RJDiogenes, on 10 June 2015 - 05:33 PM, said:
BklnScott, on 10 June 2015 - 12:49 PM, said:
These are not just any characters. Indeed, they are not just characters. They are iconic figures possessing deep cultural resonance. A new character doesn't have that - can't have that.
They weren't icons when they were created. When is it time to create the female and minority icons? The 22nd century?
Something felt off to me when I considered the reverse. Are most of our fictional caucasian icons "white icons"? I mean, I know they are "white" or "caucasian", but what is their whiteness all about, what makes them so iconically white (if they are so)? Is it just that they are, traditionally, considered the default, and/or highest on the racial social pyramid (the whole white male privilege theory). And/or is their some intrinsic detail(s) about these characters (besides low melanin concentration) that make them iconically white, and highly implausible to include as part of a character from a minority group? That a person of a minority intrinsically could not relate to?
I honestly would ask that in reverse too. Are most of our fictional minority icons " *insert minority here* icons "? As in what is their minority-ness, outside their melanin?
Most stories with minority characters don't spend every scene touching on cultural experiences of each minority, as when getting on in day-to-day life it is not always necessary. People have a lot more in common than the have differences. Most people can understand that being mistreatment sucks (oppression, discrimination), chores/work is necessary and working hard is a good habit, or that people can have conflicting feelings around holidays for various reasons (regardless of the holiday), etc, etc.
Not that I am saying that writers should ignore minority experiences when writing them. I think the best writers touch upon their character's cultural labels affecting their character when relevant and it makes sense in that setting, and don't touch upon it when it is not. More and more though, with the modern melting pot and interracial couples and children, such distinct lines, if they were ever completely distinct (and were meaningful and not arbitrary), are getting more blurry by the year. At least for stories set in our contemporary times. You can have a inner-city white kid, or a black president. If in that story was contemporary and the inner-city kid's whole class is mostly white, or if the white-house staff was mostly black, one may not be able to feel like this story is actually taking place in a universe they recognize due to its lack of representation of current demographics. The universe is only supposed to be "nominally fictionally", that it is supposed to be set in a world we understand and recognize... but is not suppose to have minorities? If one is using iconic stories/characters in a contemporary setting something has got to give.
Agent Carter they had to deal with the sexism, though it wasn't a defining trait of Agent Carter, but it certainly affect how she was treated by society. If the sexism was not made obvious in Agent Carter and it was set in our decade we could be wondering at first if she was actually incompetent, not if everyone was sexist. Because our expectations would be that there would be less sexism (not non-existant, just much less).
Or maybe, to some degree, we just expect our culture to be put in a better light, or perceived them as such. In past contemporary TV and film stories (that is old shows/movies that were set in their contemporary times) that did not deal with "race relations" as a "topic" but included a token black/minority character or two, from what I recall and understand many were domestic servants, or clerks in more professional settings... I wonder how often they were shown as mistreated if the story plot or theme did not actually touch upon race relations. I am sure the minority characters were stereotyped, but I doubt they showed them being mistreated unless it was "justified" on screen (messing up their job, etc.)
Anyways, I am getting side-tracked.
Maybe it is just me but I do not see many traditionally caucasian characters that I would says are "white icons". In the sense that they are icons of whiteness, if that makes sense. At least not characters set in modern times. .... Funny, I can imagine William Wallace as a white icon of sorts (fighting against the British, ha!), but not, say, Robin Hood, despite the fact that if Robin Hood was real he could have been a contemporary of William Wallace. Maybe it is because, Robin Hood is fictional, and despite his fictional English origins, but also because his story has been retold so many times, it is like his story is much more about the people telling and the people listening to the story, than it is about the backdrop/setting, if that makes sense. While William Wallace on the other hand is steeped in history, and Scottish culture, and is actually more of a Scottish icon (literally), which in modern times is often a proxy for white. Historically Europeans held many of their neighbours in little esteem, such as when the Irish were mistreated when they first came to America (which certainly wasn't the first time that the Irish were deemed lesser than!), and did not readily identify themselves as all belonging to the same group.
I suppose one would argue there aren't white icons, once we get to the point as soon as we are ok with recasting actors/characters in either direction on the melanin scale.
Edited by sierraleone, 10 June 2015 - 09:53 PM.