Cultural appropriation... I guess, maybe - what are your thoughts?

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  • #16
    Originally posted by JeffLowell View Post

    I said "no."
    You've won not only my respect and admiration, sir, but I would expect you've won the same of many others.

    Originally posted by JeffLowell View Post
    It's changed there, too. There have been a lot of high profile books that have been attacked because it was people writing outside their gender or race. Some were "unpublished" before they ever came out.
    It feels and seems wrong to squelch a writer's voice for those reasons. There is no harm in expressing one's observations through writing. It is especially egregious to those of us who recall our past lives in other incarnations; we remember what it was like (no kidding).

    By those standards, Mark Twain would not have been allowed to publish The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

    These types of subjects are best viewed (by me) as swinging on a pendulum to and fro to its extremes, coming to mid-swing only for a moment of compromise between them.
    "If you're going to have a story, have a big story, or none at all." — Joseph Campbell

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    • #17
      Originally posted by Southern_land View Post
      I've written the pilot and bible for a TV series. The protagonist as a white guy. However during the concept phase as i was fitting the jigsaw together in my mind and the writing I had the underlying sense that the story could work better if the protag was Afro-American. Even within what I've already written, changing the race/culture adds more layers to the protag and give him different driving forces inside the same story.

      Now my thought process went something like this,,,

      -I am a white New Zealander, maybe I should stick as close to what I know within the confines of the idea - at this point probably a white American (all American WASP hero archetype)
      My first comment is, what about your story makes you feel it would be better told from the perspective of an African-American? I don't need to know, but you do.

      And my second comment is, why are you reducing your own human existence to such a narrow stereotype? Again, I don't need to know, but you should. You are more than your race and/or gender.

      The whole "write what you know," is somewhat misunderstood, I think. Yes, it can be your "whiteness/privilege/maleness," but it can also be your human experiences, right? So as a child, I was sent to a foster home for a few years. Quite unpleasant and included abuse, both physical and psychological. So even in my teens I could write about alcoholism, abandonment, poverty, physical and psychological abuse and low self-esteem-- that's what I knew. I also was a cheerleader, gymnast, girlfriend, daughter, sister and best friend. So, the "write what you know," isn't limited to who you are as much as the combination of the YOU in totality-- what you know is what you have experienced.

      Character depth, or lack of, isn't about race/gender/class. Race doesn't diminish/increase character depth. What a character says, what choices they make, what/who they value, and their unique perspectives are what define character.

      Some films can easily switch a main character's race and gender with minor modifications, because the story might not be about addressing the differences/inequalities between gender/race/class. With TV, stories take time to breathe and explore characters-- as such, depending on the story and setting, gender/race/class may play a more significant/pivotal role in the individual character's journey.

      In a zombie apocalypse human differences such as gender/race/class may have less (or no) impact on the story, yet there are diverse characters, right?. However, a story set in the world of elite female tennis where almost every player is white and your main characters are black (King Richard, exceptional, btw) well then, race is going to influence that story a lot.

      That's not to say that a Zombie Apocalypse CAN'T explore discrimination/biases that we, as humans, have-- it can. Stories set in the future may depict the epitome of equality for all people, the world which we'd like to live.

      The more you understand the human condition the better characters you will write. Humans have basic needs-- desire for love, community, family, safety, security, self-esteem and self-actualization.

      -If (by some massive longshot) the concept is picked up I won't be on the writing staff anyway - the actual writing room -the staff writers they hire etc, bring an "authenticity" to it
      Why would you assume this? I'm not an insider, but from what I've read/understood, most producers want the Creator on the project because it's their vision. No, you won't be the showrunner, but there's no reason to believe you wouldn't be a part of the project. Maybe it's different there? Is this a project you're intending for the NZ market or the the US? And if you think you can't bring "authenticity" to it, I mean if you really believe that, why would you think you can write an authentic pilot? Yes, having diversity in the room can enrich all stories. But it doesn't mean you can't write an authentic story,

      -This might be a good thing for actors and writers "of colour" - just saying that I think I've come up with a pretty good concept - not saying they can't - and this could develop into a good thing for other people besides me
      You may not realize that the above has a tone that is, um, not great. I'm not trying to attack you, just maybe consider how it sounds?

      I mean, every story you ever write, if produced, will be a good thing for everyone involved regardless of race/gender/class, right? You're a writer who happens to be white male, not the other way around.

      Writers write stories about the human experience, part of that can include race/gender/class POVs, but it might not.

      Having diversity in stories is important, because it's a reflection of the world we live. Audiences want to see themselves represented in the stories they watch. It's that simple.

      Have I let everything that's happened 2020/2021 get too far into my head? Am I over thinking this? Should I just write to the best of my ability and let the market decide?
      Being sensitive to people in the world isn't going too far, imo. Including diverse groups of people broadens your audience. All good there. But you might be overthinking the fact that you should worry about it. You can't change the fact that you're a white man. Nor can you change what others will think of you-- so, don't worry about those things. Life is unfair and generous at the same time, but it's also too short.

      So, focus on what you can control-- your story.

      "Let the market decide?"

      Well, let's be honest, the entertainment industry executives are still predominately white men. White men are deciding what the market is and wants. So, as a writer you can either give them what you think they want or write the best story with the best characters, right? Executives will make shows they believe will give them the return on their investment.

      I mean, just look at how many superhero movies there have been in the past 2 decades. Those are feel-good stories. They have diverse characters, but they aren't telling diverse stories. So, it depends on what kind of story you want to tell. And, to be clear, there's nothing wrong with telling feel-good stories.


      I'd value some input - Thanks!
      "Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist,- Pablo Picasso

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      • #18
        I'd love for someone to tell David Simon he's not allowed to write characters of other races and see what he says. The Wire being one of the best shows, ever...

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        • #19
          Originally posted by Bono View Post
          I just write characters mostly. So my main guy is say Seth. He's a dad. I'm thinking white Jewish guy as I am one, but I'm be happy if it's played by Kevin Hart. Who cares? Isn't' that the place we should be getting toward? I find it so counter productive to box in everyone.
          That's the way I try to do it.
          STANDARD DISCLAIMER: I'm a wannabe, take whatever I write with a huge grain of salt.

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          • #20
            Happy Thanksgiving eve. I've come out of occasional lurk mode because this is an interesting topic.

            Upon my first reading of what Jeff shared about the industry, my initial thought was: This is the industry making steps toward diversity.

            But then it occurred to me it's an artificial attempt that seems like a bizarre form of segregation.

            When only Black people can write Black leads, when women and men must write leads exclusive to their own gender, it's the anthesis of diversity.

            So a white guy who writes a Black guy as the lead gets bounced due to concerns of cultural appropriation. But that decision doesn't make it any easier for a Black writer to break in with their script.

            Bouncing Jeff's script with two female leads because he's a guy, doesn't open the door for a woman writer. Especially when it's suggested he should slap a woman co-writer on it when none exists.

            I think I'm getting pissed off about this. This is an industry that's been criticized for lack of diversity and the best the white guys running it can come up with is this?
            Advice from writer, Kelly Sue DeConnick. "Try this: if you can replace your female character with a sexy lamp and the story still basically works, maybe you need another draft.-

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            • #21
              Read the trades. There are deals announced regularly for white dudes getting paid to write non-white stories. They'll be fine

              https://deadline.com/2021/11/deon-ta...ng-1234867997/

              https://deadline.com/2021/11/sterlin...jr-1234876105/


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              • #22
                Thanks for all of your reassurance folks, the protag is now an African American
                I heard the starting gun


                sigpic

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                • #23
                  Isn't the Bible (both Old and New Testaments) the biggest cultural appropriation of all? The original prose from Moses, and the earliest epistles from Matthew, et. al, have been rewritten and reinterpreted by anglo-saxons for the past 1,000 years, largely to fit their narrative of how the world should be.



                  I think it's okay for a writer to write outside his/her cultural lane, with the caveat that it still doesn't inoculate them from writing crap.
                  Last edited by bioprofessor; 11-25-2021, 06:36 AM.

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                  • #24
                    Originally posted by bioprofessor View Post
                    Isn't the Bible (both Old and New Testaments) the biggest cultural appropriation of all? The original prose from Moses, and the earliest epistles from Matthew, et. al, have been rewritten and reinterpreted by anglo-saxons for the past 1,000 years, largely to fit their narrative of how the world should be.
                    Except the original Apostles (Bishops) were Jewish and they passed on the Gospel to "Greeks" (gentiles) who passed on the Gospel to "barbarians" (Germanic tribes, like the Angles and Saxons). Can't speak for Protestant churches, but the teaching of the Catholic Church was established well before the Anglo-Saxons ever got involved.

                    Originally posted by bioprofessor View Post
                    I think it's okay for a writer to write outside his/her cultural lane, with the caveat that it still doesn't inoculate them from writing crap.
                    Agree here.
                    STANDARD DISCLAIMER: I'm a wannabe, take whatever I write with a huge grain of salt.

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                    • #25
                      Originally posted by Centos View Post

                      Except the original Apostles (Bishops) were Jewish and they passed on the Gospel to "Greeks" (gentiles) who passed on the Gospel to "barbarians" (Germanic tribes, like the Angles and Saxons). Can't speak for Protestant churches, but the teaching of the Catholic Church was established well before the Anglo-Saxons ever got involved.



                      Agree here.
                      That's kinda what I meant. First the Jewish prophet Moses, then the Jewish apostles, e.g Matthew, then all the other non-Jewish guys.

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                      • #26
                        Originally posted by bioprofessor View Post

                        That's kinda what I meant. First the Jewish prophet Moses, then the Jewish apostles, e.g Matthew, then all the other non-Jewish guys.
                        Okay. I'm sorry for being obtuse.
                        STANDARD DISCLAIMER: I'm a wannabe, take whatever I write with a huge grain of salt.

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                        • #27
                          Originally posted by Centos View Post

                          Okay. I'm sorry for being obtuse.
                          Not at all. I learned something from your reply. All's good!

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