Created By: MegaJ on February 16, 2013 Last Edited By: MegaJ on July 31, 2013
Nuked

Most Writers Are Not Minorities

White people are overrepresented in writing and as the presumed audience.

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope
A Trope in Agregate.

The vast majority of fiction and media productions (as far as North America/the United States is concerned) is written and created by White people, for a mainly White audience. Of course this varies depending on the racial make-up of a country, but Hollywood is also a top exporter of programming. This is slowly changing as more demographics gain influence in not just the entertainment world, but in politics/social movements, but the old status quo is very hard to change. In 2013, the WGA reported only 15.6 percent of overall TV writing staff were minorites and remaining underrepresented.

White writers/creators are more prolific and successful in America for several reasons. For one, White people make up the majority of the population in the U.S., so naturally in any given profession, there's going to be a lot more white people than other any other race in it. However, there is still a higher barrier for entry for those of belong to a racial minority to enter any given creative industry.

This leads to the use of racial stereotypes in fiction, some more uglier than others. Since racial minorities had very limited power in the creative industries, this led some of the more racist creators putting their prejudices in their writings. These manifested into racial minorities falling into common tropes and types throughout history. Today, a good many of those old stereotypes are looked at as disdain, but still show up far too often in modern fiction.

Some of this can be unintentional. As stated before, White people make up the majority of the United States, and some writers may have little or no experience dealing with other races in their lives and stereotyping is used just as something they're more familiar with. And then there's Positive Discrimination in which writers may what to dodge any sort of controversy and make the Token Minority perfect in every way, but shallow as characters.

The audience at home is also assumed to be mainly white, so fiction is tailored to their perspectives and desires (or what writers think are their perspectives and desires). Tropes such as White Male Lead and Humans Are White have white characters being used prominently to appeal to the widest audience as possible, even for works that are exported beyond the U.S. Racial minority viewers are usually stuck trying to identify with the Token Minority or finding their own avenues for arts and entertainment, which of course aren't as big as White companies.

This is one of the main causes for Pop-Culture Isolation. See also Monochrome Casting, White Male Lead, Race Lift (in terms of "white washing"), Missing White Woman Syndrome and Minority Show Ghetto. Mighty Whitey, White Man's Burden, Humans Are White are common manifestations of this trope.

Also see Most Writers Are Male, Most Gamers Are Male, and Girl Show Ghetto for a similar construct, but mainly pertaining to gender.
Community Feedback Replies: 62
  • February 16, 2013
    Tuckerscreator
    Also the cause of writing Mighty Whitey stories.
  • February 22, 2013
    MegaJ
    Oh and I'm not sure if it needs examples. Most Writers Are Male and Most Gamers Are Male don't, and they accurately describe the lack of diversity in media. Like a Creator Standpoint thing.
  • February 22, 2013
    Oof
    I suggest renaming the trope to Most Writers Are White In The West or Most Anglo American Writers Are White or something to that effect, because the trope does not hold for most of the world ...
  • February 22, 2013
    StarValkyrie
    I think this is much too regionally and culturally specific. Most Writers are White in the US would mean something different than Most Writers are White in Finland (and presumably than Most Writers Are White in China, or Zimbabwe, or India). That's not to say that the issue of race isn't important, but can we phrase it in a way that doesn't automatically preclude 3/4 of the planet? It doesn't have to be a Most Writers Are snowclone.

    Perhaps going more in the direction of the Men Are Generic Women Are Special trope (which is related to Most Writers Are Male) do we have a trope about minority character stories being treated as niche, as if they could have no mainstream appeal?

    Also, is what you're going for fundamentally about race or applicable to any minority identity and their perspective/voice in their own representation? Some of the things you describe related to not having good characters to identify with resonate with some LGBT themes and their tropes, for example. You might try checking out the Otherness Tropes index and see what we've got there too.
  • February 22, 2013
    Oof
    I like user/Star Valkyrie's idea of naming it after another trope. Men Are Generic Women Are Special is maybe not appropriate, because depending on the (white) writer there's a tendency to either make the (POC) character too special or too bland. Instead, I suggest fashioning the trope name after Men Are The Expendable Gender. Maybe something like ... PO Cs Are Secondary Characters? Supporting Roles Of Colour? Or something.
  • February 22, 2013
    lexicon
    Sounds like White Male Lead.
  • February 23, 2013
    Oof
    Yeah, but it's not about the White Male Lead, it's about the rest of the cast.
  • February 23, 2013
    MegaJ
    Thanks for the suggestions, I'm still trying to narrow it down.
  • March 25, 2013
    ArcadesSabboth
    This is a good trope to point out. Who gave it a motion to discard and why?

    I do agree though that instead of focusing on just white people in the US, it should focus on dominant races and minority races generally.
  • March 25, 2013
    DunDun
    While this is an important topic to point out (racism in the media), it really shouldn't be region specific. It makes the article seem like we're one of those "What do you mean America isn't the only country?" people. My issue with this isn't the name Most Writers Are White; it's the description saying "at least in North America." But others have talked a bit about that, so I don't think I need to go on about that.

    Again, I'm not saying we don't need a Most Writers Are White. Just that this YKTTW went in a wrong direction. There's this gem on writing Characters of Color from MissWexler from Tumblr.
  • March 25, 2013
    Sackett
    I'd also point out that it also varies by region.

    A white writer living in a big southern city is going to have a very different way of writing about about race compared to a white writer in North Dakota.

    Not sure this is tropable at this level. Maybe make it a subtrope of Creator Provincialism ? Racial Provincialism?
  • March 25, 2013
    lexicon
    It's not "North America is also a top exporter of programming." It's that Hollywood is the top exporter of programming and since Hollywood is predominantly white that can come out the the writing.
  • March 25, 2013
    xanderiskander
    I think this has pretty much been a discredited trope in North America since the 1800's (and possibly even before that) with many other people of color being writers as well, especially outside North America.

    I'll be honest I also don't really think this should be troped because it carries with it many Unfortunate Implications. One because it can be offensive, but also if you make the trope more about America too, it has Unfortunate Implications about Americans.

    Also I think this is pretty much covered by Write What You Know.
  • March 26, 2013
    ArcadesSabboth
    "Discredited"?

    In the same way that there are tons of female writers, and gay writers, so therefore sexism and homophobia in writing aren't problems anymore?

    Or in the same way racism doesn't exist in the U.S. anymore?

    Yeah, no, this is a real trope and not "discredited."
  • March 26, 2013
    helterskelter
    Not to be pedantic, but this isn't a trope because it occurs in real life. It's a reason we have tropes like White Male Lead and Mighty Whitey.

    I'd also like to point out that 'white' is not capitalized.
  • March 27, 2013
    Alrune
    Just like Most Writers Are Male, this doesn't need examples. It's a meta-trope.
  • March 27, 2013
    xanderiskander
    ^^^ Obviously I'm not saying those things don't exist because I said this article could be offensive. I don't think this is a trope. But I won't argue specifics because I think I already explained myself pretty clearly earlier (and others explained it better than me). Just by the disagreements in the discussion here though you can see that even if it could be troped this article would be a prime target for flame bait.

    ^If you look at the discussion page for Most Writers Are Male it's been argued that it's not a trope also, and some thought that the page should be deleted. But nothing was done in the end. The discussion there is pretty much exactly the same as here.
  • March 27, 2013
    helterskelter
    Oh, I'm not debating this doesn't belong. That's why I said "not to be pedantic". It's definitely a useful page for reference and a meta-"trope".
  • March 30, 2013
    Alrune
    The reason why Most Writers Are Male wasn't deleted is indeed because it's a truth. It's part of the Tropes In Aggregate and a meta-trope, just like Most Fanfic Writers Are Girls or Most Gamers Are Male. It's a Useful Notes if anything but it's certainly not something to be removed.

    As for Most Writers Are White, only true in Western media. And since what we cover here as a whole is Western and East Asian productions, it comes with the territory that indeed many non-White/non-Japanese characters fill a minority slot.

  • March 30, 2013
    Alrune
    Oh and just because it "offends" some squeamish White folks isn't a good reason to discard it.

  • March 30, 2013
    Sackett
    I see no reason to single out White people or North American programming. The same thing happens in Japan, there most writers are Japanese, and that can be see in the way Japanese media handles issues of race, and who the main characters are. I'm pretty sure the same thing happens in China. (From a factual perspective, I'm betting that most writers are Chinese).

    This is best expressed as a subtrope of Creator Provincialism, Racial Provincialism. The tendency for writers to address racial issues differently depending on their own race.
  • March 30, 2013
    helterskelter
    ^ Hm... you have a point. Most Gamers Are Male and Most Writers Are Male are universal. However, I do feel that a broader trope might be less meaningful or effective: for instance, while this could apply to Japanese works, they are very ethnically homogeneous group. This is different than places like the US where it is very ethnically diverse--but this is not represented in the media at large.
  • March 30, 2013
    MorganWick
  • March 31, 2013
    capsaicinfinity
    Most Hollywood Writers Are White could work. I think the issue is less one of whether there are more white or non-white writers in America, and more to do with the fact that white writers get more exposure due to institutionalized racism. The racial makeup of the higher-ups in media is also a factor, as they are the ones who decide which writers' work gets promoted.
  • April 1, 2013
    SharleeD
    Turn it around, maybe? "Few Writers Are Minorities" would apply equally to any part of the world, and could be a supertrope to Most Writers Are Male.
  • April 1, 2013
    McKathlin
    While the title Most Writers Are White isn't accurate outside the Western English-speaking world, I think this belongs on TV Tropes, because of its being the driving force behind the tropes mentioned in this YKTTW description.

    Minority Show Ghetto is another related trope.
  • April 1, 2013
    lexicon
    That's true. Most Writers Are White is the driving force behind tropes like White Male Lead and Mighty Whitey, but the page needs to make it clear that it's about Hollywood stories. That would make it clear that it's not about the whole world.
  • April 5, 2013
    Alrune
    Honestly, do we focus as much on Bollywood priductions or any movie made by African/Middle-Eastern writers? Indeed we should rewrite the title to something more accurate such as Most Hollywood Writers Are White or Minority Writers Dont Make The Cut.

  • April 5, 2013
    AmyGdala
    Minorities Are The Minority?

    Yes, that's a truism.
  • April 5, 2013
    Alrune
    That should do it.
  • July 30, 2013
    MegaJ
    Oh hey, forgot this was here. I'll launch this as soon as I get to a PC and possibly rename it.
  • July 30, 2013
    lexicon
    You might want to wait for some hats first. Personally I don't see how, Most (United States) Writers Are White because "White people make up the majority of the population in the U.S." is a trope and the title Minorities Are The Minority is just vague.
  • July 30, 2013
    Paradisesnake
    ^^ Are you serious? This has not one but four "Motion To Discard" tags on it and not a single hat.
  • July 30, 2013
    KingZeal
  • July 30, 2013
    Paradisesnake
    ^ Thirding this one.
  • July 30, 2013
    dragonquestz
    That name works a little better. Is it possible to have one that doesn't look like flame bait?
  • July 30, 2013
    MegaJ
    ^^^Meh, I would say my description and discussion that came previously in this YKTTW overwrites those tags.

    As for the name change, I'm thinking Most Hollywood Writers Are White, or just keeping it. I'm sure the MR As steam over Most Writers Are Male, so I'm sure we can live with this one.

    Also tightening description.
  • July 30, 2013
    Paradisesnake
    ^ You do realize that this got yet another "Motion To Discard" tag during these couple of hours between my previous post and this one? It has five now.
  • July 30, 2013
    MegaJ
    I see them. They can also open up the reply button and leave their concerns, otherwise I'm not sure what their issue is and whether or not they think this isn't worthy of being launched or just trying to deflect any sort of majority criticism.
  • July 30, 2013
    DragonQuestZ
    The big problem is that the very concept of the trope seems to be just asking for whining about perceived racism in media.
  • July 30, 2013
    MegaJ
    "Perceived?" "Whining?"

    The fact that we have a lot of tropes stemming from this (Mighty Whitey, White Male Lead, Humans Are White) indicate that this is a pattern that stems from somewhere.

    Thinking about taking the "Hollywood" part out, TV/Film/Hollywood productions aren't just guilty of this.
  • July 30, 2013
    DragonQuestZ
    "Thinking about taking the "Hollywood" part out, TV/Film/Hollywood productions aren't just guilty of this"

    Which already looks like an accusation more than just stating a cause of an unfortunate issue.

    It's basically the form of this trope, not that involves racial issues.
  • July 30, 2013
    MegaJ
    There is absolutely nothing accusatory about that statement I made, nor are there any accusatory remarks in the description and it even points out the practical reasons the trope exists (the amount of prolific white writers compared to racial minorities, for one).
  • July 30, 2013
    StarValkyrie
    ^^^^ You just assume that we haven't. One of those Motion to Discards is mine, I posted my reasons as they were then back in Feb. and that's still where I'm at now because those reasons haven't changed. I can maybe, maybe, see a trope for Racial Provincialism as Sackett mentioned above because that at least allows space for international examples which do share many similarities to what I think you're getting at, but even then, I think that Racial Provincialism would be in danger of simply becoming a list of racial minority media (which would be a genre index, not a trope and I think(?) the opposite of what you're trying to point out about how race is represented in fiction). I think this trope even as it is is also in danger of this with or without the Tropes In Aggregate tag. So how about let's start with something simple: I need you to tell me more about what examples of this trope would be. You have no examples at all and I'm not even sure what an example would be. Are you imagining a trope where examples are particularly egregious works on white writing minorities? Or are you looking for a list of aversions - would those be works written by minority writers or works where minority characters are written well? And how is the way racial minorities are handled specifically different from how other minorities?

    There's a lot of work to do to get this proposal ready to launch. Right now, it's a dissertation with no examples which means you could, at most, make it a Useful Note. If you launch it like this, it will only get kicked back. YKTTW exists to help prospective tropes so let it do its job. That also means you need to actually work on the issues that people point out, not so evil/narrow-minded people will cough up the hats, but so this can grow from a modest proposal into a functional trope (hats are merely a byproduct - they happen when the trope actually starts to work).
  • July 30, 2013
    MegaJ
    Examples wouldn't be specific for any type of work using the trope, as it isn't a story convention, but much like Most Writers Are Male it's observant of a overall trend which leads to the tropes I pointed out in question.

    Just from a Google search to prove I'm not going Everything Is Racist:

    TV Writing Remains a White Man's World, WGA Study Finds: "Minority writers nearly doubled their share of staffing positions since the millennium but remain severely underrepresented. Between the 1999-2000 and 2011-12 seasons, minority writers’ share of TV employment increased from 7.5 percent to 15.6 percent. Despite this increase, minorities as a combined group remain underrepresented by a factor of more than two-to-one in television staff employment in the 2011-12 season...A number of writing staff remain dominated by white males. Roughly 10 percent of TV shows in the 2011-12 season had no female writers on staff; and nearly a third had no minority writers on staff. In the 2010-2011 television season, only 9 percent of pilots had at least one minority writer attached, while just 24 percent of pilots had at least one woman writer attached."
  • July 30, 2013
    xanderiskander
    This isn't a Trope In Aggregate. Tropes In Aggregate are artistic choices seen inside fiction that appear not to mean anything at first glance.

    This page seems to just be complaining about things you don't like about media production to me. I don't think this is a trope at all to be honest. At best it's useful notes or trivia. Most Writers Are Male may have a page, but that doesn't make that a trope either (which IIRC I said before is disputed on it's own discussion page).

  • July 30, 2013
    DAN004
    BTW does this count for Japanese works too? Oftentimes manga, anime and Japanese video games are made with the intentions of pleasing the audiences there.
  • July 30, 2013
    KingZeal
    ^^ This trope would be a Super Trope for things like WASP, White Male Lead, Humans Are White, and other tropes of the sort. The entire point to those tropes being that they are the most accepted type of protagonist in the world. Even Asian countries will often still have a caucasian as a protagonist (example: Devil May Cry, Resident Evil, and Mario).
  • July 31, 2013
    MegaJ
    ^^^There is no complaining in the description, just pointing out the cause of a pattern. If I was complaining, wouldn't it be still valid due to list of tropes stemming from it named in the post above? I mean, not pulling this stuff from my butt...

    NY Times article on black characters written by white filmmakers.
  • July 31, 2013
    DAN004
    @ King Zeal: You're talking to me right? (IDK, since you put 2 arrows instead of 1)

    I mean, this could be given some notes of Values Dissonance for the Japanese media. And AFAIK, DMC and RE are exceptions to the Japanese norm.
  • July 31, 2013
    KingZeal
    Yes, they are, but the fact remains that even those exceptions still chose a white protagonist. How many Asian works do you know of that star a protagonist that's Black. I know of Nadia The Secret Of Blue Water, and not much else.

    While it's true that any society will tend to portray its majority first (which is why I thought Few Writers Are Minorities was a better title), even when a culture outside of a melting-pot culture like the USA chooses a non-native ethnicity, they usually go with white.
  • July 31, 2013
    DAN004
    "any society will tend to portray its majority first" is what I'm aiming for, actually. =P
  • July 31, 2013
    StarValkyrie
    So you're planning for this to include no examples at all? Let me guess... because that's how Most Writers Are Male is? Okay, but of the Most Writers series, that's the only one like that and it's also the most controversial. I'd suggest looking at Most Writers Are Adults or Most Writers Are Human instead. This description as you have it now is not actually adding anything to the wiki that isn't covered by the tropes it references. Even Most Writers Are Male manages to cover things that aren't covered by its related and subtropes (which are tropes about stereotypes of women and their use as fanservice) - like addressing how men write things that are interesting to men so that you get tons of mainstream shows (for example) about cops, about computers, about space wars, or whatever but when you start looking for a show about women then studios want to know if there's "enough of a niche market to support that kind of programming". What can this trope give the wiki that isn't already covered? If there are going to be examples, you need to cite some. If there aren't, you still have to consider how it will be used as a blue link. What would a correct use look like?

    Also, I agree that this is NOT Tropes In Aggregate.

    And while I'm at it, the Prolific in the current title is a meaningless distinction - at this point, you're better off with a straight snowclone if you absolutely won't consider the issues that people keep bringing up about the difference between "white" and "racial majority" (do not take that as suggesting you just swap the latter phrase for the former in the title - the problem is far bigger than that).
  • July 31, 2013
    KingZeal
    I personally think I answered all your concerns in a response above. The OP's intent aside.
  • July 31, 2013
    StarValkyrie
    ^ Was that addressed to me? If so, I have to disagree. Honestly, I've just been chuckling everytime you suggest the entire world defaults to white; it's such an absurd statement. I mean, Bollywood defaults to white? Seriously. I think maybe you could actually be falling afoul yourself of whatever this trope is we're trying to hammer out here.
  • July 31, 2013
    KingZeal
    I'm glad you're getting a nice chuckle or whatever, but can we stick to what's relevant? Your sense of humor isn't, as far as I'm aware.

    As I mentioned before, fictional mediums have a tendency to default into whatever the majority is for that culture. It just so happens, however, that caucasians happen to be the most privileged majority in the world, due to the world's sole superpower and most dominant culture being chiefly caucasian. As mentioned before, even when whites aren't the majority of a culture, they also happen to be the one most likely to appear next.

    Here's an example of an article talking about it if you don't believe me.
  • July 31, 2013
    StarValkyrie
    ^ The parts of that article that cover race are clearly supporting the point that Most Writers are White is not the same thing as Most Writers are the Local Ethnic Majority. It's supporting my point, not yours. There's nothing that says because the world's largest superpower atm is predominantly white, all world media defaults to white. (Of course it doesn't - that whole idea is completely ridiculous)
  • July 31, 2013
    MegaJ
    ^^I think I and King Zeal did address your concerns, and I think you're coming off as too dismissive. I didn't think that this is something I have to draw with a digraph about how a ludicrous amount of media is white-created and white-dominated in the U.S. and even stretches beyond but apparently I do. I knew I would get some clashing for proposing, and I did expect the accusations of me "complaining and whining," unfortunately.
  • July 31, 2013
    StarValkyrie
    ^ I don't think you understand that no one here is saying it's not a truism that most American media is written by white writers. We are saying (1) the issue you observe (about the overbearing voice of the racial majority) is international, but (2) not in a way that can just be solved by saying most media (rather than most American media) is written by white writers because white is not the racial majority everywhere and (3) even where it is, the racial landscape can be very different from place to place which changes the implications of racial representation in local fiction. It is the difference between Most Writers Are White and Most Writers Are Not Minorities. This has been pointed out in nearly half of the above posts. There are other reasons this isn't ready for launch, but that's the big one.
  • July 31, 2013
    MegaJ
  • July 31, 2013
    godofgamers
    Most Writers Are Not Minorities feels like a tautology. If they're minorities, they usually aren't a majority.
  • July 31, 2013
    lexicon
    There are several tropes about how the normal race in fiction is white so just call it White Is Normal and list those tropes. It's not a really long list but there are a few there. A page about how the majority is the majority isn't worth having at all.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=znwewgqb3206iwjkvaaovl6z&trope=DiscardedYKTTW