Holly Short: Skin Tone Debate

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Holly Short: Skin Tone Debate

Postby Troublelover16 » Wed Feb 04, 2015 10:20 pm

Okay, so I every time I go onto the artemis fowl tag on tumblr, I always see this, which is why I usually avoid looking through it because it gets so annoying. Apparently, Eoin Colfer's description of Holly having 'nut-brown' skin, has led to so many outbursts from fans, claiming that she is PoC (person of color) and they get down right furious upon seeing a white fancast. They even have a problem with the Graphic Novel Holly.

Holly's description from the first novel:
Spoiler:
ImageImage

Graphic novel Holly:
Spoiler:
Image

As we can see... nuts come in many different shades of brown:
Spoiler:
Image

To be honest… I’m not upset, because the Graphic Novel illustration is honestly almost exactly how I pictured her. Nut-brown is a very vague description as there are many different types of nuts..and they come in various shades of brown. So really we do not know and only Eoin can tell us for sure. She could be an almond color… or darker… or lighter…

Personally I’ve always seen her as having kind of a golden brown skin, like very tanned, but its her natural tone. The graphic novels could have made her a bit darker, yes, but I am not upset about this and some of the fancasts, because we just don’t know exactly how dark or light her skin is. Just as long as she’s not overly pale, I will be fine either way. In my opinion all of the fans that get so easily offended over this need to calm down…

Once the movie does get here, I will be happy as long as the actress:

a) isn’t pale and fits the short auburn hair/hazel eyes decription

b) Can actually act. A non-sarcastic Holly Short would just not be right...

c) They do like they did in the Hobbit and make the People look shorter. Fairies are like.. 3ft tall, some shorter, and to have a 5ft fairy would just be utterly ridiculous.

That said… I restate my previous comment. Some fans need to calm down… Literally every time I look at the AF tag I see some one complaining about Holly Short fancasts and whatnot. It be different if Colfer had written like…'dark, nut-brown skin' or something along those lines. But the book does not say that. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and so while one person thinks one way, someone else may not agree and there is no reason to bash them for it.

So my question for you guys.... is what do you all think? Is this a reasonable debate or what?

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Re: Holly Short: Skin Tone Debate

Postby Raineesun » Thu Feb 05, 2015 1:01 am

I'm not gonna lie, I do kind of have a problem with the way Holly was portrayed in the graphic novels, but I don't think they did well with those in general anyway, so it doesn't really make me angry. I do think that by "nut-brown" he meant the color of an almond (so in my mind she is a WoC), but that's clearly just an objective opinion.

I think that some fans should pay more attention to the way she's described in the book before doing fan casts, but then, fan casts are just a bit of fun and shouldn't really be taken too seriously. I think it's just a matter of everyone on every side of the issue overreacting, hahaha. Although, if they cast a really pale woman as Holly, I would get angry (just because of how little PoC representation there is right now). But fan casts are nothing to get angry about.

I do think it's something worth talking about, but everyone's personal bias is going to influence the way they see the books. For example, I somehow missed the "nut-brown, cropped hair" thing and pictured her super pale with longish hair because that was my mental image for pretty much all female characters. My point is, I think there are a number of people who, like myself at age 9, never looked past their stereotypes and just read what they wanted to, and that's why they see her as white and/or pale.
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Re: Holly Short: Skin Tone Debate

Postby La Souris Bleue » Thu Feb 05, 2015 10:08 am

... HOLLY'S THE NUT !!!
*gets slapped*
Erm, sorry about that, I couldn't help myself.
Personally I like a lot the graphisms of the graphic novel ^^' Especially in the first ones. The third seemed a bit more cartoonesque-like to me, but that's another debate.
I've always pictured Holly as a short-haired woman with tanned skin. Nothing more, nothing less. And I agree on that fans are sometimes way too nervous. I mean, I was really pissed when I noticed Artemis's eyes were brown in the graphic novel, and that he was about the same size as Holly, and I wouldn't forgive that if the movie made the same mistakes ; but why ? Because these are important points in the characters depictions, and even in the story ! A part of the plot in Code Eternity is about how the fairy lense is brown and Artemis's eyes are blue, so that might raise Spiro's attention and all...
But to me, Holly's skin colour is just a detail. It's not that important in the story, and most of all, as both of you said ''nut-brown'' is so vague, no one can pretend to have the exact right interpretation. So I admit I don't really understand the point of such a debate - not this debate, I mean when fans clashes over Holly actresses because their skin colour is not ''right'' or something...

What I'm going to expect from the actress who'll play Holly is only to act well. Even if she has the ''wrong'' skin colour, it's not her fault, it's the casting director's. Let's not forget about that too.

... Well that was my useless opinion x)
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Re: Holly Short: Skin Tone Debate

Postby Troublelover16 » Fri Feb 06, 2015 6:31 pm

I agree with both of you guys, in parts.

There is so little POC representation nowadays, yes, ... but it really depends on the character, in this case Holly, and their actual description. I won't be overly upset with whoever is cast if they aren't the right skin tone, but really only Colfer has that say, right? But really as long as the person can act.. I think they can be good at it..

It's like Cosplay.. in my mind.. as long as you look mostly like the character, then go for it. You shouldn't judge someone for wanting to cosplay as their favorite character, because they are simply trying to have fun. Who cares if they have red hair instead of blonde? They are simply trying to have a good time. Same goes with the fan casts.
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Re: Holly Short: Skin Tone Debate

Postby Rocket Axxonu » Thu Mar 12, 2015 7:10 am

Yeah, I've always thought 'nut brown' could have a lot of variations, too. (Her skin is also described as 'coffee' colored toward the beginning of the Eternity Code, which also isn't all that specific, depending on the amount of cream you like. (; ) Although I've always thought it's most natural to assume that she's a kind of medium color (as Rai said, almond-colored), but I think there's a lot of room for leeway and still staying with the canon. (Personally, I like to imagine her darker, because I just like the way it looks... X3) Even her hair color, which is described as 'auburn,' there's a lot of room for variation; some picture her hair as really red, whereas others might see it more as a dark-reddish brown.

But yeah, I admit, the graphic novel never really looked how I imagined her either. Her skin is quite light (I think nearly as light as Artemis), and her hairstyle, while it fits the description from book 1 ('cropped', which is fairly vague), it doesn't fit with the details that are added in later books, that it's a centimeter-long crew cut. However, for me, I think where the gn's design diverged most with the picture in my head was the overall personality communicated in the body language and facial features. In the gn, she has a kind of gloomy, serious look about her, which definitely fits with the atmosphere I think the graphic novel was trying to capture, but I always pictured Holly having a generally cheerful disposition as she's described in the first book. (I need to go back to the books and look some things up specifically, but there's a line I remember in particular that says something like, 'Her normally chatty mouth was a grim slash of determination,' and we know she smiles and cracks jokes quite a bit, even in the middle of life-or-death situations.)

But, I can't say I was mad or upset about the graphic novel interpretations. I mean, the artist has to use their own judgement to make the characters look like they imagine, and there would just be no way to please everybody anyway, as everyone imagines the characters in different ways. I'm just happy there are gns at all. :J (We have to have something while we wait for the movie, right?)
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Re: Holly Short: Skin Tone Debate

Postby cezen » Fri Mar 13, 2015 2:58 am

What you have to understand is: there is an issue in American society with "white washing" characters of color.

It is the same reason why most people, regardless of their race, imagine fictional characters as white defaultly. The same reason we defaultly imagine doctors as male. The same reason people get in upheavel about a black Spiderman or a black James Bond.

The reason representation is an issue is because not being represented makes one feel like an outsider. This tension is exacerbated when characters who could help provide that feelings of oneness, instead of affirming difference, are otherwise portrayed through the dominant visage, beauty standard, etc. of white people.

Obviously an artist has leeway in how they draw a character, but when they appear to lighten the character's tone it may be hard for some fans to tell if that is just an honest portrayal or if it is reflective of the goal of attracting a more white audience or if its simply reflective of societal structures that unconsciously influence the artist in a way he is invisible to.

This may be hard to understand for those whose race has never, or rarely, made them feel like an outside--who race is an invisible construct that is only as significant as misdrawing eyes how you saw it.

Saying things like "well coffee can be light...and nuts can be light" ignores the fact that there is a default image of those things, coffee and nuts, that is present and molded in a given society, which an author is trying to evoke when they use descriptions like that.
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Re: Holly Short: Skin Tone Debate

Postby Rocket Axxonu » Sun Mar 15, 2015 9:01 am

Haha, I guess that teaches me to write posts at two in the morning when I have a cold and should be in bed, eh? (; (I haven't been sick in maybe three years, this is a shock for me. X3 But, I'm hopeful I'm getting over it now. x3 )


I think that's a good point, and despite what I might have said, I understand what you mean about how portraying something as the standard of beauty or default can make other groups feel like outsiders. Even though it may not be nearly the same extent, I think many of us have experienced something similar to that, either in a classroom, or in reading popular books or watching movies, among other things. (For me, it generally has to do with lifestyle choices or political views rather than standards of beauty, but there are times when you can feel oppressed and isolated—and I know that if I can feel that way in circumstances as slight as those, I can only imagine what people who are in an environment of constant and ever-pervasive exclusion feel like. And I think many people experience that sense of oppression of somehow not fitting the mold of what is perceived as 'beautiful' by the society at large, whether it's being too short, too overweight, not having the right shaped nose, etc. But when it comes to skin color, there's also an additional history of oppression; we have hundreds of years of scientists saying that it's been “scientifically proven” that the brain of a PoC is inferior to that of a white, and leaders proclaiming that the whitening of the population equals improvement, and so on and so forth, and although we've come a long way, we're still combating the lingering effects of all that. I think when we start to think about that history, it becomes clear why there can be so much anger and frustration over this issue.)

So, anyway. I guess what I mean to say is, although I don't think there was probably any real malicious intent behind the decision in the gn to lighten Holly's skin or in fanmade dream-casts, I definitely see what you're saying about the potential harm of perpetuating a certain idea of beauty by white-washing a character who was meant to be pictured as someone of color. (Again, I think there's room for wide variation on Holly's skin tone, but as you say, saying she's coffee colored or nut-brown is going to give us a certain picture, and it's probably doubtful that Colfer meant to evoke an image of cashew-colored skin with his descriptions, which isn't really what you naturally think of when you think of the color 'brown' or 'coffee-colored.')


On another note—people are outraged by the idea of a black spiderman or James Bond? Really? (I mean, I've never seen a James Bond, but I'm picturing a black Spiderman, and that would just be so awesome.)



(Sorry if this post is a little garbled, I wanted to hurry and post before my internet goes out again. X3 I may come back and edit a little later...)
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Re: Holly Short: Skin Tone Debate

Postby Raineesun » Wed Mar 18, 2015 6:07 am

I think cezen hit on what I was trying to say, even if he didn't know it. (Thank you ^^)

The main thing I want to address in your post, Rocket Axxonu, is this part, "I don't think there was probably any real malicious intent behind the decision in the gn to lighten Holly's skin."
That's probably true. I do agree with you there. The issue, however, is the underlying mindset. The mindset here is that whiteness is the default. I feel like when there's a character whose race hasn't been explicitly named in literature, everyone just imagines the character as white because in the media, white truly is the default due to a misrepresentation of Western civilization's population, aka whitewashing.
I don't know if that actually made sense.

As for the black Spiderman/other famous characters being cast by PoC making people angry: I have actually seen people throwing fits about this. It blows my mind how stupid people can be, it really does. The thing is, we've been deceived into thinking that this kind of racism (I'm not calling it prejudice, because it's quite frankly not) doesn't exist. But look at YouTube comments. Look at BuzzFeed comments. These places are where people feel anonymous and leave their opinions that they would never voice to your face. This is where you can see this racism, sexism, etc etc etc.

Seriously holding myself back from a feminist rant (which you seriously didn't do anything to bring on haha) but I shall leave it at that. Plus it doesn't *directly* relate to what I'm talking about here. :b

Oh, one last thing, this is all coming from a white, cis, woman, so there is bound to be a degree of error in what I said. Just throwing up that disclaimer lol.
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Re: Holly Short: Skin Tone Debate

Postby Troublelover16 » Sun Mar 22, 2015 9:13 pm

cezen wrote:What you have to understand is: there is an issue in American society with "white washing" characters of color.


Oh yes, I'm not going to argue about the whole white white washing thing. It is an issue is wrong, I'm not opposed to the POC castings, not at all. I wouldn't mind seeing a black Spiderman even though I loooveed Andrew Garfield.

This issue is kind of ridiculous in this day and age to be honest. The Civil Rights movement is long over. Seriously. People need to grow up and except everyone for who they are. But alas... that'll probably be a while before that happens.

What my main issue with the whole Holly thing... is I agree that she was a bit too light in the GN, but I'm not upset about it because it was actually close to how I always pictured her. The main thing that pisses me off is the people who see a 'white fancast', even if she's not too light skinned, they go all crazy and get angry and insist that she's a POC, when in fact there is nothing to suggest that she is or that she isn't. They don't have to like it, but they could a least recognize that someone else sees her a different way and be like 'Hey, we have different headcanons, but that's okay." There is no need for getting angry and be all 'if i see another white fancast for Holly I'm going to scream" or going to a RP'er and saying that their FC is too light-skinned. I have seen that... and its just uncalled for. To each their own.

Also... As another note... Eoin Colfer, if I recall correctly, did once say that he's ideal cast for Holly would be Saoirse Ronan. So shouldn't what the Author things be final say? But still give leeway for people to picture her the way they want as well.
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Re: Holly Short: Skin Tone Debate

Postby AliceFowl » Wed Apr 15, 2015 7:53 pm

I feel like this is something that's been really widely interpreted. You can tell by looking at all the fanart of Holly out there. In the first book, at least, Eoin calls her skin brown (I don't remember the exact wording, but something along the lines of brown). This could be anything from a dark-skinned nationality to a summer tan. Like in the Sherlock Holmes novels, Watson is described as "brown as a nut" but that doesn't mean his skin is naturally dark. It also could be that Eoin just...changed his mind. He's done that with different things, if you pay attention. Like Artemis's age when his father disappeared. I'm pretty sure it changes from The Eternity Code to The Time Paradox. (If I'm wrong, sorry!!!) Personally I've always seen Holly as fairly light-skinned, not for any prejudicial reasons, but just because of the way the rest of her appearance is described. It just made more mental sense to me. And Saoirse Ronan is really pale. So I think it's still up for interpretation, but ultimately I've always seen her as light-skinned.

I think this would have been a really good question to submit to the interview. Did you, I wonder?
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Re: Holly Short: Skin Tone Debate

Postby NerdGurl » Sun Jun 14, 2015 3:44 am

'nut-brown' and 'coffee colored' aren't very specific. That description leaves a lot of room for your own imagination. I imagined Holly as black (but that's just me.) But honestly, skin color is not that big of a deal. Calm down people! I don't read graphic novels because they ruin the perfect image I have in my head. Everyone take a deep breath and a chill-pill. :eyeroll:

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Re: Holly Short: Skin Tone Debate

Postby Athena32 » Wed Jul 22, 2015 7:26 pm

I agree with the opinion that the graphic novel's portrayal was too light, but I also think that when the book gives us such vague standards, we can imagine. I've always pictured Holly as looking a bit like me, but other people imagine it differently. I feel like there might be some validation in people thinking that making her white is racist, but I also feel that everyone should have the right to imagine their own character. The person who designed Holly for the graphic novel obviously had a different opinion.
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