Here’s the one thing that I don’t get about the push for diversity in geek media. The ‘diverse’ characters are almost always types, never people. It’s good to have more nonstereotypical POC and queer characters but not when their characterisation feels empty and uninteresting.
Maybe that’s how I feel about stuff like the Flash where while there are women and POC, they don’t stand out as much but in a manner that makes them suspect. Cisco and Caitlin are going to be villains anyways. Joe and Iris aren’t perfect but the former has yet to kick Barry out for wanting to flirt with his sister, which is a no-no in the West household and at work.
POC can’t always be perfect and it’s interesting to have evil POC set up to challenge the hero but based on what I know from the comics, characters similar to Cisco and Caitlin are either plot devices or wasted opportunities. Others like Wally West and Weather Wizard are practically cases when writers really don’t know what to do with them and make them really distinctive or interesting.
That’s right, the only thing writers can do with Wally is to make him black when there is already a black speedster in DC lore and that’s Jenni Ognats. I can take back about what I said about Cisco Ramon but the problem with tokens is that there is not much insight into their personalities and backgrounds. I could be wrong about Ramon again though one could say similar things about Nyota Uhura.
The problem with diversity in a lot of geek media is that it’s often patronising and lacking insight. The character has to be a type first before having any real personality. What’s worse is that they don’t really develop much as their own people. I think that’s the problem with Cisco, Iris and Joe at this point.
There is a black villainess in the Flash but with Cisco and Caitlin being made into villains one might wonder if they’re plot devices in that they’re not challenging Barry from the start the same way Peekaboo does.
You could say I have internalised racism when I root for white characters but that’s because they’re more interesting, relatable and better-developed than their POC counterparts are. Like the problem with female characters in fiction, the white characters are hardly ever depicted as plot devices or for shock value the same way their POC counterparts are. Cisco dies and comes back as a potential villain. Barry dies and comes back as a hero.
Replace Cisco with Manuel Lago and you’d see a similar development. I think Manuel’s more of a predecessor to Cisco than Paco Ramon is that is in relation to being a plot device to advance the Flash. Heck I think white musicians like David Bowie are way more interesting than he is and that is saying something about the writing.
Perhaps that also stems from the fact that I actually bother to look elsewhere to find POC representation. Sometime ago I had to look for African webcomics to look for any real black representation. I even found a Nigerian Yoruba webcomic on SmackJeeves. I forgot the name but it was pretty interesting despite the art and I found several more Swahili comics on Children’s Library for free.
I could spend an extended period of time not reading superhero comics to look for these characters. Perhaps that’s why I’m so disappointed with what’s going in superhero media and why I find it so patronising.