Ergh, why is it that people who argue against the changing of existing media to better represent underrepresented individuals almost always do such a poor job of doing so.
First off, some context about me, because I feel that in this case it is relevant to the discussion. I am South African. I can assure you, 90% or more of the things you may have assumed about me prior to reading this post are probably incorrect and I can also assure you that I am not well represented in online media at all and it would be nice if that was at some point changed. With that being said, there are 2 ways to improve representation. The first is to take an existing piece of media and change it to represent a different group of people and the second is to create new media to represent those groups.
Now, when it comes to D&D, I personally do not care if the entirety of the lore was thrown out and rewritten, I do not think it is particularly good to begin with and I do believe it could be much better than it currently is. I will still however defend the people who want to preserve the lore as is, even if I do not care about it myself. Why is that? Because when the integrity of a piece is important to someone, by changing it you are "killing" a part of that world to them. It is the same as when an adaptation of a book into film is done poorly, it takes the image of the universe that individuals who care about that universe see in their head, throws it out and replaces it with something inferior. In the case of iconic figures being changed, it is taking away a "hero" from one group and giving it to another, which is essentially taking away representation from one group to give it to someone else. I think its pretty obvious there why people are upset, because icons they relate to are having that relation removed. When it comes to changing the appearance of a fantasy race to be more representative, the same thing is happening. The very identity of the race is being eroded.
Does this mean I am against better representing people in media? No! Absolutely not. But I am against the changing of existing established identities to do so. There is the alternative, creating new media to represent people. Not only does this have the advantage of not eroding existing identities, but it also creates a richer universe, featuring more than the universe that came before. New races can be created, new heroes can be added, new cultures can be inserted and the fictional universe would be better off with all of that. So with all of that being said, I will defend maintaining the lore appearance of elves in the Forgotten Realms, even if I think the lore is bad, because if you aren't willing to defend the settings other people care about when people try to change them, then you cannot expect other people to come and defend the fictional universes you do care about if the same thing happens :P
With all of that being said, the elves in BG 3 are decidedly not elven enough and should be further modified to better represent their in lore appearance :P
Glad to see you in this thread, I got excited when I saw you'd posted. I was like, 'Yeah! Sharp's here to lay down the law!" Was a bit surprised when you ultimately came down on the side of keeping elves "pure" so to speak. Not that your argument isn't good. Of course, it is impeccable as always.
I guess I just don't care much about defending the sanctity of a made-up universe that ultimately only exists as a platform for entertainment. I've watched the lore for D&D change so much over the years, I consider it more of a fluid than a solid. However they change it, I still think it's cool. I can still have fun playing D&D, whether devils come from the lower planes or from the Astral Sea, whether gnolls are just some normal animal dudes who live on the plains or the demonic spawn of Yeenoghu.
What I care about more than lore consistency is the right of creators to change their IP however they wish. I want the Forgotten Realms to reflect whatever the current minds behind D&D think is the best for right now,
instead of just clinging to old ideas. I want the people who are currently making content for a setting to be free to make whatever alterations they need to in order to tell good stories today
, without the fandom losing its shit over minor details.
Even more important to me than that, however, is that these entertainment properties that we all enjoy are serving their audiences well. All of their audiences. Not just some of them. And that they're telling stories that serve the world well, telling them in ways that make the world better, rather than worse. And inclusivity is really important at this turning point in our history. But it's not even about the abstract "social issue" of diversity or the "prevailing politics" and trying to appease some agenda. It's about people like Saturdiva and their personal, heartfelt desires which have been ignored for so long. And even when she asks, nicely, sincerely, for something that is long overdue, no one hears her. They just come in to debate the "topic", to go on and on about how important The Lore™ is, but I don't see anyone actually responding to what she wrote
. I don't see anyone acknowledging that they even heard her.
It's just the fact that growing up a brown geek girl, I didn't get to see many heroes who looked like me. I felt lucky if I got to see a female protagonist in the books, movies, and TV shows I was interested in.
It's weird not to see yourself reflected anywhere.
This quote resonated with me so hard; as a weird kid from a messed up home who listened to weird music and was into weird things, it made me even weirder that I was brown. The stories I escaped in were almost always about kids like me -- isolated, broken, difficult homes, different than others, but they ended up being special in some way. They ended up finding magic in some way. They ended up escaping and growing and becoming magic themselves in some way.
They were always white.
Sometimes it feels hard to explain why this matters to people who haven't experienced it. When you've lived your whole life in a world where the heroes look like you, talk like you (or like your ancestors), sound like you, have similar cultural experiences to you, most likely, you've never considered what it might be like to live in the absence of those heroes. And that's natural; that's normal.
Elves, in general, have always been a source of fascination to me. There are so many interpretations of them across so many texts and media, but one consistent theme is that they're these immortal, otherworldly, almost transcendent beings, made of magic, light of hand and foot, graceful, dexterous, with something elegant to them no matter how roguish or Drow-ish. At least, that's how they live in my imagination.
So rarely do people of color get to see themselves in such elegant roles.
I love playing elves -- I play other races, too, but elves are usually near the top of the list in terms of order.
So it's kind of disappointing and disheartening to see that it's not possible to play a female elf whose face isn't a reflection of Caucasian standards of beauty / Caucasian features, but rather shows someone who looks a little more like me -- Latinx, North African, a mix of ingredients that don't reflect the thin, petite noses and wide, round eyes of white female beauty, but rather a different kind of beauty... one just as capable of elven grace and dexterity and mastery of magic.
There are some gorgeous, diverse faces across the other races available for play, but those faces are not available for a female elf of any kind -- or even a half-elf. And that's really, really disappointing -- and I'm not sure why it is. Why can Tieflings, humans, dwarves, and halflings have features that resemble those of other races, but not elves?
If she feels this way, others feel this way. How many others? I couldn't say. But does it matter? Is there some arbitrary number, some specific amount of people who feel this way which would then make it valid? Which would then make them heard?