(another email from pastabagel, this time about the 12.1M viewer opener for Marvel’s Agents of Shield.)
Disney owns ABC, so I like the cross-platform brand synergy.
I like this picture of the cast. I didn’t see the show, but this is what I know. Sunglass Dad runs everything. The show is about the girls and their challenges. The guys work tech and weapons.
First, you have the grown up white man, who like in real life, runs everything, handles everything, manages everyone’s bullshit, but does it all from the background. That’s why he’s in sunglasses. He’s basically invisible. He’s there, front and center, handling everything, so you can relax and enjoy the eye candy.
Right after the older white businessman, you have the three women. Notice that they are standing in front of the guys. And here is where Disney puts its stamp on the show. All the ethnic diversity is in the women. Because Disney put this on ABC, it means that this is a show for suburban and rural America. In the minds of that demo (i.e. white guys), multiracial women constitute “flava”. Non-threatening, exotic. A bit of variety for the white males with low-definition calves and cargo shorts who are watching the show. Let’s see what’s on offer for them here. Working left to right, we have the sexy and physically agile ingenue. But don’t let the blonde highlights fool you, this firecracker has a pinch of “la raza” in her, to let you know that she’s two mojitos away from being a wild child. She’s on the edge of the group, tough to control and free-spirited.
Next up is the female version of Matt Smith’s incarnation of Doctor Who. Definitely brainy, probably sciency, a bit reserved (notice the crossed legs), but with a sharp wit and a highly developed moral compass. I’m sure she’ll get a chance in the series to refuse Sunglass Dad’s orders by telling him, “It’s wrong and you know it!”
On the right, we have the Asian girl. Disney never knows how to handle Asians. As a demo they are very educated and have a lot of money and love going to Disneyworld, so Disney would naturally like to empty their pockets like everyone else’s. But the culture is different enough from the fairy tales Disney endlessly recycles that they don’t know how to sell into them when they grow up. So Disney here is running with the default Asian badass minx that white guys are comfortable with (See Tarantino, Die Hard 4, etc.). She’s all in black, buttoned up, belt cinched tight, with really long sleeves with thumb holes cut out of them. No doubt a disciplined martial artist. I guess they figured black gloves would have been too cliche. She looks exactly like white America sees Asians: disciplined, cold, motivated, aloof, and colorless, and hot. Does she play the piano? Your goddamn right she does. And the violin, too.
Now for the guys. What a mess. One guy is in a skinny tie like he’s the British Invasion and the other guy is Dead Poet’s Society. The guys are just drones in this show, endlessly circulating around the females hoping for a singular opportunity to mate with them and then die. All of the men in this photo are wearing ties, which conveys a managerial or executive look which makes sense, because everyone knows as they grow up they’ll inherit management from Sunglass Dad. They are fashion conscious now (skinny tie, jeans and sneakers) but as they grow up, they just move laterally into the suit. These guys probably do a lot of the tech heavy work for SHIELD, heavy weapons, demo, etc. You know, the kind of stuff where the boss is comfortable saying to them “just make it happen” and he knows it gets done. That frees him up to support the girls emotionally along their journey as they look for love and husbands in a world of power-mad men who don’t know that the only way to forward is together, and with “flava.”
The guys look identical. I notice this a lot in these fantasy and adventure shows. The males are cast with actors who almost look identical. It’s because they don’t really matter. The women are the stars here. The two guys’ hairstyles are identical non-descript mushes of off-black on top of eggheads. The guy standing behind Lady Doctor Who is probably named “Colin” or “Grant” or something. The guy on the right is named “Hey you.” I’d say one of them was British if I didn’t think SHIELD was all Americans.
This is Disney’s superhero alliance. Disney Americans defending Disney’s America. I’d like to know how many episodes in before we encounter our first villain of African-American descent.
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