ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
I've been thinking about diversity on television -- or more like, lack of diversity. Then I noticed all the buzz about Dr. Who and regenerations. I like the idea of characters who change over time. So then I thought ...

Imagine a show based on a team of shapeshifters who travel the galaxy solving problems on different planets. Everywhere they go, they adapt to the local culture and climate to blend in. Each season would feature a new planet with a different race on it -- could be plain humans, or humans modified to suit the local environment. EVERY character on the show that season would belong to the same ethnic group. So it could go through Asian, Hispanic, African-American, Native American, etc. (or smaller and more specific groups). Total representation for a fresh group each season. The plot would arc over multiple episodes, some in the main storyline and others for general character development. I think it would be cool.

Further discussion continues regarding technology, characterization, and other aspects of the show.  Join the fun!

(no subject)

Date: 2013-11-24 12:57 pm (UTC)
peoriapeoriawhereart: blond and brunet men peer intently (Napoleon & Illya peer)
From: [personal profile] peoriapeoriawhereart
Since there is as much variation within a 'race' as 'between' them, the actors might be of different ethnicities.

Of course, founder effects can make things interesting (see parts of Ireland and the resulting diaspora.)
Edited Date: 2013-11-24 12:57 pm (UTC)

(no subject)

Date: 2013-11-24 03:37 pm (UTC)
alexseanchai: Ladybug, of Miraculous fame, with a rainbow Pride background (Default)
From: [personal profile] alexseanchai
OOOH OOOH GIMME

Re: Well...

Date: 2013-11-24 09:40 pm (UTC)
alexseanchai: Ladybug, of Miraculous fame, with a rainbow Pride background (Default)
From: [personal profile] alexseanchai

Yay!

(no subject)

Date: 2013-11-24 05:15 pm (UTC)
samuraiter: (Default)
From: [personal profile] samuraiter
*ponders*

Star Trek, but with this added layer of adapting to environment and culture? I'd be keenly interested.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-11-24 05:28 pm (UTC)
dreamwriters: A brunette femme wearing a NaNoBoston motto throwback tshirt (Default)
From: [personal profile] dreamwriters
/bookmarks for IGUSAR ideas

Re: ??

Date: 2013-11-24 10:06 pm (UTC)
dreamwriters: A brunette femme wearing a NaNoBoston motto throwback tshirt (Default)
From: [personal profile] dreamwriters
The Intergalactic Urban Search and Rescue project I'm (still) working on based off two of your prompts from back in September from my fishbowl. :)

(no subject)

Date: 2013-11-24 07:17 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I could see a lot of possibilities in that! And then I was thinking, what if they got to a place and blended in by skin-color/visual ethnic group and made an assumption, and suddenly realized that the colony was founded by folks whose ancestors were Jews from Ethiopia? Or Muslims from Eastern Europe or Asia...and then had to rethink how they behaved or spoke...sorry, just thinkin' this morning... :)

-songspinner9

(no subject)

Date: 2013-11-24 11:46 am (UTC)
ext_74: Baron Samadai in cat form (Default)
From: [identity profile] siliconshaman.livejournal.com
It'd be hellishly expensive in terms of special effects, and casting I suspect... not to mention getting character continuity right would be a nightmare.

But yeah, it'd be nifty to see different ethnic groups.

Thoughts

Date: 2013-11-24 11:43 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
>> It'd be hellishly expensive in terms of special effects, <<

It doesn't have to be hellishly expensive. There are several factors of the show that can be adjusted to accommodate the budget available. If there is lots of money, we can have every planet with a very different environment, most or all races modified, and more dramatic modifications. As the budget shrinks, we shift toward more similar environments, fewer and less complex modifications. Then we define backstory descriptions to support whatever infrastructure we wind up using. Frex ...

Big Budget
Planets marginally habitable for Earth-normal humans are plentiful while Earthlike planets are not, and high technology is widely available. Most colonies can only support residents who have been modified for the local climate. Therefore most or all characters will have significantly alien features, changing dramatically every season. This creates a vivid science-fiction tone throughout. (A drawback is that it somewhat obscures the ethnic representation, but at least we're still hiring people of color in droves.) Many different environments would be represented, either created on stages or shot on site in far-flung locations. Note that a fan-created show could duplicate this effect on low budget simply by having production teams who already live in different parts of the world.

Medium Budget
A mix of planets are available for colonization, and high technology is somewhat available. Many planets are "almost perfect," where unmodified humans can survive but it's easier for modified ones. The changes are less extreme, and populations often have a mix of individuals who are highly, slightly, or not at all modified. A seasonal cast might have one highly modified character, several slightly modified ones, and most unmodified. Some of the terrain would match the studio's local environment, while other episodes would venture into different places.

Shoestring Budget
Humans can only plant sustainable colonies on relatively Earthlike worlds; technology is variable and elaborate measures aren't always available. Most settlements have a similar environment, inspired by the studio-local environment, with occasional glimpses of other types. Few modifications appear, and those are mostly subtle -- the shapeshifting itself may be the most dramatic example, and it's done with actor changes rather than makeup. The diversity comes from the change in ethnicity of actors and in the culture as expressed through architecture, clothing, religion and politics, etc.

Thoughts

Date: 2013-11-24 11:44 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com

>> and casting I suspect... <<

I think you'd save a huge amount on casting because most or all of the of the actors would be midlist or novice ones, instead of Big Names. That's just because in the United States (and a lot of other places) the Big Names are mostly white. This has the advantage of giving many lesser-known actors of color the opportunity to hit it big. Now if you shot in multiple far-flung locations and wanted Big Name people of color from the local fames, you could do that. It would be a different flavor of awesome by promoting the careers of famous actors of color outside their established fanbase and country of origin.

A perennial argument in Hollywood is that there "are no good actors" of whatever ethnicity, ability, or other feature the producers are currently throwing under the bus so they can hire idealized white guys instead. This is bullshit. You're not going to run out of, say, black or Hispanic actors. Now if you're casting for a Native American season, yeah, you might wind up hiring something like 3/4 of all the living NA actors. So what? Make a scoring rubric for the test readings, hire the highest performers as the seasonal cast, the decent ones in supporting roles, and then as many extras as you need from the mediocre ones. Acting is a skill; you can't develop it without doing it. An extra only needs to have basic skills like "Put on this costume and walk from Point A to Point B."

Note that a fan-created show could produce diverse casting and setting effects on low budget simply by having production teams who already live in different parts of the world. It's not hard to get black actors if you are shooting in Nigeria, or snowscapes if you are shooting in Alaska. Use what you've got. Just because Hollywood is in California doesn't mean television has to nail its feet to the floor.

>>not to mention getting character continuity right would be a nightmare.<<

For this, I'm starting to pencil in ideas for what kinds of things would change and what would not. There would be some core traits for each character that would remain consistent across seasons, and other things that might change randomly or based on interactions with a specific culture. So the whole team would have character sheets with the core traits mapped out in advance, to help actors understand how to carry the role forward; but it would be a design feature of the show for each season to incorporate shifts according to the new actors and cultures.

Similarly, each season would have its own problem plotline. There would also be supporting arcs of storyline or characterization that could extend beyond a single season. So there's continuity within each season, and across the show as a whole.

>> But yeah, it'd be nifty to see different ethnic groups. <<

Yay! I'm glad you like the idea.

Re: Thoughts

Date: 2013-11-25 03:05 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fayanora.livejournal.com
Another issue is, Duenicallo are HUGE. Like, 10 feet tall when standing on their hind legs.

Also, public nudity is fairly common among AKB on Traipah, where weather permits. So it would have to be a series for HBO or something, because that point would be one of the first things human immigrants might have a problem with. (The nudism is across the age board but I doubt we could get away with that aspect of it, Western culture being so touchy about minors being publicly nude, especially on film. It wouldn't be illegal, just extremely controversial and therefore unlikely to happen.)

Sets could get interesting, too. Most of the area of Traipahni cities is underground; some Traipahni cities don't have any above-ground parts at all, others have parks up there. A few have some really old housing on the surface. Though it depends on the area; swampy areas tend to have entire villages either on wooden supports, or villages/towns comprised entirely of interconnected boats. And other regions are thick forests of trees so tall they dwarf redwoods, and thus housing there is nestled in the canopies.

Oh, LOL... the planimal hunts would get interesting. Though they are herbivores, the AKB hunt for planimals (plants that can get up and move around like animals, and even eat animals and other planimals.)

Man, I could think of all kinds of ways to create interesting culture shock moments for a human immigrant family. Like there was this story once that I gave up on that had a lovely scene of humans eating dinner with a Duenicallo family; one person was LOVING this one meat, and asked what it was. One of the Duenicallo said it was uterus, the human lost his appetite, and that sparked this big debate about why so many humans are so picky about what parts of the animal they'll eat, and their wastefulness. (Duenicallo use every part of the animal, ask permission from the spirits of the animals they hunt before killing them, and have moments of mourning and thankfulness at dinner, directed at the spirits of the animals they've killed.)

LOL, and if we could get away with it (probably could), I can see some hilarious moments resulting from a human seeing an AKB "grah'bihn." (The long, thick, prehensile penis they have.) Especially seeing as the AKB attitude toward the grah'bihn is... more casual than that of humans toward their penii. AKB will not hesitate to whip out their grah'bihn and use it to pick up things when their hands are full, or when hands can't reach into a space. And in some Traipahni cultures, it is customary to greet others with a "handshake" between two grah'bihn.

In general, the people of Traipah have a very relaxed and casual approach to sex. It is, to them, the most natural and sacred thing two or more people could share.

Speaking of sex... the story I started and am technically still working on introduces another tricky cultural difference, in that it's revealed that Nokwahl and her sister D'Reenah are "nest mates," IE every time they get together, they *ahem* get together, because they are in love with one another. But both are also polyamorous, yet one more area of difference, because monoamory is the unusual type of love on Traipah. Most Traipahni people consider the idea of "one true love, with no others ever" to be absurd.

Lastly, the people of Traipah are autistic compared to humans. But their whole culture is adapted to that, so they function just fine in their own cultural spaces. It's only a problem around humans, especially in human-controlled cultural areas. In fact, I need to add little signs of that in the Nokwahl stories, since Nokwahl lives on a human-made and human-dominated space station orbiting Earth.
(Which also means that neurotypical humans would be maladapted to Traipahni culture to begin with.)

PS

Date: 2013-11-25 03:12 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fayanora.livejournal.com
You know, I think a good (if incomplete) metaphor for the difference between humans and AKB is the difference between regular chimpanzees and bonobos.

But yeah, there are a lot of things about Traipahni culture that get a lot of humans riled up (not just the usual type to get riled up, either), a lot of things that most people in our culture would have huge issues with, if they didn't understand the whole context. A large part of that context is the very important point that Ah'Koi Bahnis are NOT humans. Their evolutionary history is different, their brains are different, their culture is different.

Over the years, I have come to the conclusion that Traipahni culture would not work for humans, because humans and AKB are too different. For one thing, humans seem to be rather genetically prone to violence, where AKB are pacifists (at least where other sophonts are concerned), though they can and will defend themselves if need be.

Though Traipahni culture MIGHT work for a culture of autistic humans. Maybe.

Re: PS

Date: 2013-11-25 03:20 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
>>You know, I think a good (if incomplete) metaphor for the difference between humans and AKB is the difference between regular chimpanzees and bonobos.<<

Yes, that's a good nutshell.

>>Over the years, I have come to the conclusion that Traipahni culture would not work for humans, because humans and AKB are too different.<<

I have the same feelings about [livejournal.com profile] haikujaguar's Ai-Naidar. Some of the individual principles and techniques would work in both contexts, but you couldn't just transplant a whole culture and have that work. Humans seem to have a much higher social "melting temperature." The Ai-Naidar have more of a herd instinct.

Re: PS

Date: 2013-11-25 03:38 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fayanora.livejournal.com
Indeed. And I think some of that higher level of herd mentality applies to AKB as well, given that they are herbivores (even if they did evolve to hunt roving planimal prey). There also seems to be a somewhat higher tendency in their species to value the old and to be slower to accept/embrace change. That, combined with the AKB tendency to value knowledge and to be horrified at any disrespect/destruction of said knowledge, explains how pretty much all of their cultures tend to last tens of thousands of years. To them, the Roman empire would be considered a short-lived culture. Also explains why, despite having been building cities since a time when humans were still in the stone age, and having copies of many books that were originally written before humans invented writing; despite mining asteroids, having underground trains, and computers by around 7000 BCE, despite the fact that The Reformation did not set them back technologically by more than maybe a decade or two, that 10,000 years later they hadn't stepped their toes outside of their own planet's atmosphere again.

However, I *do* happen to know that there *were* plans in the works to test a new, clean technology that would allow them to leave the planet without hurting the atmosphere, at the time of first contact. Had humans not discovered their planet when they did, the people of Traipah would have been spacefaring and FTL capable in only 10 years. (Since the same technology also allowed entry into hyperspace, and they'd known about hyperspace, theoretically at least, since before The Reformation.

But once the humans showed up, and they discovered how unique and unusually powerful their new technology was compared to anything any other known culture had come up with, they made it a secret until they could decide how to safely introduce this technology into an intergalactic society so full of species that were so very violent towards their own kind and other sophonts.

Re: PS

Date: 2013-11-25 04:09 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
>> And I think some of that higher level of herd mentality applies to AKB as well, given that they are herbivores (even if they did evolve to hunt roving planimal prey). <<

Yeah, that can make a big difference.

>> Had humans not discovered their planet when they did, the people of Traipah would have been spacefaring and FTL capable in only 10 years. <<

I like the huge impact that you give to first contact.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-11-25 02:08 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fayanora.livejournal.com
Cool!

If I ever get my Traipah stuff famous, I think it would be cool to be the producer of a TV show taking place on Traipah, with most of the conflict being culture conflicts between humans and Traipahni people. It would be difficult; AKB, though humanoid, don't have human-like eyes and their skin and hair come in every color combo imaginable, including sometimes stripes or spots, or whorls. And there are even instances of those whose hair, skin, and eyes are all paper-white, or else black as coal.

Then there would be the Duenicallo, who can walk and stand on hind legs but have to be on all fours to run. And also the dinosaur-like Shaokennah.

Wow!

Date: 2013-11-25 02:13 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
>> If I ever get my Traipah stuff famous, I think it would be cool to be the producer of a TV show taking place on Traipah, with most of the conflict being culture conflicts between humans and Traipahni people. <<

I think that would be awesome.

>> It would be difficult; AKB, though humanoid, don't have human-like eyes and their skin and hair come in every color combo imaginable, including sometimes stripes or spots, or whorls. And there are even instances of those whose hair, skin, and eyes are all paper-white, or else black as coal. <<

Some you might be able to do with makeup. Much of it would be more feasible with computer-generated graphics. I'm a huge fan of digital costumes, using motion-capture or other technology to transfer a performance by a human actor into a very different-looking character. The master of this performance mode is Andy Serkis, who played Gollum and Kong.
helgatwb: Drawing of Helga, holding her sword, looking upset. (Default)
From: [personal profile] helgatwb
The most interesting aspect of this is the chance to explore the culture, and how spacefaring might have changed it.

Take, for example, if you had one season using Jingpo people. They are an ethnic group found in Burma and China. Wikipedia has this to say:

"The Jingpo people are an ethnic affinity of several tribal groups, known for their fierce independence, disciplined fighting skills, complex clan inter-relations, embrace of Christianity, craftsmanship, herbal healing and jungle survival skills."

I work with a Jingpo man, who immigrated to America from Burma, for better economic opportunities. He has told me that in his culture there are strong family values, deep Christian values, and a mystical/spiritual bent. Vocal music is very important, and good singers are held in high regard. They also have a concept of, and I have no idea if I'm transliterating this right, 'ana' which, through discussion, I've come to understand as a concept of being beholden to someone, which American culture sees as a bad thing, but is a good thing amongst his people. It affects interpersonal relationships, and must be taken into consideration when you are dealing with people, but they don't have a negative feeling about it, even though it can be hard to live up to. Being beholden to someone is actually the closest I could get, because English just doesn't have a word, or, at least, one that I know, for the feeling he described. It doesn't fit perfectly, but it was the closest I could come.

Back to my point, even though my point's in America and I've gone all the way to Burma, how would a colony of Jingpo have changed, culturally, over time? Which concepts would they have kept, and which would they have discarded? How would technology have affected their culture? Something would have changed, but what?

I'm sorry that I've inserted an essay about an ethnic group into my comment.

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