D&D is the grand-daddy of them all. First and best, often improved but never replaced. It is really important that the art in the main rulebook showcases all different types of people. The latest version of The Game goes to great lengths to show frowny faced women and a full rainbow of character colors. Not just black and white, but red, green, and blue, too. They even were gracious enough to include at least one painting of a special needs character. (See below.)
WotC even included a couple of paragraphs letting everyone know that you really can play anyone you want. They specifically name checked gay, transgender, and non-gender characters. Rumor has it these paragraph actually satisfied a progressive somewhere and prevented an outburst of self-righteous criticism .
But let’s stop and think about what D&D has still not gotten around to acknowledging within the game. People who have been virtually written out of the media by everyone from Hollywood to major news outlets to major book publishers. You know the types. Entrepreneurs. Businessmen. Honest, hardworking folk who love God, their Country, and the local fruit based dessert pastry.
Used to be there was a term for making everyone a white guy in movies – whitewashing. The classic examples are John Wayne playing Ghengis Khan and Johnny Depp not just playing Tonto, but covering up Tonto’s face with whiteface. It’s a white guy playing a native American, but making the native American even whiter than the white guy! You can’t get much whitewashier than that.
That’s a bad thing. Minorities are awesome. We should definitely see more, read more, and hear more of them. But not just people who look different, people who think different, too.
What’s going on in the world today is the erasure of huge swaths of people who have so much to add to the diversity of our culture. Let’s not be coy, when everyone who can read the title of this blog knows exactly who we are talking about – conservatives. You don’t see them on TV in any role save the evil backstabbing religiously hidebound villain. Even in a show like House of Cards where the protagonist in the bad guy they make the conservatives out to be even worse. Look at any show with any politics in it whatsoever – Scandal, The Mendy Project (I know, it’s absurd, but here we are), Madam Secretary, the list goes ever on.
Sure you’ve got your Ron Swanson as a token nice-guy conservative. You’ve got FoxNews – separate but equal suddenly works just fine, does it? Exceptions that prove the rule!
Let’s bring this digression back on point. WotC – based out of Seattle, and we all know what that means – is just as guilty of shutting out fully half of it’s fans by participating in this political whitewashing, this rightwashing, of America.
You probably think this is a joke. But think about it for a moment.
You don’t see folks like that represented anywhere within D&D! Look at the Backgrounds offered. They include guild artisans – Union members get a nod – but no businessmen. And the art? Forget about it. Let’s take a look at how many possible conservatives WotC shows in the art direction of the D&D Fifth Edition Player’s Handbook. (It’s a strange metric, but we are reliably, frequently, and loudly informed that this exercise is an effective window into the hearts and minds of the designers of D&D.)
Flip through the book and the people shown in the art are a bunch of green earth types (druids), wizards (academic universities all tilt left these days), musicians (and not red blooded country/western types – LA liberals from the look of ’em), thieves (stealing because you don’t have a job. this is too easy), and so on. You don’t see a clear depiction of a conservative until page 176. That’s the shot of a sticky fingered Halfling picking the pocket of an good hearted merchant. That merchant is the first person shown who might stake a claim to be conservative. Note that even when they finally get around to showing a conservative, they still can’t show the guy in a positive light.
The only other conservative shown is the leaf-clad girl fighting a fire breathing cat, maybe a displacer beast? Clearly she represents an example of a conservationist thinning the forest of high-end predators to keep it healthy, rather than a fantasy version of a member of PETA or one of those scientifically ignorant “trees for the sake of trees” environmentalist.
Two. Two depictions of conservatives in the entire book, and no mention at all in the text of being able to play conservative characters. It’s exclusionary. It’s exclusionary and just another example of the progressive privilege that results in thinking your kind of people are the only ones worth showing.
Oh, and they could also have included some artwork of characters enjoying themselves. All those frowns and grimaces make sense in the combat scenes, but WotC saw fit to include maybe four pieces of art with smiles. Once again an art choice dedicated to pleasing the sensibilities of the left – the ones who think it is the height of sophistication to have an outlook of a tired, gray, grim faced, drudge. We optimists on the right, those of us who don’t spend inordinate amounts of time looking for things to feel sad, angry, or outraged over? We like to kick back and enjoy ourselves once in a while, and clearly that ain’t us shown in WotC’s artwork.
So hey WotC! We know you’re planning the sixth edition of D&D already, so how about the next version you spend a little more time representing the half your audience that you couldn’t be bothered to consider this time around, huh?