Fantasy Racism

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Fantastic Racism: The Universal Prejudice Metaphor

Fantastic Racism is the term for writers creating a non-human race – aliens from outer space, vampires, werewolves, mutants, elves, orcs, etc. – and then using that race as a metaphor for real-world demographics that are the target of prejudice. The strength of this metaphor is that it can potentially be used in place of any minority group.

In the world of X-Men, mutants have served as a metaphor for various real-world minorities over the decades, from Jewish people to Black people to LGBT’s.

In many fantasy worlds, orcs are seen as barbaric, monstrous outsiders. A plot requiring humans and orcs to put aside their differences – such as the film Warcraft – can be used as a metaphor for international conflicts as well as domestic diversity. Meanwhile, in Max Landis’ urban fantasy world of Bright, orcs become a metaphor for any group with an antagonistic relationship with the police, due to poverty, ethnicity, or culture.

Other examples include Skyrim, Supergirl, True Blood, and even Harry Potter. Analyze these and other examples of Fantastic Racism. Do some work better as metaphors than others? Can we learn different lessons from these stories that we may not see in stories about real-world human minority groups?

  • A topic worth pondering! The reference to eugenics could add further dimensions to this topic. And how whiteness, for example, the race of elves, is glorified against the narratives of demonizing non-white orcs. – Golam Rabbani 12 months ago
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  • I just loved this topic!! We can actually gain insights and perspectives that may not be as apparent in narratives centered on real-world human minority groups. I believe it can lead to a broader understanding of prejudice and discrimination. Amazing! – allan reis 12 months ago
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  • A great subject, considering how often Fantastic Racism can get messy if poorly handled. I'm almost wondering if the topic too broad for a single article, considering how often it comes up in media. You seem to be focusing on fantasy here, but scifi has a lot to offer the subject as well. Star Wars, The Animatrix, and Star Trek are all worth mentioning. – Petar 11 months ago
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  • True; the article's author would get to focus on whatever examples they're familiar with or the ones they most appreciate personally. – noahspud 11 months ago
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