Inconceivable!!

Ever since the new TV season started I’ve been pretty pissed off at Heroes. I believe my exact words have been:

Dear Heroes,

KNOCK IT OFF WITH THE RACISM AND SEXISM ALREADY.

Bob!Beyond that, the writing/plotting itself hasn’t been the best. Everyone I know who watches has been grumbling in the same way.

Usually when this occurs, the fans have little recourse. We complain on blogs and to each other offline, but the show continues to suck and eventually becomes the ninth season of Stargate SG-1. However, something amazing happened recently. A show creator actually acknowledged the problems with his show and –Gasp!– vowed to fix them.

I know! It sounds like a total lie. But look:

‘Heroes’ Creator Apologizes to Fans

[...] Kring himself is keenly aware that Heroes is broken. Here’s his candid critique:

THE PACE IS TOO SLOW ”We assumed the audience wanted season 1 — a buildup of intrigue about these characters and the discovery of their powers. We taught [them] to expect a certain kind of storytelling. They wanted adrenaline. We made a mistake.”

THE WORLD-SAVING STAKES SHOULD HAVE BEEN ESTABLISHED SOONER [or perhaps scrapped altogether... --abw] The premonition of nuclear apocalypse created a larger context that unified every story line last season. Kring now sees that Volume 2 (the first 11 episodes of season 2) would have been better served if Peter’s vision of viral Armageddon had appeared in the season premiere rather than episode 7. ”We took too long to get to the big-picture story,” he says.

THE ROOKIES DIDN’T GREET THEMSELVES PROPERLY New Heroes Monica (Dana Davis), Maya (Dania Ramirez), and Alejandro (Shalim Ortiz) ”shouldn’t have been introduced in separate story lines that felt unattached to the show. The way we introduced Elle (Kristen Bell) — by weaving her in via Peter’s story line — is a more logical way to bring new characters into the show.” (That said, Kring says a few newbies won’t make it beyond this second volume, which wraps Dec. 3.)

HIRO WAS IN JAPAN WAY TOO LONG Hiro’s (Masi Oka) time-bending adventure in 17th-century Japan — where he mentored samurai hero Takezo Kensei (David Anders) — finally came to an end on Nov. 5. But Kring says it ”should have [lasted] three episodes. We didn’t give the audience enough story to justify the time we allotted it.”

YOUNG LOVE STINKS Kring regrets sticking Claire (Hayden Panettiere) with a super-dud boyfriend and forcing Hiro to moon over a cutesy princess. ”I’ve seen more convincing romances on TV,” he admits. ”In retrospect, I don’t think romance is a natural fit for us.”

There’s more at EW, go read.

He doesn’t touch on all of the problems — I see no mention of some of the icky race stuff. This gives me hope, though. I’ll hold out until Vol. 2 ends in December then eat some ginger, clean my palette, and go back to Heroes fresh and ready to be amazed again.

37 Responses

  1. I’m surprised you haven’t mentioned anything about the strike. Hopefully your attiude isn’t that black people don’t matter in this.

  2. strike post coming next week when I have a chance to go offer support at the picket lines (and take pictures).

  3. Heroes jumped the shark at the end of season 1. I’m still watching but it’s just not there for me anymore. The show has become a disjointed mess of weak storylines.

  4. To be honest with you, when I realized that the tag to this show was “Save the Cheerleader” or whatever, I completely bagged it. I’m not surprised to read that it’s going South.

  5. Am I the only one who’s finding Claire’s new boyfriend not only a “super-dud”, but also wicked creepy? Seriously, he humiliated her in class, then told her to shut up, never apologized, but all is forgiven because he can fly – not to mention that freaky stunt with the head cheerleader. He is not good people. o.O

  6. I think Claire’s creepy boyfriend will be gone soon, I have seen he is the new John Connors in the Sarah Connor Chronicles starting in January. I hear he won’t be on Heroes much longer.
    Peace.

  7. nah, Liv you’re thinking of Thomas Dekker, who was Claire’s gay boyfriend last season. he’s the one who’s going to be on Sarah Connor Chronicles.

    though I agree completely with creepiness/ general assholeness of Claire’s new boyfriend. seriously, the guy’s a dick! hope he leaves soon…

  8. I’m hoping he turns out to be evil, though I’m still disappointed that Claire hasn’t seen straight through him (though I suppose I shouldn’t be, given the show’s overall treatment of women) – if a guy humiliated me in class, told me to shut up, and then tried to *fly the hell off with me*, I’d kick him in the balls.

  9. I hope, for the love of waffles, that the Haitian is given a name. I am so tired of the mystical black man helping the white man in his quest for whatever it is Bennet is on about. That’s got to be one of my top beefs with the show.

  10. What Tessa said!

    And yeah “The Haitian” as in “The Martian” or something… the darkest guy is the most dangerous, and is also at the behest of a white man. Gross. Nice to see someone addressing this in an intelligent way, I just end up muttering and channel-surfing.

  11. [...] Inconceivable!! « The Angry Black Woman The Angry Black Woman on Tim Kring’s response to fan criticism about “Heroes” [...]

  12. “And yeah “The Haitian” as in “The Martian” or something… the darkest guy is the most dangerous, and is also at the behest of a white man. Gross. Nice to see someone addressing this in an intelligent way, I just end up muttering and channel-surfing.”

    Where, in any of this, is there even a speck of intelligence. Why is The Haitian automatically an offensive portrayal? If anything, The Haitian is one of the show’s most compelling and decent characters.

    There are countless examples of loyalty going on in this show alone, let alone in all of television and other entertainment… but when one character is white and the other is black… suddenly it’s an example of racism.

    You can find racism anywhere… if it’s what you want to see.

  13. “Where, in any of this, is there even a speck of intelligence. Why is The Haitian automatically an offensive portrayal? If anything, The Haitian is one of the show’s most compelling and decent characters.”

    I just wanted to know his name. Everyone else on the show has a name.

    I guess that’s just a coincidence, that he has no name, and there is nobody named (for instance) “The Irishman” then?

  14. Why is The Haitian automatically an offensive portrayal? If anything, The Haitian is one of the show’s most compelling and decent characters.

    Yeah, it’s almost like he’s some magical black person who does everything he can to help out white people!!

    There are countless examples of loyalty going on in this show alone, let alone in all of television and other entertainment… but when one character is white and the other is black… suddenly it’s an example of racism.

    Not suddently. A, I invite you to google the term “Magical Negro” before you go any further on this thread.

    The problem with The Haitian not having a name is that… he doesn’t have a name! Like he’s not even an actual person, but a robot or something. The man was born at some point. he had a mother and a father. they named him. So what is his goddamned name? It shouldn’t be hard to figure out. he talks now, shouldn’t someone ask?

    You can find racism anywhere… if it’s what you want to see.

    You can ignore racism everywhere, if that’s what you choose to do.

  15. Like he’s not even an actual person, but a robot or something. The man was born at some point. he had a mother and a father. they named him. So what is his goddamned name? It shouldn’t be hard to figure out. he talks now, shouldn’t someone ask?

    Well then what about shows like “The X-Files”? The villains in the X-Files were given names such as “The Cigarette Smoking Man” and “The Well Manicured Man.” These function as names, inasmuch as they speak to the mystery surrounding them. The Haitian’s lack of a name speaks to a story that we’re not being told. It builds suspense. Part of what I love about The Haitian is his opaqueness.

    Hell… lets not forget that he works (or worked, I’m not sure, I don’t really watch the show anymore) for a shadowy, clandestine organization… one designed to hide the true identity of the people we see all around us.

    I’m sorry… this is a tempest in a teacup.

  16. a. Google the term: “Magical Negro” as has so politely been recommended to you.

    While CSM and the Well Manicured Man were people without names, they were still portrayed as having family, children, lives while the Haitian is portrayed as some religious, mystical man who has nothing outside of doing the bidding of a white man. Think about that for a moment. Did the Cigarette Smoking Man answer to anyone? No. He really didn’t.

  17. I read “The Magical Negro” and I think it’s largely absurd. The same kind of microscopic criticism can be made on nearly every kind of character in fiction. Why is it that fantasy stories most often have the young hero accompanied (for a time) by a wizened, sagelike older man… a grizzly sensei who imparts his knowledge to our hero, and then promptly dies at the end of the second act. Is this an ageist commentary on the specific responsibility of the old? They should just tell us what to do and then hurry up and die?

    I’m not trying to be glib… but I really cant follow you guys on this. It just seems so funny to me. You’re looking at one character on a television show… a character who in many ways exemplifies courage, loyalty, respect and caring… a figure of good amid a show which paints characters in a moral spectrum… and you’re bitching because he’s the quiet black guy.

    Morpheus is a magical negro? No… Morpheus is a commentary on blind faith. On the power of belief.

    I’m sorry, I just don’t see how everything in our society is burdened by some racial overtone. Couldn’t it be just as likely that people are bringing their own attitudes to these things? Morpheus never hurt anybody (who didn’t deserve it, that is). What is the purpose of constantly finding fault and division where there doesn’t have to be?

    And finally – does any story now where a black character shows a sense of loyalty to a white character carry a racist overtone? Is The Shawshank Redemption racially insensitive because Redd goes off to find Andy Dufresne? Is he, instead, required to branch off and start his own Recovery Shelter for maltreated black characters from science fiction shows?

    I’m sorry… get a real problem guys.

  18. well a. sorry to hear that you don’t believe int he Magical Negro. But he believes in you, and that’s all that matters.

    Seriously, when a concept such as the Magical Negro has been acknowledged by thousands of people, both black and white, and is discussed as a stereotype both casually and academically, it’s going to take more that you saying “Oh, that’s just some silliness” to convince us that we’re completely imagining these things. I direct you again to:

    That which does not affect you, you often do not see or understand

    You’re displaying classic white person blindness at this point. maybe you should take a break and examine that.

    Also, those other stereotypes you mentioned? Like the old guy who exists just to help the young guy succeed? Tropes and cliches, yes. And those are not acceptable in good storytelling, either.

  19. Oh, and one more thing. That’s the second time you’ve been dismissive and condescending. We’re really not keen on that here, as I’ve already told you. That’s your second warning. If I have to talk to you about this again, I’m putting you on moderation.

  20. “The same kind of microscopic criticism can be made on nearly every kind of character in fiction.”

    Yes, and you know what? Stock characters are very problematic. Perhaps you don’t see the problem in them because you can see yourself (white male) reflected in a huge variety of roles in a huge variety of genres. But you know, for those of us who do not get that luxury, it gets tiresome to see oneself reflected only in a few marginal character types. To never get to be the hero. To always have to be the one to die first in the movie, to always have to be the comedic sidekick, to always have to be rescued or subordinate or just less important, to always guide some OTHER hero to the story’s great conclusion. Never to get to be more than that.

    … I can’t speak for others here, and I haven’t seen the TV show in question. But as far as the topic of character types goes… yes, to me, it IS a real problem.

  21. “I’m sorry… get a real problem guys.”

    And I’m sorry, but no. This is a real problem.

    And I’m not a guy. I’m a gal. ;-)

  22. To always have to be the one to die first in the movie…

    When I see a Black character in a horror flick, I start taking bets for how long he’ll last! ;)

  23. The breadth of this desire not to see the constant stereotyping and marginalizing of characters of color never ceases to astound and depress me.

    I basically don’t watch TV, but even I know who the token Asians on shows are right now. Why? Because there are 5 of them. (Wait – maybe I’m being generous. I was thinking Sandra Oh, the dude on Heroes, and that poor young woman on Gossip Girls, and then I added 2 to be safe.)

    Racism makes emotional contortionists out of those who would otherwise be normally functioning, empathetic humans. How else to explain people who don’t care about the psychic damage of never – NEVER – seeing people who look like you as protagonists, as the smart ones who live to save the day, as the happy ones, the ones with interior lives, the ones with love interests and hopes and dreams? Or, sadder than not caring about this phenomenon, simply not seeing it?

  24. Or maybe worse than “never,” occasionally seeing people who look like you as protagonists riddled with problems, hypersexualized or asexualized, who die at the end of the story passing on their ancient knowledge in their last breath to their white protege?

  25. Admittedly, that last was a particularly Asian example. This is about the Haitian, after all. Don’t intend to derail – I just get steamed about this.

  26. Last comment ever everyone! Woo!

    About my “White Blindness”:

    Just because I don’t agree with you, you assume that I’m blind? Couldn’t I accuse you of the same thing? You’ve got too much color in your eyes maybe? It must be that I’m being too simplistic… and in no way can be that you’re overcomplicating the issue?

    I find your opinions on my apparent inabilities to be depressing. Doubly so since you seem to ascribe them to my gender and my race… and not because I’ve considered your perspective, and have come to the conclusion that I disagree with you.

    No… no that’s not it at all. I’m white… and a guy… so I can’t possibly understand.

    I’m such a racist.

    So long everyone… keep spreading the love.

    I’m going back to my chamber at the center of the planet, where other straight, white men are plotting to overthrow the Rainbow Coalition with poorly written TV dramas and Sci Fi flicks.

    And yes… that time I meant to be flippant.

  27. How could anyone ignore the “magical negro” stereotype!? I mean, even Stanley Crouch uses the term “conjure woman/man” when criticizing these ubiquitous black fictional characters that can do the African-zap on people’s heads…. Have you never read ANY literary criticism?

    If you are not here to learn about the cultural nuances of racism, which is very complicated and complex, not simple, why are you here?

    And finally – does any story now where a black character shows a sense of loyalty to a white character carry a racist overtone?

    Unfortunately, in our culture, yes. Are any “good” black characters allowed to exist that do not do this? Can they be “good” without sucking up to whites? Actually, that seems to be the whole definition of “good” that I can see…

    well a. sorry to hear that you don’t believe in the Magical Negro. But he believes in you, and that’s all that matters.

    AND HEY, I got that Stephen King reference, ABW! :P I just love you!

  28. Speaking of the portrayal of black characters on Heroes: Did anyone just see what happened to D.L.? They fail.

  29. A,

    It’s not the fact that you disagree that has people bristling. Well, admittedly it might have some people bristling. But that wouldn’t get you moderated or anything. There are plenty of people who disagree about these sorts of issues.

    The reason for the generally unfavorable responses to yours posts is your rudeness.

    Yes, rudeness. Though you claim to seek civil discussion, your tone has been dismissive of problems that many of us feel (and some people here daily experience – you don’t) to be very, very real. Painfully so. And by the way, not everyone disagreeing with you is seeing through a thick lens of color (some of us folks here are white too, y’know). No one is going to put up with a condescending and contemptuous tone. That’s not fostering discussion.

    Be civil. Be respectful. Be courteous, and we can have a wonderful chat about all these issues and agree to disagree in the end. But act like a jerk, and don’t be surprised when nobody wants you around.

  30. a. has tried to come down to your lower-than-pond-scum level, but you still have that chip on your shoulder. Dickhead yesterday was a bit of a moron, but you avoided his sharp criticism and no one responded to his observations. Next time you’re in a company cafeteria, look around . . . all of the people who are being discriminated against will be in one corner . . . sitting together. . . bitching about the man.

    You fuckers really don’t have a clue, so as they say, Keep on Bitchin’. You’ll find oodles of support here.

  31. I am so mad about DL right now I can’t even post about it. It’s like Simone all over again. The only reason I’m still watching this crap is because Tim Kring says that Vol. 3 will be better, and I think we have to see Vol 2 to it’s end in order to deal with Vol 3. But oh god, it’s so hard. The racism, the sexism, the bad writing, the bad acting! Jesus.

  32. I hate to see overt sexism and racism in a show about the construction of difference. I think this last episode had interesting references to the treatment of “other” people in the medical system, the legal system, and in society in general, but they fail to translate that commentary onto their real-life societal “others” on their show. Their hypocrisy is depressing.

  33. I think no one knows The Haitian’s name, b/c he doesn’t want them to know. He can implant and take out any memories he’d like. He can also erase anyone’s powers within his limits. Outside of Peter, (or maybe inside) he is the most powerful one of them all.

    Hell, he could make you even forget you HAD powers a la Peter.

    He’s tied into Petrelli’s mom for sure. He does work for the company, but only really when he wants. It’s obvious the company doesn’t know crap about him. He’s got them under some kind of control

    Other than that, agreed

  34. I think no one knows The Haitian’s name, b/c he doesn’t want them to know.

    We the viewers don’t know The Haitian’s name because the writers didn’t see fit to give him one. This secures his magical status. Not only have they failed to give him a name, he also has no history, no family, no friends, no desires, no aspirations, no loves, no LIFE separate from the white people that he serves. This distinguishes him from, say, HRG, who got to be a complex, layered person even when we didn’t know his name.

    He can also erase anyone’s powers within his limits. Outside of Peter, (or maybe inside) he is the most powerful one of them all.

    I know, it’s awesome isn’t it? But of course, he never uses his powers for any aims of his own. He has no motivation other than to serve the more important, white characters. His morals are also questionable, and that’s the most depth that he has, questionable morals. He doesn’t interfere when other people do bad things, he does not really assist when people do good things, and he never decides to do good or bad things on his own….except when it would serve the aims of the white people who have his loyalty. So he’ll help Peter escape the company…because he’s loyal to Peter’s family.

    And now that Peter’s been around him, presumably Peter has his power now too.

    He’s tied into Petrelli’s mom for sure. He does work for the company, but only really when he wants.

    The only time he doesn’t work for the company is when the company’s goals interfere with the goals of HRG or Mama Petrelli. The Haitian has no goals of his own. Whatever motivations he has are kept hidden from us.

    Right now Monica is my only hope for any kind of well-rounded woman on Heroes. Weepy killer Maya is already under the spell of a white man, Sylar. And of course, she is the stereotypical overly emotional woman, but her hysterics kill. I find myself constantly saying, “Jeez, just calm down Maya”.

    Niki is insane, and the less I say about Claire and West, the better. Mama Petrelli would surely be interesting indeed, but we don’t even know what her power is. She doesn’t get to be a “hero”.

  35. I have noticed that “certain people” never seem to notice racism even when it is pretty blatant. There aren’t many black people in any major network program, so that isn’t really the complaint. The fact that there aren’t many of them just makes the stereotyping all the more obvious. Here is a quick walkthrough of ALL of the black people that I have seen so far on “Heroes”…

    (1)Old Guy in Wheelchair from Season 1: Character of little/no consequence. Killed off early in the season.

    (2)The Haitian: Mute black man taking orders from white superiors. If he’s not taking orders from Claire’s dad.. Then in the future(5 Years Gone) he’s taking orders from the idiot Cop.

    (3)Peter & The Psychic Painter’s “Girlfriend”: Black woman. The only licentious character on the show. Killed off, but not before dating the junkie and then sleeping with Peter. Again.. not a hero and not a particularly likable character.

    (4)Nikki’s Husband: Black convict. Flawed hero. Neither prominent nor important. Sure, his wife is a hero, but she’s also a stripper/prostitute(?) His most prominent moment in the show is when he “loyally” takes bullet for Niki.

    (6) Black Cheerleader: An extra. Bad Guy. One of the evil cheerleaders. Non-character; just prominently placed in the cheerleader scene of season 2 episode one to be seen and despised.

    (7)Black Thug in Ireland: Non-hero. Bad guy. Beats up Peter. Again non-speaking black man taking orders from white superiors. See also Haitian supra.

    (8)Nikki’s Biracial Son: No problems with him. He’s the exception that proves the rule.

    There aren’t many blacks that have been in the show at all and these are their roles. Only 1 out of the only 8 black characters in twenty-four episodes I’ve seen seems to be respectable. Tell me I’m wrong.

    See also abc’s Lost.

  36. This season some more black characters were introduced:

    Micah’s Grandmother: Played by Nichelle Nichols, barely gets to speak at all.

    Monica, Nikki’s Niece: Has the potential to be a substantial character, but thus far the only notable storyline involves her being kidnapped by Random Black Thugs, who try to burn her to death for no good reason, and then she is saved by Nikki, who doesn’t even have super strength anymore, yet has to rescue the black girl.

    Micah’s Cousin: Not sure if he even has a name, but he’s stupid and ill-mannered and seems to represent stereotypical black male youth. That’s how I see him.

    So that’s still 1 respectable Black character, after the way they built Monica up only to tear her down.

  37. web will be up again soon. anyway my last name is tidmore and I was looking around on the web and was directed here for the name tidmore by someone on the site. Just looking to try to find more Black Tidmore’s around. In Columbus, my grandmother and myself are all that’s left.

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