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Author Topic: No, we weren't stupid for 40 years  (Read 4520 times)

Reckall

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No, we weren't stupid for 40 years
« on: May 27, 2021, 07:11:18 AM »
What follows was inspired by a link posted by the RPGPundit in the current Ravenloft thread.

2. Good Drow, motherfucker: https://comicbook.com/gaming/news/dungeons-dragons-drow-changes-lolth/

I checked the linked page out of curiosity, and of course the toxic word is immediately used, front and center:

"Dungeons & Dragons seems to be poised to make major changes to one of its iconic creatures, likely in response to their problematic depiction in various novels and other canonical lore."

Let's put aside the usual hypocrisy innate in the use of "problematic" (i.e. I will not engage in a real discourse about these "problems" by defining them). Remember the old adage by Abraham Lincoln “You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time.”?

Because this is the point that it is always skipped when attacking something historically successful: How comes that your "problematic" content was and is being enjoyed right now by people of any kind all over the World? That this enjoyment, of the Drow, Lovecraft, fantasy races or whatever, successfully and consistently lasted for decades - being supported, and being still now supported, by people of all races, ethnies and nations?

Were we all being racist/stupid/insensibles for decades? Literally, you are saying that THE WORLD, wasn't aware for decades that what was commonly enjoyed had "problems"? Because this judgement would involve from blacks to Asians, and from Italians to Chinese - and everything in between (that racist Lovecraft, BTW, being a success in nothing less than China!)

I guess not. If Lincoln was right, we can say: "You can sell something 'problematic' to some of the people all of the time, and to all of the people some of the time, but you can not offend all of the people all of the time with your 'problematic' contents." The only possible answer being "These contents are not problematic at all."

Do we recognise unsavoury content? Sure. Lovecraft was racist (xenophobic, actually). But this part of his "poetic", put in context, was more complex that straightforward racism, involving issues ranging from his personal struggle with sexuality to the times he lived in, and his specific upbringing. Again, starting a discourse about Lovecraft by touching these topics is "forbidden" - no matter if these "problematic" contents were and are put in context just fine by millions of people of any kind.

Any "problems" about "races" in a fantastic environment, BTW, crash and burn once they put them in context (notice how often just putting something in context is enough to kill an argument). Just think about sci-fi, let's say Star Trek or Mass Effect. No one (yet) has problems with the fact that these universes are inhabited by different "races". This, I think, because "illuminated" minds more readily accept a "para-scientific" explanation (different life forms that evolved on different planets) than a fantasy one. And yet, most fantasy Worlds too make clear that "each race was born/created and evolved differently from each other".

Truth is, as amazing as it sound, a universe like Star Trek's or Mass Effect's one is as fantasy as the Forgotten Realms - and should be subjected to the same meter of judgement. There is no reason, if you consider "orcs" problematic, not to attack "Klingons", too. Maybe it will happen. But, right now any discussion about "the problem of races in an imaginary milieu" will, if put in context, just flounder. Which is the reason why it isn't made.

And these are only examples. There are many more, and you can even go much more in-depth if you wish.

No. Whites, Blacks, Arabs, Hispanics, Indians, Chinese, Japanese, persons of any age, gender and sexual inclination, weren't stupid/insensible/racist for decades. This simply doesn't hold water. And this is the reason why those who today point out "problematic" contents will never touch this simple fact with a 10' pole.

We survived the moral panic years just because the vast majority of the gamers didn't agree that the panic had any real grounds - and in 3E Demons and Devils returned to D&D amid general partying. I think that we will survive the current panic for the same reason, and that it will end the same way. Yes, I'm optimistic  :)
« Last Edit: May 27, 2021, 07:19:20 AM by Reckall »
For every idiot who denounces Ayn Rand as "intellectualism" there is an excellent DM who creates a "Bioshock" adventure.

Ghostmaker

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Re: No, we weren't stupid for 40 years
« Reply #1 on: May 27, 2021, 08:09:38 AM »
I've made this comment before, but it bears repeating.

These endless attempts to redefine gamers of the past (and their games) as somehow 'wrong' really, really pisses me off.

We were the outcasts, the geeks, the nerds, the guys (and occasional girl) who didn't fit in, so we built our own little place. It wasn't perfect, but we tried to work past our own social inadequacies, and at least treat our companions the way we wanted to be treated. Yeah, there were bad apples; show me a group that never had any. I'll wait. I won't hold my breath though.

Where the fuck were these fucking shitbirds when we were getting mocked, shoved into lockers, and treated like potted plants? They sure as fuck weren't there. Where do they get off telling us how 'problematic' things were?

Fuck them.

Charon's Little Helper

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Re: No, we weren't stupid for 40 years
« Reply #2 on: May 27, 2021, 10:34:32 AM »
I like the 1:55 description of early Drow in Seth Skorkowsky's latest video - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H6EUjfRTOyo

"Photo negatives of Tolkien's elves meets KISS."

Valatar

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Re: No, we weren't stupid for 40 years
« Reply #3 on: May 27, 2021, 11:32:25 AM »
It is, of course, entirely because of the color of their skin.  If they were snow-white Colonizer Elves who served the evil god C'lumbus and went around conquering places, you can bet that they would not even be on anyone's radar for revision.  But where the brutish behavior of the Orcs was taken to be akin to black people by the completely not-racist people on twitter, Drow have the appearance of black people, despite being actually literally black and not brown, but close enough I guess?

Reckall

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Re: No, we weren't stupid for 40 years
« Reply #4 on: May 27, 2021, 11:33:35 AM »
I like the 1:55 description of early Drow in Seth Skorkowsky's latest video - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H6EUjfRTOyo

"Photo negatives of Tolkien's elves meets KISS."

Seth Skorkowsky is great. The effort that he puts in his videos is amazing. It is people like him that, IMHO, are the true backbone of the hobby. Soon or later the beancounters (who are the ultimate strategic force in deciding what goes out and what doesn't - not the daily screeching banshee) will catch up.
For every idiot who denounces Ayn Rand as "intellectualism" there is an excellent DM who creates a "Bioshock" adventure.

Jam The MF

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Re: No, we weren't stupid for 40 years
« Reply #5 on: May 27, 2021, 02:14:02 PM »
It is, of course, entirely because of the color of their skin.  If they were snow-white Colonizer Elves who served the evil god C'lumbus and went around conquering places, you can bet that they would not even be on anyone's radar for revision.  But where the brutish behavior of the Orcs was taken to be akin to black people by the completely not-racist people on twitter, Drow have the appearance of black people, despite being actually literally black and not brown, but close enough I guess?


Yes.  Evil White Drow would barely elicit a yawn from society.  From now on; the Drow in my games will be extra Dark, and extra Evil!!!  Because, reasons!!!  Ha!!!  Reeeeeee!!!!!
I need you to roll a perception check.

Habitual Gamer

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Re: No, we weren't stupid for 40 years
« Reply #6 on: May 27, 2021, 02:30:18 PM »
It is, of course, entirely because of the color of their skin.  If they were snow-white Colonizer Elves who served the evil god C'lumbus and went around conquering places, you can bet that they would not even be on anyone's radar for revision.  But where the brutish behavior of the Orcs was taken to be akin to black people by the completely not-racist people on twitter, Drow have the appearance of black people, despite being actually literally black and not brown, but close enough I guess?

Split the difference: drow have been canonically depicted with blue and dark purple skin, so just go with that.  Pow!  They're no long "problematic".

(Personally, I always found it hilarious how Drow were equated with black people because of their skin color.  As if their long white hair, pointed ears, and sometimes inhuman-looking physiques didn't exist.)

Honestly though, if WotC were smart and ballsy, they'd stand their ground and say "orcs and drow aren't reflective of any real world group" and then set down to create a fantasy world that is to Africa what the Sword Coast is to Europe.  Hire on a few of the half-dozen or so professional RPG writers of African descent (so the SJWs can't scream "appropriation" or "lack of diversity on the creative team") and you'd probably have something decent.  If it's any good, I like to think white folks would gobble it up.

Reckall

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Re: No, we weren't stupid for 40 years
« Reply #7 on: May 27, 2021, 02:46:07 PM »
Hire on a few of the half-dozen or so professional RPG writers of African descent (so the SJWs can't scream "appropriation" or "lack of diversity on the creative team")

No one will ever scream "Lack of diversity!" if the team is all Black.
For every idiot who denounces Ayn Rand as "intellectualism" there is an excellent DM who creates a "Bioshock" adventure.

HappyDaze

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Re: No, we weren't stupid for 40 years
« Reply #8 on: May 27, 2021, 03:12:52 PM »
Friend of mine asked:
Do you read FR fiction?
Do you run/play FR?
Do you allow Drow PCs in D&D games outside of FR?
Why does this change matter to you?

Me:
No
No
Maybe (but not in Eberron).
It really doesn't.

Ghostmaker

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Re: No, we weren't stupid for 40 years
« Reply #9 on: May 27, 2021, 03:29:19 PM »
It is, of course, entirely because of the color of their skin.  If they were snow-white Colonizer Elves who served the evil god C'lumbus and went around conquering places, you can bet that they would not even be on anyone's radar for revision.  But where the brutish behavior of the Orcs was taken to be akin to black people by the completely not-racist people on twitter, Drow have the appearance of black people, despite being actually literally black and not brown, but close enough I guess?

Split the difference: drow have been canonically depicted with blue and dark purple skin, so just go with that.  Pow!  They're no long "problematic".

(Personally, I always found it hilarious how Drow were equated with black people because of their skin color.  As if their long white hair, pointed ears, and sometimes inhuman-looking physiques didn't exist.)

Honestly though, if WotC were smart and ballsy, they'd stand their ground and say "orcs and drow aren't reflective of any real world group" and then set down to create a fantasy world that is to Africa what the Sword Coast is to Europe.  Hire on a few of the half-dozen or so professional RPG writers of African descent (so the SJWs can't scream "appropriation" or "lack of diversity on the creative team") and you'd probably have something decent.  If it's any good, I like to think white folks would gobble it up.
Expand Chult, for God's sake. It's right fucking there in the Forgotten Realms. It's got a badass lawful good god (Ubtao). Why aren't they doing anything with it?

Zelen

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Re: No, we weren't stupid for 40 years
« Reply #10 on: May 27, 2021, 03:35:22 PM »
Friend of mine asked:
Do you read FR fiction?
Do you run/play FR?
Do you allow Drow PCs in D&D games outside of FR?
Why does this change matter to you?

Me:
No
No
Maybe (but not in Eberron).
It really doesn't.

Unfortunately this isn't the type of scenario where you can just bow out of it. Unreasonable power-hungry people won't stop being unreasonable & power-hungry by acquiescing, even on trivial issues.

HappyDaze

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Re: No, we weren't stupid for 40 years
« Reply #11 on: May 27, 2021, 04:39:50 PM »
Friend of mine asked:
Do you read FR fiction?
Do you run/play FR?
Do you allow Drow PCs in D&D games outside of FR?
Why does this change matter to you?

Me:
No
No
Maybe (but not in Eberron).
It really doesn't.

Unfortunately this isn't the type of scenario where you can just bow out of it. Unreasonable power-hungry people won't stop being unreasonable & power-hungry by acquiescing, even on trivial issues.
Really? I don't make any use of the products they are talking about here, and they can't do anything about what I use (or don't use) in my games. This isn't really too different from Disney fucking up Star Wars--I can still run a Star Wars RPG without any of those changes making any fucking difference. If I wanted to run D&D FR, I could still run it the old way too.

Renegade_Productions

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Re: No, we weren't stupid for 40 years
« Reply #12 on: May 27, 2021, 05:45:32 PM »
Friend of mine asked:
Do you read FR fiction?
Do you run/play FR?
Do you allow Drow PCs in D&D games outside of FR?
Why does this change matter to you?

Me:
No
No
Maybe (but not in Eberron).
It really doesn't.

Unfortunately this isn't the type of scenario where you can just bow out of it. Unreasonable power-hungry people won't stop being unreasonable & power-hungry by acquiescing, even on trivial issues.

Yep. You either tell them to stuff it and keep their stupidity to themselves, or you lose more ground to them as the hobby capitulates to them.

BoxCrayonTales

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Re: No, we weren't stupid for 40 years
« Reply #13 on: May 27, 2021, 05:55:43 PM »
Any "problems" about "races" in a fantastic environment, BTW, crash and burn once they put them in context (notice how often just putting something in context is enough to kill an argument). Just think about sci-fi, let's say Star Trek or Mass Effect. No one (yet) has problems with the fact that these universes are inhabited by different "races". This, I think, because "illuminated" minds more readily accept a "para-scientific" explanation (different life forms that evolved on different planets) than a fantasy one. And yet, most fantasy Worlds too make clear that "each race was born/created and evolved differently from each other".

Truth is, as amazing as it sound, a universe like Star Trek's or Mass Effect's one is as fantasy as the Forgotten Realms - and should be subjected to the same meter of judgement. There is no reason, if you consider "orcs" problematic, not to attack "Klingons", too. Maybe it will happen. But, right now any discussion about "the problem of races in an imaginary milieu" will, if put in context, just flounder. Which is the reason why it isn't made.

And these are only examples. There are many more, and you can even go much more in-depth if you wish.
I remember reading a number of articles criticizing the species design in Star Trek and Mass Effect. Klingons are orientalist, Asari are sexist, Volus are antisemitic, Quarians are antiziganist, in-universe racism is poorly written, etc.

In fact, the common stereotype of fantasy dwarves is now considered both antisemitic and hibernophobic because dwarves are typically characterized as greedy, short, big-nosed, drinking, violent, Scottish-accented, etc.

Brad

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