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featherstone

Faces and cultures

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I'm just reading a debate on another site, on how you shouldn't use a FC of a different heritage for your character just because they superficially look the same. On the one hand I understand not treating minorities as interchangeable, on the other as someone who uses unknown faces I care only for the physical features of my avatar, not for their identity because it's not known. I'd like to know to what extent you care about accuracy when using known celebrities; do you think it's wrong to use, say, a Chinese face for a Korean character, an Indian actor for a Pakistani, etc? Is it worse than using, say, a British actor for an Italian character, or a Spanish for a French, which is usually seen as acceptable?

 

Also, would you find it problematic or uncomfortable if you didn't know a FC's heritage? As I mentioned elsewhere I typically use stock photos, where all you can tell is how one looks, not where they come from or what culture the model belongs to. Would you worry about it, especially when dealing with minorities of some kind?


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I use telenovella actors/actresses, who are primarily Columbian and Mexican, for characters of Native American decent on CW all the time. Get mad at me all you want for it, I don't particularly care, if the face fits what you're going for then why not?  People like to pretend ancient places like Rome and Greece were ethnically white as rice, but that wasn't the case. Ancient Rome was a huge melting pot of ethnicity, same with ancient Spain. As long as they're playing it as culturally sensitive (if it's culturally specific) as they can then what harm does it really do to use a face that isn't that specific ethnic group. 

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I don't tend to have a problem with this since most of my characters are and will be of white European origin. It's not done that way to exclude people - I just don't see how a lot of my characters could have face claims from other cultures. (Ancient Rome and Greece, given their location, would have had a lot of people going through them from Asia and North Africa, so it wouldn't make sense for them to all be white - even the mythologies inter-mingle quite a lot, as would the myths of the Middle-East, so thinking that they would all be white is wrong - I think it's an assumption people make because, aside from Ancient Egypt and the Middle-East, people think that cultures of a non-European background wouldn't make any advances, which is silly in itself.) I've come across people who complain if someone gets inspiration from non-white cultures and unless it's disrespectful in some way, it makes me wonder if the person is offended by the sight of the non-white culture, rather than the fact that it's been used. I will probably at some stage get people complain because I only seem to use white people but I've no objection to people making non-white characters for the site.

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Pretty much what Dragon said. 

 

This kind of rule means you have to spend even more time researching a person to know whether or not you can even use them in a role. It means people aren't going to bother. One of three things will happen:

- They'll move along to another site

- They simply won't use more obscure or less-well-known playbys

- They'll stick to white playbys (because if you get an Irish actor confused for an American one, due to white skin colour, there won't be any huge kerfuffle. Thus this kind of rule will reinforce the "whitewashing" issue some roleplayers like to go about.)

 

This rule only exists to basically virtue signal to others. It's a cry of "Look how good and progressive I am. Respect me. Adore me. " It's a way for someone to get attention by doing literally nothing themselves, they don't even have to change their habits themselves. They just have to act the part or sound like they are. Some might use it as a way to feel good about themselves for making a positive change when they haven't. 

 

I've said it before and I'll repeat it here... you want to find the racist? Look for the one only judging based on looks. (Or, alternatively, look for the one who wants to change the definition of racism so they can't be called racist. Using crap like "prejudice plus power"... Which no, that's not what racism is. ) That's what this ideology of "Social Justice" promotes. 

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When choosing an image to represent your character, you are BY DEFINITION, going by the person's APPEARANCE, nothing else. The person in the playby (as a person) is completely irrelevant. 

I'm going to bring my personal life onto this one, because I feel what they are asking is a flaming turd in a bag. Genetics are a wonderful thing, because what you LOOK LIKE doesn't define who you ARE.

My heritage is Italian and German, by traditional definition: Your typical "white European". I have pale skin such that my veins create a ghostly roadmap of my anatomy, with freckles, light eyes that rotate between a steel blue and cold green with gold specks. My hair is voluminous and naturally wavy (will NOT straighten for anything), and overall looks like a light brown/dirty blonde with copper highlights. Sounds like your typical Irish decent, yes? Which, Arguably, I am not (and it checks out, Ancestry DNA test proves I'm not a drop of Irish lol). On my Italian Heritage, however, my mom's side comes from Sicily. By traditional definition, I'm 1/4 Sicilan, which is known as the "Black Italians", with the beautiful olive skin, dark hair, and African genes mixed with the European ones. At the end of the day, I am still classified as "American" if we were pretending I am an Actress Playby.

 

Ah, but Covert! You say, but you're still White European. It doesn't matter if you look Italian, German, or Irish, you're still White!  - Okay, fine: But if "all Whites Look Alike", then there can no doubtedly be some mixing room for Asian, Indian, Middle Eastern, Native American, or African Cultures? What's good for the goose is good for the gander, yes?

The reason WHY people of differing cultures look "alike", is because there are sets of genetic traits that are just happen to be shared between the two that dominate the person's physical attributes. And those "Genetic Regions" aren't contained by mere "country lines". 

 

Basically, at the end of the day, you are telling people what your character LOOKS like. Italians can look Irish. Koreans can look Chinese, Moroccans can look like Libyans, Spanish can look Filipino, etc.

Edited by CovertSphinx
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IMO, no one cares about using a French FC for a Scottish character. Why should minorities be treated as any less interchangable than the majority? Simply being pale-skinned does not mean white people don't have culture, and it is important to pay attention to culture when writing a character, especially from a culture you aren't familiar with, especially when peoples are treated as though their culture doesn't matter, but I think it is FAR more important to get the culture right and to represent a nationality, than it is to choose a face claim of the correct nationality. It's not about the face claim. It's about how they look, and it's about your character.

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Add this to the list of why PBs are creepy and people are too damned obsessed with them. . . .

 

Technically what I look like and what my ancestry is are different things.  (Mixed and all that.)  But at the same time, when I was 25, I looked like I was 15 years old, and I hated the +/-5 year PB rule because it was so completely ridiculous.  People were basing it off the PB and not the appearance.  That's the same thing they're doing here.

 

What you look and what you are - whether it's ethnicity, or age, or whatever - can be two different things.  It may be less common, but it's possible, and for the people who throw a stink about it, I kind of feel sorry for them in that's how they're spending their time.

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4 hours ago, CovertSphinx said:

When choosing an image to represent your character, you are BY DEFINITION, going by the person's APPEARANCE, nothing else. The person in the playby (as a person) is completely irrelevant. 

 

This so much. All the fuss with "find a playby of the same ethnicity" is overrated, and it slips into the dangerous territory of playing the playby, instead of the character. If there are plenty of movies where ethnic parts were played by non-ethnics (and they represented the characters well, becoming a symbol for that character) who cares about the nationality of the likeness? The character matters!

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I feel like we're all in the same boat on this one. Find the celeb that looks the most similar to the character; mission accomplished.

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It's a tricky subject.  On one hand, you want to be sure you are not upsetting anyone and one another you are limited.  Some countries and many cultures do not have celebrity representatives.  Also, a lot of canon mixes are not in any pool of representation. Creation of a perfect racial or cultural identity for a character that is not represented is irrational.   

 

Look at Rose Wilson. You are going to have a heck of a time finding someone that is Cambodian that can represent her reasonably. Most actresses that you can find, tend to have that "Cute" appearance and if you know Rose "cute" is not her vocabulary.

 

History needs to be noted. Like said above, people want to claim Italian as being just white. Italians are not just white, they have a wide range of skin pigmentation, along with many different groups intermixing over time with Italians. When it comes to it, we need to start listening to POC. Every time I have read something from POC  about play bys or culture they are more relaxed about it and give a more insightful look.  People of European Ancestry are trying to hard to make things right, we are too scared to be that guy that makes a mistake, and we are covering our ears when POC  and other minorities speak.  The best thing to do under any circumstances of diversity is to talk to people about what it is to be a minority.  Start opening yourselves to learn from the direct source and not try to be overzealous. 

 

I'm agreeing with covertsphinx .  Look, have anywhere 1.6%-4% African in my DNA. I've done both ancestry and 23 and me.   It really opens your eyes to genetics. On top of that, a lot of POC see the African and French in me. To make matters stranger in my family,  my brother looks like he just got off the boat Irish and my sister looks Italian/ Greek. Genetics play a role. And different genetics can dominate in one person and be submissive, then some people may not show at all. The African may not at all show up in my brother's DNA. (He's waiting for his test results.) And to Covertsphinx, do take 23 and me. I had the same thing with the Irish in Ancestry and it showed up in 23 and me.

Edited by BETA BLUE
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I don't think about political correctness. I care about realism. If you want to use a play-by that is from a different heritage than your character and among real life people that difference is very clear in their appearance - then at least write your character to have a little of the play-by's heritage in their bloodline so that they could realistically have inherited the looks. After all, it doesn't require something specific in the immediate family. Genes can affect after many generations. Of course that too is relative; I doubt a bloodline that has one african-american member among centuries of Caucasians could suddenly after countless generations produce someone who looks exactly like an african-american. But for minor differences in PB vs. character heritage I'm not going to stress or note over.

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