“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.
Finished The Hunger Games on break at work, had a pretty clear image of Katniss in my head! quick cool-down before bed, trying to get more oomph in character designs
Actually olive-skinned and dark-haired? Actually sharp and underfed-looking? Grim, blank stare of closeted emotion?
- Character: Rue
- Fandom: The Hunger Games
- Reason for Being Hated: Fans didn’t realize until the movie was casted that she was black even though it was mentioned in the book twice. [SPOILER] This made her death “not as sad” because she wasn’t an “innocent blonde white girl.” [/SPOILER] Hunger Games Tweets has lots of links regarding this controversy.
The Dark Days: The mountains form a natural barrier between the Capitol and the eastern districts. It is almost impossible to enter from the east except through tunnels. This geographical advantage was a major factor in the districts losing the war that led to my being a tribute today. Since the rebels had to scale the mountains, they were easy targets for the Capitol’s air forces.
I swear, people on tumblr find the dumbest stuff to whine about
I see so many of you bitching about the cast of The Hunger Games, not because they don’t fit the characters, but because there are not enough POC in it for you.
Sigh. I can already tell how shitty this rant is going to be.Let me ask you something, when you were reading the novels, how many of you actually pictured characters OTHER than the district 11 tributes as POC? Because with the exception of Rue, Thresh, and Cinna in the first novel, & The other people in/from District 11, I imagined them all as white…possibly Asian.
Well, thanks for informing us from the start that you consider characters to be white until they’re mentioned as PoC. That will make things much easier! Fellow white person, you are benefiting from white privilege. This allows you to go blissfully unaware of the fact that characters who aren’t described explicitly as PoC might actually not be white. This allows you to ignore the many races of people in America, and sum up race demographics in Panem as there being Black people in District 11, and maybe, possibly Asian people somewhere else. That’s not only problematic, it’s just incorrect. A quick look into race demographicss in North America (and yes, Panem is ALL of North America!) will show that Panem should be approximately 50% people of color. This includes Black people, Latin@ people, Asian people, Native American people, Middle Eastern people, etc. You are blatantly ignoring the racial demographics of North America so you can keep your racist idea of Panem. That’s wrong.Because MOST of them were actually described that way. That doesn’t make me racist. I would have had no issues if there WERE more POC in the cast. I’m not one of those people who threw a fit when Rue was cast as an African American girl, because that was how I imagined her to begin with. But most of the characters came off as white to me. Also let’s think about the fact that Suzanne Collins actively participated in the casting of the movie. If she had meant one of the characters to be POC, don’t you think she would have stepped in and done something about it?
Uh, no, they weren’t described as white. Apart from Peeta, Katniss’ mom, and the rest of the Merchant class, and Glimmer NO ONE in the Hunger Games is described as white. Yes, that’s right, no one. So yes, you imagining everyone else as white (despite race demographics that show otherwise) is racist. There’s really no getting around that fact. When we benefit from white privilege, it’s easy for us to ignore things we might be doing that could be racist. I hope you will realize that just because you (or any other white person, including me) says that they’re not doing something racist - doesn’t make it so.
And no, no I don’t think she would have stepped in and done something about it. Authors often get pressured to accept things they might not agree with.What’s even more frustrating is people talking about how they think Katniss, Gale, or Peeta should have been POC. Guys. Katniss and Gale are both described as olive skinned, with blue/gray eyes and dark hair. OLIVE SKIN DOES NOT MEAN BLACK OR MULATTO. The people who are most often described as Olive skinned are Italians and Greeks. I should know, my family is Italian. It’s naturally LIGHT brown with a hint of yellow sometimes. But the problem with that is Italians typically have dark eyes. Not to mention the fact that Peeta has blonde hair and was supposed to have blue eyes. Aside from Josh’s brown eyes, all 3 characters are exactly as described in the book.
Sigh, you’re showing more and more of your racist self as this goes on. No one is saying that Peeta is a PoC. Katniss and Gale are not only olive skinned (and they have GREY eyes, not blue), but they also experience racism based on the color of their skin. There is a racial dynamic in the Hunger Games, and it’s not our fault you didn’t catch it.
Olive-skinned is actually used more often for people of color than it is for Italian people. I am also part-Italian, but I recognize that the term “olive-skinned” is often applied to people of color.
“It’s naturally LIGHT brown with a hint of yellow sometimes” > Now you’re just being outright racist. Olive-skinned is definitely not exclusively reserved for light-skinned people.
Also, mulatto is often considered an offensive term: http://parlourmagazine.com/2010/09/mulatto-racial-slur-or-socially-exceptable/The only person I have seen so far in casting that I don’t agree with is Sam Claflin, and that is because I don’t find him nearly attractive enough for Finnick.
Seriously people. Stop fucking whining. Don’t agree with the cast? Don’t watch the fucking movie then. I don’t see any people of color in TMI at all and yet, THAT fandom isn’t throwing a bitchfit about it.
No. No we won’t stop “whining.”
Look followers, someone was being casually racist about the Hunger Games and this lovely white person (katnissisnotoliveskinneddealwithit) corrected the fuck out of them. Now that’s what I’d call collecting.
They do an amazing job of that. I’m really really glad I chose to follow them. Excellent takedown of the bullshit the OP spewed.
Whitewashing & Why It’s Wrong
After yesterday’s little fiasco where I posted this and somebody thereafter decided to message me and talk about “black people taking white parts” and asking if that’s okay and saying that if a white actor plays the part better, they should get to play characters of colour, I decided to write this post in the hope of making whitewashing and why it’s WRONG more clear to those who may not understand.
First things first: IT IS A BIG DEAL. That is the first thing you need to know and understand; for people of colour, whitewashing is like walking up, calling them a racial slur, and telling them to just get off the planet because they don’t belong here. If it’s racist behaviour, then it’s a big deal, period. And whitewashing is racist behaviour.
Moving on, here is the second thing you need to know and understand: WHITE IS DEFAULT. If you don’t understand what that means, it’s basically exactly what it sounds like. It means that because our society is so historically racist and cruel to people of colour, and because that behaviour is ingrained in each generation, our automatic go-to person when we imagine the average person is WHITE. (In fact, it’s a white cis-gendered man, but that’s a whole other box of cookies.) That might not be what you specifically imagine when someone says “imagine an average human being” but it is what most people imagine because that is what’s default. The factory settings, if you will.
Okay, so, say you’re reading a book, and the author introduces the hero, but doesn’t provide you, the reader, with a race that the character may be. Because of the whole “white is default” thing, you’re usually going to imagine that character as white. It’s not really your fault if you imagine them white… this behaviour is taught to you over and over and over again in school, in the media, EVERYWHERE. White heroism is more important, white deaths are more tragic, white everything is just all around the standard for all things good in the world.
Now, imagine that you’re reading the Hunger Games, and Katniss Everdeen (main female protagonist and narrator of the story for those of you who haven’t read it) introduces Rue to you. Rue is a twelve year old girl that Katniss doesn’t know (at first), but to bring you into the story a little more, this is how she is described for the first time: “And most hauntingly, a twelve-year-old girl from District 11. She has dark brown skin and eyes, but other than that, she’s very like Prim in size and demeanor.” Mark that. That is the first time of at least twice that Katniss describes Rue. Granted, that might be easy to forget, but like I’ve just said, there is a second time. “She’s the twelve-year-old, the one who reminded me so of Prim in stature. Up close, she looks about ten. She has bright, dark eyes and satiny brown skin…” Twice. In the first one hundred pages. After that, there really should be no confusion unless your reading comprehension skills are just non-existent.
There is no mistaking Rue for a little white girl (Katniss is reminded of her lighter skinned sister in stature and demeanor ONLY, not in actual looks) when she is twice described as having dark brown skin. For anyone to imagine a white girl after that… well, that’s just not okay. The person who called me out on my post yesterday said that people can’t help what they imagine. And I’m sorry, that’s total bullshit when something is right in your face like that, not once, but TWICE in the first one hundred pages of the book. If you’re still imagining a white girl when it’s been said that she’s black, then you’re WRONG, period.
Rue being black is important. Most of the people in the world of the Hunger Games are struggling, but skin colour gives you a whole new set of struggles when your skin isn’t white. People of colour don’t have to be defined solely by their skin, but that is part of their identity. When you take that away by whitewashing them by portraying them with white actors, or lightening their skin colour on magazine covers, this is what you are saying: YOU ARE NOT IMPORTANT ENOUGH TO BE FEATURED HERE UNLESS YOU ARE WHITE. YOU ARE NOT PRETTY ENOUGH, NOT INTERESTING ENOUGH, NOT ALL AROUND GOOD ENOUGH UNLESS YOU ARE WHITE. And that is not okay. It is racist behaviour and you know it. It is not ever okay to portray someone who is a person of colour with a white person, even if you think that white person is a better actor, because that’s just shirking responsibility in casting a role accurately when there are millions of people of colour in this world and some INCREDIBLY talented actors and actresses among them.
It is not okay to lighten someone’s skin colour, take away part of their identity, and essentially tell them “your struggle in life doesn’t matter.” And people of colour do struggle. If you are white, then you do not experience life where white people follow you around in shops in case you steal something. If you are white, then you don’t experience life where you are kept out of schools, jobs, homes, etc. because of your skin colour. If you are white, you don’t experience life where people say “I’m sorry, but we’re either going to have to lighten your skin or portray this character of colour as a white person because your skin colour’s just not good enough.”
So is any of this unclear to you? Because I think I’ve been pretty clear on it. Whitewashing is not okay because when you do that, you erase part of someone’s identity and it’s NOT RIGHT. EVER. If you still think any of this is just my mean ol’ person of colour opinion, then I’m sorry, but screw you; you don’t deserve the time it took to write this anyway.
“Olive skin doesn’t mean non-white! Lots of Italian and Greek people have olive skin, and they’re from Europe! Therefore, Katniss could have been white!”
Y’all realize that in the time period District 12 was based on (turn-of-the-20th-century America), Italian and Greek folks weren’t considered “white,” right? And the fact that those characters would be considered white now doesn’t mean that the social and racial implications of them identifying as a non-white ethnicity in their culture just go away.
If you’re going to use the argument that people with olive skin can be white, then you have to consider the fact that in the historical era District 12 was based on, people with olive skin weren’t “white.” In fact, anyone who wasn’t originally from specific parts of Germany or England was not considered “white.” So when you’re saying that Italian and Greek people can have olive skin, that’s true, and Italian and Greek immigrants were largely the ones working the coal mines in turn-of-the-century Appalachia, but Jennifer Lawrence and Liam Hemsworth are not Italian or Greek.
In fact, in both the time and place their hometown was based on and in the time the series is set in, they’d be considered white. Katniss identifies a shared culture and set of physical characteristics, both distinct from the privileged and decidedly white majority group, and her description of Seam people meets just about every one of the qualifying factors for an ethnic minority group (none of which, incidentally, are indicators of geographic genealogy). Whether or not her ancestry is European, in her culture, she is a woman of color. That’s why it bothers me that Jen Lawrence was cast as Katniss, although since her performance is wonderful and there’s not much I can do about it now, that does not make it not whitewashing.
Luckily, I’m skilled in enjoying things to their fullest despite finding problematic aspects to them!
A painting I made of Cinna from The Hunger Games, based off Lenny Kravitz on screen performance. We all know his casting and Rue’s stormed up a racist shitfest. This is a submission for Fanart Friday. :)
CC: FANART FRIDAY
Just gonna add your url here so you can get proper credit you know?
This was sent to us by WillyNillyLily and it’s beautiful!
Katniss & Peeta from the Hunger Games series (click to make big).
I drew this to purge the HG movie from my mind! Screw that thing!
But the decision to alter the storyline with Peeta’s leg really troubles me because of what it symbolises. Peeta becomes a prominently disabled character in the series, and his disability becomes part of his experiences. At the same time though, he’s not defined by the disability, consumed by it, and placed in the narrative for the sole purpose of constantly reminding everyone that he’s disabled. Peeta, like other characters, is scarred by the world he lives in, and he bears a visible mark of the cruelty and brutality of Panem, but more importantly, he’s another person trying to survive and build a better world. By neatly cutting that entire plotline away, the filmmakers avoided some tangled and thorny issues.
Like the fact that Peeta is supposed to be a love interest. I can’t help but feel one of the reasons the amputation storyline was taken out was because the filmmakers don’t think amputees can be love interests, or think that the reality of the amputation might be offputting to audiences who wouldn’t be able to identify with the characters if Katniss fell in love with a disabled Peeta, because that sort of thing Isn’t Done. Furthermore, obviously no amputees engage with media and pop culture and certainly don’t want to see versions of themselves on screen, so that angle didn’t need to be considered when preparing the film adaptation.
They probably also feared the idea of a character who happens to be disabled; they couldn’t let him get fitted for a prosthesis and get on with his life. They would have felt compelled to wrap up some kind of special story in it, even though that’s not necessary. Riding right over that storyline can be justified by saying they don’t have time to do it, with all the other things that need to be included. Just like they didn’t have time to view actresses of colour and nonwhite actresses while they were making decisions about the casting of Katniss. Making movies is very busy work, people.
And, of course, Peeta doesn’t comply with narratives above disability. His withdrawal and depression at the beginning of the second book are more about his emotional state over Katniss, rather than his leg. As a character, he’s physically active as well as politically defiant, once he begins to grow into himself. This isn’t what amputees are ‘supposed’ to do in pop culture, and thus it’s a narrative that makes people uncomfortable, and one that the filmmakers evidently simply didn’t want to deal with.
I could be wrong; perhaps in the next film we will learn that infection set in and they took the leg. But I doubt it, highly, because this doesn’t seem to be in character with way Hollywood works, where disability is erased when it doesn’t serve a greater narrative or actively defies tropes. Peeta cannot be allowed to be disabled."
Finnick?” I say. “Maybe some pants?”
He looks down at his legs as if noticing his outfit for the first time. Then he whips off his hospital gown, leaving him in just his underwear. “Why? Do you find this” - he strikes a ridiculously provocative pose- “distracting?
Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
This sounds so wrong out of context.