sparrowing: Zuko and Mai sitting under a sun-umbrella, ella, ella eh eh. (Default)
[personal profile] sparrowing
Well, mostly. Sort of. Kinda. More on that later in the post, but first to say that this is the most authentic-looking fictional small town in Oregon we've seen yet. By we I mean myself, [ profile] fadedrunes, and [ profile] rainwalker_50...and the three of us have a combined 34 years living in a Small Coastal Oregon Town, so we're almost kind of like an authority on the subject. The main street with one light, the buildings, the interiors with fish and netting and buoys on the walls and shit - all pretty much the real thing.

If you told me that was Newport, I would totally believe you. It actually looks a hell of a lot like the southern stretch of Port Orford, honestly.

this! the art gallery, in that same damn lettering that is all along 101. also, the random dog.

the craft store - I can't help but think of Redding and Bandon, in particular, haha.

THE GODDAMN SEASTARS SUSPENDED IN FISHING NET. this is the stuff that haunts my dreams, fandom. until I go home for the weekend, and then it haunts my life.

the fish on the wall! the buoy! the painting of a fishing boat! the weird nautical knickknacks you can't even identify!

I just love big old warehouses. This one I could see on 101 somewhere around Ophir.

"No, see, if this was really Oregon...Teal'c and Jonas would be hotboxing in that car." -Jake

True facts. A note to writers: if you set a story in rural Oregon and do not take into account the fact that 80% of all people smoke pot (fishermen, teachers, nice old ladies, rednecks, and the dude that delivers your pizzas; everybody), you are probably Doing It Wrong. (edit: oh my, look at the date!) Also, the longer your characters are in rural Oregon without encountering someone who at the very least mentions meth, the less believeable it gets.

People in a town are acting strangely? Meth.
Mysterious warehouse? Meth lab.
Giant huge syringe which is apparently Important Business? Oh dear lord they've invented concentrated liquid meth, gtfo while you still can.

Got to say though, I have a really hard time seeing a town of whatever size Steveston is supposed to be maintaining a shipyard up until 2000 (two years prior to the episode airing, when it supposedly shut down).

Lulz aside, here's the reason I bothered to make this post at all.

One of the things that jumped out at me about this episode - besides the usual lulz of Vancouver show actor-sharing was, it's the second time I've seen a Vancouver-filmed show cast a black man as the sheriff of a small, rural town in Oregon/Northern California. The other was in Supernatural, in the pilot (and that guy is one of the, what, two? three? black male characters to survive Kripke actually giving them lines). At first I just thought, huh, that's kind of a weird pattern (if you can call two instances a pattern). But this is why I think it actually matters, and why it really does bother me: It ignores the ugly, racist history of the Pacific Northwest. And by history, I also mean going on right the fuck now.

Racism isn't taken seriously by whites in rural Oregon, whether because they're actual all-out bigots or because they've spent their lives in such a homogeneously white area that it never even occurs to them what they're doing. In my experience, a depressingly large percent of them are Actual Racist Bigots, the kind that come with capital letters and (unfortunately) voting cards. I'd love to say that a man of color being a sheriff in rural Oregon/NorCal is completely believable, but I don't even know of any cops who are people of color...and, for that matter, finding a PoC in a position of political power is pretty rare. That said, for all I know, small towns in Washington and BC (or other parts of Oregon) have racial dynamics that are vastly improved over the whole State o' Jefferson area, and so they assume things are just as improved down here. Or maybe they're just being optimistic. But painting some rosy picture of race relations in rural Oregon doesn't do anyone any favors.

When completely racist shit is going down and not being confronted at all, when our English teacher's unarmed, PoC son was shot and killed by cops; this is not a place that can possibly be read as even vaguely post-racial. And yet, it seems to me like that's exactly what shows are doing: as if because Oregon isn't the South, because it's a Blue State, it's some magical tolerant land where history has no effect. It's not just incorrect, it's downright harmful because it just glosses over the ongoing problems.

On a somewhat different note, by casting a black man as Steveston's sheriff, the writers give the narrative a pass to ignore the townspeople's reactions to Teal'c as a man of color. The emphasis is put on him as a stranger, a dude in a really conspicuous-looking coat; and to us in the audience, as an alien. The question of 'hey, you know, what if this was an actual town and Christopher Judge walked into that bar?' is totally avoided.

I just. Well. I wish I was a lot better at articulating things like this.

In conclusion, I kind of wish shows would stop making up fictional small towns in Cascadia altogether. Seriously. There's enough already, just pick one! Is anyone really going to care if you have a set or some other town stand in for Winchester Bay or Port Orford or Drain or Legat or Garberville? No. Just stop by one on one of your trips from your filming sets to the offices in Hollywood. Hell, maybe it'll get a few more people to come in and buy their local jam or whatever. of course if we ever get a goddamn tourist tax going that would help Yeah. On the other hand, we have...Eureka. So maybe completely fictional towns are best.
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