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"Verbal Black-Face"

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Proteas
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"Verbal Black-Face" Feb. 12th, 2013 @ 10:52 PM Reply

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The Borderlands 2 character Tiny Tina came under fire last night, as a Twitter discussion between the gameâEUTMs lead writer, Anthony Burch, and some of the gameâEUTMs players raised the question of whether her characterisation was racist. In the game, Tina - an explosives expert, and child - speaks using African American lingo, in a way that one Twitter user compared to âEUoeverbal blackfaceâEU.

It began when Mike Sacco, creative developer of Cryptozoic Entertainment - a creator of trading card and iOS games - sent Burch the tweet, âEUoeHey. I really like BL2âEU²s writing, but Tiny TinaâEUTMs trope of âEUoewhite girl talkinâEUTM like them urban folk!!âEU has got to go.âEU

Others agreed, tweeting responses like, âEUoeIts exaggerated stereotypical low class âEUoeblackâEU lingo that with Tina amounts to verbal blackface.âEU Another user pointed out that, âEUoeShe equates stereotyped ebonics with wacky.âEU To that, Burch conceded, âEUoeHrm - thatâEUTMs an interesting point. I meant to make her a mishmash of stuff (ebonics/fairytale/naivete) but I see what you meanâEU.

But many sprang to Tina, and BurchâEUTMs, defence. Gearbox head Randy Pitcford claimed, âEUoeTina is not racist because you are not racist. YouâEUTMre a pillar of tolerance and inclusion.âEU

Burch finished by saying, âEUoeThe last thing I want to be is exclusionary or prejudiced, so if Tina truly is problematic IâEUTMll change her,âEU but added, âEUoeIâEUTMm just not convinced that a character using lingo like badonkadonk/crunk is inherently racist. If IâEUTMm wrong I would like to know why.âEU

He also confirmed that any potential change to TinaâEUTMs character would only apply to future content. When asked if heâEUTMd re-do her sections, Burch replied, âEUoeThatâEUTMs not actually feasible within the technical constraints of the game, but IâEUTMd alter her dialog in any future BL stuff.âEU

Source: PC Gamer.

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This makes the second time I've heard the term "verbal black-face" used lately (the other occasion being the VW Bug Commercial for the Superbowl where everyone is speaking Jamaican accents), but I don't quite get it. She's not making fun of any one individual or group of individuals in particular, she's doing what every other person on the face of this planet does; using popular slang terms. She's not even saying anything particularly offensive, here's a quick montage of the character for your consideration.

Am I missing something here?


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Ceratisa
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Response to "Verbal Black-Face" Feb. 13th, 2013 @ 12:16 AM Reply

Quite honestly, she isn't' being offensive at all. Some little kids do talk like that, end of statement.

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Response to "Verbal Black-Face" Feb. 13th, 2013 @ 12:37 AM Reply

It puzzles me too, I've seen the commercial you mentioned and I just think it's stupid, not offensive. I think it's an example of an oversensitivity in our culture and a trend towards people looking for instances of persecution and things to be offended by.


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Response to "Verbal Black-Face" Feb. 13th, 2013 @ 12:46 AM Reply

If African American lingo and "verbal black face" means African American vernacular then there is nothing racist about it. African American vernacular is just a dialect in the engilsh language, its southern american and african dialects put together.

I've never played Borderlands but a quick look up of the characters name did show that she was "white" (I really wish "race" would just die already), if she was raised around people that used African American vernacular, then she will also speak it.


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Response to "Verbal Black-Face" Feb. 13th, 2013 @ 12:50 AM Reply

At 2/13/13 12:46 AM, LordJaric wrote: If African American lingo and "verbal black face" means African American vernacular then there is nothing racist about it. African American vernacular is just a dialect in the engilsh language, its southern american and african dialects put together.

I've never played Borderlands but a quick look up of the characters name did show that she was "white" (I really wish "race" would just die already), if she was raised around people that used African American vernacular, then she will also speak it.

Forgive me for duble posting, but I should of watched the video, but that is African American vernacular, and as I said if she was raised around those who used it then she will use it as well.


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Response to "Verbal Black-Face" Feb. 13th, 2013 @ 10:15 AM Reply

I can definitely hear the black vernacular.

However, it seems forced and overdone. I can see how someone might be offended, but, frankly, I'm more offended that someone thought that dialogue was worthy of publishing. It was terrible.

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Response to "Verbal Black-Face" Feb. 13th, 2013 @ 01:09 PM Reply

"It's our culture, not yours."
"That's our word."

I don't see any difference here, really.


Wut?

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Response to "Verbal Black-Face" Feb. 13th, 2013 @ 01:41 PM Reply

Most of the time, when a person who is not black tries to imitate "black" vernacular, it ends up sounding overdone. In this case, it definitely was. No black person I know talks like that. I'm black and I don't talk like that all the time. Sometimes I do, but only when I'm around people that I know would understand it.

I think all you guys who think it isn't racist are half right. It might not be racist to you, but not everyone thinks like you. There are some kids playing that game in Kansas somewhere whose only experience with black people IS that game. Because of that, they can grow up with stereotypes.


no, really...DON'T CLICK THE PIC

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Response to "Verbal Black-Face" Feb. 13th, 2013 @ 10:18 PM Reply

I honestly don't think that Tiny Tina's dialogue in the game was supposed to be intentionally racist or offensive, stupid you could say, but it was supposed to more humorous than anything else, at least in the writers minds. Now the vast majority of gamers and most other people for that matter would think of this as nothing more than witty or crude humor using a stereotypical vernacular, I can't really see anything offensive about that, considering that TV shows and movies do this sometimes as well.

This seems to raise an issue of "when is it okay to say what to others, and by who?" which includes drawls and accents. Not to mention that there are a lot more vulgar and offensive content in movies, certain video games and other media, and no one calls them out on that. Bottom line is, the dialogue may be stupid and overdone, in which it might be considered offensive stereotyping, but obviously wasn't designed to be racist or stereotypical, and this is just another product of some people being so easy to offend.


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Response to "Verbal Black-Face" Feb. 13th, 2013 @ 11:10 PM Reply

The thing that annoys me is that there are far more offensive stereotypes in the game than Tiny Tina... and nobody protests them.

For example; the sniper Mordecai. He was a playable character from the first Borderlands game, in BL2, he's a friendly NPC who helps you. When you first go out to meet him, you have to set two or three critters in the zone on fire all at the same time so their combined screams can wake him up... because he's sleeping off a hangover (can be during the middle of the day, depending on the time in-game). When he does wake up, you notice that they've changed his voice actor from the first game, and he speaks with a noticeable Latino accent. Oh, and when he's fully awake, he stands atop a tower and shoots at EVERYTHING in the zone, just for the hell of it.

In essence, you've got the stereotype of a Mexican bandit from a spaghetti-western.

*cricket noises*


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Response to "Verbal Black-Face" Feb. 14th, 2013 @ 05:03 AM Reply

Every time a video game portrays people acting like they do in real life (it happened in DX:HR too) people throw a big fuss

fuck that


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Response to "Verbal Black-Face" Feb. 14th, 2013 @ 05:58 AM Reply

Little kids like to "talk black" as a joke or to seem edgy and cool. I think that Gearbox hit the nail on the head. Tiny Tina is just an exaggeration of what some kids act like this generation.


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Response to "Verbal Black-Face" Feb. 18th, 2013 @ 01:19 AM Reply

At 2/14/13 05:58 AM, Cootie wrote: Little kids like to "talk black" as a joke or to seem edgy and cool. I think that Gearbox hit the nail on the head. Tiny Tina is just an exaggeration of what some kids act like this generation.

pretty much this. I'm personally tired of the race card being thrown around every time someone perceives some nonexistent form of racism.

white person talking like a non white? well, they must be racist!

someone casting non whites in a light other than overwhelming positive? they must be racist!

playing on some stereotype? (like a mexican in a racing game driving around in a car shaped like a burrito?(Homies Rollerz reference btw)) they must be racist!

then again, Square did make a Tom Sawyer game, but it never got released in the USA... why? go look it up and find out.

and then you have Custer's Revenge (not safe for work, don't look it up if you might get fired over it) Which I would say was not racist as much as it was just plain dumb. a naked General Custer with a raging boner dodging arrows to rape an indian woman tied to a pole. points for being ballsey enough to even try it, especially on an ATARI.


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Response to "Verbal Black-Face" Feb. 18th, 2013 @ 08:39 AM Reply

At 2/13/13 11:10 PM, Proteas wrote: The thing that annoys me is

;;;
The so called politically correct.
These losers have so little to do in their lives all they can come up with is a pathetic attempt to gain some recognition , by criticising anything they can find, & that their criticisms might possibly be accepted as gospel by the sheeple that make up the vast majority of folks.


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Response to "Verbal Black-Face" Feb. 18th, 2013 @ 11:32 AM Reply

I don't get the comparison... blackface was used to avoid using black characters in film.

Borderlands 2 has black characters so obviously they were never avoiding it in the first place. Tiny Tina is just supposed to be some white kid that likes talking black. I don't see how it's mocking really.

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Response to "Verbal Black-Face" Feb. 18th, 2013 @ 11:54 AM Reply

At 2/18/13 11:32 AM, Entice wrote: I don't get the comparison... blackface was used to avoid using black characters in film.

While that may be WHY it was used, it doesn't change the connotations. The black face characters were often extremely overdone and racist versions of black people meant to mock and perpetuate the negative stereotypes. That evolved into a situation where anytime a white person overplays black characteristic, the connotations of the old black face are brought up again. Only rarely can a white person do such things and have it be seen as OK.

In the end I don't see this as intentionally rcist, but rather some idiotic pothead's weed idea of a funny joke that turned out to be both inadvertantly offensive, and wholly stupid.

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Response to "Verbal Black-Face" Feb. 18th, 2013 @ 12:14 PM Reply

At 2/18/13 11:54 AM, Camarohusky wrote: While that may be WHY it was used, it doesn't change the connotations. The black face characters were often extremely overdone and racist versions of black people meant to mock and perpetuate the negative stereotypes.

Oh, I'm not denying that black face had racist connotations. I'm just saying that the imitation that goes on today generally isn't mocking.

That evolved into a situation where anytime a white person overplays black characteristic, the connotations of the old black face are brought up again.

Not necessarily. "Wiggers" don't act like black stereotypes in order to offend people even if their behavior appears exaggerated. One way or another a lot of the slang that's popular now originated in black communities.

In the end I don't see this as intentionally rcist, but rather some idiotic pothead's weed idea of a funny joke that turned out to be both inadvertantly offensive, and wholly stupid.

I giggled.

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Response to "Verbal Black-Face" Feb. 18th, 2013 @ 01:01 PM Reply

Language is specific to geography and culture. There are dialects which develop over time within those cultures. Neither of these have anything to do with actual race. This is simply an example of a white girl speaking (exaggeratedly, by the way) with a dialect that most people associate with lower-class urban areas. From an anthropological standpoint, this is no different from children of immigrants who learn a new language, or an English-speaker in Japan.

Wouldn't the suggestion that Tina is speaking "like a black" be significantly more racist than how she was actually speaking? The people upset that a white girl is speaking in a dialect that is "below her inherited social status" are the racists! Moreover, this term "verbal black-face" could be synonymous with "accent."


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Response to "Verbal Black-Face" Feb. 18th, 2013 @ 03:04 PM Reply

At 2/18/13 12:14 PM, Entice wrote: Not necessarily. "Wiggers" don't act like black stereotypes in order to offend people even if their behavior appears exaggerated. One way or another a lot of the slang that's popular now originated in black communities.

I would make a a distinction between white people who have whole heartedly adopted the culture, and white folks who occasionally play the part for attention's sake.

It's not the mere fact that a white person is doing black things that makes something "black face". It's the white person doing black things in order to get a rise, mainly humor in a mocking sense, out of an audience that makes it offensive. This is most definitely a white person throwing a black voice on a white girl in order to get a rise out of the viewer. Would have pulled off a creepy poultergiest "They're here" type voice much better for the part.

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Response to "Verbal Black-Face" Feb. 18th, 2013 @ 05:44 PM Reply

At 2/18/13 03:04 PM, Camarohusky wrote:
At 2/18/13 12:14 PM, Entice wrote: Not necessarily. "Wiggers" don't act like black stereotypes in order to offend people even if their behavior appears exaggerated. One way or another a lot of the slang that's popular now originated in black communities.
I would make a a distinction between white people who have whole heartedly adopted the culture, and white folks who occasionally play the part for attention's sake.

And how would you go about distinguishing this "whole-hearted" adoption of "the culture"? Which stereotypes are you going to use to pigeonhole people who don't look the part?


It's not that a white person is doing black things that makes something "black face". It's the white person doing black things in order to get a rise, mainly humor in a mocking sense, out of an audience that makes it offensive.

Mockery is generally offensive. Humorously mixing gender/race/ethnic stereotypes, without the mockery you claim accompanies such humor, isn't... at least to anyone with half the sense it takes to tell whether or not it's a mockery or basically a mimicry. Was the speech portrayed in a derogatory manner? I don't think so. I think the derogatory nature of such a presentation demands the scrutiny you'd like to apply to anyone cracking a cheap joke.

The fact you automatically assume it's that black talk, exposes the innate racist hiding within you. I won't lie, I laugh at some very offensive material, some of it directly disrespecting what I love and cherish. Being offended is great, it means you care about what's being talked about.

This is most definitely a white person throwing a black voice on a white girl in order to get a rise out of the viewer. Would have pulled off a creepy poultergiest "They're here" type voice much better for the part.

Meh, I thought the Tiny Tina character was epic. People who don't like it should quit abusing that mission for cheap points.


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Response to "Verbal Black-Face" Feb. 18th, 2013 @ 06:59 PM Reply

At 2/18/13 05:44 PM, LazyDrunk wrote: And how would you go about distinguishing this "whole-hearted" adoption of "the culture"? Which stereotypes are you going to use to pigeonhole people who don't look the part?

It's pretty easy to tell when someone is being themselves and when someone is acting the part of a different culture for attention.

Mockery is generally offensive. Humorously mixing gender/race/ethnic stereotypes, without the mockery you claim accompanies such humor, isn't... at least to anyone with half the sense it takes to tell whether or not it's a mockery or basically a mimicry.

Overdoing a specific type of speech leans heavily toward mockery and away from mimicry. The character was way overdone, to the point of being absurd, hence the immedoate jump to mockery.

The fact you automatically assume it's that black talk, exposes the innate racist hiding within you.

This is the stupidest shit I have ever heard. Nothing but an excuse for a racist person to continue their racism by blaming those who call them out on it. "Well, if you didn't pick of on the use of the word n****r, than it wouldn;t be racist. And you only picked up on it because you're racist!" Puh-lease. There is such a thing as "black vernacular". Look it up. It's a linguistic term. It's like chiding a person for thinking speech that contains words like "S.A." and "cholo" is latino vernacular, and saying becuase they recognize a fact, they're racist. Stick to real and legitimate arguments.


People who don't like it should quit abusing that mission for cheap points.

That is true. Frankly, Borderlands is a fringe game that is meant to push some boundaries. It's like going to a shock comic routine and complaining about being shocked.

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Response to "Verbal Black-Face" Feb. 18th, 2013 @ 08:17 PM Reply

At 2/18/13 06:59 PM, Camarohusky wrote:
At 2/18/13 05:44 PM, LazyDrunk wrote: And how would you go about distinguishing this "whole-hearted" adoption of "the culture"? Which stereotypes are you going to use to pigeonhole people who don't look the part?
It's pretty easy to tell when someone is being themselves and when someone is acting the part of a different culture for attention.

I think it's actually pretty tough. I could use some anecdotal evidence, like Mormon missionaries whose outward appearance gives away absolutely NOTHING as to their culture. Do you have any space for those who do not absolutely fit into the cultural stereotypes that make it so easy to tell how a person should talk or act?


Mockery is generally offensive. Humorously mixing gender/race/ethnic stereotypes, without the mockery you claim accompanies such humor, isn't... at least to anyone with half the sense it takes to tell whether or not it's a mockery or basically a mimicry.
Overdoing a specific type of speech leans heavily toward mockery and away from mimicry. The character was way overdone, to the point of being absurd, hence the immedoate jump to mockery.

If it's overdone to the absurd, then the teeth aren't as sharp, eh? Are her non-words and baby-babble mocking children? Sure. Is there any malice? No, there isn't. If you're so soft that an animated pre-recording of someone whose skin color doesn't match your preconcieved notion of racial behavior, and you're butchering and helping to butcher psychos like Fleshstick (pissed off methhead, anyone?) you may need to reassess your emotional stability and seek medical attention. You may be a sociopath. Or just someone with too much time and not enough work to do.

Just a thought... as long as we're passing judgement on what is or isn't acceptable.


The fact you automatically assume it's that black talk, exposes the innate racist hiding within you.
This is the stupidest shit I have ever heard. Nothing but an excuse for a racist person to continue their racism by blaming those who call them out on it. "Well, if you didn't pick of on the use of the word n****r, than it wouldn;t be racist. And you only picked up on it because you're racist!" Puh-lease. There is such a thing as "black vernacular". Look it up.

Why? So I, too, can be a racist?

It's a linguistic term. It's like chiding a person for thinking speech that contains words like "S.A." and "cholo" is latino vernacular, and saying becuase they recognize a fact, they're racist. Stick to real and legitimate arguments.

I would like you to quote Tiny Tina and spell out exactly which lines are the offensive, mockingly, black vernacular. We'll get to the bottom of this, I promise. Expect me to post her other lines in defense of a character who brutally murders her victim after having her family slain in a post-apocalyptic slaughterhouse of carnage.


People who don't like it should quit abusing that mission for cheap points.
That is true. Frankly, Borderlands is a fringe game that is meant to push some boundaries. It's like going to a shock comic routine and complaining about being shocked.

Bingo. It's not like her black daddy wasn't paying his child support or anything. THAT would be offensive in my book, but still totally okay for a VG setting. I see vids akin to books, merely fantasy based on possible realities.


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Response to "Verbal Black-Face" Feb. 19th, 2013 @ 12:14 AM Reply

At 2/18/13 08:17 PM, LazyDrunk wrote: I think it's actually pretty tough. I could use some anecdotal evidence, like Mormon missionaries whose outward appearance gives away absolutely NOTHING as to their culture. Do you have any space for those who do not absolutely fit into the cultural stereotypes that make it so easy to tell how a person should talk or act?

Again, it;s easy to see when someone is acting a certain way naturally, and when they're acting a certain way for attention. It is easy.

If it's overdone to the absurd, then the teeth aren't as sharp, eh? Are her non-words and baby-babble mocking children? Sure. Is there any malice? No, there isn't. If you're so soft that an animated pre-recording of someone whose skin color doesn't match your preconcieved notion of racial behavior, and you're butchering and helping to butcher psychos like Fleshstick (pissed off methhead, anyone?) you may need to reassess your emotional stability and seek medical attention.

Like I said at the end, Borderlands is a game where weird and overtly offensive topics are the norm. I am not saying Borderlands was wrong, I am just saying that the character of a little white girl way overdoing well known black vernacular terminology to the point of being absurd is very close to, if not over the line, of racism.


I would like you to quote Tiny Tina and spell out exactly which lines are the offensive, mockingly, black vernacular. We'll get to the bottom of this, I promise. Expect me to post her other lines in defense of a character who brutally murders her victim after having her family slain in a post-apocalyptic slaughterhouse of carnage.

No. Why would I do that? I don't care enough to go into that detail. I just don't like the bullshit "whoever smelt it, dealt it" philosphy to racism. It's nothing other than a load of shit meant to deflect racism onto someone else.

Bingo. It's not like her black daddy wasn't paying his child support or anything. THAT would be offensive in my book, but still totally okay for a VG setting. I see vids akin to books, merely fantasy based on possible realities.

The mere existence of her on a video game doesn;t less it. There are numerous videogame settings in which this character would be extremely racist, a lot worse than here. The nature of the video game she's in lessens it. Racist acts in GTA are much more acceptable than ones in a Mario game or in the Sims, where the borders aren't expected to be pushed or broken.

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Response to "Verbal Black-Face" Feb. 19th, 2013 @ 07:27 AM Reply

At 2/19/13 12:14 AM, Camarohusky wrote:

Meh, I just figured if there was anything racist about it, you'd be able to tell me. Citing black vernacular on a white girl doesn't cut it. Racist/


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Response to "Verbal Black-Face" Feb. 19th, 2013 @ 09:23 AM Reply

At 2/19/13 07:27 AM, LazyDrunk wrote:
At 2/19/13 12:14 AM, Camarohusky wrote:
Meh, I just figured if there was anything racist about it, you'd be able to tell me. Citing black vernacular on a white girl doesn't cut it. Racist/

It's okay, little kids who talk like that IRL are just inherently racist. They aren't just picking up on crap they saw on T.V.

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Response to "Verbal Black-Face" Feb. 19th, 2013 @ 05:40 PM Reply

At 2/19/13 09:23 AM, Ceratisa wrote:
At 2/19/13 07:27 AM, LazyDrunk wrote:
At 2/19/13 12:14 AM, Camarohusky wrote:
Meh, I just figured if there was anything racist about it, you'd be able to tell me. Citing black vernacular on a white girl doesn't cut it. Racist/
It's okay, little kids who talk like that IRL are just inherently racist. They aren't just picking up on crap they saw on T.V.

Good thing some people out there know how people should talk and act. Otherwise, how would we know when to get offended?


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Response to "Verbal Black-Face" Feb. 19th, 2013 @ 05:43 PM Reply

At 2/19/13 12:14 AM, Camarohusky wrote: Again, it;s easy to see when someone is acting a certain way naturally, and when they're acting a certain way for attention. It is easy.

It's easy to repeat that it's easy... can you explain how you would go about doing it?
If it's easy surely you can articulate how you do it?

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Response to "Verbal Black-Face" Feb. 19th, 2013 @ 06:55 PM Reply

At 2/19/13 05:43 PM, Entice wrote: It's easy to repeat that it's easy... can you explain how you would go about doing it?

Yes. Someone who is being natural looks natural. (i.e. they look like they are being themselves.) Someone who is doing it for attention appears forced, either by underdoing, overdoing, or just plain screwing it up.

If it's easy surely you can articulate how you do it?

Only as easily as the difference between appearing natural and forced.

Ceratisa
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Response to "Verbal Black-Face" Feb. 19th, 2013 @ 10:20 PM Reply

At 2/19/13 06:55 PM, Camarohusky wrote:
At 2/19/13 05:43 PM, Entice wrote: It's easy to repeat that it's easy... can you explain how you would go about doing it?
Yes. Someone who is being natural looks natural. (i.e. they look like they are being themselves.) Someone who is doing it for attention appears forced, either by underdoing, overdoing, or just plain screwing it up.

If it's easy surely you can articulate how you do it?
Only as easily as the difference between appearing natural and forced.

And children force it in an attempt to emulate the behavior they see and think is "cool"

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Response to "Verbal Black-Face" Feb. 20th, 2013 @ 07:38 AM Reply

At 2/19/13 10:20 PM, Ceratisa wrote:
At 2/19/13 06:55 PM, Camarohusky wrote:
At 2/19/13 05:43 PM, Entice wrote: It's easy to repeat that it's easy... can you explain how you would go about doing it?
Yes. Someone who is being natural looks natural. (i.e. they look like they are being themselves.) Someone who is doing it for attention appears forced, either by underdoing, overdoing, or just plain screwing it up.

If it's easy surely you can articulate how you do it?
Only as easily as the difference between appearing natural and forced.
And children force it in an attempt to emulate the behavior they see and think is "cool"

What camaro is saying is that it's okay to do verbal blackface in IRL, but in a fantasy or play-acting setting, it's automatically hateful and racist, whereas IRL is an act of admiration in emulation.

Did I get close?


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