What Fandom Racism Looks Like: James Olsen is Pete Ross 2.0

I’ve talked a ton about what fandom spaces look like when Black woman steps into a racebent role, but not about what happens to Black men who play racebent roles in the same franchises.

If you think that things are any easier for Black men in fandom well…

You’ve thought wrong.

This installment of What Fandom Racism Looks Like will look at how the racism behind how the Smallville fandom treated Pete Ross – played by Sam Jones III – and how, over a decade later, the Supergirl fandom pulls from the same playbook in order to excuse heaping a ton of racism on James Olsen and the black actor that plays him, Mehcad Brooks.

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Talk About A Super Let-Down in Supergirl Season 2

A Super Let-Down in Season 2

It’s not like Supergirl started as a really good example of diverse representation.

Sure, its first season was female-focused and had some great moments focusing on Kara’s relationships with other women, but they’re basically all white women. From the titular character on down, the women of Supergirl are almost all thin, conventionally attractive, straight, and white[1] women of a certain age.

Black characters James Olsen and J’onn  J’onnz didn’t get the development that wanted them to have and both characters’ respective arcs weren’t as satisfying as you’d expect considering that James was basically the male lead for season one and J’onn is one of Kara’s father figures.

And, in the first season, there were no other recurring characters of color of any gender, no queer characters “on the page”, and no disabled characters showing up on a recurring basis.

So, I mean… I wasn’t exactly expecting the second season to do better.

Especially not once it was set to move to The CW.
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Finally — It’s Supergirl

By now, everyone who’s anyone has probably seen CBS’s first look at their Supergirl series. I just watched it today and promptly fell in love.

CBS’s Supergirl was kind of a given in terms of things that I’d like. I grew up with Smallville as the one show that I watched and kept watching through ups and downs and really weird storylines. Smallville was my go-to  for superhero shows because I loved the show and Clark and the powerful ladies that shaped him.

So of course I’m excited for a Supergirl series!Read More »