January 4, 2015

Purist Ramblings: Flesh Color!

I'm sure everyone has come across that sort of situation that just sort of doesn't feel right.  You're almost blind to it at first, but you're slowly realizing that something has been done for such a long time, but probably not for the best.  At this point, it's established and well-known.  It's been accepted and it's virtually created a definition onto itself and no longer really rooted in it's origin.  However, no matter how vestigial, the root remains.  Footprints are created and can be lead back to where it came from, if anyone wanted to trace them.  So, I wonder, is something that is considered part of a tradition immune to reevaluation and/or change?

It's silly and I know, but maybe it's not.  

Race in America has been anything but perfect and how tradition handles race has been something of a divided discussion.  Some people argue for an alteration, while others suggest it's fine the way it is.  An example of this is the Washington Redskins football team name, and the suspect nature of it's namesake.  There are many native American tribes to name a sports team after, and many things from their heritage to consider, if you desire something a bit more ambiguous.  Simply calling the team Redskin and reducing the influence of the name to something so distasteful, shows the need for a name outweighed the care to create a meaningful one, especially when you're dealing with other human beings.  But football purists will argue the tradition in the name, and suggest it not be changed, no matter how dodgey.

Moving away from the football example, in the keshi world there is a color that became the standard.  It was used famously by Kinnikuman, or MUSCLE for us 80's kids in the States.  It was neither orange or pink, but maybe a little mix of the two.  It was called flesh, or flesh tone, and to this day keshi is made and released in standard, quote end quote, flesh tone.

I recall George and Ayleen from October Toys having a passing spat about it on an episode of Toy Break.  If I remember it correctly, Ayleen turns to George and wonders out loud of it's offensive to call that tone flesh.  I think it was this scene that sparked my interest in the topic.

The word flesh is a particularly weird one.  Unless I have my definition wrong, flesh is considered all the meaty bits under the skin, or it's supposed to be, but I can see where others can assume skin tone and flesh tone as interchangeable terms.  Even so, a pinky/orange tone doesn't fit the universally 'Ow! Bring me to the hospital now!' red color that lines under any mammal's skin.  So, I wonder what it's supposed to mean.  What are it's footsteps?

Much like hardcore Washington fans, the Japanese don't always have the best win/loss record in being the most culturally or racially aware.  Japan has a secluded nature to the country.  They like to keep theirs theirs, and uphold tradition.  They are proud and very hard working, but may have questionable understanding of the rest of the world.  Various anime characters and fashion fads, drawn from other cultures and peoples, are examples of this such of a thing.  Although purely unintentional and innocent in intent, they show poor understanding of the subject matter, at best.  

However, I'm not sure I can blame Bandai in Japan.  Only when the name flesh tone as a color was a translation off their designs can we suggest it was their idea.  It could have been the American side.  It could have easily have been Mattel, considering they changed the name from Kinnikuman, which meant Musclemen, to just MUSCLE, possibly removing the emphasis away from words associated with weightlifters or wrestlers and brought it into body parts.

They are just toys after all.  They have no intention of being offensive, at least not these ones.  Maybe the Sucklord's collection has, from time to time, in a tongue-in-cheek way, but that's almost to be expected from the dark lord of bootlegging.  So, when it's all said and done, I think flesh tone is nothing to shout at the skies over, however I think it deserves a moment to think about.  White people aren't crayon white, just as black people are not crayon black.  No race has a color swatch, to be exact, but we can see there was a hiccup in translation that maybe needs to be amended.

Flesh tone is Kinnikuman's original color.  They came to the States and we flubbed it up.  We dropped the personification in their design.  We dropped part of the translation and repackaged them with all the care and understanding of "Ehh, they kinda look like fleshy body parts" when we shouldn't have.  We effectively Japan'ed Japan.  We can trace our steps and see that.

Unlike Redskins, the term flesh tone doesn't hit a target on a race, thankfully for the keshi community, and for that, I imagine the term will likely stay, but still, I think we owe it to ourselves and the little toys we love to do it right, or at least consider it.  

Why not Muscle, Musclemen, or Muscle-flesh tone?

Thanks Earthlings for dropping by!  If you haven't already checked it out, Mebbles has a great Glyos review just below this post, so go check that out too.  I've been harping on him to write something up for me and I've been neglecting Glyos for what seem infinity now, so it would be very awesome to give him a read and a comment.  Thanks again!

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