Record of Lodoss War author and creator Ryo Mizuno has expressed concerns that his works may be banned, after the “dark elf” episode of Community was removed from Netflix due to blackface.
Mizuno stated today on Twitter that Netflix had removed a series or episodes seemingly due featuring a “dark elf.” This made him concerned that if the depiction of evil characters with dark skin is deemed wrong, his own works would eventually be banned.
“I saw the topic on TL that ‘Dark Elf’ appeared in Netflix was deleted, so I checked the source, but the dark elf itself was not deleted because it was discriminatory, except black people It seems that it became a problem that the characters of the race had blackened their faces to dress up as Dark Elves.
However, in the future, there is a possibility that it will be discriminated against as black-type = evil, not limited to dark elves. There may be a future where all my books will be banned.
While gathering accurate information, I will pay attention to future trends.”
Translation: Google Translate.
Looking through what Mizuno retweeted, it appears the banned content in question was an episode of US comedy Community. In the aftermath of the protests and riots after the death of George Floyd, Netflix has been removing episodes of TV series featuring characters seemingly in blackface [1, 2, 3, 4].
This even includes contexts where a character is not attempting to be in blackface to mock those of African decent (the joke being the character is oblivious to how they look, or making the character appear more bizarre).
For example, the banned Community episode features the characters playing Dungeons and Dragons. One of the characters attempted to dress as their Dark Elf character (albeit in normal work-clothes) with a white wig and jet-black skin- oblivious to how he may appear.
It also should be mentioned that blackface typically features large white or red lips painted on and around the mouth; along with being disheveled (to imply poverty), and inappropriate behavior (to imply loose morals, little self-discipline, or drunkenness).
In most fiction dark elves are typically depicted with black or tan skin; or even surreal colors such as purple or blue. These elves typically utilize forbidden or dark magic, and have societies with outright “evil” morals as the norm, or atypical to most cultures of that fantasy world.
In Dungeons and Dragons tabletop games, dark elves- or drow- are typically evil, with a society deep underground (the Underdark) that praises the use of violence and deception to succeed in life [1, 2, 3].
As entire races are given alignments (on two scales of “Lawful” to “Chaotic,” and “Good” to “Evil”), drow are typically neutral evil. This means they are usually self-serving at the intentional detriment to others. However, there have been those do not fit into that alignment, such as the heroic drow Drizzt Do’Urden.
While “evil” can be a tangible force within the Dungeons & Dragons settings (and endless debates in the flaws of the alignment system), Wizards of the Coast recently announced they would be changing drow and orcs (another evil race).
In future publications, Wizards of the Coast say they will be “just as morally and culturally complex as other peoples,” to avoid how the fiction races are “painfully reminiscent of how real-world ethnic groups have been and continue to be denigrated” to some. This announcement was even shown to Mizuno on Twitter (which he later retweeted).
Whether it be how they look, or how they act, it appears there may be concerns for how fictional writers depict fantasy races that others deem comparable to real people. Record of Grancrest War is currently available on Netflix.
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