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Author Topic: Accurate Representation of Ethnicity in Historical Fictions  (Read 3172 times)

Funt Solo

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There are various positions on this argument:

1. Ethnicity in historical fictions is not accurate - there's too much white-washing.
2. Ethnicity in historical fictions is not accurate - there are too many unrealistic insertions.
3. It's muddy - on the one hand, there is some white-washing, and on the other, there are some unrealistic insertions.

Discuss.
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SmallBlueThing(Reborn)

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Re: Accurate Representation of Ethnicity in Historical Fictions
« Reply #1 on: 04 July, 2021, 05:32:52 PM »
Everybody in history was a sort of grey colour. As we're the trees, the sky, the grass and everything. Evidence: Every film before approximately 1930 and every photograph before 1861. End of.

SBT
 

M.I.K.

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Re: Accurate Representation of Ethnicity in Historical Fictions
« Reply #2 on: 04 July, 2021, 05:56:03 PM »
'Tis true. Then, in the 1960s, folk made the mistake of swirling about and mixing up all of the new colours far too much, which led to an excess of muddy oranges and browns in the seventies. Took until well into the 1980s before people managed to get all of it off the wallpaper and soft furnishings.

Hawkmumbler

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Re: Accurate Representation of Ethnicity in Historical Fictions
« Reply #3 on: 04 July, 2021, 06:51:06 PM »
Everybody in history was a sort of grey colour. As we're the trees, the sky, the grass and everything. Evidence: Every film before approximately 1930 and every photograph before 1861. End of.

SBT

Tis true, I have (unproven) photographic evidence to prove (or disprove) it too!

'A lull before the Battle of Hastings', photographer: Verity Lambert, 1066

pauljholden

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Re: Accurate Representation of Ethnicity in Historical Fictions
« Reply #4 on: 04 July, 2021, 07:14:26 PM »
There are various positions on this argument:

1. Ethnicity in historical fictions is not accurate - there's too much white-washing.
I think this implies there's a deliberate "let's remove poc from this narrative" when often it's the result of decades and decades of european / white people making media for their own consumption (where racism is a factor, no doubt in who gets to make that media) and centring it on their experiences (so ... incompetence rather than outright malevolence?). Witness the recent outrage about - was it 1917? when someone moaned about the insertion of a Sikh soldier into WWI, fundamentally there were battalions of soldiers from all over, but we're so used to seeing movies with nothing but white protagonists that one POC looks weirdly out of place to our eyes.

It's something I try and keep an eye on, as a white chubby middle aged bloke from Belfast, all my characters tend to be me, so I try - but my world experience is limited, to broaden that out as best as possible. Not always successfully, I joke I can draw three different white blokes, two different women and maybe one different POC, everything else are those with beards or moustaches.

Quote
2. Ethnicity in historical fictions is not accurate - there are too many unrealistic insertions.
I would pound to a penny bet for every "this insertion is unrealistic" there are about a hundred absolutely bizarre real life historical antecedents that would boggle your eyes and be so unlikely you'd never believe that they were real except for the fact they were. So I don't think it's POSSIBLE to have too many unrealistic insertions. But this will depend on what the fiction is - a realistic wwii story? Plenty of US black soldiers, but none mixed or mingled with the US white soldiers. So that would stick out. (But if you're writing a narrative where it's true to life, but fictional I think it's on you to make some sort of point abotu this) But you're doing a fictional wwii storey with monsters, knock yourself out - if someone is gonna complain about the realisim of a black sergeant in a white US army regiment, but have no complaints about everyone being eaten by a NAZI WEREWOLF I have zero time for that bullshirt.

 
Quote
3. It's muddy - on the one hand, there is some white-washing, and on the other, there are some unrealistic insertions.

I don't think it is muddy - complain about it in factual things, if it's fiction then you've no legs to stand on.

BTW: I draw too many white people in Dredd, I'm aware of it, it's something I try every day to change.
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Re: Accurate Representation of Ethnicity in Historical Fictions
« Reply #5 on: 04 July, 2021, 07:18:08 PM »
Also: I think there's so much of interest to be explored in other cultures, that it really behoves 2000ad (and other publishers) to grab those voices in, let's have afrofuturism, let's have Liu Cixin's Three Body Problem, let's grab that rich resource of people that we've been busy ignoring so we can GET NEW AMAZING THINGS.
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M.I.K.

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Re: Accurate Representation of Ethnicity in Historical Fictions
« Reply #6 on: 04 July, 2021, 07:41:24 PM »
There was an advert on telly about 15 years ago, which had CGId the cast of Happy Days into it. I remember seeing some bloke upload it to YouTube as an example of an urealistic portrayal of history due to its ethnically diverse nature. He thought there were far too many people of colour hanging around with Fonzie and the gang and that this would never happen back in the 1950s.

The advert was for the Citroen C3. Everybody in the advert was driving one.

Mister Pops

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Re: Accurate Representation of Ethnicity in Historical Fictions
« Reply #7 on: 04 July, 2021, 07:58:36 PM »
Everybody in history was a sort of grey colour. As we're the trees, the sky, the grass and everything. Evidence: Every film before approximately 1930 and every photograph before 1861. End of.

SBT

This is a pernicious attempt to cancel and ignore the sepia tones of the 19th century.

Nowadays Hollywood has managed to contain this phenomenon to Central America.
You may quote me on that.

pauljholden

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Re: Accurate Representation of Ethnicity in Historical Fictions
« Reply #8 on: 04 July, 2021, 07:58:58 PM »
There was an advert on telly about 15 years ago, which had CGId the cast of Happy Days into it. I remember seeing some bloke upload it to YouTube as an example of an urealistic portrayal of history due to its ethnically diverse nature. He thought there were far too many people of colour hanging around with Fonzie and the gang and that this would never happen back in the 1950s.

The advert was for the Citroen C3. Everybody in the advert was driving one.

Happy Days, of course, the absolutely accurate portrayal of 1950s America, was the show that introduced us to Mork.

First person of colour in that advert (I looked it up on youtube, was curious) is young girl who gets her dressed ripped away from her by the car, leaving her embarrassed in her bra and pants, so it's not exactly a shining example of progressive values.

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IndigoPrime

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Re: Accurate Representation of Ethnicity in Historical Fictions
« Reply #9 on: 04 July, 2021, 09:03:00 PM »
BTW: I draw too many white people in Dredd, I'm aware of it, it's something I try every day to change.
One of my ongoing Dredd bugbears is how white and male everything is, from the leads to background characters. It’s good you’re looking into this, but I wish all 2000 AD Dredd artists would.

Pick 100 random people TODAY in the US as a whole and you’d get a broadly even gender split and 61 white people. 13 would be black. 18 would be Hispanic (some of which would be white Hispanic). 87% of law enforcement officers are men, admittedly, but you’d assume things would shift somewhat in over a century.

Also, if I see another story full of white male Judges where the only woman is a psi or a named character like Beeny, I’m going to scream.

sheridan

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Re: Accurate Representation of Ethnicity in Historical Fictions
« Reply #10 on: 05 July, 2021, 12:19:28 AM »
There was an advert on telly about 15 years ago, which had CGId the cast of Happy Days into it. I remember seeing some bloke upload it to YouTube as an example of an urealistic portrayal of history due to its ethnically diverse nature. He thought there were far too many people of colour hanging around with Fonzie and the gang and that this would never happen back in the 1950s.


Wonder how they'd react if somebody told them where rock'n'roll came from?

Jim_Campbell

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Re: Accurate Representation of Ethnicity in Historical Fictions
« Reply #11 on: 05 July, 2021, 08:00:38 AM »
Pick 100 random people TODAY in the US as a whole and you’d get a broadly even gender split and 61 white people. 13 would be black. 18 would be Hispanic (some of which would be white Hispanic).

I had a (sort of) hilarious argument with a comicsgater on Twitter along these lines a while back. He was fuming that "straight white men" were being "pushed out of superhero comics" — so I ran him through pretty much that exact set of stats to show him that, statistically, only one in three Americans is a straight, white man and asked him if he could show me any book from the Big Two where straight, white men were under-represented.

Less hilariously, he then pivoted to overt white supremacism but, y'know, you take the wins where you can get them.
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CalHab

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Re: Accurate Representation of Ethnicity in Historical Fictions
« Reply #12 on: 05 July, 2021, 08:26:27 AM »
Rational, evidence-based argument doesn't cut much ice with racists, unfortunately!

CalHab

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Re: Accurate Representation of Ethnicity in Historical Fictions
« Reply #13 on: 05 July, 2021, 08:27:31 AM »
Wonder how they'd react if somebody told them where rock'n'roll came from?

Michael J. Fox taught it to Chuck Berry, obviously.

IndigoPrime

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Re: Accurate Representation of Ethnicity in Historical Fictions
« Reply #14 on: 05 July, 2021, 09:47:46 AM »
I had a (sort of) hilarious argument with a comicsgater on Twitter along these lines a while back.
Yikes! It is horrible to see people push back against even basic representation. Plus it’s not like gender-flipped superheroes are anything other than blips anyway. Did anyone really think female Thor was a forever position? Or that Tony Stark wouldn’t return again? It’s absurd how fragile white blokes can be.

Personally, I’m increasingly impatient at every level in comics with representation. I get the issues with historical depictions — and they should be better. But anything set now or in the future needs looking at closely as well, and at every level. Cast your eye across the average 2000 AD strip and it, frankly, doesn’t fare that well. I’ve mentioned Dredd’s weird white/maleness, but similar issues affect almost every strip to a large degree. Writers, artists and editors just need to think a bit more.

This is pretty ubiquitous too. As much as I love The Phoenix, at no point did anyone look at newish strip I Love Pixies and think: “Hang on, so the protagonist is a boy, his best friend is a boy, and two of the three main pixies are male, with the only female one being ditsy?” Gender flip one of the kids and one other pixie and that particular problem goes away. But, no, we get yet another Smurfette strip in a children’s comic, and that’s just not good enough.

Then you lob in ethnicity at every level of comics and… well. Even in the very white UK, we have a ~15% non-white population. Most British-made comics don’t reflect that. (The Beano is currently attempting to, albeit in a sometimes slightly clumsy manner. Still, if the end result is better representation, I’m all for it. Having The Chandras ‘replace’ Tricky Dicky shifts the needle a bit, provided slightly better representation in Bash St. Kids and made my daughter happy that there were “more girls” in her comic. Naturally, some ageing white men got all pissy about it, because the natural order in a typical UK school is nine boys, one tomboy girl and one swot who only shows up when they need someone to bully a bit about him being a swot.)