Lit Ignorance is Bias: The Diversity Manifesto

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

  1. Mia Mesharad Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Sep 2, 2012
    star 4
    But aren't Asians always supposed to be small? And somehow Bultar Swan was human without people getting "confused" and the world falling apart...
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  2. Likewater Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 31, 2009
    star 4
    Wait so any western culture in space is ok. But any other culture in space is racist? You can have on western culture in space with out it being a caricature.

    Characters like Ming the Merciless and the Mandarin, were racist products of a culture that embraced racism.

    If you take a certain cultre be it the Swahili City States of the Indian ocean trade, modern India, mideval Mongolia, 1900's Pashtun, Thai, Chinese whatever you can create a decent opponent culture. If that culture is shown to be complex, being functional.

    tangent:

    To many people across the world the real life British and Fench empires wern't the good guy, But in fiction that compleatly valid way of looking at something is almost never taken up. The Acadian, the Native American, African Americans, and an endless amout of Colonial subjectified people ranging from Indian subcontenent, To the conetent of Africa, Indonesia, Philippeans, China, "French Indo China", have damn good reasosn for seeing western cultre in a negative light. But Sci-fi rearly if ever opens up that point of view.

    How many POV characters in Scifi, for example Star Wars has been victems of forced relocation, second class citizenship/ social segragaction, subject to cultural degredation of their values and ways of life?

    I hate to go off on another tangent But there are certain themes i see repeated in scifi.

    Out Side of Kahn, Julian Basher, & Tyr Anasazi, and this book I just picked up "Only Superhuman" if you are a geneticly inhanced transhuman the character is usually caucasian, and majority of the time blonde and blue eyed. Regardless if that character is a hero or villian.

    The POV sociaty is allways an anologue of the USA, some form of England, or vaugely western.

    If Scifi is suppose to open our imaginations to new possibilities, up lift us, or just be plain cautionary tales, I think it has failed. Scifi has gotten in my opinion formulaic to a stagnant degree. You don't allways need aliens to tell the story of the human condition, But you do need something beyond brown hair, late twenties to mid thirties, caucasian protagonist fighting for wastern values.

    And antagonists should be more varied than the only 2 historical antagonists (Soviet Union or Nazi Germany) the west can claim moral victory over.
  3. Mechalich Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Feb 2, 2010
    star 4
    This is an over-generalization. Yes, there are a number of Near-human species that are basically a generalized 'non-white' human appearance with some minor tweaks to obvious cosmetic traits (eyes or hair most often). There are also a number of Near-Human species that are basically 'white' humans with some minor tweaks to obvious cosmetic traits. Arkanian, Bpfasshi, Chev, Echani, Firrerreo, Fondorian, and on and on. The basic formula is this: ordinary human model + element of cool sci-fi styling = new Near-Human species. Every ethnic grouping with sufficent prominence to tweak a concept artist's interest gets the same treatment.
  4. Charlemagne19 Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jul 30, 2000
    star 7
    No, not necessarily. But yes, the big issue is the Ming-No are probably the first Asians we've seen in a while and it's not that hard to make them as characters.

    So, I am persuaded something is afoot.
    Last edited by Charlemagne19, Oct 28, 2012
  5. GrandAdmiralJello Community and Lit moderator person

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    Everybody forgets poor Grand Admiral Grant.
  6. Charlemagne19 Chosen One

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    Jul 30, 2000
    star 7
    I'd actually like to hear his story.
  7. Jeff_Ferguson Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 15, 2006
    star 4
    The existence of basically-white non-Human species in the rest of the EU doesn't diminish the problem, though --- I'm specifically pointing my finger at the people behind TCW. My biggest issue with the Ming Po is looking at the contrast with the Mandalorians. I highly doubt that it ever crossed the minds of the TCW team to make the Mandalorians anything other than Human --- after all, they're blonde-haired and blue-eyed. They're normal white people! Asians, though? Oooooh, exotic! Let's make them non-Human!

    There are a few more characters in SW who have been portrayed by actors of far-eastern descent --- Sei Taria and Jan Ors immediately spring to mind. And those characters, along with Bultar and A-wing guy, are Humans. Take note, idiots behind the Ming Po.
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  8. Barriss_Coffee Chosen One

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    Jun 29, 2003
    star 6
    GrandAdmiralJello likes this.
  9. The Loyal Imperial Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Nov 19, 2007
    star 6
    Yes, you can. Quite easily.

    So far, they've failed miserably at it.
  10. Mechalich Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Feb 2, 2010
    star 4
    But that's not an appropriate comparison. The Mandalorians are not a new creation of TCW. They've existed for a long time and it was previously established, inlcuding in movie canon, that Mandolorians were human. yes TCW overwrote certain aspects of Mandalorian backstory from other EU sources, but it could not change that.

    Yes the Ming Po are a Near-Human species based off Asian humans (more in their clothes than anything else by the way). They are not the only Near-Human species to appear in the series, and are far from the most significant one. Umbarans, which are basically bald, pale, white people, where chosen to be featured in a major arc, as were the much more animalistic Zygerrians.

    The Dathomirians, who are Near-Human and represent a new element introduced through retconning and the most prominent Near-Humans in the series (via Ventress), also clearly have a 'white' basis.
  11. rumsmuggler Chosen One

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    Aug 31, 2000
    star 7
    Smh at people thinking all Mandos are human..
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  12. Havac Some Guy Who Moderates Lit

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    But all those other groups -- those are at least humans with something different. Humans, but with striped hair, or different eyes and fingers, or a different body type, or different reproductive function. What's different about Tholothians? What's different about Chalactans? What's different about the Ming Po? Well, they're . . . not white. That's pretty much it. Apparently blue skin and glowing red eyes can make you a nonhuman -- or so can being Asian. Same difference. That's the problem. Tholothians aren't nonhumans because they have thousand-year lifespans, or purple skin, or their fingernails glow in the dark. They're nonhumans because they're black people with a specific hat. That's enough to make you not a human being. Being black or Indian or East Asian is enough to get you thrown in the same pile as the space freaks, because you're not a normal human like all the white people. You don't even need feathers or antennae or anything. Just be Indian. That's space-freakish enough.
  13. Charlemagne19 Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jul 30, 2000
    star 7
    No, the Ming Po are also short.

    BIG CHANGE!

    o_O
  14. Esg Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 2, 2012
    star 4
    I thought they were just a Human race not a subspecies?
  15. Zorrixor Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Sep 8, 2004
    star 6
    They also have a different sounding name!

    (I'm almost surprised they didn't name them the Mo Ping so they could privately point at us and tell us to stop moping.)
  16. Barriss_Coffee Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2003
    star 6
    Now here's something interesting:



    No white dudes in the whole class!
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  17. CeiranHarmony Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 10, 2004
    star 5

    I so love the Wookiee..

    but... another Adi Gallia hatwearing corellian human who is darkskinned with blue eyes.. come on, that was fashion, not a species *sigh*
  18. Charlemagne19 Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jul 30, 2000
    star 7
    Maybe it's like a kippah?
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  19. CooperTFN TFN EU Staff Emeritus

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    I think this speaks to the conversation before about ship crews. Whenever any big group of characters shows up all at once, demographics always seem to work out decently, but when one or new characters are introduced at a time, they're far more likely to be WHMs. That's why the problem is one of accumulation more than anything else; if the EU were to be reinvented from whole cloth all at once, things would probably look a lot better.
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  20. Mechalich Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Feb 2, 2010
    star 4
    Tholothians are African descent + blue/purple eyes + complete absence of scalp hair (effectively anyway, neither Adi Galia or Stass Allie are ever shown with any hair).

    Chalactans are officially a human 'race' or subspecies, not Near-Humans.

    Ming Po admittedly don't appear to have any physical traits outwardly differentiating them from baseline humans. Guess what, they also don't have any physical traits that define them as Asians! They just happened to be dressed that way. They don't have Asian nomenclature: the two named Ming Po characters are Pieter and Tryla, and neither has a strongly Asian appearance or even particularly dark skin. Tryla even has green eyes, hardly an Asian trait. Several of the lesser Ming Po are even less 'Asian.' One has brown hair, one appears to have red hair. Some Ming Po, including Tryla have their eyes at an odd angle, rising upward in the face as they proceed out from the nose. This is not applied universally, but I suppose it could be considered the one morphological trait that distinguishes them from humans. This trait resembles common Asian make-up presentations and certain assumptions about Asian eye types but it is both more extreme than in any actual human, and not entirely a universal trait among any Asian ethnic group.

    It boils doen to the Ming Po being a Near-Human species in Asian Costume, but not actually strongly displaying any common ethnic biological traits. So, while there may be a conflation of non-Western aethetics and cultural traits with 'aliens' it is not a physical setup. This is a very important distinction, since in Star Wars human culture, at least among the galaxy-traveling set, is more or less universally keyed to a Western basis. Instead, they took a bunch of mostly 'white' character models, gave them Asian-style dress and Mirialian tattoos and called them a new species. That everyone seems to have focused on the costume seems to me to be an interesting revelation.
  21. GrandAdmiralJello Community and Lit moderator person

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    Is that Ithorian named Biff? That's awesome.
  22. Jeff_Ferguson Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 15, 2006
    star 4
    It's a very appropriate comparison --- "Mandalorians" in general are a mixed-species cultural group. Filoni and Lucas steadfastly clinging to their claim that Jango is not a Mandalorian means that there's nothing mandating Human Mandos in TCW; the rest of the EU can be crushed under their boots if they feel like it. The specific sub-culture that TCW invented (the New Mandalorians) could have been composed of members of any species. Instead, they created a group of Aryans, and there was (very likely) no doubt at all during the development phase that these normal white people, intentionally created to be uniform in appearance, would be anything but Human. It's very illustrative of the creative team's mindset, IMO.

    The fact that even a few Ming Po have exaggerated "slanty eyes" is incredibly problematic. No, it's not a universal "Asian" trait, but as you've said, it represents certain assumptions about Asian eye types and is more extreme than that found in the real world. And that's precisely the problem. It's an Asian caricature drawn by white people, and it's treated as sub-Human. Are we too focused on their costumes? Not at all.
  23. Charlemagne19 Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jul 30, 2000
    star 7
    I consider anyone who would automatically label Near-Humans as Subhuman really-really misunderstanding Star Wars.

    That they're Nazis and bad guys? No, seriously, Death Watch is evil. It's a group of evil racists. What's the problem with using visual storytelling about this?
    Last edited by Charlemagne19, Oct 29, 2012
  24. Jeff_Ferguson Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 15, 2006
    star 4
    Eh, arguing semantics. My point is that the TCW team sees "Asian-ness" as exotic and different than the white norm. I probably should have just said "non-Human" instead of "sub-Human," but the point stands. Again, arguing about out-of-universe creative intent here, not in-universe civil rights.
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  25. Jeff_Ferguson Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 15, 2006
    star 4
    Satine's kids, not Death Watch.
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