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 Rewriting a Classic and Gender Politics

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Carabas
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PostSubject: Rewriting a Classic and Gender Politics   Mon Apr 04, 2016 8:10 am

If you've been watching the release of the Siege of Dragonspear DLC for BG1EE you've probably noticed that the shit has hit the proverbial fan.

People have been ranting about the inclusion of a transgender character and especially the fact that the character was introduced in a very obvious manner which they see as catering to a PC minority (a PC that has nothing to do with computers).

Of course considering that it is the internet the whole thing has turned into a battle for reviews with a terrible move by the devs to ask for people to post positive reviews to counter the trend which is (to say the least) a very misguided move (asking for positive reviews that is).

I for one don't mind characters with equivocal sexual orientations or gender as long as they're not in your face unless that's actually relevant to the story (I can't really comment here since I haven't played the game) but it's something that we've seen in a game like Assassin's Creed Syndicate (and to a certain extent Black Flag) and it worked because they didn't make a big deal out of it (at least not in the game, the hype was rather overblown but that's to be expected these days). Basically the character in question in AC Syndicate doesn't bring up the subject of his/her sexual identity because it's not relevant to the action on the screen and it doesn't change who he or she is in relation to the main characters.

In other words to make such a big deal out of this whole gender and sexual identity thing has more to do with making a statement. It's not about a character being accepted for who he or she is but rather that character being recognized as a symbol for a type of people something that can only lead to stereotyping people to make them fit into a single category.

That's probably why some people are feeling so strongly about this choice to picture a transgender character in such a fantasy setting. There is also the fact that a sex change is really easy with a spell or a belt (it's BG1 remember) so the whole thing wouldn't be that big a deal in this particular setting.

I really like Dorian in Dragon Age Inquisition because his sexuality is used as a means to flesh him out and give him some backstory regarding his past and his motivations without making it the only thing that defines him (although some people will probably reduce the character to his sexual identity when it is supposed to be just one aspect).

Now the real problem as far as I'm concerned is when a writer for a sequel feels entitled to say bloody nonsense in an interview:

Quote :
“If there was something for the original Baldur’s Gate that just doesn’t mesh for modern day gamers like the sexism, [we tried to address that],” said writer Amber Scott. “In the original there’s a lot of jokes at women’s expense. Or if not a lot, there’s a couple, like Safana was just a sex object in BG 1, and Jaheira was the nagging wife and that was played for comedy. We were able to say, ‘No, that’s not really the kind of story we want to make.’ In Siege of Dragonspear, Safana gets her own little storyline, she got a way better personality upgrade. If people don’t like that, then too bad.”

“I got to write a little tender, romance-y side quest for Khalid and Jaheira where you could learn a little bit about how their marriage works and how they really feel about each other.”

It's clear to me that this person is embarking on a crusade trying to rewrite characters that belong to a classic game and that's something I find deeply obnoxious.

Safana wasn't a sex object, she was a femme fatale which is a classic archetype in movies and literature. She wanted to use the PC to get her hands on the treasure, she wasn't a victim and she wasn't powerless.

It's so stupid to say that BG1 was sexist considering how it introduced a character like Shar Teel who defied stereotypes and was clearly the opposite of the fantasy bikini clad warrior princess.

BG2 also had that whole thing with Edwin/Edwina which somehow the good people at Beamdog seem to have forgotten with all that talk of introducing a transgender character in the game.

What about Jaheira? All it takes is playing through Dungeon Irenicus in BG2 to find out that she actually did care quite a lot about her husband. All that a little romance quest could do would belittle whatever character development happens in BG2 if you're actually going for Jaheira's romance.

I don't get it. The whole overbearing element in Jaheira's personality is just her thing and it's fine (or at least it should be). Khalid may not be the most assertive character but through the game you come to realize that their couple actually worked and as you witness her grief in BG2 you come to realize how important he was to her. Dismissing their relationship as nothing more than a comedy element is a bit disingenuous. Of course it's used to elicit a few laughs but things become much more serious after Khalid's death when we learn that their relationship was more than that.

In any case reading all that nonsense makes me feel like the only thing we can expect from the expansion is fan fiction level writing which is really disappointing considering how good some of the mods for the original game have been. The one thing that I like about the BG1 NPC project is how well the writing seems to mesh with the original game and that's something that can only be called into question after reading about Beamdog's assessment of Baldur's Gate and how they feel it needs to be *improved* for "modern day gamers" (and the very turn of phrase is really insulting for the old fans).

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PostSubject: Re: Rewriting a Classic and Gender Politics   Mon Apr 04, 2016 2:19 pm

If BG was sexist towards women, I'm certain I'd have noticed! It sounds to me as if the new writer revisited the old games and created issues that weren't present in an attempt to mollify the current outcry and justify his creation. What's not been taken into account are the points you've raised along with the fact that several original players still replay and/or recall how characters worked in both BGI & II.

There are a number of strong female roles in BG. In addition, I consider that how Jaheira's personality is constructed has much to do with her alignment. The first time I played BG1, my character was a goodie-two-shoes, and I got loads of flack from Jaheira. The ensuing comments from Khalid worked with this, as he always seemed to be calming her down.

I agree that the writing in BG is incredibly strong. If a game lacks decent narrative, has no real cause and effect (both in respect of the story and the interaction of the characters), and if the characters have little or no depth, it's a lost cause. I don't think I'll be getting this expansion. I'd rather enjoy the games I've got.

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Carabas
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PostSubject: Re: Rewriting a Classic and Gender Politics   Mon Apr 04, 2016 2:34 pm

Thank you Sue, I'm a guy so I'm probably not the best suited to judge but that whole nonsense about BG1 being "problematic" and needing to be fixed really irked me...

I was considering getting the Enhanced Edition for the expansion but after reading all that BS I won't even bother.

I really can't understand why they would waste their time recreating the Baldur's Gate series if they really think it's inherently sexist and offensive.

I remember that they did remove the Nietzsche quote from the game intro (before putting it back in) and at the time I thought it betrayed the fact that they didn't understand that the core of Baldur's Gate was the inner struggle between Good and Evil. Now that I've read what their lead writer thinks of Jaheira I can safely say that they're way off the mark when it comes to this game, its story and its characters.

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PostSubject: Re: Rewriting a Classic and Gender Politics   Mon Apr 04, 2016 3:11 pm

I agree that many games are in need of overhaul when it comes down to sexism and sexual orientation. And a lot of gamers are in serious need of education (gamer gate...), but BG? Really? Like you both said, BG is not sexist. It has pretty solid female characters. And Jaheira? Maybe, just maybe she doesn't represent the nagging wife stereotype. Maybe she just, you know, represents one nagging person.... just sayin'.... (good god is she annoying in BG 1. Almost as annoying as Noober).

Personnally, I think it is a good thing to see a more diverse and progressive fantasy universe. While I agree that it might be annoying when it's in your face, but I also understand when it's a statement. Like in DAO when Zevran hits on the male player. If the "what are you doing?? stop it!!" answer is selected, he says something to the effect of "Ah, I forgot you humans are bothered by those distinctions". Or in DAI, when talking about Krem, the transgendered Charger with Bull. When you say "so she's a man?", he answers something like "HE's a man. Deal with it".

And I do believe that many people need to understand those statements. It's a little on the nose, but it's a necessary evil where I'm concerned.

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PostSubject: Re: Rewriting a Classic and Gender Politics   Mon Apr 04, 2016 7:45 pm

Wat. I'm all for inclusion/representation, as long as it is done respectfully. To me, respect in this context means exactly what Cara said: the inclusion of such a character in a way that works with the story and remains but a facet of their personality, not the sole reason for their existence within a given work. In-your-face tokenism can be just as insulting as invisibility, and inherently more damaging as far as creating harmful narratives is concerned.

the interview wrote:
(...) like Safana was just a sex object in BG 1, and Jaheira was the nagging wife and that was played for comedy.

First of all, NO. Safana had agency. She used her sexuality to influence the PC into helping her on a treasure hunt. That's not being an object. And Jaheira? She was a nagging person (ye Gods, how my PCs hated her), not just a nagging *wife*; in fact, her relationship with Khalid subverted the default power dynamics of marriage representations quite a bit.

The thing with Baldur's Gate I characters in general is that the NPC characterization was quite shallow - and how not, with only biographies and one-liners to go on? They all fitted a certain stereotype, a trope if you will. Skie was the ingenue, Shar-Teel was the man-hating warrioress, Minsc was the dumb barbarian, Kivan was the strong and silent type with a tragic past. And so on, and so forth. That's just how the game was.

It's... really not a thing I often find myself saying when people bring up sexism, but it seems to me that the writer is aiming to become more papal than the pope.
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PostSubject: Re: Rewriting a Classic and Gender Politics   Tue Apr 05, 2016 11:21 pm

Yeah, Bioware didn't really start investing in characterization until BGII. I think the devs fully expected the party members in the first game to die and be replaced with new characters fairly rapidly. When they realized that players preferred to reload if one of their party got gibbed, they felt free to make them more than one-note stereotypes.
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PostSubject: Re: Rewriting a Classic and Gender Politics   Wed Apr 06, 2016 3:33 am

The sexism witch hunting and the racism witch hunting are all the rage nowadays.
The trend has got out of hand by being at first tolerated and, as it gained momentum, even encouraged.
The media is putting gas on fire almost on a daily basis so to me the whole situation is bordering on absurd and insane.
People are starting to see sexism and racism where there is none, and this situation is starting to affect the liberty of expression, which is very worrisome.
If i wanted to, i could easily find games where males are stereotyped and treated in the same manner as the characters mentioned in the OP, with a bit of effort i could claim to find sexism everywhere, this really has to stop.
Men and women are different in so many ways, exagerating, making fun of, or caricaturising these differences is not sexism.

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PostSubject: Re: Rewriting a Classic and Gender Politics   Wed Apr 06, 2016 7:11 am

The problem is that doing that sort of things like that is just another way of alienating people. Preaching is not educating. Turning a well known and liked character (even a one dimensional character) into something he or she is certainly awkward if not obnoxious.

I've been enjoying some indie games because they didn't go down the PC road and that's absolutely fine.

Bound by Flame is a good example. Some reviewers have criticized it for being sexist. I find that hilarious as it is one of the few games in which I prefer playing a female because armours don't make the character look like a bimbo in a bikini chainmail. I guess reviewers had chosen to focus on the one female character who is overly sexualized (for a reason) and completely overlook that this very character is singled out for being dressed like that by other characters (so the fact that she is another femme fatale has to do with the story and the character itself and not a decision to depict women as sex objects). And then there is Mathras and I can't in good conscience spoil him for the people who haven't played this game and may play it someday.

What I'm trying to say is that people who are obsessed with something like that will always find reasons to be critical. I may feel that they're taking things too far by pushing that agenda especially if as a result we end up with politically correct characters who will feel the same and will only exist to fulfill some sort of social commentary.

I don't mean to say that it's fine to endorse sexist views in games but let's talk turkey and say that using elves and dwarves to denounce racism in Dragon Age and the Witcher only works because we can see elves and dwarves being singled out because of who they are. Choosing to gloss over sexism in a fantasy world would probably be a mistake (although nothing prevents fantasy to refer to matriarchal societies which is the case in Baldur's Gate with Viconia and Dynaheir).

Thinking about the first Witcher there is one thing that they really did wrong and that's putting these sexy cards for players to collect, literally objectifying female characters in the game.

Quote :
Personnally, I think it is a good thing to see a more diverse and progressive fantasy universe. While I agree that it might be annoying when it's in your face, but I also understand when it's a statement. Like in DAO when Zevran hits on the male player. If the "what are you doing?? stop it!!" answer is selected, he says something to the effect of "Ah, I forgot you humans are bothered by those distinctions". Or in DAI, when talking about Krem, the transgendered Charger with Bull. When you say "so she's a man?", he answers something like "HE's a man. Deal with it".

Krem's sexual identity doesn't matter as far as the character is concerned. It's just the same with Ned in Assassin's Creed Syndicate. The important thing is that gender doesn't make any difference and they're not going out of their way to push it.

By the way when I think of Krem I can't help being reminded of Eowyn dressing as a man to ride with her king in the Lord of the Rings.

I don't know about you but I much prefer Dorian to Zevran. Dorian won't pursue the male protagonist unless you choose to encourage him which is more than can be said about the elf.

Quote :
Bioware didn't really start investing in characterization until BGII.

Exactly. What I find really amusing is that of all the romance options in BG2, the one with Jaheira is probably the most interesting which leads me to surmise that she may not be as bad a character as the people at Beamdog would want us to believe.

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PostSubject: Re: Rewriting a Classic and Gender Politics   Wed Apr 06, 2016 7:45 am

I totally agree with you about the cards in Witcher 1 Cara. The only mediating factor was that you could choose not to collect them!

I also agree with Kaay about the representation of men in games. Mathras in Bound By Flame provides a good and fun alternative to brute force and muscles.

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PostSubject: Re: Rewriting a Classic and Gender Politics   Thu Apr 07, 2016 8:22 pm

Carabas wrote:

Bound by Flame is a good example. Some reviewers have criticized it for being sexist. I find that hilarious as it is one of the few games in which I prefer playing a female because armours don't make the character look like a bimbo in a bikini chainmail. I guess reviewers had chosen to focus on the one female character who is overly sexualized (for a reason)

I dont understand why these reviewers considered an "overly" sexualized character in a game to be something sexist. Besides what exactly is "overly" sexualized.



Carabas wrote:
What I'm trying to say is that people who are obsessed with something like that will always find reasons to be critical. I may feel that they're taking things too far by pushing that agenda especially if as a result we end up with politically correct characters who will feel the same and will only exist to fulfill some sort of social commentary.

Exactly, but i wonder where is this obsession coming from.
Whats with all the "political corectness" mania nowadays? Its getting out of hand.
Besides there is nothing political and nothing correct about political correctness, its just hypocrisy brought to the next level.

Carabas wrote:
I don't mean to say that it's fine to endorse sexist views in games
Maybe we should try to define what exactly is sexism and sexist views, because i get the feeling the term is being used way too freely so it kinda loses any meaning.
Carabas wrote:
but let's talk turkey and say that using elves and dwarves to denounce racism in Dragon Age and the Witcher only works because we can see elves and dwarves being singled out because of who they are.
I dont know to what extent this was intended in the game, besides i think its worth mentioning that said elves and dwarves are equally racist and hostile towards humans and even towards the different factions within the same race.


Carabas wrote:
Thinking about the first Witcher there is one thing that they really did wrong and that's putting these sexy cards for players to collect, literally objectifying female characters in the game.
I think there is nothing wrong with women being objects of desire with the condition they are not exclusively objects of desire.
In video games and fantasy in general, women are almost never exclusively objects of desire, the heroines have a lot of other qualities, so some excessive sexiness added to their other excessive qualities is not a big deal, its a fantasy world after all.

Sexuality, sexiness and sexualizing in video games have nothing to do with sexism. You could question the above mentioned trends of course, on moral and/or educational grounds, but sexism they are not.
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PostSubject: Re: Rewriting a Classic and Gender Politics   Thu Apr 07, 2016 11:54 pm

Carabas wrote:
Choosing to gloss over sexism in a fantasy world would probably be a mistake (although nothing prevents fantasy to refer to matriarchal societies which is the case in Baldur's Gate with Viconia and Dynaheir).

...which also proves how progressive Baldur's Gate actually was. Where glossing over sexism is concerned, however, I find that this defense is used way too often to justify gratitiousness or what I like to call folk authenticity. Of course, I do not mean to imply that was what you were trying to do in your post, I just thought it might be an interesting point to bring up in a discussion of gender politics in fantasy works.

In case 'folk authenticity' was not self-explanatory: I used it to describe a certain superficial approach to gender in fantasy and historical fiction. "Women being raped left and right? Oh, that's how things were back then". "Women having no fighting ability whatsoever? Oh, that's how things were back then." "Women holding no political power? Having no opinions? No agency? Y'know, things, back then, long ago, something something we have made such progress." In most cases, the creators relying on such constructs and taking them for granted have done little or no actual research concerning those issues.

kaay wrote:
Men and women are different in so many ways, exagerating, making fun of, or caricaturising these differences is not sexism.

The question of the true origin of such differences notwithstanding, the things you just ennumerated can, however, lead to lazy characterization and an overt dependence on gender tropes - which brings me to another point. You proposed that we define sexism; this is clearly a tot homines quot sententiae kind of question, therefore I will answer with a personal opinion, and only in the context concerning works of fiction: in my eyes, it occurrs whenever the situation I described in the previous sentence takes place. If a character's gender is the only meaningful feature they have, if their actions can be explained away with what the writer believes constitutes being a man or a woman, if no individuality beyond a gender stereotype is given - then yes, that work is sexist.

kaay wrote:
I think there is nothing wrong with women being objects of desire with the condition they are not exclusively objects of desire.

THIS. I wish more people would understand that.
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PostSubject: Re: Rewriting a Classic and Gender Politics   Fri Apr 08, 2016 6:12 am

Rune wrote:

You proposed that we define sexism; this is clearly a tot homines quot sententiae kind of question
If the term means different things for different persons, how can we discuss about it?
Admitting quot homines tot sententiae on sexism, would mean everybody is discussing about different things.....and thats the problem ive been trying to point out.
So many accusations of sexism flying all over the internetz, so much talk about sexism...and its all meaningless because the term is used too freely and everybody means different things by it.


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PostSubject: Re: Rewriting a Classic and Gender Politics   Fri Apr 08, 2016 7:37 am

Well, it is a highly subjective term, and a discussion in this case would mean people offering their perspectives on it. I find that it's the objective, clearly defined terms (if, indeed, such terms even exist where the human experience is concerned) that generate little or no discussion - if the exact meaning is already known, why speak of it further?

Of course, there are many cases when people cry sexism before even examining the issue, or without any arguments to back this up - but it does not seem like anyone is trying to do such a thing here.
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PostSubject: Re: Rewriting a Classic and Gender Politics   Fri Apr 08, 2016 8:01 am

The definition of 'objectify' in relation to men or women is to turn that individual into an object. Usually this is related to sexual desire in that the man or woman would be presented as a sexual object. The Diet Coke adverts are a strong contender here for the objectification of the male physique. The man who the women focus upon has no meaning apart from being an object of desire.


Sexual objectification removes the humanity which resides within the individual. They become a constructed object of desire which is poles apart from viewing someone as desirable.
On this forum, each of us is intelligent and knows that finding someone desirable purely for their looks is the shallow end of the scale. True attraction comes from complexity of character - minds which meet and engage etc.

With respect to your comment Kaay that: there's nothing wrong with women being objects of desire with the condition they are not exclusively objects of desire. I would counter that there's nothing wrong with my husband, or another person finding me desirable, but if I became an 'object of desire' to them, I would be questioning the foundation of that desire as I have no wish to be an 'object' in any shape or sense of the word. For me, being viewed as an 'object of desire' in any circumstances would feel like a slippery slope. It would objectify and dehumanise me regardless of whether I had other traits the individual also found desirable.

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PostSubject: Re: Rewriting a Classic and Gender Politics   Fri Apr 08, 2016 8:41 am

Great posts guys (and gals) it really helps me to talk these things out as I feel that sometimes I may become too entrenched in my views and lose perspective. Smile

Quote :
If the term means different things for different persons, how can we discuss about it?
Admitting quot homines tot sententiae on sexism, would mean everybody is discussing about different things.....and thats the problem ive been trying to point out.

That may very well be the problem but that's something we have to face every time we try to have a discussion about anything. As silly as it may sound I've found that sometimes people who would disagree did so because they weren't talking about the same thing.

Quote :
I think there is nothing wrong with women being objects of desire with the condition they are not exclusively objects of desire.

This is something that is very true and essential to the debate.

The same principle should apply to men as well (of course).

What Sue says about it being a slippery slope is truly important. Object is probably not the right word since I don't think that objective objectification was ever implied here (if what I'm saying makes any sense) but I can't think of another one.

In other words being the object of desire shouldn't prevent the "object" to be first and foremost a subject (i.e. active and not solely the passive recipient of someone else's attention).

Quote :
If a character's gender is the only meaningful feature they have, if their actions can be explained away with what the writer believes constitutes being a man or a woman, if no individuality beyond a gender stereotype is given - then yes, that work is sexist.

Sounds fair to me.

The problem we have is that stereotyping reduces what should be a complex character to a cardboard figure. Kaay was right when he mentioned earlier that men were often turned into caricatures. I think we can agree that things get even more complicated when gender comes into play.

Take that guy for instance:


He is definitely a classic male action hero without much of the complexity of the original character (Hercules in mythology wasn't really heroic going by Hollywood standards).

Of course the same could be said about this lady:


And frankly apart from the fact that she wears a skirt I can't see too many differences between them.

I'm not saying Hercules was a great character in the TV series (far from it, he was as formulaic as they get) but Xena didn't strike me as being more than a female version of the same character. Although to be fair she became even more badass than he ever was (and something of a lesbian icon whereas the Hercules character didn't strike the audience in the same way).

With hindsight I suppose that the character's success in comparison to her male counterpart may have had much to do with the fact that she stood out. These days female warrior princesses have become so common we don't even bat an eye but Xena came out a few years before Baldur's Gate was released.

I'd like to mention the Lord of the Rings. I can imagine that there are people out there who feel comfortable saying the book is sexist because there aren't many female charactesr and the Fellowship is a total sausage fest but that is really unfair. I don't subscribe to the point of view introduced in the movies that Arwen should have been given more of an active role (to the point that she replaces Glorfindel and displays more power than Elrond and Gandalf in the book) simply because it takes away from the strong female character in the story, Eowyn.

I'm pretty sure Tolkien was more comfortable writing about guys but I think he did a great job at making Eowyn a true heroine. She does stand out and she does defy the expectations of the people around her but she doesn't give up her femininity.

I've read feminists criticizing the character for reverting back to being a womanly figure at the end when she marries Faramir (in the book Faramir is a much more sympathetic character) perhaps I'm missing something but I don't get why it's such a problem.

What is inherently wrong in being a badass, doing what no man could have done and then finding love and wanting to have a family life and to become a healer in a world that has been torn by war?

I don't see that as a failure and if we're to take Sam as an example family bliss is his recompense for being the real hero of the story. So why is it such a bad thing for Eowyn to help people and to want a family and the love of a good man?

My only guess is that some readers find that by doing so she is brought back to the fold and subjugated under the yoke of a patriarchal society. I guess we could blame Christian morals for that bit but still I don't see how doing what Eowyn does at the end of the book makes her less of a heroic character (just like I don't see Sam settling down with Rosie to be a failure).

I think once again Jackson did miss the point with this character because of the shift towards making Arwen yet another warrior princess. It cheapens the whole thing.

Of course I should mention Tauriel and the fact that Jackson felt it was ok to add a new female character in the Hobbit to make up for the fact that the cast is essentially male (it would seem you can't have a big movie with only male characters these days).

The problem I have with this addition is that (to state the obvious) it is not true to the original story. The character herself is another warrior princess that doesn't break new ground unless we consider the rather embarrassing romance with one of the dwarves a worthy addition to the story (and that includes the love triangle with Legolas) whereas in the Lord of the Rings Gimli's crush for Galadriel was sweet and platonic (without ever bringing up the question of bumping uglies which is probably more in tone with the high fantasy setting).

Thinking about that I come to realize that my feelings about The Hobbit (the film) mirror my misgivings considering what the devs have done with Baldur's Gate. Changing the original material to "improve" it and turning it around so you can tick all the boxes doesn't strike me as being the right way of doing things.

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PostSubject: Re: Rewriting a Classic and Gender Politics   Fri Apr 08, 2016 12:17 pm

Ah, Xena. My childhood! Wink

Indeed, this character subverted the status quo mostly by being a female action hero; her traits played out differently simply because she was a woman. Yet, to me, then, there was more than that. As silly as this show was, it's representation of women remains the vastest and the most varied I have seen in any work of fiction, to date. So many women in so many roles. Mothers, villains, playwrights, Amazons, thieves, con artists, ingenues, sacrificial virgins, warlords - and bloody hell, even a trans beauty queen. In 1996.

Carabas wrote:
What is inherently wrong in being a badass, doing what no man could have done and then finding love and wanting to have a family life and to become a healer in a world that has been torn by war?


Exactly. In spite of Tolkien's efforts to portray the consequences of war and the effects trauma had on it's participants (which, by the way, was done in a masterful, heart-wrenching way and remains my favourite thing about his works), these issues are often overlooked - perhaps merely because of the genre. Wizards and healer-kings notwithstanding, there has been a damn *world war*. Only a very specific type of character would want to keep experiencing it's horrors after that. Aspiration to great deeds was not the only trait that defined Eovyn's character - the other was her sense of duty. She became a healer because that was what the people needed, what the world needed. Not problematic at all.

Personally, I was much more bothered by the fact that it was Faramir who had to explain to her how she felt about Aragorn. It did read like a "oh, I have so many feelings, I need a man to tell me what they mean" kind of thing, not genuine character development.

Lastly, I really do not understand the outrage Hobbit's lack of female characters generated; I simply fail to see how this is a problem. Inclusion done wrong would be another thing, but a lack of it? In a world where 'The Hobbit' is not the only work of fantasy one might have a chance to read (either by themselves or to, say, their daughter), it's simply neutral.
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PostSubject: Re: Rewriting a Classic and Gender Politics   Fri Apr 08, 2016 5:30 pm

I never felt this way about Faramir wooing Eowyn. To me the blooming romance between them is made more poignant by the impending doom they're facing. This is a romance we can relate to (which is more than can be said of Arwen and Aragorn).

The problem these days is that some people feel the need to include every groups so they can feel validated in their life choices. That's why every TV show has at least one gay character. There is nothing wrong with that but at times it can feel a bit forced. In many ways it remimds me of the 80s when you had to have at least one African American in every TV show. That's a new trend now they even manage to have both roles filled by the same character. Diversity is a good thing but justifying it to meet some PC standards may not be the riht course of action.

I've read posts by people who were complaining that The Witcher only featured white people. From my point of view that is preposterous because of the setting itself but someone who has endorsed the politically correct outlook prevalent in American movies is bound to feel that there is something wrong because they feel the need for representation. My feeling is that it should make sense first because if it doesn't then there can be no suspension of disbelief on my part.

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PostSubject: Re: Rewriting a Classic and Gender Politics   Sat Apr 09, 2016 8:07 am

Ah, I was never bothered by the romance itself - it was an important part of the story, structurally, and their entwined fates seemed to reflect, in microscale, the fate of the world. What made me cringe was specifically this quote:

J.R.R. Tolkien wrote:
‘You desired to have the love of the Lord Aragorn. Because he was high and puissant, and you wished to have renown and glory and to be lifted far above the mean things that crawl on the earth. And as a great captain may to a young soldier he seemed to you admirable. For so he is, a lord among men, the greatest that now is. But when he gave you only understanding and pity, then you desired to have nothing, unless a brave death in battle. Look at me, Éowyn!’
And Éowyn looked at Faramir long and steadily; and Faramir said: ‘Do not scorn pity that is the gift of a gentle heart, Éowyn! But I do not offer you my pity. For you are a lady high and valiant and have yourself won renown that shall not be forgotten; and you are a lady beautiful, I deem, beyond even the words of the Elven-tongue to tell. And I love you. Once I pitied your sorrow. But now, were you sorrowless, without fear or any lack, were you the blissful Queen of Gondor, still I would love you. Éowyn, do you not love me?’
Then the heart of Éowyn changed, or else at last she understood it.

Of course, there can be many interpretations; the way I see it, beyond this declaration of love and respect there was also a complete dismissal of the heartbreak she experienced (as a schoolgirl's crush, for crying out loud Laughing), and yes, a man explaining her own feelings to her. It was a bit much.

As for the Witcher, I do not remember there being any people of colour in the books... and, well, those who consider it racist seem to forget where the source material came from. I mean, the author is Polish. I can see how a lack of PoC can be considered a problem in works by creators hailing from more culturally diverse backgrounds, and can be interpreted as a deliberate omission. But seriously: not here. Unless one is living in the capital, chances are they will be a white person surrounded almost exclusively by white people. Bloody hell, I have been living in this country all my life, do not look "exotic" by any stretch of the imagination, and yet - due to some strong Armenoid features that showed up in my phenotype - I often get asked the "were are you *really* from" question. A personal anecdote, but it helps illustrate how homogenous the population is here.

That said, I do believe that Sapkowski's books deal with the issue of racism with a degree of realism and insight that is not always found in works featuring actual minorities instead of fantastical ones.

Speaking of the setting, however, I think it is important to note that neither medieval nor early modern populations in Europe were as lily-white as it is often constructed. It's a fascinating topic to research, and this tumblr might be an interesting place to start for those interested: http://medievalpoc.tumblr.com Smile
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PostSubject: Re: Rewriting a Classic and Gender Politics   Sat Apr 09, 2016 10:30 am

It's always interesting to hear different interpretations, being a guy and being a bit patronizing at times (so I've been told but I guess it comes naturally to teachers) I never thought about this passage this way. In any case like I said it's interesting to get a different perspective.

As far as lily white populations in Europe it depends on your definition. Attila did reach the whereabouts of Orléans in the Northern part of France and I won't get into the subject of all the various invasions. Spain itself was controlled by Arabs for seven centuries.

Still, it doesn't mean that all of Europe was as mixed as the Holy Land at that time. The British Isles for a start probably didn't have as much diversity (far from what can be seen in the TV show Merlin for instance).

So IMO the setting do matter. I'm not saying that you can't have any ethnic diversity but I feel it's better when there is some sort of explanation for it.

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PostSubject: Re: Rewriting a Classic and Gender Politics   Sat Apr 09, 2016 2:17 pm

Carabas wrote:
I'm not saying that you can't have any ethnic diversity but I feel it's better when there is some sort of explanation for it.

Aye, it was not my intention to imply anything different. And Merlin? Well, I never watched it, and cannot remember what the setting was, or if the creators even tried to make it "historical" in any way, but the casting of a black actress as Guenevere was kind of... ill-advised. The very name of this character implies an unusually pale complexion - it means, after all, "white ghost". Awkward. Laughing
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PostSubject: Re: Rewriting a Classic and Gender Politics   Sat Apr 09, 2016 2:25 pm

Mars War Logs (a french developed game) was also accused of not having black people.
I think the essential is not the setting or the background.
The essential is that a creator has to have the freedom of NOT representing different races in his/her works.
Living in a multicultural society does not mean that minorities (or majorities for that matter) have to be represented everywhere.
To me this is the tyranny of a fallacious political correctness mentality and its partisans (who are actually the real racists).

The person who plays Witcher or Mars War Logs and sees lack of racial representation is a racist hard and true, because it takes a racist mind to look for race representation in culture.
Im strongly against discrimination of any kind, and maybe im wrong but im starting to see signs of positive discrimination that get general acceptance, and positive discrimination is still discrimination so im stronglky against it.

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PostSubject: Re: Rewriting a Classic and Gender Politics   Sat Apr 09, 2016 2:45 pm

I agree that positive discrimination is a terrible idea. It's still discrimination no matter how people choose to gloss over the fact.

Quote :
The very name of this character implies an unusually pale complexion - it means, after all, "white ghost". Awkward.

I didn't know that.

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