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Who we don’t get to be

June 6, 2008

Naamen breaks down the whole issue of the way in which ethnicity, especially around protagonists, gets reassigned in Hollywood.

I could also point out the number of movies “about” us which exist solely through the lens of noncolored peoples- in which we can’t be the protagonists in stories set in our own cultures, not without a noncolored person being the focal point- Dances with Wolves, The Last Samurai, The Forbidden Kingdom, even freaking Bury Me At Wounded Knee!

Heroes, both fictional and historic remind us who we can be. In this case, their absence, is to tell us who we can’t be.

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One comment

  1. Indeed. Its also interesting to note that it often isn’t just movies. Even in fantasy literature where the heroes may be green, have pointed ears, and reproduce by budding they are often culturally coded as post-Enlightenment European.

    I’d known that, read studies about that, and so on, for years. But when I was in India a friend hooked me up with an English translation of an historical romance about the Chola Empire, written by a Tamil. It was amazing how much the subtle changes in the way things were changed mattered in that book, rendering an otherwise pretty normal plot into something very different — a book in which brown people were the heroes for other brown people, and the only way in which white people mattered was by their echoing absence.

    I suppose this is one of the areas in which games offer such potential. Of course, you often have to swim against the current to get it as a lot of embedded bullshit exists in the hobby (look at me preach to the choir), but in people’s home games there is so much more room to explore these issues.



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