I can't create because I don't know how to overcome concerns about cultural/racial insensitivity

Discussion in 'Braaaaiiiinnnns...' started by BlackholeKG, Sep 9, 2016.

  1. BlackholeKG

    BlackholeKG I saw you making fire


    (I cut out responses from the other people in chat because so I didn't have to gather permission to crosspost, so that's why this is kinda disjointed)

    But anyway yeah this is like a real problem for me atm
  2. Insomniac

    Insomniac tired

    Stereotypes & Tropes Navigation

    So long as you don't play into those very offensive tropes, it should be okay. TVtropes is a really, really good source too. The comments sections of any articles about this will almost always be better than the actual articles themselves.

    I mean if someone is offended, nothing you, as the author, can do. NOTHING. They will find something to be pissed off about. You cannot control them, only how you represent yourself through your writings.

    You don't have to include everyone, just be aware of your characters surroundings. Look around yourself, I'm sure even if you live in a completely lily white town, there are people who are disabled (and not the "pretty" kind either, like the really goddamned annoying lovely, willowy but brainless/childlike boy/girl trope.), who are elderly, who are not liked and have, say, "bad" blood/born on the wrong side of the "tracks", whatever that means but it was a really, really popular phrase in fiction for awhile.

    Also you'll find a lot of Asians don't like each other. For instance with Scarlet Johansan as the Major, the main director who is Japanese casually bitch slapped dismissed the anime fans with something like, "the Major was never thought of as being exclusively Japanese in ethnicity."

    But when a Chinese actress played the infamous geisha in Memoirs of a Geisha (a book written by a white dude for non-Asian audiences, no less!) everyone and their mother collectively lost their damned minds in Japan and was all, "She should have been Japanese! A Geisha should only be purely Japanese to represent Japanese ideals!" You know, despite the very NOT authentic portrayal in the original source material.

    So it reads distinctly like, as long as it's a white person, it's fine if it's not ethnically correct by the Japanese. But have anyone else as that character, o~oh, no. Can't have that, that's not "correct".
  3. BlackholeKG

    BlackholeKG I saw you making fire

    Okay, that sounds like a some good advice, and I'll think on it more later, but now I want to ask a completely tangential question (fairly unrelated to my concerns but something that jumped out at me) related to one of the posts that I found while browsing through that blog link

    I'm... not sure I really understand this. I do understand that said word is a slur, yes, but I'm not sure why that precludes... use in dialogue? Because- okay, I live in London, and everybody except me uses that term. Most people have no idea it's even considered offensive. So, say I was writing a story that included some regular ol' uninformed white people discussing Romani characters. The "G" slur is what they would use (heck, over here at least it's what most Romani organisations use, from what I've seen). I wouldn't use it personally, but characters that I write don't hold my personal views? Often characters I write might do something that I consider abhorrent, like committing murder, being generally villainous, or even just making life choices that I disapprove of.

    Well... yes, I mean... Imagine a story set in the 1800s US, where white people referring to Black people with slurs was very common. Books I've read set in this era have portrayed that, because it's portraying the history of race relations accurately... it doesn't mean that the author, or more generally the writer of said work condones the use of such language. It's just that given particular contexts not using said language would be out of place. Not just an anachronism, but like, it actually detracts from the portrayal of the dynamic... which, I mean, the author is usually condemning through their portrayal. To take something I can probably talk about more intimately, if I was writing a story in which "ignorant" characters discussed trans people, then I wouldn't have them using the right language in that scenario. I'd have them using slurs, because that would be what's realistic for their characterization, and moreover, that would likely be the point - them using slurs shows their characterization as uninformed and/or bigoted. The post there seems to be saying that any inclusion of slurs in writing, even in dialogue, quotes, or in context, is an act of aggression, and means that the author is bigoted. But that's... that's not the case, is it? It's not the author saying it, it's the character. Just because a character does a thing doesn't meant that the author supports it. If I write a villain that doesn't mean that I support their villainy. If I write a character who is insensitive towards a minority group then that doesn't mean that that's a view that I hold. In fact often I'll be condemning their behaviour through my writing in the context.

    I don't know. Maybe I don't know what I'm talking about at all. But right now that quote reads a lot like the people who were saying that Hussie writing Caliborn as a misogynist means that Hussie himself is a misogynist, or the antis who say that authors who portray sexual assault are themselves rapists. Am I very wrong here? And if I'm not, are you sure that this blog is an accurate source?
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2016
  4. BlackholeKG

    BlackholeKG I saw you making fire

    (And I'll be honest, this blog is kindasorta exactly the sort of extended-source-written-as-an-exact-prescriptive-manual-based-on-imprecise-personal-perspectives-and-with-thousands-of-pages-of-copy-and-if-you-stray-from-one-guideline-you-are-racist type source that I was originally sort of afraid of. It'd be likely to make writing characters of colour a nightmare. I've barely skimmed the first few pages, and there are lots of warnings about how having characters of certain ethnicities in certain fairly generic plot roles or situations is playing into given stereotypes... that all tolled feel like they would bar a particular character profile from taking on a certain plot role, thereby requiring a completely new character for a given situation or else a plot change...

    Urgh maybe I'm just being an asshole about this)
  5. BlackholeKG

    BlackholeKG I saw you making fire

    Also I'm pretty sure that some of the implication here rules out the particular idea for a story I had in mind out regardless... Given that the concept was focused at least somewhat around disenfranchisement in society, i.e. with lgbt issues which I can write about, but also I wanted to sort of include a broader cross-section of such issues which would include talking about race... the general advice from this blog would seem to be, "don't make a plotline which makes a point about race issues if they're not issues that you face yourself". I mean, when I was talking about this in tumblr.txt, people were saying that it would more be, "don't make the story about this, but you can talk about it", but this blog seems to be more saying, "no, even if it's a subplot or side-narrative, don't talk about this at all it's not your place".

    I don't know if that's right, my instinct is that it's wrong but then what the heck do I know, I feel like I'm throwing a stop but idk I should just give up on this particular idea at least because perhaps it's beyond me. I'm sorry I'm being an idiot about this. I'm not good with race issues, I can't make my brain be good with them. I should maybe stop talking about this. I should definitely stop making it about me and fishing for comfort when I'm literally actively displaying racial prejudice here or something probably. Sorry. Urgh. Sorry I'll stop and not talk about this. Sorry for being overdramatic and self-centered! Sorry!
  6. BlackholeKG

    BlackholeKG I saw you making fire

    It's just so hard because I want to do representation right but it seems like there's so much to worry about and so much that I could get wrong. And so then that just drives me away from ever writing non-white characters ever, but then that's like, whitewashing my work, so it's like... I don't know. It seems like you can't write characters of colour unless you're like a race relations scholar, or else the One True Ally (which I have never been), or, more realistically, unless you're a person of colour yourself. But I'm as pasty white as they come so idk what to do about that.

    I'm sorry I'm making fucking racial oppression about myself because I'm an asshole. I'm sorry this is a real dick move. But a predictable one because all I really care about is being able to write my fucking dumb ass pretentious story which is probably hecking racist anyway because I'm an asshole and just view this as "a problem" that is preventing me from doing what I want to do without granting it the respect it deserves, because I'm an asshole and am still a racist despite my efforts to cleanse myself of all of that (which is impossible because when you are white and raised in this society you are tainted from birth to be a bad person because culture) and I should never talk about this again probably and certainly shouldn't keep making it about me! And trying to get people to tell me that it's okay! When it's not! I just want to be a good person fuck why is that so hard why am I so bad with this.
  7. Ducks

    Ducks 79 Plural Fowl Illuminates The Legendary

    Just create and figure all that out in post. Perfect is the enemy of good. All creation is a work in progress.
    • Like x 2
  8. BlackholeKG

    BlackholeKG I saw you making fire

    I'm not going to make a thing only to then discover that it's racist and have to destroy it. These are central plot-critical content issues we're discussing here.
  9. Ducks

    Ducks 79 Plural Fowl Illuminates The Legendary

    The whole of a story that "include(s) a broader cross-section of such issues which would include talking about race..." will NOT be racist in its entirety. Parts of writing and story have to be culled all the time just to make it readable. You're hobbling yourself by worrying about details before writing anything.

    Edit to fix bb code
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2016
    • Like x 1
  10. BlackholeKG

    BlackholeKG I saw you making fire

    Must include handling of broad issue scope without omission for desired effect. If I can't include that element of the plot then the whole thing fails to stand up and I can't continue with the concept in that form.
  11. BlackholeKG

    BlackholeKG I saw you making fire

    This whole goddamn problem is still an issue because no matter how much I've taught myself - tried to compensate for what society taught me as a kid - tried to learn things about these issues, and I've been trying for years - I can't compensate enough. I can't seem to override myself enough to right properly like I'm just inherently problematic and can't change the goddamn way my brain has learned to work. I want to go back in time and strangle the outside world for poisoning me like this.
  12. Ducks

    Ducks 79 Plural Fowl Illuminates The Legendary

    (it also might be my reading, but that sounded super god damned condescending. I am not an idiot)

    You will never create anything then because to create you need to learn to toss away even your most beloved unworkable ideas. The "quantity always trumps quality" philosophy of learning applies to these issues too. You learn from mistakes. including sometimes embarrassing cultural insensitivity.
    • Like x 1
  13. BlackholeKG

    BlackholeKG I saw you making fire

    I didn't mean to sound condescending. I'm sorry. Also I'm going to stop posting here now.
  14. Ducks

    Ducks 79 Plural Fowl Illuminates The Legendary

    I'm thinking particularly of the ceramics class from Art and Fear

    • Like x 2
  15. Ducks

    Ducks 79 Plural Fowl Illuminates The Legendary

    We're all good then. If it's stressing you out, leave it for the moment. From a creative point of view remember that you're not going to learn by avoiding all these themes and issues until you can do it perfectly the first time (as your brain seems to be insisting), you'll learn by interacting with them.

    This is another good (and more casual) post that focuses on writing.
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2016
    • Like x 2
  16. BlackholeKG

    BlackholeKG I saw you making fire

    I don't think I'm brave enough, honestly.

    Fuck, I've really chosen the wrong career path.
  17. Ducks

    Ducks 79 Plural Fowl Illuminates The Legendary

    Your brain seems to be being a real jerk to you atm, but a bit of block (whatever the source) can be overcome. Or waited out.
    • Like x 1
  18. Insomniac

    Insomniac tired

    I'm very sorry if I added to the stress. That's not what I intended at all. I definitely want to go into more details but I also wanted to say this quickly too.

    @Ducks has good suggestions. I've noticed in myself that if I'm not in a good place I will find all kinds of shit that's wrong with someone else, including their writing, mannerism, the fact that they exist. So you can be...I don't know a saint and I'll still think you did/said/not do something wrong.

    You can't live your life trying to please everyone. Keep writing, keep doing what you love, and I guarantee you someone somewhere will find fault no matter how hard you try. You shouldn't come to a screeching halt because they feel like their feelers were hurt. (Some days I have nothing to say on here because I take things so damn personal then the next couple of weeks I come back and is all, "WTF, you, that literally had nothing to do with ANYTHING about you, why are being all special snowflake-like?")

    *shrugs* This is also extremely easy for me to say. I don't give a flying rat's ass about anyone's opinions on what I do with my hobbies, my life or my career. I just...never thought to give people who've never met me and probably never will get to know me that much power over me. I will not allow that kind of control over me.
    • Like x 1
  19. BlackholeKG

    BlackholeKG I saw you making fire

    This whole issue is still screwing with me. Even with stuff entirely unrelated to race issues on the surface it's completely stopping me from thinking about creating any original narratives because I keep thinking about how said narrative will handle race portrayals and how I'd probably fuck it up. And I can't just tell myself not to worry about it and write anyway because race issues are such an important issue and there are always people who will be waiting in the wings to shame you aggressively if you get it when slightly wrong... And they'll be right at that...
  20. missoyashirou

    missoyashirou Someone please give me a tiny dog to play with

    I'm sorry for bringing this up once again, but could this current creator panic feedback loop be a part of the on-going issues with scrupulosity you've had in the past? It seems like a terror of getting a thing wrong, even if you haven't done the thing yet and are coming into this project with enough readings and understanding to get it mostly correct and the willing to fix any errors you do make later if informed about it.

    If it makes you feel any better, I trust your ability to write racial issues with nuance, and to write in general. You're a careful and considerate person, and the only person you've been needlessly cruel to in any capacity is yourself.
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