar 13, 2013
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  10. GrandAdmiralJello Community and Lit moderator person

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    Yes, but you forget the First Axiom of Star Wars: the SEs suck.

    Therefore you are just as bad as those kids for whom TCW is their first Star Wars.
  11. Robimus Force Ghost

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    I guess its enough that they meant them to be Chinese & Inuit, I dunno. If I was making a series and the goal was to show Asian and Inuit characters I wouldn't have gone the route they did specifically because of the perceptions people have. The Anime thing just sounds like an excuse to produce these shows for a mass audience with lighter skinned characters to me.

    As Cooper mentioned, if I watched it I'd probably get a better sense of the intended diversity of the characters.

    [IMG]

    I don't think the sound of the character is as prevelent as the appearance. For instance anyone can sound like an American, but I do still think its a worthwhile footnote.

    Sure, but a half empty cup is also a half full cup. Just becasue the show reimagined how three prominate cast members should look(I'd still argue that Nick. itself whitened these characters in advance but anyway) you still have a film in which 80%(I'm guessing at a number here, but it was significant) of the actors that appear on screen, good people, bad people, neutral people - all are differing ethnicities..

    I see the problem with making the main heroes white(if they were not meant to be in the first place, which I admit was my perception based upon limited exposure to the show), but I also see a problem by then dismissing all of the diversity in the film based on that fact alone.

    Another interesting side thought is this whole deal about how the Fire Nation was portrayed. Is it only acceptable to portray villians as white because portraying anyone who is not white in a less than morally acceptable way is damaging to ethnic diversity in films? For instance if Aang was/is Chinese and the other two are Inuit, does that then make the presentation of the Fire Clan in the film acceptable? Is it OK to then make villians of every Indian character that appears?

    Hypothetically speaking, how would that change the discussion? Does the inclusion of white heroes make the Indian villians worse than if the heroes were not white?
    Last edited by Robimus, Mar 13, 2013
  12. CooperTFN TFN EU Staff Emeritus

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    =((
  13. MistrX Force Ghost

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    Oh no! I've been undermining the First Axiom for years! Guess that makes me a no good, dirty Rebel.
  14. Skaddix Jedi Grand Master

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    Anime is simply a style. I am not sure what your point is. Seeing as they used real chinese characters in the show for text among other things it was always obvious to me what the characters were suppose to be. Especially when you factor in stuff like clothing and artistic influences

    Honestly, no it all goes down the hole. Minorities have little trouble getting roles in the background. But how many Movies have them as the main heroes? Especially Asians and Inuits. Although I will say I have noticed that Nick lightens the skin tone on Katara and Sokka overtime.

    First yes its a problem when you dump most of the dark skinned people in the Villain Nation especially when in the original source material they are light skinned. White as pure and good with Black as evil and sinful is pretty common. Now I am not going to say you can never have villianous minorities but it should certainly be balanced out on the heroic. So yeah I would say making the main heroes white and the Indians as villians is worse because the heroes are not white.
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  15. Mechalich Force Ghost

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    Regarding the demographics of the Avatar: the Last Airbender universe - the situation is actually similar to that of the Star Wars universe - the lines connecting physical traits associated with race and ethnicity are severed from the cultural ones.

    Everyone in the Avatar universe represents some version of an East Asian culture - including the Water Tribe members, who despite their parkas are using Chinese-esque martial arts like everyone else. All characters are part of a cultural mishmash that utilizes a variety of East Asian themes. Physical traits vary, some characters are clearly East Asian, some are clearly White (including Aang, his child-model is muddled, but his adult appearance from Legend of Korra is very European in the visual setup), others are in between. The most obvious example of this setup is actually Suki - brunette, blue-eyes, light skin, indeterminate facial features - dresses up for battle in full samurai getup including facepaint and fights with twin fans. Physically she's easily classed as of European descent, culturally she's obviously, stereotypically even, Japanese.

    So in Avatar we have an alternative Earth where all the humans, regardless of ethnicity, are pulled into one of the East Asian 'bending' nations. In Star Wars humans of all ethnicities are pulled into a Western 'spacefaring' culture (with its own divisions by planets).

    This sort of thing makes it effectively impossible to even discuss 'racism' and 'racial diversity' in such fantasy settings in the same way we do in reference to real-world concerns of the same. In the real-world racial issues are tightly bound to cultural ones (especially as the attachment to physical superioty claims and the like have been the arguments most conclusively debunked by the advance of various civil-rights movements).
  16. Skaddix Jedi Grand Master

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    Not sure what your point is either. Anime uses random eye colors all the time. Asians can have be light skinned and have brown hair. None of that makes a character white (ie of European Descent).

    I mean really would be really be making the reverse argument. Lets say they had more stereotypically Asian features but were set in a more European Setting or would we call them white.
  17. Robimus Force Ghost

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    I think that if Star Wars made a similar series, with an identicle art style, that they would be thrown under the preverbial bus for those choices.

    There has been some critcism of The Clone Wars for making the clones a bit too white compared to their source for one.

    Anyway I learned a lot about Avatar, I appreciate that. I never realized that it was meant to contain such a level of ethnic diversity. I think it deserves a lot of points for making the attempt, even if its not always obvious at a glance.
  18. CooperTFN TFN EU Staff Emeritus

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    Speaking as someone who has very vocally criticized certain instances of whiteness in TCW, I have never thought that or seen anyone else say it.
  19. Robimus Force Ghost

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    I could have sworn it was said at some point here, but it may have been in the TV forum.
  20. Mia Mesharad Force Ghost

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    For what its worth, I've actually seen that said too, here and in other places on the internet. In addition to criticisms of getting Dee Baker to perform a poor generalized Australian/New Zealand synthesis in imitation of Temuera Morrison, instead of getting Morrison himself back, or another Maori actor.
    Last edited by Mia Mesharad, Mar 14, 2013
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  21. CooperTFN TFN EU Staff Emeritus

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    Can't really speak to the accent, but I've always thought he did a pretty good job given that they shouldn't really sound exactly like Jango. And I'd just assumed that Morrison wasn't available for such an extensive role in the show, but I could be wrong.
  22. TrakNar Force Ghost

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    If Morrison's voice acting is anything like his phoned-in Fett lines... I'll stick with Baker.
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  23. instantdeath Force Ghost

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    Calling The Last Airbender a bad movie is an insult to bad movies. It was truly something special. I watched it with my brother, who was a fan of the original series, whereas I had never seen an episode (and I still haven't, though I intend to). It was interesting to decide who hated it more. I found it completely impossible to follow, and stopped paying attention about 30 minutes in to do something else, where my brother couldn't enjoy it because it so consistently distorted the source material (according to him, anyway). It makes me wonder who his target audience was. Truly a revelation on how to make a universally reviled movie.
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  24. Mia Mesharad Force Ghost

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    I'm sure there's a case that could be made for Morrison not being available for the series, but at the same time, they didn't bring him back for Boba Fett in TFUII, either. And again, though the case could be made that he didn't have enough of a part to make it worth while, it's approximate to same amount of dialogue Morrison dubbed for Boba in Empire Strikes Back. I have to say, I'd be a little disappointed if they've decided that they can just get by replacing him with a cheaper alternative from now on when it comes to the clones or either Fett.

    When it comes to Baker's performance, I'd honestly have to say I've heard better Morrison impressions on YouTube fanfilms, but I do agree that he's done a pretty good job of his role throughout the series. But even with that said, he's still a white American doing an impression of a Maori's accent; wouldn't hiring an actual Maori actor, even an unknown if money's the concern, be the more favorable option?
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  25. Robimus Force Ghost

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    So you seem to be saying that my chances of ever seeing a sequel are slim? :p