I'd appreciate if anyone can help let me know if my story is offensive

Bee22

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#1
Hi guys, any help that I can get just to give me any tips if any of this sounds offensive. I would really appreciate it, that's all I ask, thanks :)

The main premise would be how a son of a rich business corporate leader from China and a daughter of a rich business corporate leader from Japan both got married and had a son (which is son#1). That son #1 eventually becomes a head corporate and eventually meets a Japanese woman and they both have a son together (being son #2) but as it turns out son #2 inherited demon/angel powers from his Japanese mother who was a demon/angel herself from her families history. Then son#2 would eventually meet a half Caucasian/Chinese woman which they have a son with being son#3 and son #3 would then be orphaned into a hidden temple in the Himalayas where he is is raised, inheriting the demon/angel powers to combined with his Caucasian/Chinese mothers spiritual powers.

Let me know if any of this sounds offensive, thanks.
 

zmunkz

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#2
Someone will always be offended whatever you write, so I honestly wouldn’t worry about that at this point. It is hard enough to get a story out without adding fencing. If you are concerned, it usually means you are already self-aware enough to avoid major pitfalls.

As to directly answering your question, I’m not sure I’m from the relevant background to give any real insight. I wouldn’t be offended reading it, unless you really went heavy on linking demon attributes or angel attributes to particular ethnicities.
 

Bee22

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#4
As to directly answering your question, I’m not sure I’m from the relevant background to give any real insight. I wouldn’t be offended reading it, unless you really went heavy on linking demon attributes or angel attributes to particular ethnicities.
I wouldn't direct anything towards their ethnicity as to why they have demon heritage. Though I'm worried that having the full Japanese side of the family being the one to giving the future offsprings the demon/angel traits would make some think I am targeting Japanese more, which I'm not. I just think it's fits cooler to have the Japanese grandmother of the family to carry it over. And the fact that the family is kind of a mix of Chinese/Japanese would this not stand well politically? Considering they don't have the best history together. And the demon heritage would actually descend from the ancient Middle East and Europe that was passed to the Japanese family clan ages ago.

So far this all sounds ok right?
 

Venusian Broon

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#6
Chinese marrying a Japanese person, although probably not offensive, makes my eyebrow raise. Honestly, there is still a lot of aggro between both camps because of the 1930-40s. (My brother is married to a Japanese woman and lives in Tokyo, so I've had a few first hand stories from Japan) Of course I'm sure there may be such marriages, but I've come across this sort of assumption in other guises - (real western businesses that thought having someone of Japanese ethnicity and descent was the best person to handle Chinese business - no it wasn't!)

Is this set up from your own personal experience? Or because it's 'cool'? If it's just the later you may get picked up on it and not have a leg to stand on. Just a warning. However as others say, no matter what you write, someone will probably tell you that you are culturally insensitive etc.

Also why is the demon from the Middle East? The Japanese have a very rich literature and mythology of their own demons. So that feels a bit odd. Not offensive, but a little odd. I do realise, reading your set ups, that your not going for anything close to reality, so you don't need to worry about how insular the Japanese can be in real life etc. (Actually there's a very interesting history of friendship between the Chinese and the Persians, which seems a better setting for a Mesopotamian demon to travel East, but that's real history not superhero stuff ;))
 

Venusian Broon

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#10
It tells me that either you know Japanese and Chinese culture really well - or else you have a tons of research ahead of you. :)
The analogy that springs to mind for me, is that if you think you are going to walk into a minefield, best to do a lot of research on a mine detector :)
 

Phyrebrat

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#11
To be an ever-so-slighty dissenting voice here, I'd say you're overthinking the offensive-ness of this.

You're writing a book, not a polemic (I hope ;) ), and as long as you're not being hamfisted and basing it on generalisations and offensive stereotyping, then you're good to go.

In fact, I'd even say that it's perfect ground for addressing the kinds of things you're worried about. I've been writing my WIP for a long time and I know it will be offensive to certain people, with certain religious beliefs. Not only that, but the inciting incident is the suggestion that the black king (Bathasar) of 'We three Kings' Nativity-fame did a runner with the gold he brought for Jesus. Rather than underlining the stereotype of black males being theives, it's allowed a dialogue in my work that wouldn't otherwise have been there.

The thing is I work with black young people and have done so for many years, so I have a knowledge of a cultural capital that is not my own (it also helps when your Degree is also to do with race).

The only thing I would expect you to worry about is to ensure you have reasons for your ethnic groups. Why have you chosen them? If it is nothing more than the exoticising of the story, co-opting exisiting culture to lend your own invention some gravitas, you will find people might be quicker to anger.

It's like the recent revelation that Lando Calrissian is pansexual, in the Solo movie. LGBTQ groups were up in arms over that as it was an unecessary tweak, and not represented in the plot/script for it to have been justifed as such. I believe the common term for this in relation to sexuality is Dumbledore-something (But I've not read or seen H Potter so I can't recall!). So if you're just using those cultures because they're 'cool', you might have a bit of work on your hands convincing people of those heritages why you had to cast them as such.

I hate referring to my own work in cases like this, as I'm not a proven author, and also I think it's highly subjective and conceited, however.... my story is full of corrupt clergy, racism, mental health and drug abuse; they're there because they have to be there not because I fancied being 'edgy'.

On a more general note, as long as you do your research/common sense due diligence, I say go for it. Whenever the question of offending people in art comes up, try to think of:

Marcel Duchamp, Salvador Dali, Frida Kahlo Damien Hirst, Georgia O'Keefe, Nabokov, Pina Bausch, Huxley, George Orwell, Salman Rushdie, Engels & Marx, David Lynch, Madonna, Afrikka Bambaataa, Public Enemy, Adam Ant, NWA, The Sex Pistols, even the Bible itself...

And where would we be without Walter White? A drug dealing hero?

Okay, so it's a little specious to compare these with what we do (hell, why not, though?!) in our little stories... But you get my point, I hope.

pH

Edit: Although 'Ducamp' sounds funnier, I think Marcel would object to the typo...
 
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#12
I mentioned this in another thread (which I cannot point you to in that the post is now gone), however, it is assured that you will offend someone.

Historically, Asian people, just like those European, just like those African, just like those American (N/C/S), have long embraced racial bias based on in reality, national lines. Yes, there are slightly different lines of genetics, vastly different cultures and so on, yet oddly their defining point is some invisible line on a map.

So, of the 'nationalities' you pointed out, you will discover vast swaths of people who will 'make it a point' to be offended. Their represented culture should be the hero. The other represented cultures should be the bad guys or fools. Their nationality ALONE should be the focal point with all others in orbit around it. The list goes on, every possible combination or scenario of bias you can dream up, they'll come up with more... So, that leaves you with two options if you want to offend no one.

1. Don't write.
2. Invent fictional nationalities, cultures and races (kind of the opposite extreme).

Or, just write. Be as accurate as you can about each culture (also, don't try and assume anything. Either you know/learn something implicitly, or just leave it out). Try not to gin-up drama using bias as a backdrop presenting X as superior or Y as inferior, EVEN if you can find real life examples of that same bias. And let the chips fall where they may.

Just my opinion.

K2
 

Phyrebrat

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#13
The above is an example of over-generalisation. Well-meant perhaps, but wrong. Simply wrong.

You will find minorities welcome cultural representation in the arts as long as it represents them faithfully. To say they will say their race should be the hero is grossly misinformed or ignorant.

pH
 
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#15
The above is an example of over-generalisation. Well-meant perhaps, but wrong. Simply wrong.

You will find minorities welcome cultural representation in the arts as long as it represents them faithfully. To say they will say their race should be the hero is grossly misinformed or ignorant.
*Sigh* Okay, this is just like the last time so clearly I'm not explaining my point well enough.

First off, I don't view anyone as a minority, population ratios regardless. I'm rather blind in that regard. That said, wherever anyone is from, you will find 'some,' not 'all,' in that culture that will go out of their way to find reason to take offence. As supposedly ignorant and misinformed as some may consider that viewpoint, I have encountered numerous examples of it in my own, indigenous, minority race... and have seen it in all others the world over.

There will always be those few who wish to erase the failings of their culture/race/nationality, glorifying those aspects instead, in the end simply projecting their biased judgments on anything other than themselves. It's unavoidable.

Someone can always find offence if they make an effort to.

K2
 

Phyrebrat

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#16
*Sigh* Okay, this is just like the last time so clearly I'm not explaining my point well enough.

First off, I don't view anyone as a minority, population ratios regardless. I'm rather blind in that regard. That said, wherever anyone is from, you will find 'some,' not 'all,' in that culture that will go out of their way to find reason to take offence. As supposedly ignorant and misinformed as some may consider that viewpoint, I have encountered numerous examples of it in my own, indigenous, minority race... and have seen it in all others the world over.

There will always be those few who wish to erase the failings of their culture/race/nationality, glorifying those aspects instead, in the end simply projecting their biased judgments on anything other than themselves. It's unavoidable.

Someone can always find offence if they make an effort to.

K2
Thanks for the explanation.

My point wasn't aimed at you although it clearly comes across as such for which I apologise. More, I just wanted to steer clear of the fear element that most majorities feel when dealing with minorities. It prevents dialogue and leads to misunderstanding.

I see you say that - like me - you're a minority, and that explains why you're so free-talking about this, If that makes sense. In my experience, when I talk to white, straight people, there's a tangible fear present that they often trip up over trying not to offend. You don't seem to be bound by such behaviour.

That's what I hate. Fear is a debilitating thing when talking of this authentically, and so I hope I've made my position clear.

It's why I express exasperation at the question. Just write it and if you get it horribly wrong, it will be a learning experience, and the outcome will be positive. But to stew on it and worry, and not write it, is an own goal. Also, what if you end up writing what becomes a respected treatise on the subject?

Go in with open eyes, and honest intentions, and you'll be fine, is my maxim in this topic.

Now, about Demons, however....

pH
 

OHB

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#17
I wouldn't direct anything towards their ethnicity as to why they have demon heritage. Though I'm worried that having the full Japanese side of the family being the one to giving the future offsprings the demon/angel traits would make some think I am targeting Japanese more, which I'm not.
It does give the impression that the character's powers are ethnically based if everything comes from the Japanese side. Do you clarify in your ms that this is not the case and that it's only one specific family that has these traits? I would imagine that someone who is both Chinese and Japanese would have to deal with the political and cultural tensions between those two groups. Is this represented in your story? If not, then I think it may be best to make your character fully Japanese. This would clarify that your character's powers come from only side of his family and not because their Japanese. It would also explain why your character doesn't have to deal with the socio-political issues surrounding Chinese-Japanese relations.

Likewise with the character's kid. Saying that he inherited spiritual powers from his Caucasian/Chinese mother makes his powers sound ethnically based. Pretty much everything I said about his father applies to him as well.
 

The Bluestocking

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#18
As someone who is ethnic Chinese here is my 2 cents:

Write it. But do your research - really make sure you know the historical background and context. China and Japan have a very long history of animosity and feuding. For example: read about the Rape of Nanking and Japan's actions around the Pacific Rim during World War II to learn exactly why there is so much animosity and why a child who is both Chinese and Japanese would be in a difficult position because of their ethnic mix. My grandmother will always treat Japanese people with suspicion because of the terror and carnage they inflicted on the Chinese population across China, the Mekong Delta, and Southeast Asia during World War II.

Look at how R.F. Kuang handled the whole Chinese vs Japanese thing in her book THE POPPY WAR - she's a historian specialising in that area and even she fictionalised the ethnicities (though it is clear who is who).

Then write out your story - and make sure you treat all characters like people instead of falling back on stereotypes.

Once you've written a draft that you are ready to have others beta read, make sure you get sensitivity readers well-versed in Chinese and Japanese cultures to go through it. Run it by friends who have Chinese and Japanese heritage - they may be able to spot some negative stereotypes that you may not be aware of if you aren't Chinese or Japanese. Because if you are not Chinese or Japanese, you are going to have blindspots.

And contrary to what K2 says, I'm going to point this out:

There are no "vast swaths of people who will 'make it a point' to be offended". If people from the ethnic groups you include in your story point out to you certain things that misrepresent their cultures - listen, please. They are making the effort to do this because it's bloody irritating when authors and other creators (especially if they are White) just use our cultures as a widget to make their stories "different" or "exotic". If they are making the effort, then take it in good faith. It doesn't hurt to listen and take notes. It might even help improve your portrayal of various characters etc.

Nobody is saying you can't set your stories in our cultural worlds and settings, but most people who object to a particular element or portrayal in your story are saying: "Do it with respect and care, please."
 
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Bee22

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#19
Is this set up from your own personal experience? Or because it's 'cool'? If it's just the later you may get picked up on it and not have a leg to stand on. Just a warning. However as others say, no matter what you write, someone will probably tell you that you are culturally insensitive etc.
I just thought it would be unique if a Japanese corporates son/daughter got together with a Chinese corporates son/daughter and then merged both companies together and having both martial arts styles combined and culture would be fun. Sorry if that does sound offensive, I hope it doesn't.

Also why is the demon from the Middle East? The Japanese have a very rich literature and mythology of their own demons. So that feels a bit odd. Not offensive, but a little odd. I do realise, reading your set ups, that your not going for anything close to reality, so you don't need to worry about how insular the Japanese can be in real life etc. (Actually there's a very interesting history of friendship between the Chinese and the Persians, which seems a better setting for a Mesopotamian demon to travel East, but that's real history not superhero stuff ;))
That actually gave me an idea. Maybe I could base it more on Chinese and Persian mythology since they actually have a history together? If that's true I kind of like this idea? Maybe I could have this corporate ONLY be of a Chinese family that has corruption in it with one side of the family consisting the demon traits through Mesopotamian demon that traveled East centuries ago? Did any Persian history travel to Japan? Or just China?

It tells me that either you know Japanese and Chinese culture really well - or else you have a tons of research ahead of you. :)
Will need tons of research unfortunately :'(

I hate referring to my own work in cases like this, as I'm not a proven author, and also I think it's highly subjective and conceited, however.... my story is full of corrupt clergy, racism, mental health and drug abuse; they're there because they have to be there not because I fancied being 'edgy'.
But my story wouldn't have anything to do with political issues, or any common racial themes and stereotypes that are about Chinese and Japanese. It would all be pretty much fantasy and science fictional events happening. I just wanted to merge two companies together with a strong combative martial arts system and militant force. Would it still have something offensive about this? :(
 

Bee22

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#20
1. Don't write.
2. Invent fictional nationalities, cultures and races (kind of the opposite extreme).
I thought of inventing fictional nationalities before or having maybe the MC's dad being from another dimension and the mother being Asian human but that might already take away the mystery of my story that we don't find out yet that his father is a demon/human/hybrid because he would be a human that has ancestral demon lineage that no one knows about, hence he would look human and even he the father doesn't know right away that he has demon heritage (course when he does he wants to keep it a secret)

Or, just write. Be as accurate as you can about each culture (also, don't try and assume anything. Either you know/learn something implicitly, or just leave it out). Try not to gin-up drama using bias as a backdrop presenting X as superior or Y as inferior, EVEN if you can find real life examples of that same bias. And let the chips fall where they may.

Just my opinion.

K2
Oh absolutely. I would never want to show who's more superior than the other. This is why it might be safer to make the family one nationality, either Japanese or Chinese? Or Persian/Chinese mix?

It does give the impression that the character's powers are ethnically based if everything comes from the Japanese side. Do you clarify in your ms that this is not the case and that it's only one specific family that has these traits? I would imagine that someone who is both Chinese and Japanese would have to deal with the political and cultural tensions between those two groups. Is this represented in your story? If not, then I think it may be best to make your character fully Japanese. This would clarify that your character's powers come from only side of his family and not because their Japanese. It would also explain why your character doesn't have to deal with the socio-political issues surrounding Chinese-Japanese relations.
I'm thinking of just picking one instead too to avoid any political debates and issues. Even though this is fantasy/fiction I could see how this would turn bad real fast. I want it to be known that it just happens to be from one side of the family, not because they are Japanese or Chinese. If I went with the family just Japanese would it be any less unique then if I made them Chinese? Are Japanese demon mythology used more often than Chinese demon mythology? Is there any ancient roots or history I could connect Japan with like Mesopotamia/Persia?

Likewise with the character's kid. Saying that he inherited spiritual powers from his Caucasian/Chinese mother makes his powers sound ethnically based. Pretty much everything I said about his father applies to him as well.
I was afraid of this. I don;t want people thinking this is ethnically based like the Japanese side has demons and the Chinese/Caucasian side has spiritual healing powers. How could I show this is not the case? Should I just pick one country/culture to have them be so the demon heritage and spiritual healing heritage won't seem like I'm picking sides?

any advice on this I would so much appreciate, thank you so much. I really do :(
 
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