Spawn On Me Episode 112: Drake’s Gonna Drake

Nadine

Listen Here! (1:59:49)

This week we’re joined by Rewire.news editorial associate Shonté Daniels

to share her thoughts on Uncharted 4 in our wrap-up special. She breaks
down how she merges writing about videogames and reproductive rights and we
finally dig into the Laura Bailey/Naughty Dog controversy.
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Kahlief Adams

Kahlief was born and raised in the Bronx, New York. As an avid technophile and lover of all things video games. He set his career path in the direction of a life making games until he found out his arch nemesis, “Math,” had other plans in store. So instead of making the next Tetris he found himself writing and talking about games on his website The Spawn Point Blog and Spawn On Me. Check out what I'm blabbering about over @kahjahkins on Twitter. PSN = KAHJAH1 XBL=KAHJAHKINS

2 Comments
  • Virgil
    Reply

    Hi, relatively new listener! I’ve been going back into the archive on some of the less shooter focused episodes, and I’ve really enjoyed the podcast so far.
    I really enjoyed the discussion of Uncharted 4, Nadine’s role and character,
    and the controversies of the industry with regard to race.

    Personally, I’ve never committed to playing any of the Uncharted, (after a lackluster experience with the first game).
    Listening in to the criticism, sorta allowed me to gather some cultural knowledge on a series, so I appreciate Spawn On Me tackling the subject.

    Regarding Nadine, I found an interesting response from Laura Bailey regarding her casting.

    —-

    “I went in person to audition for the role of Nadine. The character breakdown I received had no picture or physical description at all. The reason for the being, there was no character design yet. Nadine was described as a strong willed, intelligent, powerful woman with a south african dialect…..”

    “…On our first day of filming… I saw the concept art for Nadine. “One of the very talented artists at Naughty Dog had come up with a beautiful design for her, and it happened to look… very different than me….

    Suddenly, because she had a different skin color than I did, there was a chance some would deem my portrayal unacceptable.

    But at that point, what’s worse?

    Choose that beautiful design the artist created, knowing there could be backlash because they had already cast a non-black actress?

    Or change the design entirely out of fear and lose the opportunity to have a strong character of color in the game? ”

    —–

    I’m curious what you’re thoughts on this question is?
    Though, I am a huge fan of Laura and her work on Critical Role, I wonder if she’s ignoring a third option of backing away from the character while in production (I expect this to be probably unfeasible), or the future option of avoiding roles that call for accents normally associated with POC.

    I’m familiar within political activism, some movements to convince straight white liberal men to not run for office, such as the “Can You Not PAC.”
    whose goals are to discourage white guys from running for office, with the idea that the many white dudes flooding politics have pushed out equally talented (and potentially more representative) female, minority and LGBTQ candidates. (credit to Alex Wagner’s article in The Atlantic : White People vs. White Privilege)

    Do you think we should have a similar conversation regarding voice acting roles, that specify accents for nationalities with overwhelming amounts of historically nrepresented POC?
    From my outside perspective of listening to the spoken and written conversations on this game, it feels like a good deal of the burden for getting things right is on the industry at large, and each games’ development leadership.

    If they display more representative diverse characters, and hire more diverse people to write and voice them- the controversies of who portrays whom for villains and side characters, in my mind, largely fall apart.
    Do you think it’s fair to expect voice actors or writers, to turn down work, until we reach that goal of representation?

    June 5, 2016 at 1:07 pm
  • First off, Virgil, thanks so much for listening to our show and taking the time to comment. Welcome to Brookago! Now to answer some of your questions: I think you’ll get three different answers depending on which of the hosts you ask these questions to (this is Cicero).

    Do you think we should have a similar conversation regarding voice acting roles, that specify accents for nationalities with overwhelming amounts of historically nrepresented POC?

    I don’t think it’s the responsibility of the actor to turn down a role that they’ve booked because the role is a different gender/ethnicity of the actor. It’s their discretion to do so if they choose, of course, but I would not begrudge them the right to receive a payday and add another notch on their resume. I believe that the responsibility really goes to the casting agent/casting panel. If the they’re casting for a character that is marginalized then great care should be taken to find “literal” marginalized voices to fill said role.

    Personally, I don’t subscribe to this belief that a working person has a moral obligation to deny themselves work in favor of another. I believe they have a moral obligation to feed themselves and their family.

    Do you think it’s fair to expect voice actors or writers, to turn down work, until we reach that goal of representation?

    I think I answered most of this in the previous question but I’ll expound. Have you ever turned down a job in favor of giving it to someone who looks less like the other people working at that job? My guess would be no. The reason you’ve applied for the job in the first place was to better your situation. Why then reject the job (unless there’s something about the job that you find objectionable), and the opportunities it would afford, so that someone else could benefit from them? If you did, it would be quite magnanimous of you but last I checked you can’t pay the light bill with nobility.

    Again, as you mentioned in your comment, and I mentioned above, the responsibility for change lies mostly with the people doing the hiring. They’re on the inside. They’re in control of the artistic direction. It should be them who helps to shape the tenor and complexity of the industry. While the Nadine controversy center around Laura Bailey’s casting it should NEVER be directed at Laura Bailey herself. She booked a role for which she auditioned. It should be redirected at Neil Gaiman and the rest of the team at Naughty Dog responsible for the casting decisions. Even then I don’t really have a problem with their decision as Laura’s performance was excellent. Maybe there was a woman of color out there that would have performed equally as well. We’ll never know but I won’t be picketing outside of Naughty Dog’s offices because of the casting decisions that were made for Uncharted 4.

    Keep the questions coming, brother! Keep us accountable! Most importantly, keep having fun being a resident of Brookago!

    Cicero aka Stubby Stan – The Ozymandias of Brookago! 🙂

    June 7, 2016 at 8:12 am

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