MaryWright

Contributing writer for The Artifice.

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    Latest Topics

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    Why do we celebrate diversity in books, but are left with whitewashed movie versions?

    It’s always a monumental feat when a novel, especially in YA, gets recognized for having a diverse cast of characters, and even more impressive, if it has a diverse lead, and a diverse author writing it. So, what’s the middle man, per se, in getting us from being readers going through page-turners about characters of all types, only to end up with their more cliché, whitewashed, able-bodied counterparts?

    • The way you're using the word "diverse" is problematic. Human beings are not diverse. Populations are.To answer your suggestion, it's important for whoever wants to write this article to realize that films and novels function differently as artistic media. We can read both as narratives, but the audiovisual nature of film is really important towards the ways that directors envision a work. The reasons why movies continue to feature whitewashed casts is because most readers have a tendency to ignore these "diverse" descriptions when they read. The basic template for a human being in the American imagination is a white person, and therefore descriptions which deviate from this are easily ignored or taken with a grain of salt. It tends to be people of color who are disgruntled with whitewashing because it contributes to their historical erasure and because they are the most sensitive to these issues. – X 4 years ago
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    • The largest problem with this topic, as mentioned, is that both forms of media have different purposes. Novels have the simple job of entertaining an engaged reader, while film has the complex job of making money. If this topic is explored, the researcher would need to include this as one of the major reasons for the "whitewashing." Since producers and directors mostly care about making money instead of diversifying and representing the correct culture and racial groups, the topic would be unfortunately straightforward, I would think. – Steven Gonzales 4 years ago
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    • Like previous commenters have said, money is a big reason, but on the other hand it's audience's reactions to diverse content.In a lot of fandoms if you write a fanfic with a poc character, many fans will say that they can't "imagine" that character being a minority. For instance even though there are plenty of stories featuring your typical white, straight character, if you create one story featuring a minority character, some people will react by saying that you're taking stories away from white characters. – seouljustice 3 years ago
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    • To expand on what seouljustice said, I think that diversity is easy to ignore in a good book. Looks are not as important as values and motivations in books, but are much more important in more visual media, including films. Engaging with characters and projecting yourself onto them means finding similarities between yourself and them, while being able to ignore differences. Target audiences for most popular movies have large percentages of white viewers who would then have trouble empathizing with characters of different backgrounds, including (but not limited to) race and sexuality. – C8lin 3 years ago
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    Latest Comments

    This is a really good article, especially for a writer like me who finds fiction to be such an art, such a great experience when I feel it’s “working” (I’m talking about me).

    “What unifies these principles is the assumption that creative productivity is attained by doing more; be proactive and your muse will reward you accordingly.” – This is a very good point. I didn’t think about it this way before, but I’m glad you pointed it in this article. You must work for your creativity, these methods say, not to just let them come to you. Which is, I think, what your main focus is, when connecting ideas of Zen to writing? That you should do the opposite?

    I also like the Alan Watts quote about clouds. Whatever you do, it doesn’t matter that it ends up in disaster – it’s something that you do, and that’s all. That’s you. I haven’t heard of him before, but I certainly will research more about him, now.

    Using Zen Philosophy to Improve Creativity and Overcome Writer’s Block

    This is a great article. I knew of how I Love Lucy established norms of the housewife, but I wasn’t exactly aware of its use in promoting consumerism! Being a college student now, I only know of vaguely about the names of shows of Roseanne, According to Jim, and the Mary Taylor Moore Show, so it was a fantastic opportunity for me to understand the gender constructions and general plotlines of those situational comedies as well. If we can ever get over ideas of the gender roles that the myth of the gender binary, and establishment of patriarchal society has drilled into us, and the sexism and misogyny that has come as a side effect of its normalization, we can move on to the fact that gender isn’t man or woman, but a spectrum of gender identities. Anybody can do anything. The fact that we’re stuck in what we’ve dealt with (specifically on television in the case of this article by Nilab Ferozan) since these 1950s situational comedies, change doesn’t come fast. But white people don’t brag about currently having slaves, and same-sex marriage is a thing, so maybe we’re on our way.

    Reinforcing the Traditional Patriarchal ideologies through Situation Comedies

    I think, for fans of Avatar: The Last Airbender, Zaheer was the most menacing. He was taking what a guru had said, right out of the temple where the descendants of Aang reside, and does what Tenzin, Aang’s airbending son, could never do: be one with the spirit world, so intensely, to eventually “Let go your earthly tether. Enter the void. Empty and become wind.” (“Enter the Void”, Book Three: Change, Episode 12). He could communicate with his team, even while in the spirit world and talking with Korra at the same time, and eventually was able to float above the ground.

    The Legend of Korra: Empathizing with Villains