Do orcs in gaming display parallels to colonialist propaganda?

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Aldarc

Adventurer
But Indians are dominant in India! Both cases concern historical events. White Europeans aren't a magical permanent oppressor class, they can be on top or not at different times. During the Seljuk and Ottoman expansions they certainly weren't on top.
Is it that you can't see how these two cases are different or that you won't see how they are different? :erm:
 

Aldarc

Adventurer
What solution? I don't believe anyone in this thread has proposed a solution - so what exactly are you saying we should be "wary' of?
[MENTION=19675]Dannyalcatraz[/MENTION] did propose diversifying our depictions of "evil," such as using glowing eyes, which is something that could not be linked to particular human demographics. So apparently we should be wary of the great harm that would befall our noble hobby should such nefarious solutions ever saw the light of day.
 

Bedrockgames

Adventurer
Whose responses? Which "many people"? I've read the whole thread (other than a small number of posts from people who have me blocked - mostly Celebrim in this thread, I believe). I didn't see these "many" responses.
Perhaps it was just some. I don't know the number. I was going by memory and impression when it came up. Seem to recall discussion of the table and of chainmail bikini type art.

And frankly, this is why you are getting pushback. Instead of making clear assertions and defending them, you refer in oblique terms to these barely articulated threats to your artistic preferences.
I've been as clear as I know how to be Pemerton. This is me giving full attention to communicating what I am thinking. I think you and I just have different ideas about how these kinds of discussions need to play out. You want me to make a very academic debate style post. That isn't what I am interested in doing. Like I said, I find this stuff exhausting and I recognize you are much better at debating than I am on these subjects. But that doesn't make you right. It just makes you educated and smart.

So let's go back to misogyny. As far as I know I'm the one who brought it up, with reference to the random harlot table, and particular reference to Brazen Strumpets, Wanton Wenches and Saucy Tarts. Do you think that in suggesting this stuff is sexist crap that the DMG would be better off without, I am opposing sexiness in RPGing? Is there no way of presenting sex and sexiness in our games beyond fantasies about prostitutes who really, really want it?
I am saying people are being a bit puritanical about this stuff in my mind. I think the obvious humor and playfulness is being missed. And I think the presence of sexy chainmail bikini art isn't bad. I don't think it is always called for, and probably not suitable for what D&D has become. But I think those kind of rough edges actually make the 1E material a bit more interesting than some of the stuff coming out today.

With both your discussion of JRRT, and your allusion to the DMG, tell us - what are you actually defending here?
All I am saying is we may want to chill out a bit and realize how some of this stuff is built on layered assumptions that come from pretty deep academic arguments, and that there are other ways to see these things. I am not advocating to do bad things. I am saying we can disagree on what is valid material in art, and we can set the bar for what is acceptable or not too high (as well as too low). My posts are all pretty clear. I've basically been restating the same opinion over and over. I think we just disagree. I would like to point out though, your postings here feel very accusatorial. Like I am on trial for saying I don't find orcs to be a colonialist trope. I think the vast majority of people probably think that is pretty crazy. I think a lot of people are afraid to say they think it is crazy because they see what happens in threads like this. I am getting painted in an extremely negative light, and I don't think my position is all that extreme at all (and just to be clear here because I am sure there are people wondering what my politics, I am left and liberal and voted for Obama and Hillary----and will vote against Trump in the next election). Don't believe in the wall. Believe in reforming our criminal justice system and making it more equitable. I'm mentioning that not because I think being a conservative makes you bad, but because that so often seems to be an undertone in these debates in gaming and I want to be clear. I think being racially sensitive is important, but I also think free expression is important. I am reaching different conclusions than you. That doesn't make me a bad person.
 

Bedrockgames

Adventurer
[MENTION=19675]Dannyalcatraz[/MENTION] did propose diversifying our depictions of "evil," such as using glowing eyes, which is something that could not be linked to particular human demographics. So apparently we should be wary of the great harm that would befall our noble hobby should such nefarious solutions ever saw the light of day.
Dude, I am not saying give orcs eyes associated with a particular of people. Please don't put words in my mouth. You want to have glowing eyed orcs, I am all for that. I don't think it is the only way to do orcs. But it is a perfectly valid approach.
 

Aldarc

Adventurer
Dude, I am not saying give orcs eyes associated with a particular of people. Please don't put words in my mouth. You want to have glowing eyed orcs, I am all for that. I don't think it is the only way to do orcs. But it is a perfectly valid approach.
I didn't say that you did.
 

Bedrockgames

Adventurer
What solution? I don't believe anyone in this thread has proposed a solution - so what exactly are you saying we should be "wary' of?
The solutions I am seeing are things like automatically accept peoples reactions to things because of what group they belong to. But I think there are also just solutions to this kind of discussion playing out on social media. And that is the constriction of creativity I am talking about (for instance you can see it in debates about cultural appropriation and fantasy settings-----which I think is getting much harder to navigate).
 

pemerton

Legend
I would be self conscious with that passage regardless of who I am reading it to but particularly if the person was Asian. Of course I would pause at such a passage and wouldn't be callous about the topic. Like I said I not defending the use of the slur. And that slur is one I find particularly troubling.
So, then, who do you think yoiu are disagreeing with in this thread with respect to this particular issue - that is, the way that JRRT presents orcs in LotR?

I am talking about <snippage> what the tropes mean today, and if a concept like Evil Orc is something that is a problem (or related to colonialism).
These are three different things.

The trope of a "slant-eyed, sallow face therefore half-goblin" I think means the same today as it did when JRRT wrote it.

Whether the FRPG notiont of an orc is related to "colonialist propaganda", ie the sort of racist ideas that are presented as legitimising the colonialist endeavour, is a different thing. I think the origin is fairly clear. I think it remains pretty clear in Gygax's Monster Manual. Frankly I think it remains pretty clear in the 4e Monster Manual. I don't have a copy of the 5e one, so can't comment on that.

Is this fact about the orc trope a problem? As I've said already upthread, I don't know. It may not be possible to give a general answer to that question.

I don't know that he had asians in mind (particularly since he is talking, if I follow, about another hobbit).
JRRT is not talking about a hobbit. He is talking about a southerner (a "man" in JRRT's vocabulary) who is hagning out with another "man" (Bill Ferny, a petty bad guy). And to be frank it is crystal clear what and who he had in mind, given his presentations of Easterlings and Southrons.

what Tolkien intended

<snip>

I feel the nuance of what I am saying is getting lost here. He was writing in a very different time, and you do have to put that into the conversation.

<snip>

I do think there is huge difference between the way things like race appear in LoTR and the way it appears in other works (like the works of Lovecraft). With Tolkien, I don't get the sense that any of it is ill-mentioned or even deliberate. And I think that matters. I don't think Tolkien was a racist.
I've not read very much Tolkien biography. (Only what one picks up in some of the critical work on LotR.) It seems unlikely - for statistical if no other reasons - that he was not virulently racist like HPL. For the same (statistical) reasons it seems likely that he was racist, in the sense of viewing non-white people as tending to be inferior in character and accomplishment to Europeans. This was, after all, a fairy common viewpoint among English people, including educated English people, of his time. They lived as part of, and from time to time took significant steps to defend, an Empire that was based very heavily on racist ideas and was governed very extensively along racial lines.

But suppose, for the sake of argument, that JRRT was devoid of any racist judgement, and happened to include a passage equating Central/East Asian appearance with goblinness just out of habit or carelessness or received literary style - that wouldn't change anything about the passage.
 

Bedrockgames

Adventurer
[MENTION=19675]Dannyalcatraz[/MENTION] did propose diversifying our depictions of "evil," such as using glowing eyes, which is something that could not be linked to particular human demographics.
I want more depictions of things. These kinds of proposals are fine. What bothers me is when people start creating a list of acceptable ways to handle this stuff. It gets very stuffy very quickly. Like I said, it is all very well intentioned, but you see this now all the time on twitter. I.e. "When handling colonialist tropes, consider the following". I don't think that is a great environment for creativity. And this hobby is a creative hobby. To me, it just feels very 1950s. And I agree with people who say constraints can force you to be more creative. But I would also point to the explosion of great cinema in the early 70s as restrictions were lowered, where people were more free to experiment. There is value in giving people room to explore and not always assuming the worst intentions.
 

pemerton

Legend
The solutions I am seeing are things like automatically accept peoples reactions to things because of what group they belong to.
I'm not sure what you think that is a "solution" to.

It's a suggestion that the best way to find out if a trope or idea is racist is to see what people of colour believe about it. Do you think that's bad advice?
 
Yet in the British and American pulp and proto-pulp literature it is the "natives" who are headhunters, and the civilised people whose heads are in danger.
There's a similar inversion in LotR. During the attack on Minas Tirith Sauron's army uses catapults to fire the decapitated heads of the defenders' dead comrades over the city walls. But in the Siege of Malta this was actually done by the defenders - the European knights - using cannon, though it should be noted that was in response to an act of similar barbarism by the Ottomans.

"Then among the greater casts there fell another hail, less ruinous but more horrible. All about the streets and lanes behind the Gate it tumbled down, small round shot that did not burn. But when men ran to learn what it might be, they cried aloud or wept. For the enemy was flinging into the City all the heads of those who had fallen fighting at Osgiliath, or on the Rammas, or in the fields." - The Return of the King.​

"Mustafa had the bodies of the knights decapitated and their bodies floated across the bay on mock crucifixes. In response, de Valette beheaded all his Turkish prisoners, loaded their heads into his cannons and fired them into the Turkish camp." - Wikipedia article.​
 

pemerton

Legend
I don't find orcs to be a colonialist trope. I think the vast majority of people probably think that is pretty crazy.
Including the vast majority in Kenya, Iran and India?

Including the vast majority of Indigenous Australians, Native Americans and Maoris?

I was recently talking to a friend who was born in South Asia but now lives in Australia. She was expressing shock at the ignorance of British colonialism in Australia (itself an offshoot of British colonialism) compared to the country where she was educated.

When I speak to East Africans, they are not unfamiliar with concepts and imagery of colonialism. It might surprise you, but when they talk about Hollywood stars they focus almost exclusively, and quite unselfconsciously, on Black actors.

I haven't done any sort of systematic survey on any of this - it's not really my field of study - but my anecdotal experience makes me think that your "vast majority" may be located within a rather particular sample of humanity.

Seem to recall discussion of the table and of chainmail bikini type art.

<snip>

I am saying people are being a bit puritanical about this stuff in my mind. I think the obvious humor and playfulness is being missed.

<snip>

All I am saying is we may want to chill out a bit and realize how some of this stuff is built on layered assumptions that come from pretty deep academic arguments
Frankly, I don't think it requires deep academic argument to note the character of a book that has nothing to say about sex, and frankly almost nothing to say about women, except that cities and towns all have their fair share of Wanton Wenches et al waiting for (one assumes male) adventurers to do them.

That's playful in the same sense that a Playboy centrefold is playful. I mean, maybe it is, but it's a rather distinctive sort of playfulness, and surelyt it's no great surprise that not everyone sees it quite that way. And of course that latter thought is only compounded by the male rape fantasies found in some of those early White Dwarf adventures that were being discussed upthread.

Is it really puritanical to suggest that RPGing might engage sex and sexuality other than by fantasising about prostitutes who are really into it?
 

S'mon

Legend
Is it that you can't see how these two cases are different or that you won't see how they are different? :erm:
I think (white) Americans are very lucky not to have been oppressed by anyone since George III - and that was about the mildest oppression possible. And they tend to project their experience onto other Europeans.

(As for Australians, they dodged a bullet in WW2 thanks to MacArthur, so I guess their position is similar)
 

Aebir-Toril

Scion of Ceres
Including the vast majority in Kenya, Iran and India?

Including the vast majority of Indigenous Australians, Native Americans and Maoris?
@pemerton, I don't agree with @Bedrockgames on all topics that he/she/they have mentioned in this thread, but this seems like a pretty unfair interpretation of his/her/their words.
 
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Derren

Adventurer
Including the vast majority in Kenya, Iran and India?

Including the vast majority of Indigenous Australians, Native Americans and Maoris?
Have you asked them?

The concept of barbarians at the border is pretty universal. From Rome, both before and after the expansion to China and Japan and their respective northern neighbours.
The mesoamerican nations probably didn't had a high opinion of some nomadic tribes in the north and the Zulu were not really all that nice either to to bushmen they found when they moved to south africa.

So why would orcs resemble people that got colonized and not one of the many examples of barbarians which occasionally raided cities like the Huns, Mongols or other tribes from the middle east or even just the myriads of "more primitive people than us on the other side of the border" which existed basically everywhere in some form and would be a much better fit?
 
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S'mon

Legend
A recurring idea that justified "dispersing the natives" (that is the term that was widely used in Australia; I'm not sure what the American or East African analogues are, but I'm sure they existed) is that they are coming to kill us and destory our civilisation.
As a point of interest, did anyone ever claim that Australian Aboriginals were coming to kill you and destroy your civilisation? I highly doubt it. What I do see often is the Terra Nullius claim that the land was 'unowned'; combined with the rather more plausible claim that if Britain hadn't taken it first, someone else would have taken it later - and that they probably wouldn't have behaved any better.

(Plus a lot of "We're colonising them for their own benefit")
 
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