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The Phantom Stranger


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Oct
13th
2017

Mykan's Unfortunate Implications #1: Zecora's Dialogue · 3:31am Oct 13th, 2017

At best, this is a glorified tweet. Let's get it over with. I honestly believe Mykan is racist.

Dat is true, dere's nothin' wrong with us,
It's DEM who have da problem, which is why dey fuss!

This is how he writes Zecora. Zecora is clearly invoking "the other" a foreigner character. Specifically, she is suppose to be black. Some people have pointed this out to be reminiscent of those annoying twins from Revenge of the Fallen. I see it as Jim from Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. It was a book published in the 1880s. This was a book where N***** could be published and said without facing public scorn, this is a time when you could walk up to a black man on any city street and shoot him with no jury willing to convict you, and this was a time where interracial anything was taboo.

Just because it was acceptable back then does not make it acceptable now. After all, taking pills of mercury was acceptable back then but isn't now.

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Comments ( 10 )
Eldorado
Moderator

She speaks with an African accent in the actual show, and I recall that her "native language" she slips into in a couple scenes was originally supposed to be actual Swahili but the producers couldn't acquire a translator in time so they just made it gibberish. Zecora is unquestionably based on African culture. An African accent is entirely appropriate.

Criticize the story world all you like, but accusations of racism over this type of thing are incredibly farfetched, bordering on personal attacks.

4698229
Yes but her speech doesn't have to be spelled like that.

Eldorado
Moderator

4698990
No, but that's just bad writing. Same principle as writing every I as Ah when Applejack is a character in your story. It's a heavy-handed way of forcing the accent that most experienced writers rightly advise against, but it's not racist.

4699042
Thank may be so, but perhaps it's not a good idea to write dialogue in a way that will remind people of Huckleberry Finn.

4698229
Personally, I wouldn't mind it so much if that wasn't Zecora's only character trait in the fic. In canon, she's definitely supposed to be black (zebras are native to Africa after all), but not only does having her accent be adapted so badly come across as redundant (anyone who's watched the show would know what she sounds like), but it also comes across as Zecora's only personality traits being that she rhymes, and that she's black.

Does that make sense?

Eldorado
Moderator

4699898
I don't understand why reminding people of Huckleberry Finn means the author is automatically racist. If you were trying to make a point there, I didn't catch it.

4699904
Again that's just bad writing. Characters with one sole defining trait are typically indicative of bad writing but not usually indicative of racism on the part of the author.

Sure, the "token black character" is something of a trope for bad writing at this point, but it's a liiiiiiiittle bit, just a tiny little immense yawning parsec-wide gulf of a leap between writing like a glorified TVtropes Mad Lib and believing all black people are genetically inferior as a race. So no, that doesn't make any sense.

4700010
That's kinda the thing. Mykan goes with his ideas without thinking things through because he only cares about what's "cool" to him.

And I think what we're trying to say is, even though something was allowed back in the day, doesn't mean it is now. I mean, Huckleberry Finn itself had plenty of censored versions due to customs changing, right? I like Jim, but even I know a character written the same way as him wouldn't be acceptable in this day and age.

Eldorado
Moderator

4700355
Well maybe that's the problem. Censoring stuff from the past because it's offensive to us now is no better than pretending that the prejudices of the past never existed in the first place. That's dishonest and undermines the work everybody did to get us to where we are now. Mark Twain himself was an avid abolitionist who despised slavery. Censoring his works because he used language that now seems embarrassingly racist is absolutely intolerable.

But that's all off-topic. We are not discussing Huckleberry Finn. You can't just draw a shaky comparison to the manner in which black characters speak in period literature and then just go "alright therefore the author instantly believes everything that the slaveowners at that time believed in." Mimicking a style of writing is not racist, especially since (assuming I even accept your initial premise here, which I don't) he's mimicking Mark Twain, who again was an avid abolitionist. So mimicking the writing style of a guy who despised slavery and the racist attitudes of his day means Mykan is now a racist. Okay.

Is there anything in this story that actually conveys racist ideas? Are most of the characters mouthpieces for some racist ideology, or are there clear parallels in how characters act toward each other that could be interpreted as a commentary on real world racism? Further, then, are these characters and actions held up in high regard by the story to the point that it seems Mykan is trying to get his readers to agree with them or think they are the good guys/doing the right thing? These are things from which a discussion on the racism in a work can spring from. The dialogue of a character having a forced, heavy-handed accent? Give me a break.

Or at the very least, explain to me how this is different from other heavy-handed accents in stories. It's okay to write Applejack with a ridiculously over-the-top southern/country accent that's borderline unintelligible, because since nobody wrote a Great American Novel with that same stereotypical portrayal of speech it's not racist at all, no sir.

4700380
Well, at least we can still agree that the fic is terrible.

Eldorado
Moderator

4700407
Sure, and you're well within your rights to comment and criticize the writing within. It just bothers me when discussions on the story jump into personal attack territory like this, especially with such unbelievably flimsy cause. I don't like Mykan's stories and I'm hardly the president of his fan club. Every time he sees me doing just about anything, he's quick to call me a bully and a hater. No way I'd call him a racist just because he can't write dialogue well, though, and the rest of you guys should be better than that, too.

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