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Lit Diversity in SW Lit - Coop's Temporary Whining Thread

Discussion in 'Expanded Universe' started by CooperTFN, Apr 8, 2012.

  1. Skaddix Jedi Knight

    i agree location specifically country and city (if u happen to be in a major city). Especially if u don't travel. I noted Asians above as well. Still as I said Jan and Johns Dawn of the Jedi has Black Temple Master and an Asian Temple Master. Temple master being the highest rank so lets just say its roughly equivalent to being a Jedi Master who is on the Jedi Council. Although I notice all groups so not sure it affects me much still a good point.

    although its also interesting to think about why u failed to notice in the text. the subconscious is an interesting thing.

    but yes EU especially in the Del Rey Books is pretty much a total fail when it comes to nonwhites of importance or even in the background besides Lando but he is a movie character so u cannot really credit Del Rey for that.
  2. GoodValors Jedi Master

    The possibly even more standout thing for Lando and Mace is how some authors then go and make a descriptive reference to them being black, which only then reinforces the idea that everyone else in their books is white unless stated otherwise.
  3. The Loyal Imperial Census & Games General Manager

    Being a summit of Old Republic Planetary Security Forces, it ought to be exactly the opposite. I count twelve (possibly thirteen) white males, one blue male, and two red females (who are, coincidentally, doing the serving).
  4. Kais Jai Sheelal Jedi Grand Master

    It's interesting that while we get such a non diverse group of NJO Jedi the Imperial ranks of Grant Admirals seemed to feature(to me anyway) an Asian(Grant), an African(Declann), Zaarin, who I've always felt to be of mixed heritage(though I admit this is based on his pictures).

    Though it was probably a wrong assumption I've always thought of Sintas Vel as a woman who would be close in skin tone to Quinlan Vos just because of the whole Kiffar deal.

    So if we are going to look exclusivly at DelRey can we list off the non white, non alien(or at least close to human) characters that we've seen introduced over the years? Pretty much the only really notable character I can think of is Kar Vastor. I've also always considered Tendra to be black, maybe just due to the fact that Billy Dee has been such a sex symbol for Afrcian American women for so many years thus I can't imagine him ending up with anything but.:p

    Who else? Sintas? Vevut for sure, though he's a fairly minor character.

    When we were just casting and actor to play Jaller Obrim in the EUC someone mentioned that they always envisioned him a African American. I'd never considered it but when I glanced at the books I realized there was no reason that couldn't have been the case.
  5. The Loyal Imperial Census & Games General Manager

    Her original introduction described her as "fair-skinned", so I'm afraid you're probably out of luck there.
  6. Kais Jai Sheelal Jedi Grand Master

    Whats "fair-skinned" though? I imagine that description working as much for Halle Berry as it would for Charize Theron.
  7. The Loyal Imperial Census & Games General Manager

    A valid question, though I can't recall seeing many (if any) authors attempt to apply it in that sense. Might be interesting, come to think of it, to compile a list of the most common descriptors and how they're used.
  8. The Forgotten Jedi Jedi Master

    Well, Markre Medjev is black, and he is the head of the Jedi Archives for the New Jedi Order, which is a important position, but it barely ever gets used. Alas, he is the only named black Jedi of the NJO.
  9. jedifreac Jedi Master

    Hi, this is Jedismurf from the old forums with my old moniker, anyhow, I've been active on the forums for 10+ years and have been a real stickler for this diversity stuff.

    While people have rightly pointed out that Lando, Mace Windu, Darman, Mark Medjev, and Chance Calrissian (a baby) exist, women of color are far more obscure and appear more inconsistently in these DelRey stories and are always in supporting roles. We have Elyssa (dead), the doctor from Death Troopers, the One Sith (I can't even remember her name.) Characters like Elyssa, Dr. from Death Troopers, Mark Medjev where identified as black simply because the artist (for Knight Errant, Kerra Holt, Star Wars Insider's Who's Who of the NJO, Star Wars Galaxies, etc.) decided to draw them as such. I guess Mirta Gev is a woman character of color, but she is rarely if ever depicted in artwork.

    In contrast, the number of white male new characters created or elevated by DelRey, many of whom get to star in their own books, is freaking astounding. Ben Skywalker, Valin Horn, Kenth Hamner, Wurth Skidder, Jaden Korr, Jax Pavan, Mander Zuma, Darth Bane...

    To be honest I don't think the top brass at DelRey have the savvy to figure out that the EU is not diverse.
    When I spoke to Shapiro in person at ComicCon last year she said that they were trying for diversity with aliens but they don't describe races in Star Wars because they are "PC" and that it's hard to describe minorities in a non-visual medium and "Just because a character is not described that way doesn't mean they are not Asian" and that readers can choose to make Star Wars as diverse as they want in their *~*imagination*~*

    Which was really eyebrow raising for me because the onus shouldn't be on the reader. Especially since American readers have pretty much been trained from birth to view characters in books as default white. And as I demonstrated in the old thread there are seriously over 20+ examples of authors talking about character's fair or pale skin or blue eyes or golden hair or red-gold hair. If your authors suck at describing people of color, yet excel at writing aliens, maybe you need to train them or hire better authors. All authors need to constantly work on improving their craft.

    I was on a Facebook chat with Shelly Shapiro and I asked a pretty benign question about how I wanted to see more characters of color and women of color in Star Wars books. Shapiro's response? "I feel we've had quite a bit of diversity, especially when you take into consideration the growing number of prominent characters that aren't human. Saba Sebatyne, for example: An awesome female Jedi who is barely even humanoid. (I like her a lot!)"

    Which yeah...okay. I feel so represented. When I see this lizard, I feel so connected. Lizard => woman human character of color. The fact that a lizard has a more prominent role than any woman character of color is supposed to be promising instead of further marginalizing? Like if they are willing to let a lizard shine, maybe one day they'll let people who look like me shine, too? Racial minorities are not aliens. When the Star Trek franchise talks about diversity they don't have to say, "We're so proud to be diverse because we have Klingons."

    After I asked my question on the Facebook chat this guy on the Facebook chat just totally jumped on me and started swearing and cursing me out for my politically correct agenda and the mod had to delete his comments. Seriously frothing at the mouth. Which is sad because at least from what I could see of his profile picture it was not like he had ever experienced not seeing white males like him in the world of Star Wars, nor how alienating it feels.

    I don't know why people were surprised that fans like the Hunger Games Rue-deniers exist. Why was it even news? Are we supposed to be surprised that in a world of Trayvon Martins and Barack Obamas that there are still readers who are racist and willing to brag about it on Twitter?

    What appalls me is that this argument is used to defend writing practices like DelRey's--a minority of our frothing-at-the-mouth readers are racist so we can't challenge them. I'd argue that the majority of fans got that Rue was black, but the fans who complained made the news. The fans complaining about black Rue? They read the books, they were already a captured audience and the fact that Rue was black wasn't stopping them from going to see the movie even though they were complaining on twitter. Yes, I asked a question about diversity, and yes, frothing at the mouth guy lost his poodoo. He was still buying Star Wars books and so engaged that he was even on the chat. I highly doubt he would stop just because of a book like Knight Errant or Dark Omen (or whatever that canceled Elaine Cunningham book targeted for girl readers was called--which still, by the way, starred a male character, Zekk.)

    The people who were missing on the chat were all of the women and fans of color I used to read New Jedi Order with in high school. At some point, like me, they lost faith in Star Wars and it's portrayal of women and racial minorities. You've got foaming at the mouth guy locked in, Shapiro, but maybe consider exploring some of the lost audience and some of the untapped audience, too?
  10. Jedi Ben Jedi Grand Master

    It's almost like the gits who cause the problems are rewarded for doing so, isn't it? PC started with a noble enough aim - to draw attention to terms that were offensive and change them. In this respect it has been successful in with regard to terms like negro and others. But PC has also become misunderstood as being a limit on free speech and the idea of causing any offence is deemed bad.

    There's 2 problems with this outlook:

    1. If what you're saying is so offensive people are going to call you out on it and your only defence is that you are being un-PC, then what you're saying is probably complete crap of the kind you should be called on!

    2. If people are offended by some things, then is the fault always on the writer or publisher or does it lie with the readers? As you say, the amount of people who may stop reading due to being so offended by having to envisage a black or latino character will likely be outweighed by the number of readers who may jump on-board due to that same factor. But leaving numbers aside, why is avoiding offending, or perhaps better - indulging these sort of people and their worldviews so desirable?
  11. CooperTFN Jedi Grand Master

    I shall now play Devil's Advocate in two different directions. Please - stand back, everyone.

    One - regarding white folks on Tatooine. it's widely accepted that Basic is "actually" a different language than English, and the material we're seeing is just being translated that way rather than presented as it actually is. So if the word "sponge" or "tree" is understood to be replacing an unknown GFFA equivalent, then couldn't that be the same for "human"? Just because they look like we do doesn't mean their species has to behave exactly the same as ours does. Which is to say, maybe GFFA humans don't tan, or tan under different conditions, or maybe melanin just works in the opposite direction. Generations of space travel could have made them evolve different responses to radiation entirely. I'd still argue, of course, that the Earth humans who create these characters have a responsibility to cultivate a positive atmosphere for the Earth humans who read about them - but I'll at least grant that the tanning argument isn't entirely fair.

    Two - John and Jan have a lifetime Diversity Pass from me after creating both a black and a nonhuman Skywalker. However...since people are making a lot of hay about the black and Asian Temple Masters in DotJ, I would point out that all the nonwhite supporting characters in the world don't make up for a lack ofmain characters. The LotF time period looks like it does because it's an accumulation of POV characters from earlier stories - Kyp, Kyle, Corran, etc. The DotJ Temple Masters (not even going to pretend I know their names offhand yet) are like Mace in the Prequels, or Morgan Freeman as the President in Deep Impact; it's not emblematic of genuine diversity as much as it's a way of saying "look! I respect black people!" while still keeping their characters in the position of "other".

    PS - hey Smurf. I was typing this when you showed up, so I'll respond in a minute if I have anything to add to your post.
  12. Jedi Ben Jedi Grand Master

    Hmm, in that case, does SW need the equivalent of Trek's Ben Sisko? Commander, Father, religious icon, leader, fighter - general all-round cool-as-hell bad-arse character? Or does Sisko's arc in DSN fall short of what you have in mind Coop?
  13. CooperTFN Jedi Grand Master

    Sorry, don't speak Trek. Off the top of my head...Zoe on Firefly is a decent example. 355 in Y - The Last Man. Tyreese in Walking Dead (not to be confused with the walking, talking joke that is T-Dog on the show).

    And of course, even these characters, while primary, aren't really POV characters; they're all second fiddle to a white dude. So it goes.
  14. GoodValors Jedi Master

    Reading those comments from Shapiro about Saba again, it makes me wonder what the new guy/girl's attitude is. At long last, they've finally stopped with the multi-author series and switched back to smaller trilogies and standalones, so it'd be nice if they'd do more Knight Errants that don't have the cliché white male lead... though admittedly, so far Scourge, Shadow Games and Scoundrels have all mostly been more of the same, so it'll be interesting to see exactly what team Han puts together in the latter's case.

    I suppose Mercy Kill is also in a particularly curious position, as with so much of the old Bantam cast having now been killed off in LOTF and FOTJ, it's in the somewhat unique position of having the chance to set up a lot of the cast for future stories in terms of new alliance officers, senators, etc.
  15. Jedi Ben Jedi Grand Master

    Pity, Deep Space Nine might have what you're looking for as it remains, in my book, the most radical of the Trek series.

    How to render the appeal of Sisko as a character to someone who has not watched DSN? In his intro to a Black Panther collection of his first 5 issues, Christopher Priest explains his aim as to render BP in such a way as to make the cool factor transcend race, that he's black isn't suppressed, but it isn't dominating either, though the character does do that in the book regardless of the actual role he has in the story - all the other players are responding to him and not the other way around. Is this true of Sisko? Not always, as the episodes do get shared out amongst the ensemble, but as captain, Sisko gets the bulk of the big moments and more often not sets the agenda for what everyone else is doing.
  16. CooperTFN Jedi Grand Master

    Oh, is Sisko the DSN captain? I'm slightly aware of him. But being important and being an audience surrogate aren't always the same thing - would you say he's firmly the latter?

    Regarding Scourge - I maintain that Mander Zuma is Hispanic until proven otherwise. I don't think the cover is definitive.
  17. The Forgotten Jedi Jedi Master

    Hey, I like T-Dog. He hasn't said enough to make me hate him yet, like certain characters on that show (coughLoricough). Granted, he is a walking, sometimes-talking, stereotype. The deepest characterization he has gotten is being given fingerless gloves. The producers and writers are promising to give him a lot more screentime in Season 3, so maybe he will become a character instead of a Token Black Guy. Of course, getting developed will likely lead to him getting killed off, so...

    Coop, have you ever read The Order of the Stick? Off the top of my head, it is the best series I can think of when it comes to diversity and subverting stereotypes. And the main character (Roy Greenhilt, shown in my profile pic) is black, with zero stereotypical traits as far as I can tell. He doesn't play second fiddle to anybody. Huh, maybe the Star Wars EU needs a stick figure web-comic based on D&D...
  18. FiveThreeOhNine Jedi Grand Master

    In no way was Sisko an audience surrogate. He was the most important character in the show, the hero and the Chosen One.
  19. CooperTFN Jedi Grand Master

    Never heard of it. As for T-Dog, he's not even given enough consideration to be a stereotype. He's not even Token Black Guy, he's a stick figure who just so happens to be black.
  20. Jedi Ben Jedi Grand Master

    What's meant by audience surrogate? I've the feeling I sort of know but am not certain.

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