Lit Ignorance is Bias: The Diversity Manifesto

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

  1. Random Comments Force Ghost

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    Sep 25, 2012
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    Sorry, just have to point out that Gandalf isn't God, but a lesser spirit, sorta like an angel...
    Last edited by Random Comments, Dec 9, 2012
  2. Zorrixor Chosen One

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    All I want to know is why is 343 Guilty Spark sitting on that guys head?
  3. beccatoria Force Ghost

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    I've read the Silmarillion.

    Who's Sooty?
  4. Random Comments Force Ghost

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    Supposed to say "sorry." Autocorrect.
  5. GrandAdmiralJello Moderator Communitatis Litterarumque

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    I'm going to start calling becca "Sooty."
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  6. Mechalich Force Ghost

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    Given that white male human characters are the default, and the majority across vast numbers of works it is difficult, without specific evidence such as editor/author comments, which we the fans are rarely able to access, to identify any specific character choice as a case of pandering to the audience. A character could be made white and male deliberately, or that could just be chance: the US is still 60+ white, 1/3 humans are going to be white men even in a ideal situation.

    The most obvious examples of pandering to a demographic group in Star Wars are in the character designs of female characters: they are almost always overtly sexualized in a fashion that is designed to appeal to younger, hormonally overcharged males. This is present even is works that are relatively high in diversity in other respects, such as Legacy (which to its credit provides some measure of fanservice for the ladies in the designs of its male characters as well). Thats the kind of pandering, a play to well-established tendecies found in multiple media environments with no rational storytelling reason for it to occur, that we can easily detect.

    Um...the implication of this math is that men buy proportionally more SF/Fantasy books than they do in other genres. If women buy more books overall, but the numbers are only equal in SF/Fantasy, then men are making up ground there. ie. if women buy 120 books to 100 for men, but each gender buys 10 SF/Fantasy novels, then SF/Fantasy is 10% of what men read but only 8.3% of what women read. So you could make the argument that the genre matters more to men. I'm not trying to make that argument, just pointing out how the statistic you cited does not support the thesis of your text there.

    They might have said that, but I'm not seeing it. Flight, to pick a current example, exists because Denzel is in it. That movie does not get made by a major studio and see wide release without him in the title role. Swap Denzel out with his costar Don Cheadle and you have a modest indie production that shows at film festivals. The same is generally true of Safe House, Unstoppable, and half the things the man has done in the past five years. In a period where the concept of a movie star who can open a movie and put people in seats simply because their name is on the title has faded dramatically Denzel is one of the few remaining people with that power (Tom Cruise is another one). Racism no doubt played a very significant role earlier in his career, just as it surely did in Halle Berry's (and gender preference still does for her), but counting on it's hold now seems dubious.

    Nicholas Cage may or may not have wanted to be Ghost Rider - Nicholas Cage is bankrupt, owes millions of dollars in back taxes and basically has to star in everything his agent can find because of it. He's been cast in mountains of junk as a result, because he has a combination of name recognition and no shame.

    Yes there is prejudice in Hollywood, and the studios care only about dollars and so only changes in the audience will change that, and only slowly since the studios are incredibly risk averse (which is why we get so many sequels, and why the bad dialogue in Red Tails means you probably won't see another black ensemble cast big budget production for half a decade).

    Of course it is, but until a corporation crosses a regulatory line where they can be fined and/or charged, they don't care. They may care about the financial impact of fan outrage on their public image, and change policies as a result - which is what the NFL is currently doing regarding the concussion crisis, but beyond that it doesn't matter to them. Individuals within corporations certainly may care - Star Wars was much more vulnerable to fan shaming on any subject a month ago when Lucas owned it all than it is today, when the legal person that is Walt Disney Co. owns it. George Lucas, the man, can have a moral conversation with himself about diversity issues within a product called Star Wars that he produces. Walt Disney Co. doesn't, as an entity, understand what a moral conversation is.

    We all rage against the machine from time to time, but the machine doesn't care, and so the purpose behind it is to influence people. It's important to remember this, because otherwise there are nasty problems of hypocrisy, identity politics, and potential backlash that crop up.

    Likewise - in terms of Star Wars and this thread specifically, I feel that pointing out diversity issues that exist all across the media because the system is broken is less enlightening than talking about features specific to the universe itself.
    Last edited by Mechalich, Dec 9, 2012
  7. beccatoria Force Ghost

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    [face_hypnotized]

    Unlike. UNLIKE.
  8. Parnesius Jedi Grand Master

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    Sep 8, 2012
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    Izzy wizzy, let's get busy!
  9. JediFreac Force Ghost

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    Poor Becca, always getting edumacated. First Ultimates and now LOTR.

    A couple years ago, a British Pakistani woman auditioned to be a Harfoot extra in The Hobbit and was rejected by a casting Director for not being white enough. (Even though there are black riders of Rohan in ROTK)
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  10. jacktherack Force Ghost

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    Mar 19, 2008
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    first of you assumed i did it because she was a lady which was wrong. since i never knew if it was a girl or not considering it's almost impossible to tell if they are on the internet. second of i did get a little heated it's just that i get upset when people think that the movie nick fury is the real nick fury. i think those people who do the movies don't know anything about the source material.

    i am sorry for my outburst as it was uncalled for, but you are mistaken if you believe i did it because she is a girl.
  11. Random Comments Force Ghost

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    Sep 25, 2012
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    They know. It's just an ALTERNATE UNIVERSE! They can make him black and played by Jackson without changing the comics. They are well aware that isn't the Fury of the old comics.
  12. GrandAdmiralJello Moderator Communitatis Litterarumque

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    Even HBO's Game of Thrones adaptation included a black character in a setting where people were supposed to be pasty white -- and they did so by retconning this character as being from a particular place in that world that actually had dark-skinned people. People protested that said character wasn't dark-skinned, but they decided to include him in a way that was consistent with the world's internal lore. I saw that as a good move -- they realized the excessively white cast, despite being accurate to the show's background material, was problematic for a contemporary audience and adjusted it in a way that was internally consistent (N.B. not all of their changes of this sort have been internally proper).


    And I'm being vague because I absolutely don't want to spoil anybody for the show/book ever, but if you've read it and are somehow unclear...

    ACOK/ GoT season 2 spoilers (open)
    I'm talking about Xaro Xhoan Doxos, who was a pale Qartheen in the books but was made a black Summer Islander for the show.
    Last edited by GrandAdmiralJello, Dec 10, 2012
  13. beccatoria Force Ghost

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    Dec 8, 2006
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    You're right, beccatoria isn't a girly name at all. Which is as it should be, cus I ain't no girl. I'M A WOMAN. RARGH.

    And stuff.

    Also, Helena Wayne's just as real as Helena Bertinelli. Or Damian, whatever. Hey, what does Boba Fett look like these days anyway?
  14. Todd the Jedi Mod and Sitcom Dad of SWTV

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    Ooo, that's a great example for a paper I'm writing. Thanks @GrandAdmiralJello!

    BTW, said paper is for a class on race and the Internet. A lot of insightful stuff in this class. One reading we did even related to the parallel stories of George Lucas and Cesar Chavez.
    Last edited by Todd the Jedi, Dec 10, 2012
  15. GrandAdmiralJello Moderator Communitatis Litterarumque

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    No problem! If you want to contrast it with something from the show, you might consider the portrayal of Arya as a bit of a proto-feminist in the show whereas she wasn't in the books. The contrast would be in the books she doesn't like certain girly things because I. she's not good at them and II. she thinks they're dumb. The show takes that a bit further by having her say that "it's not me" -- which is a little modern sounding and very out of place in a medieval-ish setting. I could see it fitting in the 1950s or 60s when feminism was really pushing hard against gender roles, but I have trouble when a little kid says things like that in a world where personal actualization isn't actually a thing yet.

    Granted that's gender and not race, but that's an example of a lore-unfriendly way to try and make a show relevant to a modern audience.
  16. Todd the Jedi Mod and Sitcom Dad of SWTV

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    Nah, my paper deals specifically with casting decisions that have to do with race and somehow elicit a negative reaction from the fans, so not really about changes in character personalities. One of the big examples I have is the whole Hunger Games controversy with the casting of Rue. I've found out that people are also wicked angry about at least one casting decision for the next movie as well. It just never ends!
  17. GrandAdmiralJello Moderator Communitatis Litterarumque

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    Oh. So I imagine "The Last Airbender" must play a prominent role in the paper too then. What a huuuuge brouhaha that was (and for good reason!). "What do you mean American audiences will accept Asian protagonists? Nonsense! Make 'em all white!"
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  18. RC-1991 Force Ghost

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    Apparently, there were people who were upset about Cho Chang's casting, for similar reasons.
  19. Todd the Jedi Mod and Sitcom Dad of SWTV

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    Oh yes, Jello. Very different from the Hunger Games example, but still a very interesting situation. See, SW is lucky in that regard, since the movies are original stories and don't have to worry about alienating fans over racial casting decisions. (pardon the pun) But stuff that gets adapted from books or comics (the whole Heimdall thing from Thor) has that added layer that can easily incite the fans. And sometimes the fans have valid points, like The Last Airbender, and sometimes they have not-so-valid points, like Hunger Games and apparently GoT.

    And yeah, RC I think the Cho Chang example has come up in this thread before.
  20. GrandAdmiralJello Moderator Communitatis Litterarumque

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    Heimdall? The rainbow gate-keeper dude? Was he not supposed to be black?

    Well, Nordic mythology, I guess everyone is blonde and blue-eyed....

    edit: Actually speaking of CK2 in the social thread, there's a new portraits DLC out that gives Mediterranean cultures (primarily Italians and Greeks) a more olive to tanned brown skin tone, and there are a bunch of outraged people (primarily Europeans) protesting that they should be fair skinned with fair eyes, and that they would be fair in the middle ages because any tannedness in their modern appearance has to do with interbreeding with Maghreb Arabs or Moors or some other blatantly racist nonsense. Skin tone is genetic but also environmental, and they could just look at some Roman frescos to see that, yep, the Romans and Greeks were pretty tanned too.... and guess what, modern Turks apparently more closely resemble pre-Muslim Anatolian Greeks more than they resemble the Turkic conquerors that they linguistically descend from.

    But good luck telling a Turk that... or a Greek, even. They might kill you. :p
    Last edited by GrandAdmiralJello, Dec 10, 2012
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  21. Random Comments Force Ghost

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    I'M RC! :p sorry.
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  22. Zorrixor Chosen One

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    Wow...

    Just wow.

    I have no words.
  23. The Loyal Imperial Manager Emeritus

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  24. Todd the Jedi Mod and Sitcom Dad of SWTV

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    Nope, Jello, comics Heimdall is white. Also, his inspiration, Heimdallr, is described as the whitest of the white, so you can imagine how the fanboys fueled their criticisms with that particular tidbit.

    The fact is, Idris Elba was cast because he was good for the role. It did not matter whatsoever what his race/skin color was. I guess people are alright with black Nick Fury, but black Heimdall? No way man! That would be like having a black sheriff in the old west! :p

    EDIT: RC, RC. Meh. He was here first, so I'll refer to you as Random, @Random Comments
    Last edited by Todd the Jedi, Dec 10, 2012
  25. GrandAdmiralJello Moderator Communitatis Litterarumque

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    And now they've responded to my Roman frescos argument by saying that those portrayed slaves, and/or migrated Carthaginians / Greeks who interbred and corrupted white Roman purity! Argh. Mussolini's legacy is alive and well I see...

    edit: Although tbh I don't think Mussolini was particularly pale. I think this whole Romans == pasty white thing started when ol' Adolf got uncomfortable appropriating Roman symbolism so he decided that the Romans looked Germanic even though that makes no sense at all.
    Last edited by GrandAdmiralJello, Dec 10, 2012