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On the Problematic Nature of Beast (And Why I Think That's a Good Thing)

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  • #61
    In fact, this reminds me of one kid in my old middle school who, for at least a couple years, seemed to be just another perfectly normal student. Then one day, he reveals to the school that he was Jewish, and it was like a god damn switch had been flipped in people's heads. For nearly a week, he was flocked by crowds of students who were asking him all kinds of questions, and I could tell from his body language that he was getting pretty tired of answering them.

    Point being, that even though he was a Jew, there was nothing in our minds that separated him from the rest of us, until he decided to draw attention to the fact. And I believe that more people should take this into consideration, before they start trying to lecture others on what is and isn't indicative of a certain group of people. Especially if they don't even belong to that group in the first place!
    Last edited by Nyrufa; 03-28-2019, 02:49 PM.

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    • #62
      Originally posted by Primordial newcomer View Post

      no problem man. as many of us have experienced, Beast had the issue of being claimed as allegory to minorities by people who read the first drafts. while these accusations are used WAY less often now, they will always be damaging to ANY games reputations
      The writers have already gone on the record to say that Beasts aren't meant to be an allegory to minorities.

      That does not stop people from identifying similarities to their own experiences and drawing value (or offense) from that. What is meant is not always what gets expressed. Just like I don't think you mean to be saying that my queer association with Beast damages the game, but that is what I am hearing from you.

      I'm really wondering what message people think they're giving when only "official representation" is what matters and insist others who see familiar experiences must be "wrong" and are injecting their "identity politics" into their elfgames. It's not a supportive message, is what I'm saying.

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      • #63
        Originally posted by Nyrufa View Post
        In fact, this reminds me of one kid in my old middle school who, for at least a couple years, seemed to be just another perfectly normal student. Then one day, he reveals to the school that he was Jewish, and it was like a god damn switch had been flipped in people's heads. For nearly a week, he was flocked by crowds of students who were asking him all kinds of questions, and I could tell from his body language that he was getting pretty tired of answering them.

        Point being, that even though he was a Jew, there was nothing in our minds that separated him from the rest of us, until he decided to draw attention to the fact. And I believe that more people should take this into consideration, before they start trying to lecture others on what is and isn't indicative of a certain group of people. Especially if they don't even belong to that group in the first place!
        Holy shit, guys.

        Are we really going down this path that people are faking being gay on the internet?

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        • #64
          Originally posted by Paradim View Post

          It's not a supportive message, is what I'm saying.
          Telling people that they aren't being accurately portrayed by monstrous allegories isn't being supportive of them?

          Originally posted by Paradim View Post

          Holy shit, guys.

          Are we really going down this path that people are faking being gay on the internet?

          Wait, what? At what point did I give you that impression?

          I never said anyone wasn't gay, I said that claiming to be gay is something to be hated and feared was wrong!
          Last edited by Nyrufa; 03-28-2019, 03:05 PM.

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          • #65
            Originally posted by Nyrufa View Post

            Telling people that they aren't being accurately portrayed by monstrous allegories isn't being supportive of them?
            No. Denying people's shared experiences, calling them wrong for their own self-identification and insisting that only "sanitized" representation is allowable is not being supportive. Not all representation has to be positive, especially if people are connecting their own dots.

            Don't get me wrong. Having positive representation is nice. But gay people can be villains in stories just as much as being heroes in stories. We're people first and foremost after all, and people make mistakes.


            Originally posted by Nyrufa View Post
            Wait, what? At what point did I give you that impression?

            I never said anyone wasn't gay, I said that claiming to be gay was something to be hated and feared was wrong!
            Context. Where you said "Especially if they don't even belong to that group in the first place!" in a thread that has at least two people who identify as being gay are talking about their own experiences and how they have interpreted the material of Beast in a positive way for them. It's not easy to talk about some of this stuff. Some of it just hurts and is raw. Talking about my mother is a particularly painful thing for me right now, because I just recently lost her this January without ever having been able to talk to her about that experience I shared. But I thought it was worth to try sharing that, to help give better understanding where people can be coming from.

            The fact that people can self-identify with the scattered pieces strewn about Beast: The Primordial is not a bad thing. It's important. It helps me see Beasts not just as monsters, but as people.

            How does it help to reject that? I don't understand.

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            • #66
              Originally posted by Paradim View Post


              Don't get me wrong. Having positive representation is nice. But gay people can be villains in stories just as much as being heroes in stories. We're people first and foremost after all, and people make mistakes.




              Context. Where you said "Especially if they don't even belong to that group in the first place!" in a thread that has at least two people who identify as being gay are talking about their own experiences and how they have interpreted the material of Beast in a positive way for them. It's not easy to talk about some of this stuff. Some of it just hurts and is raw. Talking about my mother is a particularly painful thing for me right now, because I just recently lost her this January without ever having been able to talk to her about that experience I shared. But I thought it was worth to try sharing that, to help give better understanding where people can be coming from.

              The fact that people can self-identify with the scattered pieces strewn about Beast: The Primordial is not a bad thing. It's important. It helps me see Beasts not just as monsters, but as people.

              How does it help to reject that? I don't understand.

              1 - Yes, the "we're people first and foremost" is what I was trying to convey. Yes, they can make mistakes, you're right. But portraying them in a light to which they are expected to make such mistakes is what should be taken issue with. There is a massive difference between accidentally causing harm to others, and literally needing to do so in order to survive.


              2 - Ah, that wasn't my intention at all. I wasn't addressing anybody specifically on here, but rather in the broader world as a whole. I've met / seen people who weren't members of a certain community, but were sympathetic towards them, and believed that sympathy gave them the right to speak on their behalf. Often to the point of over reacting to situations that they assumed would have been offensive to the groups they supported. That kind of mentality can be detrimental to the cause, because it shows that even somebody who is supposedly on their side still looks at those negative stereotypes and instinctively associates them with such groups.

              If we want to eliminate prejudice and stereotypes, then we should stop thinking about minorities as being "others" among society, and just treat them like we would a "normal" person. Eventually, the distinction between "normal" and "different" will be fazed out of our subconsciousness, and we'll stop thinking in such terms when associating with each other.

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              • #67
                Originally posted by Nyrufa View Post
                If we want to eliminate prejudice and stereotypes, then we should stop thinking about minorities as being "others" among society, and just treat them like we would a "normal" person. Eventually, the distinction between "normal" and "different" will be fazed out of our subconsciousness, and we'll stop thinking in such terms when associating with each other.
                That's a noble goal and I can tell you that we've already come a long way on that.

                However, that does not erase the past. That does not change people's real experiences. And to deny those experiences or to reject views of self-identification with what speaks to them is, simply put, erasure. It's... I'm trying to reach for a word and the best I can think of is "whitewashing". I mean that, pretending something to be pure with what has never been pure.

                It's just not good. As a previous video posted above goes into regarding queercoding for villains and monsters, you can see there is a depth of material here that is very familiar with the very people you are trying to support. What kind of a message do you think it says when you try to pretend it doesn't exist? (Or perhaps, shouldn't exist?)

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                • #68
                  Originally posted by Nyrufa View Post
                  And absolutely NONE of that was something that I would have attributed to being Jewish stereotypes, had it not been for people telling me that I should have.
                  OK...I grew up and some of my friends were jealous of my nose because it didn't look as "Jewish" as theirs and I had an easier time passing around others.

                  I have "come out" as Jewish in places with very few of us, and deal with being swarmed as you describe. But the problem isn't me wanting people to publicly acknowledge me in my full self, the problem is that the society around me made me apprehensive to admit to my full self by perpetuating it with otherness.

                  The amount of ignorance - mostly completely innocent and honestly something people wanted to not be - around these things doesn't excuse them. "I never knew that was a Jewish stereotype," doesn't help those of us that have suffered because it is.

                  Originally posted by Nyrufa View Post
                  Point being, that even though he was a Jew, there was nothing in our minds that separated him from the rest of us, until he decided to draw attention to the fact.
                  This phrasing is horrible. It reveals the lack of empathy which is the biggest hurdle in all this. "We weren't ignorant about Jews until a Jew pointed out they were Jewish and made us question what Jews are like, how dare they make us feel like we unexamined biases." They way this puts everything on the minority in the situation for being responsible for the 'othering' is just... extremely bad.

                  There was always something you minds that separated him from the rest of you. You just didn't know it yet.

                  And I believe that more people should take this into consideration, before they start trying to lecture others on what is and isn't indicative of a certain group of people. Especially if they don't even belong to that group in the first place!
                  Well, I'm Jewish. So there's that.

                  And second, no this is bullshit.

                  My friends that are various other minorities? They call my ass out if I'm not helping them when I speak out on their behalf. They don't need the people that need speaking to, to be the ones that get to decide if I'm overdoing things. And frequently they do want/need allies to speak up for them.

                  If one of my LGBTQ+ friends pulls me aside and says, "dude too much," I'll definitely stop (at least in the moment to have a talk later). If a straight person tells me I'm just over-reacting/lecturing on behalf of LGBTQ+ folks, I'm not inclined to find it a credible critique.

                  Originally posted by Nyrufa View Post
                  2 - Ah, that wasn't my intention at all. I wasn't addressing anybody specifically on here, but rather in the broader world as a whole. I've met / seen people who weren't members of a certain community, but were sympathetic towards them, and believed that sympathy gave them the right to speak on their behalf.
                  The fact that this is seen as a problem is... something I just can't comprehend. Yes, people can screw it up, but if we want to reduce othering... we need people to have sympathy and empathy and stand up for each other even if they don't share some demographic identifier. People screw up standing up for their own community too. The people you're 'worried' about have already gotten over othering whoever they're standing up for; and to them they're standing up for their group. What you're advocating for doesn't get rid of othering, it just shoves minorities back in the closet so that the majority doesn't have to remember they exist and thus "othering" stops being a problem (for the majority).

                  Originally posted by Primordial newcomer View Post
                  that's why new works dont see it that way. yes, if you perpetuate it, it will always be like that.
                  But that's the whole point of people bringing these things up. If people don't know that fantasy dwarfs are anti-Semitic stereotypes, and people just think of them as dwarfs being dwarfs, they're perpetuating it, instead of getting rid of it. It just buries those things deeper, so the people hurt by it have that much more trouble being heard when they point out that this problem isn't solved just because the people that aren't impacted don't notice it any more.

                  The D&D 5e write up on dwarfs might just look generic and free of the Jewish coding that Tolkien explicitly wanted in them (not all of it is a negative, like the association with trades and crafts), but none of it is really gone if you actually get in there.

                  Dwarfs are master builders because European Jews frequently got involved in specific skilled trades, such as masonry, smithing, bookmaking, and so on because they were/are valued cultural skills. There is a direct line from this, to modern anti-Semitic "globalist" conspiracy theories. As European Jews became over-represented in the trade guilds, and later middle class, resentment at the linked financial success lead to attacks that Jews were using this to gain power over their Christian neighbors (esp. the working class) bolstered by long standing anti-Semitic prejudice.

                  So, no, I don't buy that "new works" are inherently better. New works have done far more white washing of the problem and tried to empower the claim that it's just fantasy dwarfs doing what fantasy dwarfs do, and ignore the origins of why they do those things. The only thing that's changed is that the creators are less open about why these characters are coded the way they are..

                  whether you embrace the racist origins or reject them and make something new (and better) out of it is a choice.
                  Sure, but we should absolutely being calling out people that embrace the racist origins (even out of ignorance) instead of rejecting them to make something better.

                  I'd love to see better dwarfs in Western fantasy fiction and gaming. The dominate accepted version of them is still steeped in stereotypes that aren't being rejected though.

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                  • #69
                    Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post




                    This phrasing is horrible. It reveals the lack of empathy which is the biggest hurdle in all this. "We weren't ignorant about Jews until a Jew pointed out they were Jewish and made us question what Jews are like, how dare they make us feel like we unexamined biases." They way this puts everything on the minority in the situation for being responsible for the 'othering' is just... extremely bad.

                    There was always something you minds that separated him from the rest of you. You just didn't know it yet.


                    I apologize if the way I worded that came across as offensive. Once again, it was not my intention to do so.

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                    • #70
                      Originally posted by Paradim View Post
                      That's a noble goal and I can tell you that we've already come a long way on that.

                      However, that does not erase the past. That does not change people's real experiences.
                      In SOME part of the world we are past of minorities being villains. Literally right now in my homeland Poland our ruling party is painting LGBT+ as enemies that want to 'sexualize children' to win this year election ( will not go on detail here ). I just listen speech as today my home city councilmen want to 'ban LGBT+' in our city.

                      And Poland is just one of most homophobic members of European Union - situation in rest of world for minorities is even more dire. I was raised in society that told me that being LGBT+ is being somewhat villainous ( cause all Poles need to be 'good Catholics' ). Rest of the Second and Third World population rise in even worse light for minorities.

                      And Beast: The Primordial is reminding everyone that you are not only the monster they paint you to be. Equality is very precious thing to celebrate and fight for. And that's why love it's themes.
                      Last edited by wyrdhamster; 03-28-2019, 06:12 PM.


                      My stuff for Realms of Pugmire, Scion 2E, CoD Contagion, Dark Eras, VtR 2E, WtF 2E, MtAw 2E, MtC 2E & BtP
                      LGBT+ through Ages
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                      • #71
                        Heavy Arms, I must ask, if we are not to see dwarves as dwarves but as stereotypes of something, how are we to get past stereotypes?

                        it's an honest question. by separating the dwarfs from the Jewish people, wouldnt that make people not associate stereotypes with jews but instead dwarves? and not only that, but have it eventually progress into something that one does not even think ties into them? in warhammer, dwarves are a dying race known for their craftsmanship and steadfastness. yes they have big beards, but the significance is not just a characteristic but part of their lore is the longer the beard the older the dwarf, it's a badge of wisdom and knowledge. no one thinks of them as allegory to jews because they evolved into their own thing. it is much better when players can associate fiction within the game as just that than "a stereotype that needs to be gone". Beast has done much the same thing what with growing out of its shell.

                        in my opinion, we should stick to issues that are concrete, such as the hanging of homosexuals in Iran and combatting crap like what happening in Poland as wyrdhamster said (I am not much aware of the issue in Poland. but if public officials and such are declaring homosexuality evil, then that's a damn problem that needs to be resolved)

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                        • #72
                          For anyone more interested how PiS party is fighting LGBT+ in Poland - this is proper article link and post in forum's The LGBT Thread II - move discussion on subject there.

                          Originally posted by wyrdhamster
                          For anyone interested in what exactly is now is happening in Poland, Forbes made article in English to sum-up situation in country. Some quotes from it - the article is much longer on itself, so I advise to read it.

                          PiS Picks LGBT Battleground In Poland
                          'Tomasz Basiuk, a lecturer at the Polish Association for American Studies in Warsaw, spoke with Forbes about why Poland's ruling party, Law and Justice (PiS), is placing LGBT issues in the forefront of its election campaign ahead of European and national elections in 2019.

                          PiS recently condemned a school sex education program planned in Warsaw ( capitol of Poland ) designed to teach pupils about sexual orientation, discrimination and reproductive health, according to standards set by the World Health Organization. The party wants to keep sex education mainly in the hands of parents, instead of schools or non-government organizations. It is also against abortion, as well as IVF treatment.

                          (...)

                          The backlash
                          Kaczynski, the most powerful man in Poland ( leader of PiS party ), has in turn made the issue a key component of the election campaign.

                          “Hands off our children,” Kaczynski demanded at his party’s convention recently.

                          “The whole social mechanism of preparing a young person, first a child and then a youth, for future roles as women and men, to start a family, for the role of mother and father, is being questioned. It could be destroyed,” Kaczynski said, adding Poles must “continue this attack on families, on children.”

                          Krystyna Pawłowicz, an outspoken PiS MP, tweeted: “We MUST WIN this culture war.”

                          The Church split
                          The country’s powerful Catholic Church also criticized the Warsaw initiative. A bishops’ letter expressed “deep concern” over the WHO guidelines. “The declaration contradicts the constitutional right of parents to raise their children according to their own belief,” the bishops wrote.

                          The Polish church is caught up in an ongoing scandal involving clergy allegedly sexually molesting children following the publication of a report into abuse cases.

                          Polish bishops said in a statement that the program would undermine democracy by limiting parental rights and eroding free speech. A PiS campaign ad ahead of the European Parliament elections shows an umbrella with the party logo shielding a family from the rainbow of gay pride.'


                          My stuff for Realms of Pugmire, Scion 2E, CoD Contagion, Dark Eras, VtR 2E, WtF 2E, MtAw 2E, MtC 2E & BtP
                          LGBT+ through Ages
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                          • #73
                            Step 1: When someone in a minority tells you something is a problem, listen to them.
                            Step 2: Always follow Step 1.


                            Kelly R.S. Steele, Freelance Writer(Feel free to call me Kelly, Arcane, or Arc)
                            The world is not beautiful, therefore it is.-Keiichi Sigsawa, Kino's Journey
                            Feminine pronouns, please.

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                            • #74
                              Originally posted by Primordial newcomer View Post
                              Heavy Arms, I must ask, if we are not to see dwarves as dwarves but as stereotypes of something, how are we to get past stereotypes?
                              I'm fine with getting to the point where dwarfs can just be dwarfs, but that means knowing when a work is using the Jewish stereotypes and working against that; either by just cutting them out as unnecessary or trying to recontextualize them.

                              Shadowrun, for example, cuts out the stereotyping side of things. A dwarf in Shadowrun has some differences from other humans of course, but none of the specific cultural baggage from reusing Tolkien's Jewish coding without thinking about it. SR dwarfs don't have odd connections to money and greed, or bonuses to push them towards specific careers, etc.

                              Dragon Age doesn't remove as much, but recontextualizes it significantly. DA Dwarfs aren't inherently natural craftspeople, but it's a cultural value derived from their circumstances by being a primarily underground civilization. Without sun and stars, they have more pressure to develop clockwork for the simple need to keeping time without natural cycles.

                              it's an honest question. by separating the dwarfs from the Jewish people, wouldnt that make people not associate stereotypes with jews but instead dwarves?
                              Or just make different stereotypes for the dwarfs.

                              ...but part of their lore is the longer the beard the older the dwarf, it's a badge of wisdom and knowledge. no one thinks of them as allegory to jews
                              This isn't really something that says, "trying to separate them from Jewish coding," to me...

                              it is much better when players can associate fiction within the game as just that than "a stereotype that needs to be gone".
                              Who is it better for? It's not better for me when people don't recognize that D&D games are perpetuating anti-Semitic stereotypes because they associate them with fiction within the game and don't know where that fiction comes from. It creates stress for me, because I have to regularly weigh calling things out to stand up for my culture, or getting labelled as disruptive and become unwelcome in gaming spaces (and it is a definite issue in gaming culture where a lot of groups will pressure you out before they'll change how they game to be less offensive).

                              Beast has done much the same thing what with growing out of its shell.
                              But Beast isn't about real people. Real people (myself included) see fiction that reflects our experiences, but Beast isn't about being gay, or being Jewish, or being neurodiverse, or any of that. IT's a fiction that lets use explore parallel experiences.

                              in my opinion, we should stick to issues that are concrete,...
                              A US synagogue was shot up in October. Anti-Semitic conspiracy theories are all over the place, and as I noted already, have their origins in the same sources as the coding I'm talking about in games.

                              There's plenty of concrete stuff to deal with, and media that adds to the problem is part of going against that stuff.


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                              • #75
                                thanks for the link wyrdhamster. I won't be able to read it now, but tomorrow I will be reading it. either way, I hope the best for you there

                                Heavy Arms, having dwarves a cultural significance to their beard is ok when, as you said, its recontextualized. what you said about beast being fictional, not people, that's what I mean about what we can do with dwarves now. people should be allowed to enjoy having a favorite fantasy race without having to be labelled somehow ignorant and wrong. money and greed is not something to be associated with jews unless you want it that way. It's the same as people claiming vampire the masquerade is anti semitic to jews. that connection is only there because people decided to grasp at ANYTHING just to claim it.
                                Last edited by Primordial newcomer; 03-28-2019, 07:21 PM.

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