#1 12-06-2017 5:16 pm

Winterstride
Registered: 12-05-2013
Posts: 105

11 Second Club Has A Race Problem

I couldn't help but notice something while viewing the winning entries for November's competition; for an audio that quite obviously featured two black men with African accents (well, one was trying anyway) there was a suspicious lack of black *characters* present in the winning entries. I count precisely 2 in the top 10 out of a possible 20, the rest were either turned into animals (which has a disturbing implication) or were flat-out whitewashed.

My take-away is that animators are having a difficult time either acknowledging black characters or with identifying with them. Or, perhaps more perniciously (and likely more rarely), don't want to.

(Even the source of the audio is highly questionable. "Coming to America", despite much of its humour not being tied directly to race, may not have been a great pick in the first place given its dated and troubling depiction of Africa.)

I suspect that part of the issue is practical; comparably, there aren't that many rigs of black characters of a high quality and appeal (neither of the 2 black characters in the top 10 were 3D rigs). But that doesn't explain it all, and I think we need to look inward and ask ourselves some difficult questions.

Please note that I'm not accusing anyone in the club of *conscious* racism. I don't think a single person here is deliberately excluding black faces from the competition or anything nefarious like that. But after this month it's pretty clear that we have an issue of racial bias that we need to be more cognisant of going forward.

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#2 12-06-2017 10:40 pm

TaiBo
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Registered: 10-28-2011
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Re: 11 Second Club Has A Race Problem

I think you raise a good point.

I used the Alex rig this month (white character) and left all the materials default and focused on learning the acting and animation process, and I in no way, shape, or form meant to exclude any race and simply found a free rig that worked on my current computer (Malcolm rig was buggy for some reason).

There should be more free, high quality rigs to represent all races. People want good rigs to help them do well with their animation so they lean towards free ones like Malcolm made by experts, and while Malcolm can be modified to look like anything, more rigs specifically designed to be something other than caucasian from the get go would be a good thing. Simply hue shifting the material might have been enough if I had been more conscious of this, but even then the initial model was designed with white features and it shows.

You also raise a good point about the rigs used in the winning entries. After reading your post I scrolled through the archives and realized the majority of the winners feature white characters.

I don't think it's conscious bias, but it is an effect of having nothing but white rigs to choose from. More diversity in the rigging and distribution can help. It also is good to talk about this stuff, so thanks for calling attention to it. Maybe the admins will keep this in mind and choose clips with good representations of people of all races.

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#3 12-07-2017 10:34 pm

oleshikaru
From: Norway
Registered: 10-26-2009
Posts: 4

Re: 11 Second Club Has A Race Problem

To be honest, when I made my scene for november, I didnt think about that at all. I just wanted to try and make appealing characters, and it was fun to play around with the animal human design. I don't think i have seen the movie.

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#4 12-12-2017 12:54 pm

jayj97668
Registered: 10-31-2017
Posts: 2

Re: 11 Second Club Has A Race Problem

I frankly do not see the point in your argument, 1.every animator has a right to analyze, interpret, and recreate the scene however way they feel it brings out there creativeness, would be even more weird if all the entries in the competition were of black characters???, let animators have their creative license to interpret the audios how they feel, provided they do not break the competitions set rules.... 2. hearing the accent in the dialogue and immediately deduce that they re black is racist in its own way, accents are not determined by your color, there determined by your background and where u grow up from, am a Ugandan, grew up in Uganda so i have a Ugandan accent (which is in Africa btw, just wanted to throw that in) not because am black....i have plenty of friends born here and grew up here,but their origins and parents are from India, US, UK , Sweden, Denmark, Germany etc.. but they sound Ugandan...and believe me they are not black. 3.Not taking anything away from the top entries, i think they did a good job, particularly the first one, and there interpretation, execution and application of the fundamentals of animation were excellent, animal characters or not, and to raise such a point really steals the credit from the work that the animators put into to bring such magic to life,

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#5 12-16-2017 5:38 pm

revolvermd
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Re: 11 Second Club Has A Race Problem

EDITED:  I had to re-read the OP's post and realized he wasn't trying make this a race bait type post. So I edited some of my comments out about this being about race. My apologies.

I don't think this is really about race.  Yes, the movie was about two African men from a fake country that doesn't even exist in our world trying to make it in America under the guise of immigrants but this is about animation.  Like jayj97668 said, this is about every artists interpretation.  Yes, I agree, there is a lack of black characters to animate with.  There are resources out there with black characters but really it's the fact that not many animation models out there are free.  The good ones are at longwintermembers.com  They have a good variety of black characters there at a subscription rate of $10 a month to access all their rigs. Again, the point is every artist can interpret the dialogue however they want.  When they made Madagascar, it was a movie about animals with different backgrounds and personality.  In animation we should stop seeing the color of skin and look at the artistic side of acting and animation.  Have a good day.

Last edited by revolvermd (12-16-2017 5:46 pm)

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#6 12-18-2017 9:15 am

jayj97668
Registered: 10-31-2017
Posts: 2

Re: 11 Second Club Has A Race Problem

Well Said Revolvermd, couldn`t agree more

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#7 12-18-2017 4:30 pm

Winterstride
Registered: 12-05-2013
Posts: 105

Re: 11 Second Club Has A Race Problem

The point I was trying to make is that as animators our interpretations and experiences are pretty clearly limited, to the point that black characters are being turned into animals since we relate to them better than we do black characters. My hope was to make an animator think a little more about what kind of face they're putting on their work in the future, not to mind police them.

(This is a total sidenote but: I'd also caution against race erasure. That is not a helpful or constructive approach to take in this kind of situation. Race and culture is part of one's identity, and while I do not doubt that you have the best of intentions in declaring that the color of one's skin should not matter it does matter very much. Non-white people are reminded of that every day.)

Once again, I am not accusing anyone of conscious racism. But we, as a community, have a pretty clear racial bias issue that we can address with just a little more effort without compromising anyone's artistic integrity. My suggestion doesn't even require every single animator to participate, just a few who take the extra time to think about this kind of thing while they're thumb nailing their ideas.

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#8 01-02-2018 11:28 pm

j269
Registered: 10-02-2008
Posts: 5

Re: 11 Second Club Has A Race Problem

Working in the industry this has always been a problem

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#9 01-05-2018 2:37 pm

RyanHagen
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Registered: 06-16-2007
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Re: 11 Second Club Has A Race Problem

I can't disagree with anything said here, thanks for keeping it civil.  Another "concern" has been brought up by some people about an animation 'trend'.  Have a read.

Why Do Cartoon Villains Speak in Foreign Accents?

The link is safe, it's an article.


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"Frustration is the handmaiden of creativity" ~ Chuck Jones

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#10 01-05-2018 4:52 pm

Kai
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From: Singapore
Registered: 06-21-2007
Posts: 164
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Re: 11 Second Club Has A Race Problem

I haven't been voting for sometime (years maybe).  This post got me going over all the shots.

It is always interesting to see different approaches to deliver the line, sometime disregarding the context. smile

Speaking from experience, at the beginning of my journey to learn animation. It is difficult to understand different accents and the subtext. I often get tangled in how to get the shot presentable. And slowly as the skills aspect get more comfortable, Character Clarity became the focal point before anything else as it will dictate all other choices that follow along. After going through all the shots, I would like to say that the learning and open aspect of the competition is great! I don't see the issue of lacking interpretation on specific race. Animal or fantasy characters are used depending on the artist choice. I think non-human specific characters does help the animator to breaks the geological/accent representation of a specific group.

Having more appealing rig with multi-racial/accent capacity, can expand the animators choice but... I think we should have the ground open to randomness.. its fun because this is animation. =p

I think as the skill level deepen, if the artists wanted to create successful acting, it is inevitable that they need to dig deeper into the story behind the voice.

Anyway,
*Why Do Cartoon Villains Speak in Foreign Accents?*

Interesting read. Thanks for sharing it. I guess at the beginning content creators just wanted to have a clear differentiation between characters. But yeah.. It does psychological change how people perceive accents and stereotyped them. It already have an impact on everyone I guess. O.O

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#11 01-09-2018 6:38 pm

Blond
Registered: 09-06-2013
Posts: 110

Re: 11 Second Club Has A Race Problem

Oh F*** OFF for a second there...I'm black myself, although not from USA but I'm really tired of baby whiners like you that see racism everywhere....

''while viewing the winning entries for November's competition; for an audio that quite obviously featured two black men with African accents (well, one was trying anyway) there was a suspicious lack of black *characters* present in the winning entries. I count precisely 2 in the top 10 out of a possible 20, the rest were either turned into animals (which has a disturbing implication) or were flat-out whitewashed.''


So what...???You sincerely think people pay attention to the character's skin color according to its animation??? I myself rarely try to fit the character's accent to an ethnicity to avoid ''stereotyping issues...


''the rest were either turned into animals (which has a disturbing implication) or were flat-out whitewashed.''''

So when white dubbers with a certain accent (UK, Southerner american, australian) get turned into animals, is it insulting for them too??


Coming to America is a silly movie for sure but really who cares or not if it's depiction of Africa is real or not, you'd have to be fat-headed twit to think a comedy with eddie Murphy is based off real facts...and any way, really what's the point of all this???

Is this really an issue? Get that fragile ''political correctness'' off my animations please...If you want more black characters rigs, make your own man..SJW can be so pathetic sometimes I swear...

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#12 01-09-2018 7:16 pm

J.K. Riki
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Re: 11 Second Club Has A Race Problem

I dunno, I think there's a point where it's important to be aware of the politics of such a thing and also a point where you just do your art and live your life. We look at a perfect world and it looks like this: No one cares about race at all, and everyone is just plain equal. CULTURE can be part of someone's identity, but race =/= culture except where we force that connection. If a white person grows up in China, they have the same culture as everyone around them regardless of skin color. In the world where skin color isn't this giant dividing line, if every black actor is replaced with a white cartoon and every white actor is replaced with an animated groundhog and every asian actor is replaced with a talking box of cereal no one cares in that perfect world, because they are busy enjoying and/or critiquing the actual animation, which is what the 11 Second Club is all about.

So I think we go ahead and make it about the *animation,* and not about politics. Let each artist choose for themselves what their artistic vision for their work is. If for someone it is making sure the color of a character matches the color of the voice actor (or species of the voice actor, or whatever) then good on them, and if for someone else it is about taking creative leaps and turning all the characters regardless of race into walking flower pots with eyes then that's alright with me too. (That, in many ways, is better to me, because it shows imagination and uses the great medium of animation to push past "real life" and go someplace interesting.)

I must admit, though, I'm pretty worn out from all the politics I have to deal with every day online, so that's probably not helping. I just want to do art... I am tired of every single situation being about politics all day every day. It's just exhausting to never have a break, and to me animation is a good break from that uglier world we've created. We are together united as animators, regardless of what any of us look like.

Last edited by J.K. Riki (01-09-2018 7:22 pm)


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#13 01-12-2018 10:41 pm

Winterstride
Registered: 12-05-2013
Posts: 105

Re: 11 Second Club Has A Race Problem

Blond wrote:

Is this really an issue?

I think so, yes. And I'm sorry that this conversation has made you so upset.

JK Riki wrote:

So I think we go ahead and make it about the *animation,* and not about politics.

The rub here is that media is inherently political and your creative choices speak to your political affiliations; even something as brain dead as a Michael Bay movie makes a political point (he's very pro-military, for example). Separating art from politics is basically impossible in even the most mundane works, and I believe that creators have an obligation to interrogate what their work is conveying as times change. Disney isn't making the same cartoons they were in the 30's and that's almost entirely a good thing.

I must admit, though, I'm pretty worn out from all the politics I have to deal with every day online, so that's probably not helping.

That's pretty understandable. But there are sub-groups within our very industry who don't have the luxury of taking a break from this whenever they want and I think a little extra thought is a small price to pay. As I've stated previously my goal here isn't to mind police, just to encourage animators to be a little more thoughtful when they create something.

If you want to be completely pragmatic about it think of it as a challenge that will better your career, getting you out of your comfort zone and animating people you may not immediately identify with.

Last edited by Winterstride (01-12-2018 10:42 pm)

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#14 01-13-2018 4:48 am

J.K. Riki
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Re: 11 Second Club Has A Race Problem

Winterstride wrote:

creators have an obligation to interrogate what their work is conveying as times change.

See, that's the thing, though. Now you're talking about policing art and animation, which is what you keep saying you aren't trying to do. "What animators have an OBLIGATION to do." Not just "what they believe or think" but "what the popular opinion of the times is." And that's when things get a little dicey, because then what you're literally saying is "Other people should do it this particular way, because it is their duty to, because that's just how the times are right now." And I don't think that's how art operates.

People should make their art personal to them. If you like it, go support them and their art. If you don't like it, don't support them and their art. But to say they should do X, Y, or Z is to start harping on other people's choices. You make YOUR choices. Leave others to make theirs. By all means share why you think or hope they would choose a certain way, but coercion of "you're obligated to do it this way" is something else entirely, I'd say. And that's where things start upsetting people, as would not doubt be the case if someone around here told you to make all Mexican sounding voices into cactus characters because you have some "obligation to."

I appreciate that you're offering suggestions to artists to be mindful. I totally agree with you on that. But we have to remember at the end of the day, everyone gets their free will to create what they want. And if we start tossing around words like obligation then we're not making suggestions anymore, yeah?

"your creative choices speak to your political affiliations"

I cannot speak for anyone else, but my creative choices speak to zero politics, unless I am purposefully making a political point (which I do so rarely it's almost not worth bringing up).

If politics is important to you, two thumbs up and I'm happy you found something fulfilling for your time and energy. I myself don't feel the same way. My creativity for certain isn't speaking to my political affiliations. I have no political affiliations. Maybe philosophical ones, but sure as heck not political ones. For me, creativity is so far beyond that tiny little realm that it would be like shackling my work in chains. There's no freedom there. If you want to tie your creativity up in politics, knock yourself out. I can tell you that is not the case for everyone, though. You can watch pretty much any of my animations with a clear conscious that I was not even remotely thinking about politics when I did any of them. smile

Last edited by J.K. Riki (01-13-2018 4:51 am)


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#15 01-13-2018 5:22 pm

RyanHagen
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Registered: 06-16-2007
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Re: 11 Second Club Has A Race Problem

Can we just agree that people have differing opinions, and posting your opinion here, is NOT going to alter someone else's opinion about this.  I understand that some may have concerns here about this and others may not, and while im sure the opinions are strong on both sides, i'm not sure this is the place to voice them.  This topic is starting to get a little salty, let's just get to animating.  I definitely don't want you to not post things here freely, but this topic could go round and round endlessly, and it's not going to do anything but raise peoples blood pressure.  I am all for free speech and saying what you feel, so i'm not closing it.  I would just say, respect people's opinions, whether you agree with them or not.  People are different and they're feelings on matters are different, the sooner we accept it, the better off we'll be and can just move on and be kind to each other.


Ryan
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"Frustration is the handmaiden of creativity" ~ Chuck Jones

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#16 01-20-2018 6:13 pm

J.K. Riki
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Re: 11 Second Club Has A Race Problem

@Ryan

Agreed.


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