Roleplay and Plurk Drama 2 – Reboot!

Just a bit about the Plurk and blog drama that went on yesterday.  

As you all know, I roleplay a Victorian gypsy in Second Life, in the Steamlands sim.  I have never represented myself to be a true gypsy, or even represented that I was depicting true gypsy culture.  I believe that I have always been clear in the reverse, that I am not gypsy or representing true gypsy culture.  It’s Steampunk/Victorian/Fantasy and I assumed this was clear if not by my words at least by the milieu.

I was notified by a person in my blog commentary that they disagreed with the stereotypical representation I was roleplaying.  I thought we were having a conversation, but discovered it had also been put on a Plurk timeline.  The timeline was without my name, blog name or address, but it was pretty easy to find – as indicated by the large increase in hits on my blog.

I got upset and posted my distress (I am a musician, I can be emotional) on my Plurk, privately to friends.  I also did not name the other Plurk though, once again, it was easy to find and was soon guessed.    One of my friends then posted something on the other Plurk in defense of me which, although I appreciate deeply the thought and motivation, do not agree with the sentiment written.  However, this person is one of the few in SL (or RL) for that matter that know some of the issues I am going through and is highly defensive for me.   This is all I will say about this person as it is not my purview. 

Things spiralled into the usual Plurk drama from there. 

Before I go on, let me state that at no time was I offended by the criticism in my blog commentary.  It was polite, explained well and I understood the thought.  However, I was – and still am – hurt by the race to judgement of me, by the names I was called and the insinuations in Plurk.   I am a reasonable person, talk to *me*.   I will admit when I am wrong, and do not think I deserved the sentiments thrown my way in that timeline or in others. 

I have many friends that question the motivation(s) of those criticizing me and my blog.  I will admit to having reservations as well. 

But it doesn’t matter.

I understand the criticisms of stereotype.  I may not agree with it completely but I am older and remember a time when there was much more racism in this country.  My own ethnic group is often stereotyped unfavorably in the US, much less than it was when I was growing up, but it still there.  My own ethnic group’s stereotype is the basis of many roleplay venues, even in SL.  It never bothered me.  But then, my own ethnic group was never discriminated against like gypsies have been the world over – so I will not pretend to say I understand the pain.  So just because I may not agree completely with the criticism of my character, does not mean I am right or do not to see the validity.  I hope that makes sense.

I apologized in the comments in my blog, and I apologize here.  I apologized in another’s Plurk timeline and tried to explain myself – not to justify but explain my thinking.  For some that wasn’t good enough, and even my comments there were subject to more criticism.    That’s fine, I need to do no more explaining of myself.   I will admit to being clueless, unthinking of how my rp could hurt others, but I will not acept the charges of blatant racism, stupidity of history and whether gypsies are real people, and all the rest. 

No matter what some people who only know me from SL think, I am not ‘attached’ to roleplaying a gypsy.  I have in the past, roleplayed a medieval fantasy minstrel later promoted to a Court Bard, an ancient Briton chieftain’s daughter (one of two twins, that was fun!), a Blood Elf spoiled Priestess, and a 1920’s female jazz pianist in Chicago.    When I came back to SL, I wanted a musician/storyteller to fit into the Steamlands and Cala Mondrago, so a Victorian Spanish gypsy named Lynn was born.  And honestly – yes I am vapid – I liked the clothes. 

Now I am thinking, is a time for a ‘reboot’.  Spiderman can do it, for goodness sake Star Trek can do it, Lynn Mimistrobell can do it as well.  Its not like where I am in SL is strict on the roleplay (and thank goodness, thats not what I am looking for at this stage of my life).   

Now for any that think I am abdicating or losing a battle or giving up, please do not think that.  I do not really care what the motivations are of the people that reviled me; I can see that my character could rub some the wrong way.  It is my strong belief that if I see what I am doing can hurt others, it is my duty to not do that if at all possible.    

In addition, to be honest, I am kind of happy to do this.  My motivations and what I want to do in SL have changed since I returned a year ago, and I had painted myself into an RP box.  And as silly as it sounds, since the rp is not really important in SL, I like to have that background.   I like to write background stories – for me.  And the deadend I had painted myself into had stunted my writing.  So… reboot!!  And I already have the character in my head that will allow me to wear all the different types of clothes I want in SL, including stereotypical gypsy. 

I will over time clear up some of the gypsy items here and in Plurk, other than those embedded in web addresses or names.  I will probably eventually get rid of the stories.  I will not delete the pictures as I was simply blogging gypsy, Boho and faux-gypsy wear as seen in SL. 

Now…. I would like commentary, here or in Plurk.  Not on what happened or what I am doing (unless you have ideas!!) but on roleplaying in general – without degenerating into namecalling or arguing.  Should someone only rp an ethnicity or culture they are part of?  One they know the history of?  What are the parameters and guidelines?    What are your thought on rp?

Oh, and guess who got permission to buy a Jupiter-50 last night?  🙂



10 comments on “Roleplay and Plurk Drama 2 – Reboot!

  1. Bulli says:

    Not going to give a deep insighted comment about role-playing… but I’m just very curious to see what you’ll be introducing as your next character!!!

    • gypsylynn says:

      Once I iron out the details, I will introduce her!! I am really kind of excited. I think I need to buy a new skin. You know how I hate to shop. *ducks*

  2. Zanya says:

    “Should someone only rp an ethnicity or culture they are part of? One they know the history of? What are the parameters and guidelines?”

    The problem with this philosophy is that once you decide you are going to draw a line like that, you have to decide where you draw it. Should people never RP as furs, jagers, cyborgs, robots, elves, vampires, or any other non-human?

    “Ha! But those aren’t real groups in reality! You’re not going to offend an elf in RL who has been the victim of persecution!”, someone might say.

    Okay, ignoring the flamewar you’d ignite from fans of those communities if you made that argument, then how about gender?

    Yeah, gender. Conservative estimates put about 50% of the population of any MMORPG as a different gender than they really are in RL (in SL this may be even higher, possibly MUCH higher). Should those people be told to stop, and criticized for any supposedly stereotypical behavior because they don’t really know what it’s like to be male/female, even if they feel that that’s really who they actually are on the inside? Hmm? What if you think they are being a stereotype, but actually ARE the race/gender they portray? Oops!

    All of a sudden our line becomes a bit blurrier.

    A lot has been made of this in film. Should someone of one race play another? Even the racism of casting departments isn’t always so clear cut. It was always Patrick Stewart’s dream as an actor to play Othello, but besides the obvious issue of him playing a moor, the race of the character being different than all the others is an integral part of the story. His solution? He cast black actors for all the white roles (an act greatly appreciated by a lot of black Shakespearean actors who got to play roles they ironically WOULDN’T be able to otherwise due to their race) and then went on to play a DAMN good Othello.

    The argument is muddy, complicated, and lacks any clear answers, and anyone who thinks otherwise is being overly optimistic.

  3. Ahnya (rhymes with Zanya) says:

    I will only say that I think it’s sad that your stories are going to be removed. I love your writing style, my dear, and enjoy what your brain comes up with. My thought on the subject is that the RP world you placed yourself into is considered to be an alternative history timeline. As part of the steamlands… your character shouldn’t held to the same “rule” structure as modern day society. The basis of the Steampunk genre is what would happen IF something happened differently in history spinning a parallel timeline.

    That being said, I’m excited to see where you go and what you come up with! I know the feeling of writing yourself into a corner and the beauty of SL is that you CAN explore new options and ideas to recreate yourself.

    Oh… and CONGRATS on the new Synth!! *hugs*

    • gypsylynn says:

      I understand and would love to have a discussion if it can be kept civil. And I ask due to a desire to understand know other’s thoughts, not to provoke. Where is the line drawn, for RP?

      Is it only ok to rp your own ethnicity and fantasy ones? Should I be upset when I see the constant stereoype of my own ethnicity as criminals and sociopaths, and 90% of the time when I see my ethnicity rp’d and romanticized, it is as this?

      Is it the degree? My grandfather was harassed, discriminated against and treated as a criminal because of his name and the color of his skin. There was a conscious (and effective) effort in this country to stamp out the use of his native language in favor of English. There were internment camps set up and people lost their homes.

      However, I will readily admit its not to the degree of Roma – and that is my question – is it the degree? Is it the fact that no one can understand? Is it up to the people of that ethnicity to decide? Or should we not do this because it is inherently disrespectful?

      I hope this can be kept civil and non-confrontational / argumentative. The point is, I am not disagreeing with anything said, I want to learn.

    • And she’s wrong about the word origin of gypsy. I speak German, and gypsy does not have the same origin as zigeuner (which comes from the Romanian word that is associated with slavery) The German word is also part of the name of a fast food pork dish covered in a spicy pepper sauce. (Zigeurnerschnitzel, Zigeunersauce) and you will live your life in perpetual butthurt in the grocery store if its that offensive to you. Yes, its a word with an awful history but context does mean something.

      Gypsy comes from the word Egypt, and its unsure who gave it to them, it is just as likely to have been the Rom who used it as a way to explain their origins. People of Roma origin are street performers even to this day (damn good ones who got famous too, look at Edith Piaf for example) and the word was commonly used in circus acts in the US (in which Rom immigrants did perform in). Whatever, its wrong to use it to label Roma people now and I am well aware that people in the UK use it as a slur against Irish Travellers, but the word as it is used in US English as applied to fashion has to do with the clothes that Burners and other environmentalist hippies wear. Most Americans never heard of Pavee or Irish Travellers (so Americans are sure never to mix it up with them, heh), and most Americans have sure never heard of any of the slur terms used in continental Europe.

      But yanno, Tumblr social justice outrage and all that jazz. Laughing crock of the internets.

      This is a lot more troubling than a privileged American clutching her pearls about new age hippies and their attire. (and getting bent about roleplayers, where everything is a stereotype just about is even more laughable)

      But hey, hippies wearing hippy stuff and culturally appropriating yoga and spirit animals, clearly the embodiment of the KKK. Yo Tumblr justice.

      • ah, Piaf is of Berber descent, my mistake. Still, point stands. The term “Gypsy” is associated with stereotypes in performances, not with slavery. No roleplayer really thinks they are what they are playing, no more than any other actor or person playing a character in a game.

        Whatever, life is too short for this crap… there are real people getting labelled with the offensive term in their country of origin, and people are fretting about ecohippies and hipsters, pixel clothes, and the roleplay of steamlanders… like that will make any social change in the world, oh keyboard warriors.

  4. Darkley Aeon says:

    i would like to remind everyone about who started with the trolling and incivilility however

    RP’ing roma is ok in my opinion as long as its not to the tired stereotype of magic/freespirit/tarot reading pagan romanticised distortion of history

    Otherwise there is no depth, no actual understanding, it would for example be like portraying a native american as warbonnet wearing peacepipe smoking with no other facets to the character.

    The walking people are not fantasy characters, they are real people. There are many differences between pavee and rominchals, or romani

  5. Darkley Aeon says:

    erm “This is a lot more troubling than a privileged American clutching her pearls about new age hippies and their attire. (and getting bent about roleplayers, where everything is a stereotype just about is even more laughable)”

    I am not a priviledged american

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