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Final Fantasy VII Remake: Some fans are mad because Barret "looks white"

It must be nice for people whose job is to write articles like this.

Just pick 4-5 random twitters who complain about stupid stuff like this, write it as "some fans", and making it so as if a huge contingent of people are complaining and that this is a huge issue, while the fact is anything but.
 
The idea that Barret looks white/not black is dumb, but I don’t know that this is necessarily about stereotypes. Colorism, whitewashing, etc. are problems.
100% agreed. As long as people are going to keep coming in here without reading the thread I think some elaboration is worth making.

Like if you did a bunch of fashion photos of Idris Elba for, like, GQ or some shit, and they were lit like the shot used in the OP I think a lot of people would give them crap for whitewashing. Of course it's the fucking lighting. Everyone would agree it's the fucking lighting (maybe some airbrushing too but that's a separate fish-kettle).

It's a problem that goes back to the origination of film and photography.

Photography is not just a system of calibrating light, but a technology of subjective decisions. Light skin became the chemical baseline for film technology, fulfilling the needs of its target dominant market. For example, developing color-film technology initially required what was called a Shirley card. When you sent off your film to get developed, lab technicians would use the image of a white woman with brown hair named Shirley as the measuring stick against which they calibrated the colors. Quality control meant ensuring that Shirley’s face looked good. It has translated into the color-balancing of digital technology. In the mid-1990s, Kodak created a multiracial Shirley Card with three women, one black, one white, and one Asian, and later included a Latina model, in an attempt intended to help camera operators calibrate skin tones. These were not adopted by everyone since they coincided with the rise of digital photography. The result was film emulsion technology that still carried over the social bias of earlier photographic conventions.

It took complaints from corporate furniture and chocolate manufacturers in the 1960s and 1970s for Kodak to start to fix color photography’s bias. Earl Kage, Kodak’s former manager of research and the head of Color Photo Studios, received complaints during this time from chocolate companies saying that they “weren’t getting the right brown tones on the chocolates” in the photographs. Furniture companies also were not getting enough variation between the different color woods in their advertisements. Concordia University professor Lorna Roth’s research shows that Kage had also received complaints before from parents about the quality of graduation photographs — the color contrast made it nearly impossible to capture a diverse group — but it was the chocolate and furniture companies that forced Kodak’s hand. Kage admitted, “It was never black flesh that was addressed as a serious problem at the time.”
I think there is a corollary here that the image shown in the OP is a bad representation of Barrett's appearance in the game in terms of skin tone, obviously. The issue isn't as pronounced in motion (because the color becomes clearer, especially as ambient lighting changes) but there's a reason that you almost never actually see professional photography (well, not modeled or posed photography at least) lit like the example in the OP, because it washes out the subject pretty terribly.

Jelly Roll Morton's photos tend to produce an almost Fred Armisen looking fellow, at least images taken after he became a famous performer:

Consider this nightmare of overexposure:



Some later photos appear to do a better job of capturing his actual skin tone. It's much darker than what the previous photos would have you believe:


That looks a lot darker, doesn't it? Some of the earliest photos of Morton give him an appearance of an even darker skin tone.

People who are complaining about the lighting in the shot in the OP aren't as off their rocker as some of you want to believe; the history of lightening dark skin to make it look more appealing runs deep. I think the only issue is that they come away treating the screenshot like a posed photo, and I don't think that's quite accurate to do. There are more shots from the trailer that convey his appearance much more effectively, but I don't blame people reading racism into the screengrab used in the OP.
 
Oct 25, 2017
3,077
He... looks black to me? Am I missing something here?
Can people please stop freaking out about a couple of seconds of footage with weird lighting, please.
There are more people freaking out about a few random Twitter comments than people actually worried about this.

Someone find people mad at Cloud's design
I've seen essays devoted to Cloud's design in dissidia just because he's looking toward the ground.
 
Oct 30, 2017
1,916
100% agreed. As long as people are going to keep coming in here without reading the thread I think some elaboration is worth making.

Like if you did a bunch of fashion photos of Idris Elba for, like, GQ or some shit, and they were lit like the shot used in the OP I think a lot of people would give them crap for whitewashing. Of course it's the fucking lighting. Everyone would agree it's the fucking lighting (maybe some airbrushing too but that's a separate fish-kettle).

It's a problem that goes back to the origination of film and photography.



I think there is a corollary here that the image shown in the OP is a bad representation of Barrett's appearance in the game in terms of skin tone, obviously. The issue isn't as pronounced in motion (because the color becomes clearer, especially as ambient lighting changes) but there's a reason that you almost never actually see professional photography (well, not modeled or posed photography at least) lit like the example in the OP, because it washes out the subject pretty terribly.

Jelly Roll Morton's photos tend to produce an almost Fred Armisen looking fellow, at least images taken after he became a famous performer:

Consider this nightmare of overexposure:



Some later photos appear to do a better job of capturing his actual skin tone. It's much darker than what the previous photos would have you believe:


That looks a lot darker, doesn't it? Some of the earliest photos of Morton give him an appearance of an even darker skin tone.

People who are complaining about the lighting in the shot in the OP aren't as off their rocker as some of you want to believe; the history of lightening dark skin to make it look more appealing runs deep. I think the only issue is that they come away treating the screenshot like a posed photo, and I don't think that's quite accurate to do. There are more shots from the trailer that convey his appearance much more effectively, but I don't blame people reading racism into the screengrab used in the OP.
Great post.
 
Oct 27, 2017
714
100% agreed. As long as people are going to keep coming in here without reading the thread I think some elaboration is worth making.

Like if you did a bunch of fashion photos of Idris Elba for, like, GQ or some shit, and they were lit like the shot used in the OP I think a lot of people would give them crap for whitewashing. Of course it's the fucking lighting. Everyone would agree it's the fucking lighting (maybe some airbrushing too but that's a separate fish-kettle).

It's a problem that goes back to the origination of film and photography.



I think there is a corollary here that the image shown in the OP is a bad representation of Barrett's appearance in the game in terms of skin tone, obviously. The issue isn't as pronounced in motion (because the color becomes clearer, especially as ambient lighting changes) but there's a reason that you almost never actually see professional photography (well, not modeled or posed photography at least) lit like the example in the OP, because it washes out the subject pretty terribly.

Jelly Roll Morton's photos tend to produce an almost Fred Armisen looking fellow, at least images taken after he became a famous performer:

Consider this nightmare of overexposure:



Some later photos appear to do a better job of capturing his actual skin tone. It's much darker than what the previous photos would have you believe:


That looks a lot darker, doesn't it? Some of the earliest photos of Morton give him an appearance of an even darker skin tone.

People who are complaining about the lighting in the shot in the OP aren't as off their rocker as some of you want to believe; the history of lightening dark skin to make it look more appealing runs deep. I think the only issue is that they come away treating the screenshot like a posed photo, and I don't think that's quite accurate to do. There are more shots from the trailer that convey his appearance much more effectively, but I don't blame people reading racism into the screengrab used in the OP.
This was a great post and pretty informative! Thanks for sharing.

He looks black to me, but how black people would like to be represented in the game is something they're free to express. I'm certainly not about to dismiss their comments on it.
 
Oct 29, 2017
594
Yeah like I don't think there's much wrong with the skin tone they used (especially since the lighting in the screencap is so harsh) but once I looked at the hair I couldn't unsee it. I know, I know, rendering hair is hard, but it still looks weird to me to see that lack of texture.
This was my exact reaction. Black folks come in all different shades and tones, but that hair is what Rachel Dolezal had before she got a white person perm.

I have incredibly low expectations for Japanese devs representing black people, so I'm not mad. But man...I can't stop looking at his hair once it was pointed out.
 
Oct 27, 2017
2,142
There are different shades of colour on people skins... there are white people, ultra white, brown, black, "pink",... but he is all but white in the trailer... he may look to someone not black enough because of the lighting, but are we really going to discuss every frame that people come up with? Come on...
 
Oct 27, 2017
109
Toronto
Barret totally looks black to me, but in a stylized anime square-enix kinda way. White people don't typically look so pixie-like like Cloud and Aerith, it's just their interpretation. The only nitpick I have is maybe the hair on the top of his head looks a bit straightened, but it's tough to say with what little footage we have. People complaining about skin tone are insane as we've yet to see a normal-lit clear shot of him.
 
Oct 25, 2017
13,719
Making stupid ass threads about "some fans" complaining about stupid ass things is giving these stupid ass "fans" the relevance they seek

ffs
To be fair instead of just being outrage at outrage, this topic highlights a wider issue.

That being that your blackness can be thrown in the trash with the statement of "you're basically white". As if you need to be a certain shade or have a certain hairstyle to pick up your black membership card.

Ironically made funnier when it's often white people writing shit on behalf of black people (as many of the tweets are) as they think it makes them, for lack of a better word, woke or something.

If anything in this instance it potentially shows your own racial bias that you expect a specific caricature of a black person to be represented by a black protagonist. The nonsense around Barrett here can't just be chalked up to "idiots don't understand lighting".
 
Last edited:
Oct 27, 2017
5,520
To be fair instead of just being outrage at outrage, this topic highlights a wider issue.

That being that your blackness can be thrown in the trash with the statement of "you're basically white". As if you need to be a certain shade or have a certain hairstyle to pick up your black membership card.

Ironically made funnier when it's often white people writing shit on behalf of black people (as many of the tweets are) as they think it makes them, for lack of a better word, woke or something.

If anything in this instance it potentially shows your own racial bias that you expect a specific caricature of a black person to be represented by a black protagonist. The nonsense around Barrett here can't just be chalked up to "idiots don't understand lighting".
This right here. All of this.

I’m biracial and if I had a dollar for every time some white person said “but you’re not really black” just because my skin is light...
 
Oct 27, 2017
1,162
ResetERA
This is a parody thread, right? Even less people cared about the tweets in the OP than the Aerith thing, and that's saying something given the most popular tweets about that topic barely got any attention (111 likes last I saw)
 
Thread title predictions for forthcoming character reveals...

"Fans are mad because Tifa's breasts are too big."
"Fan outrage abounds due to Tifa's breasts being too small."
"Fans express concern that Cid doesn't look old and grizzled enough."
"Red XIII's fur rendering not up to snuff? Some fans seem to think so."
"Cait Sith confirmed for FFVII Remake; people are outraged that he's in the game."
 
Dec 1, 2017
164
Of all the issues that I thought people would have with this game... The ones brought up this past week were definitely surprising. Barret looked and sounded exactly like how I imagined him to be honestly. Just the right amount of camp
 
Oct 27, 2017
27
I’m taking a complaints inventory. So far we’ve got:
-Barret is too black
-Barret is not black enough
-Aerith is not anime enough

I predict:
-Tifas breast’s are not big enough
-Red XIII looks like Sonic
 
Oct 27, 2017
1,273
Scotland
Never thought this would be something that would be argued about with a Final Fantasy VII remake. The dialogue always seemed like it would definitely raise eyebrows. Even as text it could be viewed as problematic. Hopefully it’s just the lighting and not a Sheva situation.

This argument reminds me of Rude. Me and my brother would argue if he is black or white when I think I included him as an example of the few black RPG characters. I always thought he was black but he doesn’t think so. Even in Advent Children I think he debated it. Looking forward to Remake ending this decades long feud between us.

 
Nov 7, 2017
1,000
To be fair instead of just being outrage at outrage, this topic highlights a wider issue.

That being that your blackness can be thrown in the trash with the statement of "you're basically white". As if you need to be a certain shade or have a certain hairstyle to pick up your black membership card.

Ironically made funnier when it's often white people writing shit on behalf of black people (as many of the tweets are) as they think it makes them, for lack of a better word, woke or something.

If anything in this instance it potentially shows your own racial bias that you expect a specific caricature of a black person to be represented by a black protagonist. The nonsense around Barrett here can't just be chalked up to "idiots don't understand lighting".
This is a fantastic point, one I’m ashamed I didn’t notice!

This whole debacle puts a spotlight on a critical issue in both representation and tolerance in not only black people, but other minorities, that unless you conform to an unreasonable standard, you are a discredit to your ethnicity.

This is a disgusting idea, but it’s not entirely councious. Throughout many examples in history and in media, black characters in fiction have been given great scrutiny over perceived levels of blackness.

It’s understandable for it to be warranted, as many ethnic characters are created without context of the ethnic experience, but these conversations can very quickly turn from criticism of design and contextual portrayal, into outright indignation and dehumanization of people who stray from the example of “perfect” representation.

I’m not saying it isn’t okay to criticize ethnic stereotypes, and the fictional depiction and casting choices that stray too close to those stereotypes. But I am asking people to be mindful of what they’re trying to fight for, and to try to keep from degrading people who don’t conform to the best possible example of blackness.
 
Oct 25, 2017
13,719
This is a fantastic point, one I’m ashamed I didn’t notice!

This whole debacle puts a spotlight on a critical issue in both representation and tolerance in not only black people, but other minorities, that unless you conform to an unreasonable standard, you are a discredit to your ethnicity.

This is a disgusting idea, but it’s not entirely councious. Throughout many examples in history and in media, black characters in fiction have been given great scrutiny over perceived levels of blackness.

It’s understandable for it to be warranted, as many ethnic characters are created without context of the ethnic experience, but these conversations can very quickly turn from criticism of design and contextual portrayal, into outright indignation and dehumanization of people who stray from the example of “perfect” representation.

I’m not saying it isn’t okay to criticize ethnic stereotypes, and the fictional depiction and casting choices that stray too close to those stereotypes. But I am asking people to be mindful of what they’re trying to fight for, and to try to keep from degrading people who don’t conform to the best possible example of blackness.
There is a difference between worrying about some of the pretty poor and/or offensively stereotypical writing of the original FF7 and taking something like this, on the surface, an absolutely fine visual depiction of a black man (Barett), and putting it through some blackness purity test.

Given the original source material Square may well mishandle Barrett in writing/VA, but that's another issue from accusations that Barrett, as he is currently depicted visually, is basically a "white man". Barrett does not "look white", not even during the moments of gun flash.

As I said that comes more across like your brain expects "black man" to always be a one-tone skin colour. Which in itself is a massive issue at times with games when they have character creators and black people are basically represented by two skin tones, if not just one.
 
Oct 25, 2017
7,178
FR
Thread title predictions for forthcoming character reveals...

"Fans are mad because Tifa's breasts are too big."
"Fan outrage abounds due to Tifa's breasts being too small."
"Fans express concern that Cid doesn't look old and grizzled enough."
"Red XIII's fur rendering not up to snuff? Some fans seem to think so."
"Cait Sith confirmed for FFVII Remake; people are outraged that he's in the game."
I predict:
-Tifas breast’s are not big enough
-Red XIII looks like Sonic
lol
 
Oct 27, 2017
1,162
ResetERA
Thread title predictions for forthcoming character reveals...

"Some fans are mad because Tifa's breasts are too big."
"Some fan outrage abounds due to Tifa's breasts being too small."
"Some fans express concern that Cid doesn't look old and grizzled enough."
"Red XIII's fur rendering not up to snuff? Three people seem to think so."
"Cait Sith confirmed for FFVII Remake; A person with a twitter account is outraged that he's in the game."
FTFY
 
Oct 29, 2017
294
To be fair instead of just being outrage at outrage, this topic highlights a wider issue.

That being that your blackness can be thrown in the trash with the statement of "you're basically white". As if you need to be a certain shade or have a certain hairstyle to pick up your black membership card.

Ironically made funnier when it's often white people writing shit on behalf of black people (as many of the tweets are) as they think it makes them, for lack of a better word, woke or something.

If anything in this instance it potentially shows your own racial bias that you expect a specific caricature of a black person to be represented by a black protagonist. The nonsense around Barrett here can't just be chalked up to "idiots don't understand lighting".
This so fucking much.
 
Oct 27, 2017
9,733
I'm going with it being the lighting, however if the game comes out and it's clear they've changed this (I don't know why, the problem with Barret in the original game was that he was a walking stereotype) then yeah that's fucked up.