Caught another episode of “Caprica” on TV last night. I’ve been haphazard about watching this series since the miniseries failed to capture my interest, and it’s still not really holding me. But there was nothing else on, so I watched. Note that I’ve missed a couple of eps of this series, so take all below with a grain of salt.
I’ve been intrigued by the construction of the various colonies’ people as races in this society. The show’s creators seem to be trying to do a better job of things since Battlestar Galactica’s early years, when their handling of colony/race led to some really hamhanded and problematic depictions, like the planet of the black fundies, as fellow author Naamen Tilahun calls Gemenon (sp?). Thus far it seems like Caprica’s trying to depict the Taurons as a combination of Mexicans, Aztecs, Jewish people, Arabs, and Italians, maybe with a smidge of Japanese. (Too many, I wonder? An effort to avoid essentializing, certainly, but I’m not sure the mishmash technique is working. I don’t see any other race being given the same distinctive set of traditions, etc. — not even the Capricans, who are supposed to have a “20th century American” culture, I know. But that’s incomplete; where are the Graystones’ religious rituals? Have we seen Caprica City celebrate any holidays? What does their organized crime look like? The result of the Tauron mishmash is that they’re becoming a kind of generic “ethnic people”, while the Capricans are increasingly looking “non-ethnic” rather than “ethnic in a different way”. This falls into common misconceptions that only PoC have a race, and white people are somehow raceless.)
Anyway, in last night’s ep, Joseph dragged his son William — who later becomes Admiral Adama of the BSG series — out fishing with him, and they settled near a large group of teenagers who catcalled racial slurs at them. I found myself perplexed by this whole scene. First off, I’m not much of a fisher, but doesn’t it help to do it in a quiet place, away from a rowdy group whose noise might scare off the fish? But that aside, Joseph stayed near this group, even though there was only him and his son there, and tried to tell William to just ignore the taunts.
This made no sense. Seriously.
OK, Basic Common Sense 101: when you are not part of a big enough group to defend yourself, and/or you do not have weapons and/or you do not know if they have weapons, you do not stay near a large and rowdy and drunken group of teenagers who’ve taken a hate-shine to you for whatever reason. That’s just effing stupid. But then there’s the whole matter of Basic PoC Racial Common Sense 101. A good parent of color (repurposing “PoC” here) teaches his/her child how to deal with racists. You can just ignore them, yes, in certain situations. Given the numbers problem, it would have made far more sense for Joseph and William to simply leave. But since they were going to stay? You do not simply let a group of people like that work up a head of steam. They’ll eventually get drunk enough, aggressive enough, hateful enough, whatever, to attack. The only logical thing to do is head that off at the pass, and show aggression first. That way, if there has to be a fight, it happens on your terms and at a time of your choosing, and will (hopefully) go in your favor.
William chose to do this. His uncle Sam has been teaching him how to survive as a Tauron in the racist Caprican society, so fortunately William has learned the correct coping mechanisms for this situation: he kicked the racist’s ass. Joseph’s strategy would have gotten them beaten or killed, IMO.
I was glad to see that the correct strategy was modeled, and even more glad to see that Joseph finally decided to resort to Tauron methods of dealing with his son, since it seems clear that the kid is going through an immersion/emersion experience. I’m impressed by the show’s handling of this. I’m also impressed by the fact that Joseph’s turn to Tauron culture wasn’t depicted as a failing on his part — i.e., if he would just work harder at being a good Caprican, he’ll eventually be accepted, and his son too! His son’s Tauron traits are a bad thing that must be stopped! Instead, the ritual was beautifully handled, and clearly meant to be a good thing. Still, I wonder if there will be any further analysis of the situation, and the fact that Joseph’s constant attempts to assimilate are likely to hurt him and his son if he keeps it up.
I’m also wondering how, or if, they’re going to explain how this brown-eyed child version of William is going to grow up to be the blue-eyed adult Adama. Maybe they forgot that little detail.
Anyway, just thinking out loud.