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Posted By: RafaelAlso, I want to be sure that I understand this correctly: Matthew Sullivan-Barrett'sMonsters of Glam, which is about Glam rockers trashing hotel rooms and getting laid, is tantamount to genocide (or, at the very least, land displacement) because it appropriates Coyote the Trickster God. Am I getting this right?
Posted By: Matthew SBAgain, I don't know it is worth discussing further, but if anyone feels otherwise I am happy to participate. And to apologize if the lazy use is problematic to anyone.
Posted By: RafaelBut I just wanted to make sure I understand why those terms were being used -- were people actually trying to compare the publication of an RPG to land grabs and cultural genocide?
Posted By: JohnstoneMaybe I'm just taking it for granted because I already understand what Lee's saying, so if it seems like I'm impatient with those who don't, sorry. No, you're not getting that right. Nobody has said those acts are equivalent. What made you think that?
Posted By: JDCorleyThe "1,000,000 papercuts" analogy holds here. Objectively, zero people play or read non-D&D RPGs, within some tiny margin of error. Whatever harm RPGs may or may not do is minimal at best. In the days of the silent Western, Hollywood cranked out dozens on dozens of more or less interchangeable films. The harm that any single one of them did by its portrayal of natives is relatively minimal. It's not any one thing that happens.To put it another way: we should at least try to weed our own garden.
Posted By: RafaelI mean, what about Slayer -- should they communicate with a Christian stakeholder before recording another album about religion?
Posted By: RafaelStill, I had no right to drag you into this. I'm sorry! It was wrong.
Posted By: RafaelBut as you note, Christianity is pretty dominant, or privileged or what-have-you, so it's maybe not the same as cultural appropriation of a people that have been displaced or attacked. But I could be wrong about that.
Posted By: JDCorleyPosted By: RafaelBut as you note, Christianity is pretty dominant, or privileged or what-have-you, so it's maybe not the same as cultural appropriation of a people that have been displaced or attacked. But I could be wrong about that.
Posted By: ValamirSo if we're writing a game about Saxons is it ok to appropriate from them when they were the dominant English culture, but its not ok to do a game about them after they'd been marginalized by the Normans...or before that the Danes?
Posted By: ValamirAnd when we come to North America...the Aztecs, the Maya, the Haudenosaunee (better known by the name their enemies called them, the Iroquois)...these cultures WERE the dominant culture of their respective time and geography. Each of them brutalized, marginalized, and disenfranchised their neighbors with as much willful aggression as the Europeans eventually did to them. Each one of them were grand amazing cultures...as well as being Right Bastards.
Posted By: JDCorleyPicking on the underdog is different from picking on the champion. That's not hypocrisy, that's reality. Otherwise you reach the conclusion that failing to have a White History Month is racial discrimination.
Posted By: ValamirIf you're going pound the table about respecting culture, you've gotta respect all cultures. If you then go "except that one...its ok to shit on them" then you've reduced everything you've said about respecting culture to hypocrisy...an argument that sounds good but which is really just being used to justify a particular agenda.
Posted By: Jonathan3. You don't have to do anything here. No one is going to stand over your shoulder glowering at you disapprovingly while you make something that relies on a culture and turns trips over all the intellectual potholes that you missed for not doing your due dilligence.a. Expecting people to applaud you for it is naive.b. Expecting people not to criticise for you it is doubly naive.
Bullying is the strong picking on the weak, not the other way around (the other way around is satire).
The latter: people quick to condemn ought not to be so quick to take offence. The problem with the latter point is that however true it is in the abstract, it was not necessarily true in the particular. No evidence exists that the students who walked out ever condemned or bullied anyone. However poorly Mr Savage may have been treated in high school, it was not by the students in the audience, and they deserved more from a famous and accomplished journalist than derision. Mr Savage acknowledged as much when he apologised, both for the regrettable and infantile slur "pansy-assed" and for using what the great J. Anthony Lukas called "a barnyard epithet" to refer to the Bible.
Posted By: RafaelAre Christians dominant or marginalized? I mean, here in the US, they seem pretty dominant, but in Egypt, not so much. So do different rules apply to Egyptian RPG designers? And here in the US, are Mormons dominant or marginalized?
That personal history is important—when the author is a direct stakeholder it suggests that the work, whether critical or not, is rooted in understanding and personal experience rather than stereotypes and assumed knowledge which may not be accurate.
Perhaps to go back the the christianity example—because it's simpler than LDS—pretty much everyone living in the english-speaking world is a stakeholder of christian culture, since it informs so much of our society (worldview, ethics, literature, legal system, etiquette, etc). It's either the culture of our ancestors or the culture that was inflicted on our ancestors. Either way it is in some form ours by virtue of our life experiences.
In other parts of the world that is not always true.
Posted By: ValamirNo...the dominant vs. marginalized distinction is IMO untenable and unnecessary. It is IMO an attempt to obfuscate the actual issue (who is entitled to decide how a culture gets portrayed by others) by obfuscating it with a lot of other issues...issues that are vital issues to discuss in their own right, but are totally tangential and a distraction from this one.
Posted By: UserCloneI'm pretty sure that if you asked your average Mormon whether or not they'd like a show called The Book of Mormon to be written and produced by the South Park guys, more often than not you'd get a "No thanks, I'll pass." I think it's pretty reasonable as a Latter-Day Saint . . . to be righteously fucking pissed about that show's existence. Parker and Stone are not known for their respectful treatment of religion (see Isaac Hayes quitting the show after their Scientology episode). As for DitV, well you'd be hard-pressed to find a practicing LDS willing to shoot someone over anything.
Posted By: RafaelThat's not just any old op-ed, because it's written by the Church's Head of Public Affairs. Which arguably makes this an official LDS response. And he doesn't just find it irrelevant:"A few members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who have seen this musical and blogged about it seem to have gone out of their way to show how they can take it. That’s their choice... Of course, parody isn’t reality, and it’s the very distortion that makes it appealing and often funny. The danger is not when people laugh but when they take it seriously – if they leave a theater believing that Mormons really do live in some kind of a surreal world of self-deception and illusion."
Posted By: Bill_WhiteIn any event, I think the notion that this is about "respect" for culture is a misnomer, implying as it does that unwillingness to give offense should be the driving force behind one's decisions. I am less afraid of offending people than I am of getting things wrong, either in the factual or the moral-aesthetic sense.
Posted By: Bill_WhiteThis goes haring off in the wrong direction, asking exactly the wrong questions. The real question is, what doyou in particularowe the Saxons, or the Danes? (Of course, once you pay him the Danegeld, you never get rid of the Dane). Arguably, what any of us minimally owe any historical time period is not to misrepresent it.
Posted By: Bill_WhiterI will grant you that there are those who will make itseemlike the issue is that others have been trespassing on their cultural turf (As Chris Chinn says,"Who gets to tell your story? Right?"), but this is not quite right. It can't be, because that goes down the road of identity politics, which is pernicious.
So the issue of dominant versus marginalized is directly relevant to any given designer's decision-making, because you owe different things to the strong than to the weak (i.e., most moral codes to which people subscribe suggest that it's right to protect the powerless, unless you're Ayn Rand or something).
Posted By: ValamirAnd that's exactly why I've been trying to develop an objective standard. Because there is no way to avoid identity politics dominating the discussion when the cultures are recent / fresh / and attract avid defenders I think its important to have a window within with those politics are handled respectfully. But outside that window...outside that window we can be free to simply disregard and ignore the identity politics...because there's a standard that says...beyond this point we don't have to go down that road anymore.
Posted By: ValamirThis is an idea that I can get behind. I'm much more interested in works that make an effort towards historical accuracy and authentic portrayal of things than I am in works that are sloppy in that regard. I once chastised AEG vociferously for including Caravels in 7th Sea by pointing out that Caravels were designed specifically to deal with the wind patterns of the Horn of Africa and were the first ships capable of navigating past it...as there's no Africa in 7th Sea, there should be no Caravels either. Pretty far into who-gives-a-fuck-territory for most people, but that's how I roll.
Posted By: ValamirIn terms of respect, accurate portrayal, and not misrepresenting I think we owe exactly the same consideration to the strong as to the weak. It is just as important for the weak to not demonize the strong with misrepresentation as it is for the strong to not demonize the weak. The use of dominant vs. marginalized language blurs that truth as it has done here.
I think your project of objectivity via a historical window is probably doomed to failure, because it falls apart in the face of those "avid defenders." The battle of Kosovo in 1389, which resulted in the Ottoman domination of Serbia, is part of the historical memory that drove the conflict among Bosnian Serbs and Muslims in the 1990s. As someone once said: The past isn't dead--it isn't even past. Once somebody says, "You're talking about my history, Ralph!" what can you say to them? "It's not yours any more, pal"?
How could this stndard even work in practice? In actual fact, when you create some art which appropriates another culture, however historical, people will either be offended, or not. If no-one is offended, because it was "sufficiently" historical that no-one is identifying with or feeling ownership over the culture being appropriated, then fine; but if someone IS offended, are you really going to turn to them and say "sorry, but the expiration date for your offence to be reasonable has passed?"
Posted By: ValamirAt some point it has to be acceptable to say "fuck off, this is art" and when the offended people raise a fuss have the audience for that art say "that is way to far in the past for us to give a shit about any more". And yes, I'm well aware that there are still people carrying around grudges from 1000 years ago...fuck that. I can't stop them from carrying such a grudge, but I don't think its reasonable for them to expect others to care about it.
Posted By: ValamirAt some point it has to be acceptable to say "fuck off, this is art" and when the offended people raise a fuss have the audience for that art say "that is way to far in the past for us to give a shit about any more".
Posted By: JohnstonePosted By: ValamirAt some point it has to be acceptable to say "fuck off, this is art" and when the offended people raise a fuss have the audience for that art say "that is way to far in the past for us to give a shit about any more".
Posted By: ValamirI think the default position for the vast majority of people in the audience is to not give a fuck in the first place. I think that most of the arguments I've heard made over the past week or so, here and especially on like a dozen G+ threads, are primarily "preaching to the choir" type arguments that aren't likely to move very many people...judging from the hostile reaction of several taking a contrary position to the way these arguments get presented...I feel pretty confident that the reaction of those people is far more indicative of the response of the general population than the majority of folks on this thread.
Posted By: Valamir"Is this work old enough to be public domain?" "No, then I better not use it in my work without getting permission""Is this culture old enough to be public domain?" "No, then I better really take some time to make sure I know what I'm talking about before I try to use it."
Posted By: Bill_WhiteI see where you're coming from, Ralph, but I'm surprised, because your position seems both arbitrary (what's the right "objective" time limit: 100 years? 500 years? 1000? And when does the clock start ticking?) and authoritarian (who decides? On what basis?). I won't say it's unprincipled, exactly, but it's an ethics of convenience.
Posted By: JohnstoneIf I were to translate my basic advice into an IP analogy, it would be: find out who will sue you for using their IP and then try to get permission from them so they don't sue you.
It is not about us, Eero.
We are fortunate to mostly live in places with some form of speech protection—so that no matter whether or not the internet is angry we have the ability to say what we wish, to make that art that we wish. So ultimately we are only answerable to ourselves.
But if we hope to follow any code of ethics that asks us not to harm others, we must ask them whether we are harming them. Because we cannot know unless they tell us, especially when years of abuse have taught them to hide their hurt—indigenous people in North America in particular have in many cases have to do just that, since until recently it was actually illegal for them to display their traditions or their cultural identity.
Valamir seems to hope to come up with a rule that we can all agree on—and I am suspicious when he talks about the "general population" because I can't help but read it as referring to his peer group, which leads me to speculate that it really means "the general population of privileged white people and their allies", but of course I can't know whether that is true. But it is not about us. This conversation is about the people who we are writing about, the ones who we may be harming. When they complain, that is when we must ask ourselves if we have been fair or not. It may be hard for us to accept the answer—the central proposition of this thread is only that we listen to those who complain because they may be being honest, and decide for ourselves where the pain they express fits into our ethics. No laws are being written—the only repercussions we are likely to feel, short of violent revolution, is that some people won't like us if we make a choice they disagree with, and may say so.