Racial Depictions in Popular Media (Moved from the News Thread)

Captaaainuniverse

Time-Traveller
Won't be long until falling into mud by accident and some mud hitting your face is considered black face.
Actually, there's been a few old photos from wales, the old miners, that was said to be doing blackface

Dude my forefathers were breathing in coal dust, saying they'd be doing something like that is offensive to Them
 

Rui

Karamatsu Boy
Administrator
No way in hell is that black face maybe someone wanted her gone and they found an excuse jealousy maybe involved who knows.
Of course it's blackface. Anyone who seriously thinks it's a good idea to black up their skin to portray a black character on the world stage in 2019 has to be deliberately feigning ignorance; whether they inwardly care or not, it is widely known that it causes hurt and tension. This is the same hobby which has long had a reputation for its fans bullying black people who try to play non-black characters. If I know this as someone who has never cosplayed in my life, a committed cosplayer like that woman ought to be aware of it too and employ some basic common sense.

Not sure why it's impossible for her to repurpose the same costume without the brown body paint. Most of the pictures of the character show him in such bad lighting that you can't tell his skin colour anyway. She's still vigorously defending herself though and I guess calling anyone who disagrees 'jealous' is one way to handle the situation (incidentally, I am not jealous).

R
 

Anime1977

Adventurer
Of course it's blackface. Anyone who seriously thinks it's a good idea to black up their skin to portray a black character on the world stage in 2019 has to be deliberately feigning ignorance; whether they inwardly care or not, it is widely known that it causes hurt and tension. This is the same hobby which has long had a reputation for its fans bullying black people who try to play non-black characters. If I know this as someone who has never cosplayed in my life, a committed cosplayer like that woman ought to be aware of it too and employ some basic common sense.

Not sure why it's impossible for her to repurpose the same costume without the brown body paint. Most of the pictures of the character show him in such bad lighting that you can't tell his skin colour anyway. She's still vigorously defending herself though and I guess calling anyone who disagrees 'jealous' is one way to handle the situation (incidentally, I am not jealous).

R
You seriously don't know what blacking up looks like it's someone who put on black face paint with red lips that is a racial stereotype but that cosplay is not a racial stereotype in any shape or form and this is just a nee jerk reaction.oh and I didn't say you were jealous and don't twist my words please that was my own opinion.
 
Last edited:

Neil.T

Time-Traveller
FWIW, I tapped on @Anime1977's link and kept scrolling down, looking for the costume in question, until it became clear that it was actually the one at the top of the page all along.

Extraordinary. 😵
 

Anime1977

Adventurer
FWIW, I tapped on @Anime1977's link and kept scrolling down, looking for the costume in question, until it became clear that it was actually the one at the top of the page all along.

Extraordinary. 😵
It's a shame she being made out to be a racist and it looks like she won't be cosplaying as that character anymore.shame on people who see racism in everything.
 

ayase

State Alchemist
If someone isn’t specifically trying to make themselves look like an offensive racial stereotype or mock people of a particular race then this is a bit of a difficult one for me. I mean, I’m guessing it’s okay for someone to paint themselves actually jet black to cosplay as say, a Drow? Because Drow don’t exist and can’t have their feelings hurt, yet at the same time a lot of old-time blackface performers did paint their faces literally black rather than brown. So perhaps that should be offensive? And tanning obviously isn’t racist, because it’s a natural process and can even make some white people darker skinned than some black people. But then spray tan exists which is an unnatural way of white people darkening their skin, yet generally people who use it aren’t accused of offensively pretending to be black.

While I have no real interest in the politics of the cosplay scene (I’m sure as in any scene that sees people vying for attention and recognition there are probably a lot of unpleasant characters) and certainly no particular interest in defending the honour of any particular cosplayer, I think intention probably does matter.
 

serpantino

Thousand Master
My friend and I were having a similar conversation regarding old movies/cartoons etc and how they shouldn't be held up to modern standards. It stemmed from me struggling to find a copy of Disney's Song of the South which I loved growing up. It's funny how things like Breakfast at Tiffany's are still celebrated by film buffs despite the clearly racist portrayal of a Chinese character, whilst other movies/cartoon episodes are buried.

In this cosplay case though I wonder how many decent, everyday people who happen to be darker skinned are truly offended by this versus the army of white skinned pc warriors who are offended on their behalf.

Constantly bringing attention to this kind of thing only perpetuates the illusion that skin colour should be a primary definition of who we are which is a great injustice. There may be a legacy there but history provides cautionary tales to learn from; it should not be used as just another excuse to segregate in the modern world.
 

Captaaainuniverse

Time-Traveller
The only thing I would say is ; if it's a character, and particularly a character they like, is it portrayed well? Is it potrayed as close to the character as possible, with no racial stereotype in mind?

If the character is potrayed well, then I would say I don't care who is what colour, but if it's something like popo from dragon ball you got a bit of explaining to do... he's arguably a racial stereotype, and a rare one in dragon ball
 

Bakauchuujin

Brigade Leader
I hate how everything is offensive in 2019. I haven't myself done any of these so called offensive things or been called out on any ********, but it just makes me sad to see how censorious parts of society is and the fact that it seems to generally be accepted. Anything now is racist, sexist or phobic it seems regardless of context or meaning. Sexy characters or character in revealing outfits in video games should be banned because they are sexist, cosplaying characters with black skin is racist, a movie without enough black actors regardless setting of the movie is racist etc.

I think the acceptance of this kind of always offended movement just opens us up to more censorship whether that is going to be censorship of anime, manga, visual novels or games. Also I just think this kind of mindset just puts up certain people to just be even more outraged by things because their previous stupid outrage was accepted or they saw someone get outraged by something stupid.
 

ayase

State Alchemist
My friend and I were having a similar conversation regarding old movies/cartoons etc and how they shouldn't be held up to modern standards. It stemmed from me struggling to find a copy of Disney's Song of the South which I loved growing up. It's funny how things like Breakfast at Tiffany's are still celebrated by film buffs despite the clearly racist portrayal of a Chinese character, whilst other movies/cartoon episodes are buried.
Probably getting even more off topic now, but as far as I know it was Disney’s choice to bury Song of the South, just as they now seem intent on burying the crows from Dumbo which I do find sad - Unfortunate and certainly racially insensitive naming aside, I feel like the crows are actually pretty positive depictions for the time - Having a group of initially antagonistic “black” characters become Dumbo’s best bros because they’re actually good people who can sympathise with his plight feels like a pretty progressive message for the kids of the 1940s. And given that they’re voiced by black actors, surely their “stereotypical” behaviour is not much worse than later blaxploitation films?

As for Song of the South, while the criticisms of making life in the segregated South for black people and race relations between former slaves and former slaveholders look rather too rosy are definitely valid (although it could be argued any film for children is bound to sugarcoat such things based on what’s considered suitable for them to see at the time - Disney’s Little Mermaid and Hunchback of Notre Dame certainly do not go the way of the original stories either, Song of the South was hardly going to be 12 Years a Slave) locking it away not only means no-one can see the first Oscar winning performance by a black actor (which feels kinda disrespectful to James Baskett) but also stories that were based on African American folk tales - The fact Walt Disney wanted to adapt stories created by black people is surely a fairly large positive?

All that said, Warner Brothers have had a much healthier attitude to this in my opinion - Making old, potentially offensive cartoons available but with disclaimers beforehand to explain the context and that they were a product of their times.

I do find this quite an interesting topic, and if mods want to split it off as it’s own “racism and media” topic or something I have high hopes we’ll be able to discuss it respectfully here. With the exception of a couple who have stated, I don’t know what races and ethnicities most AUKN members belong to, and I feel like that is something worth taking into account when posting. Listening to different perspectives on these things is valuable.
 
Last edited:

Neil.T

Time-Traveller
All that said, Warner Brothers have had a much healthier attitude to this in my opinion - Making old, potentially offensive cartoons available but with disclaimers beforehand to explain the context and that they were a product of their times.
For me, this is the very definition of taking a healthy attitude towards things: educating rather than banning.

Take Anime Limited's BD release of the Japanese wartime propaganda film Momotaro: Sacred Sailors, for example; that begins with exactly such a disclaimer from its distributors:

The film you are about to see is a product of its time. It depicts the beliefs, sensibilities, fears and aspirations of a nation that was then at war with much of the English-speaking Western world. The relations between Japan and the English-speaking West were, of course, vastly different then than they are today. While the following does not represent the views of Funimation or Shochiku, this film is presented in its original entirety because to do otherwise would be the same as pretending that this period in history — and the international climate of the time — never existed.

Indeed so: archive things so that people can take them out and look at them if they want, and help them understand the context. Then maybe something can be learned from it. That won't happen by trying to bury it out of sight or bastardising it to suit the world as it is today. Doing that would create a kind of Nineteen Eighty-Four situation where history is constantly rewritten or deleted to fit the facts as they currently are.

(Film spoiler: in the end, the clever Japanese commander coaxes an unconditional surrender out of the bumbling, stammering Brits. For the record, it is the only anime on MAL to which I have not given a score out of ten as that's not really possible.)

To bring this back properly on-topic, the disc also includes a 1943 short film called The Spider and the Tulip. The spider character is every bit an offensive racial stereotype, and is everything I was expecting to see in that purported "blackface" cosplay. This film tailors the preceding disclaimer to warn of what's coming:

. . . It may depict the ethnic and racial prejudice of the time in which it was made. These depictions were wrong then and they are wrong today.

The spider's appearance can't help but put me in mind of 008 Pyunma's original character design in Shotarou Ishinomori's manga Cyborg 009. That was mercifully changed in later iterations to address its (in my view) undeniably offensive nature.

Things progress.
 
Last edited:

thedoctor2016

Symphogear
i believe in the value of archiving these (So yes Disney’s pretend it never happened approach is bad) but I’m also not going to dress up as the “Jim Crows” from Dumbo. They are quite racist in terms of their name really not their actions
 

ayase

State Alchemist
Indeed so: archive things so that people can take them out and look at them if they want, and help them understand the context. Then maybe something can be learned from it. That won't happen by trying to bury it out of sight or bastardising it to suit the world as it is today. Doing that would create a kind of Nineteen Eighty-Four situation where history is constantly rewritten or deleted to fit the facts as they currently are.
The phrase that springs immediately to mind is “The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there”. Why this idea has become a source of controversy in recent times I really don’t know, because of course context is important. In times and places where certain prejudices were widespread, you’re going to see those attitudes reflected in media. And I suspect the vast majority of people weren’t even hateful, simply ignorant and products of their society. I don’t think the audiences laughing at the insensitive portrayals of black, asian, gay or trans people of the past were doing it out of hate, hurtful though it no doubt still was to those people at the time. In a lot of cases I think it’s because people simply didn’t mix, and therefore couldn’t see the effect it was having on others. That’s thankfully gotten better, but there are certainly still people who could do to spend a bit more time imagining themselves in others’ shoes.

It is still difficult in some cases. Japan has a very racially homogeneous population as we know, so certain offensive stereotypes have perhaps persisted there while they’ve largely disappeared from media in the US and UK (I don’t imagine Angel Cop and its Jewish conspiracy plot could have gotten made here, for example). But it does no good to condemn an entire society for that (that way lies the path of Stacey Dooley) as not only should we not expect every society to be in the same place developmentally, but it’s ultimately still down to individual creators to educate themselves and have a bit of respect for people.

While not a racial depiction (sending the new thread immediately off topic :p) one I often think of when discussing issues like these is Aoi from YUA. I do know and have known trans people and count some among my friends, and I can totally understand and respect that to a trans person, some of the way she’s depicted and how other characters act towards her could be quite hurtful. But at the same time, as a depiction of a trans person made in Japan in the mid 1990s it seems positively enlightened, and I will go to bat any day for her depiction in the show being overwhelmingly positive. Characters themselves learn and accept her, she faces struggles because of who she is and she still has character flaws. By contrast, I actually find a lot of newer, western depictions of trans people far less compelling as they’re often made to be perfect (and worse, often kinda self righteous). Whether that’s for fear of causing offence or an attempt to right the wrongs of the past by leaning the other way I don’t know, but when people depict minorities in this way it almost feels like we’re going backwards. Equality is achieved by treating people as equals and treating everyone as human, certainly not as lessers as in the past, but also not treading on eggshells to avoid hurting their feelings - That feels equally offensive to my way of thinking.
 

sideways

Great Teacher
you could say that a lot of cosplay is "racist" as a lot of it is people dressed up as Japanese people that arn't Japanese🤷‍♂️
 
Top