Shame, by Pam Noles

Pam Noles’s piece on the whitening of Earthsea and on growing up a black fan; published in Infinite Matrix.:

“I remember Dad saying, how come you never see anybody like that in the stories you like? And I remember answering, maybe they didn’t have black people back then. He said there’s always been black people. I said but black people can’t be wizards and space people and they can’t fight evil, so they can’t be in the story. When he didn’t say anything back I turned around. He was in full recline mode in his chair and he was very still, looking at me. He didn’t say anything else.
– Pam Noles

3 Replies to “Shame, by Pam Noles”

  1. Pam,

    I read your article and response. I enjoyed both. Growing up, I used to search for sci-fi that showed people of color. As much as I enjoyed Star Wars, it was irritating not to see anyone black, brown, red, or yellow in the mix. Yeah, it was nice when Lando showed up but most sci-fi was like “Buck Rogers in the 25th Century” where the colored folks were background characters. Although “Battlestar Galactica” had Boomer and Tighe, they weren’t in the forefront nor given the chance to develop. And, let forget about any Native American, Latino, or Asians.

    Recently, I saw a clip of the new Stuido Ghibli production of “Earthsea” and was stunned that once again the characters were whitened. Given that Urusla Leguin had written her article admonishing the Sci-Fi Channel for doing the same, I was mystified why this time she knowingly let Ged not be presented as a young man with reddish brown skin. Given LeGuin’s anger at the Sci-Fi Channel, I was hoping to see Ged finally portrayed as he was written.

    Do you know if anyone has discussed this with LeGuin? If she okayed this, doesn’t she lose her credibility?


  2. brad: I’m as disappointed as you are about the Studio Ghibli production. I probably won’t go and see it. Yet a director is an artist in her or his own right; unless it’s work for hire, generally no-one can dictate a director’s vision. When a director interprets a work, there is nothing compelling that person to do so in a way that the writer will approve of. Studio Ghibli’s Earthsea is their own. If people want to know Le Guin’s vision for Earthsea, they’ll have to read the books she wrote, not watch a film made by someone else. Some of the productions of Shakespeare’s plays would probably have horrified Shakespeare.

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