Sometimes talking about diversity in media seems like a really bad game of “spot the minority.” Countless TV shows and movies have had just one visible person of color in their casts, if at all, and we’ve currently reached the point where a number of movies have one white woman and one Black manand are content to call that “diversity.” Whatever little progress we’ve made, it’s become clear that even if we include people of color in our stories, we’re still not dedicating ourselves to telling their stories.
If there’s a token minority in a story, it used to be that they were the villain or helpful sidekick; nowadays it’s more likely that they are the leaders of the group. At first glance, that sounds like a good thing—showing that people of color can be competent in places of authority can only be good, right? Maybe so, but we inevitably see a large number of Black leaders, not Asian or Middle Eastern or Latinx leaders, and, again inevitably, these Black leaders are often the only Black characters or characters of color in the story at all. This phenomenon ties into a number of tropes and poor writing choices that highlight the insidious problem of having your single solitary Black man or woman be the boss or leader for your ultimately white protagonists.
Fathers have a long and storied history in our media. Unlike mothers, who are only sometimes around in our hero’s stories, fathers are usually the rock of the family and play a large part in our protagonist’s character development. At least, that’s true if the protagonist is a guy. If the protagonist is a girl, however, fathers exist more often to protect their daughters than to raise them, giving rise to omnipresent tropes like the Overprotective Dad and the Papa Wolf. As Taken’s Liam Neeson says, if you hurt his daughter, he will look for you, find you, and kill you.
So, last fall, I went to see Pacific Rim. Several times, in fact. My continued fannish ranting about the film was probably what led Saika to buy me the Pacific Rim prequel comic for my birthday. I knew the comic was written by Travis Beacham, the co-writer of the Pacific Rim screenplay, so whatever was in the comic could practically be considered canon. I was beyond excited.
My reaction to my present.
Spoilers for both Pacific Rim and Pacific Rim: Tales From Year Zero after the jump.
Character names have the potential to say a lot about that character. Names have power, and authors go to a lot of trouble to make sure that their characters’ names fit the people bearing them. It can be as simple as the etymology—for example, Malfoy comes from the French ‘mal foi’, or ‘bad faith’, and ‘vol de mort’ in French quite literally means ‘flight from death‘. Sometimes authors draw inspiration for their characters’ names from religious sources, but doing so is a tricky business. When employing religiously-inspired character names, it’s important that they are not used in a way that’s insulting to the original religion’s tradition.
[contains some spoilers for Teen Wolf 3A finale and Pacific Rim]
Thursday night we hit the drive-in to celebrate my roommate’s birthday, grabbing a double-feature of Pacific Rim and Man of Steel. I’d already seen the latter, but it wasn’t exactly a hardship to watch it a second time. Mostly I was just really, really excited to see Pacific Rim, which I’ve been looking forward to for months.
As you might know, Pacific Rim is that rarest of creatures: a science fiction film not based on any existing source material, written and directed by a person of color and starring several actors of color in its main roles. It looked to be a smart, exciting, kaiju-smashing epic, which was really just an added bonus, because I’d have paid good money just to watch Idris Elba dramatically read a phone book.
Thankfully, and unsurprisingly, it was just as good as I hoped it would be.