Ahr riverEver since I saw A:TLA, I've been trying my darn hardest to not make "white" the default skin color. I've moved over into "tan" being the default skin color, which is sorta the same but not. But now, whenever I see a group of people with the same skin color, it just flat out bothers me. It's like, a potential tool to make the characters even more diverse (like hair color, eye color, clothing style, personality, religion, etc. etc.) and they're wasting it! Even characters who come from the same race will have slightly different tones! I mean, even in my family alone, I'm the palest, my dad is red from a life of farmwork, my mom is tan from a time when it was considered good to tan, my brother is tannish from his love of soccer, and my sister is pale like me, but still not nearly as pale. All that diversity from one little family! So, those are my thoughts on it. How do y'all handle the tonnage of skin your stories?
Fuzzy Orange Doomsayer^ Since you're a graphic novelist, you'll naturally have to deal with this more than most of us. I often don't specify skin colors at all. (I have mixed up the colors a bit—for instance, one story uses as its audience stand-ins the agrarian descendants of desert nomads, with pale-skinned northerners as the initial antagonists.) Edit: Perhaps I should specify that the agrarians aren't the good guys any more than the northerners are—they're just the people of whom the reader is invited to think "they're just like me!" before she realizes how narrow-minded and xenophobic they really are.
edited 6th Jan '12 6:18:27 PM by feotakahari
That's Feo . . . He's a disgusting, mysoginistic, paedophilic asshat who moonlights as a shitty writer—Something Awful
Ahr riverYes. That is very true. I don't know if that is a good or a bad thing though.
(That Guy You Met Once)There's really no excuse for Monochrome Casting unless your story takes place in a monoethnic country.
Woefully IneloquentI live in an extremely non-diverse country where everyone's as pale as a sheet of paper, so race doesn't really come to my mind when I'm creating characters, and the idea of going for racial diversity just for the heck of it seems really weird to me. In my stories, people's skin colour tends to be tied to their geography (it is in reality, too...). If someone comes from the very south, then they have really dark skin, someone who lives a bit more north, will have lighter skin, and so on. But because of Creator Provincialism (even though I construct my own worlds, the north is what I know best, so the north is what I write), I haven't created that many dark-skinned characters so far. The idea of creating more of them just for the heck of it seems weird to me. It would be kinda like creating more hazel-eyed characters just for the heck of it, just makes no sense to me. Especially since I never sit down and decide how someone will look. Their skin tone will always come from their geography, and all other features tend to just pop up in head out of nowhere.
Individual liberation is an illusion.
Ahr riverBecause not every place in the world is region locked. Plus, even back in ye olden times, not everyone was the exact same shade of white, and since they worked a lot more, they'd be even darker, just from the sun. Take Turkey, where my dad comes from, he is more or less "white" but there are also people born and raised in Turkey who are very dark skinned. They aren't immigrants or anything, they're just dark skinned. Lots of places are like that.
edited 6th Jan '12 6:34:02 PM by MrAHR
I generally write science fiction, so worrying about racial demographics in a con-world is not a major issue. As far as avoiding Monochrome Casting goes, it's never been particularly hard. As I mentioned in the "opposite-sex protagonists" thread a while back, I've never really had the "default protagonist of your gender and race" thing going on.
OH LOOK! ROCKS!My cast is almost solely Caucasian and East Asian, and I at least make some attempt to mix up the skin colors assuming it's realistic for the setting.
Great men are forged in fire. It is the privilege of lesser men to light the flame.
Yes, but if people are just the same race and just have differenty skin colors — like, within my family, we have the range from Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette to Arab-ish, but we're all the same race. In a family drama with all of my family, assuming conservation of detail on appearances, is this really worth noting?
edited 6th Jan '12 7:00:25 PM by ohsointocats
Ahr riverOSIC: Most shows don't focus solely on a family. There are extras. Friends. Enemies. Bosses. Teachers. And a bunch of other people folk that show up. Especially glaring are shows like Friends and what else have you, where places like NYC are depicted as completely white. NYC.
Read your own post. I'm talking about when you're working with a group of people who are the same race but have different skin colors, as you mentioned with ethnic Turks. Race =/= skin color.
edited 6th Jan '12 7:06:48 PM by ohsointocats
Ahr river...I was using the turkish example to show even if you make something highly isolated culture wise, there will still be differences in skin color, so dark skin can indeed be justified in a place where light skinned people live, even without cultural metropolis' like NYC.
edited 6th Jan '12 7:08:17 PM by MrAHR
the idea of going for racial diversity just for the heck of it seems really weird to me.When racial diversity is included, it isn't "just for the heck of it" or "just because." The few creators that do have diverse casts do it because, despite what the media says, the world is a pretty diverse place, racially, culturally, nationally, ethnically, religiously, fiancially, etc. etc. etc. Now, Fanty, I know you said that you come from a homogenous country, so I can't speak to your experiences. But from my experiences—being a minority military brat who currently lives outside of a big city (New York)—casting a story where everyone is the same or similiar would be wrong.
edited 6th Jan '12 7:09:30 PM by BetsyandtheFiveAvengers
Ahr riverPlaces like NYC bleed through, I live 60 miles away, and I still have a huge diverse population. I mean, yes, predominantly white, but you also get a large indian population. And it's really sad, because most indian characters are stereotypes of some sort.
Yes, and while I know that it is mostly white, it doesn't feel like it. You walk down the street and you see all kinds of different people, hear different languages... Most shows and movies set in New York (and places similar) are absolutely ridiculous in pretending like all of that doesn't exist. Books are less offensive, and the ones that spring to mind, like Lush Life play it up for drama.
edited 6th Jan '12 7:20:28 PM by BetsyandtheFiveAvengers
And it's really sad, because most indian characters are stereotypes of some sort.Then don't write "Indian characters"; write characters that are Indian.
Ahr riverI don't, obviously, but it annoys me when most modern shows do. Although, Betsy, have you ever been to China Town or Little Italy or something like that? It is amusing how the percentage can totally flip as you switch roads.
edited 6th Jan '12 7:40:10 PM by MrAHR
Yeah, it's strange and cool, but it makes sense.
Writer's Welcome WagonI find myself naturally making some characters a minority. It just that it seems like some characters are naturally this, and some are naturally that, although I had Race Lifted a few characters over the years. Since I'm guilty of making every male protagonist (with only three or four exceptions) white, I decided to make Bryan race unknown. Although most readers will presume he's Caucasian, his household is presented in a way that he could be a variety of ethics. Could be bi-racial, could be just Caucasian. I know his race, but I don't show it. And I intend not to—ever. In terms of the rest of the cast of Manifestation Files, I mix it up. I have two Native American characters (including the Romantic Interest), a handful of African-Americans (two important, a few other minor roles), and one Ambitiously Jewish character.
edited 6th Jan '12 8:18:32 PM by chihuahua0
Now, this is the kind of approach that always feels forced to me - sitting down and enumerating. "Okay, do I have enough black guys yet? Maybe I should add one or two Asians?" I'm not saying that's actually what you're doing, but when you write it out like that, that's the impression I get.
Ahr riverI do that when I get to justify it by having the person gathering them intentionally looking for a PC group. Also the one time I decided to make my mimes indian. Just because I wanted to. But since I write graphic novels, it never becomes relevant. They're dark skinned. That's all you really can tell. If that. They are mimes, after all.
edited 6th Jan '12 8:36:49 PM by MrAHR
There's really no excuse for Monochrome Casting unless your story takes place in a monoethnic country.Period pieces... I usually try to match my casts, in terms of ethnicity, to both their country of origin and the time period. So, for example, in my story set in the (alternate history) '20s, the majority of the cast is white, but the people from Japan, obviously, are Japanese, the people from the Ottoman Empire run the spectrum of Middle Eastern-based ethnic backgrounds, I have one chapter where I rail against segregation where an all-black American unit is focused on, etc. Rarely are my casts totally monochrome, but I don't like to change characters' ethnic backgrounds for the sake of political correctness, if the new ethnicity in question doesn't feel right for the character. It's a difficult topic, really.
edited 6th Jan '12 9:30:05 PM by Flyboy
"Shit, our candidate is a psychopath. Better replace him with Newt Gingrich."
It's easy, mmkay?I generally don't explicitly mention my character's races, but in my head, they're mostly white. As a consequence, when I do explicitly mention a character's race, it's usually white. I had a major character who was Argentinean once, but that looks white so it probably doesn't count.
At first I didn't realize I needed all this stuff...
I don't really put too much effort into races. Sometimes they're monochrome and sometimes they're not, it's a quirk of the story. The Disappearance of Alexander Vang, the main family which had half the characters was obviously Asian (Hmong), but nobody else's race was mentioned. I'm guessing people will assume they're white. In Vampire Story Without Vampires, pretty much everyone was either white, black, or Native American because that's where all the folklore I was researching came from. Once I got to researching other ethnicities folklore the whole thing kind of exploded in complexity and that's why I'm not working on that story right now... The Traveler Only averts monochrome casting because it's a multinational team. Yuliy is Indian/Norwegian (don't ask), Andrei is Russian (white), Ortega is Texan (hispanic, in this case Texas was a different country), Delia is American (black), Dara is Scottish (white), Nyarlathotep is Egyptian sort of (Arab), Ulaan is Mongolian (Asian), etc.
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