In this article, we will discuss Wizards of the Coast's choice to ban cards and artists from their databases, games and collaborations..
The protests that have broken out in the United States since May 25 have had and are having serious repercussions for all of American society.
Many companies are modifying or retiring their products which could attract protests on themselves: starting with HBO with Gone With the Wind, which was subsequently added to the catalog with an initial disclaimer, passing through Hazzard, but even the poor Looney Tunes have not come out entirely harmless.
Wizards of the Coast, the Magic the Gathering company, has been no different.
The case of cards banned from the formats of the Wizards of the Coast
Through an article, the Wizards of the Coast, announced the immediate ban of some cards in all formats, and the removal of their images from the gatherer. For the uninitiated the Gatherer is the official database of all the cards released for Magic: the Gathering from the beginning of the game to today
Obviously immediately afterwards protests and comments broke out, more or less justified, but above all more or less informed.
In this article I have therefore tried to gather some information that they could explain the reasons behind the choice of those cards, although there has never been any official statement from the Wizards of the Coast.
Let's examine the cards in question
Invoke Prejudice and the similarity with the KKK
Let's start with Invoke Prejudice.
Starting from his ID (identification code) on the Gatherer, 1488, the scene depicted had aroused controversy for some time, as the characters showed a similarity with FAQ. The fact that the author has ties to supremacist and neo-Nazi organizations didn't exactly help.
A few days later the artistic director who approved the card gave up his point of view on the subject: the creation of that image was referred to the performers of the Spanish Inquisition, although he recognized the similarity with FAQ, which in his intention was intended to be an ironic quote to those who spread prejudices.
Cleanse e imprison: references to racism and the slave trade
Cards Cleanse e imprison refer more clearly to racism towards African Americans. In the first case we have an unfortunate coincidence between the name of the card, the connection to ethnic cleansing that comes naturally, effect and color text. The foul beast in the text it may not have been a very happy choice, from this point of view.
The combination of these elements could be what led to the choice of this card.
In the second case we have a dark-skinned person restricted in a narrow space, in a position that deforms his posture. The connection is naturally to trade in slaves and their conditions during the Atlantic crossings. The addition of the mask on the face they make any misunderstanding impossible.
Pradesh Gypsies: derogatory to the Roma
With Pradesh Gypsies we have a name problem. Indeed, in the United States the term Gypsy it is often used in a derogatory way, similar to gypsy Italian.
As much as the term may indicate a Roma exponent, it is easy to understand how this removal can save many troubles in Wizard.
Stone Throwing Devils: disrespectful to Islamic culture
Stone Throwing Devils it is, in my opinion, the paper with the most fascinating reference and which, before doing research, I completely ignored.
Lo Stoning of the Devil it is a ritual that takes place during the Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca. It consists of throwing stones against three walls, i Jamarat, which represent the temptations of the devil. In the image we have one perversion of the original rite, as we see that the devils are the ones who throw stones, perhaps against the Islamic faithful on pilgrimage or just an association with the fact that the Islamic faithful are the devil. A choice undoubtedly unhappy and above all respectful of Islamic culture and religion
Jihad e Crusade: a more complicated speech
We end with Jihad e Crusade. The discussion becomes complicated, as it is clearly not possible to exploit racist motivation, so we must necessarily do hypothesis without being able to rely on anything for sure.
Il Jihad, Holy war, has always had in history various interpretations, and discussion about it has always been present in the Islamic community. Go into the detail of the thought of the Offensive or defensive jihad it could be difficult for us Europeans to understand and I am sure that people more informed than I can explain it to you.
In any case, starting from the conquest wars of the Ottoman Empire, up to the most modern terrorist activities of Al Qaida and ISIS, the term in the West has always had connotations negative.
Much like is the speech for Crusade. The Crusades are the perfect Christian transposition of the Holy War, and all have been particularly bloody and violent historical events.
The fact that the effects of these cards is then related to White color it was probably the decisive motivation for their removal; if we think of cards like Honor of the Pure, where there is no historical reference and they were saved from the "purge", we can deduce that Wizard of the Coast wanted dissociate yourself from any reference with your card game.
A comment on the damnatio memoriae
Personally I'm not a big fan of damnatio memoriae, especially if it hits some cards with dubious and, above all, unexplained reasons. I would certainly have appreciated if the company had also published an article with the official explanations on the choices madewhich could have avoided many unfounded discussions that took place on the internet without any foundation.
But since the latter, and I imagine Hasbro above all, is not very interested in my personal ideas, but more in its corporate value, I fully understand this choice and the reasons that led to it.
The choice to ban artists from Wizards of the Coast
But that's not the only announcement Wizards of the Coast has made.
During a Weekly MTG, it was publicly disclosed that collaboration with Terese Nielsen has reached the end.
"We haven't commissioned new art from Terese Nielsen in quite a while, the last product that will have any reprint art from her is this Fall with Zendikar Rising"
Words of Doug Beyer, Principal Game Designer of the Magic: the Gathering Worldbuilding team. Readers with good memories will remember when Terese Nielsen got talked about after social interactions with far-right communities and conspiracy theorists. We also had the opportunity to speak on these pages of a controversy born during the Mythic Championship which took the name of Terragate.
Apparently, Nielsen's situation and subsequent statements were not enough, given that protests had rekindled with each appearance of one of his illustrations in a new expansion, from Modern Horizon to the most recent reprint of Rhystic Studies in JumpStart, a card of which there is an alternative illustration.
Beyer's response makes it clear that Wizards of the Coast had listened to the protests for some time, and had already acted accordingly. The announcement is only the finding of a company choice that had already been made for some time.
Personal comment on the story
I personally am sad for this choice. Terese Nielsen's illustrations are, rightfully, among the most famous of Magic: the Gathering. I would also like to mention that he also designed the 2018 San Diego Comicon promo cards. I have a particular weakness for Descendant's Path. But it's true: being able to separate art from the artist has always been a complicated undertaking, and in these times the theme is more burning than ever.
And as with the previous ban talk, the corporate interest of Wizards of the Coast meant that this choice was preferable to continue the collaboration with Terese Nielsen, in order to directly eliminate the possibility of further protests.
But this designer is not the only artist who will greet the panorama of Magic: The Gathering.
The ban of Noah Bradley
A few days ago Wizard of the Coast published a new release announcing the end of the collaboration with another artist much loved by the public, Noah Bradley.
But what happened?
Following some indictment tweets, Bradley posted a post on his Twitter profile where it talks about predatory behavior towards women. Obviously the strong responses to Bradley were not lacking, and the company promptly intervened with the press release to distance itself from the artist.
As sad as I am about what happened, as I'm a huge fan of Bradley's illustrations, I can't help but recognize the goodness of the decision made. The issue of sexual harassment has always been extremely delicate, especially for U.S. companies. We remember the Weinstein case, probably one of the most famous, and, in this period, similar accusations are multiplying in the world of video games and Twitch.
The actions taken by Noah Bradley are not excusable or justifiable, e it will certainly not be an apology letter to help the victims; the path to redemption is as long and demanding as James Gunn he knows well.
The importance of granting future redemption
Having said that, I would like to make a small clarification. Following the events and opinions of the various characters of the world of MtGTwitter, I seem to have noticed one thing that worried me: the I refuse to grant this future possibility of redemption.
I have read many speeches that claimed the need for Bradley's lifetime "artistic exile", and these speeches honestly disgusted me. I don't know if it's an American mentality or not, but I'm a staunch supporter of the educational value of justice. One of the reasons why the death sentence was abolished is precisely the lack of any educational value in the execution. Of course, the fact that the death penalty is still present in most of the United States should give much thought.
This is not intended to be an apologetic speech to Noah Bradley, but it is about rights that should be basic for everyone. It is not fair to sentence a man to life for his own, however serious, error, and it is even more serious to pour the blame of an individual on close and familiar people. Immediately after the accusations against Noah, those against his wife, Rachel, also an artist, who after several replies on Twitter left his declaration.
Some time ago, scrolling through the pages of this site, I read about how the author of the previous article granted the benefit of the doubt. Today, after all this happening in the United States, can this behavior still be accepted?
What do you think of the matter? Now that we have tried to clarify the reasons for these calls, do they seem right? We would really like to hear your opinion!
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