The Lack of Diversity Among Us

The Wolf Among Us. What more could you want when you already have fairytale characters, noir themes, and New York City? Non-European fairytale characters! (also if you haven’t played the game, spoilers. maybe? it’s really just about characters if you care about being spoiled by that)

I love this game. Like love this game. I’ve replayed it multiple times because of how obsessed I was after I finished playing it the first time. And because of that, I got into Fables, the comic series that it’s based on and is now a canon prequel to. I haven’t gotten far into the series, but I’m quickly noticing that a lot of the characters were based on Western fairytales. There’s Snow White, Cinderella, Rose Red, Bluebeard, and the protagonist, Bigby Wolf (aka The Big Bad Wolf). The same thing happened in The Wolf Among Us.

big cast. but like the animals/shapeshifters are the only ones that aren’t white.

All the characters were based on stories that had been adapted multiple times. They had the chance to do something that could really diversify the cast by looking to fairytale characters from other countries, but they stuck to the ones we already know like Nerissa (aka The Little Mermaid), Grendel, and Tweedledee and Tweedledum, and even going to nursery rhymes and urban myths.

bloody mary and georgie porgie. bet you know where they're from.
Bloody Mary and Georgie Porgie. Don’t say her name five times in a mirror and he makes girls cry.

They kept it so Western to the point where they included the Jersey Devil, which completely threw me off.

are you scary looking? YEAH! but like who are you and why did they include you rather than someone else?
are you scary looking? YEAH! but like why though? like are we even dealing with fairytales anymore? isn’t that like the whole point?

Given that some of the characters that were added are villains, it would’ve been really problematic if they had taken those characters from non-European fairytales. I’m happy they didn’t do that. But a lot of the other characters added weren’t villains and they could’ve done something with that. Like really could’ve done something. The whole game felt like a giant wave of white characters and it would’ve been really nice if TellTale had at least done a little bit of something by branching out to other fairytales rather than going to nursery rhymes and urban legends. If they did that, it would’ve made the cast look diverse and acknowledge that there are many other fairytales that exist outside of the Western realm.

I have no idea if Fables does anything different with that and introduces characters from different origins, but I really hope that the team in charge of the second season of The Wolf Among Us really thinks about the characters they introduce. For example, they could include characters from Mexican, Chinese, and Egyptian fairytales among many others. When it comes to fairytale adaptations, non-European stories always get the short end of the stick and we almost never see them and this could be a step in changing that. There’s plenty of stories and characters that TellTale can choose from to expand the world of the game a lot more by including them.

0 thoughts on “The Lack of Diversity Among Us

  1. I actually haven’t played the game but the lack of diversity isn’t surprising to me, since I’ve read the comics. I loved reading “Fables” but it is rare for them to stray outside Western fairy tales. That isn’t to say it doesn’t occasionally happen though!
    There is also reference to a community of Fables’ creatures in Tokyo, made up of characters from Japanese urban legends. There are also Arabian Fables, such as Sinbad and Aladdin. But I agree that it is very rare for non-Western fairy tales to get their due justice and it’s unfortunate that a series as great as Fables can’t expand into those stories.

    1. It’s great to hear that they introduce that eventually! I haven’t made it that far into the series, so I had no idea but I’m happy to have at least that to look forward to.
      With Fables ending, I’m hoping that with the other side stories that have come out of that universe explore more of the non-Western side and give those stories their justice. Even if it can’t be in the main series, having it in one of those would be some sort of step forward. Or even if someone creates a series like Fables and includes non-Western fairytales in their reimagining of those stories.

  2. I chose this post as one of my favorites for the semester! I hope you don’t mind.

    This lack of diversity can be seen as an extension of a lot of study of mythology in academia, which is a bit of a hobby of mine. There are tomes and tomes of research about Grimm’s fairytales, where many of these characters are pulled from, and their subsequent adaptations by Disney, etc, or from Greek and Roman mythology, but comparatively little research about non-Western mythology, and certainly not as in depth. Most of the research I’ve seen is little more than a survey.

    I’ve seen several posts on tumblr of people re-imagining or re-drawing classic “Disney” fairy tales set in non-Western countries (Indian Rapunzel, Chinese Cinderella, Chilean Anna and Elsa, to name a few), which, while this kind of thinking is good, it’s also important to remember that these countries have heaps of fairy tales that are just as good as the “Western” kinds, and that could very easily be made into their own stories, rather than combined with another.

    1. I don’t mind at all! Thank you for choosing it at one of your favorites!
      I wish there could be more research on non-Western fairytales and myths. The fact that there isn’t really saddens me because there’s so many good stories that people have been exposed to because of that.
      I was hoping that a bit of that would happen in The Wolf Among Us, which was why I was so disappointed when it didn’t. It could’ve been a really great chance to do that and instead they chose to reimagine nursery rhymes and urban myths.
      I hope that eventually people will stop with the reimagining of “Disney” fairytales as non-white essentially, and move forward and begin introducing non-Western fairytales to others. If not that, then hopefully there’s some adaptation of a non-Western fairytale in order to introduce those stories to a bigger audience.
      Thanks for your comment!

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