“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.
No but seriously.
Why can’t we have a cartoon like this?
She’s so fun to draw. D’aww
OHHHH MY GOODNESS
The Mandarin is pretty much a direct descendant of the Fu Manchu yellow peril caricature-at best Orientalist, at worst, racist. The diabolic Asiatic is a hoary Hollywood staple – one of many stereotypes that Asian Americana have long had to endure - whether it’s the Fu Manchu, the Kung Fu master, the Dragon Lady, or the bucktooth nerd. What’s amazing is that China through its economic might has succeeded in extracting from Hollywood what civil rights groups and Asian American petitions have been unable to: more respectful representations of its citizens. If only every minority group had a massive economy! No more Jar-Jar Binks, no more Hugo Weaving playing a future Korean but looking more like a bad cosplay Romulan.
As for Ben Kingsley’s portrayal - ultimately, this is a bit of racial pinch-hitting. Can’t upset our Chinese economic allies - well, any brown face will do. After all, the Mandarin was created multiracial –- his father Chinese, his mother an English noblewoman — and Mr. Kingsley, himself biracial, has long played characters of various ethnicities (Prince of Persia anybody?). And if you’re going to do yellowface, its probably “safer” with another minority playing the role. Safer for the studios, but not for any of us who’ve had to live with the stereotypes hanging over our heads."
Asian American comic book author Marjorie M. Liu on the portrayal of The Mandarin in Iron Man 3.racebending)
[IMAGE: In a promotional still from Cloud Altas, Asian actress Bae Doona cries as she is snuggled by Jim Sturgess in yellowface]
If you don’t understand the controversy around Cloud Atlas, then in all likelihood, you are focused on the film in terms of its artistic quality. What you appreciate about the film is its grand vision: the sweeping soundtrack, grand special effects, universal concepts of reincarnation and rebirth, adventure on the scale of centuries or millennia.
So I’d like to make something perfectly clear: our concerns are not about the quality of the writing, the story, the special effects, makeup artistry, or cinematography.
Our discussion will be about social impact, culture, and politics. The nature of a multimillion dollar venture like Cloud Atlas is that it is shaped by culture and society. It is designed for the consumption of moviegoers. Millions of consumers will pay to see this film. The act of payment will encourage other films of similar cloth and make. The act of viewing will refine the viewer’s sense of pop culture, if only in a small way.
In watching the Cloud Atlas trailer, the parallels are clear. As with these other films, we see that white creators and performers are permitted to determine what it means to be Asian. It’s frustrating, because the trailer suggests a story that comfortably meshes with preconceptions and stereotypes of Asians: of a futuristic world of high technology and little soul, where the “all-look-same” vision of Asianness is directly translated into racks of identical, interchangeable Asian “fabricant” clones. It suggests a world where white actors (in yellowface) and Asian actresses enter into romantic trysts–while excluding the voices and faces of Asian American actors.
All too often in conversations about race in the 2010s, it seems that the racial conversation is all about performing the same racist actions but justifying them with new words. The use of yellowface, or even blackface, can be justified if the director uses the term “post-racial” or “colorblind.” But an honest look at statistics and demographics reveals that our society is anything but. We cannot enter a “post-racial” world by pretending problems do not exist, by pretending that lopsided representation is justified.
Acting as an apologist preserves the status quo in favor of those who already have the lion’s share of representation, who “don’t care” about race issues because they are fundamentally content with the system. If you can see your race and gender reflected in 80% of the faces that dominate movie posters, then it becomes meaningless to you. It’s worth nothing. It doesn’t damage your self-esteem, as it does for American children of any demographic other than “white male.”
For the rest of us, Cloud Atlas represents simply another film in the long tradition of Hollywood exclusion. It has been a very, very long road. We can only keep the discussion alive, despite how much further yet we need to go.
An excerpt from Racebending.com’s latest article: The Cloud Atlas Conversation: Yellowface, Prejudice, and Artistic License.
Ebony Black (African American Snow White), Original artwork.
The name of this character always bothered me, for obvious reasons. But then again, a lot of Disney movie concepts bother me now when I look back at them through adult eyes, but thats a whole other conversation. Maybe I should do this for a lot of other Disney characters…maybe.
Self plug time (Don’t worry, voting ends in a week, and then I’ll stop the self pimping)
**I’ve been nominated for a Black Weblog award for The Best Gaming/Comics Blog for 2011!!! Now ain’t that just groovy!! If you could all do me a HUGE favor and VOTE FOR ME (I’m like on the 2nd page for my blog Illuminate Darkness) I’d love you all longtime (e-hugs…and e-daps for the fellas). Thanks guys and it only takes like 2 minutes!!**
This is the greatest thing I’ve seen all day.
Erik Santos as Prince Eric (with Rachelle Ann Go as Ariel)
On the two leads:
[M]aking their stage debuts in the musical are singing champions Rachelle Ann Go and Erik Santos, playing the lead roles of mermaid Ariel and Prince Eric. While those two lack acting experience, they are turning out to be naturals and Garcia is very happy to have them in his cast. “I have known Erik since he started his career,” he says of his Prince. “Erik has an incredible singing voice that truthfully conveys Prince Eric’s longing and passion.” Garcia is also all praises for Rachelle Ann. “She is a fantastic Ariel. Having worked with her for three weeks now, we can’t imagine anyone else playing the role. She is spunky, adventurous, kind, generous and a dreamer. She also has one of the most beautiful voices we have heard. She is a true Disney Princess.
Read more at: http://www.princeofpop.net/tag/mermaid-in-manila/
The Little Mermaid in Manila
Today I was delighted to learn about the Philippine production of Disney’s stage version of The Little Mermaid, so I’m going to feature a few of the cast members in some posts coming up!
The Korra debate makes me wonder about other cartoons starring PoC
So yeah, if you’re not up-to-date with happenings in the Legend of Korra fandom, there’s a big divide between people over the coloration of Korra’s skin in fanart. She’s very dark-skinned in canon, but many people color it lighter than it is in canon. The outcry against it has got me thinking about other shows that star PoC.
Specifically Generator Rex, another show where the main character is noticeably darker than his supporting cast (he’s Argentinean). He’s not as dark as Korra, but the difference is there.
There’s a lot of fanart depicting Rex with lighter skin than he has in the show, often putting him on par with Agent Six right there next to him.
I wonder why there isn’t that kind of outcry against light-skinned Rex fanart - especially when prejudice, ethics and equality is one of the biggest running themes in the show. I think the size of our fandom has a lot to do with it, but there’s probably more things factoring in that I’m missing. I’m curious to see what you guys think.
Ironically, a piece of fanart I drew once got flamed for “making Rex black”. :|
Partly it’s because ATLA was considered the non-white cartoon, i.e. the cast was (almost?) exclusively POC. And partly because the movie was a seminal moment regarding the media and whitewashing.
- When POC characters are turned white: this isin't about race, if you think it is then you're the racist one, lets just enjoy the book/film as it is, this is about the character's personality god you're so sensitive, the new skin tone actually fits the character's personality IMO, I never imagined them as POC anyway, not all whitewashing is racist god get over it!!111
- When white characters are turned into POC: omg how could they!?!?!? this is soooo racist and unfair! why cant they present that white character as WHITE, how dare they change the original skin color to suit their own terms! this is reverse racism!! this is about race! I NEVER imaged that white character to be a POC that is so weird, it doesn't fit, this is political correctness gone crazy!!
- When POC characters stay POC but readers/viewers imagined them as white: THIS IS SO WRONG. This isn't how they looked. i don't care what it says in the booooook because i imagined they lookd different. ugh the film is ruined now. Ruined.
The Hunger Games RaceswapQ’orianka Kilcher as Katniss Everdeen
Steven Yeun as Peeta Mellark
Dante Basco as Gale Hawthorne
Tahmoh Penikett as Haymitch Abernathy
Archie Punjabi as Effie Trinket
Harry Lennix as President Snow
Malese Jow as Clove
Gaius Charles as Cato
Hailee Steinfeld as Primrose Everdeen
Michael B. Jordan as Finnick Odair
Antonia Thomas as Annie Cresta
Katerina Graham as Glimmer
there is absolutely nothing in this that i don’t want.
Michael B Jordan IS SO GODDAMN HANDSOME and oh my god Q’orianka as Katniss and Tahmoh Penikett as Haymitch? just why isn’t this real.
weeping at the perfection of this and what could have been
Also, choosing between Gale and Peeta would have been a much more impossible choice if it was Steven Yeun and Dante Basco, sweet lord.
Good. This is good.
No, I lie. This is perfection.
In this case “raceswap” means “some of the characters finally get to be the right colour”
On Semantical Arguments
I want to say one more thing about the race issue.
There are several fans who seem pretty pissed off about people using the word “tan” to describe Korra’s skin.
I think that some of the reactions to this are a little too scathing and unfair.
Korra’s skin color is definitely tan; I also believe it could be described as brown, dark-hued, etc.
To illustrate I have this image from a google search for “tan color”
Clearly “tan” is not exactly defined. I am certain Korra’s skin falls in this range of shades.
Thus I would like to say that this argument against using the word “tan” to describe Korra is largely semantical. She certainly isn’t a white girl with a tan. No. But her skin does appear to be some shade of brown or tan.
I don’t think anyone intends to be racist when they speak this way about Korra’s skin. If they do in a particular case speak incorrectly about this, by ALL means rip them a new one and attempt to pull their head out of their ass. Korra is based off a fictional culture in a fantasy world with very strong real world ties and influences. Her culture is based off of Northern Native American culture, and her race should correspond.
“Tan” isn’t clearly defined because its not really a colour. It simply described skin darkened by the sun. That fact “tan” is used as a colour is a problem within it self. Telling someone who is naturally brown their skin colour is “tan” (keeping in mind what a tan is) is implying their skin colour isn’t natural and the only type of natural tan that exists is the one of tanned white pale skin people (which tends to be the colour used when showing tan) and considering everyone no matter their skin colour tans from the exposure to the sun, to have a set colour for what “tan” erases the fact that different skin tones exist and their tanned skin is a different colour. Its clearly a bias for lighter skin and further reinforces the negative message that exists about dark skin
Take all of this and ground it in the fact that we live in a society where brown skinned people are made to feel that their natural skin colour is a abnormal, dirty and this society favours whiter skin, the implications for those of us who are dark skin is grave. The fact countless communities of colour don’t like their natural brown skin colour and try to become lighter is proof of this and the commutative effects of small things like white washed fanart adds up.
Korra may be fictional but brown skinned people certainly are not. Why is it so hard to colour Korra in brown?
Why don’t i see white (and non-white) artist making lighter characters dark regularly then? If it s just artist expression why don’t more express them selves this way? Its because of colourism that’s why.
I hope they make Sherlock Holmes black
I want to see everybody get themselves in a twist over the casting.
I want to see Sherlock Holmes as a black non-binary en-vagina-ed person.
I want Lucy Liu as Watson, if Watson was a Chinese Muslim former mujihadeen hijabi.