RARA-AVIS: sidekicks

From: Carrie Pruett ( pruettc@hotmail.com)
Date: 16 Nov 2001

Carrie Pruett wrote:

>>Here's my thing - if the minority sidekick is automatically offensive than
>it seems your alternatives are (1) never have a white male hero or (2) have
>a white male hero with only white friends so that there's no risk of one
>coming off as superior.

Kerry wrote:
>I thought I gave a couple of examples of better alternatives.

you didn't say the minority sidekick was automatically offensive, either, I was just trying to play devil's advocate, perhaps not very well.

>>Well, they don't "have to be" that way, but they are. You can't >fault a
>story for all the "better" alternatives it rejected.

>Uh, why not? That's what you did above.

No, I praised a story for all the worse alternatives it rejected. Or something like that. :) I suppose I could admit, though, that that's slicing the distinction a little thin (or as my brother says when I get on these kicks: "Holy Hair-splitting, Batman, here comes the Quibbler.") Anyway, while it would certainly be less stereotypical to have a black psychologist girlfriend and a streetwise Jewish sidekick, I don't think that means any story with a Jewish psychologist and a streetwise black man is irredeemably stereotypical by comparison. Not that I necessarily think that was what you were saying but. . . oh boy, starting over:

from my limited exposure to the series, I find Hawk to be smarter and more articulate than the pure "stereotype" view would suggest, and Susan, while somewhat annoying in herself, a progressive portrayal for the mid-70s. I'd even suggest that Parker was actually trying to promote racial/ethnic/religous/gender harmony by giving his tough Irish PI important relationships with a professional Jewish woman and a black man. I can't imagine Marlowe involved with either; not calling him racist or anti-Semitic, but basically a loner, certainly not closely tied to anyone classed as "other." So in that sense, Parker was relatively progressive, even if the portrayals seem dated now (perhaps explaining the compulsory injection of the disabled lesbian Martian Spenser will no doubt encounter in the next couple books. . .)


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