|Fénix (spacelogic) wrote in heroes_tv,|
@ 2007-07-12 21:58:00
|Current music:||Arlo Guthrie -- Gabriel's Mother's Hiway Ballad #16 Blues|
Heroes as a force for good
It saddens me that this entire site is so quiet, so I am going to post a long discussion of Heroes as a means of conveying values I consider to be positive.
When I first heard about Heroes, it was because George Takei had been cast in it. I run a fansite, as I've said, and I keep tabs on what he's doing in case it's worth posting about. So I read a bit about the show, specifically Hiro's fannishness and his dad's character (spoiled some parts for me, actually.) I didn't really take much interest because I don't have a TV and can't watch his guest appearances.
The second time, I think, was when Fandom_Wank over on JF covered the apparent controversy of Zach's sexual orientation (the character, not the actor.) I recall being amused; that's kind of all.
The third time was when AfterElton.com covered the lesbian cheerleader allegedly planned for season 2 and at that point I was vaguely interested because between the icons I kept seeing around and the updates I kept getting about George Takei, I was getting an idea that it was possibly a somewhat geekily cool show.
Then I found out that the show's online and watched season 1 in about a week. A lot of it scared me witless (I'm easily freaked out) and I didn't like many of the characters at first, but I kept at it because I needed to know what happened and I liked Hiro and Ando. Then at some point I stopped minding being freaked out (still freaked out, just didn't dislike the sensation so much) and started to appreciate the writing, the direction, even the characters I hadn't liked at first. Then I got hooked, and here I am.
Yesterday, having finished my summer Spanish class (I'm a college student, incidentally, not a failing highschooler) I decided to celebrate by re-watching some Heroes, and asked my sister what she thought I should watch again. I thoroughly spoiled things for her, so she knew most of what happened, and actually watched bits with me (Hiro and Ando, and one bit of violence against her least favorite character) but was too freaked out by the blood to want to watch the thing, so I was really surprised when she asked me if I'd start from where she left off and go through it with her. I agreed, naturally, with a bit of fist-pumping over my success at converting her (she's on episode 7 now and appears to be really enjoying it) and sat down to watch, and it really hit me for the first time: Heroes is like a modern Star Trek.
Okay, for people who aren't Trekkies, Star Trek was a groundbreaker. It had television's first African-American woman in a non-stereotypical role (later the first African-American woman to put her handprint on the Hollywood walk of fame,) television's first interracial kiss, a Russian during the Cold War who was just treated as a person, and an Asian-American during the Vietnam war who was, yes, just a person. It used allegory to talk about the problems facing the US and the world at that time -- from racism to war to overpopulation -- and did so pretty effectively. Now, I'm not saying Heroes is quite so revolutionary -- with TV being what it is now, it would be hard to be -- but it's got one very major thing in common with the original Trek: it attacks stereotypes and cultural norms. I will list examples, cut to avoid spoiling anything for anyone who's not watched all of the show.
Example 1: Niki
Niki's one of the ones I didn't like at first, but she's grown on me a lot. How is she an anti-stereotype? She poses in a sexual manner and on one occasion has sex for money. Usually, women who have sex or behave provocatively are viewed negatively (often somewhat hypocritically,) branded as "sluts," and viewed as generally immoral. However, Niki is portrayed matter-of-factly as a desperate person doing what she has to do, and nobody except the Linderman lot judge her negatively. It's worth noting that Simone, having two almost-simultaneous boyfriends, is not judged either -- there's tension there, but she's not treated as a villain or a lowlife for it.
Example 2: D. L.
I liked D. L. almost from the beginning. At first, I expected a gangster out of society's nightmares, a drug-dealing, violent man with no moral code, but D. L. shattered that expectation within moments. D. L.'s dedication to his wife and son and the way he handles them is not only unlike the stereotypical African-American man, it's unlike the stereotypical anything man. He's an upright, generous, self-sacrificing person, and a very positive image to counter all the negativity that's so common in American entertainment.
Example 3: The "Claire almost gets raped" sub-plot
Big cultural issue, this, really. The way rape victims are treated in our society -- well, let's say that in my region, a man was convicted of rape recently and I was surprised because it was only obvious, not witnessed or evidenced by DNA or anything, and because the woman was involved with the man. There's a common notion that rape victims, on some level, deserve what happens to them, or that they should have been able to fight off the rapists, or that they're likely to be lying -- I won't psychoanalyze why, just that this exists. With Claire we see something different -- she's obviously not at fault and there's no justifying it. We also see the common defenses used by rapists trotted out as Brody defends himself in the car -- his victims are sluts, she was coming on to him and he couldn't control himself -- and we see the hollowness of them.
Example 4: The Parkmans' marriage and other relationships
Standard, accepted solution for a broken marriage? Divorce. Heroes solution? Telepathy. Seriously, though, I find it wonderful that in the Heroes universe, the broken families heal, not through magic or Disney cliches, but through the characters working to fix them. The Parkmans, going from fighting like cats to having a tense relationship that kind of functions to having a basically functional one; Claire dealing with the issues surrounding her adoption, from finding her "real" parents through to actually finding her real parents (the Bennets); the Sanders-Hawkins family, pulling together in spite of Jessica's nature and everything else that got thrown at them -- it's really refreshing and delightful. The one relationship that doesn't work like this that I can think of (ignoring Sylar) is the Nakamura family, and I have a good feeling about that one.
Example 5: Zach
Hooray for non-stereotypical gay guys, even if I like the stereotypical type, shame his reps decided to be jerks about it. I expect that if they really are doing the lesbian cheerleader thing, she'll be equally non-stereotypical.
Did I miss anything major?
P. S. Thought this might be appreciated here: I was looking at the Heroes Wiki and came across the article and theories about... waffles. I kind of love this fandom right now.