The Racialicious Roundtable For Heroes 4.10

Hosted by Special Correspondent Arturo R. García


Oh boy, where to begin with “1961”? With the awkward, Forrest Gump-ish approach to reframe the Heroes canon into pre-Civil Rights Act history? The needless retconning of two previously admirable minority characters? The continued hammering over the head with how “special” the Benetrellis are?

Actually, this time we’re starting off with a different type of Open Mic; Roundtable member Andrea had expressed some concerns with me about the imagery dredged up by the family’s digging through the metahuman camp. I wanted to give her the space to elaborate, and then get our other members’ responses.

skullAndrea: As I told Arturo and Mahsino in emails, I’m really sick and tired of the show playing hopscotch with events surrounding human-rights violations and figures–and doing it in such a contrived way. From namedropping (Harriet Tubman, Che Guevara) to framing their struggles with the gub’ment (Abu Ghraib), these pop nods are, I suppose, to show the show’s profundity and relevance, of showing the creative team’s understanding the ramifications of societies dealing negatively with difference, but it just feels shallow…and pushes the show to further irrelevance. And it’s kinda ironic, considering how the writers push the characters of colors further to the peripheries of the storylines with each season, if not outright killing them. ::sigh:: And this week, we get images of internment camps/mass burials wrapping around the poorly done story of Bennetrellis and the Company’s origins. I was really put off.

Erica: I hate it when historical tragedies are given trite treatment like this. Japanese internment camps deserve more respectful coverage than, “Oh, by the way, something similar to our current fictional portrayal happened before, and it was bad, so this is bad.”

And yes, Peter, Angela could have told you all about this in a restaurant, but then how would she have desecrated the graves of dozens of victims (including her parents and, to the best of her knowledge, sister) of a paranoid government? “Oh, Nathan, while you’re digging there, be sure to get your grandfather’s watch, I’m sure he wanted you to have it.”

Mahsino: You know, this whole thing probably could’ve been made interesting if they brought in Hiro and Ando. At lease with them there, it wouldn’t have made the reference to Japanese internment camps seem so out of left field.

Diana: They are definitely trying too hard. The show was much more interesting in Season 1 when we were getting glimpses of the future which was a whole other reality. They’d be better off if they created another reality with its own rules and quirks. This following the topics of the day is unimaginative, lazy and just makes  the show more soap-opera-ish.

jen*: This ep really pissed me off. A filler episode dealing with internment camps? Angela’s treatment of the memory was none too respectful, either – considering those bodies were supposedly of her family. Then, after the dust literally settles, it’s all buried again.  No more bad memories – let’s make a new company!

I didn’t buy the resolutions for either Chandra or Mohinderthe former looks like a weasel and a liar compared to his S1 self and the latter is wallowing in even more self-pity than usual. Your thoughts?
Andrea: The only bright spot was when Alice told Chandra that he had a funny accent and he snapped on her: “So do you.” The. Perfect. Shutdown. Other than that, I felt conflicted about him: I always felt the story about Chandra was that he let his science get in the way of his compassion and, perhaps, morals. I would say Chandra was more complicit more so than duplicitous. Just like his son.

chandraErica: This is what I truly hate about retcons. A character that we formerly respected is now portrayed as a complicit jerk. I have to totally change my conceptions and try to reconcile Young Jerk Chandra with Concerned Scientist Chandra, and it doesn’t fit well and I’m getting peeved. (NOT a good way to keep the fangirl happy, Heroes.)
Jen*: Shoot. I’m starting to wonder if the writers are actually going for new viewers, and don’t care about those of us who’ve been watching from the beginning.

Mahsino: Was it just me, or was this week’s episode really anti-Asia? What bothered me the most was the implication (from Alice’s reaction to Mohinder) that all Indian brown men look alike and are evil (sounds mighty familiar). And I thought Chandra Suresh didn’t have any concrete knowledge of people with special abilities until his daughter was born (which would probably been after this whole deal).

Erica: I also had a sneaking suspicion that Chandra was inserted to make this look less like the fault of Americans. Americans wouldn’t put people in camps for experiments! Look, here’s this foreign doctor, HE’S running the tests!

Mahsino: I was just about to say that, great minds…

Erica: Maybe the writers are retconning their own idiot prejudices. Heroes writers wouldn’t discriminate, LOOK at ANGELA dancing with CHARLES! Oooooh!

Mahsino: Which makes the j-bomb even more ridiculous. With that whole racist fry-cook scene, I probably would’ve been able to handle Charles’s slip up if the fry cook had called him the N-word instead of pussy-footing the authentic racism of that time period.
jen*: Yes. That. The 60s in the Midwest and the cook is the only person who says something?
Diana: Chandra and Mohinder both come across as tools, constantly being manipulated and co-opted by those seemingly in charge for the moment. They don’t have a backbone and are just plain uninteresting. At least Hiro and Ando are enjoyable to watch. If they are not going to let Mohinder do something more interesting than chasing down pointless rabbit holes, they can at least let him spend the time shirtless. Give me something to work with, pleeeeeeaaaaase!

Jen*: Chandra sure didn’t seem that much [or even any bit] older than Angela in the first season.  Is the show an exercise in discontinuity, or what? I’m just mad that Mo’s the only one who seems to be affected by the gravity of what happened at Coyote Sands.

What in the HELL was with Charles using a slur?
1961Andrea: I thought, “Oh no that Negro didn’t!” I know a commenter said the slur would have fit the times. But then that argument could have easily justified using the k-bomb, too. No, just as I thought the writers could have had “Americans and Japanese” come out of Charles’ mouth, they could have had him say “Nazis and Jews.” It was too much racial epithet reverb going on, esp. since the writers thought they snatch a major piece of Japanese-American history for their own silly-ass storyline.

Erica: I agree. It isn’t inconceivable that a 1960’s teenager might have chosen to use that term. But who cares? It didn’t add anything to the scene (indeed, that ethnic slur detracted from Charles’ point that there was a strong pattern of abusive detention of innocents). It didn’t add anything to the character of Charles Deveaux, who is well-known to be dead and therefore not in much need of development. So there was nothing positive from including that, and a lot of potential negatives. It’s hardly the first time I’ve been infuriated by the narrow-minded idiocy of the writing staff, but I had hoped the “shakeup” in staff would have changed things.

Mahsino: When I first heard it, I winced. Weird thing is, it took me until Thursday to realize that they have two Japanese characters on the show- which made it even more offensive. Those guys still have to show up for work knowing that there are some writers who think it’s cool to throw that term around all willy-nilly. Also, I’m interested to see how Charles and Hiro’s dad got along with that attitude – oh, wait, I think we were supposed to throw continuity out the window.

Diana: I think the writers think we are totally stupid. There was no need to use that slur coming out of anyone’s mouth, especially out of a black male. Anybody with half a brain knew just by looking that it was an internment camp and did not need to be beaten over the head that it could be compared to internment of Japanese-Americans. Duh, already, damn.

Jen*: Erica’s right about it not being inconceivable, but coming out of a young [handsome] Deveaux’s mouth it was all kinds of wrong [for the character, the writers, the show, etc.].

In honor of this week’s dull-as-dishwater episode, let’s get EXTREEEME with Nathan & Matt in Caption The Pic!
Erica: (Matt) You got peanut butter in my chocolate! (Nathan) You got chocolate in my peanut butter!

Diana: I’m too distracted by Matt’s hat to comment. Definitely a fashion no no.


Andrea: So this is how Tonsil Wars goes.

Jen*: Oh if only we could see the invisible battle between their breath (imagine wispy smoke trails holding foils). Nathan: I had an onion bagel – take that! Matt: Hello! Sauerkraut wins!

Host’s note: I’m jumping in on this one!
Arturo: Matt and Nathan debate the defining question of these tumultuous times: Astronauts or Cavemen?

Cristine Rose’s performances have been a saving grace for most of the past few weeks. But Angela came out looking pretty bad here, too, wouldn’t you say?
Erica: I was quite pleased with Alice’s departure… a simple “no” and flying out the door. You go, girl! Unfortunately, we had to suffer through 40 minutes of emotional drivel and implausible drama. I would have loved to see more Alice in future shows, though — refreshing to see a female character without makeup and a tidy, complicated hairdo.

thunderMahsino: So, mama Petrelli had an affair with Hiro’s dad, she married Peter’s dad, and now we know she had a thing with Charles Deveaux (which makes me wonder if Peter’s relationship with Simone may have been a bit incestuous- which I wouldn’t put past the writers). What’s next, was she Elle and/or Matt’s real mom? Their parents were in the original Company.

That being said, the Petrelli women have an awesome hair game. Kudos hair and wardrobe- now about Claire

jen*: I also got to thinking about Simone after this ep. I wondered about her origins, but also – shouldn’t she have had a power? Alice does. Looked like their dad did [wasn’t that him with the wavy power coming from his hands?]. So how come Simone didn’t have one? Supposedly they *gave* one to Nathan, so even if she’d been born w/out a power you’d think … eh that’s far enough on that tangent.
Diana: With all that lead-in, I was pretty sure that Mrs. Petrelli had actually killed her sister. She’s so good at toying with people as an adult, I would have thought she’d be at least a little less of a model child. With that said, I wish Alice had turned out to be more bad-ass instead of looking like she lived with a thousand cats. Wild hair doesn’t have to mean crazy.

Jen*: Angela came off as a complete jerk to me. Just expecting a sisterly reconciliation after FIFTY years [nevermind that they don’t seem old enough for that amount of time] by saying, “Hey, sorry! Let’s go home.” – that doesn’t sound like Angela. Then, after seeing that her sister is a lil bit crazy – she decides to tell her the truth anyway? THAT doesn’t sound like Angela, either.

Later This Week: Set phasers to Kick-Ass! President Worf returns!
Nathan & Matt 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.

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