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

Captaaainuniverse

Time-Traveller
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🤷‍♂️
Yes, I take a great mispleasure at seeing people dressed as fate’s saber; a Japanese depiction of an English legend based on an actual welsh monarch. My people have been played like Tetris
And ye a lot of people do cosplay from anime, but I believe it started over here with western comics
 

Rui

Karamatsu Boy
Administrator
I spoke up because the debate was one-sided and unpleasant. Echo chambers are not fun to watch. I'm not just talking about here; nearly everywhere this news is being posted it's attracting negativity and insults towards the people who spoke out against the cosplayer in question with very few voices expressing a conflicting opinion. How could they, when they will be bullied off the Internet? It's easy to paint a picture of a dominant Twitter army of 'fun police' ruining everyone's entertainment but it's not the reality that I see from the research I did here.

Respecting other people is free and easy to do (in this case, it's materially easier to perform that cosplay without painting most of your body). 50% of the fan pictures of this character I found when Googling it were not recognisably black at all due to the edgy lighting. There are photos on the Euro Cosplay Twitter of prize-winners who are playing characters of different fantasy skin tones without painting their own so it wouldn't have harmed her chances in the competition. Given what we know about the reactions to blackface, particularly in countries where it is still being used offensively enough to be newsworthy, it was tone deaf at best to assume that the decision would have passed unnoticed once she advanced through to the international phase of the contest.

We should absolutely be living in a society where people can pay tribute to others without it dredging up bad feelings. And perhaps the cosplayer assumed we already did; I often hear that we live in a society which has moved past issues of racism/sexism/anythingism so activism is nothing more than an inconvenience to the enlightened. The problem is that we don't live in that world - in this particular case, specifically, what hurts and what is considered normal varies wildly from country to country. This was an international competition. What flies in the French championship where the locals see it as normal might easily cause pain in other countries and that seems to be exactly what happened here.

As far as I can tell, the timeline of events is that she won the event in France. A fellow cosplayer pointed out that it might cause problems, to which the cosplayer retaliated with defensiveness (and from some accounts unpleasantness, but this is unsubstantiated). Things escalated; some black cosplayers stood up and said that they felt it wasn't right for an international competition to promote this kind of cosplay. Some non-black cosplayers said the same thing, and some black cosplayers said they didn't care or thought it was cool, but given that this entire storm in a teacup could have been resolved in five minutes by her saying 'Sorry guys, I will use the cosplay without the black body paint next time' and that didn't happen, it's hard to see the disqualified cosplayer as the helpless victim her fans are describing. It definitely doesn't look like a minority of people standing up for an underdog.

I would understand it if what was being requested was genuinely unreasonable or unprecedented but surely she - or one of her friends - should have known. And all she has done since is fan the flames rather than listening to a word anyone else has said.

The amount of false equivalence on display in the arguments is out of this world. Nobody is saying 'don't cosplay people of another race'. They're saying 'be more sensitive when doing unnecessary things which hurt others'.

Being kind is free.

R
 
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ayase

State Alchemist
Just to say, my responses are to what I've read here rather than anywhere else, a springboard for more interesting discussion with people I know rather than a reaction to anything that's going on elsewhere. I'm not sure anyone should expect anything more than violent stupidity from social media these days - I guess a lot of people must still enjoy it, if they don't I'd suggest they join me in simply not using it. It's a big internet, and I find the places where people aren't constantly angry and defensive about everything make for a better atmosphere.

'be more sensitive when doing unnecessary things which hurt others'.
I think the issue comes when you have things that some people find hurtful and others don't. If people are expected to be contrite whenever someone else says they've done something hurtful to them, it kinda opens the door to controlling behaviour where people can influence others to act in the way they want by claiming to be hurt. That would be a very childish and manipulative way to behave, but sadly I think a lot of people are that childish and manipulative (a personal, admittedly cynical belief which I suppose probably makes me less likely to believe people who claim to be hurt by things).

People should absolutely apologise if they believe they have something to apologise for. But that's going to vary from person to person in the same way as some people will take offence at something others won't. The line in each case is going to be drawn according to each individual's personal moral code, I'm not sure anything can really be done about that.
 
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Rui

Karamatsu Boy
Administrator
I think the issue comes when you have things that some people find hurtful and others don't. If people are expected to be contrite whenever someone else says they've done something hurtful to them, it kinda opens the door to controlling behaviour where people can influence others to act in the way they want by claiming to be hurt. That would be a very childish and manipulative way to behave, but sadly I think a lot of people are that childish and manipulative (a personal, admittedly cynical belief which I suppose probably makes me less likely to believe people who claim to be hurt by things).
That's a good point. I've generally lived trying to give people the benefit of the doubt until I have reason to believe otherwise and so far at my venerable age, I haven't come to any harm by doing so other than being on the receiving end of a few sharp words. If someone tries to manipulate me that way, shame on them. They will find trust doesn't come so easily the second time around.

It works both ways, though. When you look at those leaping to defend the 'victim' in the story which spawned this discussion, it's hard not to see an element of control in the way it's all playing out. Would-be victims weaponise call-out culture by employing the exact same tactics they blame others for using on them, which makes it dreadfully difficult for those in a position of lower power (here, non-championship cosplayers without so many resources and fans) to criticise anyone more important than themselves. I am generally inclined to heed the underdog in these situations because they're the ones who are going to be buried under flames from thousands of white knights and doxed off the Internet. The cost of speaking out is high unless you are either ludicrously popular or a narcissist who thrives off any kind of attention at all. It's usually quite easy to spot that type. For everyone else, speaking out about things that make a person feel uncomfortable is not usually met with the acclaim and praise that the defenders of the status quo fear.

As for the right to be offended, I agree that it's hard to tell what other people will find hurtful without talking to them and because of the way our society is set up, we seldom get to hear those voices. I remember a very colourful conversation with a certain former forum member here about how they were 'allowed' to say racist things in public because a friend of that race didn't tell them not to, never considering that perhaps other people might not share that person's opinion (or indeed that the friend might not have spoken up because they didn't feel comfortable doing so). I've also been in real-world conversations which were exceptionally offensive to me (ranging from rape threats aimed at me personally to horrendously violent language aimed at marginalised groups, but I've often kept quiet until someone else has joined and needed defending because nobody wants to be that guy who rocks the boat until they're bullied out of the conversation. I recall one time where I joined a friend's group in an online game only to find that the culture in that group was to insult women and LGBT+ folks with casual slurs all the time in the public chat for that game. My otherwise-sensible friend never spoke up against the group once even though he knew that it was wrong and didn't participate directly. Had I not made it abundantly clear how I felt, they could easily have argued that they didn't know anyone found it unpleasant because the culture of looking the other way was so deeply ingrained.

I've had it with holding my tongue in such situations by this point. If people don't speak up, some people don't seem capable of realising that joking about bullying minority groups isn't funny. And then they are shocked later on when someone flips out and tells them it's not acceptable because they genuinely had no idea it was upsetting everyone. It's a conversation we all need to be hearing until it's second nature. And when we hear that something we do is causing hurt, we need to be able to dig deep and ask whether doing that thing is really worth another person's tears. Sometimes we'll still choose to do it anyway, but it's better to have that moment of soul-searching instead of fast-tracking straight to the defensiveness.

If people are going to cry over obviously spurious things then they should clearly be ignored, but there's a massive grey area between 'things that are obviously offensive to me even though I'm not affected' and 'things that literally nobody finds offensive unless they're trolling'. For things like the cosplay, it only takes a couple of seconds to Google to check whether it's still considered insensitive. I honestly find it hard to believe that she was even able to search for techniques for achieving the look without tripping over a hundred or so 'don't black up your skin for cosplay' posts written by exasperated American bloggers.

It is hard to understand ignorance when we are all living in a world where we can easily access other viewpoints. To use an example from my own personal experience, when I was growing up it was considered perfectly acceptable for children to make fun of East Asian stereotypes in the playground at school - I'm pretty sure even the teachers joined in. I felt it was nasty at the time but it was normalised and I was virtually mute as a kid so I never queried it. That kind of stuff makes my younger non-white relatives cry themselves to sleep at night and constantly ask why they are treated like they are inferior to their schoolmates. They aren't snowflakes; the kids who think their right to be racist without repercussions is more important than someone else's right to belong are the ones who are snowflakes. The kids from earlier generations weren't any less hurt by that stuff.

Personally, I'm inclined to believe that people have become more audible more than they have become more sensitive. There are indisputably cases of people getting offended for the sake of being offended (and other being counter-offended for the exact same reason), but at the same time there are a million stories of people living with casual racism/sexism/abuse in the 'good old days' before actions had social consequences, and I'm not sure that the experience has ever been character building or fun. It was a paradise for those who were not being picked on and a constant barrage of microaggressions for everyone else. I know I swallowed a lot of my own discomfort on a regular basis and I'm lucky enough to have avoided a good amount of the nonsense other people have to live through. Partly by virtue of my comfortable upbringing, partly by general avoidance of other human beings and overwhelmingly by luck.

R
 

ayase

State Alchemist
It works both ways, though. When you look at those leaping to defend the 'victim' in the story which spawned this discussion, it's hard not to see an element of control in the way it's all playing out. Would-be victims weaponise call-out culture by employing the exact same tactics they blame others for using on them
Absolutely, these mirror attitudes make me feel entirely disinclined to take sides when the people bashing those for being too sensitive are being just as sensitive themselves. Really, I feel like both sides should just get on with life and stop caring so much about what anyone else is doing, but meddling in and having opinions on other people's affairs is basically social media's most valuable currency at this point. It's the main reason I dislike it so much - I don't like gossiping about what other people are doing in real life behind their backs, I certainly don't want to do it on the internet to their faces (but not really, because there are no repercussions unlike actually saying things to someone's face, which is presumably why social media has become such a popular tool for people to bitch and moan about and at each other).
I've generally lived trying to give people the benefit of the doubt until I have reason to believe otherwise and so far at my venerable age, I haven't come to any harm by doing so other than being on the receiving end of a few sharp words. If someone tries to manipulate me that way, shame on them. They will find trust doesn't come so easily the second time around.
It probably is about trust and belief in people, and I admit that for me that's pretty low. I do think people should speak up if something bothers them, but if they do speak up, my less than trusting nature tends to lead me to question their motives anyway - I don't want to be in the position of having stood up for someone who lied or manipulated me into doing it and if I don't know them personally, I don't know how trustworthy they are (and sometimes even if I do know them personally). This is why talking about these things is important, because I'm not entirely sure how to square these things in my own thoughts and attitudes.

I don't think anyone should have to take abuse, but I guess part of me feels like it would be better for them if they became strong enough not to have to take it, either through rising above it or fighting back themselves without any side employing personal armies but again, this is the internet. That kind of ganging up on people is going to happen whether I like it or not, just as people are going to keep on enjoying gossiping and moaning about each other whether I like it or not.

It's not necessarily my wish that people become harder and colder, the world benefits from warmer, more acutely empathetic people to stand up for and care for the genuinely weak (primarily children, the elderly and adults with debilitating mental or physical disabilities) but ultimately, I guess I do think functioning adults should be strong enough not to be victims. While I'm not going to openly berate anyone else for not being strong enough to cope or fight back, I'd certainly berate myself if I wasn't. That is of course a personal attitude, and I'm not by any means suggesting everyone should think the way I do.
 
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Neil.T

Time-Traveller
I'm going to chime in with something to add to the debate.
They're saying 'be more sensitive when doing unnecessary things which hurt others'.
This viewpoint may prove unpopular, but I guess the part that doesn't sit well with me in all of this is how a cosplayer colour-matching their arms/torso to their costume's mask (designed to resemble the character they're masquerading as) is deemed to cause actual hurt. It feels like a case of hypersensitivity to me.

(Much like @ayase, I haven't read anything about this story outside of this forum. Nor do I intend to, so I comment based only on what I've read here and in the article which was linked to at the start of the thread.)
 
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Anime1977

Adventurer
Yes hypersensitivity nothing more nothing less and I'm not sure what peed off rui and this is not an Echo chamber or one sided because no one is being stopped from having an opinion and i still stand by I said and there's no evidence of malicious intent by the cosplayer so far.
 
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