The Dark & Light of Black Women in Mortal Kombat (Updated)

Jade
Jade is a childhood friend of Princess Kitana. While her motives were unclear, she served Shao Kahn alongside Kitana and Mileena as his personal assassin for most of her life. When Kitana finally turned against Shao Kahn, Jade was ordered to capture her for the Emperor. She ultimately chose to join her friend, and has since loyally assisted Kitana in her quest to free their native realm and restore its beauty. Now residing in the freed Edenia, Jade is a General of the Edenian Army and continues to dutifully serve Kitana and her mother Sindel.

...Much like Sonya Blade, Chun Li, and perhaps even Ms. Pacman, Jade has become a renown female character from video gaming. Her beauty accounts for this.


~ from the Mortal Kombat Wiki


Jade-Lite
So I've learned that a new image of Jade has been released for MK 2011, in which her skin has gotten so light, she doesn't even look black anymore.

I'm not surprised by this.  After all, the more popular Halle Berry, Blu Cantrell, or Beyonce Knowles got, the lighter their skin got as well. However, I'm no less irritated.  The way I see it, Jade wasn't meant to become so popular.  Not a lot of effort went into her creation, but she became a fan favorite nonetheless, more than any other female character in all of MK, and there are quite a few.  So once again, the black female threat had to be neutralized.

I'm a little surprised more fans haven't spoken up so far, but I've decided to wait and see.  Something tells me not to hold my breath.

There's nothing quite like watching creators go backwards with a character, is there?  Once again, black girls have to sit back and roll our eyes as the inevitable does rounds.  I mean, seriously...WTF?  The artists obviously noticed a difference.  So what happened?  What's their explanation?

I'm really hoping fans eventally raise Cain about this not-so-subtle change.  Because she won't be "Jade" anymore, she'll be Jade-lite, in every sense of the word.

It was bad enough she was already a servile, secondary POC, now...add injury to insult, they had to go and change her skintone as well.

*shudder*

To think I initially intended to spend money on getting back into MK....

Meanwhile, Tanya, the back-stabbing villainess, remains black as ever and, as far as I know, will NOT be included in MK 2011.  So bye-bye to the black women altogether.  Fans actually tried to convince the creators to change their minds about Tanya (see right), but that was a big ole bust.

*sigh*

Keep in mind, fans have NO problem Tanya being a dark chocolate villainess.

So I'm just going to go now, pour myself a drink, stew in my depression and, ask the gods why oh why they had to go and make my main gyal so pale?

Why...oh why?  She's a multi-tasker.  She can whoop ass and be lusciously dark brown at the same time.


**Update**

I've also noticed that our dear friends at Warner Bros. aren't advertising her character the way they are others.  There's plenty of visual goodies on YouTube for almost everyone but Jade - trailers, bios, you name it.  Not only are they downplaying her color, but they're downplaying her overall existence.  She's not just "some character" in MK; she's one of the most popular and regarded as the most beautiful. So where are her specials?  Clearly, focusing on Jade was never a problem before; she actually won "Sexiest Finish", in addition to having her "Girls Gone Wired" vid (see above).

So...what happened?

Comments

  1. LOL at "big ole bust", considering how well-endowed Tanya is (along with all the female MK characters). But I agree--Jade's skin lightening is absolute fail. You KNOW they wouldn't permanently tan the skin colors of any of the other women in the series without any explanation, so why should a POC character have to go through a melanin redesign? The entire thing irritates me, and I don't even play Mortal Kombat.

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  2. I never followed Mortal Kombat but she doesnt even look as good light.

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  3. **Update**

    Tanya IS in MK 2011, however, she's not a playable character. She's chained up in an arena in the background.

    *sigh*

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  4. With comics giving us the shaft (anyone noticed how beige Vixen is looking lately?), movies giving us the shaft and even video games...well, you get what I mean. Is there a place for us in the wide, wide world? *sad kitten eyes*

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  5. We've got to make our own place. We've got to start taking our power back and POCs can only do this by working together. In any situation white people never fail to back each other up. Not the same with POC. We need to start our own video game development companies.

    In a way Malcolm X was right, integration, or failure to integrate on the part of whites has left us little better off than when we started.

    Its 2011 we gotta start doing our own shit. Much as white people copy us,they'll follow suit if they want to compete economically. Hit them where it hurts.

    Like I said on another thread, other than reading I don't contribute one fucking cent of my hard earned money, or my much divided attention to most of the bullshit in the media. I may indirectly through the internet but these things have as much power as we give them.

    It annoys me to see people who think the same way that I do, contributing to these racist systems. I know they lack a real alternative but come on? Why be so weak? I'll go without if I can't get what I need and deserve, especially when I'm paying for it. But other people in his society....SMH I don't know.

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  6. On the one hand, one could argue that they were trying to reconcile Jade with the Jade/Tanya hybrid from the Mortal Kombat: Annihilation film (and thank ye gods another POC was cast in the role at the very least).

    But given that vixenizing dark skinned women of color is a popular trend in comics and fandom.

    Yeah, so not surprised.

    And apparently there's an option in Dragon Age 2, that allows the user to lighten Isabelle's (a dark skinned black woman) skin.

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  7. And apparently there's an option in Dragon Age 2, that allows the user to lighten Isabelle's (a dark skinned black woman) skin..

    But I'm guessing there isn't an option to darken everyone else.

    Anyways, I'm with Student; we need more of our own games, our own films, and our own comic books - WP be damned. POC need to stop enabling them and get off our apathetic asses already.

    MK 2011 is exclusively being produced for Warner Bros., and after their latest bout of white saturation madness with "Akira", the whitening of Jade and the inexcusable exclusion of Tanya really isn't a surprise.

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  8. I'm not surprised. It's MORE than obvious that we can't rely on white-owned entertainment companies for diversity. For them, EVERYTHING'S about whiteness, and it's apparent that's what matters to them.

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  9. It really is, and if you Google "jade mortal kombat black woman", you get a bunch of annoying nerd-wannabes repeatedly saying dumb shit like, "She's Edenian; their races don't match ours", "It doesn't matter", "She's Asian/looks better Asian" and "Why do we have to talk about this?"

    This is why I entreat any POC with a shred of dignity to withhold their cash on media like this. If you're not good enough to feature prominently and unambigiously in media, then your money must not be good enough either.

    Because I'm not buying the Kumbaya-speak, not when there's patent anti-POC strike going on in media. While Asians feature prominently in MK and other fighting games, they're noticeably absent from film and TV. This puts them securely in the martial arts warrior stereotype.

    And let's not forget the whiny backlash from white kids whenever a black woman is featured prominently or positively in any way. Notice that MK fans don't debate Tanya's race; they're content to have a black bad girl villain. But Jade is one of the purest, kindest, most benevolent characters in all of MK - not to mention regarded as the most beautiful - and so naturally shitheads everywhere have to move to put a lid on her fandom.

    Furthermore, for any white geeks who stumble across this post and read these comments, remove your heads from asses and open your goddamn eyes. The tension between us is never going to go away, not if you keep chanting the Kumbaya-speak and keeping accepting a glaring lack of POC in media.

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  10. "This is why I entreat any POC with a shred of dignity to withhold their cash on media like this. If you're not good enough to feature prominently and unambigiously in media, then your money must not be good enough either."

    Here's what is so funny and so sad. I'll make this same argument about not supporting certain comic books for their racefail, homophobia or boycotting bigoted white writers....I can't tell you how many times I've been lectured to by whites about how unreasonable I'm being and how I'm under obligation to support these titles. It's like racist white folks want it both ways. They want to erase us and STILL want our money.

    "Notice that MK fans don't debate Tanya's race; they're content to have a black bad girl villain. But Jade is one of the purest, kindest, most benevolent characters in all of MK - not to mention regarded as the most beautiful - and so naturally shitheads everywhere have to move to put a lid on her fandom."

    Girl you already know. This is the same shade that gets hurled at biracial blacks. When Obama or Halle Berry make history, racist white folks line up to negate their blackness or argue how they aren't really black but something else entirely. But the second these black folks piss off racist whites, then suddenly they're the blackest black darkest Negroes of all uber Negroes. And seeing the hate that gets hurled at Storm, Uhura, Dr. Martha Jones, Monet, Angel Coulby's Guinnevere, I'm not surprised.

    I'm with you and Student about us needing to do our own stuff. In fact I'm taking a break right now from editing my novel Hollowstone before I ship it off to the publisher. We need to be more proactive in doing our own thing. Because racist white folks aren't going to get their shit together. It's not in their interest. Actually it is as they continue to hemorrhage financially but as I've said before, they would sooner cut their noses (or burn their wallets) just to spite their face.

    The problem in too many cases is that the few times POC (specifically blacks) do produce their own content, they make it as hackneyed and as offensive as racist white folks just to turn a quick buck. Then they wanna get mad at white folks when they do the same thing.

    After Hollowstone, I'm going to shop around another YA novel, Empyrea, an action-adventure fantasy tale which features a POC gay teen.

    If the internet has taught me anything, it's that we have some talented POC storytellers and artist out there. It's only a matter of mobilizing and pooling our resources.

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  11. Moi,
    I remember seeing an article (it was about Jade from Beyond Good and Evil by Ubisoft) where they pointed out how Vanessa (a character from Virtua Fighter) had been lightened up in the last game that was released (Virtua Fighter 5) and how they found it to be racist. If I can locate it, I'll add it to the comments. I think you and everyone else would find it to be very interesting.

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  12. I'm not an MK fan, and this don't surprise me a bit. It's been going on for years and years. My fave example is from "The Prince of Egypt." Moses started out as dark brown, and grew lighter as the movie went on. Me and my homies LOL'ed so much we had tears in our eyes.

    It gets to the point where if you are shocked to see black characters whitened up, then something's really wrong with you.

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  13. Yeah I saw Jade's lightened look and cringed. I don't know who voiced her but she even sounds POC. I'm tired of white fans and their crappy crying. We should all use the net to create our own scifi/comic/video game/nerd heaven where black women aren't all evil or of questionable ethnicity.

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  14. Yeah I saw Jade's lightened look and cringed. I don't know who voiced her but she even sounds POC.

    Indeed she does, and that was the point with her casting call:

    [FEMALE 3]
    Allegiance: villain Age: 1,000s of years Actor/Voice: African-American or Middle Eastern, 20s or 30s; commanding but still feminine (think Hallie Berry as Storm in the X-Men but with no accent) She is one of many warriors forced to serve the Emperor. Best friend to Female 4, daughter of the emperor, her loyalties are tested when Female 4's allegiance to begins to wane towards the Resistance.

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  15. @ Ankh

    Oh yeah? THIS IS SOME BULL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Racially ambiguous??? Not black??? Asian??? Fck the fans. Can't we put this in flashing lights everywhere?

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  16. You dark people it's all about preference not racism, why do you always have to pull out the race card. Jade looks better now I don't see the problem you are just looking for something to be offended by just like Isabella in Dragon Age so what if you can lighten her skin, it's a bonus.
    _---------

    That is the tyoe of shit you see on gaming forums. These white gamer geeks always hark and complain that they want video games to be seen in the same way theat TV and Films are. But the moment they are critised in the same eay they moan and bitch and tell everyone to leave their games alone.

    They can all go and fuck themselves with a 11 inch serrated blade.

    Yeah I went there.

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  17. @ Ankh
    You seem to be the only black blogger I've come across who is progressive about these issues. You're just on point, after point after point, like a skilled archer.

    I posed the same idea on another forum and got internet crickets. Everyone is willing to debate these issues but not propose some kind of solution. First you did the immigration series which immediately had me hooked.

    Now you're proposing solutions to our biggest PoC problem, owning our own media/business.

    This is why, I fucks with you!

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  18. Excuse my French, but fuck this. I can't tell you how much it pisses me off to see that black women get treated like such shit in my own fucking industry. This is my world, what I've studied, what I do, it's been my life for only God knows how long, but apparently I don't even exist. As someone in this industry, I take this very personally. SMFH

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  19. You seem to be the only black blogger I've come across who is progressive about these issues.

    Am I really? I hope not, though I am disappointed more black [female] bloggers aren't tackling these issues. I understand gaming, for example, isn't for everyone, but clearly this isn't just about gaming...know what I mean?

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  20. Slightly off-topic, but still in keeping with the constant lightening of dark POC characters: http://leotheyardiechick.tumblr.com/post/4487180696

    Now, I started reading X-factor back in the late 1990s, and NOW is when I'm finding out that Monet is (supposed to be) a WOC. That's it; it's high time we networked amongst ourselves and got out own shyt published on our own terms. Eff the comics, eff the movies, eff the mo'fugging video games. I've have enough. WOC characters are being bleached beyond recognition, yet MOC counterparts rarely if ever suffer that injustice. I need another set of middle fingers to flip, because two just aren't enough!

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  21. The white Jade is the official render. All of the renders so far have looked different from the in-game models and fans have been vocal about this. When the Jade render was released, there was a MASSIVE uproar on Mortal Kombat Online(which is very POC and gay friendly. The gays are actually the majority on that site.) Everyone that had photoshop posted a picture of her darker. SHE IS DARK SKINNED IN-GAME!!! I can not stress that enough.

    Tanya was in MK4, the game is a remake of MK1-MK3. She will be DLC most likely.

    Sheeva is also in the game, someone on here referred to her as a "black goddess" so that person will be very happy.

    Since all of your complaints are refutable, please don't give up hope on this game. Ed Boon has been waiting to make this game for 19 years and it will be the greatest MK game of all time.

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  22. Since all of your complaints are refutable, please don't give up hope on this game.

    How did you find me? And why is it so important to you that I don't give up on MK?

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  23. And where's the uproar? I've been sifting through the forums and I can't find an uproar.

    Mind you, I would LOVE to read the uproar. Because Jade looks light in-game (see last video posted above), and I want to read fans talking smack about it.

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  24. @Ankhesen Mié

    I can't remember how I found you, it was a while ago and you've been in my bookmarks since. I've been going going through my bookmarks looking at stuff I have not in some time. I like that you talk about games/movies/tv.

    Well you said you were considering it and I read on your other MK post that you liked Jade. I always like it when I see other POC that play this game.

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  25. @A.C.C

    I've been on that site you mentioned a few times. The "uproar" you speak of are the same 3-5 people on that site who are the only ones who know race wank when they see it. I wish more people there would. Maybe I'm just not looking in the right threads?

    That said, Jade is definitely light in game, just not as light as in her render. She's definitely not black anymore like she was in Deception. She doesn't even remotely resemble that Jade. No other character's physical traits has been changed to the point of them not being recognizeable anymore.

    Also it's not that hard to make skin tone in a render match skin tone in the game. Was the render done before they started work on the game or something?

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  26. I've been on that site you mentioned a few times. The "uproar" you speak of are the same 3-5 people on that site who are the only ones who know race wank when they see it. I wish more people there would. Maybe I'm just not looking in the right threads?

    That said, Jade is definitely light in game, just not as light as in her render. She's definitely not black anymore like she was in Deception. She doesn't even remotely resemble that Jade. No other character's physical traits has been changed to the point of them not being recognizeable anymore.


    That's all I'm saying. And speaking of no other character's physical traits being changed in this manner...sound familiar?

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  27. 2nd update on Jade - alright...I'm happy again.

    ACC, I owe you an apology.

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  28. I know that this is an old article, but this isn't the FIRST time this has happened in video games Ankh. Look up Vanessa Lewis and Jeffery McWild from Virtua Fighter, Jax from Mortal Kombat, or Seth from King of Fighters. All were blacks that were whitened WORSE than poor Jade was.

    I was browsing for link for before and after picture, but good 'ol TvTropes beat me to it!

    http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Headscratchers/ButNotTooBlack

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  29. @ Franklin

    Thanks for stopping by!

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  30. Anytime, Ankh. As an old school Black Gamer, I'm seen how bad race is in video games and fantasy in general. It's deeper than most people suspect.

    Although I don't want to bow-guard, would it be a little presumptious of me if I asked to do a guest post on it sometime? I know that seems to be kinda of out of the blue, since I've been a lurker for a while and not a regular poster...

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  31. I am a female, and I have been a major fan of Jade, from her unplayable appearance in MK2, to her introduction in MKD...and of course MK2011. I have to say, this "skin lightning" issue saddens me. Alot of MK gamers I know of constant tell me that I resemble Jade. I am actually her color (I am Puerto Rican & Black mixed), I am slender w/ body, and have beautiful REAL hair lol. The new appearance of Jade never fails to shock me, simply because of our similar resemblance. Now, as for her skin in '11' s game, her displays "Kitana like" light skin, but shows more of a darker woman in the actual game (my opinion). Ed Boon should consider the complaints about this, and fix what he THOUGHT he could get away with...too bad h failed!...#1 Jade fan, 4ever!

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  32. In MK3 her skin was chocolate and now its more mulatto. Sucks they don't allow the character to remain true to her original design. She's a strong talent and they could allow at least one black female that isn't evil. I think it's cool she's black or black edenian. Besides why doesn't MK create more black characters, after all they have tons non-black ones.

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  33. Tayna is back in mkx and not black anymore

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