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March 15 2017

Kal Penn praises Buffy/Angel writers for not engaging in racially stereotypical writing. In going through old audition scripts and sides Kal Penn identifies so many television shows used stereotypes of Indians to guide their writing sensibilities. He singles out the Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel writers for not engaging in such practices in their writing.

BtVS writers did not engage in racially stereotypical writing...

...eh, except, you know, for their totally stereotypical portrayal of Roma people, what with the infamous "Gypsy curse".

Joss has said that he likes the classics and "Danish curse" just wouldn't cut it. I disagree. Angel being cursed with Danish Curse would have been awesome.

Kendra's terrible accent?

BtVS writers did not engage in racially stereotypical writing because for the most part they did not engage in racially diverse characters.

I like to think that even Joss himself would acknowledge that race is problematic in Buffy and Angel (and especially in Firefly-- where at least half the cast should be Asian, given the show's premise). It was the '90s/early '00s, so some allowances should be made, but hindsight is a b*tch.

Of the relatively few black characters on Buffy/Angel, how many of them actually stuck around? Kendra, Mr. Trick, Mr. Platt (guidance counselor), Forrest... all killed off fairly soon after being introduced. Robin Wood was a good addition to BtVS, but he came along so late in the series (Rona was... whatever). Oh, and I guess points for Sineya the First Slayer. Gunn's characterization became more nuanced as ANGEL went along, but his portrayal is complicated as well.

Not much racial representation otherwise. I guess that's one way to avoid stereotyping... though certainly not ideal.

I remember Mr. Trick commenting in his first episode that Sunnydale was an especially white town. I really liked him. I was pretty upset that he was killed off so quickly.

I wouldnt change a single actor on Buffy and Angel. Race be damned.

@eddy: Not even Marc Blucas?

I mean, it's easy to say every actor is perfect when they're the only ones we know in our heads. I'm sure plenty of different actors would have been perfect in our heads too if we associated them with the roles.

Actually, Joss did mention his lack of racial diversity in this Hollywood Reporter interview.

He admits he didn't get it right at the time. I'd like to think he's become more "woke" now with all the conversations we have on social media about intersectional feminism.

[ edited by electricspacegirl on 2017-03-17 06:12 ]

It's been said (this was a big thing when MArk Watches did *Angel*,) that the character he played who sent that curse against Cordelia was a racial stereotype. Personally, I doubt that character was actually human.

A non-human character can still be a racial stereotype, if they borrow the characteristics. After all, stories are still written by and for humans (at least, all the ones we know about).

Actually, I read a paper somewhere that noted that Sineya is an offensive character to some (a "savage") who does not even have the agency of her own voice, having to use Tara to speak for her. {I am moving, all papers are boxed, but I am pretty sure it was in Slayage, but not 100% sure).

The cast was not especially diverse, and many of the POC were on the side of evil. There were few Hispanic characters, even though that part of CA has a higher percentage than, say, mid-America. But I think Joss realized this, as noted above, and toward the end of the show began to address this.


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