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Discussion in 'RWBY General Discussions' started by The Juggernaut, Jan 18, 2014.
Hmmm... not how your response came across.
So, here's a random thought:
Back in the day in America, it was a big no-no for there to be an interracial couple. Is it the same way in Remnant? So far, we've seen interracial (interspecies?) friends, but no hints at couples. Arkos, Eclipse, Renora, Iceberg, and any other ships that have been at least hinted at so far have been either entirely faunus or entirely human.
Anyway, yeah, evidence seems to indicate that there is an unspoken rule in the studio that interracial (It is not interspecies let's not have to over this agian) stuff is not okay in RWBY
Since when? For all we know it could be just lack of effort (laziness) on RTs part to include that
So, I'm gonna be posting my thoughts here on Faunus. Chances are someone else has had similar thoughts (probably on one of the pages I haven't read because I'm kinda lazy) but I figured I'd contribution some thoughts I extolled in the comment section of a video months ago.
I guess we'll start with the question of why. Why is there racism against the Faunus? So they have animal ears and tails... and? This is part of the failure of the writing as we never eally get an idea of Faunus culture, which is important in how racism forms. When the colonists killed the Native Americans, the days of slavery, the Stolen Generation. All were built on seeing one race seeing another as savage, uncivilized, etc. We don't see that period of tension so we're just left to assume it happens and speaking of oppression we don't see...
Apart from Cardin and Weiss, where in the hell is the Faunus racism now? We don't see schools rejecting Faunus, Tukson was able to run a bookstore in the middle of the capital city of Racistville, Remnant without a single spray of hateful graffiti adorning his windows. Honestly, you know what would've also been interesting? Making someone other than Weiss racist. I mean, Weiss being a racist is too much of a given and kind of obvious given her general bitchiness, so why not play on the expectations and twist the knife by revealing someone like Pyrrha as being a huge racist. Admittedly, it'd be a tricky swerve given Schnee's "controversial labor forces" but given that the only source of intel Blake had at that point was the White Fang who may have a skewed view on what was probably a lot less terrible than it was. Say a couple of Faunus miners griping about not getting a raise snowballs into "The SDC are slavers"
Also, it is really problematic how much the narrative gives the racist Weiss Schnee ammo against the Faunus. There is only one Faunus who has a 100% clean slate, Velvet. Blake and Tukson are both former members of a equal-rights movement turned terrorist organization that almost every Faunus is either a member or recruit to. The only one not involved is Sun, a proud thief and stowaway (and rather pointlessly given how he's a Haven student and probably could produce some form of travel papers rather than sneak aboard a ship) so everything Weiss calls the Faunus ends up being true: Liars (Blake), Thieves (Sun,) and murderers (Adam) and it would better benefit the show to present some more non-criminal Faunus.
While I'm going on this tirade "Humanity wanted to make monsters out of us, so we chose to don the faces of monsters" is on par with writing a black person to say "White people say all black people have guns, so I bought a gun"
I'll give a rather simplistic answer for why there's discrimination against Faunus, which is the same reason why racism started (and continues) in our world: because they're different. They're not like us, which immediately conjures up an "us vs them" mentality. We are also naturally a little less trusting of things we don't readily identify with. To borrow a line from a song in Pocahontas, "They're different from us, which means they can't be trusted," and that was a Native American shaman talking, showing that such distrust goes both ways. And with distrust comes misinformation which breeds stereotypes and negative connotations, and it just becomes that much easier to vilify something you don't consider your equal.
Let's not forget that Roman perpetuates racism by treating the White Fang working for him as "a bunch of dumb animals."
Because this particular point is perhaps the most vexing part of Volume 1 for me personally, I'll say it's showcased in the lunchroom scene with Cardin bullying Velvet. Cardin makes no efforts to hide what he's doing and what's everyone's general response?
To not do a damn thing.
Racism, as with all forms of discrimination, has shades and gradients. One does not needs to be a 'white supremacist' to be subconsciously racist towards those of differing races. The fact that Cardin is clearly doing something that no person would allow to happen to themselves and none of our protagonists do anything to stop him shows that there's at least an unspoken bias against Faunus. Yang even remarks on it, like it's a fact of life rather than something egregiously wrong, which one would assume she would do if it was Ruby on the receiving end of such behavior. Weiss, Blake, and Nora all get a pass; Weiss has reason to think Faunus deserve such treatment yet doesn't immediately counter Yang's comment and defend Cardin's actions (which, in retrospect, says either 'lazy writing', 'missed opportunity', or 'Weiss really isn't as bad as she pretends to be; she merely echoes what she's been told all her life') so her lack of reaction can/does serve a purpose, Blake is a Faunus in hiding- we later learn- so her lack of reaction serves a purpose, and Nora reacts by wanting to break Cardin's legs (overreaction, sure, but at least she reacts).
Shunting aside my rant about this scene in particular, it does at least show that even the most progressive and positive of theoretical environments isn't immune to a subconscious bias against the Faunus. While it might not be socially acceptable to discriminate against them, poor behavior exhibited towards the Faunus doesn't elicit the same reaction it would if that behavior was directed at someone who 'didn't deserve it', to borrow less than tasteful verbiage.
Compare and contrast to contemporary arguments about female promiscuity, racial bias, homophobia, religious extremism, etc. and you'll see that, even when we're enlightened enough to designate these discriminatory behaviors as wrong, silence when they are exhibited is a clear indication that progress is yet to be made. If anything, the climate represented in the show is- in my opinion- indicative of the generational shift, where the adults are mature enough to either be 'wow, that was wrong for Humans to do, we should treat the Faunus fairly' (majority of the staff at Beacon) or 'yeah, not changing, stinking animals' (like Roman) while the younger generation is either a product of their parents/history (Weiss) or mostly apathetic with lingering social misunderstandings muddling their actions (the rest of the main characters).
Just my two cents. Now, please excuse me while I yell at a wall about everything that bothers me about that particular scene.
Wasn't the leg-breaking comment more in regards to Cardin's bullying of Jaune, though? Pyrrha also reacted pretty positively by calling it atrocious and you could argue that while she didn't act is to not draw attention to herself (but that is a tangent best saved for how poorly Pyrrha's character has been handled) but she also has the lack of reaction as well.
And true, that sscene does give off the presence that all is not well in Vale, but otherwise it appears that Faunus have it well off which makes a group like the White Fang seem out of place. You have a mitliant group who intend to make things better for their kind in a narrative that has shown that Faunus have a great deal of rights (ownership of stores, enrollment at combat schools) and it kind of comes between having it two ways; they can either have the Faunus be on equal ground with humans and lose the White Fang as a group, or you make the situation bad enough for the White Fang to be necessary by showing just how shit Faunus have it in Vale's social hierarchy.
And believe me, I'm no stranger to idea of shades and gradients in showcasing racism. One of my favorite episodes of Teen Titans is Troq, which in one episode alone does more in showing fantastic racism in a realistic way. The way Val-Yor ignores Starfire early on, the small hints that he's not all he appears and even him not fully learning his lesson at the end all touch on the subject with a less black-and-white (natch) mold than the previous two volumes have. (Seriously, watch Troq if you haven't. And also watch Teen Titans because that show is still great)
Also, gonna say something of a minority opinion, but I don't think Roman's a racist. Yeah, he calls Faunus animals, but he otherwise is willing to work with them and is far more sympathetic to their plight than some of the heroes are. He's one of the few humans the White Fang trust, which means the villains have a more stable Human-Faunus relation than the main characters do.
But yeah, enjoy yelling at that wall. Anything of note you're yelling at it?
We know that the Schnee corporation are utilizing Faunus labor in a way that is controversial at best. We also know that absolutely nothing has been done legally to stop this practice. Hence, at a minimum, Faunus do not have equal rights to other groups in some capacity in a legal sense. If they do, such legal action is not being pursued. The fact that they do not/the fact that it is not, is itself indicative that socially, the Faunus have likely not been accepted.
Also the whole "ownership of stores" thing doesn't really track because Tucson could pass quite easily for a "regular" Valean. The only animalistic aspect of his design are his claws, which are retractable. There's no reason to assume that many people knew he was a Faunus at all- it's incredibly likely he was undercover just like Blake attempted to be. He just was more successful because he could hide it far more easily than with a bow.
In terms of being able to enroll at combat schools- Ozpin specifically notes that he is accomodating in this regard, and Blake notes that not everybody is so accomodating. So the fact that Beacon has a faunus student or two isn't particularly surprising, even in the "Faunus are being oppressed" narrative. And look at the state that said students are in- Velvet gets bullied and nobody actually does anything to help, and Blake feels the need to disguise who she is, because she's worried she won't be accepted. The only other Faunus representation in combat schools is from Vacuo, the portion of Vale that is clearly incredibly tolerant of the Faunus- to the point that an ex White Fang member would choose there as their location of choice to flee.
So we have knowledge from a reliable source (Weiss herself), that a powerful Dust conglomerate utilizes a class of people in what is, at its most generous, a most questionable fashion, and no sign that absolutely anything is being done about it. The Faunus that we see that don't come from a region that appears to be tolerant of Faunus (and therefore likely the noteable exception) are-
1. Hiding their identity
2. Being bullied and nobody standing up for them
3. Being able to successfully pass for a "regular" person
I'm not sure what signs there are here that the Faunus aren't being discriminated against, and there is implication in the story that indicates that at best, they aren't held in regard that would be given to that of a typical Valean citizen.
@Eights, I absolutely love TT (and I did go back and rewatch the ep, because yay TT), but contrast that with what we see in RWBY. Although they prioritize the mission over their personal differences, when Cyborg and Robin learn what "troq" means, they react and want to confront Val-Yor, but Starfire stops them. Once the danger has passed, they do confront Val-Yor and make it clear that it's not okay. And you're right, Nora's comment wasn't in regards to his treatment of Velvet, so she loses her pass.
Anyway, no one else seems inclined to confront Cardin regarding his behavior, which is the difference between how TT and RWBY handled racism as a topic in general and addresses the presence of racism within the fictional social sphere. Starfire acknowledges that prejudice is a thing that will always exist, but her friends still confront it when it occurs because they don't believe Starfire (or anyone) should be discriminated against; Blake acknowledges that prejudice is a thing that occurs and her friends... just... kinda... agree that it sucks and move on with their lives. In the TT world, the characters reject that prejudice; in RWBY, it's just a fact of life and that, inherently, is racist. That's why my response was to that particular question; acknowledging something is bad and actively trying to stop it are worlds apart. As the saying goes: 'evil triumphs when good men do nothing'.
(Guess I was just hoping someone would fucking stand up and be like 'no, this is wrong', I latched onto Nora. Also, the wall and I became friends. We're going to see a movie later in the week, 'Mortar is Thicker than Blood'. I'm sure it'll be riveting.)