“Stay Away From My Elves”: Racism in Epic Fantasy Fandoms-Damned if you Do, Damned if You Don’t.
Like I said before, I think adding poc into things JUST for the purpose of inclusion is just as bad. But I don’t think adding them in to a fantasy story that has been around for decades with a very strong and dedicated following is the right way to do it. This isn’t about racism, this is about fucking with my fandom.
Stay away from my elves.
I’m all for being happy that a black person wrote a fantasy book with black protagonists, just as themselves, largely (though not entirely) away from any color related power struggles, letting them exist on their own merit and showing the obvious fact that fantasy characters don’t all have to be pale.
It would be nice if the responses weren’t “FUCK YEAR! FINALLY A BOOK FOR US! TAKE THAT YOU HORRIBLE, BORING WHITEYS”.
However I do fail to see how ‘race isn’t a conflict’ as someone (I think) mentioned above, when it’s really just about black supremacy, not white supremacy. BUT HEY DON’T MIND ME. I prefer not to read fantasy with an agenda, even if it’s in my favor.
I’ll reserve my adulation for a black writer who is above being racist entirely. I do not withhold judgment based on skin color.
You know, I kinda have a problem with this, as well. I’m white, but one thing I’ve made a major point in my life is to never see skin color. If you had told me this book was part of a wonderful fantasy series that would have been fine. If you had told me the protagonists were people of color and the antagonists where white: still fine. But you had to drive home the thought that it’s so superior just for those reasons, and that’s unsettling.
I mean seriously, you SJS Skidmarks whine and bitch about how authors don’t include enough “non-white” characters in their books. Then when an author DOES do so, you whine and bitch because they aren’t the star or the main character. And when an author makes one a pretty important character you complain about THAT.
Seriously, kindly write “racist” on a club and beat yourself to death with it. It’s what you want, anyways, but no one would likely care enough to humor you. You can make the club any color you want, though I think we can all guess what color it’d be. Funny thing is, regardless of that? It’d still be stupid and incredibly ironic.
“Naturally Thresh would be a black man,” tweeted someone who called herself @lovelyplease.
“I was pumped about the Hunger Games. Until I learned that a black girl was playing Rue,” wrote @JohnnyKnoxIV.
“Why is Rue a little black girl?” @FrankeeFresh demanded to know. (she appended her tweet with the hashtag admonishment #sticktothebookDUDE.)
“Awkward moment when Rue is some black girl and not the little blonde innocent girl you picture,”@sw4q
“Kk call me racist but when I found out rue was black her death wasn’t as sad,” wrote @JashperParas
But wait! Let’s not forget the Fan-made movie that was uploaded and waddled its way around the internet well before the ACTUAL film came out, which has OVER 3 MILLION VIEWS AND FEATURES A BLONDE, WHITE RUE, AS WELL AS DOZENS OF COMMENTS REGARDING HOW MUCH “BETTER” IT IS THAN THE ACTUAL HOLLYWOOD MOVIE
According to the filmmaker:
I know that Rue is described as being dark skinned in the book, but I wanted to show Savanna’s acting. I think she would make a good Prim though.
Everytime I watch this, I always think it was so much better than the movie. This vid is just epic. It captures the whole feeling of the book. It’s realistic, and for that reason it’s completely awesome.
how to make your alternate medieval fantasy story both original and not shitty
As a fantasy writer, I am RIDIC tired of reading the same goddamn story over and over and over again. It’s all basically Lord of the Rings, but with different names and different territories. (I’m dead serious about that. Whole books have been written about how LOTR changed fantasy as a genre forever, and while I get that, let’s stop rewriting it, ok?)What I’m not talking about here is historical fiction. That’s another thing entirely. Alternate medieval fantasy (also known as high fantasy or epic fantasy) takes place in a recognizable world that is somehow reminiscent of the medieval period in our own history. There are roughly eight billion examples of this, including but not limited to: A Song of Ice and Fire, The Lord of the Rings, The Farseer Trilogy, Kristen Cashore’s books, pretty much anything about King Arthur, etc.Most high fantasy has tropes. These tropes are fucking old. We can do better.
- Stop making everyone white. Guys I am so fucking serious, all this does is show that you know fuck-all about history and how many people of color were doing a m a z i n g shit in the medieval period. Also? You are MAKING THIS WORLD UP. It is NOT ACTUALLY BASED ON EUROPEAN HISTORICAL FACT ANYWAY. The hell is everyone white for? (There’s a much larger conversation to be had here about most people who write high fantasy having no idea that the European world they’re loosely envisioning as they write has nothing to do with the historical reality, but that’s another post).
- Don’t make it about white people vs. non-white people. If your white hero is going up against savages from the desert-lands, you’re fucking up.
- Yo, for serious, no one cares about your reluctant noble bastard-born son of the king. Every other alternate medieval fantasy story has a reluctant noble bastard-born son of the king out saving the world. I just yawned writing that sentence. Do something else. There are literally BILLIONS of different characters you can come up with as a writer, come on.
- People didn’t just start becoming queer in the 20th century in this universe. People have been queer basically forever, in a lot of the world. No1curr about your book full of straight people. Totally over it.
- If your protagonist is a lady, her entire story shouldn’t be about saving the kingdom and also suddenly finding LOVE. Love is a many splendored thing, love lifts us up where we belong, but I promise you can write a story where a woman falls in love that isn’t about the woman falling in love (with the only man who never doubted her!)
Avoid these hideous tropes and remember: YOU ARE MAKING UP THIS WORLD. Why should it be bound by the same bigoted bullshit we run into in our world all the damn time?
Freedom rings where opinions clash.
Being realistic? Why is race the one thing that people need to be realistic about when it comes to these kinds of movies? Is it realistic in the first place to have a story about magical hair? In the original story, Rapunzel’s hair wasn’t magic, nor was she a princess - and she gets pregnant by a Prince (who wasn’t a Prince in the movie, he was a bandit) and they changed that, didn’t they?
Also, how much is realistic about Maximus and Pascal? Please tell me. They could have thrown in some PoC, don’t give me that “but it’s being realistic” crap."
Fangirlingforeverz, in response to this ask: “I know you posted it yesterday BUT as for the movie Tangled, the story, as you know, is based on the story of Repunzul. Pretty much all of the characters in the old story were white. I know PoC must’ve been in Europe back then but you have to be realistic, the number back then was extremely low if anything, so I don’t see why that is an issue. If they’re redoing an old storytale, it wouldn’t make sense to randomly throw in new characters to fit your needs” (via racebending)
SO YOU WANT TO WRITE A FANTASY:
How exciting! Fantasy is so fun! You can do anything you want to your universe, because it’s fantasy - which is really great, because you’ve always wanted cats to talk and everyone else to share your distaste of squash. Plus you could have magic! Or not, you know, low-fantasy works too. Maybe it will be another Epic/High fantasy, and surely you’ve got a trilogy in the works, or perhaps you’re writing steam punk…anything your heart desires! This is so fun!
What’s that you say? You say you have a hero in mind? Wonderful! Your hero is a strapping young farmboy? Yes? Well, okay. It’s been done before, but I trust you. He’s an orphan, you say? And the Chosen one? Oh, well alright. (Hey you steampunk novelist. Don’t walk away. I noticed you were writing about a young boy who wants to be an airship mechanic. It’s okay, just keep following along.) There’s a great big evil he must defeat in order to save his town, village, country, or the world? Well yes, there does need to be some antagonism in this story, so I’ll let that go, and of course your big evil needs monster or henchmen or something, and yes, this kid really does need a wiser, more experienced person to hel-he’s a man too?
Well you know it wasn’t uncommon for older men and younger male warriors in training to carry on relationships in certain societ- hmm? Oh they’re not gay? Are you sure?
I suppose. If you really feel that way. I just thought it would be interesting and realistic is all, but let’s get back to your story. So he needs a mentor, because he’s only a farmboy, and this older man actually knows what’s going on, but he can’t explain because…well you can think of why later.
What’s that? Oh! There’s a girl character? Lovely! What’s she like? I’m sure the hero here needs a friend, perhaps, or maybe a sister, or another advisor, and maybe just maybe- oh.
She’s the love interest?
Are you sure?
She’s particularly beautiful. Sweet, giving, and has been eying the hero now that he’s gone through some warrior training, and of course she’s graceful. (Is she an elf?) Oh, you gave her a sword. Well that’s a relief, those monsters/henchmen we tossed out into your world are crawling all over the place and so it’s a good thing to keep- she can’t wield it, can she?
No, no, you gave her a broadsword. Her fingers are soft and smooth like silk, you just described this two pages ago. A swords woman has callouses. And even if you lie about that, or gloss over it, you just gave a petite blonde a broadsword. (Do you know what a broadsword is? Have you ever tried lifting one, and then swinging it around for a half hour? Nevermind, don’t do that. You’ll hurt yourself trying.) She just lost the fight. So the hero could save her.
Let’s do this over again.
Particularly beautiful, blahblahblah, no broadsword. Okay. Good. She can’t fight? Well no, she couldn’t fight, she was trying to wield a broadsword on foot. That’s just not practical. What, you mean she really cannot fight? Well that seems stupid, she needs to do something-embroidery?
She’s going to embroider things? And do what, make the perfect cross stitch?
It’s because she’s a woman?
She’s a woman so she can’t fight, but she likes to embroider-
STOP. STOP STOP STOP STOP!
We’ve gone too far! This is absurd. She lives in a world where danger is at every turn, and the worst she can do is bat her eyelashes and faint? Nevermind her craftiness, it’s not like she gets to use it to stitch wounds on the battlefield.
What do you mean it’s realistic?
This isn’t realistic! How is she alive when you’ve painted a big red target on her back that says “Beautiful noble thing the hero cares about - steal me, I’m helpless to stopping you!”? Well but she’s a woman, and women were supposed to be cooking and cleaning and having children in this time. What time? Whatever do you mean, dear novelist? It’s unrealistic to have her be powerful, she’s a girl!
But this is a fantasy novel! There’s no such thing as having to stick to one time period, and remember, we were so excited to do whatever we wanted to in the world because of this being a fantasy novel and all! But this is like Europe! It was a misogynistic society! There was patriarchy! I am trying to be accurate in my portrayals!
THIS IS “EUROPE” WITH MAGIC AND THE UNDEAD. OR STEAMSHIPS. AND FIRE BREATHING CREATURES. THERE ARE DARK FORCES INVOLVED. THIS ISN’T GOING TO BE ACCURATE.
Fine, you know what? You want accuracy. That’s cool. It’s okay to base your world off of stuff in the real world. So that’s why she can’t fight! Why are you arguing with me on this?
Well because maybe it’s why she can’t fight! But maybe it’s not. Let’s just FORGET Europe. Look at Japan - women in Samurai families could train with weapons in order to defend their homes! that was a patriarchal society, and they still trained those women to fight. Or how about Mongolia? Not only were women in charge of the supplies, home tents, and animals, but they could choose to marry and were supposed to initiate sex. And they could fight or be a battle strategist too! And hey, Genghis Khan actually made selling, kidnapping, and raping women illegal under his rule! Maybe we can avoid implying that all brown people have mandatory rape festivals!
Get this, she doesn’t even have to fight to be powerful! [ableist slur redacted], huh? A woman wrote the first modern novel, remember? Maybe she’s a novelist, and wrote the equivalent of the Tales of Genji. Maybe she’s a diplomat, some of the Mongolian women acted like that. Or maybe she’s an adviser - a political adviser. Maybe she’s the Queen! She’s not the Queen? Well, maybe she’s running the show behind the scenes. Or she’s a spy.
Want to hear something even [ableist slur redacted]? Not all societies function/ed under the western notion of what equality should be! Sometimes being the woman of the house means a whole hell of a lot because you run the place where people eat, sleep, and live. And the men have a totally different separate function in society that is not greater or lesser in standing. You remember seeing all those reblogs on why its not okay for white girls to run around in Native American war bonnets, right? They’re worn by men who have earned that right in battle, and women generally don’t wear them. They had their own regalia. A lot of non-western/white cultures don’t have the same norms, traditions, domains split between men and women but that doesn’t make it misogynistic or even unequal. Try looking up stuff like dual-sex/dual-gendered systems, female husbands, and matriarchies and patriarchies existing in the same culture or society. Not all cultures function the same way white Europeans do! Remember that when world building.
So your girl could totally be in charge of the household and not be a simpering helpless blonde. That household may put her equal to her husband or the hero who goes out and fights without a domain.
Remember that hero we had at the beginning? He’s now without supplies, transportation, food, a place to live, or any money or support. All he has are weapons. Because the women of your world are in control of the households. Men are warriors. Whoops. He’s not going to get very far without supplies. Now he has to learn to deal in this society by protecting the female domains who keep him supplied and clothed. Maybe he has to take up quests in order to afford the way to defeating the bad guy.
You want to write women who do stuff besides have babies? Awesome.
You still want her to be good at embroidery?
Fine by me. Just fine by me.
What do you do with that farm boy now? Don’t ask me, I don’t have the damnedest idea.
Reblog — reblog — a thousand times reblog!
There’s female vikings and shieldmaidens, Queen Boudica, pirate women, just to stick with warriors. There’s women who worked as field nurses in just about every single war ever, and if you think that’s not a skill worth writing about I’m not sure I want to read your books. And who do you think runs everything while your farmboy hero empties out towns of able bodied men to fight in his adventure war? Embroidery? Who the hell has time for that when there’s a farm to run, a mill to keep working, the town’s law to uphold and it’s defenses to coordinate. If your farmboy takes all the men into his army, someone is going to have to run the smithy and keep the horses shod. Someone is going to have to work in the factories making sure that the army has ammunition. Oh hey, and speaking of WWII: FEMALE PILOTS.
I do embroidery for fun. I knit. I weave. I can do pottery. I’m not bad with power tools. I’m a bit rusty but I know how to shoot a bow. If push comes to shove I can pick up most any blunt object and put a real beat down on someone, even though I haven’t had a lot of self defense training. I know two ways to kill someone with my bare hands. This is just me, Jane Q. Boring and if I’m more interesting than the female companion/love interest of Farmboy: The Chosen, that says a lot about how much you don’t think women are capable of, and your inability as a writer to make something that’s relatable and real. Get your nose out of Tolkien’s rear end and actually talk to some women, find out what the average woman is capable of.
Stuff like this is why my activism is all mixed up in my writing. Representation and normalization of minorities and oppressed groups and people outside the dominant Western narrative. The stories you tell are powerful.
Hey, there’s a reason my blog is called The Pen and the Sword.
WOAH i didn’t know all this stuff about women in history. this was informative.
All thins kind of reminds me of David Eddings series The Belgariad and The Malorean.
In some ways it very much follows the fantasy tropes (farmboy, chosen one, etc) but he has two main mentors. One is Garion’s grandfather and the other is his aunt. How is very much the HBIC. And kicks so much ass and has never settled down with a man because she’s never wanted to and has been too busy kicking ass and taking names.
Garion’s love interest is a girl named Ce’Nedra who is small, slender and can’t fight. She’s part dryad. She’s useless and whiny. And blah blah blah they start out hating each other but eventually fall for one another and yadda yadda and they get married.
Once married Ce’Nedra cranks out a kid who is kidnapped. Garion goes after said kid. What does Ce’Nedra do? Sit around weeping and wringing her hands? She can’t fight after all. But she is exceptionally good at getting her way. So she goes out and raises up this enormous army to help Garion in his search and kicks some butt and takes names that way.
Dream cosplay right here.
Artist: Austen Mengler
I’m trying REAL hard not to cuss out some folks
so i’m not gonna read the threads on racial posts because many white folks are showin their asses. This is how it goes every time…..
POC: ah man how come there aren’t any minorities in this film/tv/book/any other form of media?
Whole bunch of white folks: OMG! why are you complaining? ugh they got the people they thought were best for the part! It’s not realistic to put minorities in EVERYTHING gaaawww! Just shut up and enjoy it.
POC: I don’t like the way they portrayed *insert ethnic group* in this film/tv/book/any other form of media
Whole bunch of white folks: OMG!!! shut up! you’re so sensitive nobody was thinking about it that way. I didn’t get offended by it so get over it. Yeah I know that all of the white people were portrayed positively and minorities were portrayed negatively, but WHO CARES it’s not real! People always want to make a big deal out of nothing and ruin it. Just because you’re represented in every form of media in a negative light or not represented at all is no big deal, they don’t show a lot of white people in black movies or on BET and I’m not offended. Why do they need Spanish channels either? Can we get an all white channel? Can we get white movies? I don’t complain about that. The fact that the media plays a major role in how people are viewed on a global scale means nothing. We’re all the same and you pointing that out makes it worse and makes me feel uncomfortable so just stop talking about it and get over it! BLAME SOCIETY! UGH!
And my favorite! “If you want black people, why don’t you just make your OWN movie/tv show/book???”
And then they cast Earthsea’s Ged as a white man.
And then Danny Glover couldn’t get funding for his Haiti movie because there were no white people.
And then Avatar: The Last Airbender replaced all the obviously Inuit/Asian inspired main characters as white people.
All of this! It is white racism that is keeping people of color from advancing in media. Plain and simple.
Casting Ged as White is made me rage. Even Ursula K. said that shit was wrong.
Upon Whom The Bell Tolls
The angel Gabriel had six hundred wings.
He did not fly swiflty upon them. They were so crowded upon each other, many growing out of the backs of others, that they could not hope to bear him aloft. Indeed, he could hardly bear their weight himself. He had six hundred wings, and more were springing up all the time.
He took a flaming sword and sheared off all that he could reach, leaving the smell of burnt feather and flesh in the celestial air. He hacked and he cut and he slashed until his back was a mess of stumps, and from that smoldering mass a dozen more wings swiftly arose.
Sobbing in pain and frustration, Gabriel sank down to his knees in despair and uttered a prayer, his first ever of supplication rather than praise. Would his torments never cease?
Somewhere down far below, at the front desk of a hotel, a four-year-old was being ignored by her parents and the desk clerk while they argued over a service charge. Lacking any other amusement, she slammed her palm down on the desk bell, again and again. She giggled in delight at the noise it made.
Ring, ring, ring.
Six more wings.
I fixed it for you.
NGL, as a kid, Dinotopia was the only fantastical place I really ever wanted to visit. It was awesome and had people that looked like me and my friends.
And jousting. On pterodactyls.
But mostly because of the inclusion of PoCs~
I don’t remember if there was anything problematic in them because lol that was like 15+ years ago BUT STILL.