Author Topic: Avoiding Sterotypes  (Read 9391 times)

Offline KIP LEWIS

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Avoiding Sterotypes
« on: June 23, 2009, 07:04:58 pm »
As a white guy who wants to write,  how does one avoid sterotypes?  Especially in the area of villains, both the big villain and the throw-away villains?

Offline Redjack

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Re: Avoiding Sterotypes
« Reply #1 on: June 23, 2009, 07:45:33 pm »
Write human beings. You'll be fine.

If you don't know something, ask. If you don't know a subculture, do some research. The same as every other decent writer.
Soon you will come to know. When the bullet hits the bone.

Offline jefferson L.O.B. sergeant

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Re: Avoiding Sterotypes
« Reply #2 on: June 23, 2009, 09:20:11 pm »
As a white guy who wants to write,  how does one avoid sterotypes?  Especially in the area of villains, both the big villain and the throw-away villains?

The answer is simple, just write what whatever I tell you to.

Offline FLEX HECTIC

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Re: Avoiding Sterotypes
« Reply #3 on: June 23, 2009, 11:04:16 pm »
AHEM!


The problem is not avoiding stereotypes or worrying about offending the brothaz.

During all my zany posting I have been working on a black super villain and fleshing him out while studying the behavior of fanboys and fanbros alike.

Those that work with me personally know my thoughts and even lurk these and other forums reading my posts and are thoroughly convinced that I am completely out of my ever loving mind.

So there is your answer.

Study brothaz that have diabolical tendencies and unique out of this world pathologies and your villain should be awesome.

Every major super villain has depth to his character and a back story that makes The Usual Suspects seem like childs play.

Let people close to you see the profile of your characters and point blank ask them if it sucks! I do this regularly and accept all answers just to better myself cause I'm open mindedly crazy like that.

Do not get offended if they give you the thumbs down just go back into your lab and recreate your personal Frankenstein monster over and over again until you get it just right. I pushed back the release date of my character just to avoid the suckiness.

And then edit that thang one more time to cover all the loop holes. EDIT I TELL YOU!

And most importantly... do not sit like some shy insecure low self esteemed person at your booth at comic book conventions. Put some bass in your voice and greet people and love the spotlight like a movie star does and rep your product as if you were in fact a super hero yourself cause you are.

YOU are your own product/project so sell YOU from the depths of your very soul!



Now... if after all that was said you come up with some Jar Jar Binks type stuff then it would be evident to all who saw it that you just did not care to bring your A-game and settled for mediocrity!

You are very honest for a white dude to post so sincerely and I commend you for that but your inner Spielberg should inform you blatantly of what is totally wack and what is not!




Offline Emperorjones

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Re: Avoiding Sterotypes
« Reply #4 on: June 26, 2009, 08:45:11 pm »
I agree with Redjack's advice. One of the main problems as I see it is that too many writers just revert to a 'type' of black person, usually their idea of what a black person is based on the mass media, instead of doing research, reading books about black people, history, and culture (and there are books about black criminals if you want to explore the villain piece), watching documentaries and films besides comedies, etc. Also, perhaps just talking to black people as well might provide you with a wealth of information to help you out.

Offline Redjack

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Re: Avoiding Sterotypes
« Reply #5 on: June 27, 2009, 12:08:08 pm »
The other thing is, as the writer, you're not allowed to judge your characters. I might hate Klansmen in real life and, personally, don't care if they ever reform but, if I'm writing a racist or a sexist or anything like that, I have to write them as people who honestly believe in the hateful things they do and have real justifications for their awfulness.

Everyone is the hero of their own story. Almost no one thinks of themselves as evil.

Even if you're writing to make a political point, the characters still have to be real. otherwise you lose your audience who usually can't abide a lecture on racism but will open their minds after reading TO KILL A MOCKING BIRD.



Soon you will come to know. When the bullet hits the bone.

Offline KIP LEWIS

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Re: Avoiding Sterotypes
« Reply #6 on: June 27, 2009, 06:31:04 pm »
Want to expand on one point--what about the throw-away character?  The black character, especially the bad guy, who shows up mainly as a vehicle to showcase the hero or start a ball rolling.  Beyond that, they don't exist.  For example, the two-bit hoods Spider-man defeats in two panels.

How do avoid them becoming a sterotype, when by their nature they are only one-dimensional characters?

Offline Pantherfan

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Re: Avoiding Sterotypes
« Reply #7 on: June 28, 2009, 02:31:40 am »
The easiest way to avoid stereotypes as far as black characters go is to portray them three dimensionally like whites.

Spike Lee does a good job of this in his movies. So does Tyler Perry and John Singleton.

I'm also surprised that with the popularity of shows like American Gangster and Gangland that Bendis or Brubaker hasn't come up with a kickass black gangster character that could stand toe to toe with Daredevil or The Punisher.

When I say Black Gangster, I'm talking about one who has his own empire and people working for him.

What I don't want to see is a reject from a blaxploitation film or a Tarrantino retread.

Offline Emperorjones

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Re: Avoiding Sterotypes
« Reply #8 on: June 28, 2009, 07:53:15 am »
If its a throwaway character, perhaps not use urban/black/hip hop slang, or if you do, please use it correctly for one. As for physical description, just walk around and see what black people fitting the age, gender, and perhaps the body type of your character(s) are actually wearing in terms of clothing, jewelry, and hairstyles.

Also, I agree with Pantherfan esp. if you are going with a longer-term character. Make them 3-D. However, that might be hard to do if you have a throwaway character. Then again, it might not be. How about you view the interaction first through the villain's eyes. Why are they doing what they do? What is there background? Maybe you can write the encounter through the villain's eyes. Of course you don't have to include it if you don't want in your finished product, but the exercise might help you get inside the head of the villain and make him more real to you as a person and not just a character.

I'm sure that when you read the bios of white, black, brown, etc., criminals there are a lot of things that are similar, so whatever studies you've done into the white criminal mind could also be a resource for you as well. I'm working on my first original novel and I try to put myself in the head's of my characters, I try to find their voice and let them speak through me to some extent. Of course, I have people checking out my work to see if it rings true, esp. when I write female characters.



Offline FLEX HECTIC

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Re: Avoiding Sterotypes
« Reply #9 on: June 28, 2009, 12:30:12 pm »
"GIVE MY CREATURE... LIIIIIIFE!"


Go full blown Dr. Frankenstein and assembly your villain as a multi-dimensional creation.

Give him mood swings and a touch of a bipolar disposition that can be absolutely charming and then frighteningly insane in a split second but don't completely rip off Harvey Dent/Two Face or Anakin/Darth Vader.

Try to avoid the "Angry Black Man" cliche... although he could still have a chip on his shoulder for racism he should be so powerful that he goes beyond that.

Careful with the usage of the reference "BLACK" in his title. It works for The Black Panther because that is already a reference for leopards with a darker coat but some of the others seem too obvious.

Let's try some examples shall we!


The TROLL: A mysterious black man capable of multiple posting on many website forums at a time. With the ability to withstand any criticism or personal attacks and a stern faced immunity against other mere lesser TROLLS. His unique powers allow him to transcend the art of normal thread postings by the art of insulting without insulting his fellow posters. His inner turmoil gives him the characteristics to "SPAM" at will and render other posts utterly useless. His pathology is one of deep guilt over the loss of his posting ability when he gets Carpal Tunnel Syndrome by excessive typing and feels that all other posters should suffer as he does so he makes sure that he has his sidekick/secretary type for him so that other posters will continue and eventually get Carpal tunnel Syndrome too. SEE... the plot thickens!



ALL SALES ARE EMOTIONAL!


Mess with our heads with your characters and... sell sell sell!



Offline Redjack

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Re: Avoiding Sterotypes
« Reply #10 on: July 02, 2009, 10:47:55 am »
Want to expand on one point--what about the throw-away character?  The black character, especially the bad guy, who shows up mainly as a vehicle to showcase the hero or start a ball rolling.  Beyond that, they don't exist.  For example, the two-bit hoods Spider-man defeats in two panels.

How do avoid them becoming a sterotype, when by their nature they are only one-dimensional characters?

What part of "write human beings" was unclear?

There ARE no "throwaway" characters. NONE.

If they appear and you don't know who they are when they eat breakfast you haven't done your job.

If it was easy everybody would do it.

Make people. People. That's it.
Soon you will come to know. When the bullet hits the bone.

Offline FLEX HECTIC

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Re: Avoiding Sterotypes
« Reply #11 on: July 05, 2009, 11:04:06 pm »
Your homework assignment!


Study the following characters first and then throw those blueprints away and be original.


Darth Vader - The ultimate goodguy turned badguy. Observe his rise and fall and the motives that were the key to this. Like most villains he thinks he is right when he does wrong.

Hannibal Lecter - In case you didn't know some women have a serial killer fetish and Hannibal was a favorite among women because he had manners. I'm absolutely serious about that too so study it. The way Hannibal defended "CLAAAARISE" when dude in the next cell over threw sperm in her face endeared him to female fans especially knowing that he literally "TALKED" dude into a suicide. Being a doctor of psychiatry gave him that edge.

Heath Ledger's Joker - The more I watch The Dark Knight the more this character moves up to possibly replace Darth Vader as my favorite villain of all time. "This town needs a new class of villain" is what every black gangster, warlord or thug should be thinking instead of that same old mundane we see on the news everyday. The drive by shooting is so last year so come up with something with more on a genius level than that!

Harvey Dent - Similar to Darth Vader's fall but able to keep competing personalities in opposition to each other is a classic. Villains with dual personalities really work most of the time.

The Predator - The mere fact that he is only on a hunting expedition makes it even more interesting since humans are on the hunting list. He don't care though even if their is a version of PETA on his home planet trying to preserve humans as an endangered species protests these inter galactic hunts. The Predator does not see himself as a bad person... er... humanoid.

Training Day - Denzel Denzel Denzel! His diabolical plan to get his protege to "Smoke that pipe" as he had planned all week and then set him up for the bathtub "Trippy sh!t homez" scene was dynamic beyond... well you get the point. Are you a wolf... or a sheep?

The Usual Suspects - "Keyzer Soze" if I'm spelling that right. The Gimp? Come on man who saw that one coming? Give your characters that insane twist and mess with our heads for years to come. If your villain is talked about for years to come then you have done a good job.

Jason and Freddy - Multiple campy movies but longevity is the key here. Freddy all up in your nightmares when you go to sleep got kids on Elm Street popping pills to stay awake. Jason just won't stop no matter how many times you stab or shoot him up. This didn't quite work with Candyman but at some point a black unkillable horror freak has to emerge.

Godzilla - And you know this... maaaaaaan! Have him storm through a black neighborhood and imagine how black folks would react to this actual event without the wildeyed sambo negro look. Some brothaz would bust caps at The Big G because Bushwick Bill says "Size aint $#!^ But Remember that Godzilla is more of a force of nature than a badguy. We have already seen him stomp on Japanese and white people now let's see how The Huxtables and The Obama's deal with giant lizards crashing through the living room.

Dracula/Blacula - It seems that the world cannot get enough of blood sucking vampires. Vampires are the new cowboys with all the Blade, Buffy, Trueblood, Twilight, Underworld etc. etc. The Real Count Dracula must be spinning in his coffin at all these offshoot love stories when necks need to be bitten and not nipped ever so gently. Humans are food... nothing more.

Pulp Fiction/Deliverance - The fear of all heterosexual men. Waking up The Gimp or "squealing like a pig!" Billy the hillbilly from deliverance told me that he once was voted the number one villain ahead of Darth Vader at an awards show for what he did to Ned Beatty in the movie Deliverance. When Ving Rhames spoke the words "I'ma get medievil on you @$$" in the movie Pulp Fiction it was a classic line used later by many people as the most memorable scene in that crazy movie. These two movies touched upon fears that most men dare not discuss even though women are most likely to be victims of sexual violence most men avoid the topic all together except when it comes to...

OZ - Adibisi! A big huge black man on lockdown menacing you from the top bunk to make you his beyotch! Although it is cliched to death and not always the case in prison as friends have informed me from cell block wherever it is still a problem. If you do go this route then you have to develop something out of the norm. The prison shower soap on the rope is old news so find a better twist to it.


Now that you have studied all the above do not... I repeat... do not copy that stuff and make something original from your wild and crazy mind. Do not bite from other ideas unless it is absolutely necessary or do such a tremendous job of it that we hardly notice the similarities between your characters and someone elses.


DIG DEEP WHITE BOY... DIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIG!



(I think I TROLLED too far on that last note there! Forget all the above and just study me as a villain and you should sell in the zillions! Zillions I tell you! Zillions!)



KIP!


Are you there?










Offline supreme illuminati

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Re: Avoiding Sterotypes
« Reply #12 on: July 06, 2009, 09:26:02 pm »
These posts are very good reads!
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BLACK PANTHER FANFIC:
http://archiveofourown.org/works/663070
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Offline KIP LEWIS

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Re: Avoiding Sterotypes
« Reply #13 on: July 07, 2009, 04:28:47 am »
OK, maybe throwaway isn't the best term (but I am not the only one to call them that).

But still, I don't know if this is fully answering the question.  I can fully develope a character, but if the reader only sees them for 2 seconds, he could look like a sterotype. 

For example, if I was telling a scene from my teacher's life, it would run like this.  In college dorm, a man walked into his room, said, "what if you're wrong?" And then left.  He never saw the guy before or after that.  But that question changed his life.  (True story.)

But if I made the stranger Black, even though I know his entire life story (he is a real person), the reader doesn't and it is important that they don't.  The thing is, does that make him the sterotype of the mystic negro?

Offline Emperorjones

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Re: Avoiding Sterotypes
« Reply #14 on: July 07, 2009, 11:17:46 am »
I'm not sure if its a Magical Negro or not, though it could be. Maybe if the character is just magically appears to help the white characters and then disappear, then perhaps.  Also, it might not hurt to have more than one black character, some that you can perhaps flesh out more, in your story or another one. Characters that are three dimensional and might not solely exist to help white characters along their journeys, but have journeys of their own.