Race and Popular Fantasy Literature: Habits of Whiteness

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Routledge, Aug 11, 2015 - Literary Criticism - 224 pages
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This book illuminates the racialized nature of twenty-first century Western popular culture by exploring how discourses of race circulate in the Fantasy genre. It examines not only major texts in the genre, but also the impact of franchises, industry, editorial and authorial practices, and fan engagements on race and representation. Approaching Fantasy as a significant element of popular culture, it visits the struggles over race, racism, and white privilege that are enacted within creative works across media and the communities which revolve around them. While scholars of Science Fiction have explored the genre’s racialized constructs of possible futures, this book is the first examination of Fantasy to take up the topic of race in depth. The book’s interdisciplinary approach, drawing on Literary, Cultural, Fan, and Whiteness Studies, offers a cultural history of the anxieties which haunt Western popular culture in a century eager to declare itself post-race. The beginnings of the Fantasy genre’s habits of whiteness in the twentieth century are examined, with an exploration of the continuing impact of older problematic works through franchising, adaptation, and imitation. Young also discusses the major twenty-first century sub-genres which both re-use and subvert Fantasy conventions. The final chapter explores debates and anti-racist praxis in authorial and fan communities. With its multi-pronged approach and innovative methodology, this book is an important and original contribution to studies of race, Fantasy, and twenty-first century popular culture.


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My assertion is that such a point trying to be made here is another facet of either the Grievance Industry itself - identity politics - or guilty white liberals who've been tricked into accepting the sins of their ancient fore-fathers counts against them in the modern day.
Here's the problem with any reference to "whiteness" being an actual thing. In order to believe in "white privilege" or any similar construct, in a warped way you end up coming from the same point of view as a white slave owner or the KKK, formed after the Civil War.
What that connection means can be derived from the "Nature vs. Nurture" argument of those times. Those who believed whites to be genetically superior (not that they used the word "genetic" at the time) asserted that black people were half-man and half-ape and thus were not CAPABLE of civilized higher function, and thus asserted it was in black peoples NATURE to end up poor or engaged in criminality. Basically a sour grapes last resort having lost the slavery argument.
The Abe Lincoln types - those that supported and fought for ending slavery knew better, and counter-asserted that, no, it had NOTHING to do with an inferior NATURE but such predicaments were caused by lack of proper nurturing in the black person's life. The NURTURE argument asserted that if given a happy, healthy home where work ethic, manners, erudition and Judeo-Christian values were not only taught but also observed by the adults, young black children would grow up as decent, hard-working, patriotic, refined, and capable as any white child.
Of course we all know the latter - the NURTURE assertion - won that argument and is true because we can see it replete in the modern day with TITANS of intellect, refinement, skill and grace that are black such as Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, or Dr. Ben Carson who was the first pediatric neurosurgeon EVER (not just black but of ANYONE) to separate cranially conjoined twins in-utero. These are two of my favorite people of the day - not as some tokens with dark skin to admire, but because they are just admirable.
So what does the Nature vs. Nurture argument's outcome ULTIMATELY teach us? It puts a lie to the whole "whiteness" or "blackness" claim because it proves BEHAVIOR is not linked to skin color. But that doesn't fit the "divide and conquer" narrative of the Grievance Industry, multi-culturalism or the Identity Politics cause at-large and so it is ignored and/or swept under the rug.
Truly, one can no more "act white" or "act black" than he can "act polka-dot" because one can't act like a color (apple) when he's a person (orange). And we all know apples and oranges don't compare.
when a book like this "Habits of Whiteness" tries to associate cultural icons and literary themes to someone's melanin count it fails the nature vs. nurture test by claiming someone's behavior is genetically tied to their race, just like the slave owners and the KKK asserted, albeit for different reasons. But reasons for a thing fall to the wayside when the same lie is presented, regardless of the angle it's spun with.
The reason that north American country which came out being named the USA did so well, and still does today, is because it adopted hard-learned lessons that not only came before (which the Founders codified in the Declaration of Independence) but also clean up done along the way since its inception, to include ending slavery that LONG predated any country on the north American continent. The customs and law and behavior of individual liberty, personal responsibility, hard work ethic, and small government apply as success for the HUMAN PERSON and just function best for that creature known as mankind, regardless of his melanin count.
Another misconception is the one that states slavery was the USA's original sin when in fact slavery existed well before 1776 or even 1492.


J R R Tolkien and Robert E Howard
Derivation Imitation and Adaptation
Gritty Fantasy
Monsters on Page and Screen
Popular Culture Postcolonialism
Breaking Habits and Digital Communication

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About the author (2015)

Helen Young is an Honorary Associate of the Department of English at the University of Sydney, Australia.

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