There was a really cute, really well done tshirt at Can’t Stop the Serenity Portland this weekend and I wanted it, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it because they white-washed Inara.
It was a really cute, simplistic drawing of the crew. The faces were basically uncomplicated faces colored white- except Shepard and Zoe, whose faces were brown. Inara’s was white- what? The actress who plays Inara is brown. She’s Bazilian. Which means she is, most likely, a mixture of Black, Indigenous, and Portuguese (the actress is also Italian from her father). It’s not OK to whitewash her.
I don’t follow the actress much (Inara isn’t one of my favorites), so I don’t know how much she talks about it. But I do follow Gina Torres (Zoe) and she constantly talks about how she’s an Afro-Latina and people constantly ignore her Latina-ness for her more visible African roots. She also talks a lot about race and her castings. And I love that she does, because she’s a Latina- like me, and like Inara’s actress. And sadly, those two castings mean I have more people that I can relate to on the show than most non-white fans.
The Firefly/Serenity fandom has a lot of race issues, unfortunately many stemming from the source material in and of itself. For those who don’t know, the Firelfy ‘verse was colonized by a conglomeration of China and the United States of America. Yet there are no speaking/named Asian/Asian-American actors I can think of off the top of my head. They try to get around this- and television censors- by using Chinese at times, naming characters ambiguously Chinese and pan-Asian influenced names, along with embracing Buddhism- and pan-Asian decor. However, they did hire plenty of actors who played beloved characters, no matter how little screen time they had, with funny accents from Ireland, England, Russia, and more!
It’s so frustrating, especially because I love the work so much aside from this issue (and one fucked up line that I can’t believe anybody thought it was OK to put in).