Fantasy’s Othering Fetish, Part 1

Media Diversified

By Phenderson Djeli Clark

This is Part 1 of a three-part series.

Over the years demands for more meaningful diversity in our fantasy realms have grown increasingly louder–a clarion call that echoes from the mundane world to haunt our usual lands of elves, dragons, orcs and whatnot. Back in 2010 when local New Zealanders were told they were “too dark to be a Hobbit” (no one’s ever too dark to be an Orc, it seems) in the new Peter Jackson films it caused a stir, highlighting the at times “unbearable whiteness” of the heroes of Tolkien’s masterpiece. Both Pixar’s Brave and Disney’s Frozen were criticized for their similar ode to all things vanilla, without even attempting a hint at color.

Diversity in fantasy has been thrust into the spotlight due to author George RR Martin’s popular A Song of Ice and Fire saga, which has been adapted as the…

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