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Can Racism Be Good?

  • Thread starter WillowFromBuffy
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WillowFromBuffy

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Is this was some people call a meta? Anyway, I want to write down some thoughts I have been having about the subject of racism on BtVS. Please, tell me if it makes any sense at all. Please, note that my ideas on this subject may be slightly more nuanced than they appear. I wanted to present a unified argument.

BtVS often portrays people of colour in regrettable ways. One example is the portrayal of the Native American spirit warrior in Pangs. Hus is like a cartoon character. He is violent, irrational and nothing about his dress or mannerism appears authentic. I want to suggest that the portrayal of Hus is necessary for the message the episode is trying to convey.

The episode presents us with three white perspectives on the Native Americans. Spike's ethnic Darwinism requires little comment. To Giles, the Native Americans are an inconvenience brought on by history that it is too late to do anything about. Willow is the only one who is truly sympathetic, but her perspective lacks any nuance or real understanding and was inspired by the behind-a-desk academics of her mother.

The episode seems to tell us that white middle class people cannot understand the perspective of the descendants of the survivors of genocide. If that is so, then it would be paradoxical for the episode to portray a Native American in a way that felt convincing. The stereotypical nature of Hus tells us that we cannot really see him. We can either accept Spike's unapologetic racism, Giles's indifference or Willow's naive empathy. An inclusion of a true Native American perspective could have disrupted the message of the episode, and it would require the inclusion of a Native American writer, because if the white writers of Buffy could provide a convincing portrayal of a Native American perspective, it would effectively disprove the episode's central argument.

Kendra's exotic but unplacable hair, ear rings and accent show us that we are watching an Orientalist vision of someone from the third world, not a real person from an actual place in the third world. Buffy's comment about Sineya's hair may be the single most blatantly racist line in the entire franchise, but it could also be seen as the writers reminding us that we are watching a white show by white people and that we should be mindful of what that means.

I have had some arguments with people on the boards about whether it is most important to have representations in the characters a show presents to us or if representations is more important among the writers from whom the stories come from. I tend to lean towards the latter idea. Matt Damon famously said that only representation in front of the camera mattered. I think BtVS was a show of the white-middle class. No show can be the show of everything. I actually think on of the advantages of books over TV and film is that books are made by a single identifiable author, rather than a large collective, which makes it easier to be aware of who is speaking to us.

I am not saying that the racism and limited perspective of BtVS isn't harmful and exclusive, just that writers are trapped by their own perspectives. Writers who take it upon themselves to write the stories of people from marginalised groups often do more harm than good.
 

CharlieGunn1

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Black Buffy Fan here...

I have an answer for you... and forgive my bluntness.

Hell...

to the....

NO.

Racism is a fault, like many others of mankind. It's in the same dark pit as Arrogance, Ignorance, and Unreasoning Fear of the Other. I always like to think of them like the powers that were that have never really left us.

When it is displayed, it does not mean that the person who displays it is racist, only that they are imperfect, as we all are. It is a character flaw, a weakness, intended or not. All of us are racist to an extent, there is no person who is perfect in this regard, and likely never will be. However, that does not excuse one from growth, and attempting to be better. None of the characters of Joss are openly hateful, simply misinformed. The writers occasionally step in it, by using ethnicity as a crutch to tell a story, because they lack perspective.

Buffy is a teenage girl, or a young immature woman when she insults Sineya. Her high school is mostly white, here friends are white, her home environment is white. She has had little exposure to black people, or culture, and is therefore ignorant. Her racism is not born of hate, but simple lack of understanding or immersion. I do not expect her to understand natural hair, hell most black men and women from the time didn't either, natural hair only caught mainstream black attention during a limited time in the 70's and has seen a resurgence only in the last decade or so. Most of the characters on Buffy are written from the perspective of a white male, minorities exist but rarely are important to the story, only the strong brave white characters can save the day. This narrative is counter to the truth, because most conflicts the US has ever fought, minorities made a huge impact. The same applies to the UK as well (see the figures on africans and other minorities in WW1 and WW2 on the side of the allies).

The stories and myths in western culture come from the European continent, almost to the exclusion of Africa or other continents. That is why we can all talk about Odin, and Merlin, and Alexander... but if I mention, Eshu, or Anansi, or Agana... everyone will get a blank look on thier face. African stories, and Asian, and Native american Stories are mostly excluded unless they contain a white savior character, or someone who comes from the outside to help the poor natives. Our history books contains everything we need to keep the western romanticized cultures alive, and the perspective is rarely anything other then from that view. In this light, it's easy to see why even great writers have a huge blind spot when it comes to telling stories that differ from the default culture.

Whedon's exclusion of black characters was not somehow different or more insidious, he was simply following the same writer pitfalls as previous writers of his time. If you wanted to sell a show 20 or 30 years ago... the cast had to be mostly white. The fear that white audiences would spurn shows with black characters was pervasive, and has only now begun to shift. That being said, I appreciate Whedon's casting on several shows, and the small but important parts that were given to black and brown actors.

The racism displayed by the writing is a product of less then diverse writing room and cast, and I doubt anyone making this show was intentionally making a commentary on race and racial relations in a direct way. Rather most of the racist or racially insensitive moments on the show are clear indications of ignorance and inexperience. The same applies to Angel, and even Firefly (Chinese is everywhere, but the only Asian character we meet is a slave being traded?... Jesus guys).

Racism is not a good thing, and not once in human history has a group of people with racist ideals made the world better in the long term, only more violent and hate-filled. The ultimate aim of racism, is xenophobia, the fear of the other. This desire to expel the foreigner is deep... it's damn near in our base code. We evolved to be afraid, and it follows that fear translates in many ways. The ethnic cleansing that occurred in early human history was at a time when humanity was in it's infancy, and it's understanding of the world was myopic to say the least. Racism now is a relic of time where the survival of the tribe was paramount, and collectivism with those that don't look like you was scary and frankly dangerous. Those who espouse hateful ideas or racist policies should be roundly derided and dismissed. However racism itself is not a crime, and I would never advocate anyone who is a racist be jailed, or isolated for saying something out of ignorance. We must tolerate them, because to pretend they don't exist is to invite them to hide and make it that much harder to expose them and protect those who they would hurt.

To help dispel racism, we need to expose people to positive images of other races and personal knowledge of other perspectives. Minority voices in writer rooms help to give humanity to those who were previously dehumanized. The reason we need more minority voices is because those voices help to shape our experiences, and can counteract stereotypes and hateful feelings towards individuals we may not know personally.

Keep writing and thinking about race, just never forget that it is a puzzle that has been around for as long as humanity itself, and it will never be solved merely by people of goodwill.
 
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Blaze

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I don't think there's a meta in the sense that the writers were trying to make a commentary about their own whiteness. I think the show is just plain 'ol racist because white people wrote it, and white people tend to have have some fundamental racism inbeded into them because of the way our society is.

I agree that to solve this problen, it is absolutely crucial that the people behind the camera be as diverse as the people in front of the camera. I too have gotten in arguments about whether a person who lives a certain life can tell a better story vs someone who is ignorant of such life (eg, a black writer writing a black character vs a white writer writing a black character). I truly believe that we need diverse writers to properly tell the stories of diverse groups.

It's not to say that a white person can't include black characters in their stories, or that straight people can't include gay characters. But when it comes to directly discussing matters which pertain to a minority, then there is no one better to tell the story than people who have lived it. Still nowadays, it's blatantly obvious that the majority of TV in films are written by straight white males.
 

thetopher

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You seem to be saying that the show could be trying to be 'self-aware' in its racism which seems pointless. Smart people already know that racism is hateful and rascist stereotypes are unhelpful (to put it mildly) and the rest of the viewers probably wouldn't pick up on the nuance of their 'self-aware' commentary about 'white views' or whatever. They'd take it as is.

BtVS often portrays people of colour in regrettable ways. One example is the portrayal of the Native American spirit warrior in Pangs. Hus is like a cartoon character. He is violent, irrational and nothing about his dress or mannerism appears authentic. I want to suggest that the portrayal of Hus is necessary for the message the episode is trying to convey.
The episode is basically saying that vengeance is bad. The show pretty much always takes this view and characters suffer for indulging in vengeanace; vengeance is portrayed as harmful and self-destructive whether is it warrented and/or sympathetic or not.
Vengeance is represented by Hus, vengeance demons, Holtz, Wood and on it goes.

Was Hus' portrayal insensitive? Sure , he probably could've been a lot more nuanced and interesting/accurately portrayed, but he's still an evil force and the point of the episode is still made.

Willow is the only one who is truly sympathetic, but her perspective lacks any nuance or real understanding and was inspired by the behind-a-desk academics of her mother.
I disagree entirely. I think the sympathy that Wilow shows would be better served aimed at the innocents that are murdered in the name of pointless reciprocity. I mean, Giles acknowledges that wrongs were done but people were being, y'know, horribly killed, he was all 'I'm against murder 'whilst Willow's views are skewed by white guilt. Giles says 'vengeance is a cycle' and he's right about that.
And Spike's view is pratical more than racist, he's simply the type who thinks 'historical apologies' are an exercise in idiocy, and that's a point of view many have.

Oh, and the same goes for Buffy's comment to the First slayer that tried to kill her and all her friends, she made fun of her hair? So what.
 

thrasherpix

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I imagine the writers of Buffy and Angel as people who live in gated communities who have no idea what life is like outside their communities, though they think they do. I know when they show less privileged white people, runaways on the streets, poverty, and the like, they really miss the mark. I sometimes find it annoying, but more often than not I just overlook it, and rarely think that it might actually be potentially harmful. I expect others do as well. Though I might bring this up with a big fan I know who happens to be black as he has a lot of great insights into culture and shows, and loves to talk about it, though he certainly is no stereotype of any kind, and I bet he agreed with Spike and Giles in Pagns.

And if I witnessed a lot of character dialog (with the same context I got from watching the show) then I would not assume racism (nor assume something magically becomes racism because a minority gets treated the same as everyone else but people want them as a protected species, like "jokes about men, yes, gay men, no"), though it becomes more complicated when considering the writers themselves who put the dialog into the character's mouth.

And when people assume that people don't Kennedy because they're racist when plenty of other racial minorities are not so despised, or that hating Kennedy is homophobic when other gay characters are not despised, then the one calling out bigotry is the one with the skewed perceptions. And interesting enough, plenty of things that privileged folk call out is sometimes things that those they loftily champion don't care about themselves, and may even see it as a way to excuse not doing something more substantial. Though many middle class and upper kids can go to college and strangely feel the injustice of the world, most of the rest of the world is not so brittle or easily harmed--at least not by many of the trivial things brought up.
 
I should add that I think writers who put out the effort can write of other aspects of society well. But for whatever reason the writers of Buffy never did that.
 

DeadlyDuo

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Racism is not good.

I agree with with most of what @thrasherpix said. The scoobies weren't being racist when dealing with Hus. He was trying too kill them and they had to deal with the threat.

Also I don't think the show is racist either. Mr Trick had a recurring role in Season 3 and was effectively "the dragon" for the mayor until he got killed and Faith took over the role. Gunn played a big part on Angel, etc.
 

Mrs Gordo

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The racism displayed by the writing is a product of less then diverse writing room and cast, and I doubt anyone making this show was intentionally making a commentary on race and racial relations in a direct way
Great post but don’t you think that they were making some racial commentary with Mr. Trick a few times?

He directly addresses it at least twice:

Faith, Hope & Trick: “Admittedly, not a haven for the brothers -- strictly the caucasian persuasion in the Dale” (indicating a self awareness of the overtly white city/cast).

Homecoming: “If this is the part where you tell me that I don't fit in here in your quiet little neighborhood, you can just skip it 'cause, see, that all got old long before I became a vampire. Do you know what I'm saying?”

So they were at least making some sort of statement that felt meta/self aware. Not sure what they wanted to accomplish outside of that.

I basically agree with @CharlieGunn1 that I try to keep into perspective that this show was on 90s/early 2000s tv and “pushing the envelope” was very different back then. But for me, looking back now it is unfortunate that for a show that so expertly subverts a trope it didn’t also try to subvert racial stereotypes. For example, it is unfortunate that in S7 they start the season with a stereotypical Hispanic kid with an accent who is a toublemaker. How about subverting that stereotype and making him nerdy/smart? The show does many things well but handling race was never one of the better things they achieved.
 

Spanky

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Great post but don’t you think that they were making some racial commentary with Mr. Trick a few times?
He was also at times portrayed as a minstrel character as well. Especially with the "fangs don't fail me now" comment which was a direct reference to the Birmingham Brown character from Charlie Chan.
 

maddie

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Let me preface this by saying that I am white. So, people of color, please feel free to correct me or shut me down.

Having characters of color does not mean that a show is not racist. That's like saying "I have a black friend, I can't be racist." It's so much more than that.

Just look at all of the recurring characters of color on BTVS:
Kendra Young: Dead. Important to the plot only in introducing the idea of having more than one slayer and then being mentioned maybe 1 or 2 times in the subsequent 5 seasons of the show
Olivia: Giles's girlfriend, literally only shown wanting to sleep with Giles and has no actual characterization
Mr. Trick: One of the few characters who actually brings up racism in a meaningful way, great potential to become another complex vampire. Status? Dead
Forrest: Misogynistic frat boy who hates Buffy. Dead
The First Slayer: Some animalistic Other, enslaved and violated by an African tribe (and it's never explained why all the Watchers suddenly became white and British but ok)
Nicky Wood: Only interacts in flashbacks with Robin and Spike. Brutally murdered by Spike who the audience is supposed to see as a "hero" at this point
Robin Wood: Probably the most developed out all of these. He had so much potential, but the narrative made him into the bad guy for wanting to kill Spike, who murdered his mother. Buffy threatens to kill him for this
Rona: Potential slayer, only purpose is to go against whatever Buffy says
Chao-ahn: Chinese potential slayer, only serves as a joke because she doesn't speak English

None are main characters. None have meaningful relationships with each other. None have a significant, complex character arc that directly relates to the plot or propels the main storyline. Many are evil or die with little consequence. Many are just tokens to serve specific purposes.

I think this thread is kind of going into two different directions so I'll break it down:
(1) Is the racism on Buffy excusable since it's self-aware? NO because is is not a show that is "self-aware". This is a show written by white people with a very narrowed experience. They are not in anyway trying to make commentary of their own whiteness. A show that might fit that profile would require racist white characters that actually face consequences for their racism. None of that happens in this show.
(2) The show has characters of color and none of the main characters are explicitly racist, so it's not racist. Again, you can't just have 9 minor, recurring characters of color, each with many issues, and claim that means a show isn't racist.

I echo everything @CharlieGunn1 said about ignorance, and intent vs. how the show actually comes across. I love Buffy more than anything in the world which is why I can't make excuses that have no basis in reality for these issues..

And NO, racism is never, ever, good. Please seriously reconsider how you choose your words and present a sensitive and polarizing discussion that is very important to have.
 

Mr Trick

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He was also at times portrayed as a minstrel character as well. Especially with the "fangs don't fail me now" comment which was a direct reference to the Birmingham Brown character from Charlie Chan.
But making reference to a racial stereotype is not the same as being racist. In the case of something like that, the stereotype is in the culture. If the writers were referencing it that is not the same as agreeing with it.

Let me preface this by saying that I am white. So, people of color, please feel free to correct me or shut me down.

Having characters of color does not mean that a show is not racist. That's like saying "I have a black friend, I can't be racist." It's so much more than that.

Just look at all of the recurring characters of color on BTVS:
Kendra Young: Dead. Important to the plot only in introducing the idea of having more than one slayer and then being mentioned maybe 1 or 2 times in the subsequent 5 seasons of the show
Olivia: Giles's girlfriend, literally only shown wanting to sleep with Giles and has no actual characterization
Mr. Trick: One of the few characters who actually brings up racism in a meaningful way, great potential to become another complex vampire. Status? Dead
Forrest: Misogynistic frat boy who hates Buffy. Dead
The First Slayer: Some animalistic Other, enslaved and violated by an African tribe (and it's never explained why all the Watchers suddenly became white and British but ok)
Nicky Wood
: Only interacts in flashbacks with Robin and Spike. Brutally murdered by Spike who the audience is supposed to see as a "hero" at this point
Robin Wood: Probably the most developed out all of these. He had so much potential, but the narrative made him into the bad guy for wanting to kill Spike, who murdered his mother. Buffy threatens to kill him for this
Rona
: Potential slayer, only purpose is to go against whatever Buffy says
Chao-ahn: Chinese potential slayer, only serves as a joke because she doesn't speak English

None are main characters. None have meaningful relationships with each other. None have a significant, complex character arc that directly relates to the plot or propels the main storyline. Many are evil or die with little consequence. Many are just tokens to serve specific purposes.

I think this thread is kind of going into two different directions so I'll break it down:
(1) Is the racism on Buffy excusable since it's self-aware? NO because is is not a show that is "self-aware". This is a show written by white people with a very narrowed experience. They are not in anyway trying to make commentary of their own whiteness. A show that might fit that profile would require racist white characters that actually face consequences for their racism. None of that happens in this show.
(2) The show has characters of color and none of the main characters are explicitly racist, so it's not racist. Again, you can't just have 9 minor, recurring characters of color, each with many issues, and claim that means a show isn't racist.

I echo everything @CharlieGunn1 said about ignorance, and intent vs. how the show actually comes across. I love Buffy more than anything in the world which is why I can't make excuses that have no basis in reality for these issues..

And NO, racism is never, ever, good. Please seriously reconsider how you choose your words and present a sensitive and polarizing discussion that is very important to have.
It would be interesting to dig a little deeper into why Olivia wasn't given more screen time. Like was it a conflict with the actress having other commitments? If you flip your point around then Giles appeared to only want to sleep with her. It was portrayed as largely a sexual relationship. But my feeling is the writers intended Olivia to play a bigger part. I don't buy that it was down to racism that she didn't get it.

What put paid to Trick on the show was the decision for Faith to go to the darkside. Her and Trick would have been playing the same part as the supporting big bad to the Mayor. Trick actually had a decent run lasting half a season. For a supporting villain, that's not bad.

Being a misogynist frat boy is hardly a black stereotype. Look at Parker. Look at the guys in Beer Bad. Look at Reptile Boy. Forrest is written like a fair number of characters on the show.

Interesting one. But to me its pretty realistic that such a group as the Watchers Council would be made up middle class, white men. I think its the show actually commenting on that privileged culture.

That's coincidence IMO. Its just the way the storyline went that the writers wanted Buffy to take up a position where she would stick up for Spike over a human. Wood's skin colour had nothing to do with it being him.
 

maddie

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But making reference to a racial stereotype is not the same as being racist. In the case of something like that, the stereotype is in the culture. If the writers were referencing it that is not the same as agreeing with it.



It would be interesting to dig a little deeper into why Olivia wasn't given more screen time. Like was it a conflict with the actress having other commitments? If you flip your point around then Giles appeared to only want to sleep with her. It was portrayed as largely a sexual relationship. But my feeling is the writers intended Olivia to play a bigger part. I don't buy that it was down to racism that she didn't get it.

What put paid to Trick on the show was the decision for Faith to go to the darkside. Her and Trick would have been playing the same part as the supporting big bad to the Mayor. Trick actually had a decent run lasting half a season. For a supporting villain, that's not bad.

Being a misogynist frat boy is hardly a black stereotype. Look at Parker. Look at the guys in Beer Bad. Look at Reptile Boy. Forrest is written like a fair number of characters on the show.

Interesting one. But to me its pretty realistic that such a group as the Watchers Council would be made up middle class, white men. I think its the show actually commenting on that privileged culture.

That's coincidence IMO. Its just the way the storyline went that the writers wanted Buffy to take up a position where she would stick up for Spike over a human. Wood's skin colour had nothing to do with it being him.
These all seem to be entirely hypothetical excuses, which is understandable. But the point of my post was that the writers were not self-aware in their poor portrayals of race. If they were, the consequences of racism would be explored in the plot.
 

Octavia

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I'm sorry but disregarding your argument (which I have plenty of issues with), why on earth would you think it's a good idea to call a thread "Can Racism Be Good?"
And NO, racism is never, ever, good. Please seriously reconsider how you choose your words and present a sensitive and polarizing discussion that is very important to have.

Far out, who are you? English is a second language for The original poster. Calm down. Willingness to talk about the issue is fantastic and no one should be attacked for using simplistic language. I appreciate @WillowFromBuffy post and courage in addressing such a topic. This tone is totally unecsisary and shuts down discussion from people less confident of their language.

In regards to the show, the target audience was white school kids. They were the ones with the means to watch it. Its set in white school neighbourhood. What makes it amazing is that it tells the story of teenage life that almost any kid, regardless of backstory, can relate to. For its time, the show did well in implementing coloured characters without making them the "token asian" or any other minority. They were characters within their own right. Yeah, they played the stereotypes, but plenty humans do, thats why stereotypes exist. Pangs is a bad example of this, but at times I think its a bit funny they stir the pot with it. Willows guilt is the most easily relatable where as Spike attitude is one of acceptance, "we came we conquered" nothing we can do now. Move on.


There is currently massive debate surrounding Australia Day in Australia. Some see it as mass genocide, others see it as no different as any other countries invasion. The colour of skin does not represent which side of the argument a person is on. Assuming a persons position because of their human skin wrapper strikes me as more racist than listening to their personal reasoning.

I do live in an area with shocking racism. I was surprised at how bad it is here. But I cannot judge nor hate those surrounding for their experiences with the race. Racism exists strongly today, not all are as progressive (?) as the extremely well off college educated because they have actually had to live in aboriginal areas. Live daily with the generational trauma of what the british did. We cannot wear that guilt daily, it would crush us, like it crushes the souls of the descendents. A day to pay respect and tribute is a good thing, not one to be shut down because some city academic suddenly decided it was racist to celebrate white beginnings of a country. That does not dismiss the harm of what the invasion caused.
 

RachM

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In regards to the show, the target audience was white school kids. They were the ones with the means to watch it.
If this truly was the case, that is incredibly exclusive and not a good thing, even in the 90s. I would suggest that the target audience was not white kids (like, wow, honestly, I hope to god that is not true) but teenagers in general, not specifically targeted to any particular race or ethnicity.
Its set in white school neighbourhood.
I guess this is somewhat true but Sunnydale is a fictional town located in an area of California which has a very high Latina population, so it would have been nice to see the show reflect that.
For its time, the show did well in implementing coloured characters without making them the "token asian" or any other minority. They were characters within their own right. Yeah, they played the stereotypes, but plenty humans do, thats why stereotypes exist.
I kind of disagree with this. Even for the 90s, the treatment of POC on BtVS was not great. Aside from Robin Wood, not a single character of colour was a fleshed-out or developed character, they mostly existed to be plot devices (Kendra, Jenny), to support white characters' stories (Forrest, Olivia), were antagonists (Mr. Trick, The First Slayer, Rona) or were just used as (somewhat uncomfortable) comedy relief (Chao-Ahn). There were no characters of colour in the main cast and no prominent secondary characters of colour.
 

Ethan Reigns

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I think the consequences of racism were explored in parallels with the demons captured by the Initiative in Season 4. Oz was a person as well as a werewolf and Riley was against them experimenting with him, just as there were experiments conducted in the US with black men by infecting them with syphilis and tracking their fates. Buffy refuses to kill every demon she meets and we get some like Clem who she considers to be a friend. This may incur the wrath of the Watchers' Council who are most pointedly, NOT middle class. They are upper class or Illuminati as they show when they have the power to have Giles deported within 24 hours. Does that sound middle-class to you? Do you know anyone in the middle class who can do this?

I find it interesting that so few Californians are Hispanic - almost 49% of the population there is Hispanic and how many do we get? Willie the Snitch, Ampata, Carlos (the boy in the basement in Lessons), Caridad, Kennedy and maybe a few others. This is an even greater departure from real representation than the lack of blacks. There are few Orientals, no native Americans except as antagonists in "Pangs" and no South Asians.

In part, writing the story as mainly Caucasian avoids muddying the waters by introducing people of colour and having people wonder whether the plot would turn out different from the alternative where everyone was the same colour. If I were to write a story that was not about race, I would tend to make everyone the same race since you avoid the question of whether the story changes if you accommodate multiple races.

Racism is never good. It assigns characteristics, both positive and negative, to people on the basis of theory and slander that may be totally different from what they are like. Maybe a story about a white man who can jump or a black man who can't dance would introduce aspects of a person that go against the common stereotypes and this would be more interesting than just having one race or standard stereotypes.
 

Mrs Gordo

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I guess this is somewhat true but Sunnydale is a fictional town located in an area of California which has a very high Latina population, so it would have been nice to see the show reflect that.
This is a very good point. As a matter of fact, Sunnydale was said to be modeled after the city of Santa Barbara, CA. You can find some of that evidence here.

If that's the case then the demographics of a town like Santa Barbara, CA in 2000's were that "People of Hispanic or Latino background, of any race, were 35.0% of the population." So 1/3rd of the population was Hispanic and yet - we don't meet a Hispanic kid in Sunnydale until s7. Well except for the mummy girl.
 
Willie the Snitch
Wait Willie the Snitch is hispanic/latino? I never got this impression. Where do we see this confirmed?
 

RachM

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Wait Willie the Snitch is hispanic/latino? I never got this impression. Where do we see this confirmed?
Willie's actor is Latina, so I guess the character would be too.
 
Spanky
Spanky
Not to be nitpicky but latina is female, latino is male.
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WillowFromBuffy

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Just to clarify: A problem with depictions of racism in media is that the depictions of the racists themselves is often cartoonish and simplistic. Nobody wants to identify with the racist, so the racist is almost always demonised so much that they appear silly rather than dangerous. In BtVS, I think there are instances where the writers may be lampshading the problems with their own limited perspective of racial issues. This does not excuse the writers for the racism or the lack of representation, but I think it is interesting to look at these small attempts of self criticism.

It may be I am the only one who feels this way. If so, it wouldn't be the first time :p

I wanna write an analysis of the colonial themes of Fool for Love, but I wanna try to do a good job, so it won't be tonight. I wrote the opening post before I had to run to an evening class, so I had to sorta drift off at the end :p
English is a second language for The original poster.
Thank you for standing up for me, OQ, but I am not sure I deserve it. I play the I'm-sorry-I'm-foreign excuse a lot since I came to the US, but it is a bit of a con. Despite my embarrassing accent, I am a lit major and it's not as if I don't what words mean :p

I am sorry about the click-baity title, guys. Those who know me, know I have a tendency to simplify my arguments to the point of making them more vulgar than they needed to be. I just like to say what I wanna say without the padding. I think it makes it easier for people who disagree with me, which is good, because I myself believe the argument I'm presenting is flaw. If you think I sound frivolous, it's because I am. My background allows me to be little else. I am Mr. cis-gendered heteronormative white guy from Whitletown the capital of Snowtopia. I know who Eshu is, and I recently corrected a girl in class who believed Isis was the Egyptian sun god, but that's just because I was a nerdy kid, not because I am knowledgeable about social issues. In that way, I guess I have a lot in common with the show's writers.
I don't think there's a meta in the sense that the writers were trying to make a commentary about their own whiteness. I think the show is just plain 'ol racist because white people wrote it, and white people tend to have have some fundamental racism inbeded into them because of the way our society is.
I think there are a lot of clues in the episode that the writers were indeed making a point about the limits of their own perspectives. I already mentioned the three perspectives presented by Spike, Giles and Willow, which are all ridiculously simplistic. The episode is basically a deconstruction of the thanksgiving tradition and the history it is based on. I think the allusions to old Western movie tropes are very deliberate.

The only mystifying bit is the portrayal of the Indian spirit himself. I think they might have wanted to keep the focus on the white characters, so they turned the Indian into a cartoonish character. It is extremely offence, but I think it could be said to draw attention to the blind spot of the writers and the characters. Kendra and Hus are both cartoonish and lack subjectivity, because the writers and the characters in show cannot relate to them.

I think we have a tendency to infantilize the writers way too much. It is clear that they all came from a place of privilege and they may have gotten a little high their belief that they were writing a very progressive show, but we need to know that the writers were all very clever and highly educated people. They may have been flawed, but they were not total morons. I would be very surprised to learn that any of them literally grew up in a gated community. Seriously, that is just as cartoonish as the portrayal of Hus :p
And when people assume that people don't Kennedy because they're racist when plenty of other racial minorities are not so despised, or that hating Kennedy is homophobic when other gay characters are not despised, then the one calling out bigotry is the one with the skewed perceptions.
Is this related to that joke I once made? That was a bad idea. I had no idea anyone would take it so seriously, and it was in poor taste.
Buffy is a teenage girl, or a young immature woman when she insults Sineya. Her high school is mostly white, here friends are white, her home environment is white. She has had little exposure to black people, or culture, and is therefore ignorant. Her racism is not born of hate, but simple lack of understanding or immersion. I do not expect her to understand natural hair, hell most black men and women from the time didn't either, natural hair only caught mainstream black attention during a limited time in the 70's and has seen a resurgence only in the last decade or so.
Thanks for you post, CG. You should post more often :) However, I am surprised at how generous you're being with the writers. That particular line is spoken by Buffy, and as you say, we could possible excuse her, because of her background. Still, the line was presumable written by Joss Whedon himself, and I am kinda shocked he could have written something like that. It is so deliberate and cruel. It is essentially condoning the very common racist practice of banning expressions of "blackness" in the work environment. To me, it just seems so profoundly awful and unnecessary. Just like many of the gay jokes on the show, it even lacks the excuse of being fun.

I don't know if this was the intended effect - it probably wasn't - but the effect the line has on me is to wake me up the racial element of the story. Restless is very seductive episode, and this line always makes me remember I am watching an authored text, for the lack of a better term.

I don't really know what to make of that particular line, only to say that it really stands out to me.
 
Interesting one. But to me its pretty realistic that such a group as the Watchers Council would be made up middle class, white men. I think its the show actually commenting on that privileged culture.
Yes, the Watcher's Council are the white male patriarchy embodied as the Illuminati.
 
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