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Are You an Artist, or a Craftsman?

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by neodoering, Feb 13, 2017.

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  1. Miskatonic

    Miskatonic Auror

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    I look forward to the day when writing, and art in general, moves away from all the identity politics and gets back to being about the craft and creative expression. I don't know why everything has to be side-tracked by discussions regarding race, gender, or what have you. It's truly depressing to see that this is what the entertainment industry has devolved into.
     
  2. Alyssa

    Alyssa Troubadour

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    Thank god for the voice of reason here.

    It's fine to have a healthy relationship with this stuff. But the way it's being pushed and shoved is not one.
    Stephen Fry say it best. There are two types of people obsessed with food, anorexics and the morbidly obese.

    We're seeing at the present the same sort of phenomenon with race gender sexuality etc. And it's just silly. You have people on one side that say that someone's skin colour means that they mean and amount to nothing (very few, and not very vocal) and on the other you have people who say that someone's skin colour means and amounts to everything (very few, and very vocal). It's absolutely insane. Yes there are problems focusing around culture and education but it doesn't and shouldn't mean that anyone's skin colour actually "means" anything significant except to the person themselves.
    And nor should it

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    Last edited: Feb 14, 2017
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  3. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Auror

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    Slightly more on topic, let's remember that it was the art of story that created the structure, structure just being a means to reverse engineer why some stories work and others don't. And frankly, most structure is loosey goosey enough that damned near anything fits into it.
     
  4. Mindfire

    Mindfire Istar

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    The problem is that this way of thinking creates a self-perpetuating cycle where white actors get most of the roles because there aren't nearly as many big-name actors of color that will make the suits happy. And the reason there aren't as many big-name actors of color is because they don't get the roles they need to build their careers because the powers that be think you should only cast someone as non-white if it's essential to the story. And they defend that by saying they just want to get a big-name actor to put butts in seats. And round and round the wheel goes. And I think this logic falls apart anyway because we know that movies can promote actors just as much as the other way around. I'd never heard of Henry Cavill before he became Superman, or Chris Hemsworth before he became Thor, or Chadwick Boseman before he became Black Panther, or Rinko Kikuchi before Pacific Rim, or John Boyega and Daisy Ridley before Star Wars 7. Hollywood gives roles to unknown white actors all the time. Non-white actors deserve the same opportunities. And when they get them, as in some of the examples I listed above, it can be wonderful culturally, artistically, and commercially.

    That's all well and good for you when it's your identity that gets most of the screen time. But others, especially those of us who are non-white, are tired of our heroes not looking like us. I'm sorry if that's inconvenient for you.

    ETA: Can't believe I forgot to mention Luke Cage on Netflix. It's so good.
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2017
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  5. Miskatonic

    Miskatonic Auror

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    And you think having that chip on your shoulder is going to lead to any kind of solution?
     
  6. Mindfire

    Mindfire Istar

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    1. That's kind of condescending. Disappointing, but sadly not unexpected. To use an extreme example, what you just said is kind of like visiting someone in the hospital and telling their family that "crying won't make them better." Technically true, extremely unhelpful, and kind of a dick move. But in this case I wouldn't even say you're technically correct because:

    2. Yes, this chip on my shoulder does lead to solutions. When aggregated with lots of other people with chips on their shoulders, it gets the attention of the suits and tells them that they could please a lot of customers and potentially make a lot of money by paying attention to the wants of those who have historically been overlooked. That's why we got John Boyega in Star Wars (and the Pacific Rim sequel!) and the upcoming Black Panther movie to begin with. And why central roles for actors of color in film and television are starting to become more common. It's why Marvel and DC are pushing more diverse characters in their comics and film adaptations. Having a chip on your shoulder is where the change starts. So it's not very helpful to tell someone to chill out and not make a big deal about a problem that ultimately doesn't affect you.

    3. Furthermore, this chip on my shoulder is part of what lead me to writing fantasy in the first place. I am, in fact, doing what is often disingenuously suggested to people in my position: "making my own." So yeah, if you dismiss the characters and world I created specifically so the kids of the next generation could have the fiction that I wished was around when I was a kid as "identity politics", then you should expect that I am going to be annoyed with you.
     
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  7. Dark Firestorm

    Dark Firestorm Acolyte

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    im an artist
     
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  8. Miskatonic

    Miskatonic Auror

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    Is it comfortable up there on your cross?

    Like I said. It's all about politics now, and that's a shame.

    My apologies for all the "whiteness" out there. :rolleyes:
     
  9. Nimue

    Nimue Auror

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    Yes, sorry, that was obviously...poorly expressed. I didn’t mean “realistic” in the sense of “historically accurate” but rather “market-feasible”, which is what you seem to be saying in the quote above. While I understand the general tone of your post, the advice to swallow the lumps and put non-white characters in second place because it will “do more for the black community” strikes me as the wrong thing to be saying to aspiring writers, that’s all.

    I’d also like to see a day when diversity is no longer a concern: when people in our world are reflected in writing and film as they are, and careless stereotypes are a thing of the past. But I have to disagree with the idea that we live anywhere near that world today. If you can look around at current events and mainstream media and say there is no problem, and it does not need to be addressed...I think you are lucky enough to be unaffected by it.

    I cannot see the movement of the market and culture as a whole as devolving. To be frank, most everyone these days would call that progress, and I think you know that. You can look at the benefits and struggles of writing with diversity and make your own decision whether to join...but I feel that dismissing it completely as a fluke or a disorder is a mistake.

    I’ve made an effort these past 3-4 years to write with more diversity and it’s opened up my worlds and given them more dimension. (Yes, even within European settings, if you look at the trade, travel, and cultural exchange that happened in history) Though I’ve stumbled, making the effort continues to be rewarding and enlightening.

    Alright, I’m pretty familiar by now with the route that this conversation goes down. I just wanted to post something positive and a little more, er, thoughtful than last night. Carry on, discussion forum, carry on...
     
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  10. Nimue

    Nimue Auror

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    Oh, Jesus Christ, Miskatonic, seriously?!

    I...I can't. Going to go have a nice day at work. Please get your shit together MS.
     
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  11. Annoyingkid

    Annoyingkid Sage

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    if you are always thinking about who you are empowering, who you are offending be it in terms of religion or identity politics, who you are marketing to, maximum sales, and so on , then you are lost creatively. I've heard alot of people talk like that who haven't even written anything yet.
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2017
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  12. Mindfire

    Mindfire Istar

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    I'm not on my cross; I carry it. ;) Saying "it's all about politics" is dismissive at best. And it's unfortunate that this whole issue is framed as being about politics. I don't see it as being about that at all. For me it's about creating a world where my (currently hypothetical) kids can have all the stories and heroes that I didn't have growing up. I don't really see how anyone can think that's an unworthy goal.

    And as far as I can see, no one here is attacking you for your whiteness. There's a quote I think applies here: "When you're accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression." So by all means, feel as free to be as white as you want. There are plenty of stories on offer about people like you and they're not going away. Let's just make some room for other people too.
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2017
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  13. Alyssa

    Alyssa Troubadour

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    Wow... you went from saying something reasonable it your first post to something really dumb here.
    Someone's skin colour should not be an issue. Nor should it be politicised.

    But complaining about an injustice in a non political manner is not getting up on a cross, the assertion that someone is getting up on a cross in order to dissuade that person from stating quite reasonably an injustice is something far more pernicious and vile.

    No, someone's race shouldn't be political. But they do have a valid reason to complain. There needs to be a cultural shift inside the communities, yes. But that is far easier to enact with proper housing, healthcare, education and protections. This is not about politicising race, a horrible and divisive thing, which I agree with you, is often done by the media to perpetuate an inferno of outrage from the sparks they sow. But better opportunities for people? Equal opportunities for people? That should certainly be politicised. Not just for a single race, no. But certain races have gotten the sharper end of the stick. And claiming otherwise, and that your own culture is being marginalised by other people making a name for themselves in the world, is, quite frankly, getting up on a cross.


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  14. Alyssa

    Alyssa Troubadour

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    Just to clarify. I agree there is a problem with diversity. But I believe that is solved by the quiet equalisation of opportunities. Allowing the next chinua achebe the next Edwidge danticat to take their rightful place among authors, and similar for other mediums. This is not done however by the screaming matches and accusation that political dialogue and political zoilism entails, often encouraged by news channels who like to set fires and then report on the flames.
    As a side note, I have for "reasons" been discriminated against, I am fully aware it's a thing. I just feel that making the world better for everyone, raising everyone up to an equal level is far better than the alternative option of bringing everyone down to bedrock that is sometimes advocated for due to the quick but temporary gratification of it.


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  15. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Auror

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    I state reality without judgement. But, modern Hollywood, Denzel will get a character's race changed just as fast as some white guy, and as I mentioned, an awful lot of screenwriting advice is without race or color. These days too, the power of the lead big name actor is dying, as you've pointed out, so quit griping. Although most of them are super hero crap, so I still don't know any of their names. Right now the "trend" is strong, young, female leads, and that goes outside movies into lit.

    And don't get me wrong, I'm not going to defend Hollywood, I was on the periphery in screenwriting a decade or more ago and it is not what I would call a pretty place. But, it is purely about money... in the end it's a big business with a helluva lot of livings riding on it (of all colors and shades) and they use whatever actor they can get and they can afford, who they think can make the most money. Super movies, or based on previous properties with a big name, are ideal because they can put up an actor on the cheap and save money for production.

     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2017
  16. FifthView

    FifthView Istar

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    Even a little more on-topic, and a little cooption of Alyssa's citation....I'd amend Fry's idea to add that chefs and CEO's in the food distribution industry can be added to the list of types of people obsessed with food.

    So if "food" means "prose/fiction" in this ad hoc metaphor....Then perhaps there are chefs who are artists and CEO's interested in throwing together and distributing whatever will sell best. (I'm leaving the extremes of "anorexics" and the "morbidly obese" out of this metaphor. For now at least, heh.)

    My problem with the art vs craft debate is complex, because a) I can, if I wanted, make arguments about those two approaches, providing I limit myself to limited definitions of the two, and b) the etymology/idea behind the words throws me off.

    As for "b"....Well both seem to have originated similarly.

    There is the word "artisan" that might point at what I mean. Or, "artifice."

    To some extent, the development of the two words over time may lead to the idea of distinguishing "art" as being merely a finer development of "craft," in the sense that any novice can begin with craft, learning and doing it, but years of experience may be needed for that craft to develop into something worthy of the designation art. Here, I mean only to point out the historical development of the words, not settle upon how we should now consider them. But at heart I'm personally still stuck on the earliest etymology and can't shake the overall notion that the two words have too much in common to be distinguished in a simplistic way.
     
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  17. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    I can at least see why you would interpret my post that way. But it's not what I was saying.

    My opinion is that the challenges are real, and that ignoring them does more harm than good. That's been my opinion throughout all these kinds of discussions.

    A great many editors and directors and publishers and executives are also trying to address these problems, and that's why things have progressed the way they have. But you can't push an audience in a direction it doesn't want to move - and if you try they come to resent it. That's day one in any consumer behavior course. You have to start with the audience, and what they want, not with the product you want to push.

    I'm not telling anybody what to write - just not to ignore or diminish the very real challenges, and the progress other people have made to address them, such as elevating the "black sidekick" to a staple with reasonably strong character development and some often badass moments. Maybe that's not "enough" in the long run, but it's real and tangible progress that doesn't deserve the disparaging eye roll.
     
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  18. Miskatonic

    Miskatonic Auror

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    Dude, seriously. Your whole first reply to me was focused completely on race. My apologies if my words triggered you.

    Now you want to call me privileged, as if you know me. Passive-aggressive much?

    People like me?

    You are too transparent. Painfully so.
     
  19. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    Please everyone, let's do our best to stop with the personal attacks, with taking things personal, and with characterizing other people's behaviors.



    And Miskatonic . . . will be taking a few days off. Please keep your emotional response to that to yourselves.
     
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  20. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    Artist or Craftsman? False dichotomy. We're all both, to one extent or another. Which way you lean more heavily depends on your goals and what types of work you are writing. Neither direction is more or pure than the other.
     
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