Lit Ignorance is Bias: The Diversity Manifesto

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

  1. Gamiel Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 16, 2012
    star 5
    I say they are only as white as we allow them to be! Since they seldom actually mention their skin colour we will not break any continuity by portraying them as something else then white (and when have something like the actual description mattered to the painters). Let’s flood the internet with black (Morgan Freeman like) Streen, east asien Kyp Durron, indian Octa Ramis, etc., etc
  2. Robimus Force Ghost

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    Jul 6, 2007
    star 5
    Not saying the breakdown is good by any stretch, but.......

    How about that Boba Fett guy?
  3. Havac Former Moderator

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    Sep 29, 2005
    star 7
    Jeremy Bulloch is white. :p

    EDIT: Actually, that sort of inspires a thought. For the longest time, Boba Fett's appearance was a mystery, but that always meant he was sort of assumed white, you know? We all knew Jeremy Bulloch was under there, he was voiced by a white guy, and he came out of the OT where everyone was white, and I think that lends itself to assuming we'd see some pasty guy underneath that armor if we ever looked. I'm guessing that the mental image of authors who wrote about him out of armor or with his helmet off was that he was some default white guy. Yet when the PT came out, suddenly it revealed that this iconic character, under his armor, wasn't default-white . . . he was Maori. That's kind of striking, isn't it? Maybe not as much as if, surprise, Boba Fett is black! . . . but it's pretty unusual. You don't usually get, "Surprise, Master Chief is Korean-American!" or "Cal Omas is Hispanic!" or whatever in a late-game reveal creatively independent of the character's original creation.
    Last edited by Havac, Oct 28, 2013
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  4. DigitalMessiah Chosen One

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  5. JediFreac Force Ghost

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    To me this has always been a striking example of diverse casting because man, the character of Boba Fett is so not defined by his race in any way and in fact, in the OT, also barely defined by his gender (though I think the clone/son thing is interesting backstory in the PT.) Boba Fett was always defined by his profession (bounty hunter) and accouterments (badass bounty hunter armor.) There really could have been anyone of any race or even gender under that armor and we would still have thought that was one bad ass looking dude. This is what effective diversity looks like--the character is not solely defined by the color of his skin but by other attributes. But for that one Maori kid (or any kid with brown skin and dark hair) who is looking to see faces like his in science fiction it can really make a difference. And on a meta level, representations like this make the Star Wars franchise appear less outwardly racially exclusive. So it's also important to show what the character looks like under the mask. But in this case, this was an important call on Lucas's part, especially since the prequels filmed in Oceania.
    Last edited by JediFreac, Oct 30, 2013
  6. instantdeath Force Ghost

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    Jul 22, 2010
    star 5
    I've always pictured Streen as Asian, myself, but I'm pretty sure his descriptions are quite vague beyond being an "old man".


    This is what I normally do, as it can be somewhat difficult (without drifting into potentially sensitive description) to convey a characters race in a universe that doesn't actually have our races. The GFFA in my head often looks quite different than the one that's written down.
    Last edited by instantdeath, Oct 30, 2013
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  7. patchworkz7 Force Ghost

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    Mar 26, 2004
    star 4
    Havac actually makes a really good point, and one of the issues that has come up with Marvel's Agents of Shield is a lot of people complaining about an absence of white characters without realizing that more characters than they think are diverse; the character of Skye is half Chinese, but because she "passes" for white, the default assumption is that she's white, even though the actress speaks Cantonese and has had a singing career in China.

    So...you end up with a situation where it can be hard to tell, and writers don't have the accepted method of writing in exaggerated accents that writers in other mediums can utilize.

    It doesn't even have to be a retcon or a late-game revelation so much as the difficulty, especially in GFFA, or guessing at someone's ethnic heritage.

    Because we transpose our own ideas of race to the GFFA...how could a writer possibly convey that someone is mixed or just light-skinned when there's no real life actor to guide a person into mentally placing them in a racial category?
  8. THE EVIL CLIFFIE Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 11, 2008
    star 2
    It's fairly easy to describe skin-tone; I think the problem here is the Humans Are White trope (note the image). Predominantly white authors writing for what is percieved as a predominantly white audience only describe skin colour when characters aren't white - simply describing character's skin colour no matter what it is (if it's a character we're going to spend a lot of time with) or not at all (if we won't spend much time with them) goes a long way to alleviating that particular hurdle, imo.
  9. themetresgained Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Feb 23, 2013
    star 4
    I have a question - if Boba Fett is Mandalorian then why were all the Mandalorians pale blue-eyed blonds in TCW? Someone posted about this a couple of pages back but I'm unfamiliar with TCW and can't comment. Just wondering if there was ever some explanation for this?
  10. Random Comments Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Sep 25, 2012
    star 5
    Because TCW decided to be stupid, that's why.
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  11. themetresgained Jedi Grand Master

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    Feb 23, 2013
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    I'm pretty well satisfied with that. Damn whitewashing!
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  12. CooperTFN TFN EU Staff Emeritus

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    In fairness, "Mandalorian" isn't a race. They're defined largely by the fact that they'll take on anyone, so if you allow that there are multiple populations of them that are relatively isolated from each other, it's understandable that they'd have different racial demographics. But yeah, an entire city of Aryans was a bad idea.
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  13. themetresgained Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Feb 23, 2013
    star 4
    If they'll take on anyone, it doesn't make much sense that even those small populations would have no diversity in them? But yes, that does make a little more sense.
  14. Iron_lord Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Sep 2, 2012
    star 6
    The New Mandalorians are the population of certain areas of Mandalore, rather than "followers of The Mandalorian Way".

    So- with 7 centuries of living in those cities in the middle of deserts, they might end up looking pretty homogenous, if they have a firm anti-immigration policy.
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  15. CooperTFN TFN EU Staff Emeritus

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    Bottom line: it's odd, but not impossible.
  16. instantdeath Force Ghost

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    Jul 22, 2010
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    Well, it can go beyond just a simple "(s)he had dark skin" description. While I do think it's a failing that some authors won't even bother with that for any characters at all, it can be difficult to convey that a character is Asian without getting into potentially sensitive description. Then of course, there's the question of how you portray, or whether you even bother to describe, different a ethnicity in a world that doesn't have our ethnicities at all.

    Note that I'm not using this as a defense for not diversifying your cast in a novel just because you can't see the characters; far from it. I'm reading the Malazan: Book of the Fallen books, and am continually impressed in how the diversity, and believe it makes the books themselves much better.
  17. Skaddix Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Feb 3, 2012
    star 4
    Seven centuries of living in the desert and everyone is Blonde Haired, Pale and Blue Eyed that makes no sense.

    They whitewashed the Mandalores because obviously people who are not white cannot be that bad@ss.
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  18. Gorefiend Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Oct 23, 2004
    star 5
    If the people actually watched the episodes they would quickly also spot red heads, brunettes and even dark skinned people (some also with blonde hair) but they just seem to want to fixate on something here.

    Edit: Nice example shoot
    [IMG]
    Last edited by Gorefiend, Oct 31, 2013
  19. Todd the Jedi Mod and Sitcom Dad of SWTV

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    Anyone want to make a "they're all clones" retcon? :p Still, the dev team had even fewer character models than I thought. Hm.
    Last edited by Todd the Jedi, Oct 31, 2013
  20. Gorefiend Chosen One

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    Oct 23, 2004
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    It is actually pretty amusing if you watch the Onderon arc, were the same local Rebel must have been killed at least 5 times by the of the arc.
    Last edited by Gorefiend, Oct 31, 2013
  21. Todd the Jedi Mod and Sitcom Dad of SWTV

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    This also reminds me that there's a good amount of Prince Xizor lookalikes at the Boonta Eve podrace in TPM.
  22. Gorefiend Chosen One

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    Oct 23, 2004
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    Properly some elaborate security set up by Xizor. ;)
  23. Iron_lord Chosen One

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    Sep 2, 2012
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    Of course, back then Xizor wasn't Underlord of Black Sun. In the Coruscant Nights trilogy he's competing to become a Vigo - maybe in TPM he was a step or so below that?
  24. Gorefiend Chosen One

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    Oct 23, 2004
    star 5

    I always assumed he was still more or less just a Merchant Lord trying to get into Black Sun at that time.
  25. Mia Mesharad Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Sep 2, 2012
    star 4
    That's actually an example of just how bad it was. There's not a soul in that entire crowd shot—no less than fifty visible individuals in that frame alone—that isn't a blonde-haired white person, and every discernible eye is blue. There's no one there with dark skin; there's shades of white, and a couple people whose faces are shadowed by the low light. And hair diversity among white people is not the same as genuine racial diversity. Adding in a token brunette or redhead doesn't make the all-white populous situation any better.