1. Paizo sends out holiday e-card featuring Paizo iconic sorcerer Seoni depicted as a pin-up girl.
2. Paizo fans favorably comment on the Paizo boards. Female fans included.
3. Someone links to this guy’s blog, as he has a problem with the art, saying it’s exploitive and offensive to women.
4. When it’s pointed out that he’s making a blanket statement on behalf of all women, that Paizo’s female CEO had to problem with the art, nor did Paizo’s female art director in charge of that piece of art, and that Paizo has been particularly diverse in the genders, races, cultures, and sexual orientations of its iconic characters, he makes a tangent and starts suggesting that Paizo is perhaps racist because non-white Seoni is portrayed as particularly white in this holiday card art, and that the art director “might not actually be as comfortable showing non-white characters as people think she is.” (Even though said art director is full-blooded Korean, born in Korea.)
It’s pretty silly. I mean, there is sexism in the world, and racism. And it’s really easy to see obvious negative examples of these things in gaming (several d20 companies were known for their hypervoluptuous scantily-dressed females on their cover art, for example, but fortunately I can’t think of any blatantly racist imagery in gaming books). But to get offended by Seoni? I see more skin on the beach, and I’m talking San Diego, not Miami.
Sure, you have the right to be offended (heck, I’m offended by hamburger ads that make fun of vegetarians). But if you’re a Big Strong White Male who’s getting offended about some very mild female pin-up art, aren’t you really saying, “Ladies, I’m here to defend you, especially those of you too weak and meek to stand up for yourselves and admit that you’re offended”? Isn’t that really more offensive than the art in question? The fact that you think that women who are offended won’t say so, and that you have to be their voice, their Knight in Shining Armor?
To quote someone on my boards (Arya, was that you?), “I don’t mind cheesecake if I get to see some beefcake!” We’re hardwired to be attracted to other people. Denying that is as ridiculous as denying hunger. Criticizing using attractive people in artwork to sell a product is like criticizing the pictures of tasty desserts to get you to come to a restaurant (Cheesecake Factory, I’m talkin’ to YOU).
So anyway, this got me thinking about the books I’ve written and if any of them could be considered racist or sexist. So here’s a rundown of ones that MIGHT have racist or sexist elements:
Children of the Night: Ghosts. Main character of my adventure killed in an accident after witnessing a lecherous male noble assault someone.
The Star Cairns: Investigate old dungeons created by white-supremacist culture (Suel) for studying magic. It portrays the Suel as the bad guys.
Crypt of Lyzandred: Mad dungeon of riddles run by a lich. Hmm, I think that lich may not have been white … am I saying anyone not white is evil? I don’t remember him being particularly evil. Maybe he’s “one of the good ones.”
The Scarlet Brotherhood: A sourcebook on the land ruled by the white-supremacist Suel, how they’re all evil, etc., as well as their battles with their black neighbors to the south (who have an advanced culture based on literature, agriculture, and magic). Suel = bad guys.
Slavers: Evil slavers in a racially-mixed part of the world (both in the human sense and the fantasy sense). Among the bad guys are an evil half-orc (who works for the Suel, IIRC) and an evil elf.
Dark Matter/FX: These Alternity books both include the vodun (“voodoo”) magic rules that I wrote, based on research of actual vodun culture. I believe it was respectfully done, and talks about how some practitioners use their magic for good and some for evil.
Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting: For a world that’s mostly focused on the Europe-like areas, it has its share of stuff based on Persian, Egyptian, Sumerian, and Asian cultures. Most of the most powerful characters are female.
Swords Into Plowshares: A collection of magic items, proceeds went to help a charity supporting girls in Afghanistan.
Ghostwalk: It never was obviously stated in the book, but I designed all of the regional stuff with the idea that the setting was near-tropical, like the climate of Central America. If you look at the minis I painted for my Ghostwalk campaign, you’ll see that most of them have mid-to-dark skin, reflecting what humans would look like from that sort of climate.
The New Argonauts: Um, they’re Greek. Not exactly white people. Okay, the cover art is a little cheesecakey, with Scylla topless and all, but (1) Scylla was supposed to be beautiful before her transformation, and (2) her lower half is six dogs and a snake tail, so if you think that’s sexy I think the problem is you, not the artwork, and (3) Gerald Lee’s cover art is just dang cool. :)
So, looking back at these books, I don’t see anything particularly racist or sexist in them (i.e., promoting one race or sex as better than another). If you feel otherwise, I’d like to know. :)