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Whitewashing in the Bionicle fandom

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I know there are many people in the Bionicle fandom who dislike art that re-interprets Bionicle characters as human or organic.

 

I disagree. I think that humanized art can be a wonderful interpretation if it's done well. Not to mention that some Bionicle characters are already quite organic looking, like the Barraki and Piraka.

 

However, there is a frequently-pervasive aspect of humanized art that is problematic, and that is the tendency for most or all characters to be drawn as white. This baffles me to no end.

 

We have a group of characters who live on a tropical island, in tribal societies, with a language clearly based on, and even directly taken from, Maori? Nope, must be white people!

 

It would be like drawing human versions of the Lion King characters, a story that takes place in central Africa, as white people. Oh wait people already do that.

 

Other areas of the Matoran Universe don't have a cultural base (Metru Nui, Voya Nui, etc), so those characters are more up to interpretation, but Mata Nui's inspiration is obvious.

I will say though, that 2015 Pohatu is so Australian it hurts, so he's definitely Aboriginal.

 

Also, Bara Magna was based on ancient Greece and Rome, so it would be ok for a good chunk of the Agori to be white.

 

Of course, I, or anyone else, can't really stop you from drawing white bonkles.

But as socially-conscious people, we have an obligation to represent underrepresented groups.

And to depict characters who are so obviously based on Pacific Islander culture as white people is insulting, and frankly, quite racist.

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People draw BIONICLE characters as human?

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I think the tendency to depict human Bionicle characters as white is less a deliberate decision and more an artifact of anime-based art, which is where most human Bionicle artists got their start (even some of the best of the best). A lot of anime features mostly white-looking characters, and it can occasionally be a challenge for artists to break free of that and force themselves to take racial diversity into account.

 

That said... I don't see a problem with it. Bionicle characters are non-human by nature, and there's no reason an artist who chooses to depict them as human should have to make the characters Polynesian just because that's where their names come from, any more than they should be forced to make them white just because the characters were created by Danes. If you really want to see more art depicting the characters as racially diverse or non-European, make your own or support artists who do. But don't judge other artists for not catering to your specific, subjective opinion of what you think the non-human characters should look like as humans.

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>Australian and Aboriginal cultures are very very different. At least by what most people define australian as, which for most the image of Steve irwin and similar people come up. Just something to take into consideration.

 

The boomerang was invented by Australian Aboriginals. Australian culture IS Aboriginal culture, well before the white people came in and colonized Aboriginal land.

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Your post is already in handy bullet-point format, so I'm going to analyse it similarly. 

 

I know there are many people in the Bionicle fandom who dislike art that re-interprets Bionicle characters as human or organic.

True. They're biomechanical slaves, not people. The great beings and tren krom however, ARE organic.

I disagree. I think that humanized art can be a wonderful interpretation if it's done well. Not to mention that some Bionicle characters are already quite organic looking, like the Barraki and Piraka.

Each to their own.

However, there is a frequently-pervasive aspect of humanized art that is problematic, and that is the tendency for most or all characters to be drawn as white. This baffles me to no end.

White people draw white people to relate to them.

We have a group of characters who live on a tropical island, in tribal societies, with a language clearly based on, and even directly taken from, Maori? Nope, must be white people!

I'm going to give an example. You see the last supper? Thirteen white dudes, clustered around a table. Except IRL they were all middle-eastern.  Renaissance artists drew middle eastern people as white because they were white and their patrons were white. People draw other people as the same skin tone out of habit and to increase relatability. The entire point of drawing them as organic is to make them more relatable, drawing them as someone from a completely different part of the world defeats the point. It also nips certain debates in the bud, such as "You drew tribal characters as black? You're so racist!" Realism and racism overlap a lot, in many people's eyes and the most politically correct course is usually to draw them in the style of the most common ethnicity in the area.

It would be like drawing human versions of the Lion King characters, a story that takes place in central Africa, as white people. Oh wait people already do that.

Please read last text wall.

Other areas of the Matoran Universe don't have a cultural base (Metru Nui, Voya Nui, etc), so those characters are more up to interpretation, but Mata Nui's inspiration is obvious.

I will say though, that 2015 Pohatu is so Australian it hurts, so he's definitely Aboriginal.

Now how offensive would it seem if someone drew all the backwards tribal characters in bionicle as black or Maori, and all the city-dwelling or cultured characters as white? Your point is that it would befit the canon, my point is that people would complain far more.   

Also, Bara Magna was based on ancient Greece and Rome, so it would be ok for a good chunk of the Agori to be white.

The matoran were slaves, made to work against their will for the great beings. Drawing the great beings as white and their slaves as black people would be considered very taboo.

Of course, I, or anyone else, can't really stop you from drawing white bonkles.

But as socially-conscious people, we have an obligation to represent underrepresented groups.

And to depict characters who are so obviously based on Pacific Islander culture as white people is insulting, and frankly, quite racist.

Yeah, no. You're just being a bit of a social justice warrior here, you haven't really thought out the other options. I bet that if all the mata nui bionicles were dawn as Maori there would be far more people (probably including you) complaining far more about it.

Basically, drawing matoran as non-white would seem stereotyping of tribal cultures, racist to blacks and insensitive to slavery.

Just because it would make more sense for matoran to be black, doesn't mean it would be a good idea.

Edited by Bedrock1
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Well, Bionicle is sold in a lot of countries that have large quantities of white people (especially in Europe). Those people are just drawing what they're familiar with. 

Edited by The Irrational Rock
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It's just artistic choice and artists making art that they can familiarize with. Nothing to be taken harshly.


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>I think the tendency to depict human Bionicle characters as white is less a deliberate decision and more an artifact of anime-based art

I will agree with you there. It doesn't mean artists can't learn though. Besides, most of us need to break out of the anime mold.

 

Although, technically, anime characters are "mukokuseki" which means "stateless". In their country of origin they are seen as Japanese, but a lot of us in the Western world see them as white, because white is our cultural default.

 

>That said... I don't see a problem with it. Bionicle characters are non-human by nature, and there's no reason an artist who chooses to depict them as human should have to make the characters Polynesian just because that's where their names come from.

 

Yeah no. Bionicle's Polynesian influence is so much more than just character names. The mythology, architecture, social structure, scenery, design motifs, music, and the concept of the masks all come from Pacific Islander traditions. It's not just "surface aesthetic", it's the whole foundation for the theme.

 

>But don't judge other artists for not catering to your specific, subjective opinion of what you think the non-human characters should look like as humans.

I did not mentions any specific person. And a lot of them have great art. But something being a great piece of art doesn't excuse it from cultural criticism. It's possible to enjoy a creative work while also being aware of its problematic aspects.

 

Yes, Bionicle characters are not human. But they are racially coded as "islanders". A character can be a robot or an animal, but still be designed to evoke a real world human ethnic or cultural group. It happens all the time, especially in animated or children's media.

 

Bionicle characters ARE Polynesian. There's no way around it. Anyone who denies that is participating in the cultural erasure of a marginalized group.

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I think the tendency to depict human Bionicle characters as white is less a deliberate decision and more an artifact of anime-based art, which is where most human Bionicle artists got their start (even some of the best of the best). A lot of anime features mostly white-looking characters, and it can occasionally be a challenge for artists to break free of that and force themselves to take racial diversity into account.

 

That said... I don't see a problem with it. Bionicle characters are non-human by nature, and there's no reason an artist who chooses to depict them as human should have to make the characters Polynesian just because that's where their names come from, any more than they should be forced to make them white just because the characters were created by Danes. If you really want to see more art depicting the characters as racially diverse or non-European, make your own or support artists who do. But don't judge other artists for not catering to your specific, subjective opinion of what you think the non-human characters should look like as humans.

 

 

 

 

It's just artistic choice and artists making art that they can familiarize with. Nothing to be taken harshly.

 

 

 

 

I'm just going to say this and nothing else, because the diction I have brewing right now would get me banned without question.

Drawing people exclusively white is not an art-style

 

 

Edited by DoktorFreizeit
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>Australian and Aboriginal cultures are very very different. At least by what most people define australian as, which for most the image of Steve irwin and similar people come up. Just something to take into consideration.

 

The boomerang was invented by Australian Aboriginals. Australian culture IS Aboriginal culture, well before the white people came in and colonized Aboriginal land.

 

That is one example, it has been developed into the culture now. It is a mix of the two (though more European because they killed a lot them). It's the same as a lot of other places like New Zealand or America. If you want it say that they should be all black because of Maori culture a) they are mostly a nice tan brown b) there are many white people with Maori blood c) there are many Pakeha (white New Zealanders) that practice Maori religion or even joined Maori tribes (usually pre-1840) and where known as Pakeha-Maori. Almost all citizens of New Zealand are immersed in Maori culture in some way weather it be (things I have personally done): making an introduction of myself in Maori, learning and performing two haka (a school one and a well known one), spending my entire 1st year at high school in social studies almost completely on Maori history and singing several Maori songs including half our national anthem (the other half is just a translation!). I don't see America reserving seats in Parliament for their native people and I don't see them giving back land, compensation and/or political pardons to native tribes. So before you start saying that they should be black because the Maori were black realise that though Maori are still more involved generally most New Zealanders have a role.

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Bionicle characters ARE Polynesian. There's no way around it. Anyone who denies that is participating in the cultural erasure of a marginalized group.

Bionicle characters are not anything, nor are they nothing. They are whatever the artist or mocer for that matter, cares for them to be. But now you are changing you tune, for in your opening post you stated that different areas of the matoran universe were open for interpretation, yet now your stating all bionicle characters are polynesian. 

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>I think the tendency to depict human Bionicle characters as white is less a deliberate decision and more an artifact of anime-based art

I will agree with you there. It doesn't mean artists can't learn though. Besides, most of us need to break out of the anime mold.

 

Although, technically, anime characters are "mukokuseki" which means "stateless". In their country of origin they are seen as Japanese, but a lot of us in the Western world see them as white, because white is our cultural default.

 

>That said... I don't see a problem with it. Bionicle characters are non-human by nature, and there's no reason an artist who chooses to depict them as human should have to make the characters Polynesian just because that's where their names come from.

 

Yeah no. Bionicle's Polynesian influence is so much more than just character names. The mythology, architecture, social structure, scenery, design motifs, music, and the concept of the masks all come from Pacific Islander traditions. It's not just "surface aesthetic", it's the whole foundation for the theme.

 

>But don't judge other artists for not catering to your specific, subjective opinion of what you think the non-human characters should look like as humans.

I did not mentions any specific person. And a lot of them have great art. But something being a great piece of art doesn't excuse it from cultural criticism. It's possible to enjoy a creative work while also being aware of its problematic aspects.

 

Yes, Bionicle characters are not human. But they are racially coded as "islanders". A character can be a robot or an animal, but still be designed to evoke a real world human ethnic or cultural group. It happens all the time, especially in animated or children's media.

 

Bionicle characters ARE Polynesian. There's no way around it. Anyone who denies that is participating in the cultural erasure of a marginalized group.

This last bit adds to what I said, Polynesians or in truth Maori (Polynesians come from anywhere in Polynesia whereas Bionicle mostly used Maori things) can be white through blood or culture

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Skin color is based on the amount of direct sunlight a region gets, and Mata Nui is a tropical island. In the few times that I have imagined human!Matoran from Mata Nui, I've thought of them as darker-skinned.
 
It's hardly a stereotype if you wish to imagine human versions of characters with darker skin. Likewise, it's not a sin if you want to draw the characters as white, just as long as you're not doing it out of a sense of superiority. It's also okay if you want to have a good mix—I heard a headcanon a while back that human!Onu-Matoran are nearly albino due to their lack of sunlight, which I can get behind.

 
I think a lot of social justice-related discourse on the Internet can be useful, but can treat otherwise complex matters with a crude simplicity unbecoming of the problem and ill-suited to fixing it. The bottom line is that people should do what they want to do with this matter as long as they don't consciously underrepresent minority groups. Depiction of human!Matoran as white is borderline whitewashing; not only is Mata Nui a fictional island, but—importantly—many of the white human!Matoran depictions are done so without intent to whitewash.
 
Intent matters greatly; if you do something problematic without knowing it's problematic, it's best to give the benefit of the doubt to the offending party and seek to educate them in the problematic aspects of what they're doing. This seems to be the approach when these issues crop up on BZPower—which is one of the reasons I think we have one of the greatest online communities—but the approach of the social justice crowd on other sites can be exactly the opposite, which will not make the issue better—and an overly hostile approach to unintentional offense will only accrue enemies.
 
The implications of such depictions are generally done with enthusiasm and without deliberate malice, and should be responded to with equal parts education and encouragement.
 
I could go on here about the nuance of this matter (and whitewashing in general), but that would take this post into bonesiii territory, and I don't have time for that. :P

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I want to add to Sumiki's answer in direct response to op.

 

I think by taking into account you give the benefit of the doubt to the artist if you are so interested in the issue you could contact him and suggest the color skin issue. I don't think 99% of the artists even think about the whitewashing (tropical island -> people of color or whatever). If you bring the issue wishing to improve the art rather than attacking the artist you might enrich the vision of the artist and therefor improve his art.

 

Then again, the artist might say: "I don't care the circumstances of whatever the setting, I like the idea of Onewa being a small white person with big muscles because I think it looks cool" and that's fine because is his art and is not trying to demonstrate whites are better or stuff like that. As Sumiki said, as long as there is no a sense of superiority or inferiority by the mere fact of the skin color.

 

I think you can actually improve the word and enrich it if you start looking at the positive things (good suggestions like: matoran might be tanned or whatever for living in a tropical island) instead of the negatives (ex: they are offending me and being racists).

 

As a final side point I always thought earth-characters were black because, well... the sets are black... But now that you point they might be albinos because they live underground (it makes a lot of sense) the ideas clash in my head heavily.

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Came for the sets, stayed for the story.

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I draw human bionicle a lot (enough so that others often point it out first thing in their comments) and i also used to draw them white, a lot (probably because i'm white, oops.)

 

lately i've lowered the number of light-skinned bionicle characters by a lot, because of this very reason. it just makes more sense for them to more closely resemble the actual people they were based on.

 

(of course as i said before, it is a very easy mistake to auto-draw people as the same race you are. takes some practice to get out of it.)

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>Australian and Aboriginal cultures are very very different. At least by what most people define australian as, which for most the image of Steve irwin and similar people come up. Just something to take into consideration.

 

The boomerang was invented by Australian Aboriginals. Australian culture IS Aboriginal culture, well before the white people came in and colonized Aboriginal land.

 

That is one example, it has been developed into the culture now. It is a mix of the two (though more European because they killed a lot them). It's the same as a lot of other places like New Zealand or America. If you want it say that they should be all black because of Maori culture a) they are mostly a nice tan brown b) there are many white people with Maori blood c) there are many Pakeha (white New Zealanders) that practice Maori religion or even joined Maori tribes (usually pre-1840) and where known as Pakeha-Maori. Almost all citizens of New Zealand are immersed in Maori culture in some way weather it be (things I have personally done): making an introduction of myself in Maori, learning and performing two haka (a school one and a well known one), spending my entire 1st year at high school in social studies almost completely on Maori history and singing several Maori songs including half our national anthem (the other half is just a translation!). I don't see America reserving seats in Parliament for their native people and I don't see them giving back land, compensation and/or political pardons to native tribes. So before you start saying that they should be black because the Maori were black realise that though Maori are still more involved generally most New Zealanders have a role.

 

 

First of all, the Maori are not black. A few other people said something similar to that, and it's absolutely silly. Race isn't a white/black binary, just as gender isn't a male/female binary.

Polynesians aren't black, and they aren't white either. There are more than two races in the world.

 

And yeah the US's treatment of its natives is pretty bad. NZ does a lot better in that respect.

 

Also to the guy that said the Great Beings would be white because Agori culture is Greco-Roman based? The GBs weren't even from Spherus Magna.

 

Just because I said that other areas of the MU were open to interpretation doesn't mean they'd all be white.

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>Australian and Aboriginal cultures are very very different. At least by what most people define australian as, which for most the image of Steve irwin and similar people come up. Just something to take into consideration.

 

The boomerang was invented by Australian Aboriginals. Australian culture IS Aboriginal culture, well before the white people came in and colonized Aboriginal land.

 

That is one example, it has been developed into the culture now. It is a mix of the two (though more European because they killed a lot them). It's the same as a lot of other places like New Zealand or America. If you want it say that they should be all black because of Maori culture a) they are mostly a nice tan brown b) there are many white people with Maori blood c) there are many Pakeha (white New Zealanders) that practice Maori religion or even joined Maori tribes (usually pre-1840) and where known as Pakeha-Maori. Almost all citizens of New Zealand are immersed in Maori culture in some way weather it be (things I have personally done): making an introduction of myself in Maori, learning and performing two haka (a school one and a well known one), spending my entire 1st year at high school in social studies almost completely on Maori history and singing several Maori songs including half our national anthem (the other half is just a translation!). I don't see America reserving seats in Parliament for their native people and I don't see them giving back land, compensation and/or political pardons to native tribes. So before you start saying that they should be black because the Maori were black realise that though Maori are still more involved generally most New Zealanders have a role.

 

First of all, the Maori are not black. A few other people said something similar to that, and it's absolutely silly. Race isn't a white/black binary, just as gender isn't a male/female binary.

Polynesians aren't black, and they aren't white either. There are more than two races in the world.

 

And yeah the US's treatment of its natives is pretty bad. NZ does a lot better in that respect.

 

Also to the guy that said the Great Beings would be white because Agori culture is Greco-Roman based? The GBs weren't even from Spherus Magna.

 

Just because I said that other areas of the MU were open to interpretation doesn't mean they'd all be white.

A) I used the terms that you used for them, "black" b) I did point out that they are not black.

 

I never said that they are all white, I said that the fact that Maori culture (not race) can be white or "brown-tan" or even black, it doesn't matter race they are in fact.

 

The Great Beings are like gods, further supported by Annona being like a Titan. If Agori culture is Greco-Roman based, the Greek/Roman gods were all white (that I know of) so there is lies his point.

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Whenever I venture into this type of territory, I just draw the character with whatever their set color was as their skin color- so what if human Lewa's green? I can't see, really, any controversy with that except maybe some people going, "If you're humanizing them, you might as well make them realistic colors! Muh!" and that, frankly, isn't even relevant to this discussion.

Edited by Gukko Lord
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Matoran have numerous elementally-affiliated "races", each with their own culture, and are adapted for life in different environments

 

The idea that they'd all fall into the same human ethnicity is inherently ridiculous and shouldn't even need to be said

 

I think more people should take into consideration where they actually live though and what skin color/traits would make the most sense for that - I've seen a whole lot of art where Onua is the Token Black Toa just because he is literally black, even though the Onu-Matoran live underground and would probably make more sense to be the palest

Edited by Lime Paradox
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Bionicle characters ARE Polynesian. There's no way around it. Anyone who denies that is participating in the cultural erasure of a marginalized group.

This is the first I've ever seen anyone say that. Can you cite a source? Because, last I checked, Earth doesn't exist in their universe--Polynesian culture couldn't exist there. ;)

 

 

 

Also to the guy that said the Great Beings would be white because Agori culture is Greco-Roman based? The GBs weren't even from Spherus Magna.

 

Incorrect. It was established back in '10 that their origins are unknown. It was implied, though, that they might be an evolution of the Glatorian race manifested long ago. While this was not confirmed, it is just as likely as the theory that they came from other worlds to reside on SM. Try again.

 

 

Seriously, though. What's the problem? They're nanotech, created by beings whose appearance we don't even know. They have their own definite cultures, and in the context of the story, it can be interpreted however the audience desires.

 

Also, it might interest you to know that everyone on Earth has the exact same skin color--derived from a stuff called "melanin" present in our skin cells. Different conditions in different areas of the world result in different shades, ranging from dark to light. Presumably, if you secluded a small community of dark-skinned people and had them live and reproduce in a region with little sunlight, then over the course of a few centuries, you'd notice that their skin would have lightened up. Why? Because, science. Skin color is region-based, not culture-based. Learn the difference. An Asian guy could adopt Mexican culture, a black woman could adopt Finnish culture, and so forth.

 

You're getting DNA and region confused with the concept of culture in every single one of your arguments. Care to amend that?

 

EDIT: If you take the time to read through this page, and a few related ones, you might be surprised to find that the cultures that exist in the BIONICLE universe are just as wide and diverse as our own here on Earth. 

 

Also, I should probably answer the original question: I don't care. It is entirely up to the artists to draw them however they want. If they want to draw them white, fine. If they want to draw them tan or "black," fine. If they want to draw them green or purple, that is equally fine!

Edited by ~T1S~
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This is the first I've ever seen anyone say that. Can you cite a source? Because, last I checked, Earth doesn't exist in their universe--Polynesian culture couldn't exist there. ;)

But BIONICLE is not real - it is a fictional construct made by people on our planet who do have access to knowledge Polynesian culture. And stories the world over are drawn from ideas and concepts that originate elsewhere. In 2001 BIONICLE heavily drew on Polynesian culture. This was cut back in light of the Maori lawsuit.

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This is the first I've ever seen anyone say that. Can you cite a source? Because, last I checked, Earth doesn't exist in their universe--Polynesian culture couldn't exist there. ;)

But BIONICLE is not real - it is a fictional construct made by people on our planet who do have access to knowledge Polynesian culture. And stories the world over are drawn from ideas and concepts that originate elsewhere. In 2001 BIONICLE heavily drew on Polynesian culture. This was cut back in light of the Maori lawsuit.

 

My point exactly. The way Sailor worded it there suggested that the characters are of that very culture, rather than having their story influenced by it. Also, it's a bit ridiculous to have said that, since we only saw this influence during the first year or two, after which point the story took on a life all its own .

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Your post is already in handy bullet-point format, so I'm going to analyse it similarly. 

 

I know there are many people in the Bionicle fandom who dislike art that re-interprets Bionicle characters as human or organic.

True. They're biomechanical slaves, not people. The great beings and tren krom however, ARE organic.

I disagree. I think that humanized art can be a wonderful interpretation if it's done well. Not to mention that some Bionicle characters are already quite organic looking, like the Barraki and Piraka.

Each to their own.

However, there is a frequently-pervasive aspect of humanized art that is problematic, and that is the tendency for most or all characters to be drawn as white. This baffles me to no end.

White people draw white people to relate to them.

We have a group of characters who live on a tropical island, in tribal societies, with a language clearly based on, and even directly taken from, Maori? Nope, must be white people!

I'm going to give an example. You see the last supper? Thirteen white dudes, clustered around a table. Except IRL they were all middle-eastern.  Renaissance artists drew middle eastern people as white because they were white and their patrons were white. People draw other people as the same skin tone out of habit and to increase relatability. The entire point of drawing them as organic is to make them more relatable, drawing them as someone from a completely different part of the world defeats the point. It also nips certain debates in the bud, such as "You drew tribal characters as black? You're so racist!" Realism and racism overlap a lot, in many people's eyes and the most politically correct course is usually to draw them in the style of the most common ethnicity in the area.

It would be like drawing human versions of the Lion King characters, a story that takes place in central Africa, as white people. Oh wait people already do that.

Please read last text wall.

Other areas of the Matoran Universe don't have a cultural base (Metru Nui, Voya Nui, etc), so those characters are more up to interpretation, but Mata Nui's inspiration is obvious.

I will say though, that 2015 Pohatu is so Australian it hurts, so he's definitely Aboriginal.

Now how offensive would it seem if someone drew all the backwards tribal characters in bionicle as black or Maori, and all the city-dwelling or cultured characters as white? Your point is that it would befit the canon, my point is that people would complain far more.   

Also, Bara Magna was based on ancient Greece and Rome, so it would be ok for a good chunk of the Agori to be white.

The matoran were slaves, made to work against their will for the great beings. Drawing the great beings as white and their slaves as black people would be considered very taboo.

Of course, I, or anyone else, can't really stop you from drawing white bonkles.

But as socially-conscious people, we have an obligation to represent underrepresented groups.

And to depict characters who are so obviously based on Pacific Islander culture as white people is insulting, and frankly, quite racist.

Yeah, no. You're just being a bit of a social justice warrior here, you haven't really thought out the other options. I bet that if all the mata nui bionicles were dawn as Maori there would be far more people (probably including you) complaining far more about it.

Basically, drawing matoran as non-white would seem stereotyping of tribal cultures, racist to blacks and insensitive to slavery.

Just because it would make more sense for matoran to be black, doesn't mean it would be a good idea.

Plenty of valid points.

 

I think the tendency to depict human Bionicle characters as white is less a deliberate decision and more an artifact of anime-based art, which is where most human Bionicle artists got their start (even some of the best of the best). A lot of anime features mostly white-looking characters, and it can occasionally be a challenge for artists to break free of that and force themselves to take racial diversity into account.

This. All the "exclusively white" humanized Bionicle characters I've seen over the years come from sub-par artwork heavily influenced by typical manga style drawings. It's not an issue. It's teenagers expressing their enjoyment of the franchise through their own artwork. If you honestly think they depict their favorite Toa as "white" because of some underlying racism or social issue, you need to reevaluate yourself. 

 

Bionicle characters ARE Polynesian. There's no way around it. Anyone who denies that is participating in the cultural erasure of a marginalized group.

Bionicle characters are not anything, nor are they nothing. They are whatever the artist or mocer for that matter, cares for them to be. But now you are changing you tune, for in your opening post you stated that different areas of the matoran universe were open for interpretation, yet now your stating all bionicle characters are polynesian. 

 

They were never meant to be on the island to begin with, by the way. Their origin can be paralleled to Lord of the Flies, where they ended up there due to a freak accident, and they merely adopted their new culture over time due to their new home. They could be literally any race being as they were once city folk, so saying "they can only be Polynesian or you're wrong" is ironic since it conflicts with the established canon.

Edited by Kek
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As an occasional humanized-Bionicle fan, I personally imagine the Metru Nuians to be very multiethnic; after all, big cities are the most diverse places in the world. As for Spherus Magna, if the people there were humans I'd expect the Fire, Ice and Rock tribes to be pale, since they're from the north, while the Water, Jungle and Sand tribes would be darker-skinned.

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I see this argument as rather moot, bionicle characters arnt humans to begin with, so why should it matter when someone draws them as humans, with pale dermal color?

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For what it's worth, I think many of the best human BIONICLE artists like ToM Dracone and Lady Kopaka already DO try to express diversity in their drawings. Even some of my own terrible HB sketches from back in the day had multiracial characters. Obviously newbie artists don't always start off with especially diverse character designs, but I don't know if the problem is as pervasive as you're making it out to be. Although admittedly, I'm not as in tune with the BIONICLE fan art scene as I used to be, so maybe I'm the one misjudging this issue's scope.

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It's just artistic choice and artists making art that they can familiarize with. Nothing to be taken harshly.

 

 

[/size]

I'm just going to say this and nothing else, because the diction I have brewing right now would get me banned without question.

Drawing people exclusively white is not an art-style

 

It could be an art style, simply due to the wide definition of art.

However, if an artist wants to draw Bionicle characters as all caucasian or all female or whatever they can, because it's their art, it's what they find appealing and it's coming out of their own head.

 

Personally I feel this entire discussion is rather pointless and very flamable, especially since these characters aren't human whatsoever, and I feel artists can represent that as whatever they want since it's their art after all.

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I'll try and keep this short-

 

No individual artist is obligated to draw human characters of any particular race- just as no TV show or story is technically obligated to include people of colour,  queer people, people with an uncommon gender identity, people with disabilities, etc. It's great when these types of characters are included, particularly when shown in a positive way- seeing them in a story's canon is awesome, having people include them in their oc's or headcanons of existing characters is also nice- but it is important that you don't end up pressuring individual creators to include them- particularly when, as we've seen here, the inclusion of people of colour or other minorities in certain contexts can get perceived as offensive.

 

Let's face it, a TV show with, say, one transgender character is much more likely to be criticised as transphobic or ignorant than a TV show with no trans characters- it's easy to see why people shy away from representing minorities (In a similar vein, I've seen the Trans!Tamaru headcanon criticised for gender stereotyping, and the same principle can be applied to racial interpretations).

 

Example from another fandom- when the new My Little Pony series first came out, human interpretations of the characters were quite popular. The main character, Twilight Sparkle, is a bit of a bookworm and she's obsessive about her studies. The character is sometimes depicted in human form with Asian features-  the original Twilight's almond-shaped eyes and dark mane might have been what inspired this choice, but is it playing into stereotypes of Asians being obsessed with education? When the characters received canon human forms, they neatly sidestepped the problem by giving the characters fantasy skin tones, but it still doesn't answer the question of whether we should be concerned about the connotations of race and personality when assigning a race to a raceless character.

 

I guess the only solution is to draw the things you want to draw, and if people are offended- have a conversation. Find out what it is that offended them. Explain your choices.Take criticism on board if it's reasonable. Make changes if you think you should. Grow as a person and an artist because of it. But don't let other people pressure you simply because your interpretation is different to theirs.

 

(Wow that was not short. Oops. Oh well.)

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Ironic when an obvious bait topic ends up agreeing with the people it's attempting to bait.

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I see this argument as rather moot, bionicle characters arnt humans to begin with, so why should it matter when someone draws them as humans, with pale dermal color?

This. If you have the freedom to express characters who are robotic as humans then you shouldn't have to be obligated to illustrate them as a certain race.

 

-NotS

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I see this argument as rather moot, bionicle characters arnt humans to begin with, so why should it matter when someone draws them as humans, with pale dermal color?

 

This. If you have the freedom to express characters who are robotic as humans then you shouldn't have to be obligated to illustrate them as a certain race.

 

-NotS

Exactly. If you can think of say, Lewa, as a human wearing a Miru and green armor, then you can imagine them as having any dermal color you choose. Should it really matter if someone draws him as pale? Or with tanned skin?

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Bionicle characters are not human and are not directly related to any human culture. All of them however are inspired by various cultures (including the areas you said weren't ie Metru-Nui saga) - some more strongly or directly than others. People tend to interpret translations of characters from fictional worlds to be like themselves (as that is how the stories are portrayed - with a point of view relating the audience to the character) so people should be allowed to interpret them how they like to strengthen that bond. Saying the characters should be translated from the fictional world to the "real world" as a certain race or culture is silly since they aren't meant to be a certain race or culture, they simply take aspects of a variety of cultures and real world ideas and incorporate them into something new. It'd be like saying if an apple was a steak it should be rare since apples aren't cooked  - yeah there's a relation there but an apple isn't a steak in the first place so it's kind of a pointless argument.

 

(sorry if this post doesn't make much sense not in the best word forming head space. :P )

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All the people saying "Well Bionicle characters aren't any real race so it doesn't matter what the artist makes them look like".

Yeah, no.

That's complete .

 

You don't get to take the visual aspects of a culture but ignore its people. Again, that's cultural erasure. And about all the people who say "it doesn't matter it's just art".

You would flip out if someone said they did want to include any women in their story because of "artistic reasons". So why is it suddenly ok for a cast to be all-white, or rather, not from the culture of origin?

Those are some big double standards when it comes to social issues here.

 

Everyone here gets up in arms at anything that might be seen as even a little sexist, but yet ignores racist like some of the posts in this thread. They're both important sides of social justice.

 

Also I'm seeing a lot of the "white = default" mentality. Stop that.

 

Let me ask you a question, is there anyone who has posted in this thread who is not white?  Cause I have a feeling most of you are.

 

For you it might not matter what a fictional character's race is, but that's because you have the privilege of seeing yourself represented nearly everywhere.

For you do say "this doesn't matter" can only be spoken from a position of privilege, and I suggest that you take a step back and think about that.

 

It matters. It absolutely matters.

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It really doesn't matter. What about the culture was carried over? The name scheme and the fact that they live in islands? That'd not a lot to go on. Also, a lot of us asked reasonable questions that you clearly avoided by pulling the "Racist" card. That is by far the saddest move you could make in any argument. "Just scream 'racist' and all the competition will back down." You're of that mentality, eh? Disappointing. 

 

If you came here to have a decent argument, then do so. Don't make a weak argument, scream "racists" and act like you've won. Because you haven't. That approach alone takes away all of your credibility. Let's all be mature and logical about this.

 

Also, I have a question. Your "About Me" section contains the following:

 

My interests include the new relaunch, mocking the Bionicle fandom and drawing culturally accurate human Bionicle characters.

 

 

So, your whole purpose here is to try to shame us into accepting your ideals? Sorry, but you just lost all credibility.

 

 

Let's try this again. Yes, I agree with you that the names and the general premise of the story back in 2001 was based on a variety of Polynesian cultures. But, once again, you are confusing race with culture--the two can exist independently of the other. Furthermore, after those first two years, we literally dove deeper into the Matoran Universe and saw where those characters originated. You claimed that only the Mata Nui inhabitants "had to look that way," while the others were a bit more iffy. They were only up there for 1000 years (a rather short time for them, by comparison).

 

I qould quote everyone whom you neglected to address, but I'm going to assume you're a big enough of a person to do so yourself, and come back with a reasonable set of arguments all on your own. Because playing the race card is gonna get you nowhere. 

 

And, to answer your question, I am what you would call "white." Does that mean I am automatically unreasonable by default? 

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So, let me get this worked out, its racist if someone doesn't draw a humonicle as a Polynesian? That's like saying humanized transformers have to be the race they sound like. They could just choose that accent when they came to earth simply because they liked how it sounded. It doesn't mean they need to be drawn as a human of that race.

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Variety amongst characters in artwork is always nice. I've never really encountered this issue, I usually see human Bionicle characters drawn to look as dark or light as their respective armor. Kids gonna draw what kids wanna draw.gI reallyrdon't wanna8respond furtherb'cause I know 8what's  going onand I'm not gonna8bother.

:^)

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After reading the original post I looked at a bunch of the human Bionicle pictures and I see varying tones.

I thought the whole point of art is to create what you want, not to fill a color quota.

 

Say I drew 3 pictures of the Toa Mata in human form. One had the Toa being all white in skin tone. One with all black in skin tone. One with varying colors in skin tone. What's the big difference? Color? Who's to say what skin tone a fictional culture has. A person of any skin color can use any skin color they want. What's so wrong with using their own? It's what they're most familiar with.

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