The Racialicious Roundtable For Heroes 4.9

Hosted by Special Correspondent Arturo R. García


What can you get from a first encounter? As our Roundtable demonstrates this week, plenty. We begin this week’s installment with a scene that the show’s creators might not have thought too much of when they wrote it. And about the giraffe … uh, don’t ask.

A friend of mine asked why the Asian trucker Hiro and Ando encountered annoyed me. So here’s the thing: the scene took what could’ve been a poignant (or even pleasant) moment – Hiro and Ando meeting a second-generation immigrant – and reduced it to a cheap “good ol’ boy” punchline. Grafting a stereotypically “white” persona onto a person of color doesn’t make it any less of a caricature. But what’d you make of that scene?

Diana: The funny thing is, I actually knew of an Asian kid in high school that spoke with a very strong Southern twang, so the Asian trucker thing really wasn’t that far-fetched to me.  Although, I will admit that everytime I heard this kid speak, it was always surprising to hear that twang coming out of someone who looked like he did. So aside from the comedy, I thought the Asian trucker character actually forced you to think about stereotypes and assumptions people make based on someone’s looks.

Mahsino: While I see where you [Arturo] are coming from in terms of offense at the trucker being a punchline, but I actually found it kind of brilliant. The longer I think about this, the more I think I liked it because it challenged the Heroes definition of what it means to be American. Think about it, all the characters of color (with the exception of Micah) are imported from somewhere else. I think that’s what was so jarring about the trucker being American, and why it made sense for Ando to assume he was Japanese- because really, besides silent extras one could assume Americans (except the president) are all white and Minorities are all foreign given how the Heroes-verse operates. Long story short- I liked the twist. Now whether I liked the actual lines the trucker got are another story.

Erica: I wasn’t sure about this scene when I watched it, and I’m less sure now. My intial reaction was, “Oh, that’s convenient, they meet a Japanese trucker.” Then he talked, and I said, “ok, my bad, Japanese-American.” I like Mahsino’s explanation of the positive interpretation you can have of this scene, and showing non-Benetrelli Americans can only help this show’s dismal portrayals of reality. But at the same time, it still just doesn’t feel right — and if I’ve learned anything, it’s that something that makes me vaguely uncomfortable has a good chance of outright offending somebody else, so it’s probably not good.

Jen*: I like the actor, so when I saw him (before he said anything) I was like H&A – wondering. The accent got on my nerves a bit, because it seemed forced, and I’m not quite sure about referring to Japan as “the mothership”. But it definitely breaks the monotony of every American being either Black or White.

Andrea: I agree with you, Arturo. As I said on your OP’s thread at The Instant Callback, “That, ahem, ‘Texan twang’ coming out of the Asian-American trucker’s mouth was just awful. The accent missed the mark of a Texan accent and even a Southern accent. It’s as if the director just gave the actor the direction of, ‘Give me your best stereotypical Southern!’ ‘No, more stereotypical ‘hick.'” Nooooo, more stereotypical ‘trucker.’ NO!!!! More ‘Southern Hick Trucker!'” So it wound up sounding like the horrendously caricatured mess that insulted my ears when I watched the ep. And out of that, it was another Asian character to be laughed out, the butt of a joke. Sorta like Hiro (98% of the time) and Ando (60% of the time, 100% of the time this week.)”

Speaking of H&A, even as they got rerouted back toward the main plot (via a car advert), I got this weirdly passive vibe off them. Your thoughts?
Diana: Again, they were used to intersect plot points for the non-PoC and for product placement. ::sigh:: But I enjoyed Ando making those silly faces at the bambino.

Mahsino: Really? I actually hated that Ando was reduced to a walking anime parody. And beyond the wrongness of it all, Hiro could’ve just frozen Ando’s face.
Diana: Given that Hiro supposedly kills Ando in the future, I don’t think freezing Ando for that purpose would have been good for their friendship. LOL

babymattmatt2Erica: They’re just there to provide Teh Silliness. I like comedy, but I’m starting to get BORED! They aren’t even making their own choices anymore; last season they were manipulated by Papa Petrelli, this season they’re working for Rebel. (Comic relief pawns… Rosencrantz and Guildenstern come to mind.)

Jen*: I’d love to see a complete weird segment between H&A as Tom Stoppard gives R&G with the coin-flipping/tennis references (Like in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead). Because right now – they seem like they are completely for the service of other heroes. Are they getting extra perks from Nissan? Cuz this seems like a throwback to Season 1 in the Versa, and they’re the only ones involved in car sales.

Andrea: Passive, yeah, Even more, helpmates to white characters’ development, namely giving Matt Parkman someone else to love– his child. We got to see Matt become more complex human being (He has love, compassion, and rage wrapped up in one body! Wow!) and Hiro and Ando as some most excellent babysitters.

One more shot of Hiro, as he’s the star of Caption the Pic!
Diana: I went to Somewhere in Africa and all I got was this stuffed giraffe who keeps giving me the stink-eye.

Mahsino: I’m just going to back away slowly on this one.

Erica: I’m coming to save you, Usutu!
( 😛 Diana wins this week’s, I think.)

Jen*: I’ll take your word for it that it’s SFW … but I’ve got nothing on this one.

Andrea: Another -1000 points on the Masi Oka Dignity Scale.

coyote sandsPrediction time: what are the Benetrellis going to find in the Arizona desert?
Diana: Aside from the skeletons we’ve already seen? A spaceship? Bad cheese? The Haitian? (BTW I think that actor is now on Fringe. Hopefully he has a real name and a substantive role on that show.) I hope they find a clue.

Mahsino: I think we all know the answer to that question: we’re going to find a contradictory flashback (are we supposed to forget that Papa Suresh only had proof of people with abilities based on his daughter and theories?).

Erica: Lots and lots of sand. (Oh, and a contradictory flashback. Ignore all previous realities!)

Jen*: Claire’s long-lost great-auntie, queen of the wigs.

Andrea: The skull and the buried-conspiracy talk are red herrings. They’re really looking for ways to salvage their careers.

Open Mic!
alena's houseDiana: I just don’t understand how Danko has game with the ladies. He looks like a troll. He looks like the back end of a troll. He looks like Gollum sans the CGI effects. [Is that you, my Precious?] Did I mention that I find Danko butt ugly unattractive?
Of all the acting on the show lately, I thought the baby did a really good job. It was cute how the baby Matt interacted with big Matt, but big Matt needs to go ahead and get a paternity test ‘fore he’s on the hook for back child support. Also, I liked how Sylar totally effed with HRG’s head. HRG needs to be knocked down a peg or two. His righteous immorality gets out of whack sometimes.

* The baby totally phoned it in.
* So in case you weren’t keeping count there were 2 (count ’em 2) instances where Danko could’ve just shot Sylar and been done with it.
* I was actually moved by the scene between Noah and his wife. Yay for keeping it real?!
* I also love how the heroes have learned nothing about paternity. I would’ve loved to see Matt show a little skepticism about the real lineage of his kid (or was the fact that his name was Matt Jr. good enough?). How quickly he forgot about Daphne though …

* I loved the scenes with Noah and Sandra. Is it Sylar? Is it Sandra? Will Mr. Muggles get his pills? It was good drama — HRG is a pretty good actor when he has decent material to work with. (Of course, I don’t really understand why HRG decided to hide out in the middle of Arizona, but that’s the writers’ fault.)
* Matt’s instant baby bonding was a little annoying (as Mahsino said, shouldn’t he have been going, “Uh, no, that can’t be right, where’d you get this baby again?”). But, with the number of bad-relationships-with-daddy that Heroes has, they NEEDED that moment of true parental love. Contrast Matt’s big hug and smile with Nathan’s conveniently-vanished sons, Sylar’s shocking daddy issues, Papa Petrelli, the dysfunctional overprotective HRG-Claire relationship… it was nice to have another rare happy parent scene.
* So, Danko calls his girlfriend up and sobs that his alter ego is “the man he really wants to be.” I’m pretty sure he picked a Russian ex-prostitute specifically because she’s in need of guidance or education (I’ve told you to use English, Alena!), and also is likely to need the occasional rescuing from angry pimps. I don’t buy his “oh yeah I totally want to be that good guy” routine, he’s an ugly person inside and out.
Mahsino: But hey, at least they’re expanding to white stereotypes. Hooray equality! White, Blond, Russian “Escorts” are a network staple (Life, Law and Order, now Heroes).
Erica: whee, equality. So it wasn’t just me expecting Benson & Stabler to walk in.

skeleton* Co-sign w/Diana – Danko is butt. I couldn’t figure how the shapeshifter thought he could get a lady [in a club! with actual attractive guys (sans gov’t paycheck)] by taking on Danko’s ugga-mug. But whatever – Danko gets ladies, and Hiro doesn’t get anyone since Charlie – and Hiro is cute. More stereotypes, please?
* I still don’t understand why the Benetrelli’s are out in the desert digging up skeletons. Angela and friends took the time to bury people separately, but they couldn’t even get a pine box? And what’s the point of digging them up?
Erica: I was just impressed Angela threw them each a shovel and said “start digging”… and they all did, without any objection. And those were some pretty massive holes!
* Ando should get a prize for that making-Toddler-Touch-n-Go-happy face, and Sandra needs to work on her Sylar – her face kept twitching. And Matt needs to go see Maury.

Andrea: I thought I was wrong for making fun of Danko ’cause I thought he wasn’t getting any. But you all …”Gollum w/out the CGI?” LOL But this week, we now now Darth Vader’s little bro is getting some — from an ex-prostitute. (Though I still not sure how “ex-sex worker” Alena was since the escort service still called her, and she thought Parkman was another client. That situation was a bit mushed for me.) That was trite because not only plays to the idea of Danko “saving” Alena (good call, Erica), but also the idea that no one could love someone so evil except a hooker, as villified and demonized as prostitutes are. Of course, her heart of gold–and total naivete–allowed her to love Danko. Then again, didn’t she get “rescued” again by Complex Matt the Good Cop, complete with new kiddie?

As for everything else on the episode? Well….congrats to UNC and UConn for winning the NCAA titles!

Top image courtesy of Greg Beeman
All other images courtesy of HeroesWiki
Previously: Racialicious Heroes Archive

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Racialicious is a blog about the intersection of race and pop culture. Check out our daily updates on the latest celebrity gaffes, our no-holds-barred critique of questionable media representations, and of course, the inevitable Keanu Reeves John Cho newsflashes.

Latoya Peterson (DC) is the Owner and Editor (not the Founder!) of Racialicious, Arturo García (San Diego) is the Managing Editor, Andrea Plaid (NYC) is the Associate Editor. You can email us at

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