dark_administrator: (chromatic yuletide 3)
[personal profile] dark_administrator
There are less than 8 days (!!!) before [archiveofourown.org profile] yuletide assignments are due. We hope you're making good progress on your assignment and wish you luck. For those who are already done (!!!!!), congratulations!

In the meantime, there are a few things we want to address. One of the components of our Chromatic Yuletide 2010 Challenge is:
[...] if you end up writing problematic source, engage in fixing it: finding the invisible people of colour and putting them back in, writing the back story for a character without tying it into the white people's narratives, critiquing by making explicit the blind spots and bigotry and flaws in the celebrated white heroes of the narrative.
We encourage you to be aware of how the source for which you're writing in particular portrays race, ethnicity, culture and the intersectionality of these issues with others, especially when the source is not created by people from the identity it portrays.

Last year, we posted about some common pitfalls while writing outside your own culture and how to attempt to avoid them, where we also highlighted a discussion about white and Western consumption of manga and anime, and collected critique posts of some white/Western/other sources.

This year, we'd like to offer similar resources. We're trying to collect a central list of critique posts on the topics of race, ethnicity and culture for white/Western/other sources so if you know of any links, we would love to be linked to them!

List of Critique Posts for White/Western/Other Sources )

We'd also like to discuss some common pitfalls in writing chromatic characters and non-Western cultures. What problems have you encountered as a writer and/or a reader? And how do you think they can be countered against?

Here are some questions that might help you ground your writing for this challenge: What other questions should we ask themselves? And what other posts or articles have helped you clarify your writing process?

Last Updated: 14 Dec. 2010.
dhobikikutti: earthen diya (yuletide)
[personal profile] dhobikikutti
[personal profile] inkstone said in her post: "My wish for Yuletide is that people who offer to write in anime and manga (and manhwa and manhua, if there are manhua being offered) fandoms, and do write in those fandoms, to please do so with respect to the source's host culture."

She was prompted by [personal profile] wistfuljane's observation:
I've noticed some trends in animanga fanworks that left me rather perplexed:
  • the prevalent of historical AUs set in Regency or some other British historical periods and the rather absence of historical AUs set in say Heian, Edo or some other Japanese or Asian periods;
  • the prevalent of stories based on European fairy tales or folklores and the rather lack of stories based on Japanese or Asian fairy tales or folklores;
  • the prevalent of stories centering around (party) games or activities that either originated in America or more common there and the rather absence of stories centering around (party) games or activities that originated in Japan/Asia or more common there

Then, of course, there's the rather lack of anime vids set to non-English songs. (And the more nitpicking stuffs like glaringly out-of-place English sayings or phrases in fanfic.)

[insanejournal.com profile] the_willow made the following post in response which sums up one of the critical problems inherent in Western and White consumption of manga and anime:
Part of the reason the Japanese elements disappear is that the Japanese elements are seen, by a lot of those consuming the animan(ga/hwa/hua) as fantasy elements already; due to them seeing the characters as white[...] Because anime and manga are brought to the US to be consumed, and marketers have determined and actually have a stake in perpetuating 'everyone in the world is just like the US, but with a few quirks'; because it makes things simple and the simpler a thing is, the more easily it can be consumed[...]
Thus essential Asianess, whether it is Japaneseness, Koreaness, Chineseness, and others, etc... is presented as similar to Midwesterness, East Coastness, Southerness etc... a geographic peculiarity with local legends and quirks that is essentially American.

In comments, [personal profile] zephyrprince makes the point:
I do think there would be some level of difference between English-language fans entering something like Bollywood or K-Drama fandoms en mass though I guess in that watching these texts involves focusing your eyes on actual non-white bodies whereas anime, manga, and videogame characters are animated, drawn, or computer generated. I do think that the claims that all manga/anime characters are white are somewhat racist and inaccurate, but it does seem to make a difference when one is seeing actual Of Color features/phenotypes on flesh-and-blood bodies.

To which [personal profile] franzeska responds:
One thing I notice a lot with manga is that there's plenty in Japanese (though probably a low overall percentage) that makes issues of culture and race inescapable. Anything about immigrants in Japan or that's set other places in Asia or outside of Japan in general tends to make some of that stuff explicit in the text and/or art[...] But that's not what gets translated professionally, and it's usually not what gets scanlated."

As [personal profile] oyceter says, there is a problem "with people who use anime/manga as a type of ghetto pass, like it somehow absolves them of racism, or on the flip side, people who are enamoured of Japan and fetishize Japan and Japanese people".

The western consumption of manga and anime should not take away from the place they hold in their source cultures, nor the chromatic nature of their creators and characters. This is the reason they have been included in our list for the most part (with some exceptions). We would like, though, for you to think about the issues involved in consuming and writing for these sources!

ETA (1 Dec 09): [personal profile] troisroyaumes has an excellent post on the political implications of forming opinions based only on exposure to translated manhwa -
I want you to think about who decides what to translate and why, how they market the translation, and what all that says both about the audience receiving the translation and the people making the decision.[...]Are the conclusions we draw about trends in Japanese literature biased by the authors that get translated? Are those authors representative of the tastes of a particular subsection of Japanese readers--young versus old, male versus female, well-educated versus less-educated, etc.--or are they more representative of our tastes as a English-reading audience?
dhobikikutti: earthen diya (yuletide)
[personal profile] dhobikikutti
This is a very short list of the mistakes that can be made when writing about a race, culture or religion that is not one's one, and not well or adequately representing in the mainstream media around us. Feel free to suggest articles and posts that have proven useful to you, and I will add them to this list.

  • Cultural appropriation is not only a huge problem, but a hard to define, let alone police one. I actually think it is fairly easy to avoid the most common problem, by choosing to focus on the characters whose culture is in question. Let them be the protagonist, and not ultimately the agent to further the white or Other character's journey, and and you have reduced the intrusion of your own identity into the story.
  • Writing for yourself, sometimes at the cost of excluding those to whom the source belongs. While defending everyone's freedom to write whatever they want, it is unfortunate when the decision to play in someone else's sandbox ends up coming across as tracking mud across their temple. Yuletide is safer that way, since you know that you will be writing something that has been explicitly asked for and desired by at least one person. Thus, I refuse to read Hindu religious fic, but there are other desis who want it. A little poking around your recipient's profile is a good idea, so that you do not end up writing, for instance, something that they will find inappropriately sexual about characters they consider sacred.
  • Racist and offensive tropes: Magical Negroes, Noble Savages, Helpful Honkies... The way to educate yourself about these tropes is so HARD! You have to head over to the TV Tropes race section and get sucked into the black hole lost in the intertubes some larnin'. It's scary.
  • Superimposing identities is actually one of the most common problems I find in fiction written by people who have researched for facts, but not culture. Characters are given motivations and emotions that are presumed universal but are in fact highly culture specific. Not every teenager will feel entitled to whine about how unfair their parents are, not every woman will see choosing family over love as a tragedy, not every man will think of living with his parents as a sign of failure. The only real way to understand cultural motivations is to immerse yourself into tonnes of different voices from it; historical and fictional and written and spoken and lived. For one source though, a good beginning is to choose not to stray too far from the path -- if the narrative voice says the character chose to do or feel something, accept it, and make that the conclusion, rather than the justification for going AU.
  • Getting the details right is really just the most aggravating process, because most of us have been on the other side of being completely jarred out of a story that got One! Tiny! Completely Insignificant To The Narrative! thing wrong, and holding a grudge against it entirely out of proportion to its flaws. And there is only so much you can do with research, and [livejournal.com profile] little_details and even a beta. Which is why writing outside your comfort zone is so much easier to do for an exchange like Yuletide, where there are people happy just to story at all, and where criticism is extremely subdued. And also, added bonus, the archive switches over to AO3 where you can easily edit your story without bothering [livejournal.com profile] elynross!
  • How manga and anime get consumed in the west often cause a lot of problematic fanfic generation. This post contains a starting point to discussions that will help to see the problems and then avoid them. In brief: no more Regency AUs!

Note: This list was modifed from material from this post. It is a work in progress, and as such will be continually edited and added to.