by Guest Contributor Jen, originally published at Disgrasian
Gossip Girl and ethnics don’t mix. It’s been well-documented by DISGRASIAN since the first episode, when the Black Chick and the Asian Chick (aka The Haragossip Girls) were mutely paraded around in matching outfits, that non-white characters tend to be used on the show like accessories. After the writers’ strike, when the actress who played the Asian Chick decided to go back to Brown to study neuroscience instead of returning to the hit show where she had more headbands than lines (I know…how Asian), the Mutasian was replaced by another Asian Chick, whose character turned out to be a royally drippy–and tragically uninteresting–Nerd.
It’s only when the show stopped all of its tokenizing whatthefuckery that it actually got good. Season 2 opened with a “White Party” in the Hamptons (Diddy was nowhere to be seen), a fitting metaphor for what Gossip Girl is really about: pretty, rich white people trapped in a particular ring of hell where life is one neverending party that you can never leave. The Black Chick and the New Asian Chick have cropped up here and there, and they do speak now and again, but you’d be hard-pressed to name them, because they’re on the show so infrequently. The only ethnics left who still have significant roles are Dorota, the Waldorfs’ Polish maid (ethnic in the old school sense and a more politically-correct, non-WASP buffoon), and Vanessa, who I still contend is coded brown, mostly because of the gigantic earrings she always wears, but their place in the GG hierarchy has more to do with money and education (and their lack thereof) than with ethnicity, perceived or otherwise.
Which is fine by me, because ethnicity is clearly beyond the show’s reach. People of color on the show have been portrayed about as accurately as Yale was in Episode 6 of this year, when the Dean was depicted as a George Plimpton-esque bon vivant who had nothing better to do than play parlor games with prospectives and the co-ed, secret senior society Skull and Bones was THE Skull and Bones, all-male, and had a boner for Chuck Bass, who is still in high school.
Speaking of Gossip Girl’s resident bad boy, Chuck seems to be the only character still dabbling with the dark side (i.e. the non-white). Whether it’s his rendezvous with that Japanese flight attendant earlier in the season, or his coy reference to his “daily shiatsu” a few episodes back, or the intriguing preview we got at the end of Monday night’s episode (see below), Chuck’s escape from the restricting corset of Upper East gentility usually involves a skeevy dive into the Otherworld:
Is that an Oriental massage parlor I see? An opium den? An Oriental massage parlor/opium den? What’s with that Asian drumming music? Don’t get me wrong, I’m down with Chuck’s downward spiral into abject hedonism–the most interesting if overacted plot development of the show thus far–but please, for the love of sweet white Jesus, leave us out of this.