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Old 07-11-2010, 07:48 AM   #84
True_Avery
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Originally Posted by igyman View Post
I haven't commented on those particular examples, since I'm not really educated when it comes to Kunta Kinte, or the 54th MVI and it would be inappropriate for me to say anything about them.
Fair point. Did not consider that and probably should have.

Kunta Kinte:
Basically, he is one of the main characters in a 12 hour "movie"/series called Roots. He's African and is taken from Africa by slavers and sold in America as a slave. The "movie" progresses from his capture to the end of the American Civil War, exploring slave life, treatment, and so on. It is a fictional work with fictional characters, of course, but (I think, at least) its a must watch if you are looking at that era of American History.

54th MVI:
In Summary, they were the first African Amerian Infantry unit in the United States history. They fought and had one of the most impressive records but were largely ignored and unrewarded for a long time.

My summaries do them no justice, but you could google if you're a little more interested.

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If it's a historical piece, or any other kind of piece that is supposed to convey a deeper message, it should portray characters and events as accurately as possible, race included. If it's a movie created simply for entertainment purposes (and the opinions I've expressed are focused mostly on that type of movie, even though I might not have been clear enough about it), then I don't see the problem of casting "this actor over that one".
Agreed. Which is, primarily, why I think Daredevil and Men In Black can avoid the "whitewash" issue and skip more into actor placement. As is probably -more- than clear at this point, I do think that race holds a deeper meaning in Avatar, especially to non-Caucasian Americans that have very few positive depictions of themselves in American media. Perhaps the meaning isn't set in stone in the actual show, but what makes art, well, art is the perception and not what it actually is... if that makes sense.

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Not offended, don't worry, but I do think you are taking it a bit too far with this statement. A Racist believes his race is superior to all others and thus demeans, discriminates and generally hates everything about other races.
Colormute, well, while I've skimmed through the link you provided, I probably still don't understand the full meaning of the term. As I see it, being colormute means that someone doesn't care about the color of a person's skin, which can lead to both positive and negative results, the negative ones being primarily affiliated with certain job opportunities, like acting.
I don't believe someone who could be described as "colormute/blind" is in the same league as a racist, but the negative results of colormute can be damaging in the same way. The extreme of this is sort of a "do nothing" approach, and see in the same shade.

The way I sort of see is this:
Imagine a room, full of furniture, and your job is to get to the door. A Racist's eye see only the shining color of the door, but when they try to walk towards it they keep stumbling over furniture and breaking things, creating a dislike of the furniture. A Colormute's eye's do the opposite as doors, walls, and furniture are all perceived equally, leading the person to just stand still in fear of breaking anything.

In a real world context, it sort of fits into the "First They Came..." statement by Pastor Martin Niemöller. The Nazi's were breaking all the Furniture in the room, but a great deal of the population stood, blind, in the room and didn't do anything till the Nazi's finally swung in their direction, and by that time it was too late.

In a political sense, its sort of the the most distilled forms of true "Liberalism" and "Conservatism". One is running towards the door without abandon, and the other is a desire to sit down and simply never move. When you even them out, in my opinion, you get someone that can see both the door and the furniture, give or take a certain amount of long/short sightedness.

At least in America, the color of someone's skin and their ethnicity have a lot to do with our history. Some Parents try to pass this history down the generations, and America can be described as sort of a "salad"; together we are a whole meal, but each ingredient is different in its own way. Racists only want to eat the lettuce, and Colormutes can't taste anything.

In a country that has a majority that define themselves as "white" (self denial or not), the races with smaller numbers don't want to be drowned out. They want to be an active flavor in the salad. They want you to see the artistic designs on their furniture. They want you to hear them when "they" come.

It is a want for an appreciation for color. Variety. A respect for the craftsmanship put into the wood table, and a respect for the trees that had to be killed for that wood. To taste the flavor of every ingredient in your salad and, at least in the back of your mind, thank the chef, waitress, and the rest of the restaurant's staff for said ingredients.

Without this the world, I think, would seem rather... bland; A living room with box furniture painted dull gray. As such, is it not as bland to have movies with nothing but "white" leads? What about Cartoons? Even in a book, without any physical cues other than plain words, race can mean something.

In a perfect world, I agree. Actors should be cast only for their skill and nothing else. But, Hollywood banks on the idea that the majority of America is "white". Not only this, but they bank that the majority is also rather colorblind as well and wont notice them catering to them. So they do. Sometimes people blink and realize this (The Last Airbender)... and sometimes they don't (James Cameron's Avatar).

While it is a problem with Hollywood, this can extend as high as a world wide theme. I guess you could call it "stateblind". You're content with your own state and don't really care much for the rest of the world, so you don't see them when you say and do things that can and do affect them. All around the world, America is pretty well stereotyped as having this problem. Hell, in my last post I showed my "stateblind" side by asking if your country was 90% 1 ethnic group with little to no education on the subject.

If "Racist" and "Colorblind" make up the two sides of the coin, than the currency might be called "Ignorance".

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Nope, that's not the first thing that comes to mind, at least in my case, but I do agree that anime doesn't make many racial distinctions when it comes to character appearance, but they do distinguish races and nationalities in a very simple and effective way - character names.
More pointed towards other comments in the thread, even though they were made in more of a joke manner.

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It doesn't, but since the topic was started regarding that particular movie, I've tried to stick to examples related to it and similar types of media.
Was more talking in third person about what I had written above. Should have been more clear.

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Well, this is a trick (a very retarded trick, IMO) to attract as much American audience as possible to see The Last Airbender. It, as you may suspect, draws on the whole "War on Terror" thing with the "American good guy" and the "Arab villain". Once upon a time, that place was taken by the Russians and now I hear even us Serbs are starting to become the regular villains of American movies.
Its more a problem that has persisted through most of the history of America. "War on Terror" is the thing now, but blackface, yellowface, and the general issue goes back hundreds of years. Like I said, appreciating the tree that built the table.

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True, but my point was that it could have happened just as easily as it did with white actors, thus the "Worst Case Scenario No.2" label.
Honestly, had no hope for this movie when Shamwow was announced as the director. Really, the acting would have been terrible either way but I still would prefer No.2.

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I'm aware of that.
Aware of that one, too.
Apologies, but just as a note for my posting style:

My posts often unintentionally give the feeling that I'm treating the person like an idiot by over explaining things. In truth, I go out of my way to post extra stuff as sort of guiding points for my thought. Bread crumbs, if you will. It isn't so much that I don't doubt your intelligence as much as it is me liking, in a way, sticky notes to build around. I also usually post extra stuff to organize my own thoughts since I often need to re-build my opinion for every post.

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Mako was a Japanese actor and, yes, he did have a very distinct accent. The problem with American media, both movies and cartoons, is that there's little to no room for characters of other nationalities who speak non-accented english, instead if someone is of Russian descent, for example, he must have a standardized Russian accent, the same goes for Chinese and Japanese characters. Let's not forget the black characters who must almost always sound like gangstas.
This is my ignorance speaking again, but I actually find this to be a worldwide phenomenon and not just American. While in America a Russian speaks with a Russian accent, and so on and so forth for everything else, I often find the same when watching movies/shows from other parts of the world. Like, in Japan an American is usually tall, blonde, white, and either incredibly good looking, military, or Texan. Then you add a dash of some womanizing and rage fueled power into that.

Stereotyping... well, it sort of has its place. It an be under and over done, and often is. Hm...

Imagine the room again. This time, stereotypes are the furniture. If everything sounds, looks, etc the same then you have to wonder... is that a table or a chair? Is that... is that the sink or the toilet? On the other end, everything appears -much- too obvious; the table is bright blue, the chairs are neon pink, and the candles have been replaced by entire furnaces.

Not saying that everyone should sound exactly as they look, but that it is sort of a... guide, I guess. I don't want my road dividers to be a mile apart... but I also don't want them to go away. Subtly is the key.

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Now, I don't mind that since I see no other value in that media, than some simple entertainment. It's not supposed to educate, not convey a deeper message to the viewer
Its a nice sentiment that I -do- wish was true... but, unfortunately, I also don't think think its valid.

Brendan Sinclair from Gamespot has touched upon this in the past, primarily in podcasts and, while I initially thought he was over thinking it, I've reflected on it for a year or so and come to understand his meaning:

http://www.gamespot.com/users/Polybr...m-100-25822730

"We need to read meaning into games that have none.

I've been accused a number of times of taking games too seriously, of reading too much into games and seeing messages where developers never intended to give them (Shadow Complex, almost any military shooter). I do this because people need to realize that they are always communicating. It's very hard to say literally nothing, especially when you're setting your game in a realistic world. And if developers don't inject their own meaning into games, they're leaving it up to other people to dictate to the world what their work is actually about.

To illustrate this, here's something I stumbled onto from the biographer of Ultima creator Richard Garriott (on Wikipedia, so caveat emptor and all that) about why he decided to move the series in a more thoughtful, narrative-driven direction after the first few games:

'He decided that if people were going to look for hidden meaning in his work when they didn't even exist, he would introduce ideas and symbols with meaning and significance he deemed worthwhile, to give them something they could really think about.'"


Basically, people will -find- meaning in something even if the director has absolutely no intention of showing meaning. A message is conveyed whether the creator likes it or not.

Warning: Below is going to be VERY Pretentious, and possibly offensive. I'd still like everyone to read it, but you've been warned.

I'm trying to become a decent artist. As such, I have to jump into the history of art and -why- art is even in the world today. I wont bore you with a 20 page post on art, but I'll summarize in saying that art is basically the single most important facet of human civilization... ever. Without art, groups of people would be limited in size, meaning, and so on. The growth of human civilization runs directly parallel with when we first started painting caves in substance induced hallucinations.

Simply put, Art is Propaganda, and Propaganda is Art. Art is nothing without a perception, and with a perception... Art is God. No... without Art, even God is only a sound that your mouth can make.

One of the most important events in the history of art/propaganda was when Alexander the Great realized that his hand of influence was physically limited to his own face and that he could not be in every city at once. There was no way he would ever hold power when he could not stay in the mind of the people... So, he had a stroke of genius that, in all honesty, was not only one of the most important events in all of art, but all of civilization:

He put his face on the money; the one thing that every citizen would have in their pocket every day.

This, again, goes all the way back to my point on Hollywood assuming the majority of people are colorblind. Because, frankly, they are.
  • This is why companies spend billions advertising.
  • This is why companies invest millions and years on a single logo that may only be on the market for a few years.
  • This is why our leaders have their faces on money.
  • This is why we have state flags.
  • This is why Hollywood casts white actors.
  • This is why religion gained and continues its influence.

Art -is- civilization. Morality, law, religion, etc are not only poor glues for civilization, but what glue they do have is primarily made up of art. This is why politicians hate art, but use it. This is why Hitler dismantled museums, but invested in his own symbols, writing, and so on.

Whoever controls art, controls you and everyone else. This works for a few reasons, one of which being that we are an incredibly sight based creature. Another being that, much like being colorblind... the majority of the population not only doesn't see it, but discredits art as not being worth anything. The fact that it is dismissed as an eccentric hobby is exactly what gives it power over nearly everything you do.

There is, quite frankly, no such thing as "entertainment" without message, especially when any form of art is involved. Even throwing a stick could be considered art, doubly so if you get good at it. Hell, throwing sticks is a sport.

Think about it:
What does a low angle shot tell you? What does such a simple camera shot convey? Study propaganda posters that have worked effectively throughout history and you'll find that where someone is positioned tells your subconscious who is "stronger", "better", and, well, "higher". This is why we call some opinions "high-horsed". Why the Pope is always so damn high, and why the chair on the pope-mobile is so tall.

A lot of people can claim George W. Bush rigged elections, told lies, and so on... but there is actually a -very- good reason why Bush won in 2004. Why Bush, despite being lower in numbers, made a massive comeback at his last speech:
  • His staff showed pictures of him during 9/11, grabbing your emotions.
  • He walked onto stage alone and calm, profiling himself as strong and in control right after softening your emotions with horrific imagery.
  • And, most brilliantly of all... his podium was less than a foot above Audience level.

That is it. That is why Bush won in 2004: because his staff used imagery, body language, and his special position to control you; a stroke of genius they had mere hours before the speech. His podium was low enough to tell you "I am walking amongst you", but just high enough to say "I'm the one you should look up to".

A Low Angle Shot; one of the most important human-to-human forms of propaganda to be used regularly. Scratch that... the most important animal-to-animal interaction. Scold a dog and watch as he lowers himself to the ground in submission. Watch a dog roll on its belly, all the way on the ground, as a sign that you are its master. Watch the alpha wolf in a pack keep to higher ground than the rest of the pack. Watch cats arch up and try to look much bigger when scared. Gorillas rear up and raise their arms when they want to scare another. A school of fish swimming in the shape of a larger fish.

Things like this is why we have an entire art field called "cinematography". Because, bad cinematography sends the wrong message and can ruin, for example, a movie. This is why Photography is a class at Art Schools.

If just one small adjustment of a camera, or just one slight adjustment of a podium can mean the difference between being President or losing... just think what the -rest- of Cinematography can do.

They... well, We, as artists, actually hope you find no value in media. In fact, the best advertising artists are the ones who are invisible; ads that you see as just being there, and not as a message because they end up being the most effective.

On a side note, this is also why I consider people like Roger Ebert to be, well, tools. To be able to say "Video Games are not Art" is to imply "Art" can be not only 100% defined, but neatly labeled. This mean that he walks around and can see a Coca-Cola symbol and say "that is not art; it is just a can". At this point he has already lost and that the symbol and artist have done their job.

Think about this for a moment:
What would you cover a cut with? Most Americans would say a Band-Aid.
What would you blow your nose with? Most Americans would say a Kleenex.

Band-Aid and Kleenex are Brands; not Things.

The fact that these two brands are -so- ingrained into the American consciousness that we now associate them as a thing and not a brand is... an absolutely amazing stroke of marketing. And who do companies go to in order to do that marketing? Artists.

No offense, but the fact you can disassociate "entertainment", like a movie, with any deep art/message means that you've... well, I don't want to say lost, but its the only word that really fits.

Further above you guess that the American casting thing, atm, is due to the "War on Terror". I wanted to save this till after my warning, but I disagree with it being a "retarded" (as in, stupid) trick. You probably meant it as being a slimy trick, but either way it is effective.

Why?

Whites heroes fighting the Dark Skins. White Princesses/Princes. White Businessmen, and Black Gangsters. These are things you make note of in your complaint on voice actor's stereotyping.

Even something as popcorn as Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen sends signals: Ethnics speak in street and "can't read", the Federal Gov is incompetent, the pretty/skinny girls get the guy, the white male is the hero of the world, people are stupid and will believe anything, college has drugs, parents aren't as smart as their kids, college girls are sluts, nerds are freaky paranoids, soldiers are expendable, military men routinely outright ignore direct orders, dwarfs are funny, and so on and so on and so on...

How about Avatar: The Last Airbender? War is bad, bad people can be misunderstood, age does not equal wisdom, people are flawed, skin does not determine personality, things must be earned, girls and girls can be equal, and so on and so on...

The Last Airbender movie? White people are always the heroes, and the bad people are always darker than you, etc.

Show me a movie, series, book, etc and I'll list off the messages, tropes, propaganda, and so on that "entertainment" is trying to influence you with. And, who is the most open to these?

Children. Humans with growing minds.

View page
YouTube Video
View page
YouTube Video

I'm not joking around when I say that these two videos need to be paid attention to.

Fact is, if the media did not have meaning, it would not be made. I also have always found the terms "deep meaning" to be another brilliant marketing move, most likely pushed by artists who wanted their work to -appear- less significant. Meaning is meaning. A message is a message. It is going to go in your subconscious whether you like it or not; what you choose to do with it is up to you.

Again, Conscious or not, you catch these things. James Cameron's Avatar has some particularly egregious examples of this:
  • The private military force being cast as slack jawed, redneck looking whites and white corporate takeover.
  • A race of familiar, yet unfamiliar people, and their struggle against this white force.
  • A white man who joins the other race and, in the end, ends up being better than them at everything they do for no good reason.
  • The whites join the darker races to fight off the more evil whites.

You are completely welcome to not see any "deep" messages in a popcorn flick or, well, anything. I just wanted to make clear: That is what we want you to think. And, even if the director doesn't intend it, your subconscious is going to create meaning regardless.

Case and Point: You saw stereotyped voices, the different races from the show to the movie, the skin color of the voice actors, disagree that voice acting is a blank slate, recognize that there was a race lift in Daredevil...

Assumptions here, but I think you are more conscious of the messages that "entertainment" sends than the average person, but are reluctant to see them as such. It is curious to me that you can counter my argument with different messages, but personally hold no value to them as "deep meanings".

They may not bother you on a conscious level as you notice them, but that really isn't what artistic messages are meant to do. A subconscious message is someone giving a speech on a podium set above you. It is the wording of the speech. How the person acts and reacts. Why a comedian is often more physically active on stage, while a President is stone stiff and tall.

Alexander didn't put his face on the money so that they would look and say "oh, hi Alexander!". No, he put it there so the image would cross their eyes and be refreshed in their subconscious. Just like the word "God". Just like the "Cross" symbol. Just like how our society will associate the side cut mustache as being symbolic of Hitler and Nazi Germany.

Rationalize that Avatar: TLAB isn't set on Earth and is therefore not "Asia". Rationalize that its "anime", a "Cartoon", etc. Doesn't truly matter to me or the original artists; your subconscious is still going to catch the similarities. If you still don't get what I mean then think of the most terrifying, "alien"-like monsters in "entertainment" to you, then don't look at what makes them different... but what makes them similar to things on earth.

H. R. Geiger is one of the masters of this craft.

Really, doesn't matter if you spend time catching this stuff like I try to do or just go to have fun: e-mail has been sent and cannot be deleted; only interpreted.

That is an artists interpretation of the world, anyway.

As a final note: while something may be art... there is still well made art, and very poor art.

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I assume you took a quick glance at wikipedia (I would have probably done the same), but as you know, wikipedia isn't a completely reliable source. Here's a more complete view from the Statistical Office of the Republic of Serbia: http://webrzs.stat.gov.rs/axd/Zip/VJN3.pdf
Actually I tried to avoid Wikipedia and went google searching, but regardless thanks for correcting me on that.

Last edited by True_Avery; 07-11-2010 at 08:00 AM.
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