Representation in media: Tower Prep

This is my first post so please take care of me. I always wanted to post here on this blog. Thanks to Neo-Prodigy, and RVBard. I’ll do my best to mind myself and honor those who are my senior.

Today we are discussing the Cartoon Network live action show Tower Prep. Why now? Since the season 1 is long 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.

PLOT

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 white 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’m too lazy to say it my own words so I’ll use 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

Cal Rice

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 from 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 mistreats 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. Also By the way he acts and his willingness to join the gnomes sounds like a house nergo.

(see black brute stereotype:  http://abagond.wordpress.com/2008/04/23/the-black-brute-stereotype )

Howard

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.

Redfang

To what I’ve read according to its wiki that this normal black student wanted to leave Tower Prep. So he went to the forest and got captured 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.

Suki Sato

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. If you see the two together, the target audience will say “CJ is cute”, if CJ is alone guys will say “Oh she’s average”. I think the movie Hall Pass mention something about that. Same thing will for Ian and Gabe, except when Ian takes off his shirt and shows his Aryan body. In media the common stereotypes of Asians are that they are a model race according to white people, because they are not going to react to racism caused 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.

  1. Asian female goes to a school or work that is westernized
  2. Asian girl makes friends but she is quiet.
  3. Asian girl’s family comes and tells to come home (what family wouldn’t)
  4. White people fight off Asian family and win despite the fact of the said Asian group (Ian vs Shinji, again with the Mighty Whitey)
  5. Asian tells family off, and says that their tradition values are outdated and wrong. (Suki saying that she doesn’t have a father)

Yeah, Asian people and their backwards ways.

Yeah, don’t expect to find an Arab or Latino on 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 for the white male.

FEMALES ON POWERS

For as long as I can remember, when women have powers, they are usually inferior to males. Like in the X-men cartoon, Jean Grey can’t 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.

REMEDIES

Hollywood part

Usually when people are discussing this, the answers are always this: “Well maybe it was the best actor they can find?”

That may be true, but it’s the producers’, directors’ and the writers’ job to find out how the target audiences will perceive the show. I mean get people who are minorities and ask them how they feel 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.

Your Part

If you find that you are unconformable about a show, you have the right to talk and blog about. Trust me people do it all the time. Or go to here. Don’t just support a writer just because they are their ethnic group or that have the same traits like yours. Support them because of diversity and the quality of the story.  Maybe if you are good, you can write you own story and have people like really like it. It don’t have to be the next X-men or Buffy, just be a good quality story.

More info on Tower Prep
Tower Prep Wiki: towerprep.wikia.com/wiki/Tower_Prep_Wiki

Soon I’ll try to see about I Am Number Four and Push and why they fail. I hope I can stomach it.

23 thoughts on “Representation in media: Tower Prep

  1. Good analysis, jarronnelums! Sounds like a dreadful mess. I’m not even sure that showing the show to a mixed-race focus group (as in, some whites, some POC) would help, because the presence of the Whiteness is going to make it much, much harder for the POC to speak out and be heard about what’s going on – knowing that some, at least, of the white folk in the room are going to pull off a quick bingo in a few sentences if they (the POC) say anything about the racism. They need to do focus groups where there aren’t anybody but POC in attendance, including show staff. Which, duh, means they need to get off their racist asses and HIRE some POC to work on the show, not just as actors, but as production crew, post-production, everywhere in the show, so they can put together a group who can attend the focus group for the show, and hear what won’t be said when whites are around.

    Good post, thanks! Looking forward to more.

    • Well that the thing about getting POC, sometimes you have POC who don’t give a darn. Like just shift a couple of dollars around and people will say positive things about the show. Also there are POC working in the crew, they just trying to get past the day without a fuss. White people count on that from POC.

      Also on focus groups: They only chose target audiences not people who’s going to say its bad. And you wonder who the target audiences are?

      White, straight, young men.

      But I’m going to do another piece called “Pretty White people”

  2. Wow, despite the heavy advertising the show got I skipped because it felt typical, along with being rather monochrome. Turns out to be wors than I thought.

    Haven’t heard much else about it ever again since last year. I’m kinda hopin that’s a good thing.

    • Well that’s the thing about shows aimed at young kids. They teach kids at an early age stereotypes. That’s why the following is next on my list:
      I’m number four
      Push
      Jumper.
      first two volume of the Runaways

      But if you notice that like the comics and other media..the writers don’t look outside their own field. The main character piss me off, because he looks like a model Aryan

      • *cringes at those three movies*

        Don’t hurt yourself over those, better some short movies than say the whole Rosewell series. >.>

        For me, it’s a shame with Runaways. It hit off with me nicely then I became half-hearted with it. Are you referring to the normal sized, half-a-dozen issues volumes or the much larger tomes?

  3. Tower Prep was brilliant. The script was thought provoking. The characters were well cast. The production quality was amazing. Cinematography was engaging. There is so much pabulum on TV directed to teens I found this show very refreshing. To focus on color is ridiculous. The PC revolution is always so one sided and quite frankly has no bearing on the story line. Thank God you don’t work for the studio! The only problem I had with this program was that it was on the wrong network. If it had been on ABC family or Syfy it would have been picked up for a second and third season.

    MOD NOTE: This is an example of a lack of home training. Since this respondent cannot be bothered to read, I’ll copy and paste the relevant text below for future readers who think this behavior is OK (hint: it’s not).

    In case you come here somehow thinking that everybody’s opinion is welcome and valid here, allow me to disabuse you of some erroneous assumptions you may bring. This is not a democracy. This is not the place for anybody and everybody to say whatever inane, asinine bullshit they can come up with and expect to be taken seriously. I’ve made it really fucking clear what this space is about and who it’s for. If what you bring here detracts from that, I’m not engaging with it. Period. End of discussion.

    If you’re going to comment here, it would be in your best interest to get an idea about what the fuck is going here and act like you got some home training before you decide to show your ignorant ass. If you’re lucky, I simply won’t publish your comment. If you’re not so lucky, I will publish your comment and entertain myself with by watching the replies you get.

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    • 1) Shockingly, marginalised people exist. This is not “PC” this is reality. POC exist. GBLT people exist. Disabled people exist. Poor people exist, women exist.

      2) Not only do marginalised people exist, but they’re also people. With all the myriad wonders and horrors that means. They’re diverse, they’re complex, they’re full and deep characters.

      3) And their stories arer worth telling. They lead lives worth hearing about. They can be the hero, they can be the protagonist, they can be a part of things – of everything, of society, of the world, of every story worth telling

      None of this is “PC” (a much maligned term for common politeness). This is reality, much as privilege would prefer it not to be the case. And yes, it is very one sided – because the forces of privilege are dominant, just as they always have been. Which is why the vast majority of all the media we consumed – including marginalised folks – deny those 3 basic elements of reality

      Every erased cast, every stereotyped role, every time the marginalised are tokens or side-kicks or comic relief or villains only – that reality is being denied. It is not a PC revolution to protest that, it’s demanding that reality – that we – be acknowledged as existing, as having worth as being people.

        • And every time they write something full of race- and gender-fail, it flops, and then they have another opportunity to trot out the “movies with main characters of [insert marginalized identity here] don’t sell” excuse.

          • you know what, awhile ago there was a game called true crime, it was said that the main character was suppose to be female, Later on, activision told the team to “ditch the girl.”. So they went to a male character. Then much later on, the game was canceled.

            I would like to see a movie or show that has a POC character without throwing him under the bus

  4. I admit, I didn’t really think much when you said that the show was racist and sexist. My bad and I apologize for it.

    Reading this….wow this is just bad…

    It also reminds me of why I don’t watch Community. You got great a main cast in I don’t know everyone but Jeff and his two white girl friend’s who magically can’t resist his lady killer charms and Pierce.

    I would watch the show if we got more Abed and Troy but the focus is mainly on Jeff, Pierce and the two girls who weren’t very interesting so I ended up tuning out of the show despite it having characters I normally like.

  5. I think this is way over thinking it, it`s a show for kids, if your going to say this show is racist we might as well add ICarly, Victorious, Drake and Josh, Big Time Rush,Power Rangers, Pretty Little Lairs, The Middle, Modern Family,The PowerPuff Girls, Pokemon, Hannah Montana, Wizards of Waverly Place, Spongebob (the only two humans on the show are white.) I could go on but i wont because I think you get the point the problem isnt this show it`s what works and what makes them money, thats all they really care about and all children show can pretty much be considere racist because it works for them and makes them money. If you dont like it stop watching it and they start to notices that what there doing isnt making money so they will change it but for now there getting people to watch so there not going to change because there making money.

    • To tell you the truth I didn’t watch it on cable fortunately. I’m not going to give people my ratings, Also you are right, it’s what makes money. But let’s say this. You’re investing in stock, you are not going to invest in one stock. You need to invest in others. Same goes with media. You can cater to white people just because you think it works. If it did then the show would of had a second season already, Right?

      Also with the shows you listed, Power Rangers tried, I remember seeing the show with a multi-racial cast. Although I make jokes about the colors. Also Pokemon is Japanese.

      But if the producers want to have more money they need to have a good quality show with out stepping on other race of people. Hollywood need to think smart instead of dollar bills. Because not every on Earth is white.

    • The economics argument. We’ve already debunked that nonsense on many a day. You may want to go back and actually check the archives.

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