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I think part of the problem for me is that the Western is very much an American genre. It consists of stories about America. That's why it's hard to just add medieval fantasy like magic to it. Because those things aren't part of American folklore.
Korra works because the modernization seen in that series mirrors that of the real life modernization seen in the countries upon which it draws its magic.
Edited by M84 on Dec 3rd 2018 at 6:24:36 PM
So is noir.
So are most things that are mixed together with fantasy these days, actually. With the exception of things that Follow the Leader from Harry Potter and the like, because those are based off of British writing tropes.
Edited by KnownUnknown on Dec 3rd 2018 at 2:28:02 AM
You are aware that Korra's setting of Republic City is based on 1920's Shanghai and not the USA, right?
And let's not bring up Rowling. I'm reminded of her half-assed travesty of an attempt to create a system for the USA's magic.
Edited by M84 on Dec 3rd 2018 at 6:28:10 PM
Well, that's not actually true, for one. Maybe it's based on it visually, but there's very obviously a lot of both Golden Age Hollywood and New York (or maybe Chicago) in Korra's big city worldbuilding. It's not like it was any one of them to exclusion of everything else.
For another, that's irrelevant to your point about the genres of these stories being American (as, after all, a simple location within the story does not dictate the genre of the story itself: a martial arts movie set in the Bronx is still a martial arts movie, for example), so I'm not sure why you brought it up.
And if you really want to go deeper into this, what we consider to be "High Fantasy" is largely based on a guy writing a mash up of medieval Scandinavian folklore with social commentary about what at the time was modern English society interspersed with Catholic symbolism, so there's already precedent for these things transcending cultural lines.
And on that note:
American folklore, being based on a melting of everything from African folklore to Irish folklore to Native American folklore to religious and spiritual imagery and everything in between that I overlooked, totally has it's degree of magic in it.
Edited by KnownUnknown on Dec 3rd 2018 at 2:41:20 AM
Oh boy. Let's not bring up attempts to use Native American folklore and religions as half-assed plot elements. Looking at Rowling again.
Also, I'd like to point out that noir is not strictly an American genre.
Edited by M84 on Dec 3rd 2018 at 6:42:16 PM
I'm not sure you want to be making the implication that all attempts to use Native American imagery in fantasy are half-assed.
At this point, I'd again like to dissuade you from inflating "I didn't like these specific stories" to "no stories with these stories' concept can work."
Edited by KnownUnknown on Dec 3rd 2018 at 2:43:23 AM
I did specify Rowling. I could also point out Until Dawn and its use of the wendigo as a slasher villain monster.
Why is Rowling your primary example for Native American fantasy storytelling? And as far as I'm aware, Until Dawn was rather well received.
If you want a good series that mixes Native American imagery with many other cultural imageries and symbols and binds that melting pot together into a decent fantasy narrative, try the Earthsea series.
Edited by KnownUnknown on Dec 3rd 2018 at 2:46:44 AM
Until Dawn was well received, but it did receive some criticism from Native Americans who thought the usage of wendigos in that game was borderline cultural appropriation.
And Earthsea was a straight up high fantasy series. Not much Western genre stuff in it.
Edited by M84 on Dec 3rd 2018 at 6:47:26 PM
In that case, if you want to find a story that does so, is well recieved, and is actually written by a Native American (since Earthsea, awesome as it is, is not), it literally took me a five second google search to find one. And it's an urban fantasy to boot, another blend that mixes a typically down to earth genre with something that contrasts it.
That there aren't any examples of these things in your reference pool does not mean that examples of these things don't exist. You just have to open your mind to find one.
Edited by KnownUnknown on Dec 3rd 2018 at 2:49:02 AM
Earthsea isn't really a Western though. It's a straight up High Fantasy series. And I am aware it exists.
And Trail of Lightning, the work that my post was actually about? That, again, took very little time to actually find, once I bothered to try and do so?
Edited by KnownUnknown on Dec 3rd 2018 at 2:51:24 AM
Again, not a Western. It's more of a post-apocalyptic work with Native American folklore. As the article states, that works on another level because Native Americans actually went through something of an apocalypse already. It's not wholly speculative fiction for them.
Edited by M84 on Dec 3rd 2018 at 7:00:44 PM
It's an urban fantasy post apocalyptic work, which is a blend of genres that by all means is even more difficult to put together. Though, for another, that work was in particular a counterpoint to your attempt to claim that Native American fantasy narratives based are typically half assed (based off of Rowling of all things).
Here's one that isn't, and even better is one that is blended with several genres that are very alien and contrasting to the fantasy genre. Which the writer is able to do, because they know what they're doing.
And as I rather extensively explained already:
At this point, you're going to have to explain what it is about the western genre, specifically, that makes you think a writer can't do that with it, when it's possible with pretty much every genre in existence.
I mentioned about a page back that you'd yet to actually explain why you don't think the western genre works in blends, beyond you simply not liking certain books or movies and conflating your opinion about those movies to mean that the genres don't work. You never said why you're blaming the genre, and that point still stands.
What characteristics make it undoable? What story trends are difficult to reinterpret? What makes western more inherently down to earth then noir and urban (which, if we're being real, are basically modern equivalents of it) genres, and less capable of fantastical elements than the same If it's possible with all the things we've mentioned already, it's possible with the story of a wandering gunslinger, or a blighted frontier town, or any number of textbook Western concepts. These things aren't particularly exclusive.
As I said, neither writing, nor genres, nor narratives exist in a vacuum. Claiming that a work can't be used as a comparison to how genre blends in general can work isn't, frankly, illogical, and you've done very little to actually justify your point at all. I'm getting a bit tired of giving you extensive examples of how writing works only for you to just go "no it isn't" for superficial reasons: if you don't actually have a point, then there isn't any where beyond here this can go.
Edited by KnownUnknown on Dec 3rd 2018 at 3:04:54 AM
I've already explained why I don't think highly of the idea of mixing Cowboy Westerns with Sword and Sorcery Fantasy aside from examples of it not being done very well. It boils down the USA simply being too young and not having any history involving knights or such. You already argued that it's not very good reasoning — which I concede might be true — but I did explain.
And I'd point out that it's actually really easy to mix fantasy with post-apocalypse. Frame it as a magic vs technology thing — with the end of the modern ways, the old ways and their magic are making a comeback. The old animated movie Wizards comes to mind. There's also Adventure Time which takes place long after an apocalyptic war.
Edited by M84 on Dec 3rd 2018 at 7:09:06 PM
Anyway, I'm going to apologize for derailing the thread to this extent.
But it did get me thinking about something else.
It's been said that the Western as a movie genre is more or less dead. Now YMMV may vary on this (I don't really believe it myself), but if it is — if the Western as a genre really is dead — then how does one explain the popularity of RDR 2? Aside from it being a solid game.
Personally, I think that maybe it's because RDR (and RDR 2) are Western works that revolve around the end of Westerns. One recurring theme in the games is the End of an Age — the end of the Wild West. Encroaching federalization and such means there's no longer any place for outlaws.
Wait so if I write a story that uses mythology or stuff from a culture thatís not mine like say Chinese mythology would that be Cultural Appropriation then?
Depends on how well you do it and if you do proper research. If you do it from a place of respect for the culture and mythology...well, you might still get criticism for cultural appropriation.
Cultural appropriation is a thorny issue. As a Chinese-American I personally wouldn't be offended as long as you get the basics right.
Edited by M84 on Dec 3rd 2018 at 7:29:49 PM
Well ya always gotta do research. If you do something then ya gotta do it right.
I feel it be fun.
I admit that I went "...eh..." when I saw Enslaved: Odyssey to the West and its rather interesting take on Journey to the West.
Edited by M84 on Dec 3rd 2018 at 7:34:51 PM
I myself got like inspired by the Demon Sorcerer family villains from the Jackie Chan cartoon.
Edited by slimcoder on Dec 3rd 2018 at 3:37:22 AM
It'd be rather more difficult to accuse that series of cultural appropriation of Chinese culture since it was made with direct input from Chinese people. Such as Jackie Chan himself.
Cultural appropriation can be complicated business. The primary thing people are looking at for accusations of it are if the work doesn't just use it, but is exploitative in using it. If you're looking to use Chinese imagery just for the sake of it, then you're definitely going to get hit with accusations about it.
But if you're putting in the research and actually making a story based off of an understanding and respect of the imagery involved, then you're less likely to get hit with accusations despite not being Chinese.
For example, the accusation of cultural appropriation for Until Dawn does make sense, because it's really just a monster slasher story with a Native American myth as the monster. It's similar to how Hollywood Voodoo gets increasingly criticized these days, because it's an example of "ooh, look at this scary ethnic thing!" being sold for money. Regardless of how good the story is, there are always going to be some people that are uncomfortable with it for that reason.
Another important thing to remember is to not make money off of sacred stuff. Disney found that out the hard way when they tried to sell Maui costumes: the tattoos Maui uses aren't just a thing people do in Polynesia like they are in America, there's a lot of sanctity to them, and when Disney tried to sell them in stores people got pissed.
Edited by KnownUnknown on Dec 3rd 2018 at 3:51:12 AM
This is indeed something I am serious about making a story out of.
I just need to figure out where to get the right research materials.
For one I need to know how to write accurate names.
If you cannot even come up with actual Chinese names, I'd just stop right there. That's a huge warning sign. If you're serious about this, you might want to start by asking some actual Chinese people you know. And I mean in meatspace, not just online.
Edited by M84 on Dec 3rd 2018 at 8:07:02 PM
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