Lit Ignorance is Bias: The Diversity Manifesto

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

  1. Esg Jedi Grand Master

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    So yeah I'm watching Muv-Luv Total eclipse and it ends up being more culturally diverse then what I've seen in a while in SW

    You got a main character who's half Japanese someone from Nepal, Italy, the commander's from Turkey, Sweden ect

    (Trying hard not to pimp the series)
  2. Esg Jedi Grand Master

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    I knew that the minute when I found out even Vader had cash stashed there
    Last edited by Esg, Sep 3, 2012
  3. Havac Some Guy Who Moderates Lit

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    I'm actually totally the other way on that. The EU should be a diverse place, and part of that is mining everywhere on Earth for references and titles that can diversify that place. And using real-world titles tends to be smoother than making up titles, which sometimes works but often sounds goofy. I would hate to have a hundred kings when we could have archons and sultans and everything. We shouldn't be reduced to just using western terminology for everything.
  4. Robimus Force Ghost

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    The real world names, titles and such don't bother me in the least.
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  5. Todd the Jedi Mod and Sitcom Dad of SWTV

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    They don't really bother me either, but I can understand why they would bother some people.
  6. Robimus Force Ghost

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    It would just be really hard to describe anything without them. I can understand skipping the use of nationalities, country names and the like from the real world. For instance I'd have no issues if a Star Destroyer called the Nakumura showed up, or something of the like - but in the same breath I'd hate to see one named the Ohio. :p
  7. CooperTFN TFN EU Staff Emeritus

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    As long as they don't call one the John F. Kennedy or the Ronald Reagan, I'm good.

    Edit: so freac heard back from Martha Wells (though, unfortunately, hasn't yet figured out that we moved back here):


    Well, that would bring us up to a resounding three gay characters, but hey, it ain't nothing. And in the OT era, no less.
    Last edited by CooperTFN, Sep 3, 2012
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  8. Mia Mesharad Force Ghost

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    Progress is definitely progress. And on that note, I think that characters who were written in an ambiguous way previously for the sake of being "safe", should be officially embraced. Characters such as Juhani and Belaya from KotOR would be an excellent place to start. How painless it would be for Leeland Chee or another of the folks in charge to give a simple nod to these two and let it be solidified in canon.
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  9. The_Forgotten_Jedi Jedi Grand Master

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    I thought Belaya and Juhani were confirmed. It's pretty obvious.
  10. Mia Mesharad Force Ghost

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    Belaya's still substextually-sexual, I believe, and I don't know what to make of Juhani when everything I see relating to gay characters in Star Wars pretty consistently mention Goran Beviin and Medrit Vasur to be the first in the franchise.
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  11. Havac Some Guy Who Moderates Lit

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    Well, they are the first, openly, fully, and confirmed. It would be interesting to see who the first implied is. Sarn Shild, in 1997, would be the first implied-gay character I'm aware of.
  12. beccatoria Force Ghost

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    See I have conflicting feelings about that. Because on the one hand OH MY GOD JAR JAR BINKS and yes, you are completely right. If the only way realworld groups are referenced is as part of alien cultures, that's a fairly clear and terrible message, even more so if those cultures fall into the common stereotypical pitfalls of such tropes.

    On the other hand, if human diversity IS present, when we start talking about "near-humans" particularly, well, we only have to look as far as Star Trek to see a universe overpopulated by white near-humans because near humans must be slightly askew from humans and the default human is a white one.

    So again, I think the aliens complicate matters and it needs to be considered - in both positive and negative ways - whether they also act as members of another underrepresented group.
  13. instantdeath Force Ghost

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    To be perfectly honest, using real world references for names in Star Wars has never been a big problem for me. Of all the things that annoyed me in Jedi Prince, the reference to a dog was not one of them :)
  14. The Loyal Imperial Manager Emeritus

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    In this case, what I'd like to see is the "near-human" thing more or less dropped entirely. Have a broadly-defined category of "humans", and truly alien aliens. Giant spider-things and bird-things and crustacean-things and lizard-things and the like. Or aliens that defy conventional descriptions and assumptions entirely. There are plenty of concepts that alien cultures can be used to explore that don't necessarily rely on drawing direct equivalents to real groups.
  15. CooperTFN TFN EU Staff Emeritus

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    The question that raises in my mind is, is "human" (or "near human", in the alternative) a physiological designation, or does it just mean two arms/two legs? Is a Barabel a human? A Mon Calamari?
  16. AdmiralNick22 Fleet Admiral of Literature

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    Does the EU define "humanoid" as species with two arms and legs that is bipedal? Cause if so, I imagine a lot of species are offended.

    --Adm. Nick
    Last edited by AdmiralNick22, Sep 4, 2012
  17. CooperTFN TFN EU Staff Emeritus

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  18. AdmiralNick22 Fleet Admiral of Literature

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    Hmm. OOU, the designation makes total sense. IU, I can't see that definition being wildly popular, whether you are Duros, Bothan, Mon Calamarian, or Devaronian. Yikes, that is not exactly a term that makes all species seem equal.

    --Adm. Nick
  19. Mechalich Force Ghost

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    Well, you have to call it something, and in addition to being a nearly universal science-fiction term, there is an in-universe explanation. Humans founded, and have spent 30,000+ years dominating the current iteration of interstellar society in the Star Wars galaxy. That has good and bad aspects, something the Essential Atlas makes quite clear, but it's an actual in-universe issue that can be talked about directly in works, not a case of projected bias.

    Besides, would you really want to call that body type 'Rakatan'?

    The problem with this view is that the term 'near-human' has real biological utility. It refers, specifically, to species that directly derived from Homo sapien roots in some fashion, whether natural evolution, artificial splicing, or even more mystical Force-based alteration (looking at you Dathomirians). That is as opposed to humanoid species that simply have the same body plan via convergence or more complex wholesale cross-breeding.

    Yes there's some hand-waving going on here, because of costumes, budgeting constraints (look at TOR) and the like, but this is an actual thing with real in-universe justifications, multiple overlapping ones actually. Additionally, it is not a state that is unique to humanity. There are near-Duros and near-Zabrak species.

    The whole near-human concept, meaning the consequences of colonization and isolation, and genetic engineering of whole societies are interesting thematic issues that Star Wars is actually well-positioned to talk about, making it one of the most valuable pro-diversity aspects of the series when handled correctly, as in the case of Jarael, or Dejah Duare.
  20. The Loyal Imperial Manager Emeritus

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    That would be great, if it ever actually took that into consideration. To clarify, I'm not talking about any form of scientific classification when I say near-human and human. I'm talking about actually, for the purposes of plot, sidelining human-looking aliens and cultural equivalents (except for examining their origins and the consequences of how they came about, exactly as you describe) in favor of Verpines and Herglics and the like. Venturing outside the usual zone of comfort.
  21. CooperTFN TFN EU Staff Emeritus

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    I actually far prefer to think that Shild was into Hutts or something totally out there; the alternative is that a gay Moff would be considered socially unacceptable.

    I'm with Mechalich, actually - it may not be PC, but it's totally plausible that a word like that would be the norm after thousands of years of human demographic dominance. It may even be that its use dates back so far that nobody even notices its derivation anymore.
    Last edited by CooperTFN, Sep 4, 2012
  22. Quinnocent-Till-Sith Force Ghost

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    Myes, my reading of the book at the time (been a while) was that he was into non-human women not human men. Like Troy McClure. Or Corran Horn.
  23. CooperTFN TFN EU Staff Emeritus

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    Or Havac.
    Last edited by CooperTFN, Sep 4, 2012
  24. JediFreac Force Ghost

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    Yay, I found the thread! Took me a while...

    I find the slider conversation to be pretty interesting because it reminds me of conversations people (well, mostly feminists, especially third-wave feminists) have about second wave feminism (feminism 2.0, w/e) essentially critiquing that in the fight for equality we don't acknowledge that some of these identities/sliders actually intersect. (The vocab term used to describe this is called "intersectionality," in fandom circles we use it to question why all the women or gay characters are white, or why all the black characters are men and straight, or why all the characters of color are black, etc.)

    So you COULD have a character who is not only a woman, but ALSO a Barabel, and ALSO gay. (Then instantly, as an author, you have a lot to work with. (For example, what if four female Barabels wanted to raise a nest together, instead of the standard two female, two male arrangement?)

    I think I have disputed this in the first thread, but yeah, I really disagreed with the idea that race means little to nothing within Star Wars. Even if race is a social construction essentially contained to real-life Earth, Lucas and this whole giant franchise engine have kind of dragged these constructs into the Star Wars universe. (Contrast to say, Gene Roddenberry, who took more of an effort to demonstrate that skin color doesn't matter in Star Trek, which came before Star Wars.)

    Star Wars is organized by race. An anthropologist would observe that the majority of chancellors we have seen have been human, yes, and male, sure, but it isn't hard to also see that most of the prominent galactic decision makers have been light-skinned humans. Nearly all of the leaders of the rebellion, practically all of the leaders of the Empire save for a few exceptions. Actors like Face Loran, Javul Charn, and Wynessa Starfire are all light skinned. Meanwhile, darker skinned humans like the clones are churned out like machines and sent to die. Almost all of the humans in Luke Skywalker's New Jedi Order are light skinned. Nearly all of the love interests for members of the Skywalker family have been white (except for some that we see in Legacy.) The ruling royal family of Hapes is light skinned. Same with most of the Diktats of Corellia, right? Occassionally there are some human persons with dark skin who are given more important roles in society, such as Mace Windu and Bail Organa, but it is disproportionately much rarer. Noting all of this evidence, an anthropologist might conclude that either the light skinned humans are more common, more competent, or simply more favored. (Which are the same conclusions that American children make when you ask them about racial representation...)

    No matter how much we say that human skin color doesn't matter in this fictional universe, it is apparent that it does when Han, Leia, and Luke only know one black dude and Jacen, Jaina, and Anakin grew up with no human friends who are people of color. It's enough for it not to be coincidence, so something has to be going on within the galaxy for it to look like that.
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  25. The Loyal Imperial Manager Emeritus

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    It's also particularly jarring when you consider the scale of the story. This wouldn't be all that unusual - if they were limited to a small portion of a remote planet. Except they're not. They hop worlds like people go shopping, and cross the galaxy from one side to the other every other week, and go to school (one with a dubious curriculum, perhaps...) where they (supposedly) teach beings from all corners of the galaxy.