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Thread: Character Race

  1. #31
    Member TripleFade's Avatar
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    I tend to think of it "if I represented this race, what would I expect from this character?"

    A good example, Japan:

    If I write a samurai character as a white guy, I would probably be rolling my eyes if I were Japanese. Mostly because it's a real Weeb (Weeaboo) thing to write about unless I do something unique with it.

    If I write about some poor bastard burned out and falling asleep on the train home in Tokyo, it says I know a little of what I'm talking about. I've been there, and I've seen it. Tokyo is special in the fact I see incredibly well-dressed (the rains in Japan go straight through cheap clothing, so they usually have a nice coat, and are dressed for business) people who look like they are so overworked they have lost touch with reality on their way home. I didn't see that so much in Osaka or Kyoto. Each area of Japan is a bit different and to bulk them all together is doing them a disservice.

    So I guess my answer is "hey, maybe have someone of that race give it a read and see if they feel it's a fair representation". I'd rather get called out by one person than have the thing published and have groups of people howling for my blood or telling me I'm full of it.

  2. #32
    Individuals do not represent races or anything else besides themselves.

  3. #33
    If I write a samurai character as a white guy, I would probably be rolling my eyes if I were Japanese. Mostly because it's a real Weeb (Weeaboo) thing to write about unless I do something unique with it.
    Why though? This is one of those things that people just say, and I'm not sure it's true. If you are looking for 'inaccurate' depictions of Samurai, look no further than how the Japanese themselves portray them. If you are concerned that your voice doesn't seem 'genuine' to the Samurai experience, daily reminder that nobody's been a Samurai for nearly a century. Or flip it around. Is anyone in the West hemming and hawing about how 'inaccurate' Japanese depictions of the Catholic Church are? No. Because here's the deal: there's the Catholic Church as a real institution that actually exists, and the Catholic Church as an artistic motif. The Japanese aren't trying to make a story about the real Catholic Church. They are taking the emotions that both the Church and its various depictions have inspired in them and using those feelings to create fiction. I am not saying any of this is good or bad. I am describing, somewhat simplistically, the process of inspiration and creation.

    As I said earlier in this thread, all noise about race and culture aside, the real question here is if we are actually capable of writing outside of our own experience. I restate my previous point: I see no reason why being distinct from an object should somehow preclude a genuine depiction of said object. The Empire State Building is still the Empire State Building whether viewed from within or without.

    Extrapolating on this idea, I wonder (again) whether those of us outside the Empire State Building have illegitimate visions of its future merely because we've never actually seen the inside. I don't know. But daily reminder that the goal of Speculative Fiction is to speculate. The idea that 'First Voices' somehow have a monopoly on envisioning their own future seems patently onanistic.
    Stranded in Babylon

  4. #34
    Member Greyson's Avatar
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    If I write a samurai character as a white guy, I would probably be rolling my eyes if I were Japanese. Mostly because it's a real Weeb (Weeaboo) thing to write about unless I do something unique with it.
    Not to mention that books like Shogun exist and are generally well accepted, despite some historical inaccuracy. The motif of samurai vs actual samurai is quite stark, and as Born said, even the Japanese create unrealistic samurai characters regularly. If you are able to harness the energy associated with samurai and tie it into a white character, that's not necessarily bad. You'll have people who accuse you of being a weeb, but as long as you're faithful and create a good character who doesn't wear the mantel "just cause it's cool," who cares? you'll find just as many people inspired by the depiction. (again, if you do your research and ensure your character has reason for being a samurai that are believable, not just 'japanese=cool'). And at that point, some people can hmmm and haw as much as they want, but you've accomplished what you set out to do, so ... who cares?
    "Finish your work, accomplish what you set your hand to, and the people will call you a natural."
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  5. #35
    It's only about creating a good character. Don't worry about people judging you for it. If you've created a good character and done the research, you're fine.

    One of the more frustrating things about "cultural appropriation" is that it means you can't just write about other people's cultures. It's somehow "stealing" to talk about other people's cultures? What are we supposed to do, sit on our hands and forget about history? As if.

  6. #36
    Quote Originally Posted by TripleFade View Post

    A good example, Japan:

    If I write a samurai character as a white guy, I would probably be rolling my eyes if I were Japanese. .
    There would also be a Japanese author somewhere who didn't have a job as a writer because you insisted on telling their own stories for them.

  7. #37
    Quote Originally Posted by EternalGreen View Post
    There would also be a Japanese author somewhere who didn't have a job as a writer because you insisted on telling their own stories for them.

    That's not how reality works.

  8. #38
    The way I see it, humans of different races and cultures aren't that different to begin with. They all have the same basic needs and desires, and they all experience the same range of emotions. A good character, whether a protagonist or villain, must be first and foremost relatable by the reader, and the way to make the character relatable is do a good job at portraying these fundamental aspects of humanity that are universal across cultures and historical periods. Only when that is done should the author start worrying about an accurate portrayal of the character's culture. Even the most meticulous attempt at portraying a culturally and historically-accurate character will fail miserably if it lacks in basic humanity.

    To put it shortly, I would suggest to start building your "ethnic" character around the things that unite all humans, and only then add the things that divide them as a finishing touch.

  9. #39
    Quote Originally Posted by EternalGreen View Post
    There would also be a Japanese author somewhere who didn't have a job as a writer because you insisted on telling their own stories for them.
    Hahaha, lolwut?

    Writing isn't a zero-sum game.
    Last edited by Joker; September 23rd, 2020 at 08:54 PM. Reason: Autocorrect, didn't mean to come across that rude
    Currently working on: The Huntsmage

    "There ain't no such thing as a free lunch." - Robert Heinlein, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress

  10. #40
    Quote Originally Posted by EternalGreen View Post
    There would also be a Japanese author somewhere who didn't have a job as a writer because you insisted on telling their own stories for them.
    Complete and utter nonsense.

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