Ok this is my second blog post. Today we are discussing the Cartoon Network live action show Tower Prep. Why now? Since the season 1 is over and there is little chance of it being returned despite the fact of constant fans asking for it back. I’m going to examine why this show presents a poor representation of people of color.
Tower Prep is the story of Ian Archer, a teenager who has an ability known as Preflex, which allows him to see things before they happen. He has a tendency to get into trouble at school and one day, after a fight with a bully which sees him suspended, he finds himself in a mysterious preparatory school that no one knows the whereabouts of and is surrounded by many secrets such as the creatures that guard the schools off limits areas in the night. He befriends CJ Ward, Gabe Forrest, and Suki Sato. Together, they try to escape the school while also trying to discover the secrets of Tower Prep. (tvtropes)
On the surface the show is promising, but when I saw the first few episodes, I couldn’t watch it. All it was a 2-d Teen show, the characters are bland and forgettable and insert every “indie” rock song. Yeah, trying to reach out to teens with very bland music, good job Cartoon Network. In every episode it’s like looking at a typical 80s/90’s show. I understand that it’s suppose to be family friendly, but when the family friendly equals blandness. Ok let’s start with the characters then we get to the plot and why it makes me mad.
Then characters: I too lazy to say it my own words so I’ll it’s wiki for help.
Ian Archer: What can I say about him, he’s boring. I mean they put him as like a mighty whitey guy. Like the character is mostly a Mary Sue. He can fight, he’s a rebel and a good guy. Usually those traits are serving for the lancer or someone who is darker not a family friendly teen drama. My main problem he seems to be an insert to the target white male audience, like they are the Alpha race.
CJ Ward: Yes, along with a beautiful white male character comes a white female. Funny thing about teen shows, is that with the cute main character they always have a cute female counter-part and is hinted to be the love interest of the main character. This also bother me because it seems that the show want to have the boys googling the girl say that she is hot and insert themselves as getting the girl.
Suki Sato: Not much to say but she is a Typical Asian girl, family owns technology stuff. (Zaibatsu anyone?) She’s quiet and stays in the background so that they white people can have the spot light.
Gabe Forest: A Typical Geek who tries to fit in. You know that’s bad when you have to escape and some of your friends tries to fit in. Typical Geek in a teen Drama, nothing new and nothing more.
Issue of Race:
After I heard some good things from the show, mind you they are mostly dorky white kids who live in a monochrome suburbia. So I read the plot, then I looked at the main character that they are showcasing and most of them are white. So I bite like a fish and watched the show. Ok maybe it will be different than Heroes. So I watched it and it was just as bad. Like it focuses too much on the white male guy, and it was boring. The college indie rock that they play every freaking time didn’t help. So when I watched the pilot of the show it was crap, ok I forgive it. Later on when they are showing the other characters, Cal Rice, it was shown as a disrespectful, rude and a stereotypical black guy. So in the episode Buffer, for no apparent reason Cal decides to jump Ian, but is chased off by the gnomes (think the putty men in Power Rangers), so later on in the episode Cal treats Ian and calls him towel boy. It reminds me of the fact that the stereotype that black people are rude and cowards. And will jump at poor pretty white people only to be scared off. So later on in the show after Cal’s team wins, Ian being the good white boy wants to shake Cal’s hand, but he spits on it. So I should add that black people are nasty people according to the show. I stop watching the show after that but according to what I read that Cal has joined the bad guys. Yeah this show really hates black people.
I also forgot to add that cal has a crush on CJ, but CJ just brushed him off to the side. Also in the episodes he dances like in the Amos and Andy shows. I guess that the show takes it’s lesions form the black face actors.
Then at the second episode when Ian was framed for stealing, it ends up being the black roommate Howard. Before he was confronted, Howard was being used by Gabe whose powers were persuasion. He was using Howard like a slave. His excuse was that was that Gabe was paying too much attention to Ian. It sounds like a house Negro missing his master. So was he mentioned again no never. Later on the group rejoices that the fact that Ian has moved in with Gabe, after they pleaded with the faculty to drop the case. Yeah looks like the characters don’t care black people.
To what I’ve read according to its wiki that this normal black student wanted to leave Tower Prep. So He went to forest and got capture by a resistance group called the Broken, So later on he dresses up as monster to scare people. This is a lot of things wrong with this. Like to the creators have a problem with black people? They are thieves, cowards, disrespectful, and animals.
She is made as a secondary female lead to CJ. Now let’s examine this. Suki by herself is ok, but when she is with CJ, it makes CJ looks more attractive and more guys will look at her. Same thing will for Ian and Gabe, except when Ian takes off his shirt and show is Aryan body. In media the common stereotypes of Asians are that they are a model race according to white people, because they are going to react to racism cause by white people. Suki is shown the same way, she follows the group with no personality what so ever. Later when she does have the spotlight, it is something that we see every day in TV shows. Here’s the following of a typical episode featuring an Asian female character.
Asian female goes to a school or work that is westernized
Asian girl makes friends but she is quiet.
Asian girl’s family comes and tells to come home (what family wouldn’t)
White people fight off Asian family (Ian vs Shinji)
Asian tells family off, and says that their tradition values are outdated and wrong. (Suki saying that she don’t have a father)
Yeah, Asian people and their backwards ways.
Yeah, don’t expect to find and Arab or Hispanic in the show because in Teen drama or in SF/F drama they don’t exist. Unless it’s to elevate the white people, or for the WoC (women of color) as sex dolls
Females on powers
For along as I can remember, when women have powers, they are usually inferior to males. Like in X-men cartoon, Jean Grey can hold a pen without shouting “I can’t hold it.” How come when women have powers that they can’t control it and the males have to save them? When I watch anime and read manga that although the female are dressed in skimpy clothes that they held their own and even fought in par with males. I mean look at Bleach, Rukia, Yoruichi, Unohana and Rangiku can hold their own in a battle without the help of males. Even Rukia got mad at Ichigo when he wanted to protect her when they were invading Heuco Mundo
So that comes to mind when I watch the show. Like the females never have any good powers, it’s usually perception, mimicry and other sensitive powers. In one episode when the group was alone in the school. CJ decided to venture off, but Suki says that it would be unwise to leave because Ian knows Martial Arts. As would Paul Mooney would say about Tom Cruise being the Last Samurai. “Tom Cruise as the Last Samurai, give me a break.” It’s almost like they need a white guy to save the day.
Usually when people are discussing this, the answers are always this: “Well maybe it was the best actor they can find?”
That maybe true, but it’s the producers, directors and the writer’s job to find out how will the target audiences will perceive the show. I mean get people who are minorities and asked them how they fell about the characters on the show and how will they take it. Like how will a Black person take the show, how will the Hispanic person respond to the actors?”. These questions are very vital to understand true diversity.
Don’t just support a writer just because they are black, or other Ethnic group is just like yours. Support them because of diversity and the quality of the story. Maybe if you are good enough that you can write you own story and have people like. It don’t have to be the next X-men or Buffy, just be a good quality story.