12.07.2010

Zoe Washburne

Since I'm on a black female character kick....

To me, Zoe Washburne was a fleshed-out, well-rounded character of color.  Well...as far as a group of white writers go, anyway (which, by the way, shows that it can be done).

She's a tough, no-nonsense "warrior woman", yes, but she's also a humorous, loving wife who wanted to have kids some day.  We see bad-ass, sci-fi/fantasy veteran Gina Torres flash her legendary smile dozens of times throughout the short-lived series, and we see her anxious and looking wounded during arguments with her husband.  She loves, and is loved - a rarity for black female characters in Hollywood.

Which is precisely why killing her husband was a major fail.

We finally have this fleshed-out character with so much potential - more than we usually see, whether or on film or television - and her husband gets whacked?  So that what...she becomes the grim, empty, loveless person a black female character is supposed be?  What the hell was that?

You know, I've listened to Joss Whedon's commentary on Serenity a few times and I'm not impressed.  Just like I'm not impressed with the commentary at the end of Angel season 5 - different rant for a different blog anyway.  Whedon states Zoe's husband was killed off to show the realism of the battle, or something like that.  Um...kill off Inara.  Fuck, kill off Simon, or even River.  Kill off whomever you have to keep Zoe's characterization intact.

White writers...a fashion tip from Moi: if you are fortunate enough to finally stumble across a formula to build an awesome character of color, then stop, assess and take stock of all the variables contributing to the balance, depth, and beauty of that character.

Once you've identified all the characteristics, do not fuck with them.

12 comments:

  1. I want to be Gina Torres when I grow up. :) Seriously though, she's all kinds of awesome. I'm still peeved that she was in FlashForward for only like, two seconds (still can't figure out what the purpose was).

    Which is precisely why killing her husband was a major fail.

    I always thought Wash's death was pretty random and unnecessary. (And this is coming from someone who saw Serenity before seeing Firefly.) It didn't flow at all. It just seems like they stuck it in there "just because."

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  2. Joss Whedon has a permanent place on my Sh*t List because of that stunt. I, too, saw Serenity and then the Firefly series, with watching the latter making me more pissed off at Wash's death. It was so damn unnecessary! If they wanted to show the realism of battle or whatever, why not murk Jayne? If there was ever a character who'd love to go down in guts and glory, it would be him!

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  3. Joss has a habit of killing off his main characters. So Wash's death wasn't a surprise (well, it shocked me, but in retrospect I should have seen it). I was sad Wash died, but I wasn't offended by his death on a narrative level as far as Zoe's character arc is concerned. He does that crap to happy couples all the time all the time (Fred/Wesley, Willow/Tara, are two examples).

    I was much more offended how Jenny from Buffy the Vampire Slayer was handled, considering she was the only WOC to ever be apart of the main cast on that show (A black actress was originally casted for Cordelia's role but that didn't pan out obviously). But like you said "different rant for a different blog" Lol.

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  4. And Ankh, it's clear you watch some Whedon shows but I'm not sure if you're an actual Buffy fan. In case you are, a little-known fact is that Nikki Wood (a Black Slayer from the 70s) had a Chinese American boyfriend. Just a fun random Blasian fact :)

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  5. I didn't know she was in that show. I had seen some episodes but I wasn't a fan. I did watch her on Cleopatra 2525

    as far as Joss is concern, that man has slowly made me dislike him by:

    Pairing
    Buffy/spike
    angel/cordelia

    oh and the I will remember episode.

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  6. the only good thing about the buffy/spike pairing was that Spike was naked almost all the time.

    but yeah he does fuck with the happy couples

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  7. And Ankh, it's clear you watch some Whedon shows but I'm not sure if you're an actual Buffy fan. In case you are, a little-known fact is that Nikki Wood (a Black Slayer from the 70s) had a Chinese American boyfriend. Just a fun random Blasian fact :)

    Holy-frickin-gaspeth Batman! I did NOT know that! Must've been one of those blink-and-you'll-miss-it moments because Lord knows I wouldn't have (ok, maybe I would've because I'm dense enough as evidenced by the fact that I missed it *headdesk*).

    But, uh, Joss got on my hitlist after Kendra's death because oh my Gawd, we simply CAN'T have a black woman outshining our blonde haired savior, ohnoesthehorror! Seriously, and after watching the episode where she first showed up and the way they described her again, made me raise my eyebrow at Joss even more because...seriously, dude, the WAY the writing described her just.made.me.cringe!!!!!!!

    But anyway, back on topic: when I saw Gina Torres, my hear stopped because sersiously? I LOVE THAT WOMAN!!!! I love her in everything and anything she's in because she's gorgeous and wonderful and amazing and my hero forever and ever eek! (Sorry, fangirl came out there for a second). But no, seriously, that woman is amazing. Now, HER, HER, I would've casted for Storm/Ororo Munroe (I mean, since Halle Berry nixed the whole accent after the first movie...who CARES, right? *rolls eyes*). She has the power and strength to carry any role, any part, just ANYTHING!

    And PS: if you're wanting to highlight on an AH-mazing character who is also a woman of color, I highly recommend, the Walking Dead. There's a black woman in there and despite the two instances of major!epic!FAIL that went on with her character, I still approve because let's just say there's zombies, chick's got a gotdamn sword gotdamn!, and she kicks some seriously tail. Like no, some SERIOUS tail!!!!! And it connects to this post because the Walking Dead has become a TV series, and I'm hoping they bring this WOC into the series later on down the line and they cast Gina Torres because I can see my girl ALL OVER THAT! Lak whoa!!!

    Jeez, and I forgot to mention the character's name: Michonne (pronounced 'Mee-shawn' - I don't know why that name bothers me though), and you can find out about her here:
    http://walkingdead.wikia.com/wiki/Michonne

    and here:
    http://www.comicvine.com/michonne/29-46819/

    PS: @Ankh, sorry for not responding to the e-mails you sent to write for BN...where are you sending them cuz Lord knows it might be an inbox I don't check regularly? LOL!

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  8. I was sad Wash died, but I wasn't offended by his death on a narrative level as far as Zoe's character arc is concerned. He does that crap to happy couples all the time all the time (Fred/Wesley, Willow/Tara, are two examples).

    But there are happy white females stars a-plenty in Hollywack. Them being in a couple or breaking up is no big deal, because they always portrayed as having a long line of suitors waiting to take the ex's place. Fuck up one couple and no one cares because there's plenty more where they came from.

    Black women, however, often shown as the long-suffering, silent, strong types with no personal life, no depth, and no personality. When we get a Zoe Washburne, you can't fuck with her marriage and such because when you do, there's not a whole lot to take its place.

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  9. I've just recently found the time to watch Firefly. While I really like Zoe Washburne, Gina Torres is always awesome, I could not help but notice the blatantly obvious Orientalism. The Orientalism in Firefly is just so wrong and it is surprising that this aspect is not discussed as widely as I thought it should.

    I did a quick search for articles on Orientalism in Firefly and came up with just a few.

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    Replies
    1. Oh, the fail....

      While Joss Whedon initially wrote in Asian main characters, "somehow" they ended up being portrayed by white people.

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    2. Damn, "somehow" indeed.

      I'm also side-eyeing, the whole China is a big power thing but they can't seem to differentiate between Chinese and other Asian cultures. Like if China is the power, why kimonos?

      Regardless, I'm enjoying the series.

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