One of the great things I’ve come to enjoy about being an Evil Regal woman of color is how that has allowed me a new prism through which to view the stories I’m being told on a daily basis. My infatuation with Lana Parrilla aside, it’s given me a great way to practice de-centering Whiteness in narrative media. Ever since I first asked, “What if Regina/The Evil Queen from Once Upon a Time isn’t White?” I’ve gotten a lot better at doing this. I’ve started picking up patterns and questioning the narrative that they’re trying to feed me.
For instance, on my Tumblr (amidst the Evil Regal fangirling), I noticed a pattern in quite a few TV shows where a blonde-haired, blue-eyed Nordic heroine is pitted against a villainess who can best be described as swarthy. It’s particularly fascinating to me how often we code good versus evil this way, particularly with women characters. What sorts of messages are we reinforcing with that? How does allowing the dark/evil/Other be the center of their own story (as opposed to who we’re “supposed” to identify as the hero/protagonist) change those messages?
As a case study, let me draw your attention to an Episode 12 of this show called Chase. Chase is pretty much your standard investigating then chasing down bad guys drama. Because I hate it when a post that’s meant to analyze a show just gives you a recap instead of analysis, I trust you to Google a synopsis yourself. Let me tell you two things about this episode that I found very intriguing.
- We’re supposed to view law enforcement as the good guys and the criminals as the bad guys.
- This view shifts drastically when you fast-forward through the cop-oriented parts and watch the parts that focus on the criminals,
We’re supposed to root for the cops to find and capture this Really Really Bad Lady. We’re supposed to see them upholding law and order for the greater good. We’re supposed to cheer them on as they do everything in their power to take down this drug cartel. And we’re supposed to blame Pablo for what happens to his family.
But if we focus on Isabella Cordova, we get a different story. We see a fierce, resourceful woman who is trying to save her family from being torn apart. We see her conflict not with justice, but with government lackeys who could care less what happens to her or her family. We see a woman sacrifice her own freedom to save those she loves. And, in the end, we see that resourcefulness, loyalty, and sacrifice come to nothing.
For a White person, this outcome may be unfortunate, even tragic. To a person of color, it is a potent reminder of who truly has the power.
What about you? What are some narrative media that you can subvert by shifting the central POV?