Tag Archives: desi

Heroes recap of episode 208: Four Months Ago

by Racialicious guest contributor David Zhou

What is his name?!?

There is too much to be said about how a black character from Haiti, referred to as The Haitian and used as a weapon by dominating, white forces, still has yet to earn a name. Is his name too ethnic for us to pronounce? His history too dark for us to fathom? But most of all, how do you address someone who has no name?!? I’ve wondered how the screenwriters have avoided until now the instances where some higher agent has to say, “Haitian, go do this-and-that.” (Maybe they just use “you” the way Elle does when pursuing Peter and Adam.) Watching this episode, these exchanges between other characters and the one played by the talented Jimmy Jean-Louis become increasingly ridiculous. He rarely even speaks! Something really is wrong with this.

And remember the part where Elle refers to The Company’s power-negating medications as “Haitian pills,” a reference to one of his powers? Yeah, that was messed up.

To boot, does he have alliances or a personal agenda at all? In this last episode, temporally set between the first and second seasons, he works for the Company that he had been working to bring down in both seasons. This character just always seems to come in handy only when key characters require a partner who can suppress superpowers and erase memories. If I am just missing the logic behind this, someone inform me; all I see in this character is a lackey for the more crucial (ahem, white) people, and his story should be so much more than that.

Another item of note was a comment by Elle, the other cute (but crazy and dangerous) blonde girl to come by on this show. (Thanks to Elton for the tip.) She makes a speech worthy of a great, collective “aww”. She says, “I’m twenty-four years old and I’ve never gone on a date. Never been on a rollercoaster. Never been swimming. And now you know everything there is to know about me.” I feel so sorry for her, but question: what ideals must you impose upon yourself to feel bad about these things? If you said “Western” you may have been right, because as Elton pointed out, there are cultures where dating and amusement parks are just not on the adolescent agenda. Which is to say, the first-world innovation of amusement parks and the social construction of dates are not necessarily universal. Just pointing that out. (I still felt pretty bad for Elle, though.)

And also… so much for my crying out about how very Catholic Maya and Alejandro are. They are apparently really Catholic. So Catholic that Maya does a stint as a nun! (Well, she is also seeking redemption for killing about fifty people; maybe it’s justified.

But lastly, I must say that there were some nice things in this episode. The wedding was sweet – until the soapy, intruded-upon sex scene. And once again, I can’t help but say that Nikki and D.L. are really cute together, and if people see the problems in their marriage as a function of their racial difference, then… I just have no words.

To read past Heroes recaps, click here.

The Boston Globe highlights bloggers of color

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

Check out this great Boston Globe article about bloggers of color who are fighting racial stereotypes and getting their voices heard in the mainstream media. The reporter spoke with me, Manish from Ultrabrown, and Baratunde from Jack and Jill Politics, and name-checked a whole bunch of other blogs: Angry Asian Man, The Angry Black Woman, Guanabee, The Unapologetic Mexican, Latino Pundit, Ultrabrown, Zuky, Sepia Mutiny, The Field Negro, Too Sense, and Resist Racism. Congrats everyone! :)

Here are some excerpts:

These intellectual challenges to mainstream and other viewpoints are some of the opinions Latino, Asian/Pacific Islander-American, and black bloggers are exposing on a growing number of sites focused on social, political, and cultural issues…

These sites – many of which launched in the past year, although a few are older – have become places where people of color gather to refine ideas or form thoughts about race relations, racial inequities, and the role pop culture has in exacerbating stereotypes. The writers often bring attention to subjects not yet covered by mainstream media. Some of these blogs first sounded the alarm about blacks receiving harsher jail sentences in the court system, an issue spotlighted in the Jena Six, Genarlow Wilson, and other cases. Vij was among the bloggers writing about the racial offensiveness of the accented South Asian character Apu in “The Simpsons” just before the big-screen version of the television show came out this year…

As bloggers make these corrections, they’ve become fresh voices in the very places that they feel ignore them. The subjects they write about sometimes become mainstream media stories. Vij and bloggers at Jack and Jill Politics and Racialicious, a compendium of links and original content about race issues, have appeared on CNN, the BBC, and NPR, and in The New York Times. These young people offer alternative opinions at a time when stories about race often result in sound bites from Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson…

Posts from Jack and Jill Politics and Ultrabrown occasionally appear on Racialicious, a blog that offers links to thought-provoking news stories or blog items about race and posts on various subjects from its 25 guest contributors and three regular contributors. The New York City-based creator of Racialicious, Carmen Van Kerckhove, launched the blog in 2004 as Mixed Media Watch. Her goal, as a biracial woman of Belgian and Chinese decent, was to spotlight how the media portrays mixed-race people and interracial couples. Last year Van Kerkhove relaunched Mixed Media Watch as Racialicious, because of her readers’ strong responses to posts analyzing race and pop culture. Now in addition to posts about racism in the video game industry or recent examples of the use of the noose for racial intimidation, Racialicious includes items analyzing TV shows such as “Prison Break” and “Heroes.”

Pop culture, says Van Kerckhove, 29, “really is instrumental in shaping our view of race. It helps introduce us to and helps confirm a lot of racial stereotypes. As TV shows and movies have become more diverse in terms of the race and ethnicity of the characters and actors, I think it becomes necessary to analyze that and not to uncritically celebrate the fact that there is more diversity on TV.”

‘Blade Runner’ and race

by guest contributor Manish, originally published at Ultrabrown

In Blade Runner: The Final Cut, the 25th anniversary edition of that seminal film, little-known indie director Ridley Scott (A Good Year, Black Rain) uses yellow panic to convey a dystopian future. Impenetrable Chinese and kanji ideographs and Arabic vocals from the Brian Eno track ‘Quran’ signify a future where Earth is crumbling, most have moved off-world, and the seedy neighborhoods left behind are non-European. In Blade Runner, white flight means leaving for the sub-orbs.

In one scene, Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) chases a replicant down a crowded street, pushing his way through a group of Hare Krishnas. The world may be run by spinners, androids, implants and megacorps, but like cockroaches, Krishnas and Chinese noodles survive. Make way, make way; Deckard locates and blasts Joanna Cassidy, in a scene reshot with the aging actress specifically for the final cut.

Deckard later tracks down a clue, decorative scales from an artificial snake. The music switches to tabla and desi vocals as he shakes down the Muslim proprietor. Paul Oakenfold sampled other parts of the soundtrack in ‘Goa Mix’ (’94). Artless though it is, Blade Runner’s multiculti melange is even today far ahead of ultrawhite sci-fi/fantasy films like E.T. (which crushed Blade Runner on their head-to-head opening weekend), Star Wars, and the modern-day Lord of the Rings. The only sci-fi films I’ve seen recently which were as multiculti were Serenity and Sunshine.

* * * * *

Blade Runner has held up remarkably well over time. It’s still gripping and panoramic and ambitious in a way not often attempted in sci-fi these days. Its atmospherics were remarkable. It was the Half-Life 2 of its time in terms of immersive, spooky audio and visuals; today, PC games are the new Blade Runner. The film’s models look great, non-CGI-fakey. With physical models, getting the lighting and physics right is pretty much automatic.

Later movies freely pinched from key scenes in Blade Runner. Silas in The Da Vinci Code was ripped from Rutger Hauer’s white-haired Jesus figure, complete with crucifixion reference. Daryl Hannah’s leotarded replicant crushes Ford’s neck between her thighs. The scene was gleefully echoed by Famke Janssen as Xenia Onatopp in Goldeneye.

The ghostly, omnipresent advertising blimp showed up later as the floating zeppelin in Æon Flux. Hide-and-seek with living toys and assassins with calling cards have become fright flick staples. ‘Time to die,’ uttered twice in different contexts, is now a survival horror catchphrase. Blade Runner’s even got its very own ‘Han shot first‘ fanböi squabble, the unicorn scene. Continue reading

Vogue India Shows Appreciation For Indian Beauty With Caucasian Model Highlighted…..

by guest contributor Seattle Slim, originally published at Happy Nappy Head

This is the cover of the inaugural issue of Vogue India. Unfortunately, I don’t see much of anything distinctly “Indian” about it. I see them highlighting Australian model Gemma Ward, flanked by two Indian women, who may as well wear signs saying “sidekick” around their necks. To add to the affront, the Indian models both have blue eyes.

I know that most will say that it may not be too much to worry about because most Indians have bigger fish to fry like poverty but Vogue had a greater responsibility to do right by India and it failed.

Sad to say, this isn’t the first time. Vogue pulled the same stunt, with the same model on the cover of Vogue China’s inaugural issue.

I’m sorry but when I look for a Vogue India, I want to see beautiful Indian models all over the magazine; I want accurate representation.

Gemma Ward pales in comparison to the lovely Aishwarya Rai, so why isn’t Miss Rai on the cover? What about Shilpa Shetty? Looking at the other models, they didn’t even need Ward on the cover. Their beauty speaks volumes.

Unfortunately, their beauty wasn’t allowed to grace the cover without Gemma in the middle. What does speak volumes is Vogue’s subliminal message that unless a Caucasian female is associated with it, it’s not beautiful. The use of models with blue eyes (or possibly color contacts?) further cements Vogue’s idea of what women of color should look like in order to be considered pretty enough to stand next to a white woman’s beauty.

If this the way Vogue is going to operate when launching magazines for perspective countries, I shudder to think what Vogue Kenya may be. I can just see it now.

This is why we should be extra vigilant to the messages that the media sends children of color and protect them from deception. I wouldn’t bring this magazine into my house to line a bird cage.

Vogue’s message is loud, clear and pathetic. If this is the best Vogue can do, they should be ashamed of themselves. Gemma isn’t the standard of beauty in this photo, in all reality, she barely makes the cut.

Propaganda week

newsweek pakistan yellow peril xenophobia

by guest contributor Manish, originally published at Ultrabrown

This scare story was loaded with terrorism hype. By the time I finished the story, it seemed like jihadis were on the verge of overrunning not only Islamabad but India too. And yet with all the advantages of Musharraf’s rigging, Islamist parties crested at a tiny minority of votes in the last election.

Check out the photos in the print edition, all foreboding black and white like a cheesy re-enactment by a TV crime show:

  • Cover: Scary, screaming, bearded man
  • First photo: Bleeding man lying on road, pierced with shrapnel from the Bhutto attack, looking directly at the camera. This is the kind of gruesome verité the American media refuse to show about Americans at home or American soldiers in Iraq, but think it perfectly acceptable to show about those not like us. I’m in favor of showing it all, not this disgusting double standard.
  • Second: Osama bin Laden t-shirt vendor
  • Third: Bullet-pocked walls
  • Fourth: Street scene with signs in Urdu / Arabic script
  • Fifth: Bearded mullah and a Koran

Here’s the thing — it’s a milestone that the media are beginning to drop the artificial he-says-she-says between India and Pakistan. They’re beginning to report the ISI and Pakistani military’s continued support of terrorism, and the fact that Islamists in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are far more dangerous than was the tinpot dictator of Iraq. Some of the content of the story is excellent.

But its packaging and tone are yellow journalism at its worst, ignoring everyday life in Pakistan and puffing up a tiny circle of jihadists using the trashiest techniques of propaganda.

Heroes recap of episode 206: The Line

by Racialicious guest contributor David Zhou

Yes.

It finally happened.

Hiro Nakamura got some action from the girl we’ve come to know as Yaeko… and was then screwed over by a double dealing white man named Takezo Kensei. (I’m joking, but…)

There were, though, many peculiar little things about this kiss scene. (I’m not going to complain too much about them because I’m still getting over the excitement about Hiro getting some play.) They didn’t actually show them kiss. None of the lip-locking, spit-churning face sucking that you see in other such scenes. They did show their heads coming together, the back of their heads slowing gyrating to weird “Asian” music… But I wonder if there was anything of the actual sensuality and physicality of a first kiss between two people. Should this kiss even count? Are Masi Oka and Eriko Tamura just bad kissers/kissing actors? I don’t know if this was all what I was hoping for, but then again not every kiss scene in the typical television scriptbook has our protagonist stop time first and wonder: “But the space-time continuum…” I have every reason to be happy for now that an Asian male on television had a substantial romantic encounter. Goal number two: massive sexual innuendo… and after that, a sex scene. (I know you can do it, Hollywood!)

Another amusing part of Monday’s show was the encounter with “civilian border patrol”, or what we know in real life as the Minutemen Civil Defense Corps/Minutemen Project. (We at Columbia had an interesting encounter with these guys last year, but that’s an aside…) As the Nissan Rogue from Mexico crosses an unfinished border fence, they meet up with these civilian border watchers. Maya kills them quickly with her lethal superpower and drives into the States, leaving the cowboy hat-wearing, shotgun-toting vigilantes dead in the desert with black tears running from their faces. If that’s not a political message, I don’t know what is.

And still, Maya refers to America, New York, and the supervillian next to her as the “salvation” in which they must “poner el fé” (put faith). I ask, please, no more Christian-Latino stereotypes!

There has been talk about the psuedo-empowered blonde women on this show, who are still pigeonholed to roles as cheerleaders and strippers on Heroes. I think, however, that in this episode there was a sideways attempt to address the issue. People who watch the show will look at me and say, “Huh? How?” … I’ll say that as Claire joins the blonde-brigade, they seem to make a point of emphasize a black-haired cheerleader… just to complicate the blonde-cheerleader correlation. (Big deal!) In the meanwhile, Claire continues her inane high-school games and Nikki/Jessica still uses her superhuman strength (almost sexually) for harm.

All in all, this episode was not too bad. None of the trying-to-pronounce-Mohinder Suresh or the geisha fantasies that we’ve seen before in other shows. Basically in this episode, Maya and Alejandro cross the border with Sylar, Claire dupes the lead cheerleader, Monica is used as a lab rat, and Noah shoots a man. But you could’ve gone to heroesrevealed.com for that.

That’s all. Until next time!

To read past Heroes recaps, click here.

Heroes recap of episode 205: Fight or Flight

by Racialicious guest contributor Elton

One consequence of the sheer number of separate storylines in Heroes is that it feels as if the story is only being advanced a fraction of an inch each week. It’s becoming impossible to squeeze the entire cast into each episode. Last week, Hiro was absent for the first time, and this week was Claire’s first duck out of the spotlight. There’s nothing wrong with omitting a few main cast members from a few episodes now and then, but the show still feels disjointed. Yes, everything that happens in Heroes is connected (eventually). Last season, many of the Heroes were more or less united in a mission from Future Hiro: “Save the cheerleader, save the world”. And they did – in a spectacular battle at the end of Season 1, the “good guys” united to prevent “the bomb” from destroying New York City, and villains Linderman and Sylar were (apparently) killed by DL and Hiro, respectively.

One might hope that the Heroes, finally being in the same place at the same time, would at least Facebook friend each other. Alas, Season 2 began with a reshuffling of the deck and they each went their separate ways, even more distant than before. DL is dead, Niki, upon finally getting their son Micah back, has decided to leave him behind once again, Hiro and Ando are separated by hundreds of years, and Nathan and Peter have no idea where the other is.

Well, not everyone is dazed and confused – a few of the Heroes (Noah Bennet, Mohinder Suresh, Matt Parkman, Molly Walker, Nathan Petrelli, and The Haitian) have formed a sort of confederacy in order to investigate and destroy The Company, an organization apparently founded by a mysterious group of 12 people from the previous generation of Heroes in order to find and control people with special abilities. So perhaps that will be this season’s uniting mission: take down The Company.

But another consequence of there being so many separate stories to tell is that no single character’s story is being developed thoroughly. This may result in characters of color being presented as stereotypes. As David mentioned last week, now that Issac is dead, Maya and Alejandro are left to represent Latinos, and it doesn’t help that they’re on the run from the police and trying to enter America illegally.

Then there’s the issue of Hiro Nakamura. He seems to fit the nerdy foreigner stereotype to a tee. And now that he’s running around trying to serve his hero Takezo Kensei, who happens to be a white Englishman trying to find his fortune in feudal Japan by “fighting dirty” and exploiting the natives, the image of Hiro as a subservient and cowardly Asian male stereotype might be complete. He’s even letting Kensei take credit for his bravery in battle and steal the heart of his love interest, Yaeko!

But I think it’s possible to fight stereotypes even in Hiro’s situation. One response to the Asian nerd stereotype has been to counter with guys like the Yul Kwons and Daniel Dae Kims of the world, and show that Asian men can be tall, strong, and sexy, too. However, I think that Hiro represents a different way to subvert the stereotype. A lot of Asian-American guys identify more with Peter Parker than James Bond. It’s true that many of us are short, wear glasses, and love comic books. Instead of denying this fact, Hiro seems to be saying, “So what?” He’s always been the Hero who most completely embraces his powers, no matter what. While other Heroes are ashamed of their powers, or using them for ill gain, Hiro goes on and on about how important it is to protect the weak and fight for justice. Let’s not forget how he won the heart of the beautiful Texan waitress, Charlie. Tragically, she was killed by Sylar before they even kissed, but instead of despairing, Hiro became even more resolute in his mission. He represents a different kind of masculinity that transcends stereotypes in its own way, with intelligence, sensitivity, and conviction. While Hiro may geek out about his powers from time to time, he’s also courageous, determined, and loyal. He can also be a badass – he did stab Sylar, and at some point in the future he will speak fluent English, wear a soul patch and ponytail, and carry Kensei’s sword as his own. So let’s not worry too much about him. Continue reading

Heroes recap of episode 204: The Kindness of Strangers

by Racialicious guest contributor David Zhou

The introduction this season of new characters of color has become increasingly of interest in the discussion about race on Heroes. In this Monday’s episode, we have learned more about the Honduran siblings trying to immigrate illegally into the States. As strikingly, we see in this episode for the first time a family of hurricane survivors in New Orleans. All of these characters continue to carry the burdens of expectation and typecasting in their roles. Here is just a taste of this week’s racial undertones.

Siblings Alejandro and Maya are still trying to escape the apparent lawlessness of Central America-slash-Mexico, as portrayed oh-so-accurately with palm trees, sand, and run-down neighborhoods. Throughout much of the hour, the siblings drive up to the border in a very standout, product-placed Nissan Rogue, intended to be visually discordant against the backdrop of the depicted third-world. As they drive, they meet a stranger (the baddest villain of last season, but that’s not important here). Maya translates as Alejandro warns her in Spanish.

When we talk about stereotypes on television, all accusations can be legitimate if there are no other characters to defy the claims portrayed. Here, Maya and Alejandro are the only Hispanic characters on the show, (the one last season suffered a bad heroin addiction and was killed off) and, hence, qualities embedded in their characters can become statements about entire groups of people. So in this episode, some things were clear: Maya’s constant references to God and miracles, presumably as a Catholic and their constant struggle to illegally cross the border into the States… well, what does that say about Hispanics?

There were many questionable parts to this episode other than this ride through Mexico. We see for the first time this week a family in post-Katrina New Orleans, relatives with whom a mixed-race child named Micah from last season is staying. As the child adapts to his evidently strange, new cultural surroundings, he has to put up with a hostile boy who splashes water on his face and mocks him for his different, “whiter” accent. Along with the du-rag-wearing criminal that attempts to rob a store at the end of the episode, it’s hard to miss the obvious stereotypes of confrontational black males. Continue reading