Awhile back, I tossed in a little meta on being a brown fan during my Heroes fangirling for the week. And now I find myself expanding on it, and applying it to the rest of my fandoms. I started in Roswell, a show that - barring its plotpoint use of Native Americans in the first season - was as across-the-board white bread as they come. The biggest culprit on my list is Dark Angel, for both Herbal Thought, the island brother who constantly drops virtually unintelligible "knowledge" on his unenlightened white cohorts, and Original Cindy, who did double duty as the black lesbian fluent in futuristic ebonics (or is that triple?). These days, especially in light of the rise of huge ensemble shows, it still amazes me how little color there is in mainstream, popular shows. Or anything in the "minority" vein, really - we still live in Tokenland, where there's a dash of pepper in the salt to fill some twisted PC quota.
The thing to do now, of course, is to toss it in without a fuss - every time I see a new interracial couple pop up on Grey's Anatomy, it's both amusing and frustrating, which I don't think is the reaction they're going for. As things stand now, it positively screams Look how progressive we are!... and while part of me appreciates the gesture, another part just wants to say Shame on you, Shonda, for making it look so easy.
That part of me, I think, wants to see the struggle, even if it's a throwaway. Don't dwell, don't harp, but don't ignore it, either. Dressing it up in a pretty "equality" bow and sweeping it under the rug doesn't make me any less aware that, of the twelve people in Battlestar Galactica's credited cast, and even more on Lost, I can count the people of color on one hand. Watching Burke and Christina or Zoe and Wash act out the throes of domestic bliss doesn't make it any better for me, a one-woman melting pot in a multi-racial relationship. And seeing two or three long-haired, fair-skinned women tossed onscreen to inject a little ethnic flair doesn't make it any easier to be one within a community that often measures your worth in shades.
Stop adding color for the sake of color, figuratively and literally. If the difference is that marked, if the ratio is that dramatic, then tell me why. Make it relevant. Make it matter. Give me Suzanne Brockmann's defiant Lindsay Fontaine, privilege-aware Sam Starrett, race-and-ovary-sensitive Alyssa Locke, or unapologetic Jules Cassidy. Give me Everwood's Edna and Irv. Hell, I'll take Greg House's bust a cap in my ass jokes any day. At least then, when I'm watching and fangirling and playing "count the brown people", I'm not reminded at every turn that it's all just make believe. Fandom is escapism by definition, but I can't suspend reality, not when counting the brown folks still relies so heavily on an accompanying game of "count the stereotypes."
Honestly, I get sick of being a minority in fandom (and we're damn near a card-carrying club of merely three in our large Roswell circle - the Filipina, the bisexual guy and the mutt). I get tired of loving a character like Gunn and wondering if part of that is just on an "I can relate" level. And, bottom line: I don't want to have to watch crappy TV to see strong, realistic characters who look like me, and know it.