This is a topic that’s probably well overdue being discussed but hasn’t been for a number of reasons, not the least of which being that both mods are white and from cultures that don’t really get considered “exotic”, so everything that follows is based off observation and listening to people who do suffer under this stigma.

It frequently goes hand in hand with tokenism, since the included character’s minority status must be “justified” somehow:

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[Text of the comment above: “The ONLY way a person can choose a dark skinned avatar is to pick a Witch Doctor!? …what’s the real message here?”]

Frequently, it’s not just the people but also their religious or mythological figures who get horribly misrepresented in the name of trying to blend titillation with a ridiculous claim of authenticity.

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We already covered Sheva Alomar in Resident Evil 5, the Witchdoctor in Diablo 3 and Kali in SMITE – but those are actually pretty straight forward examples.  Frequently this trope feels the need to “whiten” the character, gets combined with evil is sexy or feels the need to make them “special” to warrant inclusion.

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And these are just examples where there’s named characters – rather than nameless secondary characters or background decoration.

Some of examples of living real world groups who get caught up in this, particularly in the sexual exotification of women from the group:

  • All the nations of East Asia (who are frequently assumed to be represented entirely by China and Japan)
  • All the nations of Africa (who are frequently lumped into one image that doesn’t really represent any of them)
  • All the nations of Native Americans (who are frequently lumped into one image that doesn’t really represent any of them)
  • All the nations of the Polynesian islands (who are frequently lumped into one image that doesn’t really represent any of them)
  • Romani (frequently referred to by the racial slur G*psies)
  • Modern South America (particularly Brazil)
  • Voodoo (along with other Afro-American faiths that are frequently mistaken/misrepresented as being interchangeable)
  • Islam (particularly harems)
  • Hinduism (particularly Kali)
  • Yoga (particularly Tantra)
  • Military/espionage/law enforcement
  • Sex workers of all types in all cultures

All of these groups already have more than enough problems with harassment and oppression without pop media reducing them to one-dimensional stereotypes.

– wincenworks

Pre-emptive Rhetoric Debunking:

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