Groo's Wanderings

entrecomics:

(Harry G. Peter)

entrecomics:

(Harry G. Peter)

(via learntobabble)

19 April 2014 reblog: entrecomics


19 April 2014 reblog: sarahseeandersen


how-much-farther-to-go asked: Do you feel that there is racism in the ASOIAF books' representation of its PoC other than the general lack of them? (It seems like very many live in its WORLD but don't proportionally participate in the story). Which brings up another question I have: Have you ever written a post concerning the extent to which individual authors have a responsibility to represent PoC? If you have, I would very much be interested in reading it.

medievalpoc:

Absolutely.

If you want to talk about “responsibility” on the part of individual authors, you can go ahead and read it from the horse’s mouth.

He really believes he is basing this story on history, and that is his response to lack of and poor representation of people of color in his stories:

So let’s talk about the internet controversy about Oberyn Martell. Do you have any thoughts on that?

I commented on my blog. You can find a more studied response there. I made a couple of comments as to what people said about that. I always pictured Oberyn Martell in my head as a — what I call a Mediterranean type. I know people attacked me for that by saying “He’s ignorant, he doesn’t know that Africa is on the Mediterranean.” No, I know Africa is on the Mediterranean. But in common parlance, when you say Mediterranean you are thinking Greek, Italian, Spanish. When you are thinking Moroccan or Tunisian that’s North African. That’s the way people talk about that.

I always pictured the Martells and the salty Dornishman as Mediterraneans, so the casting I think is perfectly appropriate with what I wrote in the books. I do sympathize. I mean, I understand.

Some people have written me some very heartfelt letters, and I’ve tried to respond to them about how they wanted to see someone who looked like them in the books, and how they were [disappointed]. They had pictures of the Martells looking like them, and they were disappointed.

I understand that, but it still wasn’t my intent to make… Even the terminology here is such a land mine. I don’t even know what words to use here “black” or “African.” I used African at one point, sort of like African American. [But] if you use “African” you are guilty for saying all Africans are the same.

I don’t know. I am drawing from history, even though its fantasy. I’ve read a lot of history, The War of the Roses, The Hundred Years War. The World back then was very diverse. Culturally it was perhaps more diverse then our world, but travel was very difficult back then. So even though there might have been many different races and ethnicities and peoples, they didn’t necessarily mix a great deal. I’m drawing largely on medieval England, medieval Scotland, to some extent medieval France. There was an occasional person of color, but certainly not in any great numbers.

^ I consider this to be a cop out. Added on to the fact that he seems more concerned about getting criticized for using the wrong word than massive disappointment on the part of his own fan base. It more or less reeks of “everyone’s so P.C. these days! Ugh!”

I mean, there is plenty of historical precedent for even large numbers of various people of color in all of those nations. You can read articles about forensic archeology and recent discoveries that have challenged these notions to the breaking point. Like, as in 20% people of color. Take 4th Century York, England. According to Dr. Hella Eckhardt:

It helps paint a picture of a Roman York that was hugely diverse and which included among its population, men, women and children of high status from Romanised North Africa and elsewhere in the Mediterranean.

Eboracum (York) was both a legionary fortress and civilian settlement, and ultimately became the capital of Britannia Inferior. York was also visited by two Emperors, the North-African-born Emperor Septimius Severus, and later Constantius I (both of whom died in York). All these factors provide potential circumstances for immigration to York, and for the foundation of a multicultural and diverse community.

I can tell you the same things about Scotland, France, Central Europe…all these regions had seen large influxes of immigrants in the late Roman and early Medieval Eras. After all, these people didn’t just disappear hundreds of years later when historians decided a new “period” of history had begun! There’s plenty of primary sources and documentation that many specifically Black people lived and worked in various Medieval European cities and towns.

Also, speaking of Empires, there was also a rather important Mongolian Empire that happened firmly within an time frame that is pretty universally recognized as “Medieval”. Which, very unfortunately, brings us to the Dothraki.

Here’s GRRM, from the same interview, on the Dothraki:

People complain that the Dothraki are this one-dimensional barbarian society.

I haven’t had a Dothraki viewpoint character though.

I guess it’s too late to introduce one now.

I could introduce a Dothraki viewpoint character, but I already have like sixteen viewpoint characters. I could kill some of my viewpoint characters, to get down to the seven or eight I started with, or some numerical equivalent. The Dothraki are partially based on the Huns and the Mongols, some extent the steppe tribes like the Alvars and Magyars. I put in a few elements of the Amerindian plains tribes and those peoples, and then I threw in some purely fantasy elements. It’s fantasy.

Are they barbaric? Yeah, but the Mongols were, too. Genghis Khan — I just saw an interesting movie about Ghengis Khan, recently. I’ve read books about Genghis Khan, and he’s one of history’s more fascinating, charismatic characters. The Mongols became very sophisticated at certain points, but they were certainly not sophisticated when they started out, and even at the height of their sophistication they were fond of doing things like giant piles of heads. “Surrender your city to me, or we will come in and kill all the men, rape all the women and make a giant pile of heads." They did that a few times, and other cities said, "Surrender is good. We’ll surrender. We’ll pay the taxes. No pile of heads, please.”

*puts hands over face*

*groans*

Okay, let’s talk about how and why a guy who “reads a lot of history” gets this kind of idea about Mongol people, and apparently friggin Plains NDNs people as well (TW for murder gore, rape at link and f*ck you very much Mr. Martin, jeeeeebus.)

There is no equivalent for the Dothraki in history. What people point to most often is the Mongol invasions in Asia and Europe, but these generalizations are originally extrapolated mostly from the accounts from invaded nations written by someone who had heard this or that about what had happened. I’m not saying like, “such and such never happened” I’m saying it didn’t always happen, and also that there’s a lot more to the story, and also that this narrative dominates for a reason.

We’ll do an example. Here you have something like this from UWGB, which heads up their “Mongol Values” section with a supposed quote from Genghis Khan. Here’s what the claim is, right? We have this translation of something he supposedly said here:

The greatest joy a man can know is to conquer his enemies and drive them before him. To ride their horses and take away their possessions. To see the faces of those who were dear to them bedewed with tears, and to clasp their wives and daughters in his arms.

Okay, so basically, Conan the Barbarian. The article, which, might I remind you, is on a college site, goes on from this to say:

Or to paraphrase it in the bluntest possible modern terms: “To kill people, take their property, see and enjoy the pain you have caused their families, and rape their women as a final gesture of power.”

Okay, well that’s is a pretty big “I decided this means exactly what I already expected someone I think Genghis Khan was like would say.”Even if you did decide to take this at face value…that’s still not the casual attitude toward sexual violence the Dothraki demonstrate, it’s the opposite.

I could go into how women in Mongol culture had a great deal of power (which doesn’t necessarily translate into conquered women being perceived as equivalent, but might I remind you that Dothraki women in ASOIAF appear to be chattel with zero bodily autonomy evidence of sentience, for the most part), or how women having sociopolitical power does not equal a lessening of sexual violence by necessity….but.

I could mention that the way in which Genghis Khan was able to stabilize and actually rule such a vast empire was by giving conquered MEN to his DAUGHTERS in marriage, but then took these husbands out on campaign with him, and replaced them as needed when they died. Or that his empire was actually inherited by his daughters.

And then this article goes on to make statements about we know from Genghis Khan’s attitudes and sadistic enjoyments (more or less) that hope for humanity’s goodness will always be futile, because there will always be Hitlers and Stalins.

^^^That is their section on “Mongol Values”. D:

Soooooo……yeah.

People who claim that GRRM’s Dothraki are realistically based on Mongolian or Plains NDN culture are pretty much in “Einstein and Hammurabi Disco Dance in a Hot-Air Balloon" territory.

Thanks to Historians like the above and GRRM, people think “Mongolian=pile of heads, nonstop rape” . There’s no Khutulun, Wrestler Princess, among the Dothraki. There is no Queen Manduhui, no Lady Hö’elün, no Empress Chabi, no Sorghatani Beki, no mention of The Great Khanum and eight princesses Ruy González de Clavijo saw and marveled at in 1403.

GRRM took a society of women who could own property, divorce at will, hold political office and positions of military command, and replaced them with visibly dirty, grunting animals being raped publicly in the dirt [tw link for an image of what i just described].

Because “historical accuracy”.

Because oh, well it’s already done and it’s too late to change it now.

Actually, all of it sounds incredibly familiar:

image

"We cannot simply change it"

"I could introduce a Dothraki viewpoint character, but I already have like sixteen viewpoint characters"

"I guess it’s too late to introduce one now."

It’s always too little, too late, try again, make your own, better luck next time.

So, when do we get to stop being force-fed vile stereotypes with our fantasy? When do we get wish-fulfillment and escapism?

The bottom line is, I don’t know because the this is the industry right now:

image

How are supposed to break the vicious cycle of whiteness in publishing, whiteness of SF/F authors, whiteness of characters, othering, misogyny, degradation, stereotypes, and a history of a Black-White Good-Evil dichotomy?

Why does it matter? Because people think this is real, people think this is accurate, people think this is acceptable, people think this is historical, including, apparently, the people who are writing these stories.

We must change the narrative to change our stories, because lies about the past are in danger of dictating our futures.

19 April 2014 reblog: medievalpoc


cartoonpolitics:

“Thus did a handful of rapacious citizens come to control all that was worth controlling in America. Thus was the savage and stupid and entirely inappropriate and unnecessary and humorless American class system created. Honest, industrious, peaceful citizens were classed as bloodsuckers if they asked to be paid a living wage. And they saw that praise was reserved henceforth for those who devised means of getting paid enormously for committing crimes against which no laws had been passed. Thus the American dream turned belly up, turned green, bobbed to the scummy surface of cupidity unlimited, filled with gas, went bang in the noonday sun.”  ~ (Kurt Vonnegut)

cartoonpolitics:

“Thus did a handful of rapacious citizens come to control all that was worth controlling in America. Thus was the savage and stupid and entirely inappropriate and unnecessary and humorless American class system created. Honest, industrious, peaceful citizens were classed as bloodsuckers if they asked to be paid a living wage. And they saw that praise was reserved henceforth for those who devised means of getting paid enormously for committing crimes against which no laws had been passed. Thus the American dream turned belly up, turned green, bobbed to the scummy surface of cupidity unlimited, filled with gas, went bang in the noonday sun.”  ~ (Kurt Vonnegut)

(via bookoisseur)

18 April 2014 reblog: cartoonpolitics


18 April 2014 reblog: textsfromtng


wilwheaton:

This is why, even though I love my cats, I’m a dog person.

Funnily enough, this is why, even though I love other people’s dogs, I’m a cat person. Being worshipped freaks me the fuck out.

wilwheaton:

This is why, even though I love my cats, I’m a dog person.

Funnily enough, this is why, even though I love other people’s dogs, I’m a cat person. Being worshipped freaks me the fuck out.

18 April 2014 reblog: wilwheaton


"Things [Will Be] Like That, Back Then"

medievalpoc:

blue-author:

The thing that always gets me about the idea that the violence, racism, and misogyny in Game of Thrones is expected/excusable “because that’s how things were back then” isn’t just the fact that GoT isn’t a historical novel.

If progress was a steady, linear acceleration through time, they should be way ahead of us. They should be far more enlightened in Westeros than we are in the United States or Europe. Looking at Westeros would be looking at our enlightened future, not our dismal past.

"What are you talking about? It’s medieval fantasy."

Right, but how many years of recorded human history does this “medieval” world have again?

I don’t remember the exact figure, but I can tell you this much:

image

By the notion that human progress in a vaguely European setting should follow some sort of script moving from more brutal and bigoted to less, they should be well out of their “medieval period” and a couple thousand years ahead of us. There’s some give or take, depending on where you try to peg the “medieval phase” as starting. If we take the invasion of the First Men to be something like the Celts reaching the British Isles and displacing/killing the indigenous people, with the Andals then being analogous to either the Saxons or the French… culturally it seems more like the Norman invasion because the Andals seem “farther along”, but that moves the timeline up even further compared to ours.

But forgetting the Andals: Celts settled in Britain no earlier than 2000 B.C., which puts them about 2,500 years before the beginning of the Ye Olde Medieval England that Westeros is supposed to be based on according to the theory of “how things were back then”. According to the mythic history of Westeros, the First Men crossed over *checks* around 12,000 years ago. If we peg that date as about 2,000 BCE in real-world terms, then the approximate start of the medieval period in Westeros (again, according to the theory that progress is a matter of counting years) would have to be 9,500 years ago. If all medieval periods are about the same—which again, is the underpinning of the theory that “things were just like that back then”—then this period would have given way to something like a renaissance about 1,000 years later, or around 8,500 years ago.

Now, our renaissance kicked off about 500 years ago, so Westeros is about 8,000 years “more advanced” than we are.

"But wait! You said ‘mythic history’! Nobody knows when the first men really arrived."

By crumb, you’re right. Nobody does know that. But you know what they do know? When the wall went up. It’s been continuously staffed and watched by the same organization for a mind-blowing 8,000 years. If we wanted to get all meta, we could even imagine that formal written history in Westeros might have grown out of the Night’s Watch need to keep records.

So the invasion of the First Men could have happened more recently than 12,000 years ago, but no sooner than 8,000 and the time it would take for them to get established across the continent. But even if we assume that they could have come over just in time to build the wall… okay, medieval period begins 2,500 years later. That’s 5,500 years ago. Renaissance begins 1,000 years after that, that’s 4,500 years ago.

Even by the most generous estimate available, Westeros still has 4,000 years of enlightened modern living on us European-descended humans.

Obviously the reason they aren’t 4,000 years more sophisticated and enlightened than we are is… well, it’s a fictional world whose author requires it to be “medieval” and brutal, but more to the point, progress doesn’t work this way. The only reason their society and history mirrors ours at all is that the author has dictated that they should. Seriously. The fact that they even count the turning of years the way we do is really bizarre. The idea that they would come up with the same sort of feudal agrarian culture that we did given the completely different growing seasons and completely different logistics of keeping the population fed is mind-boggling.

We can—we must—accept that these things happened, because they are part of the premise of the story. But the narrative doesn’t assert that the sociopolitical progress of their world is somehow in a parallel, delayed synchronization with progress in ours, and in fact, it very obviously isn’t.

The bottom line: Westeros is not in a medieval Europe phase of progress. It’s in a modern Westeros phase of it. Appealing to “things were like that back then” is no more meaningful an excuse than is saying “things are like that now” about a present situation.

I really like the perspective you’ve added here. I’ve discussed the myth of linear social progress and the projection of that many people are willing to do onto fictional worlds, including that of GoT/ASOIAF. None of this would be necessary if it wasn’t for the bone-deep conviction on the part of some fans that this particular work of fiction can excuse it flaws and some very questionable choices on the part of the author with “but, historical accuracy!”

In the end, the facts are that the books and the show are racist, misogynist, and violent because people chose to make it that way. These problems are compounded upon the insistence that these narrative choices are not only true to history or “realistic”, but the implication that the creators of the book/show are somehow fettered by or forced into these narrative choices.

18 April 2014 reblog: blue-author


(Source: benigoat, via wilwheaton)

17 April 2014 reblog: benigoat


Boop.

Boop.

(Source: jtotheizzoe, via wilwheaton)

17 April 2014 reblog: jtotheizzoe


peggys-magic-sex-feet:

one of us is gonna have to change

peggys-magic-sex-feet:

one of us is gonna have to change

(Source: bellybow, via wilwheaton)

17 April 2014 reblog: bellybow