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Anything wrong with a MC defeating a villain from a different background?

WonderingSword5

Troubadour
No. It has been done many, many times. Read Guy Kay Gavriel for examples of how to do this well.
I'll read more into it. I just don't know if readers wpuld accept my fictional made up setting :(
was struck by the statement about Yuyai and Qin being contemporaneous. That's the sort of thing an author should know if they're going to write about the period.
The Qin was from 221BC-206BC and the Yayoi period from 300BC-250AD so they could of crossed paths when the emperor went to Japan :(
you gotta do your research. I'm talking hundreds of hours. You can write the story without doing that research, but you already have a sense that you're on some potentially difficult ground. Failing to do the research simply makes the ground more filled with pitfalls.
So how do I make up an Asian country with Chinese influence, without seeming like it's disrespectful? Where do I get inspiration for making a made up Asian nationality? Sake for Japanese influenced country :(
 

skip.knox

toujours gai, archie
Moderator
>So how do I make up an Asian country with Chinese influence, without seeming like it's disrespectful?
Again, see how others have done it. I mentioned Kay; I'm sure others here can make other recommendations. Or just look at Kay and then look for Also Bought.

>I just don't know if readers wpuld accept my fictional made up setting
As I said before, you can't know. Accept that and just do your best. There is *no way* to assure yourself of this prior. But a sure way to fail is not to do serious research. Many, many books. Copious notes. Herculean re-writes as you try and learn.
 
That depends on whether you're Chinese and selling to the Chinese market... They really hate the Japanese, that whole rivalry has not gone away, LMAO. Last time I was in China, I was amazed.

That said: there is nothing inherently wrong with it.

20 million dead 80% of them civilians. Takes a while for people to forget that.
 
Even longer when the gov't is filling the airwaves with anti-Japanse war movies. I happened to be in Kunming the year of the 70th anniversary of Japan's defeat? Something like that, my brain is tired, heh heh. But oh yeah, no lack of bitterness. It's funny because you'll see plenty of Japanese tourists at the Great Wall or whatever, but one school-age girl I spoke to noted that if you said you liked Japan in school, you'd probably get beat up.

It kind of reminds me of what John Cleese once said about the English. Paraphrasing: We fought two world wars against the jerries, but we don't mind them. But we hate the French.

20 million dead 80% of them civilians. Takes a while for people to forget that.
 
1. He was an ancient Chinese emperor who was reawakened from his tomb when Mao destroyed an important museum sometime in the 20th century before his death?
2. This ancient Chinese emperor was reawakened in the present day by some researcher group from a facility?
3. This emperor was immortal and lived in disguise for centuries into the modern day?

You are solidly covering 1/2 of my biggest concern here - why a Chinese villain. OK, cool. The other part is still a concern though - why a white or Japanese guy? It just sounds too much like the setup for one of a hundred mass-produced crummy 80s action movies. But maybe there's a good reason.

Make sure you understand the history of the region, including stuff like the Opium Wars and unequal treaties, WW2, etc before you tiptoe into this quagmire. This will help avoid cliches, but also give opportunities for characterization.

The most important part to understand is that 1) China was a superpower a couple of millinia before the idea of a superpower existed. In 1300, China was pumping oil and was on the verge of industrializing but never did due to cheap labor. After the western nations and Japan industrialized, they treated China like absolute garbgage for a incredibly long time.

Imagine how Americans would feel if Colombia went to war with us to make us let the cartels sell our people cocaine and kicked our asses so we had to allow the drug trade. How long would it be before we'd feel okay about a story with a Peruvian character kicking the butt of an American villain? (because the Opium Wars were the Brits).

And as I alluded to in a previous comment in WW2 the the Japanese killed or starved 20 million Chinese out of a half a billion population, of whom only 20% were soldiers, including what they called the "3 All's Policy" - Kill All, Burn All Loot All." If another nation killed 13 million American's how long would it be before we were comfortable with a story about an MC of that ethnicity kicking the butt of an American villain?
 
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Even longer when the gov't is filling the airwaves with anti-Japanse war movies. I happened to be in Kunming the year of the 70th anniversary of Japan's defeat? Something like that, my brain is tired, heh heh. But oh yeah, no lack of bitterness. It's funny because you'll see plenty of Japanese tourists at the Great Wall or whatever, but one school-age girl I spoke to noted that if you said you liked Japan in school, you'd probably get beat up.

It kind of reminds me of what John Cleese once said about the English. Paraphrasing: We fought two world wars against the jerries, but we don't mind them. But we hate the French.

Yeah, but French kings and nobility ruled England since 1066.

Random tidbit, that is 96.8% unrelated, or maybe it kinda is: the shorthand taught at U.S. Army field artillery school at Ft. Sill is all in French, because I guess that's where the U.S. Army learned artillery techniques back in the day. Not sure if that was the Revolution or WW1 though. Nobody I've ever heard of uses it outside of that though heh.
 
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If another nation killed 13 million American's how long would it be before we were comfortable with a story about an MC of that ethnicity kicking the butt of an American villain?
I can't talk for Americans, but as someone from a country in a similar situation, I'd say it takes about 2 generations, so 50 years, give or take. Maybe even less.

Going off wikipedia, the Netherlands lost 2.3% of its population to the war, compared to 3.8% for China. So a bit lower, but it's in the same order of magnitude. And I have absolutely no association between modern germans and the nazis. I have no issue with visiting germany, have had german friends, germans visiting us. I actually have more issues with them beating us in the world cup final of 1974, than with anything related to the war. And I would have no issue with someone writing this story about a german beating up a dutch guy.

My parents already didn't live through the war, and they feel pretty much the same. My grandparents might have taken some issue with it, though they generally weren't anti-german at all.

Of course, it very much depend on the historical narrative and modern spin that's given to it. If you're constantly bombarded with media which associates modern japanese people with those of WW2, then you'll probably connect them in your head.
 

Penpilot

Staff
Article Team
It kind of reminds me of what John Cleese once said about the English. Paraphrasing: We fought two world wars against the jerries, but we don't mind them. But we hate the French.

I'm not read up on the history of relations between these countries, but I bet there's a long history crappy stuff being done to one another that plants a deep seed in a lot of people.

That's the case with the China and Japan. I wasn't born in China, but my parents were. They lived through WW2. When I was a kid I'd hear stories, like them having to eat orange peels off the ground because they didn't have any food, about my uncles being literally nothing but skin and bones, etc. Those were not good times. I didn't understand it at the time, but when the subject of the stomach and the area around it would come up, my Mom would always make this weird comment about how the stomach was full of poop. When I got older, I realized the bowels are down around that area too, and the only way she could have made this weird connection is if she had seen the inside of the bowels. Just remembering the stories told to me, cheeses me off sometimes. Not that I have this beef with Japan, it just saddening how crappy we humans can be to one another. Like I said I don't carry any of the dislike, but I think understand where it comes from.

To contrast, I have a friend who was born in China. If you met him, you wouldn't even be able to tell he emigrated. He's the same age as me and as worldly any. His parents are the same generation as mine and his immediate and extended family went through a lot of the same crap, maybe worse. He has no problem with the individual, but if you mention Japan as a country, especially in the context of the myth-making that goes on about honourable warriors and such, he'll go off. And the way he'll talk about Japan, the disgust in his voice, it's like he's talking about someone who, to put it crudely, boinked his sister and sent him photos.

To the OP, it's not about the ethnicity of your heroes and/or villain. It's about what's beneath the skin and how you construct the world in which they inhabit. Do your homework because the details matter. I'll give you two examples from the Marvel Universe.

First, let's take the Ironfist TV series. On the surface, you have the cliche of the white dude returning from the far east with mystical powers. You might think that's what makes the TV series bad. Nope. That premise, at least in my eyes, is perfectly fine. Aside from the terrible acting, casting, choreography, and poor writing, what makes the series bad in a cultural sense is all the low effort, cliche things they do to convey Asian-ness.

For example, the white main character walks up to an Asian in the middle of New York, a predominately English speaking city, and starts talking Chinese to them, just assuming they speak Chinese, not only Chinese, but the specific dialect he's speaking, because, well, don't all Asians speak the same thing? There are plenty of Asians who only speak English, especially if they're in the middle of a city in North America. Also it just happens that one random Asian is putting up flyers advertising they teach martial arts, because of course they do. To be clear, It's not about the elements of this scene, it's about how it's all lazily put together. Then later, the main character of course goes to China Town, and of course, there's a bloody lion dance going on, like it happens every night, on scheduled, like the Disney parade.

Now lets take Marvel's Shang-Chi movie. This character was created around the same time as Ironfist, and had all the typical cliche's of that era associated with the character's history. They could have fallen into the same pitfalls as Ironfist, but for the most part, they avoided them in the movie.
Though they had many tropes, the characters were modern characters and acted like it. They didn't walk and talk like they fell out of a fortune cookie. The Villain, originally called the Mandarin from the comics, they gave him a real name and made him a real character with dimension.

Some of my favorite scenes were of the characters just eating dinner with family and friends. The way food was laid out on the table, what food was on the table, certain things the parents said, just the feel of that simple environment, from shoe racks to what's on the walls, to me, just felt real. I've been there.

Any ways that's my2cents on it.
 

Mad Swede

Inkling
Yeah, but French kings and nobility ruled England since 1066.
Er, no. Norman kings and nobility ruled England from 1066. They weren't French, they were of Norse descent. It was the Duchy of Normandy which was the basis for the Angevin (Plantagenet) empire in France, and that empire was opposed by the French kings of the Capet dynasty which had ruled France from about 987.
 

A. E. Lowan

Forum Mom
Leadership
Er, no. Norman kings and nobility ruled England from 1066. They weren't French, they were of Norse descent. It was the Duchy of Normandy which was the basis for the Angevin (Plantagenet) empire in France, and that empire was opposed by the French kings of the Capet dynasty which had ruled France from about 987.
While technically correct, there's no need to be pedantic. We're all friends, here. That being said, the important point is that William and his Normans and his hanger's-on and relatives spoke French - Middle French, to be exact - and managed through social policies to erase English from the lexicon for about 300 years. It doesn't make a reappearance until Lackamon's Brut was written in the 13th century, and it signals a rise in English nationalism. In other words, it was resurrected to provide a line of demarcation between the noble English and those "nasty Normans."
 

Mad Swede

Inkling
While technically correct, there's no need to be pedantic. We're all friends, here. That being said, the important point is that William and his Normans and his hanger's-on and relatives spoke French - Middle French, to be exact - and managed through social policies to erase English from the lexicon for about 300 years. It doesn't make a reappearance until Lackamon's Brut was written in the 13th century, and it signals a rise in English nationalism. In other words, it was resurrected to provide a line of demarcation between the noble English and those "nasty Normans."
Except that in this case there is a need to be pedantic. It was precisely because William's ancestors were Norsemen that their relationship with their supposed French overlords was so complex. That complexity led directly to a series of wars over a period of nearly 800 years, and the consequences can still be seen in the relationship between the UK and France.

There's a similar complexity in the relationship between Denmark, Norway and Sweden. To put that in a personal perspective, my family has owned and run the same farm since 1550. That farm was burnt five times by the Danes between 1560 and 1680. Peace eventually came, but the first Danish family didn't move into the area until 1986 and even then it took a few years for them to be accepted. It's only when you have a family history like that that you begin to understand why the conflicts in places like former Yugoslavia, Rwanda etc are so bitter. Thats also when you understand why certain subjects can be so very sensitive - and why you need to think about how you build your world and develop your characters.

(Sorry. I'm a little jaded having served on several UN peacekeeping missions and seen a few too many not achieve anything lasting at all.)
 

A. E. Lowan

Forum Mom
Leadership
Except that in this case there is a need to be pedantic. It was precisely because William's ancestors were Norsemen that their relationship with their supposed French overlords was so complex. That complexity led directly to a series of wars over a period of nearly 800 years, and the consequences can still be seen in the relationship between the UK and France.

There's a similar complexity in the relationship between Denmark, Norway and Sweden. To put that in a personal perspective, my family has owned and run the same farm since 1550. That farm was burnt five times by the Danes between 1560 and 1680. Peace eventually came, but the first Danish family didn't move into the area until 1986 and even then it took a few years for them to be accepted. It's only when you have a family history like that that you begin to understand why the conflicts in places like former Yugoslavia, Rwanda etc are so bitter. Thats also when you understand why certain subjects can be so very sensitive - and why you need to think about how you build your world and develop your characters.

(Sorry. I'm a little jaded having served on several UN peacekeeping missions and seen a few too many not achieve anything lasting at all.)
Those are very good points about why we need to be cognizant of history when writing in the real world, and of histories and complexities we can carry with us into world building our fantasy worlds. To carry over from the sensitivity reader thread, this is why it's so important to do our homework and to listen to those whose histories we're borrowing. I'm second generation American-Irish, so my history is a little muddy and full of holes, but I totally get having roots that go centuries deep. It does make things complicated, which also enriches our stories and our worlds.
 

skip.knox

toujours gai, archie
Moderator
IPS: Irritable Pedant Syndrome. I suffer from it myself. <g>

Since we're playing in that field, it is correct to say the Normans were Normans. Their ancestors were Norsemen, but from 150 years prior or so. Plenty of time for intermarriage with the locals to produce a mix. A.E. Lowan identifies the language spoken, which was not Danish or Norse. It was Middle French. We can see a parallel over in the Danelaw. Shall we call those locals Norse? They lived in Norssex? Dorkshire! <g>

As a pedantic postscript (one of my favorite literary forms), the lords of Anjou probably would have protested that their own county was as much the basis for the Angevin empire as was Normandy. Blois? Maine? Oh hush.

I agree with comments earlier to the effect that memory is highly variable and one is likely to find a whole range of attitudes toward the past in any group.
 

Mad Swede

Inkling
IPS: Irritable Pedant Syndrome. I suffer from it myself. <g>

Since we're playing in that field, it is correct to say the Normans were Normans. Their ancestors were Norsemen, but from 150 years prior or so. Plenty of time for intermarriage with the locals to produce a mix. A.E. Lowan identifies the language spoken, which was not Danish or Norse. It was Middle French. We can see a parallel over in the Danelaw. Shall we call those locals Norse? They lived in Norssex? Dorkshire! <g>
Yes, you should. The Danes brought with them several legal concepts as well as their language and their social system. The language is perhaps less important, as Old English and Old East Norse were very similar, but there are still many traces of it in modern English (as in the word law).
 

Solusandra

Minstrel
Imagine how Americans would feel if Colombia went to war with us to make us let the cartels sell our people cocaine and kicked our asses so we had to allow the drug trade. How long would it be before we'd feel okay about a story with a Peruvian character kicking the butt of an American villain? (because the Opium Wars were the Brits).
That's not what happened though? The chinese bought the brits opium because opium parlors were a major cultural thing for them. The war was over the volume of trade, and specifically the value of silver, which was used to trade tea and opium. The brits did a good trade with them for almost 10 years, until the chinese seized the EITC's warehouse, dumped multiple tonns of opium into the harbor and stole millions in silver. It was after that when hostilities broke out. There's several books by a variety of sources on this from each, european, other asian and chinese authors.
 
That's not what happened though? The chinese bought the brits opium because opium parlors were a major cultural thing for them. The war was over the volume of trade, and specifically the value of silver, which was used to trade tea and opium. The brits did a good trade with them for almost 10 years, until the chinese seized the EITC's warehouse, dumped multiple tonns of opium into the harbor and stole millions in silver. It was after that when hostilities broke out. There's several books by a variety of sources on this from each, european, other asian and chinese authors.

The perspectives I'm familiar with say the Chinese actions were due to opium becoming a social problem. A traditionally low volume of trade becoming a high volume of trade would suggest that the incidence of opium use was increasing, thus suggesting that the Chinese perspective that the opium trade had become a problem wasn't unjustified. And seizing cash from the sale of drugs believed to be harmful is pretty much par for the course in the modern drug war, for better or worse. That narrative is so sharply different than the traditional narrative, which is not a narrative pushed by Chinese apologists but by the mainstream of historians, that it smacks of modern politicized revisionism. I feel very cautious here because history books are not always written by the winners. But those seeking to become the winners of history are those most motivated to write history books.

Here for example is the National Army Museum in the UK's brief description of the start of the war:
"The roots of the Opium War (or First China War) lay in a trade dispute between the British and the Chinese Qing Dynasty. By the start of the 19th century, the trade in Chinese goods such as tea, silks and porcelain was extremely lucrative for British merchants. The problem was that the Chinese would not buy British products in return. They would only sell their goods in exchange for silver, and as a result large amounts of silver were leaving Britain.

In order to stop this, the East India Company and other British merchants began to smuggle Indian opium into China illegally, for which they demanded payment in silver. This was then used to buy tea and other goods. By 1839, opium sales to China paid for the entire tea trade."
Opium War | National Army Museum

Maybe I'm naive, but when the historians of a nation's army say they were fighting on behalf of illegal drug dealers, I tend to not think they are making that up. And I tend to believe them over someone writing a book saying that that nation was the good guys when their own army says they weren't.
 
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Solusandra

Minstrel
"The roots of the Opium War (or First China War) lay in a trade dispute between the British and the Chinese Qing Dynasty. By the start of the 19th century, the trade in Chinese goods such as tea, silks and porcelain was extremely lucrative for British merchants. The problem was that the Chinese would not buy British products in return. They would only sell their goods in exchange for silver, and as a result large amounts of silver were leaving Britain.

In order to stop this, the East India Company and other British merchants began to smuggle Indian opium into China illegally, for which they demanded payment in silver. This was then used to buy tea and other goods. By 1839, opium sales to China paid for the entire tea trade."
Opium War | National Army Museum

Maybe I'm naive, but when the historians of a nation's army say they were fighting on behalf of illegal drug dealers, I tend to not think they are making that up. And I tend to believe them over someone writing a book saying that that nation was the good guys when their own army says they weren't.
That's mostly my understanding as well, though the version I got from other countries, including Chinese written books is that the British trade in opium wasn't considered illegal by china, and the Chinese didn't try to stop them until the silver imbalance had reversed, from being cheap as dirt in china and almost as valuable as gold in the British empire to cheap as dirt in the empire and almost as valuable as gold in china.

Personally, I doubt the war would have ever occurred if the Chinese were willing to trade literally anything else.
 
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Personally, I doubt the war would have ever occurred if the Chinese were willing to trade literally anything else.
What would China have purchased from Britain? The wide variety of things Britain bought from China shows how utterly superior every aspect of China's crafts were, except in a very narrow realm of industrial and military hardware. And it isn't like the Brits were going to sell that stuff to any potential geopolitical rival. They didn't even allow their colonies to buy that stuff, to keep them completely economically dependent on Britain so all trade with Britains colonies would always enrich Britain at the expense of her colonies. Which was why once Marxism caught on the whole empire self-destructed. The problem was that Britain was unwilling to allow any trade relationship not be completely to their benefit alone. They weren't alone in this, as all of the imperialist powers, including the United States had the same attitude.
 
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Solusandra

Minstrel
a very narrow realm of industrial and military hardware. And it isn't like the Brits were going to sell that stuff to any potential geopolitical rival.
they sold it to japan.
What would China have purchased from Britain?
quite a lot of things, given the british empire covered more different areas than any other before or since. One should really ask why the chinese banned the sale of foriegn goods.
 
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