I’m more of a strawberry guy personally.
As if there wasn’t enough hate going on as a result of Pokemon Sword and Pokemon Shield, recently there has been new controversy surrounding a specific mod for the games that changes the water gym-leader Nessa’s skin from brown to white. That’s it. All the outrage, toxicity, mean comments, and over the top Twitter threads are due to someone making a color swap mod for a gym leader in Pokemon. Do I even need to explain why this is stupid? Yes, I do, because there’s more to why this mod exists than you might think.
The image above by Japanese artist Najuco is probably what we can pinpoint as the starting point for all of this controversy. There was a large shake up on Twitter over this image with people claiming it was whitewashing Nessa, that it was racist, and all manner of other accusations. This was mostly due to a misunderstanding due in part to the type of lighting and shading used in the image. The artist clarified that Nessa wasn’t white in this image, but it didn’t matter as this kicked off a big outcry of people calling the artist racist and an even bigger outcry of people defending the artist. Another result was the complete opposite of what the critics of the drawing wanted, a slew of Japanese artists drawing Nessa as light skinned to troll them for their art-policing behavior.
Honestly I don’t blame the Japanese artists for acting this way either. It’s incredibly annoying when a bunch of people start throwing unwarranted hate at an artist over their work and it’s even more annoying when it’s cringey and borderline hypocritical claims of racism. I mean, people are getting this mad over white Nessa, but many of those same people will cheer for the changing of a white character to a different race and then lecture you about “systemic racism against black and brown characters,” which is just a work around way of them saying “it’s fine when it’s what we want.” No one takes hypocrites seriously guys, that’s kind of a big thing to keep in mind when you advocate something.
This white Nessa mod is most likely just a result of people pushing back against authoritarian demands against artists backed by threats of being labelled a racist. But is the mod actually racist itself? Not really, no. I’m not the mod creator, so I can’t say. Is it possible the mod is racist? Well yeah, I’m not denying that someone could have made it with a racist intent. Key word here is context, that’s what we should keep in mind. If you wanna see an actual racist depiction of Nessa, then google “monkey Nessa” and tell me what you find. The thing though that annoys me more personally art the “I fixed it for you” losers.
Before I continue, please keep in mind not to harass these people after reading this, especially since these posts are from way back in June. But when some nobody on Twitter takes someone else’s design and unironically says “I fixed it for you” it makes me want to spit in their breakfast. This rude behavior by Euro and Ameri-centric people in regards to a Japanese persons art should not be praised. An artist should be allowed to make whatever they want so long as it breaks no laws and no law was broken to make it. Even if it’s something that you don’t like or don’t agree with, it should still be allowed to exist. You can absolutely criticize someone for what they make, but harassing them and dictating what is or isn’t okay is not criticism.
To derail for a moment, this whole debacle isn’t even the first of it’s kind. Some years back there was a Tumblr artist by the name of Zamii070 who was bullied into a suicide attempt by people who disliked their depiction of Steven Universe characters. The claims were that the artist was fat-shaming, transphobic, etc. Think of that for a second, that a young fan artist nearly committed suicide because they didn’t draw a cartoon character the right way. And do you think everyone who harassed them regretted their actions? No, some of them cheered! It’s abhorrent, and disgusting behavior that those who were involved should be ashamed of. People often reference woke culture as the cause of this type of behavior, and while I can’t say that’s all their is to it, it seems to definitely play a part. There’s so much focus on race now, in and out of media, that people are losing their minds over cartoons and video games. Did people not get the memo that the color of a persons skin doesn’t matter, or am I the only one who took that class?
Overall, I’m glad the white Nessa mod exists. Because it’s a push back against these annoying and preachy art police that think they can bully people for doing something different. Who think it’s okay to attack people with horrific allegations and then pretend that they’re the good guys. If you think it’s okay to make a white or Asian character black, but not make a black or brown character light-skinned then you’re a hypocrite and you don’t deserve to have an opinion on this topic. If you think it’s okay to harass people for what they draw, you’re part of the problem. Everyone deserves to be able to make what they want. White Nessa? Cool. Brown Touhou characters? Go for it. Just don’t be a douchebag about it though, I can’t help you then. But do you think the white Nessa mod is racist? Do you think artists deserve the right to make what they want? Do you like your Nessa chocolate-flavored or vanilla-flavored? Leave a comment and tell us.