Monday, January 25, 2010

Blacks In Videogames/Anime

I'm sure most of you know that I have a geek side to me but I'm not sure if you guys realize the extent of my geekdom. I like alot of geeky things. I collected D.C and Marvel cards when I was younger, read comic books and manga, watched anime, and most of all play videogames. I'm sad to say I haven't changed much (but I don't collect cards anymore). Most people are shocked when they find out how much of a nerd I am because I guess I don't really exude that vibe but I am.

Now because of my nerdyness I feel like I have a pretty good handle on the next topic. But first I am going to share a story with you.

I was recently playing a video game called Mass Effect (It's a sci fi rpg on the 360 that is freaking awesome. If you haven't played it you should and if you have, get the 2nd one too!) and my little cousin was watching me play. In the game, you can create your own specific character design. I created a character that was a black female (naturally since I am one). My little cousin took one look and asked me, "Can you make your own person in this game?" I replied 'yes'. He nods and responds "I thought so because there is no way they'd have a black girl as the main person"

I was shocked by how astute his observation was. This led me to think of black people in videogames/anime and they're existence in the virtual reality world.

I always wondered why in anime, specifically the ones in the 80's-early 90's (Think Sailor Moon, Revolutionary Girl Utena, The Roses of Versaille,etc) ,featured people with very Caucasian features as major characters and yet these cartoons where created by Asians? Or even video games. If you've ever played any of the games in the Final Fantasy franchise, (specially final fantasy 12), most characters have fair hair and fair eyes.Now, there is nothing wrong with that but I've always noticed it. Perhaps its because popular media from the Western world (which admittedly is dominated by whites) would be a huge influence on these people. So add that on top of the fact that most of the media I indulge in is produced by Asian/white developers and the representations can get sort of screwed.

But I'm not just blaming them-I'm blaming us too. We allow ourselves to be portrayed stupidly on television (example-watch an hour of VH1 reality television or Maury). Sure, we can blame the media for only showing this side of us and not the affluent African Americans we never hear about, but there comes a point when maybe we have to put the blame on ourselves to allow these images to be circulated through out the world then be surprised when a foreigner depicts us in such a way. Also-unfortunately, (I can say this because I'm black), a lot of black people have a stick up their butt for no reason. I'm not saying other races don't but if my boss, who's a black woman, tells me that she loves black people but sometimes we can be just plain mean to others as well as each other-something is bat shit wrong.
I'm so afraid now that these stereotypes and depictions are so far ingrained in our culture that we can't even dig ourselves out of it. It's a double edged sword. Because if we act ghetto, mean, and uneducated it's expected but if we act normal, educated, nice, then we are being weird and assimilators. But I digress.

In the typical video game and/or anime we are usually either portrayed like Mr. Popo in DBZ (completely black, featureless besides for bright red/pink lips and white eyes ala black face) or some jive turkey cool cat gangster type. *sigh*. And its considered okay and not offensive.
We mainly fit into these roles:
*Tough, big, slightly imposing, but loveable black guy (Think Barret In FF7)
*Funny, comic relief sidekick
*Hyper sexualized, tough, power bitch (Afro Diva-Cowboy Bebop)
*Dark skinned, light haired, not really sure if they are black but we'll just throw them in there so we can have someone ethnic looking-girl.
*Jive turkey Villain

I mean, Nadia The Secret of the Blue Water, the main characters (who's name is central African) is black and the writers/developers originally drew her with kinky hair but they instead made it wavy because they didn't think Japanese people would take her as a main character.
In the upcoming FF13, one of the sidekicks-who is a black guy-carries around a little bird in his 'bird nest' hair and is the comic relief. Maybe I'm taking it all too seriously but c'mon!

I attribute all of this to plain simple lack of exposure. But it IS getting better. I've started to notice a lot of newer anime/manga has a more positive representation of blacks which makes me think we are going in the right direction. (Which may make future cosplaying easier. Although I haven't had the guts to cosplay yet...might be too nerdy).

I'm definitely going to make a pt. 2, probably regarding the Princess and The Frog and other animations I wanted to cover but I ended up not getting to. This was really just skimming the topic but I would like to go more in depth. Anyways, I want your opinion. White or Black, offensive or not. Talk to me.

(BTW-if any of you have a 360 you should totally give me your GT and I'll message you)

Friday, January 8, 2010

I'm No Racist, I'm a Nationalist!

I apologize for the hiatus. I've just been super busy as of late and admittedly lazy. I've noticed a bit of new comments and I'm sorry I haven't gotten to you guys yet. The clear winning topic of from the poll was the difference between racism and nationalism so that's the one I'll start with.

I think tons of folks' LOVE to throw the whole racist crap askew(yes black people I'm talking about you-although we aren't the only ones to do it)-but instead of just whimsically throwing this very serious ideology as well as accusation around, lets separate racism from prejudice as well as nationalism.

I'm going to be honest with you all because I dislike sugarcoating.


I think in a post before I said that everyone was a little racist but I take that back. I don't believe that the black race, or any race, is better or superior to the others.

But I am a very prejudice person. I openly admit I judge some individuals based on not necessarily their race but how they dress, talk, what they listen to, and yes-race sometimes is a factor in this.I'm sorry but if I'm at a red light, its 2am, I'm alone in my car and a big dangerous looking guy starts walking up to my car-I'm going to lock my door. I would do so if he was any race. My point is that I shouldn't feel any guilt for it if he was black. Prejudice can keep you alive but being politically correct can leave you dead. Prejudice is, at least to me, normal. It's instinct. Call bully on me all you wish.

But sometimes I wonder to myself-how can I be asking society not to judge a person like me when I myself am contributing to the very cause I'm fighting against? That's another post though.

Racism, as we all should know, is the belief that your own race (or maybe perhaps a race other than your own-in that case you have some serious issues) is superior to another or all others.

Nationalism- how I interpret it-is a fierce sense of pride in ones own homeland or country. Basically Patriotism. In the non political sense, Ethnic Nationalism would be the collective pride of an ethnic race. Let me stress PRIDE. Not a superiority complex.

For example, I'm proud to be black. I love African, specifically West African, culture and heritage. I am proud to be a part of it. But I don't think I'm better than anyone because of this.

The problem with these three terms is that the line continually seems to be blurred when the line, at least from my point of view, is pretty clear cut.

I think historically, people have always seemed to put their own interpretation on a belief to fit their own intent. Nowadays, if someone hears Nationalism they have a negative and nearly hostile reaction to to the word. We've become so conditioned to associated pride with racism that we can't even differentiate between the two.

Then if you put ideals of Nationalism and cultural pride into a extreme state of mind-the line can definitely be blurred into something very ugly. I believe these bad seeds are the ones that create this sense of sensationalism as well as danger in the term.

In terms of metal, I'm not very bothered by a band with nationalistic lyrics. Although I've had black and white people tell me that I should be-as if the thought of me listening to music that they are not listening to would offend them. As I've mentioned before I'm a rather large fan of Folk/Viking metal. I can easily rock out to Ensiferum, Finntroll, Tyr, Windir, etc and sleep soundly at night.

But what pisses me off is National Socialist Black Metal uses the term Nationalism as a sort of nicer/politically friendly way of defining themselves as Racist. But, as I said before, a clear line should be forged between the two. Of course, there is more to NSBM as a genre and their ideologies that include Paganism, Odinism, Nazism, etc. I'd like just make sure everyone knows that NSBM is practically a minority in Black Metal despite popular belief. Black Metal, or Satanism, touches on individualism and thinking for yourself rather than the collectivist mentality that NSBM shares that includes their beliefs of race.

What I'm trying to say is that NO ONE should feel ashamed to be a part of an amazing culture as well as heritage. Nor should anyone feel the need to not to keep the heritage homogeneous. I know tons of folks' shout 'mixing races is beautiful' yadda yadda. And it is. But I can understand why a lot of people would like to marry within their own race and keep that line strong. Not out of racism but out of pride and love of your own people to keep the differences that make us all interesting the same for years to come.

A comment was left by Nonworshipper T-zine (sorry to call you out but the comment was too good-welcome to the blog btw) that seemed to sum all this up fairly well:

"I've discussed the difference between racism and nationalism to many people, even speaking outside of metal terms. Oftentimes, the two are used interchangeably and it's because many enter a nationalistic viewpoint with racism on the mind. It's like how a lot of Viking metal fans become Odinists, some getting entrenched in that subtle/not-so-subtle racial superiority brainwashing. Nationalism is being proud of your country and heritage, racism is thinking your race and likely your country and heritage along with it, are the elite. This automatically oppresses others due to them instantly becoming sub-par (or sub-human) in your eyes, since you'd view yourself as superior, the cream of the crop. Yet, when nationalists get too out of control with their politics, nationalism can easily turn into racism."

Oh, humanity...