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mygif

I don’t think the guy is wrong, he just lacks tact. In general I think complaining about a story not having enough “fill-in-the-blank” people is a token effort against real racism/sexism/whatever, much like how checking ones privilege strikes me as a way to avoid doing anything to fight actual inequality, or how people will Like a post talking about how terrible prejudice is and feel good about themselves afterwards.

Its all pointless, but the same could be said about anything else on any other blog (mine included), Tumblr, or average Twitter feed.

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Gloria said on May 7th, 2014 at 2:10 pm

I really don’t get when “affirmative action” became a dirty word.

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Ironic how it took a clueless pampered man-child who won’t go hungry a day in his life to get ‘check your privilege’ into what passes for mainstream media.

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Honestly, I could not give less of a shit about applying identity politics to works of fiction/entertainment. So long as we’re not talking Cecil B. Demille shit here, I care about exactly two things in regards to narrative fiction:

1. The quality of the story being told.

2. The quality of the storytelling.

Provided those two criteria are met, I’m set.

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@IP: Ah, yes, the old “You should always let the perfect be the enemy of the good” fallacy. If your action doesn’t End Racism Forever, it’s a waste of time and you should be ashamed of yourself for doing it when you could be out there, Ending Racism Forever.

Getting a better racial balance in ostensibly color-blind roles is a laudable goal. It’s laudable because it helps people accept the idea that culture is diverse by showing it in the fiction they experience, and it’s laudable because it gives careers to talented actors and actresses who might otherwise be stuck in low-paying supporting roles (or not have a career at all). Yes, it’s not the end of the fight. But it’s a positive step.

@Matt: It’s great that you don’t have to worry about that. Other people do. Supporting those people is a good thing to do, and I recommend it.

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Jilliterate said on May 7th, 2014 at 3:24 pm

Just to counter IP’s point that complaining about colour-blind casting is merely a token effort, I’m going paste a quote from a reddit AMA Larry King did in 2012, regarding Malcolm X:

I really found him fascinating, bright. He taught me a lot about myself. I was always very liberal in the civil rights area, yet he made me think even deeper. he said to me “You wonder what it’s like to be young and never see yourself on TV. You’re not in commercials, there’s no black Santa Clause on the street. You’re invisible.” That really struck me.

That quote really resonated with me. I hadn’t really thought before what it’s like to basically be invisible to our society as a whole, even as a woman doing media studies. Our culture, pop or otherwise, shapes how we see things. Or how we don’t see things.

There have been a ton of studies lately showing that Hollywood casting doesn’t reflect American society and that minorities are way underrepresented. Said studies also show that films that do put minorities on screen perform better, meaning a lot of folks can’t use excuses like, “People don’t pay to see movies with black people/women/etc.” anymore. Whether it’s flat-out racism, or the old boys’ club, or whatever, they’re sticking to it at the detriment of profit.

So props to you, MGK. I think voicing displeasure with bigoted casting it important. Bringing minorities to people’s television sets and into their homes is important. It normalizes them and removes that Otherness.

And finally, is that guy arguing that ASoIaF is supposed to be all whiteys? He is aware that the scope expands beyond the European ersatz, Westeros?

EDIT: And while I was typing all of that, John Seavey said what I was trying to say so much better than I ever could.

/play PriceisRightfailhorn.wav

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Lurker said on May 7th, 2014 at 3:29 pm

In my opinion, this is a task which cannot really be fulfilled in a satisfactory manner. In the current multicultural society you really have people from different races and ethnicities at all stations of the society so you can cast almost any person to any social situation, although sometimes it will require some work with the backstory.

On the other hand, a medieval-type society is strongly stratified. The amount of immigration is low and most immigrants in rural communities are swiftly assimilated, so the ethnic composition of rural areas is pretty uniform in each village. In addition, rural communities really value certain uniformity, so people will represent their culture surprisingly strongly. (On the other hand, the village in the next valley may have a completely different language and religion, although the level of technology will be about the same.) Only commercial centers will have a larger variety of ethnicities, and there, minorities often occupy extreme positions or niches. Thus, if you base your world on any kind of realistically thought social dynamics, you get pretty much ethnic stereotyping.

Of course, you can downplay it by having important, interesting characters who break social norms and stereotypes (Brienne, anyone?), but having too many of them risks breaking the actual social dynamics and infuses the world a bit too much with our current ideals.

Myself, I grew up in semi-rural Finland. My school had two foreign-born kids, adoptees from Vietnam, as the municipality did not have any foreign inhabitants. My high school didn’t have any foreign-backgeiund students at all. It was an all-white, all-Finnish environment. So, such uniracial environments have existed, and you can locate a novel in such environment. Why you would want to, I don’t know, but you can.

Anyhow, whatever way you take will surely anger someone. There is no ideal middle way, but each writer will have to do their best. My own ideal woukd beto accept stereotyping when it comes to social position but try to describe different types of characters. No one is fully described by one’s race or social position. It is the value of one’s moral character that matters.

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mygif

“it helps people accept the idea that culture is diverse by showing it in the fiction they experience”

See, here’s where I have an issue, and it may be my misanthropy shining through: culture IS diverse. Like, it already is. Demonstrably and measurably. Anyone who doesn’t realize that is either willfully ignoring it or too sheltered (possibly backwater) to realize it.

“it gives careers to talented actors and actresses who might otherwise be stuck in low-paying supporting roles (or not have a career at all)”

Okay, this I can get behind more fully. Being a professional actor (while a conscious career choice) finds one behind the eight ball enough as it is. No need to make that job harder.

That said, it seems as though the television/film landscape is pretty damned diverse nowadays, certainly more than I can remember it ever having been.

“It’s great that you don’t have to worry about that. Other people do.”

I was speaking from my position as a consumer of said fiction/entertainment. My issue with these discussions is that the story being told and the telling of it fall by the wayside.

SEMI-RELATED DIGRESSION: I was once in a heated discussion in a Cross Cultural Perspectives class (basically international lit, with a focus on colonialism and the effects thereof) regarding “authorial responsibility.”

One student opined that it was the duty of an author who escaped such a post-colonial nightmare to write for and about his/her people.

My rebuttal was that…well…no. It is the duty of an author to tell whatever story they have designed, tell it well, and keep themselves financially sustained while doing so. Sometimes that story will feature a black protagonist and a white villain. Sometimes that story will feature the opposite dichotomy. Sometimes shitty things will happen to a white male, then to a black female, then to a Samoan, etc.

Not moving goalposts here or anything (I don’t think there are any to be moved), this just reminded me of that.

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mygif

@Matt: There are two issues at work here: diversity in the world and diversity in the media.

With regards to diversity in the media, you said, “television/film landscape is pretty damned diverse nowadays, certainly more than I can remember it ever having been.” I recommend two studies the USC’s Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism published last year that looked at 500 movies released 2007-2012:
Race and Ethnicity: http://annenberg.usc.edu/sitecore/shell/Applications/~/media/PDFs/RaceEthnicity.ashx
Gender Inequality: http://annenberg.usc.edu/Faculty/Communication%20and%20Journalism/~/media/A41FBC3E62084AC8A8C047A9D4A54033.ashx
If you do, you’ll see that of the 4,475 speaking characters in these movies, there is a steady trend that non-whites are roughly 25% of characters and women are around 30% of characters. The diversity in films seems to have plateaued with slight variations year to year.

No one will argue that our world and nation is made up of a large range of ethnicities. But as was pointed out here by Malcolm X by way of Larry King and Jilliterate, the majority of people do not see themselves represented. You said, “Anyone who doesn’t realize that [culture IS diverse] is either willfully ignoring it or too sheltered (possibly backwater) to realize it.” The problem is that people are normalizing this under representation so that minorities do not expect to see characters/stories that they can relate to and that that the majority are not aware that there is anyone being excluded or even that there is someone to exclude.

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“If you do, you’ll see that of the 4,475 speaking characters in these movies, there is a steady trend that non-whites are roughly 25% of characters and women are around 30% of characters. The diversity in films seems to have plateaued with slight variations year to year. ”

Interesting. I’ll have to give that a look later.

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mygif

I’m not against diversity for the record. I didn’t bitch about black Heimdall, and Idris made it work well (though I DID bitch about black Kingpin, for the selfish reason that I wanted to see Michael Chiklis in an enormous fat suit).

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tickstander said on May 7th, 2014 at 5:57 pm

‘Honestly, I could not give less of a shit about applying identity politics to works of fiction/entertainment.’

How nice that you have that luxury. Congratulations. You precious little star.

‘White people will never complain about the “lack of diversity” in predominately African/Asian/Arab films, entertainment media and literature, because we are not pathetic losers with serious self esteem issues like you.’

Translation from douchebagese: ‘White people will never complain about the ‘lack of diversity’ in predominately African/Asian/Arab films, entertainment media and literature, because white people have so much media representation available to them that most of them never bother moving outside of their oatmeal-scented, bland-as-balls bubble, and also because movies starring brown people give them allergic reactions. Also, Western entertainment media has more money than all the other types combined, for a host of complicated reasons that pretty much all track back to genocide perpetuated by white people.’

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tickstander said on May 7th, 2014 at 6:00 pm

‘I’m not against diversity for the record.’

REALLY? Jeepers, mister, thank you so much! Us non-humans are so grateful for your consideration! We’re TERRIBLY sorry to be such a disruption to your wholly uncritical consumption of racist and sexist entertainment!

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tickstander said on May 7th, 2014 at 6:03 pm

‘I didn’t bitch about black Heimdall’

OH. MY. GOD.

YOU. YOU MARVEL.YOU INCREDIBLE HUMAN BEING.

YOU DIDN’T COMPLAIN ABOUT THERE BEING ONE BLACK CHARACTER IN A MOVIE WITH TWENTY WHITE CHARACTERS.

YOU BEING OF WONDER AND LIGHT. GOD BLESS YOU SIR.

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Zyzzyva said on May 7th, 2014 at 6:54 pm

Matt: “I didn’t bitch about black Heimdall”

Thor‘s kinda a case in point, though: 15 actors listed on the front imdb page, one black man, one east asian man, five women, eight white men.

“though I DID bitch about black Kingpin, for the selfish reason that I wanted to see Michael Chiklis in an enormous fat suit”

Joking aside, this is the more subtle exemplar of the whole lack of diversity mess: there are plenty of talented black actors who could make the part work, but your immediate go-to thought is a white dude, because, well, all the important actors are white. More and better parts for nonwhite, nonmale actors would help exactly this.

EDIT: Or what tickstander said, less subtly.

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mygif

I generally agree with Matt in that authors don’t have an obligation to do anything in particular with their stories. This isn’t a culture where artistic content is regulated to any great extent, and part of that is accepting a lack of control over what people create.

That’s a bit different from the film/TV situation where you have actual employees working on a project. Affirmative action and diversity concerns apply there given that we live in that kind of society/culture.

@John: That quote is quite far from my opinion on the subject. People are free to voice their opinions and those opinions can have a ripple effect throughout culture, especially in the Internet age where opinion is moderately democratic. I just have trouble separating aggregate effects (which actually create change) from individual action (which can sometimes prompt the former but rarely has any real utility).

That being said, all of this Internet proselytizing shouldn’t be treated as significant social action. I’m fine with people voicing their opinions (I love it, honestly) but I don’t like the air of self-importance that can sometimes accompany it. I don’t think posting about checking your privilege on Tumblr is worthy of respect, and I think getting that kind of recognition is a motive for a lot of people. I miss the days when people didn’t care about opinions voiced on the Internet outside of the context of the conversation at hand.

Also, @tickstander: Nice trolling, mate.

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@IP: And all too frequently, one of the ways that racist jerks try to minimize the acts of allies is to say, “Oh, you’re just doing it for the cookies.” Men are only feminists to get laid, white people are only active in the struggle against racism to get compliments/avoid accusations of racism leveled against them, et cetera et cetera. If you don’t want people to think of you as racist/sexist/homophobic, you might want to stop borrowing their rhetoric.

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Duvall said on May 7th, 2014 at 8:18 pm

So this dude waited until *after* the show cast an actress of Indian descent to play one of the two credited Dornish characters to complain about your post suggesting an actor of Indian descent to play a Dornish character?

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Cookie McCool said on May 7th, 2014 at 8:52 pm

God forbid everything ever isn’t wall-to-wall goddamn Caucasians.

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Chris K said on May 8th, 2014 at 12:36 am

My issue with these discussions is that the story being told and the telling of it fall by the wayside.

You’re misreading it entirely. It’s painful *because* the story being told and the telling of it are *important* to the people who are complaining. Really, no one gives a shit how lily white the cast of Atlas Shrugged or Left Behind is, because no one wants to imagine themselves living in those worlds.

Maybe you’re a black woman, and you just really don’t care about whether or not the heroes you’re reading about look like you, act like you, or come from your culture. But most of the people who find it super important that we please think about the stories that will be ruined if we force this author to be the one author who doesn’t kill the black dude first and why does he have to be the one, it’s really a social problem, not an individual problem, &c. &c. – those people are pretty often white dudes. And it’s really easy to take that attitude when, if you really wanted to only consume media wherein people who look like you and share your culture are the heroes, all you really need to do is consume media indiscriminately and you’re probably fine.

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mygif

“How nice that you have that luxury. Congratulations. You precious little star.”

What the holy hell is wrong with you?

If you want to have a conversation, let’s have one. If you want to be another one of those “Well, I’m not all that good at objective discussion, so I’ll lob out insults without making an actual point of substance” people, kindly look the other way when I post. If I want that stupid shit, I’ll go to 4chan.

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mygif

“Maybe you’re a black woman, and you just really don’t care about whether or not the heroes you’re reading about look like you, act like you, or come from your culture. But most of the people who find it super important that we please think about the stories that will be ruined if we force this author to be the one author who doesn’t kill the black dude first and why does he have to be the one, it’s really a social problem, not an individual problem, &c. &c. – those people are pretty often white dudes.”

I think that you’re investing me with qualities that…well…aren’t mine. Maybe I’m misreading you.

I’m not saying that a story will be ruined with a change of color or culture. I’m saying that I sometimes shake my head when the bulk of discussion on a particular work centers around demographics instead of storyline beats.

“And it’s really easy to take that attitude when, if you really wanted to only consume media wherein people who look like you and share your culture are the heroes, all you really need to do is consume media indiscriminately and you’re probably fine.”

See, here’s the thing: I don’t care if the hero or villain look like me or share the same culture. I’m a story junkie. I can’t imagine that I wouldn’t be (at heart) a story junkie if my demographic situation were changed any.

EXAMPLE: I was kind of pissed when I read that District 9 eschewed amorphous aliens in favor of humanoid (at least bipedal) aliens. It would have been a FANTASTIC point to make, and it would have been a great experiment in making an audience feel sympathy for a living being with whom they share nothing in terms of physiology or culture.

I guess I get both sides of it.

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mygif

“@IP: And all too frequently, one of the ways that racist jerks try to minimize the acts of allies is to say, “Oh, you’re just doing it for the cookies.” Men are only feminists to get laid, white people are only active in the struggle against racism to get compliments/avoid accusations of racism leveled against them, et cetera et cetera. If you don’t want people to think of you as racist/sexist/homophobic, you might want to stop borrowing their rhetoric.”

I think that IP has a point, though, in that folks who are invested in a certain issue (especially online) tend to either shout down or verbally bludgeon folks who offer a dissenting view or present questions.

Don’t get me wrong, going back to your earlier statement (in another thread) regarding “arguing in good faith,” I think that some folks are assholes and should be treated as such. I think, however, that the tendency among ideologues (and no, that’s not intended as a knock or insult of any kind) is to rail against any and all resistance, as if every discussion is a battle.

Me? I like to explore all angles of a particular problem, as I feel that it can only serve to increase my overall understanding. I’m not trying to push buttons, I’m not trying to draw stupid battle lines, I’m just trying to get my head around the spectrum of viewpoints.

Most of you have helped in that regard. My issue is with folks like tickstander, who not only add nothing to the conversation, but also serve to turn off anyone who might be “on the fence” regarding a particular viewpoint.

Look at it this way: You and a group of people are trying to make a point, and possibly sway folks (let’s assume they’re all listening in good faith) who may not have a full understanding of the issue at hand. Do you lead off with the person who makes cogent points, doesn’t see differences of opinion as an attack, and can discuss things civilly? Or do you lead off with the reactionary asshole who wields the point like a half-assed cudgel?

I think there’s more merit in the former, but I see a HELL of a lot of the latter on the internet.

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mygif

“Joking aside, this is the more subtle exemplar of the whole lack of diversity mess: there are plenty of talented black actors who could make the part work, but your immediate go-to thought is a white dude, because, well, all the important actors are white. More and better parts for nonwhite, nonmale actors would help exactly this.”

In the case of Kingpin, I just wanted a giant, Sienkiewicz-esque, room-filling Kingpin. It’s an image that stuck with me.

Specifically this one: http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-5V1rx-nY_yo/UDNJe2zl7jI/AAAAAAAAFT8/jPjQ8KYt48Y/s1600/dradevil-amor-y-guerra-1.jpg

That said, MCD made it work. He had the gravitas and air of cloistered invincibility that made him a great foil.

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Fred Davis said on May 8th, 2014 at 10:44 am

“God forbid everything ever isn’t wall-to-wall goddamn Caucasians.”

Now I’m not saying caucasians should be compressed into bricks and used to make actual walls, but…

“What the holy hell is wrong with you?”

I suspect that their problem is that they’re talking to someone who felt there might be a level on which one COULD complain about Heimdell being played by a talented black actor and presented their failure to do so as a spark of nobleness about their person – if you don’t grasp why someone might react with derision towards you then I suggest you get thee to a time machine and go spend a few decades under the greatest teachers of ancient greece learning some goddamn rhetoric and logic you fool with the brain of a handless muppet.

Furthermore, one cannot help but ponder the intentions of a thimble-bladder’d nitwit who, upon being responded to by many people in many different ways, responded only to the shortest and least contenful response with an equally contentless admonition against people being mean to himself.

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mygif

“I suspect that their problem is that they’re talking to someone who felt there might be a level on which one COULD complain about Heimdell being played by a talented black actor and presented their failure to do so as a spark of nobleness about their person”

Or it could be seen as a throwaway example. You don’t get to dictate my intent to me. If you’d like to have delusions thereof, fine. Whatever.

I’m not sure why a certain contingent of posters are dead set on exemplifying the “wield a point like a cudgel in stupid, windmilling fashion” when I’m just having a fucking conversation.

Concessions? Not enough for you, apparently.

Indications that I understand and agree with the overall position taken by the majority here? Not enough for you, apparently.

So what IS enough? What would encourage you to have a conversation as opposed to taking the stupid, tired, reactionary insult route?

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mygif

“you fool with the brain of a handless muppet”

Wow. That’s adorable.

Do you have a point to make, or just tired attacks against someone who you feel isn’t riding the ideologue train hard enough? Any way we can get this back to an even keel? Do you value objective discussion at all?

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mygif

“upon being responded to by many people in many different ways, responded only to the shortest and least contenful response with an equally contentless admonition against people being mean to himself.”

Uh, read above. I’ve engaged multiple people on multiple points. Reading comprehension is your friend, but “lead a horse to water” and all that.

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mygif

To call it out: Adam Farrar’s post was helpful, and the studies he linked actually helped me to gain a fuller understanding of the issue at hand. I appreciate posts like that, as they don’t make the stupid assumption that I’m some troglodyte trying to undermine the march of social progress.

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mygif

I think that’s the problem with the way the internet is right now, and the reason “social justice” has become a four-letter word in a lot of circles.

It’s not that the incredibly vocal don’t strongly believe in what is right and good [equality, more diversity in media, etc.] but the way they’re voicing their opinions is, to put it bluntly, harming their cause.

I’m not quite sure what the solution is, except to engage in those same discussions and do so in a calm and even-tempered manner. Going through threads and assuring people that while their opinions may be biased and not entirely correct that does not make them racists, an accusation leveled against them by the aforementioned.

To create a religious parallel, which is one not everyone may be able to relate to [my parents are missionaries, so I certainly can], what’s the best way to share your religion with others? You could grab and forcibly dunk them in water, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, or you could let your actions be reflective of your faith and have actual conversations with them.

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mygif

“I think that’s the problem with the way the internet is right now, and the reason ‘social justice’ has become a four-letter word in a lot of circles.”

I think that the internet is a shithole, personally. It is the circling drain of discourse, which is why I stick to places where I can discuss things objectively.

THAT’S what is missing, IMO: a lack of objectivity. And no, not in any way having to do with Ayn fucking Rand (as I’ve heard some folks wrongly assert).

“It’s not that the incredibly vocal don’t strongly believe in what is right and good [equality, more diversity in media, etc.] but the way they’re voicing their opinions is, to put it bluntly, harming their cause.”

That’s my issue. It isn’t a “If you disagree, why?” sort of thing, it’s a “If you even look a tiny bit like you disagree, fuck you” thing.

It’s a mentality that, IMO, is destroying my country.

“I’m not quite sure what the solution is, except to engage in those same discussions and do so in a calm and even-tempered manner.”

ABSOLUTELY agreed. And, again, there are always going to be assholes who aren’t interested in discussion. The key lies in not assuming that every person who raises a hand is one of those assholes.

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mygif

“I think that the internet is a shithole, personally. It is the circling drain of discourse, which is why I stick to places where I can discuss things objectively.”

Given that the internet is the reason we’re able to have this conversation in the first place, I’m curious about where these other places are.

I more or less view it as all we’ve got, and to do with it the best we can, which we agree with to a point given our stance on talking things out.

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mygif

“Given that the internet is the reason we’re able to have this conversation in the first place, I’m curious about where these other places are.”

There are a few forums I frequent that are shockingly great in terms of fostering objective, non-reactionary discussion. One of them is a friggin’ miniatures game forum, of all places.

io9 is another great place for objective, insightful discussion. There are some assholes who sling barbs without adding a damn thing to the conversation, but for the most part you get some great give and take.

And then, on the opposite end, you have Gawker, most news outlet comment sections (it isn’t a surprise that shitty media begets shitty discussion), and other such forums.

“I more or less view it as all we’ve got, and to do with it the best we can, which we agree with to a point given our stance on talking things out.”

I try to do the best I can by staying objective, staying receptive, and working with what people give me. I make liberal use of any block feature if confronted with real assholes, as I’d rather not be bothered by folks who are unwilling or unable to discuss a topic like adults.

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mygif

In retrospect, probably shouldn’t have led off with “could not give less of a shit.” The point I was trying to make was “narrative is more important to me,” (IMO a reasonable position) and I can see how it might have been construed as “fuck minorities, don’t care, moar Breaking Bad plz” (an unreasonable point).

Diversity is fine. More of it is a goal worth working toward. Whatever results in the most solid actors telling the most solid stories, I’m all for it.

So yeah, mea culpa for any harshness in the intro.

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mygif

Here’s the thing: These conversations are nothing new. They have been going on for (literally literally) hundreds of years. Abolition, womens’ sufferage, immigrants’ rights and respect, colonialism… for a lot of people these are NOT new topics. In many places in the world, they are life-and-death issues (again, literally literally.)

And it’s gotten farking *exhausting*.

It’s really wonderful that you can stand up and be objective about all this — no, really. There are still a lot of racist, homophobic, narrow-minded people out there, and being able to look at these issues objectively and say ‘Look, this is stupid,’ is good. For a lot of people, though, it’s not merely an objective problem. It’s not an academic exercise, it’s not a “Well, yes, of course!” type of thing. It’s an altogether different life-experience for them.

As I said, these conversations have been going on for decades, and a whole war was fought over part of it in the US and it didn’t solve it — the US obviously so-very-much did not become a non-racist culture after our Civil War. The arguments have gone on and on and on and it’s gotten exhausting to try to do Feminism|Equality|Egalitarianism|Gender Identity 101 every goddam week. A lot of people — rightly or wrongly and I’m leaning towards ‘rightly’ — feel that the conversation has been so saturated with 101-level stuff that most of the people who are digging in their heels and saying ‘There is no problem!’; or are failing to realize that their experiences are not the experiences of minorities and women; or are sneeringly calling people for whom this is not merely important but *critical*, ‘social justice warriors’… the feeling is that these people refuse to recognize the problems, and are just being obstinate, dense, willfully ignorant, or stealth-bigoted. And a lot of them try to present themselves as rational, clear-thinking, Very Serious Men who hold up their objectivity and dispassionate consideration as some sort of Shield of Immunity to Criticism +4.

You can see the problem, I hope, and why the reactions to the reactionary rhetoric are getting much more heated.

* – Side-note: ‘Reactionary’ generally refers to the ‘reaction’ of conservative (using the term loosely here) modes of society to change. It is probably not the term you’re looking to use in your comments.

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Zyzzyva said on May 8th, 2014 at 12:15 pm

I was going to post about how elevating objectivity as a primary virtue ignores the fact that for many people these issues are deeply personal and can’t just be brushed away like that, but Kisa said it first and better.

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mygif

“the feeling is that these people refuse to recognize the problems, and are just being obstinate, dense, willfully ignorant, or stealth-bigoted. And a lot of them try to present themselves as rational, clear-thinking, Very Serious Men who hold up their objectivity and dispassionate consideration as some sort of Shield of Immunity to Criticism +4.”

Okay, I get that. It’s borne of frustration. And that frustration multiplies when folks actively try to miss your point and/or “refute” it stupidly.

Here’s my frustration: I’m tired of having to tell people, multiple times, that no, I’m not “arguing just to argue.” No, I’m not trying to push buttons. No, I’m not “stealthing” anything. I’m trying to objectively analyze a situation, in total, so that I can have an informed opinion.

And, honestly, I think that there needs to be MORE of that. More objective analysis, less ideological bullshit and verbal attacks.

EXAMPLES:

-Global warming – should NOT be an ideological issue; SHOULD be an issue understood purely by analyzing the existing data (even in a cursory form)

-Gay rights – objectively speaking, there is literally no logical reason to be against a personal ceremony between two consenting adults

-Pay inequality – objectively speaking, if two people produce the same results, are comparably trained, have comparable experience, and have the same aptitude for a position, both of those people should earn the same salary

This is what I try to do in terms of these sorts of “hot button” issues. It is a little wearying to get constant pushback (sometimes scattered, sometimes en masse) for not being volatile enough, or for not forming an opinion fast enough.

It’s “battle lines” crap to me, and it bothers me. As I said, it is the sort of discourse that is RUINING my country (IMO) and has ruined our media.

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“I was going to post about how elevating objectivity as a primary virtue ignores the fact that for many people these issues are deeply personal and can’t just be brushed away like that, but Kisa said it first and better. ”

See, here’s the thing: I’m NOT brushing it away. Neither am I of the mind that I will understand it on the level that one of the affected people would.

Empathy only goes so far, IMO. I will not EVER know what it feels like to be a Latina growing up in Baltimore. I won’t EVER know what it feels like to be a black actor who only gets offers for “lead criminal #2.” And, frankly, I do not feel comfortable with appropriating the anger, resentment, or general malaise that these people must feel.

I prefer to look at the data, inasmuch as one can. Data like that presented earlier by Adam Farrar, which makes an objective case that, no, things aren’t as equal as I thought (and which, incidentally, changed my mind).

Do I recognize that some folks get emotionally charged over this sort of thing? Absolutely. Does it necessarily help to lead with that? I don’t think so.

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“Side-note: ‘Reactionary’ generally refers to the ‘reaction’ of conservative (using the term loosely here) modes of society to change. It is probably not the term you’re looking to use in your comments. ”

Unnecessarily hostile, then? That’s basically what I’m going for.

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The thing is, Matt, this is another situation where you are untintentionally asserting a special privilege that isn’t owed to you. Everyone else involved in these conversations has already talked to a lot of white guys who say, “Gee, I haven’t thought much about the subject, but I don’t see what’s so bad about the status quo. I mean, I’m pretty sure I’m not racist, and it doesn’t bother me!” And then expects everyone else to shoulder the burden of educating him on the history of racism, sexism, classism, the United States of America, Hollywood, gender studies, biology, and occasionally physics and linguistics.

Everything you are saying–every single word of your side of the conversation–has been said before. Many times. Many many many many times. LOTS of times. If you are not getting the tremendous patience and tolerance you are asking for, it is because it has already been exhausted by the 9,999,999,999 guys before you. We have already dealt with plenty of people who think it’s our job to deliver to them an education on extremely basic topics before we open our mouths, instead of taking the far more sensible tack of obtaining that education before they open their mouths. You are, quite bluntly, just the latest in a long line of people who think that your ignorance is something other people should fix.

Instead of getting upset over people not fixing it, maybe you should do the fixing?

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“You are, quite bluntly, just the latest in a long line of people who think that your ignorance is something other people should fix.

Instead of getting upset over people not fixing it, maybe you should do the fixing?”

So basically I’m 100%, entirely in the wrong here. Gotcha.

Damn it all, I will never understand the propensity for people to go on the attack at the drop of a hat. And yes, the backlash I got from my initial post (which I addressed and apologized for) WAS “at the drop of a hat.”

Yep, you’re right, I haven’t fully immersed myself in the realms of social justice and the nuances of each and every argument therein. How this makes me a bad person, as you (in another thread) and others have asserted, is beyond me. Furthermore, I fail to see how wanting to discuss the matter with individuals who clearly HAVE immersed themselves in these areas in a legitimate effort to get the full breadth of the issue at hand makes me a bad person.

Yeah, apparently I should educate myself. On some issues I may agree, on others I may disagree, but yeah, I should (and will) read up more than I have. Bottom line is that if you were to ask about my areas of expertise or interest, I wouldn’t come at you as if you were some regressive troglodyte who hates equality and is coasting on white privilege (which, incidentally, makes a litany of assumptions in and of itself).

For the record, I’m not getting upset over “people not fixing it.” I thought that was relatively clear. I’m a bit rankled at the fact that “going immediately on the attack = perfectly reasonable and constructive response” is a valid and defensible approach. Because, from where I sit, it isn’t. It’s marginalizing, reductive, dismissive bullshit that is liberally and unilaterally applied regardless of any actual need for it.

If you disagree, fine. If you’d like to make any assumptions or whatever about me, or whatever my discussion of those assumptions may mean, also fine. I like MGK’s work, and generally agree with his positions (even if he goes the “horrible person” route on occasion, which isn’t really constructive IMO), and as such I’d like to chime in and have some discussions at certain points.

I’d personally like people in general to be less overtly militant when discussing “hot button” issues, as I fail to see any sort of practical use for it, and I similarly fail to see what purpose it serves outside of giving folks an opportunity to let off steam by teeing off on other folks.

Sure, we’ve all met people who deserve that treatment. Not that I’m wounded or feel disparaged or anything, but I don’t feel that I did. Some obviously disagree.

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“Everyone else involved in these conversations has already talked to a lot of white guys who say, ‘Gee, I haven’t thought much about the subject, but I don’t see what’s so bad about the status quo. I mean, I’m pretty sure I’m not racist, and it doesn’t bother me!'”

Okay, legitimately asking here, and if this is too off-topic or whatever, I’ll table it for another post: what exactly do you feel should be the role of the white male in the modern world?

If this has already been discussed, let me know where I can find it and I’ll root it out.

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Y’know, I’d rather table it. I’d rather recognize the differences of opinion (though, honestly, I think we’re all on the same page with varying degrees of intensity), differences in approach, and move on. Legitimately all I was looking for was a conversation.

As I said earlier, I’ll work on my opening salvos. I’d only hope that other folks will temper their vitriol and give people the benefit of the doubt (within reason).

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Zifnab25 said on May 8th, 2014 at 3:06 pm

I don’t get it. He neither accused you of sneaking off the elder berries, nor did he fart in your general direction.

This guy is the worst annoying Frenchman parody I’ve ever read.

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“I don’t get it. He neither accused you of sneaking off the elder berries, nor did he fart in your general direction.”

Been a long day, and I’ve been grappling with a bit’ve a head cold. ::INSERT WHATEVER COUNTS AS AN EMBARRASSED SMILEY HERE::

On-topic, I think we can all agree that strange women lyin’ in ponds distributin’ swords is no basis for a system of government.

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Just read this, and I think it’s probably the best, most cogent, least-arguable way to hammer the “privilege” point home, BTW:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/max-ritvo/white-privilege_b_5276078.html

I think that the issue in terms of getting other folks to “come around” (which, in a democratic society, is pretty damned essential) is how the “privilege” point is presented.

If the message is “Here is why this is an issue, and why folks feel the way they do,” it’s harder to rail against that unless you’re already entrenched and/or just being a prick.

If, on the other hand, the message is hostile and militant, it tends to provoke that response.

From what I can tell, this notion of privilege as a talking point/”hot button” issue is a fairly new thing (historically speaking). It is one of those things that, like many social progression, will take place on a generational basis (IMO). The only way that I can see to speed that up is to sway more voting, independently-thinking, possibly apathetic individuals into realizing that, yeah, a cultural push toward blanket equality (in terms of opportunity, mainly) is a good thing.

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“like many social progression”

Should be “areas of social progression.”

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Here’s an article that seems relevant to this discussion, “Spider-Man Producer Who Said No to Miles Morales Thinks Diversity In Superhero Movies is ‘Inevitable'”

http://www.themarysue.com/avi-arad-superhero-diversity-2/

Per the article: “I think the thing that actually bothers me about Arad’s statement is that saying that diversity in films “inevitable,” and that it’s all going to change soon or eventually glosses over all the agency he has to make those changes now. We fans, standing on the sidelines, telling Hollywood that the continued whitewashing of characters of color and lukewarm statements about female-led superhero movies will not stand; we know that diversity is “inevitable” and that the situation is changing. But if the producer of Marvel’s second longest lived film franchise has to wait for change instead of creating it, where are we expecting that change to come from? From a portal to a magical other dimension? For scientists to discover it in the Large Hadron Collider? For Stan Lee to come down from the mountain top carrying stone tablets that say “Thou shalt not for the five millionth time make up a plot reason for a cerebral villain of color to be played by a white British guy.” and “For the love of Me, put some more women in the new Star Wars.””

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“But if the producer of Marvel’s second longest lived film franchise has to wait for change instead of creating it, where are we expecting that change to come from? From a portal to a magical other dimension? For scientists to discover it in the Large Hadron Collider? For Stan Lee to come down from the mountain top carrying stone tablets that say “Thou shalt not for the five millionth time make up a plot reason for a cerebral villain of color to be played by a white British guy.” and “For the love of Me, put some more women in the new Star Wars.””

I’d known about Arad saying that Miles Morales wasn’t in the cards, but had never heard about his calling diversity “inevitable”. Considering the choices he’s making, it’s almost like he’s opted for them because, hell, if he doesn’t do them now he might not be able to later! It’s inevitable. One day he’ll wake up and he won’t be able to do anything but tell stories about women and minorities.

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On the subject of “stop trying to force diversity into things, just respect the story and let things take their natural course,” this is kind of a dumb, copout, bullshit response for two reasons:

1). Writers and creators aren’t merely scribes transcribing events as they occur through a portal to another world, they’re the ones in charge. So when someone somewhere decides that their latest movie is going to have 15 white people and 1 token minority for some color, that’s not “letting the story naturally unfold” or whatever unless that disparity is somehow manifestly a part of the story they’re telling. And a lot of the time? It really, really isn’t. I would argue that most of the time things like racial makeup of a production’s cast aren’t even given that much consideration, which is why you much more frequently see things like movie studios opt for “the default choice,” which in this case is white men.

To go back in time to a beloved nerd fandom cult classic, how do you think it is that in Firefly, a show where one of the big setting elements is “the far future is dominated by a heavily Chinese influenced government” to the point where everybody in the cast laces their dialogue with Chinese profanity, not a single main or even secondary character was actually portrayed by a Chinese actor? Or hell, an Asian of any nationality for that matter. What happened there, do you think? Were there no Chinese/Asian-American actors auditioning for roles that day? Or did the people involved in the production of the show simply not think about “hey, maybe in our show where future China is a big deal we should have some Chinese people playing more than background extras? Maybe?”

2). Saying “you can’t force diversity” is at odds with how social progress has generally worked throughout history, where change and acceptance isn’t really the product of people sitting around and passively waiting for some cosmic consensus to decide that it’s time to turn the dial from a 5 to a 6 on the Inclusion-O-Meter. Like, I hate to compare serious moments in civil rights to the casting makeup for a superhero movie because that sort of thing tends to make people roll their eyes, but things like integration, increased social acceptance and diversity, recognition of minorities, that stuff takes forcing until it no longer feels forced. It used to be that integrating American schools was an issue that divided the country and brought the National Guard out to escort minority students into their classrooms. These days if you heard about some grade school somewhere telling black kids to go to a “separate but equal” classroom your reaction would probably be to wonder what the fuck was wrong with them.

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I’m impressed MGK had the restraint to not spend significant wordage mocking a person for responding to a 2011 post without seeming realizing that it was written in 2011. If this was a forum discussion, the writer would be flamed for his thread necromancy as much as his racism.

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“stop trying to force diversity into things, just respect the story and let things take their natural course,”

I’d agree that this isn’t a logically sound model at base, because the “natural course” is basically the status quo with small, incremental steps in a different direction.

At the end of the day, “forcing” the issue is a gamble. I’m interested to see how the Fantastic Four reboot gamble pays off in particular, since the character of Johnny Storm is purely (IMO) driven by characteristics that are race-neutral (unless there’s some story I missed featuring Johnny Storm waxing poetic on the plight of the noble honky).

The sad truth is that if that movie bombs, executives may take that as a sign to shunt diversity to the back burner. I’d like to think that they wouldn’t blame that casting choice, but box office combined with fanboy backlash might make them skew that way.

As far as casting race-neutral roles with actors from non-white races, I don’t think that it’s much of an issue in the non-fanboy sphere. I’ve seen an Asian Othello. I’ve seen a black Pozzo. I’ve seen a Hispanic Emcee (Cabaret). Not a backlash to be found.

With comics, the bottom line is that you’ve got beloved characters that people grew up with, and to which folks have a fierce affinity. Seriously, we’re talking about people who will stop reading Spider-Man for something as absurd as a costume change. I think the overriding mentality there isn’t intentionally racist, it’s more like “Why are you fucking with a fundamental aspect of my childhood?”

Personally, again, I tell those people to see how the story plays out. The change of race (in a race-neutral role) is essentially cosmetic, and doesn’t change any part of the narrative or story beats.

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Also, I’m aware that Othello isn’t strictly a “race-neutral” role. In the tradition of transplanting Shakespeare plays into different settings, however, all that really matters is that Othello be seen as the representative of an outside race.

One could argue the logic of that choice, I’m just saying I’ve seen it.

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“As far as casting race-neutral roles with actors from non-white races, I don’t think that it’s much of an issue in the non-fanboy sphere. I’ve seen an Asian Othello. I’ve seen a black Pozzo. I’ve seen a Hispanic Emcee (Cabaret). Not a backlash to be found.”

Also, I mean “isn’t an issue” from the perspective of the consumer, not “this isn’t an issue because a black guy played Pozzo so diversity is fine.”

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“The sad truth is that if that movie bombs, executives may take that as a sign to shunt diversity to the back burner. I’d like to think that they wouldn’t blame that casting choice, but box office combined with fanboy backlash might make them skew that way.”

Conventional Hollywood wisdom is, to be blunt, racist and sexist as all get-out. To my knowledge there’s absolutely no hard evidence whatsoever that movies featuring leading actors of non-Caucasian ethnicities do worse on average than movies starring white guys, but it’s Hollywood gospel that you’re taking a gamble by doing so unless the actor in question is “one of the really famous ones.” Likewise Hollywood has a real aversion to women-led action movies that I believe falls under the same conventional wisdom.

So I don’t think it’s really unfair for fans to feel disgruntled that, for example, Marvel is willing to go to bat for a Guardians of the Galaxy movie while there’s yet to be a hint of a rumor that we’ll see a Black Panther movie anytime soon, or a Carol Danvers movie, or something along those lines. I mean, they’re making an Ant-Man movie for crying out loud. Ant-Man! Who the fuck was clamoring for an Ant-Man movie? Nobody fucking likes Ant-Man, even comic book writers don’t give a shit about that guy.

There are those Netflix miniseries’ that they’re supposed to be producing, among which are Luke Cage and Jessica Jones, so I guess you could say that’s something, but there’s still a substantial difference between that and a big, AAA blockbuster that’s going to be in theaters around the world. Marvel doesn’t lack for diverse characters they could choose to make some of their wildly successful movies out of, it’s just a matter of someone at the top of the decision-making chain having the gumption to put his foot down and go “we’re actually making this and outraged fans can go fuck themselves, they’ll probably go and see this anyway.” Nobody playing the Hollywood game likes to take risks, but Marvel’s already taking them with movies like GotG, so the question is that if a wildly successful studio with a solid track record of quality movies isn’t willing to take the risk of giving T’Challa or Carol Danvers their own movie, then who will?

(Also the super-ironic thing in the context of superhero movies is a point that MGK made in an earlier post…it was Wesley Snipes’ Blade that started paving the way for modern superhero movies as they exist by pointing out that you could totally make a badass action movie out of comic book properties, so in a real sense you could argue that modern Marvel Studios owes a lot to an action movie headlines by a black actor.)

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Y’know what I’d like to see (can’t remember if I first floated this here or in another forum)? A movie about the Isaiah Bradley Captain America. Full-on, unflinching look at Cap seen through the lens of Tuskeegee-era horrors.

It’d NEVER happen, but I think that it’d be one of those watershed moments in superhero cinema.

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“Nobody playing the Hollywood game likes to take risks, but Marvel’s already taking them with movies like GotG, so the question is that if a wildly successful studio with a solid track record of quality movies isn’t willing to take the risk of giving T’Challa or Carol Danvers their own movie, then who will?”

Hell, just look at Wonder Woman! Bona-fide feminine icon, and WB won’t consider pulling the trigger on it. They’d rather shoehorn her into a Bat- or Super- movie.

The reason I’ve seen is that GL didn’t work out for them, which (IMO) failed because DC couldn’t get out of its own damn way and let the thing take place largely in space.

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Marvel could, if they wanted to, try and play Time Warner/DC’s reluctance to give Wonder Woman her own movie into their own favor by greenlighting an unabashed Carol Danvers as Captain Marvel movie and being the first ones to say “hey, you can have a superhero movie led by a woman, see?” At this point it’s pretty much a given that DC is never, ever, ever going to actually give Wonder Woman anything more than second-stringer status even in their “let’s hurry up and try to jump on the Avengers bandwagon” attempts at making an interconnected Justice League movie series, so Marvel has every opportunity to beat them to the punch on that score.

Also just to real quick go back and address something you said earlier, Matt:

“With comics, the bottom line is that you’ve got beloved characters that people grew up with, and to which folks have a fierce affinity. Seriously, we’re talking about people who will stop reading Spider-Man for something as absurd as a costume change. I think the overriding mentality there isn’t intentionally racist, it’s more like “Why are you fucking with a fundamental aspect of my childhood?”

See, the problem with this sort of thing (and boy howdy do you see a lot of this thing any time someone proposes something like comics characters being played by non-Caucasians. Or holy shit, try Doctor Who fandom anytime the subject of “maybe a woman and/or non-Caucasian ought to have a crack at the alien character who can regenerate into different bodies, just a thought.”) is that you don’t have to be a slavering, lynch-mob and cross-burning racist to say and/or do racist stuff. It’s like the clueless guy who uses “the n-word” and then gets defensive when people tell him to knock that shit off. He’s not a racist, damnit! It’s just a word! He’s helping reclaim it! Or something.

That dude may not have any special hatred towards black people or Hispanics or whoever, but that doesn’t stop someone from doing and/or saying something that is itself kind of (or more than kind of) racist. And a lot of the arguments for why you can’t have, say, a black Spider-Man can be embarrassingly racist when you stop and examine them in any detail. I remember seeing one guy on a comics forum argue that being white was an important fundamental aspect of Peter Parker’s character because, get this, Peter is a dorky science nerd and therefore…

Think about that for a second. Think about the assumptions crammed into that idea, that it would snap this guy’s suspenders of disbelief for the dorky, intelligent, science-oriented nerd character to be black. The notion that this sort of character simply doesn’t mesh with a non-white ethnicity is pretty fucking racist really, but I guarantee that the moment someone called this dude out he would immediately go on the defensive and act like he was the one under attack.

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“That dude may not have any special hatred towards black people or Hispanics or whoever, but that doesn’t stop someone from doing and/or saying something that is itself kind of (or more than kind of) racist. And a lot of the arguments for why you can’t have, say, a black Spider-Man can be embarrassingly racist when you stop and examine them in any detail. I remember seeing one guy on a comics forum argue that being white was an important fundamental aspect of Peter Parker’s character because, get this, Peter is a dorky science nerd and therefore…”

Yeah, that’s why I went with “unintentional.”

My usual reaction to a race change is generally the same one I have to a costume change. For example, I dig the Hulk. If they said “Alright, he’s purple now,” my first reaction would be to say “Okay, why?” It’s not a rankling thing by any means, but I’d be lying if I said that it wasn’t initially visually jarring.

“The notion that this sort of character simply doesn’t mesh with a non-white ethnicity is pretty fucking racist really, but I guarantee that the moment someone called this dude out he would immediately go on the defensive and act like he was the one under attack.”

Well, I think that this hearkens back to the idea of approaches.

I think it is safe to say that more than a few folks on this board are of the “zero tolerance for zero tolerance” mindset, meaning that if an opinion is expressed that doesn’t jibe with the collective ideal, the first impulse is to attempt to destroy it. As I said earlier in the post with the HuffPo editorial, the best and surest way to push progress along is to change minds on the microscale.

Every person you individually reach with a pro-gay marriage message, for example, may vote accordingly when something like a Proposition 8 comes up, particularly if they didn’t have a “dog in the fight” prior to that.

It doesn’t matter that said person wasn’t ascribing to a worldview that others may see as common sense. What matters is what occurs AFTER they’re exposed to facets of that worldview.

What I try to do, in lieu of using people’s biases and/or my own views like a cudgel, is engage them in conversation and get them to articulate their own position in practical terms. Why? The simple reason is that you get people to open themselves up and have a dialogue. People can change their minds during a dialogue. If, on the other hand, you try to force realization on a person, or (worse) try to punish someone for their position, they either close up and disengage or (more often) fill their own hand with shit and chuck it back at the apes who started it.

A shit-slinging fight does ZERO to advance dialogue, affect any sort of change, or do anything other than result in hostility with no purpose.

Using the example you gave (Peter Parker guy), I’d approach it like this:

“Alright, let me see if I understand you correctly – you’re basically saying that dorky science nerds are a white archetype, right? And I’m not reading anything into that, I’m working directly with what you’ve presented. If that is your position, you’re basically saying that a black individual either cannot or should not be a dorky science nerd. Why exactly do you feel that this is the case?”

You don’t corner the guy. Everyone knows that cornering an animal (especially en masse) is the best way to get it to attack you. Rather, you let the guy paint HIMSELF into a corner, realize that he’s in a corner, and then extend a lifeline.

Something like: “Look, I get that you have an attachment to Peter Parker as he is. I similarly get that visuals are of significantly higher importance (YMMV) in a visual medium. However, stating that a black person should be excluded from consideration for a ‘dorky science nerd’ role is pretty much a textbook example of racism, whether you intend it or not.”

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Lurker said on May 9th, 2014 at 4:11 pm

A great example. I find it especially fun, because there is already a case of a black, dorky science nerd in a block buster movie: Sonar Technician 2nd Class Jones from The Hunt for Red October. He’s black and nerdy and it doesn’t cause any problems to the story. (Well, in the book, he’s said to be a ladies’ man, so you might say he is not a real dork, but that doesn’t come up in the movie.)

If you can have a black nerd in a Tom Clancy movie in the 1980’s, you can have one anywhere.

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‘Black dorky scientist’ also sums up one of the most popular sitcom characters of all time = Steve Urkel.

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Sergeant Grumbles said on May 10th, 2014 at 12:08 pm

Matt:

I say this as someone who has also said some incredibly stupid and/or bigoted shit, been called to task for saying some incredibly stupid and/or bigoted shit, and gotten widely defensive of saying incredibly stupid and/or bigoted shit.

For your own good, please just stop talking. Back away from the keyboard and find some other way to amuse yourself.

You are not doing anyone any favors here, least of all yourself. You are not saying anything anyone here hasn’t heard (or, in my case, said myself) a thousand times before. What you are doing here is a simple tone argument; it’s one of the classic ways to derail a thread about feminism, or calling to task racism in media and fan circles, or anything else really. A tone argument is widely considered a form of derailment because the tone of a statement is separate from the content. Calling attention to tone rather than content is just another way of avoiding addressing the content. Think about it like this: If you step on someone’s toes, and they yell at you to get off, you _get off their toes_; you don’t refuse unless they ask “nicely.”

Many, many smarter people than I have written about tone arguments like yours. That is because, again, you are not saying anything new, or anything that the people here calling you to task for haven’t seen a thousand times already. That is what I mean when I say your argument is nothing special.

But anyway. I’ve been Clueless White Dude No. 37 before. I’ve bristled at the suggestion that I’ve said incredibly stupid and/or bigoted things before. I’ve made the exact same tone arguments that you’ve made before. I got over it. And if an idiot like me can, there’s hope for you yet.

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The Prankster said on May 10th, 2014 at 2:43 pm

You know, one of the major points that I think is getting skipped over is that this guy is clearly, factually wrong: Medieval Spain, which is pretty obviously the basis for Dorne in the ASoIaF books (to hammer the point home, they’ve given Oberyn Martell a Spanish accent in the show) was actually about as racially diverse as you could ask in that particular era. Besides the fact that Spaniards are arguably racially distinct from other Europeans, there were Sephardic Jews, Turks, North Africans, and lots of others; it was, after all, the gateway to the Mediterranean sea.

And indeed, N. K. Jemison (fantasy author who is also a black woman OHMIGERD) points out in a recent post (http://nkjemisin.com/2014/03/confirmation-bias-epic-fantasy-and-you/), even the idea that your fantasy world is purely lily-white because “that was how it was in Medieval Europe, and that’s what this world is based on” is fallacious.

This isn’t tokenism, it’s “learning more about the world you live in.”

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Cookie McCool said on May 10th, 2014 at 3:40 pm

On the plus side, no-one’s been threatened with rape here. So you can no awful racism or no awful sexism but you can’t have both on the internet.

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“And indeed, N. K. Jemison (fantasy author who is also a black woman OHMIGERD) points out in a recent post (http://nkjemisin.com/2014/03/confirmation-bias-epic-fantasy-and-you/), even the idea that your fantasy world is purely lily-white because “that was how it was in Medieval Europe, and that’s what this world is based on” is fallacious.”

I’ve seen people make this exact fallacious argument to justify why, say, Dungeons & Dragons has a dearth of non-white characters represented in the artwork. Like literally straight-up “medieval Europe didn’t have any black people.” For a subculture that likes to tout the intelligence of its members, nerds can be amazingly dumb sometimes.

Re: the tone argument thing, let’s turn it around. Matt, at what point would you say that people are no longer obligated to keep giving people who say and/or do dumb and/or clueless things the benefit of the doubt? Is the idea that the only way they should respond to stuff like this is with infinite saint-like patience regardless of how many times it goes around, or is there actually a threshold where they can justifiably tell someone to go and get their own clue if they want to keep being part of the discussion? Where does that threshold lie, exactly?

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highlyverbal said on May 11th, 2014 at 4:14 pm

One odd note in the whole discussion is the passionate defense of GRRM and his books, like he is the casting director or something. People love to fool themselves with a narrative of how virtuously they are defending a fave author, I guess.

(Casting for GoT is Nina Gold and Robert Sterne. I’m sure that GRRM would listen to their suggestions.)

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“Many, many smarter people than I have written about tone arguments like yours. That is because, again, you are not saying anything new, or anything that the people here calling you to task for haven’t seen a thousand times already. That is what I mean when I say your argument is nothing special.”

Well, thanks for the response, but I really don’t give a flying fuck how “special” my argument is. Other people are perfectly free to completely disregard tone and/or use whatever tone they see fit (up to and including statements that actually hurt the cause they’re fighting for). Me? I think that it actually fucking matters, and so I’m going to discuss that.

Consider it my “punching the incoming tide” battle, but I absolutely despise how discourse is generally practiced online. People can do better. If that means I’m fighting some tired battle against various and sundry veterans of the keyboard wars, fine.

For the record, I’ve added to the conversation in other areas, not just tone.

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“Re: the tone argument thing, let’s turn it around. Matt, at what point would you say that people are no longer obligated to keep giving people who say and/or do dumb and/or clueless things the benefit of the doubt?”

When it becomes clear that they’re doing it for a reason aside from actual conversation.

“Is the idea that the only way they should respond to stuff like this is with infinite saint-like patience regardless of how many times it goes around, or is there actually a threshold where they can justifiably tell someone to go and get their own clue if they want to keep being part of the discussion?”

And, again, maybe I’m a fucking outlier here, but if someone asks me about my area of expertise during a discussion thereof, I’m not going to reply with “Fuck you, idiot, read a book!” Why? Because it is a stupid thing to do, IMO. I’d rather approach it differently. YMMV.

One doesn’t have to be an unabashed fucking prick, is all I’m saying. Some folks feel otherwise, and others treat “unabashed fucking prick” as a default setting when they fire up Firefox. And, again, I think that it is stupid. It is the difference between responding to a question on the merits of that question and filling up your hand with fresh shit to throw at anyone who speaks.

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mygif

“(Casting for GoT is Nina Gold and Robert Sterne. I’m sure that GRRM would listen to their suggestions.)”

For the non-majors, dude probably gets a stack of headshots and says “Yeah, that’s fine.”

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mygif

“It is the difference between responding to a question on the merits of that question and filling up your hand with fresh shit to throw at anyone who speaks.”

To clarify, I’m talking about the folks who lead off with insults.

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@Matt: “Well, thanks for the response, but I really don’t give a flying fuck how “special” my argument is. Other people are perfectly free to completely disregard tone and/or use whatever tone they see fit (up to and including statements that actually hurt the cause they’re fighting for). Me? I think that it actually fucking matters, and so I’m going to discuss that.

Consider it my “punching the incoming tide” battle, but I absolutely despise how discourse is generally practiced online. People can do better. If that means I’m fighting some tired battle against various and sundry veterans of the keyboard wars, fine.”

The thing is, we despise how discourse is generally practiced online too. But what we generally despise is people who believe that if they say something despicable in a polite manner, they are entitled to a polite response no matter how despicable their statement is. It is rude to suggest that you don’t really care about a lack of minority representation in the media, no matter how it is phrased. What we are all trying to tell you, as politely as we variously can given our exasperation with your behavior, is that there is no “nice” way to say the things you are saying, and that you don’t really have a right to expect politeness when saying these things because the substance of them is rude.

Think of it this way–if you said to someone, “Excuse me, but I find your countenance to be extremely discombobulating and I would much prefer it if you engaged in fornication with a cactus rather than remain in my presence,” and they responded with, “Yeah, well, you go fuck something pointy too, ugly…” Would you really feel like you were being unjustly insulted?

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Devichan said on May 12th, 2014 at 11:11 pm

Assuming an argument in good faith on Matt’s, in being in a mood to point to 101 stuff on the grounds multiple people (as well as Matt) may read it…

Matt: please read this about tone arguments/ people “being mean to [you].”

“A Feminist Was Mean To Me”
Also, comment 1.3 on that post is especially relevant.
More reading:
“Yo, Is This Racist?” – humorous but true!
SPLC Blog
“Finally Feminism 101”
“Resist Racism – We Heard It Before” (You are exhibiting #11, but you can stop!)
“Trans 101”

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mygif

“It is rude to suggest that you don’t really care about a lack of minority representation in the media, no matter how it is phrased.”

I absolutely, 100% disagree. I said that the quality of the story and the telling are of chief importance to me. That means exactly what it says: while casting, costume changes, skin color changes, etc., are all variables in what constitutes popular entertainment (particularly in the case of adaptations), I care primarily about how the story is being told and the telling of it.

I fail to see how this is rude in ANY WAY. Dismissive? Yeah, I can see that, and (again) I recanted it and restated my position. But saying “Yeah, I’m more concerned with the story in regards to story-driven narratives” is not rude. Like, in any sense of the word.

Again, you apparently disagree, so there’s literally zero fucking point in discussing it further. You aren’t budging from your position that what I said was some intensely rude and damaging thing, and I’m sure as hell not budging on the point that, no, it wasn’t.

Look, it’s clear to me that we’re at an impasse. As I said before, feel free to paint me in whatever color, shape, and general life philosophy you’d like. Anonymous internet folks have been doing it to each other for years, so it isn’t a terribly surprising or disruptive phenomenon. I personally think that we agree on more things than we disagree, but are caught up in the expression of it.

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mygif

Assuming an argument in good faith on Matt’s, in being in a mood to point to 101 stuff on the grounds multiple people (as well as Matt) may read it…

Matt: please read this about tone arguments/ people “being mean to [you].”

“A Feminist Was Mean To Me”
Also, comment 1.3 on that post is especially relevant.
More reading:
“Yo, Is This Racist?” – humorous but true!
SPLC Blog
“Finally Feminism 101″
“Resist Racism – We Heard It Before” (You are exhibiting #11, but you can stop!)
“Trans 101″

Okay, let’s break this down:

1. I don’t care about people “being mean to me.” I DO care about discussing the utter uselessness and futility of sticking with aggression as a default setting.

2. I recognize the various inequalities in terms of gender, race, and/or religious affiliation. I feel that these inequalities are important to address in logical ways.

3. The comment you referred to: “I think the difference, Dave, is that your math teacher hasn’t been oppressed for his or her skin colour or gender all their lives. Oppressed people have a damned good reason to be angry, so when someone of privilege says ‘Hey, I get your point, but you have to be nice about it’ it’s frankly galling as fuck.”

See, in this instance, I don’t expect a person of color to discuss the topic of racism in a 100% rational, non-heated fashion. What galls me is that most of the backlash I see DOESN’T come from those people, it comes from upper-middle class whites who are appropriating that anger and wielding it as if they have a right to it.

If you’re a black teen living in the worst part of Roxbury, MA, I don’t expect you to discuss the issue without getting pissed and/or emotionally invested. I DO expect that from another “outsider.”

4. To the point of “well what’s mean when I say it is fine when a guy says it,” not to me. I personally don’t differentiate. If someone’s “pushy,” for example (a word often used to characterize an assertive woman), that isn’t a gender-centric term for me, it is indicative of a specific sort of behavior.

Man or woman, gay or straight, black or white, if you’re pushy, you’re fucking pushy.

5. I’m familiar with the issues surrounding the transgender population. It isn’t an issue for me, though it inexplicably is for other folks who see it as some kind of abomination or weird thing.

It’s definitely a new thing (relatively speaking), and it is currently at the forefront of activism around me (I live in MA), so you’re seeing a lot of knee-jerk, uninformed opinions on the matter. FWIW, I don’t think that it’ll take all that long to drift into the area of general acceptance, certainly not as long as it took for homosexuality to become “normalized.”

6. As far as this: http://resistracism.wordpress.com/2008/05/21/those-tears/

I get the point being made. “This is ours, and it isn’t much, so we’re going to fight to keep it.” Again, my frustration in this regard doesn’t extend to groups of affected individuals. My frustration extends to white folks appropriating that anger and frustration in comparable measures.

The sense I get from much of this board is this:
-If you’re white, ::BLANK:: is the accepted position.
-If you’re white, and disagree with any facet of the accepted position, GTFO or STFU. If you don’t, other whites will pile on you.
-If you’re white, your personal experience and/or perspectives don’t mean much of anything in regard to the overall topic.

And, to be PERFECTLY CLEAR, I’m not alleging “reverse racism” or whatever. I’m calling out dismissive behavior and deliberately marginalizing speech.

Again, I don’t personally see a need for it.

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mygif

Frome the “But a Feminist was mean to me” thing: “Remember that meanness is somewhat in the eye of the beholder, and what may seem mean to you may be just a normal spirited debate to someone else.”

I think this is where I’m having my main issue: I can’t seem to pin down the general flow of discourse on this site. Things that I’ve stated on other forums, and which served as jumping off points for real and important (as in mind-changing) discussions are met with “::SLAP:: YOU ARE A TERRIBLE PERSON” or “YOU ARE SAYING DESPICABLE THINGS” on this site.

Then, occasionally, people riff on dork shit (which is what brought me here in the first place).

I guess the question is what constitutes “spirited debate” on this forum?

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tickstander said on May 13th, 2014 at 11:12 am

‘Things that I’ve stated on other forums, and which served as jumping off points for real and important (as in mind-changing) discussions are met with “::SLAP:: YOU ARE A TERRIBLE PERSON” or “YOU ARE SAYING DESPICABLE THINGS” on this site.’

Yeah, that’s because those ‘other forums’ you frequent are populated by bigots, misogynists and ignorant manbabies.

No one is obliged to spend time having ‘real and important’ discussions with assholes who are just going to ignore everything they say.

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mygif

“Yeah, that’s because those ‘other forums’ you frequent are populated by bigots, misogynists and ignorant manbabies.”

Citation needed.

“No one is obliged to spend time having ‘real and important’ discussions with assholes who are just going to ignore everything they say.”

And I’ve done nothing of the kind. Seriously. I haven’t ignored anything aside from your earlier, still asinine insults. Rather, I’ve actively engaged with any salient point that other people have made, even if I disagree (specifically with tone, which has been and will always be a pet peeve of mine – take it or leave it).

If you’re not down with having a discussion with me, fine. If all you can bring to bear are armfulls of insults, also fine. Windmill away.

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mygif

@Matt: Informed debate, for one thing. Again, let’s try to take this into another topic. If you were listening to a science discussion, and you jumped right in with, “You know, I haven’t heard a whole lot about this topic, but it seems pretty clear from my lived experiences that the earth is flat. I mean, I’m a pretty smart guy and I pay attention to the world around me, so my opinions are just as valid as yours.”

You’re going to get told to STFU and take a science class. Complaining about the tone doesn’t really matter, because the fundamental fact of the matter is that you wandered into a conversation you knew nothing about and expected your opinions to be treated just the same way as anyone else’s, despite the fact that they were uninformed and based on bad information. Then, instead of listening and internalizing that, you decided to make the argument about how you were told–in essence, continuing to talk about yourself instead of listening, which is compounding the error.

The point is, you talked before listening, and you’re still talking instead of listening, only now you’re talking about how unfair it is that everyone keeps telling you to shut up and listen. :) You may need, in this case, to accept that you have nothing meaningful to contribute to this topic at this time. That’s not an insult, it’s just a fact. Your contribution is to listen, and that’s a good and important thing. But continuing to insist that you should be allowed to talk despite not having anything of value to say, and then changing the topic to your hurt feelings over being told that you have nothing of value to say, is really kind of making this about you instead of about what it’s about. And we’re none of us here to talk about you.

Believe it or not. :)

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tickstander said on May 13th, 2014 at 11:24 am

‘Man or woman, gay or straight, black or white, if you’re pushy, you’re fucking pushy.’

The difference is, child, when oppressive classes (i.e. men, white people and straights) are ‘pushy’, they rape and murder and steal from those they oppress. When oppressed classes are ‘pushy’, it’s a way of fighting back.

Dude, do you have any idea how old and pathetic your arguments are? You are regurgitating every whiny protest ever uttered by comfortable, smug, spoiled, privileged asshole men desperate to defend themselves against the anger of the people you have, knowingly or unknowingly, spent your entire nasty little life shitting on.

You write so many words, and none of them matter. No one gives a fuck about your manchild bullshit. You clearly have done absolutely NO research into the issues you are presuming to lecture everyone on, and yet you KEEP. FUCKING. TALKING.

What is it with men like you? How do you feel so confident about barging into complicated discussions concerning social issues affecting groups you are not a part of? It really does feel like you’ve lived every day of your life with mainstream society’s hand wrapped lovingly around your dick, constantly whispering assurances into your sweaty ear that every single thing you have to say is relevant and important.

And that, basically, is what privilege is; the total certainty that your opinions are 100% relevant, 100% of the time.

Grow up.

Brat.

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mygif

“You’re going to get told to STFU and take a science class. Complaining about the tone doesn’t really matter, because the fundamental fact of the matter is that you wandered into a conversation you knew nothing about and expected your opinions to be treated just the same way as anyone else’s, despite the fact that they were uninformed and based on bad information. Then, instead of listening and internalizing that, you decided to make the argument about how you were told–in essence, continuing to talk about yourself instead of listening, which is compounding the error.”

Alright, I can get behind this, though I will not cop to anything other than walking into the discussion with an opinion on what I value in narrative fiction. Perhaps that perspective would be better suited to a different topic.

“Your contribution is to listen, and that’s a good and important thing. But continuing to insist that you should be allowed to talk despite not having anything of value to say, and then changing the topic to your hurt feelings over being told that you have nothing of value to say, is really kind of making this about you instead of about what it’s about.”

Alright, that’s fine. I’m set with that. I still have issues with the general marginalization and/or reductionism I see hereabouts, but that is what it is.

POINT OF ORDER: I don’t have “hurt feelings.” I feel like this point has been missed and/or ignored. My point wasn’t about me, it was about discourse in general.

Crossed wires on my end, and mea culpa for that. I appreciate the perspective.

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mygif

tickstander: Want some straw to stuff into your little effigy up there? The legs are looking a little light.

I appreciate John Seavey’s perspective, as well as that of folks who have helped me to see this overall issue in a new light.

You? Since we’re all about exposing tropes and/or marginalizing people based on categories of argument, here’s one: you’re the typical, blustering, ideologically-driven, belligerent asshole found in any corner of the internet. You have nothing to add to a conversation but invectives. You drape your points in condescension to cover for a lack of information. You make stupid, insipid generalizations. Hey, you’re three for three!

Here’s a tip: ignore me in the future. Just do that. Or, again, continue to windmill like a good little keyboard warrior. Your merit badge is in the mail.

“Grow up.

Brat. ”

Adorable. Want to throw an insult in there about my mother as well?

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mygif

“The difference is, child, when oppressive classes (i.e. men, white people and straights) are ‘pushy’, they rape and murder and steal from those they oppress. When oppressed classes are ‘pushy’, it’s a way of fighting back.”

Also, this is an enormously fucking stupid argument.

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Jazzlet said on May 13th, 2014 at 1:18 pm

So Matt if you didn’t mean to disrail the argument how come you have continued to respond? Because if you didn’t mean to do it the only other conculsion available is that you are so concerned about being percieved to be right that you think that is more important than the original argument. And actually no you don’t get to insist that you know better about the tone people should adopt or that white men are not allowed to be outraged by discrimination. I don’t post here that often and I don’t know who all of these people are, but while some of them apparently admit there gender in their tags plenty don’t and how the hell do you know any of them are white? You are making assumptions that say more about you than about the people posting.

As has been said Spain in medieaval times was one of the most diverse and tolerant societies in history, Britain had black members of society from a variety of places and so on. Along with the stereotype of weak women with no agency putting an all white cast of characters in fantasy settings supposedly based on these perieods and places is just lazy, lazy and boring. There are different things that pull each reader out of a story, this sort of laziness is one of the reasons I rarely pick up male fantasy writers these days, because it’s usually indicative of lazy plotting and so on. I didn’t know N K Jemisin was female or black when I got the first Dreamblood book out of the library,but I gave the writer I presumed to be male and white a chance. Having finished the first book I still didn’t know anything about the writer, I did know that I wanted to know what was going to happen to the diverse characters I had met, and now I’m sodding off as the second book is awaiting my attention.

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mygif

“So Matt if you didn’t mean to disrail the argument how come you have continued to respond?”

Shoot me an email or whatever if you’d like to discuss this (in the absence of a PM system or sub-thread). I’m not going to go down the rabbit hole again.

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tickstander said on May 13th, 2014 at 2:28 pm

matt: I’m a butch dyke who has spent her life dealing with dirt like you, child.

FUCK YES, I’m ‘belligerent.’

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tickstander said on May 13th, 2014 at 2:29 pm

Also, your mother regrets you.

<3

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mygif

“matt: I’m a butch dyke who has spent her life dealing with dirt like you, child.

FUCK YES, I’m ‘belligerent.’”

Ah, “dirt like you”…your assumptions are just awesome. Seriously, top-notch shit.

I’ll wait for your screed on what I have personally done to you to make your life more difficult. Y’know, aside from apparently existing.

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mygif

“Also, your mother regrets you.

<3"

OOOOOOOH! ZING!

Do you have anything other than vitriol? Anything at all? Make a fucking non-assumptive point. I dare you. I'll give ya a dollar.

Seriously, what does the shit you’re currently peddling achieve? Is this some “blow off steam by teeing off on someone semi-anonymously on the internet” thing?

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Sergeant Grumbles said on May 13th, 2014 at 3:48 pm

@Matt:

Do you remember what I said the other day about backing away from the keyboard and finding some other way to amuse yourself?

Yeah, that might be a good idea now.

Might have been a good idea on Friday.

Yours, Etc.
–A Former Fellow Belligerently Ignorant White Dude

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mygif

“Do you remember what I said the other day about backing away from the keyboard and finding some other way to amuse yourself?

Yeah, that might be a good idea now.

Might have been a good idea on Friday.”

Yeah, I’m really not being defensive. One logically can’t be doing that if one apologizes for errors and/or says “Huh, well I could have gone about this differently.”

Now belligerent? Yeah, I’ll cop to that in my responses to tickstander, who has apparently decided that I’m a convenient scapegoat for every bit of adversity and hardship she’s ever had to face.

But, whatever. I got good points from some folks, learned some things, and got moronic attacks from others. ::shrugs::

But yeah, we’re circling the drain at this point. Backing away now. 😉

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Tristan said on May 14th, 2014 at 1:38 am

“I guess I get both sides of it.”

BOOOOOO

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tickstander said on May 14th, 2014 at 5:17 am

matt: Baby, I am SO GLAD that you have ‘learned some things’. That is SO GREAT.

And all it took for you to learn ‘some things’ was literally days of education provided to you for free by dozens of people whose lived experiences you have discounted and whose grasp of important sociological issues you have either dismissed or treated with sulky skepticism, all while you sat on your butt and demanded to be spoonfed information you could easily have researched yourself while behaving like a rude, spoiled infant.

This is basically why I no longer bother trying to ‘teach’ dudes like you. It is just not worth it. Maybe there is something redeemable in your type of person, but I honestly don’t see why the rest of us should have to expend all this energy to locate it.

Come back to the table when you are capable of learning ‘some things’ without hurting and insulting your teachers in the process.

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Dan Coyle said on May 31st, 2014 at 9:46 am

“Come back to the table when you are capable of learning ‘some things’ without hurting and insulting your teachers in the process.”

Oh yeah, beacuse then you’ll be REAL NICE.

Matt grew increasingly belligerent and childish as this thread grew on, and he was starting from a very shaky position to begin with, but you were bigoted and hateful from post one.

Why would I WANT to be anywhere near a person like you, tickstander? Why would you want a person like me- a white, straight male- anywhere near you, unless you want me under your boot? You just want to be the bully this time, but you don’t get how that can be just as toxic and unfulfilling.

Sorry, MGK, I couldn’t let this slide.

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