Archive for July, 2015

Censorship: continuation

A few years ago there were a few “scandals” about censorship in my home country. I will use them as examples in a further discussion about censorship.

My stand point is that we should censor as little as possible/not white wash history, but I do also recognize the right of a creator/owner of things. In the previous post I mentioned Puerto Rico and said that it is about slavery and creating a successful colony (I think I mentioned both). I also pointed out that the “workers” are referred to as colonizers, but that it is actually slaves. I still think that I am right about but what I want to say is that Andreas Seyfarth, the creator of the game, is not wrong in calling them colonizers, the workers that is. Why do I think so? Because he made the game and is therefore entitled to call them whatever he wants, it is his right as the creator. And for all intents and purposes the game won’t function differently if the “workers” are called slaves or colonizers, since the focus isn’t on them.

Now let us look on the “scandals”.

Number 1: Tintin i Kongo (Tintin in the Congo)

The first one is the weirdest one I think, well maybe not. Tintin is comic that was made by Herge (or Georges Prosper Remi if you want his real name) during 1929-83. Tintin in the Congo was released first in 1931 as a black and white comic and then later, 1946, in color. It was released during a time when the portrayal of black people, done by white people, wasn’t all that positive or kind (or in a more frank term, racist). But during that time in our history, European/western, that kind of portrayal of wasn’t something uncommon. It was the norm. So when they did a rerelease of it in my home country they put a disclaimer in the beginning of the book saying; this is a product of its time; we do not support depiction of black people in it. (Said in more well articulated and sophisticated way)

I think this is the right way to do it. For one, the creator isn’t alive so they can’t ask him if it is okay to change parts of the product. Secondly, they explain that they don’t think the portrayal is acceptable in today’s society, but it is a part of history. History shouldn’t be changed. It would probably be a bigger “crime” to change it just because it doesn’t fit in to our view of the world.

Number 2: Kalle Ankas jul (Donald Duck’s Christmas)

This is once again something that has to do with history and how it was back in time far, far away. In Donald Duck’s Christmas special that is shown each Christmas Eve, there is a part when the viewers get to see Santa preparing the presents before starting his journey.

Here is the complete version of it:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d1KDhYWly04

The version shown during Christmas Eve is shortened, and “recently”, 2-3 years ago, it was edited again. 3:23-3:35 is removed and another part which I can’t remember was removed. When this happened, some people were furious in my home country. Saying that we aren’t allowed to express any kind of opinion, that the Political Correctness Police was bearing down on society and that the end of the world was near… okey, they didn’t say that the world was going to end but from some peoples’ reaction it just might have. Also, “everyone” started blaming the wrong people. They thought it was the governments TV-company that was behind it when it was actually the creators, Disney who changed it. Disney changed it because they felt it was inappropriate to show a cartoon with negative stereotypes, a cartoon meant for families to gather together and watch during Christmas celebration. I fully understand stand why they changed it and it is there right to change it since they are the owners of the piece. The same applies to the last “scandal”.

Number 3: Pippi Långstrump (Pippi Longstocking)

This is the most recent one of the three. What happened was that one or two of the Pippi Longstocking movies were changed a little, by cutting out the part when Pippi says her dad lives on a south pacific island and is a “neger kung (negro king)”, since he was the leader of the native population. This is very much a product of its era, since Astrid Lindgren, the creator of Pippi was a strong anti-racist advocate. But when she wrote it, it was the norm of the time to use the n-word about black people. But as I said, they changed it, and the people responsible for changing it were the owners/caretakers of the Pippi Longstocking property. So it is in their right to do that.

So well… I still think that you should try to keep things as they were, so we can look back and see how things were back then. However, it is important that a creator have control over their own creations.

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Censorship: Slavery edition

Are you offended by slaves? I’m not… Well let me clarify, I don’t like slavery nor do I think that people should be able to own another person. Slavery is wrong. But I am not offended by a slave; I am not offended by playing a game with slaves and slavery in it. If I did I wouldn’t like playing Puerto Rico.

https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/3076/puerto-rico

But I love Puerto Rico; it is an awesome worker-placement game. But the narrative it presents is one about slavery and how slaves were used to richen people and used to build societies. So if you think about it, it is pretty horrible game. But I won’t stop playing it.

  1. Because it is too much fun to play it.
  2. We shouldn’t shy away from these kinds of topics; instead we should use it as a base for discussion.
  3. Why shouldn’t games be allowed to touch on hot topics?

I will point out that the rules book for Puerto Rico calls the slaves for colonizers (at least in the version I read), to that I say no. They are represented by brown wooden cylinders, you get them by boat and you also get points from having the most of them. Sure, it could be colonizers, but since it is port cities you are building, and the colonizers are put to work in different fields I don’t think it is that plausible. Also slaves were most often used in port cities during the early days of Puerto Rico’s history, when it was still a Spanish colony.

This brings me to the series Tabletop, with Wil Wheaton. When he plays the game Five Tribes on the show he decides that the slave subject in the game shall be “censored”. Instead they call slaves for assistants or/and helpers. He also explains why there are slaves in the game and why he doesn’t like it. Tabletop is also meant to be a “family show” so he could have used that as the reason to not call slaves slaves.

(4:54-5:45)

I don’t think Wil Wheaton is stupid, narrow minded or a “political correctness lover” for doing this. It’s his show and he decides what to do with it, and he also explained his decision. However, if he hadn’t explained himself I might have been more concerned. As I said/wrote in the beginning, slavery is bad, but you shouldn’t scuff it under the rug. We need to be able to discuss things that happened in the past, no matter how cruel or horrible it was. Why? To learn from it and also see how things changed. We are a product of our history. Just think about yourself, you probably have done a few things you aren’t that proud of. You don’t need to tell everyone about the unproud moments in your life but you should try to use them and think about why feel ashamed for/by them. They are a part of you and will shape you as a person.

As a wise person said (L.P. Hartley): “The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.”

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Distortion for narrative’s sake: Darwin’s theory of evolution

Darwin’s theory of evolution says that the fittest will survive, triumph, and spread his or her genes. That is the short version, that is the simplified version, which is the version which becomes misused time and time again.

What it actually says, Darwin’s theory of evolution, is that those who are the fittest, most adapted, for its environment that will survive and spread their genes. This is also a simplification, since I don’t mention luck and many other factors that need to be take into account.

So how is it misused than? Well most often it all hinges on the word fittest, at least in my opinion. Fittest can be synonymous with strong/strongest and I guess it is also often translated to strongest. This would mean that the strongest ”by the law of nature” is supossed to win. An even worse interpretation of it is that not only will the strongest survive, only the strongest should survive and also rule the weak, since the weak are unfit to rule (pun intended). Side note: This train of thought, interpretation of evolution, has been used by way to many extremist groups, because it would be so nice if nature/God was supporting what you did.

But as I said earlier, that interpretation is wrong, strength has nothing to do with evolution/natural selection (technically it can have but bear with me). Adaptation does however. If you are good at adapting to a new environment, you are more likely to survive. To exemplify: A mouse is not strong or cleaver, it is placed very low in the food chain. But mice are good at finding food and they reproduce like rabbits. An eagle is strong and among the top in the food chain. But which of them are declining in numbers?

Many villains say that the strongest will survive and rule over the weak to justify their actions. Sometimes they also say something along the lines of “it’s a eat or be eaten world we live in”.

Though that only applies to the “thinking”/”talking” villains. We also have to monster villains that are said to be the pinnacle to evolution, the “perfect” predator, the predator to make everything its prey… yeah, well how about no.

Yes the predator might be extremely dangerous and be able to hunt almost everything. But it won’t be perfect. Because it will be adapted to the environment it came from, not every environment. So to call an apex predator perfect is silly, because it isn’t perfect. If it was it wouldn’t have any flaws, which most monster villains in fact have even though they are “perfect by evolution”.

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