Jump to content

  • Log in with Facebook Log in with Twitter Log In with Google      Sign In   
  • Create Account

Welcome to BZPower!

Hi there, while we hope you enjoy browsing through the site, there's a lot more you can do if you register. Some perks of joining include:
  • Create your own topics, participate in existing discussions, and vote in polls
  • Show off your creations, stories, art, music, and movies
  • Enter contests to win free LEGO sets and other prizes
  • Participate in raffles to win LEGO prizes
  • Organize with other members to attend or send your MOCs to LEGO fan events all over the world
  • Much, much more!
Enjoy your visit!

Photo

The Problem with Ninjago

ninjago

  • Please log in to reply
195 replies to this topic

#1 Offline Sophia

Sophia
  • Premier Member
  • Premier Members
  • Clever Girl

  • 04-February 07
  • 3,634 posts
  •  

Posted Jan 27 2014 - 10:59 PM

(I'm pretty sure this belongs here; this is mostly related to the concept and story and not the sets so this seems like the appropriate place.)

 

Ninjago. A story-based LEGO line that boomed in popularity soon after showing up. I've seen praise for its set design, for its in-depth story, for just about anything to do with it. Amidst all the praise, however, one pretty major flaw is always glossed over.

 

Ninjago would be nothing without the Western appropriation of Japanese culture. That's it, plain and simple. The very concept is ripped and mangled straight from Japanese history books, and molded with assorted junk into a line that seeks to please the desire for faux-Asian products in the West. Ninja have gone from spies to warriors who spin in circles and bash into each other. Dragons are a chimera of Western and Eastern influences. Japanese temples become props for NinjaTM WeaponsTM. Quite frankly, it disappoints me that nobody has bothered to think any further about this than "lol ninjaz r cool".

 

Now, I suppose first I should specify what cultural appropriation is. It is, specifically, taking something important from a culture, disregarding the actual importance it has to the culture, and making it your own thing with little to no regard for what it actually is. With that in mind, it becomes easier to see how Ninjago has stomped upon Japanese culture and ground it into something malleable for Westerners who want to make a quick buck off of it.

 

Let's start with the Ninja. First of all, the ninja seen in Ninjago are clearly based on the cultural misconception of ninja as warriors. Their main purpose is to fight. They rarely sheath their weapons and the only purpose to the face mask is to evoke the Ninja image. A warrior doesn't need a face mask. Do you know who does? A spy. That's what ninja were, simplifying it for the sake of keeping things simple. They slunk about, keeping their faces hidden, and usually their weapons sheathed. Obviously, these ninja are ninja in name only.

 

Speaking of names, let's get back to the part where the culture is stolen from its origins. The "ninja"'s names are Kai, Zane, Cole, Jay, and Lloyd. Only Kai and his sister, Nya, have names that sound Japanese, though I cannot confirm that they are. The others are clearly Western in origin, and, to my knowledge, all have American accents in the TV show. These ninja aren't even Japanese ninja. They're American corruptions of the idea. Even Sensei Wu doesn't have a Japanese name; in the Hiragana alphabet, there is no wu sound. (Garmadon is another fraud, obvious in the juxtaposition of the r and the m, the closest Japanese could get is Gaamadon or Garumadon.)

 

Also unable to be made out of Japanese characters is their "power", Spinjitzu. The name is clearly a corruption of ninjutsu ( which is actually a martial art that focuses on, oh glory be, not fighting, but stealth, and disguise, and thrown weapons, almost as if it was used by.... spies!), turning an aspect of Japanese culture into a fun little play feature for toys.

 

I could go on about how temples went from spiritual to weapons caches, and dragons went from wise ancient creatures to the Western idea of brutish beasts (speaking solely from promotional art here, as I have not seen any episodes of the series with dragons), and how much of the lore seems to be a corruption of Japanese legends, but I think that by merely showing how the concept of the ninja was torn apart, sewed back into a Frankenstein monster, and mass produced for the greed of Westerners, I can make my point. This line is not celebrating Japanese culture. It is making a mockery of it.


  • 1

#2 Offline Sumiki

Sumiki
  • Premier Member
  • Premier Forum Assistants
  • Sushi Boy

  • 04-September 06
  • 12,367 posts
  •   BZP Assistant

Posted Jan 28 2014 - 12:33 AM

I agree with you completely (and it pretty much sums up why I've never thought highly of Ninjago). I have a hard time thinking that LEGO intentionally did this, but they might have. It's hard to know.


  • 0

avatar by Lady Kopaka


tumblr_ng1pw4xLEM1tryxewo1_1280.jpg


#3 Offline fishers64

fishers64
  • Banned Members
  • Savage Blizzard Awakened

  • 05-July 10
  • 11,025 posts
  •  

Posted Jan 28 2014 - 01:31 AM

Have you guys ever seen Sagwa, The Chinese Siamese Cat? Lego wasn't the first toy line/TV show to do this. Don't blame Lego. Blame Western culture's use and abuse of other cultures stuff, which became so prominent that Lego decided to jump on the bandwagon.

 

FTR, there's no implication in the series that the ninjas in the story are Japanese. Aside from the fact that the main characters are called ninjas, there's no reference to Japan at all. It takes place in an entire different universe - ninja could mean something different there, yes? What universe you are in can change the meaning of a word.


  • 0

#4 Offline Sophia

Sophia
  • Premier Member
  • Premier Members
  • Clever Girl

  • 04-February 07
  • 3,634 posts
  •  

Posted Jan 28 2014 - 02:02 AM

Have you guys ever seen Sagwa, The Chinese Siamese Cat? Lego wasn't the first toy line/TV show to do this. Don't blame Lego. Blame Western culture's use and abuse of other cultures stuff, which became so prominent that Lego decided to jump on the bandwagon.


I didn't say it was entirely Lego's fault, though Sagwa was much more respectful about Chinese culture than the ninja craze is about Japanese culture.

 

FTR, there's no implication in the series that the ninjas in the story are Japanese. Aside from the fact that the main characters are called ninjas, there's no reference to Japan at all. It takes place in an entire different universe - ninja could mean something different there, yes? What universe you are in can change the meaning of a word.

 

This isn't about "in-universe"; Lego made this line with the FULL INTENTION of it being based on Japanese ninja. What other kind of ninja do you know of? There is a single culture that has ninja; that is the ONLY POSSIBLE source of inspiration. Therefore, it is that concept alone these ninja are based on, and thus, corrupted into a twisted Western imagining of what a ninja is.

 

Also, ninja are definitely NOT the only Japanese reference in Ninjago. The swords are clearly katana or ninjato. The temples are clearly Japanese-influenced, some even with kanji writing on them. The dragons, despite all their Western influence, have heads similar to the Asian dragons. Garmadon himself appears to be inspired by the style of old Japanese art, especially depictions of demons and the like. Their teacher is called Sensei. The list goes on and on and on. At least 80% of the earlier sets, and a good amount afterwards, contain heavy Japanese influence, corrupted and twisted through the Western lens. To deny that this is a twisting of Japanese culture is to live in denial.


  • 1

#5 Offline bonesiii

bonesiii
  • Premier Member
  • Premier Members
  • Perpetual Master of Reference

  • 14-March 03
  • 19,970 posts
  •  

Posted Jan 28 2014 - 02:40 AM

Honestly, you can make this sound like some kind of crusade for justice all you want (I'm going to hope that some of how you worded it is just meant as hyperbole to make a point, though?), but it just comes across to me as being anti-fun and anti-imagination. Methinks you're taking it way too seriously, no offense.

 

I fail to see why cultural influences can only be used in serious fiction. If LEGO wants to make light-hearted part-comedy, part action-adventure fun, etc. stories like the genre that Ninjago is, which let's face it, IS fun (at least to many), they're going to have to put SOMETHING in the world, and you can probably find some people who maybe take things a little too seriously to get offended at whatever the influence comes from. Why not get offended at LEGO pirates because you're appropriating pirate culture but not being accurate to actual pirate culture? :P

 

Basically, nothing you said sounds like a problem except for the emotionally loaded way you worded the sentences, and asserting it is. For example:

 

Amidst all the praise, however, one pretty major flaw is always glossed over.

 

Ninjago would be nothing without the Western appropriation of Japanese culture.

You seem to take it as an automatic given that this is a "flaw", but why? You word it negatively, but we could just as easily say, "fusion of Western culture with Japanese." And you seem to think that the only way this could be intended is negatively -- what if the idea is actually meant positively? Maybe kids who have lighthearted fun with Ninjago will build an interest in Japanese culture and when they grow up be more likely to actually study its serious and accurate side?

 

Ninja have gone from spies to warriors who spin in circles and bash into each other.

That spinning in circles is clearly not meant to be part of real-world Japanese culture! It's meant to be an original, fun fantasy idea identified with the Ninjago world. It's fiction.

 

Relax, man.

 

who want to make a quick buck off of it

Why is it that the accusation of the ulterior motive of profit almost always seems to accompany complaint topics like this? I'm getting to the point where it hardly seems worth it to bother analyzing it in much detail. If someone wants to look at all use of imagination that doesn't fit into their predefined molds with this conspiracy theory attitude, then more power to you. I will be instead eagerly anticipating the next Ninjago episode release and likely enjoying the watching of it. ;)

 

Yes, LEGO wants to make money on its toylines, and storylines. Yes, that can be abused. But the fact that it's successful does not prove it is such abuse or intended negatively. Nor is making money necessarily evil. I get the desire for authentic cultures to be preserved, but this is not the intention of a toyline-based story, nor should it necessarily be.

 

For example, there is much that is very violent about many authentic historical cultures; you wouldn't argue that Ninjago should replace the cartoon violence with actual swords stabbing, spilling guts, etc. would you? Well, in a less obvious and lesser way, the other differences operate on the same principle. They are clearly not meant to portray a real-world culture, but a fictional one with some inspiration from a variety of real-world ones, with a focus on 'eastern' ones.

 

First of all, the ninja seen in Ninjago are clearly based on the cultural misconception of ninja as warriors. Their main purpose is to fight. They rarely sheath their weapons and the only purpose to the face mask is to evoke the Ninja image. A warrior doesn't need a face mask. Do you know who does? A spy. That's what ninja were, simplifying it for the sake of keeping things simple. They slunk about, keeping their faces hidden, and usually their weapons sheathed. Obviously, these ninja are ninja in name only.

I remember many scenes of the Ninjago ninjas sneaking around. As for the rest, yes, they're ninjas (to some extent) in name only -- and that's clearly by design. Real-world ninjas don't spin in a circle and transform into tornados of fire.

 

Last I checked. ;)

 

The others are clearly Western in origin, and, to my knowledge, all have American accents in the TV show. These ninja aren't even Japanese ninja. They're American corruptions of the idea.

I hope you are not suggesting that a varied group of people living in one place and getting along well, working together seamlessly, etc. -- some with American names, and others with Japanese (at least sounding) names is somehow wrong. It happens in America... and believe it or not, it happens in modern Japan too. (But this isn't America or Japan, it's Ninjago, a fictional world of minifigures and LEGO bricks.)

 

Also unable to be made out of Japanese characters is their "power", Spinjitzu. The name is clearly a corruption of ninjutsu

I always thought it was alluding to jui-jitsu more than anything specifically Japanese. But not an expert on martial arts. I think you're looking at it from apparently a purist localist perspective, when LEGO is by contrast intentionally taking a globalist attitude and celebrating unity of different influences. It appears to me you have missed this and that may be part of why you're having this reaction; mistaking their true intent for "quick-buck-ism" and the like.

 

As for the Japanese characters thing, it's no secret LEGO primarily markets to English-speaking audiences, although that is unfortunate.

 

(speaking solely from promotional art here, as I have not seen any episodes of the series with dragons)

Are you saying you haven't watched the TV episodes at all? Or just the ones with dragons? Regardless, I hope you aren't judging before you watch. I at least find the series very enjoyable, as long as you keep in mind the intentional genre and see it for what it's meant to be. Maybe your tastes would mean you wouldn't enjoy it as much, but if you haven't actually watched it, that would seem to explain some of your statements that do not seem to jive with the series I'm seeing.

 

That said, there's a few things even I grimace a little at, like "Garmatron!!!!11!"

 

On the other hand, I tend to laugh with them at even this, as they clearly are being silly on purpose for silly's sake; it's not like they intend such things to be taken seriously. That's part of the genre of Ninjago, and oddly enough it seems to work.

 

 

It takes place in an entire different universe - ninja could mean something different there, yes? What universe you are in can change the meaning of a word.

 

Exactly, fishers. If this was meant as seriously as Bionicle, we would say that "ninja" was a "translation approximation" of a concept in an alternate universe. Of course, it's minifigs and part comedy, it's not meant to be that serious in the first place. We're free to imagine the same translation explanation as was used in Bionicle, but the story need not spell it out. They're not trying to create a world that you might think would actually exist.

 

 

There is a single culture that has ninja; that is the ONLY POSSIBLE source of inspiration. Therefore, it is that concept alone these ninja are based on, and thus, corrupted into a twisted Western imagining of what a ninja is.

Italicization and bolding here is mine. Ital part is an accurate statement. However, notice the keyword in bold. Something in fiction can validly be inspired by something from the real world, without being forced to be an exact duplicate of the real thing. Your argument amounts to "fiction isn't identical to real life, therefore it's bad." But if it was identical, it wouldn't be fiction.

 

Some genres of fiction obviously intentionally take on the task of being much more identical to real life. However, that is simply NOT the genre Ninjago is operating within, so it really is unfair to treat it as if it were.


Edited by bonesiii, Jan 28 2014 - 05:14 AM.

  • 0

#6 Offline Sophia

Sophia
  • Premier Member
  • Premier Members
  • Clever Girl

  • 04-February 07
  • 3,634 posts
  •  

Posted Jan 28 2014 - 04:13 AM

Ok, bonesiii, clearly we disagree on several points, with the issue being you seem to think there is any sort of respect for Japanese culture going on here.

 

There isn't.

 

 we could just as easily say, "fusion of Western culture with Japanese."

 

 

No we couldn't, because it's not a fusion of Western culture with Japanese. It's the malformation of Japanese culture through a Western lens for the purpose of capitalizing off of Western idolization of what we think is Japanese culture.

 

That spinning in circles is clearly not meant to be part of real-world Japanese culture! It's meant to be an original, fun fantasy idea identified with the Ninjago world. It's fiction.

 

 

I'm going to ask a foreign toy company to produce colorful caricatures of World War II Army vets that flail about in circles as they fight colorful caricatures of Christian figures. Does that sound original and fun to you?

 

Why is it that the accusation of the ulterior motive of profit almost always seems to accompany complaint topics like this?

 

 

Because in this case they are profiting off of the downright fetishization of another culture. The only reason they produced a ninja line is because the West loves their misinformed views of Japanese culture so much they'll gobble up any garbage with the word ninja on it because they have no idea what a ninja is besides a definition so steeped in Orientalism and Western ideals it's barely recognizable as its source material.

 

(Not to mention the idea of making sets based on religious artifacts such as shrines is hugely disrespectful, especially when they have become nothing more than weapons caches with none of the cultural significance shrines actually have.)

 

For example, there is much that is very violent about many authentic historical cultures; you wouldn't argue that Ninjago should replace the cartoon violence with actual swords stabbing, spilling guts, etc. would you? Well, in a less obvious and lesser way, the other differences operate on the same principle. They are clearly not meant to portray a real-world culture, but a fictional one with some inspiration from a variety of real-world ones, with a focus on 'eastern' ones.

 

 

Violence is toned down in children's shows because it's inappropriate, not out of disrespect for another culture.

 

Also, what variety? Almost everything is derived from a malformed view of Japanese culture, besides a few things from other Asian cultures because in Western eyes all of Asia is the same. The only things that aren't are in the anachronistic metropolis they live in.

 

I remember many scenes of the Ninjago ninjas sneaking around.

 

 

That just fixes EVERY point I made. Thanks, you done it. You solved the whole argument.

 

I hope you are not suggesting that a varied group of people living in one place and getting along well, working together seamlessly, etc. -- some with American names, and others with Japanese (at least sounding) names is somehow wrong. It happens in America... and believe it or not, it happens in modern Japan too. (But this isn't America or Japan, it's Ninjago, a fictional world of minifigures and LEGO bricks.)

 

 

It's not a varied group of people. They're all practically explicitly white, even the robot. Yes, they're minifigure colored, but almost all have Western names, and almost all have white American VAs. They're about as varied as a bowl of almonds with a single cashew in it.

 

I think you're looking at it from apparently a purist localist perspective, when LEGO is by contrast intentionally taking a globalist attitude and celebrating unity of different influences. It appears to me you have missed this and that may be part of why you're having this reaction; mistaking their true intent for "quick-buck-ism" and the like.

 

 

There is no "globalist" attitude. (The idea of globalization itself can be problematic, as it tends to erase the individual cultural experiences of different societies in favor of the majority.) What's going on here is quite clear: a majority of influence comes from a single source, which is Japanese history and culture. However, it is all Japanese culture viewed through a Western lens, then twisted into something that can make money off of a cultural obsession with "ninjas" and Japanese culture in general. They are not doing anything grand, just continuing a trend that has been going on for decades of taking another culture and using it for profit, ignoring the actual culture in exchange for sensationalism and misconceptions.

 

Are you saying you haven't watched the TV episodes at all? Or just the ones with dragons? Regardless, I hope you aren't judging before you watch. I at least find the series very enjoyable, as long as you keep in mind the intentional genre and see it for what it's meant to be. Maybe your tastes would mean you wouldn't enjoy it as much, but if you haven't actually watched it, that would seem to explain some of your statements that do not seem to jive with the series I'm seeing.

 

 

I've seen a few episodes, just none with dragons playing any sort of major role. (I thought my wording was quite clear in that regard.) I think I may have seen one used as a steed once. I have watched it, and I fail to see how my description isn't aligning with the show as it is. I don't see what genre has to do with the corruption of Japanese culture for the profit of Westerners.

 

Something in fiction can validly be inspired by something from the real world, without being forced to be an exact duplicate of the real thing. Your argument amounts to "fiction isn't identical to real life, therefore it's bad." But if it was identical, it wouldn't be fiction.

 

 

It's possible to make a fictional representation of ninja and of Japanese culture in general without being disrespectful and, on the whole, grossly inaccurate. It's barely even inspired; it's like they plugged "Japan" and "ninja" into Google image search, based sets on what they saw, and made up something completely wrong based on their skewed visions of Japanese culture.

 

This isn't a case of originality on their part, because almost everything wrong isn't original. It's been regurgitated for decades throughout so-called "ninja" franchises. They are contributing to the misrepresentation of Japanese culture, and the objectification of it by Western audiences.


  • 1

#7 Offline bonesiii

bonesiii
  • Premier Member
  • Premier Members
  • Perpetual Master of Reference

  • 14-March 03
  • 19,970 posts
  •  

Posted Jan 28 2014 - 04:58 AM

That just fixes EVERY point I made. Thanks, you done it. You solved the whole argument.

sc, why are you being combative? I gave no hint that I thought that error debunked the rest of your reasoning. Why read that into my post? And keep in mind we have rules against that kind of behavior. Please respect others even if they disagree with you, okay? :)

 

I think at the end of the day, if you tell people that they cannot enjoy a water-down version of eastern culture -- it's either a strict, dry, serious "all", or else nothing -- that is more likely to make people not be attracted to that culture at all. The idea of having a LEGO line that tries to be strictly accurate to a particular culture is intriguing, and certainly something worth exploring (similar to for example the architecture line which tries to be highly accurate). There is no need to use emotional antagonism to take sides against one or the other. Everything you would apparenly wish, is a perfectly valid taste to have.

 

However, so are alternatives. There is no real reason that I can see that styles and basics cannot be borrowed for lighthearted fiction aimed at kids too. You need to keep in mind that to expect a western kid to instantly and fully get into a totally accurate Japanese culture will probably not work, as it would be harder to relate to. Westernizing it (although a lot of that is more modernizing, seems to me, than westernizing it per se) makes sense to make it more accessible. Same with making the dragons more like the image kids are used to as "dragons" -- and for that matter ninjas.

 

As for your apparent dislike of the idea of magic at all, if I'm reading that right, it sounds like this may simply be a matter of you not really being into the lighthearted fantasy-action genre to begin with. If that's so, that's fine, but just a preference. It's just as valid as the rest of ours, but by the same token, so are others' different tastes valid, and deserve respect.

 

 

Some of your other points are less clearcut, but again, LEGO was not intending to portray Japanese culture, but to invent a fictional world inspired in large part by that culture. I have gotten the impression that it is meant to be an alternate-universe, LEGO-ized version of modern Japan fused with ancient Japan, plus fantasy, etc. And it works. :)


  • 0

#8 Offline Sophia

Sophia
  • Premier Member
  • Premier Members
  • Clever Girl

  • 04-February 07
  • 3,634 posts
  •  

Posted Jan 28 2014 - 05:21 AM

I think at the end of the day, if you tell people that they cannot enjoy a water-down version of eastern culture -- it's either a strict, dry, serious "all", or else nothing -- that is more likely to make people not be attracted to that culture at all. The idea of having a LEGO line that tries to be strictly accurate to a particular culture is intriguing, and certainly something worth exploring (similar to for example the architecture line which tries to be highly accurate). There is no need to use emotional antagonism to take sides against one or the other. Everything you would apparenly wish, is a perfectly valid taste to have.

 

 

It's not a "watered-down" version of the culture, it's a borderline-offensive caricature of the culture. It's the culture malformed through a Western lens. Please do not conflate that with "watering down" a culture, whatever that means.

 

However, so are alternatives. There is no real reason that I can see that styles and basics cannot be borrowed for lighthearted fiction aimed at kids too. You need to keep in mind that to expect a western kid to instantly and fully get into a totally accurate Japanese culture will probably not work, as it would be harder to relate to. Westernizing it (although a lot of that is more modernizing, seems to me, than westernizing it per se) makes sense to make it more accessible. Same with making the dragons more like the image kids are used to as "dragons" -- and for that matter ninjas.

 

 

The "styles and basics" are important cultural figures in Japan that are being turned into ridiculous mutilations of what they once were.

 

And again, it's not "westernizing it", it's viewing it through a Western lens, and regurgitating Western stereotypes that have been used time and time again. You don't need stereotypes to be accessible. We don't need Jim Crow to be able to access black people as human beings. (Also, your conflation of westernization and modernization strikes me as vaguely imperialistic.)

 

You seem to be polarizing the issue, as though I am against ANY AND ALL INTERPRETATIONS of Japanese culture, which isn't true. I'm simply taking a stand against those that contort Japanese culture in a way that is disrespectful to it, such as turning religious shrines into marketable products where ninjas get cool weapons. I'm not sure how such blatant disregard for respect for a culture is supposed to encourage kids to study it.

 

 LEGO was not intending to portray Japanese culture, but to invent a fictional world inspired in large part by that culture.

 

 

The culture was not theirs to commercialize and commodify. The culture is something important to an entire country of human beings, not a cool new trend to market things with. If you're going to take things whole-cloth from a culture in the name of "inspiration", do it respectfully, or don't do it at all. Period. Respecting a culture is more important than all the big bucks you can make cashing in on the trend of orientalism.

 

(Also, only tangentially related, but where does the line of respect fall? Is condescension too far when it comes to sarcasm, but not when it comes to calling someone "anti-fun" and "anti-imagination"?)

 

EDIT: Also, I don't know how you read a dislike of magic out of anything I said. I didn't even MENTION magic.


Edited by some critics, Jan 28 2014 - 05:21 AM.

  • 1

#9 Offline Geardirector

Geardirector
  • Members
  • Tahnok-Kal Overloaded

  • 08-June 12
  • 4,434 posts
  •  

Posted Jan 28 2014 - 05:58 AM

You know, I can't help but feel like somone else on another forum is making this exact same argument for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, which is mostly what I compare Ninjago to, on the whole the two franchises have some remarkable similarities. But you don't see that many people complain about how "Non-Japanese" TMNT is, do you?


  • 0

BZPRPG Profiles

 

Ferron-Nuparu-Zelvin-Tamachan-Wiremu-Farzan-Trava-Mako


#10 Offline Sophia

Sophia
  • Premier Member
  • Premier Members
  • Clever Girl

  • 04-February 07
  • 3,634 posts
  •  

Posted Jan 28 2014 - 06:03 AM

You know, I can't help but feel like somone else on another forum is making this exact same argument for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, which is mostly what I compare Ninjago to, on the whole the two franchises have some remarkable similarities. But you don't see that many people complain about how "Non-Japanese" TMNT is, do you?

 

TMNT, for one thing, came from a different time period, when slapping trochees together was how you made TV show titles. Also, I'd argue TMNT is much more faithful and respectful to the idea of ninjas. Not that it doesn't have its flaws; I am critical of it as well, but it is not relevant to the discussion of a LEGO forum where it's much more constructive to criticize an IP that makes the same mistake on a grander scale. A few mistaken stereotypes versus the corruption of a good chunk of Japanese culture is a pretty big difference IMO.

 

Also, the argument is fundamentally weak; "It's ok for this series to do this, because this other series ALSO does it."


  • 1

#11 Offline Makaru

Makaru
  • Premier Member
    BioniLUG Member
  • Premier Forum Leaders
  • Senior Not So Grump

  • 15-March 03
  • 12,025 posts
  •   BZP Leader

Posted Jan 28 2014 - 10:07 AM

Also, the argument is fundamentally weak; "It's ok for this series to do this, because this other series ALSO does it."

It's also pretty apologist for a company that, except for the circumstances you quite excellently pointed out in your opening post, is usually really good at not doing that.

 

Lego Friends is amazingly progressive for a girls toy-line. Lego Movie as a whole [appears to] not talk down to kids. But every now and then, I see something happen like the gross cultural misappropriation in Ninjago and it makes me cringe because I thought as a whole we could expect better out of Lego.


Edited by Makaru, Jan 28 2014 - 10:07 AM.

  • 0

20383310448_7d514f8ffa.jpg

Spoiler Alert


#12 Offline Jonathan Juan

Jonathan Juan
  • Members
  • Pahrak-Kal Melted

  • 29-April 09
  • 4,566 posts
  •  

Posted Jan 28 2014 - 11:04 AM

So I had this discussion yesterday and I thought I should weigh in. Both my parents are natives of Southeast Asia, and I've gone back and forth between those cultures during my time growing up here.

 

Basically, what it comes down to is that Western Cultures have long since kind of twisted around Eastern Culture, and LEGO isn't really so much at fault as they're just part of a culture that doesn't know better. You see it everywhere, man. Karate, fortune cookies, that kind of thing. That's a piece of trivia to most people, you know? "TIL that fortune cookies aren't actually Chinese". It's something that some people are shocked to find out.

 

I'm don't usually get in arms about it, though, mostly because that's just what happens when you have different cultures. I don't even think it was made for profit or anything. It's just this approximation of Western Culture's view of Eastern Culture. Ask any kid about ninjas and he'll most likely say something about them being warrior heroes and that he'd love to be one. It's mostly how it just is and you kind of get used to it after a while. LEGO just used that, mostly because their production crew probably had this view growing up and wanted to approximate that into a fun series.

 

Not that I don't wish that it could maybe change at some point, but at the same time, I wouldn't base what LEGO has done on commercial profit or specifically for the mocking of Eastern Culture. It's part of this larger picture, East vs. West, the greatest and worst basketball match of all time, mostly because it has nothing to do with basketball and all about how one culture perceives the other.

 

(This isn't to say that Eastern Culture also has their own views and myths about Western Culture either, of course. This is a universal problem which just applies to whatever case you put it in. I will say that, personally, I feel like the "mockery" is far more prevalent in the West, but that might just be because I've been in the West longer.)


  • 0

Posted Image


#13 Offline You just lost the game

You just lost the game
  • Members
  • Emerging Stone Champion

  • 01-July 08
  • 1,468 posts
  •  

Posted Jan 28 2014 - 11:26 AM

After reading all this, I've decided to throw my two cents in.

This whole arguement is rather moot after you read the intelligent post Bonesii made earlier, but for some reason that wasn't clear enough.

 

This topic was only made because of an overeaction over what Ninjago is and isn't.

 

Lego is not trying to degrade Japanese culture. The very idea is moronic, to say the least.

 

Ninjago isn't "The Ninja: A Totally Accurate Representation of Japanese Culture". This isn't National Geographic or the Discovery Channel, folks.

 

Ninjago is a toy-line set in a fictional world, filled with fictional characters; and that's what it should be taken as.


Edited by You just lost the game, Jan 28 2014 - 11:31 AM.

  • 0

        67685335.jpg             


#14 Offline Kevin Owens

Kevin Owens
  • Premier Member
  • Premier Retired Staff
  • Fluidic Master Defeated

  • 07-April 06
  • 3,545 posts
  •   Retired Staff

Posted Jan 28 2014 - 12:03 PM

This whole arguement is rather moot after you read the intelligent post Bonesii made earlier, but for some reason that wasn't clear enough.

 

You mean the incredibly condescending one complete with Bonesiii's signature ';)' passive aggressiveness

 

This topic was only made because of an overeaction over what Ninjago is and isn't.

 

This topic was made out of concern for the blatant cultural appropriation in Ninjago that could be easily rectified by actually showing some actual respect for the culture that they are objectifying.

 

 

Lego is not trying to degrade Japanese culture. The very idea is moronic, to say the least.

Whether or not it is intentional is not the point being made here.  The point being made is that it is actually happening.

 

Ninjago isn't "The Ninja: A Totally Accurate Representation of Japanese Culture". This isn't National Geographic or the Discovery Channel, folks.

The point isn't that it should be 100% true to life with no deviation whatsoever.  The point is that Ninjago should at least make the semblance of an attempt to be respectful to a culture that actually exists in real life and has often been mangled in western depictions of it.

 

Ninjago is a toy-line set in a fictional world, filled with fictional characters; and that's what it should be taken as.

Just because it is a fictional story does not mean that it is above reproach.


  • 0

#15 Offline Lyichir

Lyichir
  • Premier Member
    BioniLUG Member
  • Premier Members
  • A Chir Brother

  • 21-March 06
  • 4,486 posts
  •  

Posted Jan 28 2014 - 12:23 PM

Cultural appropriation is a funny thing. I'm not going to argue that the Ninja in Ninjago are based in any sense on real ninja. But over the last 20 years the western idea of ninja has become a thing very much of its own. Ninjago is based very much on the '80s ninja craze and its resultant media. But honestly, what's wrong with that? It's a fresh subject for a theme, and there certainly aren't any ninja rights groups arguing against the subversion of their culture. No one is arguing that Ninjago is a celebration of Japanese culture any more than Ninja Turtles is. But it's not mocking it either. Rather, it's just a new story inspired vaguely by Japanese cultural elements (especially those which had already been appropriated into western cultural understanding through 30 years of pop culture).

If Ninjago were making any pretenses of presenting historically accurate ninja, there would be more of a controversy (just as there was for, say, 300, in its depiction of Spartans and Persians). But from the theme's first appearance with biker gang skeletons from the underworld, it was clear that Ninjago was no more a historic theme than Knight's Kingdom with its transforming castles and color-coded knights who shot lightning from their swords.


  • 0
Formerly Lyichir: Rachira of Influence
Aanchir's and Meiko's brother

#16 Offline xccj

xccj
  • Premier Member
    BioniLUG Member
  • Premier Reporters
  • Senior Staff Mask Maker

  • 17-January 03
  • 7,126 posts
  •   BZP Reporter

Posted Jan 28 2014 - 12:31 PM

Well, interesting argument.  So you're angry that LEGO is disrepecting Japanese culture with this theme.  I would like to argue that LEGO doesn't do that, but remember Bionicle was greatly influenced by Polynesian culture, and that got the Maori annoyed, especially with the use of the term "Tohunga."  LEGO's been more concerned about stuff like that since then, as we learned from GregF about the legal holes they need to jump through to make sure a name won't be offensive to any culture.  In fact, that may explain why parts of Ninjago are so far removed from the source material, in that LEGO doesn't want to do an exact copy in fear of insulting some important part of the Japanese culture.

 

However, most of the things on your list don't seem THAT offensive to me, and you're really just arguing that Ninjago isn't exactly like how it should be in Japan, and that in and of itself is the offensive part.  The idea that the Ninjas aren't spies or assassins isn't anything new, and it's not like LEGO hasn't toned things like this down before.  LEGO Pirates are not nearly as bad as the source material, and even LEGO Castle Knights aren't 100% accurate to their European historic counterparts.  And while the dragon are originally "monsters" it's quickly revealed that they are guardians of the special weapons and become loyal steeds to the ninjas who treat them with respect.  To me that makes them more than just "brutes."

 

Yeah, parts of the theme are a little Euro-centric, and the general complaint I hear about Ninjago is that it's not Oriental enough anyway.  I can see how this could be ignorant and annoying, but disrespectful?  IMO it seems to be more along the line of Power Rangers, and I'm pretty sure that idea originated from Japanese shows in the 80s.  :shrugs:

 

The one thing I agree with you on is the shrine bits.  They're some of the better designs sections of some of the sets, but I can see how that would be disrespectful to the culture.

 

:music:


  • 0

#17 Offline Noxryn

Noxryn
  • Premier Member
  • Premier Retired Staff
  • pretty pretty princess

  • 15-March 06
  • 8,651 posts
  •   Retired Staff

Posted Jan 28 2014 - 12:49 PM

Ninjago is a toy-line set in a fictional world, filled with fictional characters; and that's what it should be taken as.


Yet it contains content that's directly tied to the real world, content that is taken seriously by groups of people (like religious icons, such as shrines) and it is rather disrespectful for a company to approximate these facets of a culture -- things that individual people do take seriously, that are important to them and hold meaning to them -- on the entire premise of profit. Just because a fictional world is fictional, doesn't mean it can't be disrespectful of cultures, people or groups in the real world.

Parodying a culture to make a buck isn't respectful, fiction or not.

  • 0

#18 Offline TLhikan

TLhikan
  • Members
  • Descending into Protodermis

  • 24-March 07
  • 1,012 posts
  •  

Posted Jan 28 2014 - 12:57 PM

I, for one, find the appropriation of European culture into the Knights and Vikings lines to be terribly offensive.

:P 

 

Seriously though, I agree with Bones (I don't see how his post is at all patronizing, but it's not my job to defend him in particular); Lego is a toy line. Ninjago is fun and funny (well, if you're into that sort of thing. It doesn't have that much appeal for me, but I have friends whose 10 year old son is crazy about the line). It isn't portraying Japanese culture, anymore than the Vikings line is portraying Scandinavian culture or the Knights line is portraying European culture; Those lines are taking themes from those cultures to make their own thing. 


  • 0

"So I'm TL now?"
"Yeah, 'cuz if we said it the other way it'd have to be TLhiKHAAN!!"


#19 Offline You just lost the game

You just lost the game
  • Members
  • Emerging Stone Champion

  • 01-July 08
  • 1,468 posts
  •  

Posted Jan 28 2014 - 01:36 PM

 

Ninjago is a toy-line set in a fictional world, filled with fictional characters; and that's what it should be taken as.


Yet it contains content that's directly tied to the real world, content that is taken seriously by groups of people (like religious icons, such as shrines) and it is rather disrespectful for a company to approximate these facets of a culture -- things that individual people do take seriously, that are important to them and hold meaning to them -- on the entire premise of profit. Just because a fictional world is fictional, doesn't mean it can't be disrespectful of cultures, people or groups in the real world.

Parodying a culture to make a buck isn't respectful, fiction or not.

 

Pirates and knights are "parodied" by Lego. I don't see anyone complaining about them.

 

Then again, they're not even being "parodied" like you say. They're being toned down.

 

If pirates and knights were made to be as realistic as possible, we may have some problems here.

 

So in what possible way could you make ninjas more "respectful" to it's source material, without coming off too violent for kids, or eliminating any creative license put into it?

 

This whole arguement is rather moot after you read the intelligent post Bonesii made earlier, but for some reason that wasn't clear enough.

 

You mean the incredibly condescending one complete with Bonesiii's signature ';)' passive aggressiveness

 

This topic was only made because of an overeaction over what Ninjago is and isn't.

 

This topic was made out of concern for the blatant cultural appropriation in Ninjago that could be easily rectified by actually showing some actual respect for the culture that they are objectifying.

 

 

Lego is not trying to degrade Japanese culture. The very idea is moronic, to say the least.

Whether or not it is intentional is not the point being made here.  The point being made is that it is actually happening.

 

Ninjago isn't "The Ninja: A Totally Accurate Representation of Japanese Culture". This isn't National Geographic or the Discovery Channel, folks.

The point isn't that it should be 100% true to life with no deviation whatsoever.  The point is that Ninjago should at least make the semblance of an attempt to be respectful to a culture that actually exists in real life and has often been mangled in western depictions of it.

 

Ninjago is a toy-line set in a fictional world, filled with fictional characters; and that's what it should be taken as.

Just because it is a fictional story does not mean that it is above reproach.

 

1. lol

 

2. I'd say it's more the toning down of what ninjas really are. I'm sure parents would love their kids playing with trained killers in Lego form.

 

3. No it isn't. See above point.

 

4. And please tell me how you'd do Ninjago better.

 

5.Indeed


  • 0

        67685335.jpg             


#20 Offline Makaru

Makaru
  • Premier Member
    BioniLUG Member
  • Premier Forum Leaders
  • Senior Not So Grump

  • 15-March 03
  • 12,025 posts
  •   BZP Leader

Posted Jan 28 2014 - 01:53 PM

This whole arguement is rather moot after you read the intelligent post Bonesii made earlier, but for some reason that wasn't clear enough.

Interesting choice of words.

 

Moot - subject to debate, dispute, or uncertainty, and typically not admitting of a final decision.

 

And to that end, I do agree.


  • 0

20383310448_7d514f8ffa.jpg

Spoiler Alert


#21 Offline fishers64

fishers64
  • Banned Members
  • Savage Blizzard Awakened

  • 05-July 10
  • 11,025 posts
  •  

Posted Jan 28 2014 - 02:05 PM

Ok, bonesiii, clearly we disagree on several points, with the issue being you seem to think there is any sort of respect for Japanese culture going on here.
 
There isn't.

Clearly, this isn't the issue at all. The issue is whether Lego intended to disrespect the Japanese people, their culture, etc. It also goes into whether Lego intended to portray Japanese culture, which they clearly did not. Nowhere in the story is it implied that any of the Japanese cultural elements woven into the story are wrong, evil, uninspired, not worthy of Western attention, etc. Nowhere in the story is any of the Japanese cultural elements mocked, derided, disrespected, or made fun of anywhere on the show. No body makes fun of the concept of ninjas.  No body mocks the Kanjiu writing on the temples and says it's silly. 
 
Now I will agree that Ninjago, if you view it as a representation of Japanese culture, is a misrepresentation. But it was never intended to portray the Japanese culture in any way. (Why would you think it was meant to portray the Japanese culture?) It borrows some Japanese cultural elements, just as ALL stories, to a degree, borrow cultural elements from somewhere. Would you accuse The School Story of disrespecting 21st century American culture? It takes cultural elements (city buses, taxis, publishing companies, lawyer offices, etc) and misrepresents them a little bit (especially the publishing company!). 
 
But isn't that the way it is? We can rip off and misrepresent our own culture all we want, because it's our culture, but as soon as we want to use a different culture's elements in a story, we're committing a grievous story-writing sin. I guarantee you, if Ninjago was written and produced by Japanese people in a Japanese company, this accusation would have never seen the light of day.  
 

Also, ninja are definitely NOT the only Japanese reference in Ninjago. The swords are clearly katana or ninjato. The temples are clearly Japanese-influenced, some even with kanji writing on them. The dragons, despite all their Western influence, have heads similar to the Asian dragons. Garmadon himself appears to be inspired by the style of old Japanese art, especially depictions of demons and the like. Their teacher is called Sensei. The list goes on and on and on. At least 80% of the earlier sets, and a good amount afterwards, contain heavy Japanese influence, corrupted and twisted through the Western lens. To deny that this is a twisting of Japanese culture is to live in denial.

Frankly, I never noticed any of this when watching the show. The first thing that came to mind when I saw Garmadon was Darth Vader. Aside from the ninjas, this stuff isn't evident to the casual viewer. Did you watch the show with the intention of looking for Japanese cultural elements? Did all the things that were wrongly represented "scream" at you every minute you watched the show?
 
Sometimes I find (although this is probably just me) that I am taking a negative frame of mind and that I am determined to find out why this is wrong, regardless of whether it is, when those symptoms happen. 
 

 

It takes place in an entire different universe - ninja could mean something different there, yes? What universe you are in can change the meaning of a word.

Exactly, fishers. If this was meant as seriously as Bionicle, we would say that "ninja" was a "translation approximation" of a concept in an alternate universe. Of course, it's minifigs and part comedy, it's not meant to be that serious in the first place. We're free to imagine the same translation explanation as was used in Bionicle, but the story need not spell it out. They're not trying to create a world that you might think would actually exist.

 

Maybe it's just the fact that I grew up with Bionicle lol, but I disagree with the last sentence. It is possible for the Ninjago world to exist in theory, and while they don't go into Bionicle's levels of detail, they give history and whatnots for it, and that's taken seriously. It's not "Cloud Cuckoo Land". 
 

 

This whole arguement is rather moot after you read the intelligent post Bonesii made earlier, but for some reason that wasn't clear enough.

Interesting choice of words.
 
Moot - subject to debate, dispute, or uncertainty, and typically not admitting of a final decision.[/size]
 
And to that end, I do agree.[/size]

 

 
moot
adjective
1.
open to discussion or debate; debatable; doubtful: a moot point.
2.
of little or no practical value or meaning; purely academic.
3.
Chiefly Law. not actual; theoretical; hypothetical.
 

I think You just lost the game is referring to definition #2 here, where the noun of the adjective is "this discussion". :P


  • 0

#22 Offline Paleo

Paleo
  • Premier Member
    BioniLUG Member
  • Premier Retired Staff
  • Encountering Protodermis

  • 09-January 11
  • 871 posts
  •   Retired Staff

Posted Jan 28 2014 - 02:09 PM

 

This whole arguement is rather moot after you read the intelligent post Bonesii made earlier, but for some reason that wasn't clear enough.

Interesting choice of words.

 

Moot - subject to debate, dispute, or uncertainty, and typically not admitting of a final decision.

 

And to that end, I do agree.

 

It's a common mistake that I make quite often.

 

Also, everybody please breathe. Take a few breaths, relax, take a walk outside (or just look, if it's freezing), and breathe some more. I know this is a sensitive issue and I agree that aspects of Ninjago could be offensive (especially the shrines), but this could be a much calmer discussion.

 

And yes, I realize my comments could be considered smarm, but high blood pressure isn't healthy.


  • 1

#23 Offline Sophia

Sophia
  • Premier Member
  • Premier Members
  • Clever Girl

  • 04-February 07
  • 3,634 posts
  •  

Posted Jan 28 2014 - 02:27 PM

Clearly, this isn't the issue at all. The issue is whether Lego intended to disrespect the Japanese people, their culture, etc.

 

 

Intending disrespect doesn't mean a hoot in a whirlwind if disrespect occurs anyway.

 

 It also goes into whether Lego intended to portray Japanese culture, which they clearly did not.

 

 

Oh, no, they were portraying the other culture with ninja, Japanese shrines, Japanese writing, the title Sensei, etc.

 

Nowhere in the story is any of the Japanese cultural elements mocked, derided, disrespected, or made fun of anywhere on the show.

 

I'd say the part where shrines become ninja hangouts is pretty clear disrespect, and thats not focusing on the obvious part where Westerners turned Japanese history into a colorful kid's toyline to make a profit on their culture.

 

But it was never intended to portray the Japanese culture in any way. (Why would you think it was meant to portray the Japanese culture?)

 

 

Maybe it was the overwhelming amount of Japanese cultural items making an appearance?

 

But isn't that the way it is? We can rip off and misrepresent our own culture all we want, because it's our culture, but as soon as we want to use a different culture's elements in a story, we're committing a grievous story-writing sin. I guarantee you, if Ninjago was written and produced by Japanese people in a Japanese company, this accusation would have never seen the light of day.  

 

 

If a Japanese company did this, they'd be using their own culture, yes. However, the assumption here is that a Japanese version of Ninjago would be just as disrespectful. You're missing the key point that if this had been made by a Japanese company, what I guarantee is that they would not have misrepresented their own culture as grossly as this does.

 

@Kahi -- Thank you for your input on the subject. It's good to see your perspective on this, as someone who is actually being affected by it.


  • 1

#24 Offline bonesiii

bonesiii
  • Premier Member
  • Premier Members
  • Perpetual Master of Reference

  • 14-March 03
  • 19,970 posts
  •  

Posted Jan 28 2014 - 02:40 PM

Guys, by no means did I intend to make [Edit in light of following post; my apologies: her] entire argument moot. She raises some valid points. Apparently she did not catch my hints to that end in my post, so let me make it clear off the bat. Someone can disagree with PARTS of an argument, which is all I meant to do, while agreeing at least a little with other parts.

 

I get where you're coming from, sc, about the cultural appropriation for profit thing. You seem to have assumed that I'm trying to have a fight with you; that is never my goal. I look at things as an objective truthseeker (not necessarily truth-haver yet :P). Perhaps you do not know me enough to realize that about me. But if I appear blunt, that is intended to honestly challenge you to think harder -- because face it, just as I might make mistakes, so too might you, and together, we could work together to learn from them. :) The use of shrines in that way especially makes sense to me -- I get that.

 

I guess what I'm saying is, it's also possible to read an intention into someone's actions that they honestly did not intend. I don't know from what perspective you are looking at it, but a lot of 'westerners' simply enjoy the ideas of another culture, in an honest, not condescending way, and feel that alluding to them is a way of honoring other cultures. That is part of our culture. Now, that creates culture clashes sometimes, especially because the end result of it, a fusion of things from another culture and not from that culture, may be similar to intentional distortions by people whose motive is not at all to honor a different culture but to mock it. I just can't see LEGO intending to mock Japanese culture here.

 

To the profit angle, LEGO would presumably make money no matter how they did the set line. I don't know of a constructive suggestion to solve this problem, although I'm curious what you would say.

 

 

Finally, please remember we have rules against trolling and flaming. I have not touched one of your posts thus far, because I sense you would not react well, but I am a moderator and it's my duty to uphold those rules. Some of the things you've said come close to walking the line, if not crossing a little over. Please calm down and do not try to fight with people but be friendly toward them even while challenging what you believe are wrong ideas. In other words, please attack the arguments, not the people. Thank you. :)

 

 

 

It is possible for the Ninjago world to exist in theory

Okay, granted, lol. But it being possible and LEGO intending it are two different things; that's what I meant. ^_^

 

BTW, fishers, I for one did notice a lot of Japanese elements in the show. Maybe it helps that I've taken a college class on eastern cultures, and have had an interest in them, dunno how much you were familiar with previously, but I do think it's valid to see it as portraying (an alternate, fantasy, LEGO-ized version of) Japanese culture. I seem to remember there was even a symbol on one of the sets that reminded me a lot of Japan's flag. Of course, whether you want to see that as good or bad is in the eye of the beholder.

 

 

You know, sc, I just can't help but think that this topic is a missed opportunity. As much as I sympathize with feeling that partial uses of a culture are intended in bad ways, if the desire is to preserve knowledge of what it was actually like, kids who enjoyed Ninjago and see someone representing the preservationist ideal are not going to be attracted to it if it is presented in a harshly negative way. Why not instead be inspiring, and say things like, "Ninjago isn't remotely accurate to real-world Japan, but for those of you interested in Japanese culture, here's some examples of things you might not have known about the real Japan!" and present the real versions in a positive light, not as if their existence is a bad thing for Ninjago.

 

I've seen many topics like that over the years for various lines, and people usually enjoy finding out more about the sources of inspiration for LEGO lines.

 

But when you frame that in a way that seeks to create "sides" to pit against each other (Ninjago version versus accurate-to-Japan version, rather than seeing the Ninjago version as an opportunity to provide a window to exploring the real version), and injects strongly negative emotions, and wild accusations, into the mix, all of that is going to draw people's attention instead, and the goal you were trying to bring attention to risks being framed in a negative light, the exact opposite of what you hoped to do.

 

Please consider this. As a preservationist myself, it is disappointing to see others who share that view make us look so oversensitive and antagonistic. Preserving accurate knowledge of cultures should be a positive experience. :) And it can live peacefully alongside other things in life.


Edited by bonesiii, Jan 28 2014 - 03:23 PM.

  • 1

#25 Offline Sophia

Sophia
  • Premier Member
  • Premier Members
  • Clever Girl

  • 04-February 07
  • 3,634 posts
  •  

Posted Jan 28 2014 - 03:01 PM

Guys, by no means did I intend to make his entire argument moot. He raises some valid points. Apparently he did not catch my hints to that end in my post, so let me make it clear off the bat.

 

*her *she *she

 

To the profit angle, LEGO would presumably make money no matter how they did the set line. I don't know of a constructive suggestion to solve this problem, although I'm curious what you would say.

 

 

The problem isn't about a toy company looking to make a profit, it's that they grossly misrepresented a culture in many ways to do it. If Ninjago were more respectful towards Japanese culture, then it would be better, at least.


  • 1

#26 Offline Noxryn

Noxryn
  • Premier Member
  • Premier Retired Staff
  • pretty pretty princess

  • 15-March 06
  • 8,651 posts
  •   Retired Staff

Posted Jan 28 2014 - 03:01 PM

Pirates and knights are "parodied" by Lego. I don't see anyone complaining about them.
 
Then again, they're not even being "parodied" like you say. They're being toned down.
 
If pirates and knights were made to be as realistic as possible, we may have some problems here.
 
So in what possible way could you make ninjas more "respectful" to it's source material, without coming off too violent for kids, or eliminating any creative license put into it?


First off, we're not talking about those lines (so why bring them up?) and even if they were relevant to mention, pirates and knights are prominent within the cultural history of where Lego exists (it's part of their own culture, in other words and they aren't as grossly misrepresented as in this case).

(Also Ninjago isn't a toned down version of a ninja, or of Japanese culture at all -- it's completely incorrect, unless you really think religious shrines are used to house weaponry? Or that Spinjutsu is really a toned down ninjutsu [because no it's not], or that violence is all that makes something culturally relevant? -- The post below explains a lot better what could be done to make it more respectful)

Ninjago suffers from taking something that belongs to one culture and removing all cultural significance from it, erasing the culture that created it from the picture (or incorporating it in insulting manners, namely with using religious shrines as weapon depots, or putting forth common stereotypes of that culture -- look at Sensei Wu) and they're just trying to make money off it. It's not respectful to take someone else's culture, to remove any and all significance and respect for it, reduce it down to a child's plaything that bears no resemblance to the source material or pays no respect to the source material, all to make a profit off the ideas, concepts and creations of that source -- that culture.

I don't know why everyone's defending Lego for it, granted Lego could do a lot better by actually not using lazy writing and disrespecting other cultures.

Edited by Kit, Jan 28 2014 - 03:09 PM.

  • 0

#27 Offline Kevin Owens

Kevin Owens
  • Premier Member
  • Premier Retired Staff
  • Fluidic Master Defeated

  • 07-April 06
  • 3,545 posts
  •   Retired Staff

Posted Jan 28 2014 - 03:02 PM

1. lol

 

2. I'd say it's more the toning down of what ninjas really are. I'm sure parents would love their kids playing with trained killers in Lego form.

 

3. No it isn't. See above point.

 

4. And please tell me how you'd do Ninjago better.

 

5.Indeed

 

1.  http://www.majhost.c...72521884234.gif

 

2. Toning down ninjas from being spies to being warriors.  You use the word 'trained killers.'  Warriors would seem to fit that definition better than spies.  The implication that you couldn't be true to Japanese culture without making them into cold blooded murderers is preposterous.  While it is true that ninjas were involved in things such as assassinations, that wasn't the only thing they did.

 

3, Please explain to me how this isn't degrading Japanese culture.  You referring me to previous arguments that I and others have made points against does not successfully debunk my points.

 

4.  First remove the idea that shrines are for weapons and all that jazz entirely from the narrative.  Make the ninjas actual ninjas who do stuff like reconnaissance missions and sabotage.  Change the name of spinjitsu to something else entirely.  Be more respectful to Japanese culture in general.  Etc. etc.

 

5.  I am glad that we agree that Ninjago is not above criticism for things that it does wrong.

 

I don't know from what perspective you are looking at it, but a lot of 'westerners' simply enjoy the ideas of another culture, in an honest, not condescending way, and feel that alluding to them is a way of honoring other cultures. That is part of our culture. Now, that creates culture clashes sometimes, especially because the end result of it, a fusion of things from another culture and not from that culture, may be similar to intentional distortions by people whose motive is not at all to honor a different culture but to mock it. I just can't see LEGO intending to mock Japanese culture here.

So Bones if I understand you correctly is that what you are saying is that Western culture tends to engage in cultural appropriation a lot.  I would agree whole heartedly with that sentiment.  The western imperialism that went on unchecked for so long is heavily to blame for this.  I am sure that some would say that things have gotten better recently, and once again I would agree.  More people have become aware that this is an issue, and that is a good thing.

 

I'm not saying that Lego made an intentional decision to make a mockery of Japanese culture.  What I and others are saying is that it happened.  Even if unintentional and even if Lego did it with the best intention, that doesn't mean that we shouldn't engage this topic and critise lego for it.

 

 

Why not instead be inspiring, and say things like, "Ninjago isn't remotely accurate to real-world Japan, but for those of you interested in Japanese culture, here's some examples of things you might not have known about the real Japan!" and present the real versions in a positive light, not as if their existence is a bad thing for Ninjago.

 

 

Bones I think I found our problem.  The problem is your eurocentric attitude.  The issue isn't that real world Japan is bad for Ninjago.  The issue is that Ninjago is bad for Japan and Japanese culture.


Edited by WINDRIDER'S GAY LOVER, Jan 28 2014 - 03:12 PM.

  • 0

#28 Offline fishers64

fishers64
  • Banned Members
  • Savage Blizzard Awakened

  • 05-July 10
  • 11,025 posts
  •  

Posted Jan 28 2014 - 03:10 PM

 

Clearly, this isn't the issue at all. The issue is whether Lego intended to disrespect the Japanese people, their culture, etc.

 
Intending disrespect doesn't mean a hoot in a whirlwind if disrespect occurs anyway.

 


Actually, it does. If someone blatantly intended disrespect, that is wrong. If someone makes a mistake, in logic, in wording, etc, and another person interprets that as disrespect, then the first person should own up to their mistake and correct it, and the second person should try to understand that the person made a mistake, and move on.

In this case, I think that Lego might have made some mistakes, because that annoyed you. It's okay to point out the mistakes here, but I think that they were mistakes, not intentional Japanese cultural ripping off. I don't think anyone at Lego sat down and said "Okay, we're going to rip off Japanese culture because kids like Japanese culture rip-offs now. We are going to do this because Japanese culture is *insert incredibly disrespectful thing here* and deserves to be misrepresented and ripped off." No! They just wanted to make a kids show about ninjas. Now they might have goofed up the cultural execution, but that's their mistakes. They really did mean well.
 

 

 It also goes into whether Lego intended to portray Japanese culture, which they clearly did not.

 
Oh, no, they were portraying the other culture with ninja, Japanese shrines, Japanese writing, the title Sensei, etc.

 


I don't think that they were trying to portray any human culture, to be honest. Again, I think that they were just trying to tell a fun story about ninjas.
 

I'd say the part where shrines become ninja hangouts is pretty clear disrespect, and thats not focusing on the obvious part where Westerners turned Japanese history into a colorful kid's toyline to make a profit on their culture.

Okay, fine, I'll give you that the shrine thing is not cool. Also, I don't notice too many Japanese fans of Ninjago, so I think it's more profiteering on western cultures' misunderstood view of the East than the culture itself.
 

If a Japanese company did this, they'd be using their own culture, yes. However, the assumption here is that a Japanese version of Ninjago would be just as disrespectful. You're missing the key point that if this had been made by a Japanese company, what I guarantee is that they would not have misrepresented their own culture as grossly as this does.

I agree with this. It makes logical sense.


  • 0

#29 Offline Sophia

Sophia
  • Premier Member
  • Premier Members
  • Clever Girl

  • 04-February 07
  • 3,634 posts
  •  

Posted Jan 28 2014 - 03:25 PM

Actually, it does. If someone blatantly intended disrespect, that is wrong. If someone makes a mistake, in logic, in wording, etc, and another person interprets that as disrespect, then the first person should own up to their mistake and correct it, and the second person should try to understand that the person made a mistake, and move on.

 

 

Either way, I see no issue with me calling LEGO out on their problematic behaviors. Even if they did not intend it, they have committed the same crime "ninja"-themed lines all over the Western world have.

 

I don't think that they were trying to portray any human culture, to be honest. Again, I think that they were just trying to tell a fun story about ninjas.

 

 

You can't really tell a story about ninjas without taking a part of Japanese culture, considering ninja ARE a part of Japanese culture.

 

Okay, fine, I'll give you that the shrine thing is not cool. Also, I don't notice too many Japanese fans of Ninjago, so I think it's more profiteering on western cultures' misunderstood view of the East than the culture itself.

 

 

I wonder if there aren't a lot of Japanese fans of Ninjago because their culture is being twisted and malformed to make a children's toyline?


  • 1

#30 Offline bonesiii

bonesiii
  • Premier Member
  • Premier Members
  • Perpetual Master of Reference

  • 14-March 03
  • 19,970 posts
  •  

Posted Jan 28 2014 - 03:34 PM

Seriously, guys, there's no need to act like we're enemies here. Both sides have valid points.

 

The western imperialism that went on unchecked for so long is heavily to blame for this.

This is certainly true.

 

Make the ninjas actual ninjas who do stuff like reconnaissance missions and sabotage.

Again, there was some of that in the TV series. Which doesn't neutralize the rest of it, but LEGO seems to have used a bit of the real idea of ninjas, plus a bit of the common myth of them. You also gotta keep in mind the target audience loves battles and warrior stuff. To the typical kid, the highest honor you can have is to be a silly warrior with a cool weapon who goes around smashing things. That's really as far as it goes to them.

 

Bones I think I found our problem.  The problem is your eurocentric attitude.

That's possible. But also somewhat unavoidable, isn't it? Won't people tend to absorb the culture they grow up in to some extent? What I'm saying is, make the experience of learning how to improve from that a positive experience, not a negative. :)


  • 1

#31 Offline Sophia

Sophia
  • Premier Member
  • Premier Members
  • Clever Girl

  • 04-February 07
  • 3,634 posts
  •  

Posted Jan 28 2014 - 03:39 PM

You also gotta keep in mind the target audience loves battles and warrior stuff. To the typical kid, the highest honor you can have is to be a silly warrior with a cool weapon who goes around smashing things. That's really as far as it goes to them.

 

If what they wanted was warriors, you'd think they'd have more than one Samurai, since they were the actual warriors.


  • 1

#32 Offline Kevin Owens

Kevin Owens
  • Premier Member
  • Premier Retired Staff
  • Fluidic Master Defeated

  • 07-April 06
  • 3,545 posts
  •   Retired Staff

Posted Jan 28 2014 - 03:42 PM

Seriously, guys, there's no need to act like we're enemies here. Both sides have valid points.

As far as I'm aware nobody here is acting as badly as you are implying Bones, and as far as I'm concerned you've yet to make a valid point except for maybe the irrelevant one that Lego didn't actually intend this which nobody here is arguing for or against and holds no bearing on the current discussion of things that are actually happening.

 


Bones I think I found our problem.  The problem is your eurocentric attitude.

That's possible. But also somewhat unavoidable, isn't it? Won't people tend to absorb the culture they grow up in to some extent? What I'm saying is, make the experience of learning how to improve from that a positive experience, not a negative. :)

Unavoidable perhaps, but I've yet to see anything from you that would imply that you are actually trying to overcome your own biases.  As far as I'm concerned none of the people making points against Ninjago are being negative unless you consider valid criticism to be something negative.  Criticism is a valid learning tool.  We are critiquing Ninjago for cultural appropriation or what have you.  How is this a negative thing?


  • 0

#33 Offline bonesiii

bonesiii
  • Premier Member
  • Premier Members
  • Perpetual Master of Reference

  • 14-March 03
  • 19,970 posts
  •  

Posted Jan 28 2014 - 03:53 PM

What I'm saying is, look at it from the perspective of a kid who's a fan of Ninjago because it honestly appeals to them. Which is more likely to be a successful strategy in getting that kid to appreciate the important goal of preserving a real-world culture? An approach that portrays people who seek to preserve it as forgiving and understanding toward those who have had misconceptions, yet constructively critical, and honestly enjoying informing others of the more realistic sides to those cultures that people probably did not know about -- that is going to be a far more successful strategy, IMO.

 

By contrast, if you create the impression that the child must either choose between Ninjago OR cultural preservation, I fear that strategy will lose more kids who will choose Ninjago over the real-world, which they may view as too dry, etc. Make sense?

 

That said, what's said is said, and I do agree it's valid to say it (which is part of why I have been more lenient than usual with the attitude coming along with some of it). I'm suggesting a way forward, toward people who start out from very different perspectives coming to learn from each other. :)


Edited by bonesiii, Jan 28 2014 - 03:56 PM.

  • 1

#34 Offline fishers64

fishers64
  • Banned Members
  • Savage Blizzard Awakened

  • 05-July 10
  • 11,025 posts
  •  

Posted Jan 28 2014 - 03:58 PM

It is possible for the Ninjago world to exist in theory

Okay, granted, lol. But it being possible and LEGO intending it are two different things; that's what I meant. ^_^

 

BTW, fishers, I for one did notice a lot of Japanese elements in the show. Maybe it helps that I've taken a college class on eastern cultures, and have had an interest in them, dunno how much you were familiar with previously, but I do think it's valid to see it as portraying (an alternate, fantasy, LEGO-ized version of) Japanese culture. I seem to remember there was even a symbol on one of the sets that reminded me a lot of Japan's flag. Of course, whether you want to see that as good or bad is in the eye of the beholder.

Yeah, I kind of see that now, yes. I'll own that my Japanese knowledge doesn't extend too much beyond 9th grade world history and a few books on the history of karate. 

 

Although even those books made it clear that the ninjas were spies, not warriors. It also made clear that being either required an extensive amount of training, mental discipline, and skill, and involved very little of the immaturity shown by the characters in the series. But watching that show just didn't bring that knowledge to the forefront. It's a tendency that I have to give stories (and more specifically, story writers) the benefit of the doubt, which I may have to work on a little. 


  • 0

#35 Offline Lyichir

Lyichir
  • Premier Member
    BioniLUG Member
  • Premier Members
  • A Chir Brother

  • 21-March 06
  • 4,486 posts
  •  

Posted Jan 28 2014 - 04:05 PM

To say that Ninjago misrepresents Japanese culture is to assume it tries to represent Japanese culture. I don't know, to me it's always seemed to be like "Japanese-flavored Lego City", not any realistic representation of Japan. It's a mashup of American "ninja fever" and things like Super Sentai.

 

Why is it cultural appropriation for Lego to use things like Ninja (which despite originating in Japan are firmly entrenched in Western pop culture) in a creative and unique way? Are they not allowed to do so solely because they're a Western company? Because that kind of restriction on creativity seems anathema to me. If they were actually trying to show what Japanese culture was like, I'd see a problem, but since they're not, I don't see what's so disrespectful about it.

 

But whatever. I hate these kinds of topics. I'm the kind of person who likes to appreciate things for what they are, and I don't need to deal with people telling me why something as innocent and joyful as Ninjago or Hero Factory or MLP is politically incorrect and how I'm a bad person for liking it. It's odd, I've always considered myself a progressive, but the BZPower "culture police" have been making me less and less fond of this site. Which is sad. I had seen this site as the herald of a new future for the Lego fandom, one that was welcoming and non-judgmental for people from all walks of life. But recently I've seen that it's becoming just as pretentious and ignorant and hateful as other Lego communities, just in a different way.


Edited by Lyichir, Jan 28 2014 - 04:06 PM.

  • 1
Formerly Lyichir: Rachira of Influence
Aanchir's and Meiko's brother

#36 Offline Sophia

Sophia
  • Premier Member
  • Premier Members
  • Clever Girl

  • 04-February 07
  • 3,634 posts
  •  

Posted Jan 28 2014 - 04:19 PM

To say that Ninjago misrepresents Japanese culture is to assume it tries to represent Japanese culture. I don't know, to me it's always seemed to be like "Japanese-flavored Lego City", not any realistic representation of Japan. It's a mashup of American "ninja fever" and things like Super Sentai.

"American ninja fever" is in itself a result of orientalism and cultural fetishization. Believe it or not, citing that as one of its sources proves that the line is the disrespectful appropriation of something Japanese.

 

 I'm the kind of person who likes to appreciate things for what they are, and I don't need to deal with people telling me why something as innocent and joyful as Ninjago or Hero Factory or MLP is politically incorrect and how I'm a bad person for liking it.

I'm not saying you're a bad person for liking it, just that the line itself is based on several problematic and at least borderline racist aspects of out society. Failure to recognize those makes you willfully ignorant, because you continue to support a society that grinds other cultures under its heel for its own benefit.

 

(as for Hero Factory, though completely unrelated, attempted and then successful infanticide is more a matter of morality that 'political correctness'...)

 

Overall, Lyichir, you seem to be upset not that the line contains these elements, but that they were pointed out. I'm sorry that it bothers you that people are annoyed at Western culture's appropriation of another culture with no respect for it. It's been stated many times over in this topic why this behavior on Lego's part is problematic, and while a big part of it is Western culture itself and its tendency to jut sort of pull in what it likes of other cultures while discarding its significance, Lego is still at fault for contributing to it with this line.

 

I'm sorry you don't like it, but the fact of the matter is, a white Westerner saying cultural appropriation isn't a problem means as much as an elephant saying the melting ice caps shouldn't affect polar bears.


Edited by some critics, Jan 28 2014 - 04:26 PM.

  • 1

#37 Offline Noxryn

Noxryn
  • Premier Member
  • Premier Retired Staff
  • pretty pretty princess

  • 15-March 06
  • 8,651 posts
  •   Retired Staff

Posted Jan 28 2014 - 04:20 PM

To say that Ninjago misrepresents Japanese culture is to assume it tries to represent Japanese culture. I don't know, to me it's always seemed to be like "Japanese-flavored Lego City", not any realistic representation of Japan. It's a mashup of American "ninja fever" and things like Super Sentai.
 
Why is it cultural appropriation for Lego to use things like Ninja (which despite originating in Japan are firmly entrenched in Western pop culture) in a creative and unique way? Are they not allowed to do so solely because they're a Western company? Because that kind of restriction on creativity seems anathema to me. If they were actually trying to show what Japanese culture was like, I'd see a problem, but since they're not, I don't see what's so disrespectful about it.


People aren't saying that Western-based companies can't utilize other cultures in their creative endeavors, but people here are saying that they need to do so with respect and actually research the material before using it. Representing everything and having the culture actually in the line, with respect for the culture's origins and understanding and representing it respectfully, is the big thing here. Ninjago does none of that. Nothing used in the line, from what I am aware, is accurate to the source culture it's taken from -- there was no research, there was no respect or care given towards the culture. Things were simply ripped from that culture, rebranded and sold. It's really not cool to do that and it really shows weak writing and weak world building, and it bleeds into weak characters and it'll continue on to make other lines that are rebranded, changed and disrespected cultures because no one said anything, or cared enough to say "hey, this isn't a cool thing to do. If you're going to use something that belongs to another culture, actually research it and make sure it's not being used disrespectfully."
 

But whatever. I hate these kinds of topics. I'm the kind of person who likes to appreciate things for what they are, and I don't need to deal with people telling me why something as innocent and joyful as Ninjago or Hero Factory or MLP is politically incorrect and how I'm a bad person for liking it. It's odd, I've always considered myself a progressive, but the BZPower "culture police" have been making me less and less fond of this site. Which is sad. I had seen this site as the herald of a new future for the Lego fandom, one that was welcoming and non-judgmental for people from all walks of life. But recently I've seen that it's becoming just as pretentious and ignorant and hateful as other Lego communities, just in a different way.



If you hate these kinds of topics, why post in it? If you aren't open to discussion, aren't open to debate, aren't open to actually trying to understand where people are coming from... why bother? Just because something is for kids doesn't make it immune to criticism (honestly, it really should be the opposite) and it's a disservice for valid critique to be ignored, or brushed off as unimportant, when it could be used to actually improve the quality of lines Lego produces. If there's no criticism, no complaining, no one saying a word, Lego wouldn't ever feel the need to actually research material and make sure that it's being represented respectfully.

Additionally, no one said you're a bad person for liking it. People are simply pointing out the issues with the line itself and what Lego has done wrong with it.

Also, we don't have a "culture police." We have members who don't like it when the company that produces something they enjoy does something that is disrespectful towards other people, and validly voice their concerns when it happens. It's ignorant to let the company continue disrespecting people and cultures, it's not ignorant to point out that the company is doing that (intentionally or not) and create actual discourse and discussion on the matter on a Lego-oriented forum.

  • 0

#38 Offline Sumiki

Sumiki
  • Premier Member
  • Premier Forum Assistants
  • Sushi Boy

  • 04-September 06
  • 12,367 posts
  •   BZP Assistant

Posted Jan 28 2014 - 04:48 PM

I think some people here see "hey, there are some problems with this line and here's why," but think that they see "I DONT LIEK IT AND ANYOEN WHO DOES IS RONG!!!!1!!!!11111"

Which is entirely not true.

 
Ninjago fans in this thread are rapidly turning into reactionary apologists. No one's saying that you can't like Ninjago. Acknowledging the fact that it has problematic aspects does not mean you have to hate something that you previously enjoyed, even if your previous enjoyment was based, in whole or in part, on ignorance towards its cultural appropriation.
 
I mean, I'm a fan of Doctor Who but I realize that the writing of its current incarnation is terrible and Steven Moffat ran out of half-decent ideas a series and a half ago. Doesn't stop me from being a fan, but I realize that it's got its problems. Heck, any franchise does.


Edited by Sumiki, Jan 28 2014 - 04:48 PM.

  • 0

avatar by Lady Kopaka


tumblr_ng1pw4xLEM1tryxewo1_1280.jpg


#39 Offline Aanchir

Aanchir
  • Premier Member
  • Premier Reporters
  • Another Chir Brother

  • 04-September 06
  • 6,601 posts
  •   BZP Reporter

Posted Jan 28 2014 - 04:54 PM

Personally, I don't see this as cultural appropriation at all, but rather as an exchange of ideas. In my opinion, there is nothing invalid or unfair about borrowing ideas from other media, no matter what country it comes from. And this kind of exchange of ideas is hardly one-sided — if it were, it wouldn't exactly be an exchange, would it? Japanese anime and video games frequently borrow ideas from western culture, history, and media as well. That's just a reality of living in a global culture.

I think claims of cultural appropriation with regard to BIONICLE would be a little more well-founded, since it was taking ideas not from a shared cultural tradition that was rooted in a country's past but from very traditional Polynesian cultures that were still attempting to maintain the cultural traditions that the theme was borrowing. Ninja are not a part of any country's ongoing tradition. They are a part of Japan's feudal history. That is not true of concepts like the ones BIONICLE borrowed from Polynesian cultures, which are rooted not only in the past but also in the present for many cultures, and which did not previously have an established presence in Western media.

I'm struggling to figure out how Ninjago any more disrespectful to Japanese culture than Final Fantasy or Fire Emblem are to European culture. If Japanese culture were in some kind of peril globally, then it would be easy for me to see how the exchange of cultural ideas is out-of-balance in favor of Western culture, but that isn't the case. Japan is a thriving country with a thriving culture that has an ever-increasing influence on media and cultural ideas throughout the rest of the world. More and more American cartoons and comics are drawing inspiration from the stylistic influence of Japanese anime and manga. Japanese food products, while still very unfamiliar to most Western countries, are a whole lot more familiar and well-understood now than they were two decades ago. These don't seem like symptoms of a one-sided relationship between Western and Eastern cultures to me.

  • 0

#40 Offline Lyichir

Lyichir
  • Premier Member
    BioniLUG Member
  • Premier Members
  • A Chir Brother

  • 21-March 06
  • 4,486 posts
  •  

Posted Jan 28 2014 - 04:56 PM

 

To say that Ninjago misrepresents Japanese culture is to assume it tries to represent Japanese culture. I don't know, to me it's always seemed to be like "Japanese-flavored Lego City", not any realistic representation of Japan. It's a mashup of American "ninja fever" and things like Super Sentai.

"American ninja fever" is in itself a result of orientalism and cultural fetishization. Believe it or not, citing that as one of its sources proves that the line is the disrespectful appropriation of something Japanese.

 

 I'm the kind of person who likes to appreciate things for what they are, and I don't need to deal with people telling me why something as innocent and joyful as Ninjago or Hero Factory or MLP is politically incorrect and how I'm a bad person for liking it.

I'm not saying you're a bad person for liking it, just that the line itself is based on several problematic and at least borderline racist aspects of out society. Failure to recognize those makes you willfully ignorant, because you continue to support a society that grinds other cultures under its heel for its own benefit.

 

(as for Hero Factory, though completely unrelated, attempted and then successful infanticide is more a matter of morality that 'political correctness'...)

 

Overall, Lyichir, you seem to be upset not that the line contains these elements, but that they were pointed out. I'm sorry that it bothers you that people are annoyed at Western culture's appropriation of another culture with no respect for it. It's been stated many times over in this topic why this behavior on Lego's part is problematic, and while a big part of it is Western culture itself and its tendency to jut sort of pull in what it likes of other cultures while discarding its significance, Lego is still at fault for contributing to it with this line.

 

I'm sorry you don't like it, but the fact of the matter is, a white Westerner saying cultural appropriation isn't a problem means as much as an elephant saying the melting ice caps shouldn't affect polar bears.

 

A westerner (I don't know what race you are, and frankly it doesn't matter) insisting it IS a problem isn't much better. I don't know how Ninjago has done in Japan (where Lego doesn't have the biggest foothold), but I do know that the theme is hugely popular in Korea and Hong Kong, at least. But that factoid doesn't matter much either. The fact is that Ninjago is based on a western cultural tradition that goes back thirty years, not on an actual Japanese culture. And I don't see what's wrong with that. Cultures change, and evolve, and if they're misrepresented somewhere along the line that doesn't void anything and everything that evolves from that point. We're not talking about blackface or anything like that. We're talking about a dead tradition that Westerners seized upon, thought was awesome, and made their own through various media over the past thirty years. And if a toy company decides that that literary tradition is a good foundation for a toyline, should where the company comes from really determine whether they have the right to do so? I don't think so, but obviously you disagree.

 

But the broader point is one of equivalencies. Decrying a cartoon for using pre-established cultural tropes to tell a good, compelling, and non-offensive story is just as bad as saying a story is valueless just because it accidentally doesn't draw a thick enough line between "infanticide" and "pest control". And it's hurtful to people who enjoy the story for what it is when you manufacture an outrage over it on behalf of a culture that could care less. I want BZPower to have discussion as much as anyone, but when that discussion does nothing but make the fan community look like awful people for daring to be fans at all doesn't help the site or its members.


  • 0
Formerly Lyichir: Rachira of Influence
Aanchir's and Meiko's brother




0 user(s) are browsing this forum

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users