Heroes recap of episode 210: Truth & Consequences

by Racialicious guest contributor David Zhou

As Volume Two of the Heroes saga nears its end, the plot lines come together and the series develops a climactic peak. But at the same time, gone are the opportunities for the writers to tell backstory, and while this is good for simply the quality of each episode, it gives the show a lot fewer opportunities to slip up with things like representation and stereotype. But who was counting anyway? Oh right, we were.

In this episode, Adam, Peter, and Hiro all look for a virus, albeit for different reasons. Mohinder Suresh proceeds in his lonely medical missions before being confronted by an old villian, accompanied by Maya but not Alejandro, who is the newest victim to Sylar’s wrath. And in the meanwhile, the Bennets mourn for their not-so-dead father… moments in which Hayden Panettiere displays her best acting yet this season. (Okay, you might disagree with me there.)

Two recaps ago, I told my deep discomfort with the portrayal of the as-yet-unnamed Haitian, but I missed one thing. I don’t know the science-fictional precedent of his eclectic collection of superpowers, but somehow we must add one more to his many abilities: super-hearing? I say this because from season one, he and Claire have a relationship that has stemmed from a friggin’ windchime; when she needs someone to turn to, she just needs to hang up a special windchime and then expect the Haitian at her back door immediately to console her fears. In this episode, as Claire grieves for the loss of her father, she is tempted to hang this windchime once more to ask him to erase the memory of her father’s death. This character is even less whole than we had thought… I’d like to think that in addition to his power-negation and memory-stealing powers, he has also teleportation and super-ears, but instead he seems continually like just a house-elf for the Bennets and the Company. And this is a problem. (Please note that he wasn’t shown in this episode – this is just a remark about another reminder of this issue.)

This week we also return to the Dawsons in New Orleans. After Monica attempts to steal back a medal won by D.L., she’s caught by a gang that, besides being paid for arson, steals backpacks from little kids. Granted New Orleans is still depicted as a broken city with rising crime, but the men in this gang here fulfill very specific archetypes of the urban criminal. Specifically, these gang members do happen to be black men decked out with chains, toting guns and enacting violence upon the good. This stereotyping ties into a much greater discussion about how the criminals that these men portray have made a mark on the mainstream consciousness, but I’ll stick to the small things here. In this show, it is apparent that no effort was made to avoid or qualify this kind of typecasting at the levels of plot or representation. I can just imagine how casting was like.

And lastly, as we begin the hunt for this pandemic-causing virus, deception and coercion thrive in the plotlines of Heroes. In which case, it’s interesting to note that, well, all of the dishonest, deceiving, and generally bad characters are white: Bob, Elle, Noah (in a way), Adam, Sylar. The characters of color are generally all genuine and good, for reasons entirely inexplicable. Sorry, but I just had to make this connection. Perhaps it means nothing. :-D

To read past Heroes recaps, click here.

NBC News To Black Women: It Sucks To Be You

by guest contributor AverageBro, originally published at AverageBro.com

Well, here we go again. Every 3-4 months, the mainstream media tries to focus on a topic of interest to black people, and as opposed to objective coverage, they resort to flipping to page 94 in The Book of Manufactured Controversy.

This phenomenon is something I’ve blogged about in the past, especially such “issues” as black women dating outside their races, and the disparity between news coverage of missing black women and whites. BTW, how ironic is it that after shaking down and illegally arresting all those Arubans, the very cats we knew had abducted Natalee Holloway all along turned out to be responsible? Maybe ironic isn’t the right word.

Anyways, NBC News With Brian Williams (how clever is that title?) is running a five part series this week called African-American Women: Where They Stand, and after watching the first night, I can already tell you it’s the piece of oversensationalized crap you’d expect it to be.

Here’s a blurb from NBC News about the series:

Throughout the week of November 26, “NBC News With Brian Williams” will take a look at the issues facing African-American women across our nation in a new series “African-American Women: Where They Stand.” The series will cover a wide-range of issues from their role in the ’08 Presidential race, to the increased health-risks that they need to be concerned about.

Monday’s installment will discuss African-American women’s progress in the education field. Nearly two-thirds of African-American undergraduates are women. At black colleges, the ratio of women to men is 7 to 1. And that is leading to a disparity in the number of African-American women who go on to own their own businesses. Rehema Ellis will talk to educators, students and businesswomen about why this disparity exists.

The problem with such coverage is the medium itself. Trying to objectively present the dynamics of such a topic in 3-4 minute vignettes is a surefire recipe for failure. If NBC was so concerned about “the state of black women”, maybe they’d dedicate a few episodes of Dateline. Instead, these short segments, cleverly dropped at the end of each show (to make you watch the whole episode of course) go headfirst into misleading statistics that serve no real purpose other than further discrediting black men and magnifying a rift between genders that exists in every race.

Case in point, last night’s segment lead off by showing a black single mom who owns her own PR firm. No problem here, entrepreneurship is positive stuff. But then the show starts throwing up a series of stats, namely the 7-1 ratio of black women to men at HBCU’s and that black women account for 63% of all black college students. Never mind the fact that the academic gender gap is hardly unique to blacks, it’s a universal problem that is just now emerging as one of the biggest epidemics in public education. And of course, the series reaches deep into The Book of Negro Excuses, and blames hip hop for the high dropout rates of black males. Typical. They droned on with more and more stats about how black women control a majority of the $850B of annual spending power in the black community, and how the rate of business ownership among black women is growing at a higher rate than that of black men.

If the purpose of the series is to focus on black women, why even bother mentioning how well they are performing relative to black men? Hell, why even bother mentioning black men at all?

What’s really the point?

Don’t misunderstand me, I’m obviously not downing black women here, but I think when you can only highlight their successes by contrasting them with the relative failures of black men, there’s obviously an ulterior motive at work.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: relationships are hard. Period. But by continually bombaring ourselves with stories like this, the manufactured DL brother phenomenon, or Love Lust and Lies style destructive chatter, we’re only making the issue worse. Black people operate in generalizations just as much (more?) as any other race, yet I can’t say I see this level of devisive rhetoric directed towards anyone else.

It’s like The Willie Lynch Letter personified. Never mind the fact that The Willie Lynch Letter is nothing more than an internet hoax, it’s still pretty appalling.

Note to Black America: learn, trust, and love each other. Turn this crap off, because NBC News clearly cares about keeping us apart more than they do about where Black Women Stand.

The ladies at WAOD are ripping this series a new one, but if you’re watching this series and have a different take, you know where to voice your two cents.

African-American Women: Where They Stand Series on NBC [with video]

Forget Spanglish! The New Wave is the ‘Japoñol’

by guest contributor Laura Martinez, originally published at mi blog es tu blog

I love, love these guys.

Peruvian reggaetón trio Los Kalibre is making the Japanese shake their butts with catchy songs and lyrics mixing Spanish and Japanese in what the media is already calling Japoñol. The Peru-born recent Japan immigrants are convinced the Japanese will embrace their music and dump the salsa rhythms, simply because reggaetón it’s easier to dance… and to sing. (Really, how difficult is it to learn the lyrics of Gasolina?)

According to Lando, Dando and Nani, their music gets an inspiration from Rafael, Celia Cruz, Nino Bravo and José Feliciano; the trick, they say, is to mix both languages (Spanish and Japanese) and inventing new forms and verbs. ¡Que Viva el Japoñol!

links for 2007-11-28

Between a Rock and a Hard Place: Triple Threats and Double Troubles for Muslim Women

by Racialicious special correspondent Fatemeh Fakhraie, originally published at Muslimah Media Watch

You’ve probably heard about the recent ruling given to a Saudi gang-rape victim: 110 lashes added onto the original sentence of 90 lashes because she protested her sentence to the media. It’s a horrible and vindictive sentence, and the callous treatment this woman has received as a victim is insulting to her, Saudi Arabia, and Islam.

Why Islam? What does her ruling have to do with Islam? Well, nothing really. Technically, the judge who sentenced her went by Shari’a law, but he added those extra lashes from his own judgment because she spoke out about her case. So he punished her.

But every reactionary blog poster, conservative news network, and Western women’s rights group has condemned this action as an Islamic one. So Muslim women around the world have a choice: do we defend ourselves against Islamophobia, against racism, or against misogyny?

This “triple threat” is one we often face as Muslim women (especially if we are also women of color). We always seem to be battling against one (or more) of these three issues: racism (for Muslim women who are also non-white), Islamophobia, or misogyny (not just from our own Muslim communities, but also from non-Muslim communities who think they know what’s best for us).

Being on the defensive all the time creates reactionary behavior. We always feel like we have to keep our guards up to defend our faith and our choices, and it gets tiring. Most Muslims don’t necessarily mind explaining stuff (that is, if you’re genuinely interested in understanding instead of starting an argument), but we can’t all be Encyclopedia Islamicas all the time.

Some of this “damage control” keeps us from having dialogues within our communities. Muslim women face a lot of problems within our communities as well as outside, but we’re afraid to talk about it because it can potentially be used against us. People in our own communities this power: for example, feminists in Iran are accused of being too “Westernized” by compatriots who have no interest in changing the status quo for women. Many women who seek their fair share are given this load of crap in order to guilt them into shutting up, because Westernization is equated with undesirable qualities in the Muslim world. Or, if we try to speak out to a non-Muslim audience, we are accused of “betraying” Islam or our communities by airing out our “dirty laundry.” Continue reading

links for 2007-11-27