Oriental Adventures, was it really that racist?

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Again this is just too absolutist in my opinion. You clearly see a range of views on OA, even among people who say it has problems. Not everyone agrees it is racist. Not everyone even agrees if it is problematic. Some people are going to look at OA and say, it has issues, but they reflect the times, and it doesn't rise to racism. Some will say it does rise to racism. Some will leave it at problematic. Some will say there is a difference between stereotypical tropes and racism. Some people are going to give more weight to intent than others (most people here seem to feel Zeb Cook's intentions were good). You are going to have different opinions about this because we are all different, and we all are taking slightly different lenses to it. Disagreeing on our analysis of OA, doesn't mean people disagree on whether real world racism towards asian people is bad, it means we have different sensibilities on media. And hashing out these things does matter people people are talking both about what ought to be done about OA, and what ought to be done/ought to be permissible, for creators going forward. If we get to a point where everyone must always agree with conclusion X....I don't know that seems like a bad place to be to me.

And this is just too wishy-washy in my opinion. At a certain point you can just come down and say "Yeah, this was racist". Obviously not everyone will agree with it, but it seems there is a fairly wide consensus on the matter. Constantly harping on how "We can't just say this because we all don't agree" misses that there can come to a common agreement at some level on these, and I'm not sure how we haven't reached that level with OA yet.
 

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Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
Again, this isn't really a thing. Anything that we would consider racist now was racist back whenever. It was never okay, and how deeply embedded that idea was in the historical period of time is irrelevant.

This,is the most incorrect thing I have read in this thread.

Context matters. This is such a simple point I can’t believe I have to say it. But a person from a group can use a slur and have it be empowering (reclaim it) or a word can have different meanings depending on time and location (UK as opposed to American English for instance).

I see a lot of demand to listen, but precious little actual discussion.
 

And this is just too wishy-washy in my opinion. At a certain point you can just come down and say "Yeah, this was racist". Obviously not everyone will agree with it, but it seems there is a fairly wide consensus on the matter. Constantly harping on how "We can't just say this because we all don't agree" misses that there can come to a common agreement at some level on these, and I'm not sure how we haven't reached that level with OA yet.

I don't think there is wide consensus. I think there is a lot of disagreement over how much of a problem it is. You can call it wishy washy, but it isn't like OA is some kind of racist manifesto. People are going to have different responses to how the tropes are handled. And again, even among the people who are saying it has problems there is clearly a difference between those labeling problematic, stereotypical and racist.
 

Is there anything offensive enough for someone to deserve to be deplatformed ever?

Probably. But as it gets used in todays climate? No. I am not a fan of how deplatforming and cancel culture tend to get applied (which is usually to exaggerate a person's offense, pressure a platform to remove them, and tar anyone who even likes, agrees, or defends them with the same). I don't support social ostracization, and I don't support taking away a person's livelihood (especially given how dangerous it can be for a person in a country with a weak social safety net). I am not going to say never because I can imagine scenarios where someone is using a platform to stalk someone, or engineer violence against a person. But as I've seen it used in the hobby, on twitter, etc? I think it brings out the worst in us, makes us more tribal and weakens our ability to engage one another.
 

This is really a whole other topic I think (quite a few of those in this thread). But I think with cancel culture, it also doesn't have to be conclusive to be a canceling. Most people are not going to be completely eradicated from an industry, social media space or a fandom. But they will be ostracized, have their reputation damaged, be lied about, their reach reduced, have their offenses exaggerated, be psychologically impacted, and potentially have their professional life in other industries impacted. Most game designers are not doing this full time, so they can likely weather a cancelation attempt unless they get removed from a major platform. But once your name has been dragged through the mud by a cancelation attempt, that is the sort of thing people search for when they hire people.

"Cancel culture" is a term that's gotten so weaponized I don't think its a useful term; the term is applied when other people do it, ignored when people you agree with do.

The issue is, however, that brigading is absolutely a thing, and it isn't limited to one particular political philosophy or position. And once it gets rolling, it can be enough of a problem that if you're in a position it can get aimed at you, you, again, absolutely have a reason to be concerned because there are too many people out there who, once they decide you're on the wrong side of things, won't show a lot of restraint on what they'll go do. It doesn't take a whole lot of cases of doxing or other harassment before some serious chilling effect sets in.
 

This isn't about reasonableness. It's about listening. There are probably a ton of things out there that I would never consider racist myself, and would be surprised to learn they are. But rather than continue to argue my uninformed opinion, I listen to the people who are affected by it, and that is how we learn.

I am not against listening. I listen to lots of people, and lots of points of view. But you seem to be suggesting if someone listens, that means they must just automatically agree with what they are hearing, or if they listen, they must reach the same exact conclusion you have about the issue. Life and art are way more complicated than that.
 

Gradine

Final Form (they/them)
No. In many cases that is correct. But the meaning of words in context absolutely matters.
This,is the most incorrect thing I have read in this thread.

Context matters. This is such a simple point I can’t believe I have to say it. But a person from a group can use a slur and have it be empowering (reclaim it) or a word can have different meanings depending on time and location (UK as opposed to American, for instance).
Context world matter if we were litigating the authors of the work, because it would speak to their personal intent and therefore character. I don't think anyone is impugning the character of the authors.

An object, like a book, does not have intent. It can simply only have impact, and that is what we're talking about. This is what I mean when I say questions or comments about "the time" are irrelevant. We're not in "the time" now so why should anyone care?

The question is not whether "OA" should've been written at all or not, but how we should treat and approach it today. Because today is all that actually relevant to us now.

My answer, if I had not made it clear enough, is "don't".
 

Gradine

Final Form (they/them)
I am not against listening. I listen to lots of people, and lots of points of view. But you seem to be suggesting if someone listens, that means they must just automatically agree with what they are hearing, or if they listen, they must reach the same exact conclusion you have about the issue. Life and art are way more complicated than that.
If I accidentally step on someone's toes and they tell me it hurts, is it my place to argue whether their injury is real or not?
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
Context world matter if we were litigating the authors of the work, because it would speak to their personal intent and therefore character. I don't think anyone is impugning the character of the authors.

An object, like a book, does not have intent. It can simply only have impact, and that is what we're talking about. This is what I mean when I say questions or comments about "the time" are irrelevant. We're not in "the time" now so why should anyone care?

The question is not whether "OA" should've been written at all or not, but how we should treat and approach it today. Because today is all that actually relevant to us now.

My answer, if I had not made it clear enough, is "don't".

That‘s insane.

Seriously - we have to get rid of Uncle Tom’s Cabin? The Invisible Man? Anything that isn’t up to your standards?

Your eternal now is not the arbiter of what others think is relevant
 

"Cancel culture" is a term that's gotten so weaponized I don't think its a useful term; the term is applied when other people do it, ignored when people you agree with do.

The issue is, however, that brigading is absolutely a thing, and it isn't limited to one particular political philosophy or position. And once it gets rolling, it can be enough of a problem that if you're in a position it can get aimed at you, you, again, absolutely have a reason to be concerned because there are too many people out there who, once they decide you're on the wrong side of things, won't show a lot of restraint on what they'll go do. It doesn't take a whole lot of cases of doxing or other harassment before some serious chilling effect sets in.

I do think cancel culture is useful as a term but I understand your point. But either way, whether we are talking about brigading or deplatforming, I am against it no matter what side we are talking about. Again I don't want to take food out of anyone's mouth (whatever their opinion about RPGs or politics). And I don't take pleasure in seeing someone reaping what they sow either. Stuff like doxxing, I don't think is ever acceptable. I think it is very easy when you think the other side is so wrong, to justify to yourself any behavior against them.
 

This isn't about reasonableness. It's about listening. There are probably a ton of things out there that I would never consider racist myself, and would be surprised to learn they are. But rather than continue to argue my uninformed opinion, I listen to the people who are affected by it, and that is how we learn.

Yeah, I listened to the Asians React series on L5R and found it somewhat useful in getting a different perspective. It's easy to miss stuff when you don't live it every day.

Is there anything offensive enough for someone to deserve to be deplatformed ever?

I mean, there's plenty. Platforming isn't a right, after all.

This,is the more incorrect thing I have read in this thread.

Context matters. This is such a simple point I can’t believe I have to say it. But a person from a group can use a slur and have it be empowering (reclaim it) or a word can have different meanings depending on time and location (UK as opposed to American, for instance).

I see a lot of demand to listen, but precious little actual discussion.

I mean, this is a really bad-faith take on what they were saying. They're talking about the historical context, and how something being acceptable at the time doesn't negate the fact that it was and still is racist. Talking about term reclamation doesn't really touch on this.

I don't think there is wide consensus. I think there is a lot of disagreement over how much of a problem it is. You can call it wishy washy, but it isn't like OA is some kind of racist manifesto. People are going to have different responses to how the tropes are handled. And again, even among the people who are saying it has problems there is clearly a difference between those labeling problematic, stereotypical and racist.

There's wide enough consensus that even you have conceded the problems with the title. Just because there is disagreement about specifics doesn't mean that we can't form a general consensus that the book is problematic at the least.

"Cancel culture" is a term that's gotten so weaponized I don't think its a useful term; the term is applied when other people do it, ignored when people you agree with do.

The issue is, however, that brigading is absolutely a thing, and it isn't limited to one particular political philosophy or position. And once it gets rolling, it can be enough of a problem that if you're in a position it can get aimed at you, you, again, absolutely have a reason to be concerned because there are too many people out there who, once they decide you're on the wrong side of things, won't show a lot of restraint on what they'll go do. It doesn't take a whole lot of cases of doxing or other harassment before some serious chilling effect sets in.

"Cancel culture" is indeed useless, largely because it's often used when people are simply expressing disapproval with what someone has done. Approval isn't a right, and when you do stupid things people can call you out on that stuff.

Stuff like brigading is generally different, and most often its with more powerful people using their platform to harm people who can't fight back. It's punching down using one's fanbase and clout against someone who lacks it. That's... generally not applicable to what we are talking about.
 

Dire Bare

Legend
Was 'Oriental' considered racist when the book was written?
Yes.

Certainly, words change meanings and connotations. Including the word "oriental". But back in 1988? Yes. Awareness of that wasn't as widespread as it is today, and it's not on the same level as some other slurs. But again, do we need to determine the relative offensiveness of the term to agree it is offensive?

However, I'm more concerned with today. It doesn't matter if the word "oriental" was considered racist back in 1988 (although again, it was) . . . no one is advocating to jump into a time machine and take out baby Zeb Cook before he can write Oriental Adventures. No one is even calling for Zeb Cook and the late 1980s TSR team to be "canceled" or any such nonsense.

We are discussing the problems with Oriental Adventures because many of those problems still exist in D&D today. And we need to know what those problems are, so that we can continue to improve D&D and do better.
 

If I accidentally step on someone's toes and they tell me it hurts, is it my place to argue whether their injury is real or not?
If they sue you and you think they are faking: yes. But I think this is a bad example because you the premise is you stepped on their toes, presumably you did hurt them. I do think you always have a responsibility to push back if you feel a person's response is either out of proportion to what you've done, or if you feel they misunderstand what you are doing. If you step on someone's toes and they punch you in the face, I think you can tell them to chill, for example.
 

Gradine

Final Form (they/them)
That‘s insane.

Seriously - we have to get rid of Uncle Tom’s Cabin? The Invisible Man? Anything that isn’t up to your standards?
Where... where did I say any of that? Works have merit, especially literary works such as these (though I did write a thesis on "Uncle Tom's Cabin" and dear lord is the writing saccharine and melodramatic). I have never once advocated for "getting rid of" anything, not even OA.

It's just that OA is so far beyond relevant at this point that relitigating it (one way OR THE OTHER) is a waste of everyone's time and effort.
 

Dire Bare

Legend
Again, are we going to ignore Requires Hate's victims because most (but not all) of them were in fiction rather than the RPG field? Most of them didn't even have anything particularly obvious to apologize for.
Again? What? I have no idea what you are talking about here, so give me a moment to google . . . . .

Okay, so this is hardly a cut-and-dried example of fantasy/sci-fi "brigading" . . . . "Requires Hate" (Benjanun Sriduangkaew) is a Thai fantasy/sci-fi author who created the anonymous online persona, "Requires Hate" and began a series of critiques of other fantasy/sci-fi works for their racist and sexist themes (from her point of view, of course) using insulting . . . and to some, threatening . . . language. From my brief research, her behavior was awful and rightfully condemned. And also, her critiques arguably had merit, if you remove the insulting/threatening language they were delivered in. And I haven't found any evidence she was successful at "canceling" anyone . . . . but I just did a light dive into the controversy surrounding this author.

One person, posting awful stuff about other people on the internet isn't "brigading" or "canceling". It's also hardly "chilling" to creators who'd like to include cultural themes in their works they don't have a direct connection too. Unless there's more to the story of "Requires Hate" you can enlighten us on . . . .
 

Stuff like brigading is generally different, and most often its with more powerful people using their platform to harm people who can't fight back. It's punching down using one's fanbase and clout against someone who lacks it. That's... generally not applicable to what we are talking about.

I don't see why not; I've given an example of someone who used it to strike at writers twice now. And that's what I've been talking about, how chilling this can become and how it can end up easily instead of just stopping racist or appropriational material, it ends up creating a climate where people will simply steer clear of the topics entirely. People have dismissed that when it comes up, and I think they're being way too blithe.
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
Uh, the poverty levels for blacks in Flint, Michigan, is 43.8%. The poverty rate for blacks in Benton Harbor, Michigan, is 50.7%. The poverty rate for blacks in Detroit, Michigan, is 37.7%.
Yes.

Why would you use a specific poverty rate for one and then reference the national poverty rate?
Why wouldn't I? The comparison clearly shows that whites from high poverty areas in the country experience more poverty than blacks from low poverty areas. That seems a pretty important point if we are going to talk white privilege.

You compare like to like. For example, the national white poverty rate is 9.1% in 2019. Notice the difference?
Sure, and there's important information to be gleaned from that comparison as well. But that's not the only valid comparison.

I mean, statistically speaking being black and in a city makes you way more likely to be in poverty compared to Harlan, Kentucky.
See, you get how this works ;)

A better point for you is that 46.8% of blacks in Harlan KY are in poverty. Which is quite a bit higher than that of the white population of Harlan KY.

I think we can acknowledge both points - that blacks on average experience higher poverty when compared to whites from the same locations and that whites in some locations experience much higher poverty than blacks from other locations. Do you agree with this? If so what does that mean to you in relation to white privelege?
 

Gradine

Final Form (they/them)
If they sue you and you think they are faking: yes. But I think this is a bad example because you the premise is you stepped on their toes, presumably you did hurt them. I do think you always have a responsibility to push back if you feel a person's response is either out of proportion to what you've done, or if you feel they misunderstand what you are doing. If you step on someone's toes and they punch you in the face, I think you can tell them to chill, for example.
I find this a cynical way of approaching the world and other people. I do think, if your intent is misconstrued or misinterpreted in a given situation, there's a natural impulse to attempt to explain. But again, intent is hardly relevant; whatever I intended, if I hurt someone I ought to apologize and maybe learn to be more careful about such things.

But to approach every person's declaration of pain with skepticism at whether they are "faking it" or not is absolutely bleak to me, and unfair to humanity writ large
 

Again? What? I have no idea what you are talking about here, so give me a moment to google . . . . .

Okay, so this is hardly a cut-and-dried example of fantasy/sci-fi "brigading" . . . . "Requires Hate" (Benjanun Sriduangkaew) is a Thai fantasy/sci-fi author who created the anonymous online persona, "Requires Hate" and began a series of critiques of other fantasy/sci-fi works for their racist and sexist themes (from her point of view, of course) using insulting . . . and to some, threatening . . . language. From my brief research, her behavior was awful and rightfully condemned. And also, her critiques arguably had merit, if you remove the insulting/threatening language they were delivered in. And I haven't found any evidence she was successful at "canceling" anyone . . . . but I just did a light dive into the controversy surrounding this author.

There have been people who outright bailed out of writing because of her. And it should be noted most of her targets were women, POC, trans or some combination of the three. So even being within the cultures at hand was no protection. She's almost the poster child for misuse of her own status to go after people who's work she disliked for one reason or another. And she didn't do it alone; she had a following and they were effectively her internet posse in many cases. Its just easier to isolate the attacks she made in one of her various identities but that's always true with a brigading situation.


One person, posting awful stuff about other people on the internet isn't "brigading" or "canceling". It's also hardly "chilling" to creators who'd like to include cultural themes in their works they don't have a direct connection too. Unless there's more to the story of "Requires Hate" you can enlighten us on . . . .

It didn't stop with Requires Hate. She had a following that she sicc'd on people. It absoltuely was brigading, and as noted it was often directed at other subaltern groups. So, yeah, I'd do more research on the history there before you shrug it off.
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
Where... where did I say any of that? Works have merit, especially literary works such as these (though I did write a thesis on "Uncle Tom's Cabin" and dear lord is the writing saccharine and melodramatic). I have never once advocated for "getting rid of" anything, not even OA.

It's just that OA is so far beyond relevant at this point that relitigating it (one way OR THE OTHER) is a waste of everyone's time and effort.

That‘s the exact point- you don’t get to determine what is relevant.

Uncle Tom’s Cabin is cruddy as literature, but if someone read it without understanding it’s historical context, they would be offended. Should we just listen to the offense and the harm, or … does context matter?

OA is important in a lot of ways to the evolution of D&D~ especially because it has some of the ideas that Cook would later expand on in 2e, as well as having the first credited Asian contributors to a TSR product. I think it’s relevant, and I think that while it’s fine to critique issues in it, it’s really annoying that people assume it’s not relevant.

If you don’t want to re-litigate it, that’s fine by me. Stop telling me what I have to think and I won’t keep litigating.
 

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