EDIT: Woohoo! Finishing up a draft!
Alright, so, I have recently become absolutely obsessed with the Disney XD cartoon, Gravity Falls. It took me a while to get around to actually watching it, but now, I definitely do not regret it, and I will go further into detail about this in my review post that I am in the process if writing. Keep in mind, this post might, and the review definitely will, contain spoilers, so read at your own risk if you have not watched all of the show. So let's get started, shall we?
Of course, being me, as I was watching the show I had to think to myself, "I wonder what complaints there are about the show." I think there needs to be an internet rule parallel to Rule 34, "If it exists, someone thinks it's racist or sexist or homophobic". So I discovered that one of my new favorite cartoons is racist, sexist, ableist, homophobic, and all around horrible. Oh my goodness I must be the scum of the Earth for watching it and laughing at Soos and not caring that a show that takes place in "small town" Oregon is mostly populated by white people. Speaking of which, let's begin with that!
Gravity Falls is racist, according to the internet. Now, I've never been to Oregon, but I do own a computer and I was born in Maine. I'm pretty sure Oregon is a bit like Maine and can I tell you how many minorities I grew up with before I moved? I remember a girl named Anem from Pakistan. She had dark skin and her mother had an accent and I was fascinated with their religion and culture. I was five years old when I met her. When i try to think of anyone else...my next memory is after I moved when I was eight (and this IS including visiting Maine in later years). So, I understand why someone who maybe lives in New York or California or Florida will think, "clearly this state is really racist", and of course there are racists in these sorts of states, I'm sure. But as I've stated many times, the African Americans were taken to the south, the slave states. When they traveled north to freedom, there really wasn't a reason to go as far north as Maine (or in this case Oregon), and nobody wants to move up north it seems. No one from another country probably does either. When someone from Europe or South America or Asia decides to move to the states, they are more likely to move to Florida, or New York, or California where there are already minorities and it's usually more well known. I mean, there's a town in Oregon called Boring for goodness' sake! In fact, that's one of the places Gravity Falls was based on. We have come to believe as a politically correct society that having more minority characters tat are portrayed non-stereotypically (even if those stereotypes are often true) is the only way to not be racist. And this simply isn't true! This is realism, not racism. Now if this show took place in Florida, and all of the characters were white, not one Latino or African American, or even just very few...I still wouldn't accuse the creator of racism, but I would say he's probably never been to Florida and accuse it of being unrealistic.
Another point of supposed racism is Soos and his "abuelita". For one thing, I can tell one of the people who accused Alex of racism has never been to a Hispanic household because she said that the fact that they changed the word "abuela" was offensive and mocking Spanish. Except that abuelita is a word. One of my old friends from elementary school called her grandmother abueita; it means "granny" as she explained it to me. Others will say the fact that Soos is portrayed as being, um, less than stellar when it comes to intellect and ability to separate fiction and reality is racist, simply because he is one of the few Hispanic characters, but for one thing, his personality is much deeper than that, and I also highly doubt the reason for this personality trait is because he is Hispanic. I feel like that's a coincidence. And can we just take a moment to appreciate Matt Chapman's work here? I didn't know that Abuelita was voiced by a man until I was curious if she was voiced by a Latina because I was planning on writing this post (I'll get to the reason why this mattered later). I knew he was a writer for the show, but the amount of voices he does and the range is simply amazing, but I digress...a lot. The fact that Abuelita "speaks very little English" is...not true, and also not unrealistic. You have to realize that I grew up for half of my life around a lot of Latinos and honestly, some of my friends' parents spoke much less English than Soos' grandmother.
The one black guy is again, because it's Oregon (and not even Portland, it's a tiny town) and Candy's voice is not racist, she's voiced by a Korean (this is why I was curious about Abuelita's VA). Minorities are allowed to have a strong accent or slip into their first language without being a stereotype or condoning racism. Goodness knows I probably have an accent when I speak German or Japanese. It's natural. Sheriff Blubs is (voice by a black man) as far as I can tell, not a stereotype of anything except a bumbling cop, so I don't even understand. Maybe it's because I don't pay too much attention to stereotypes, but I don't see any African American stereotypes that he fits, and we can't forget that basically every character except the main characters are morons and weirdos. That's the point. He seems much more competent than his white partner, Deputy Durland.
And last but not least, Grunkle Stan. Some people say that it is hinted that the Pines family is Jewish. I don't believe Pines is a Jewish last name but, I actually like this theory and I'll get to the reason in a bit. So, a lot of people think the Pines family is Jewish by ethnicity and say that Grunkle Stan being a conman and obsessed with money is racist or offensive. But the reason I like the idea that they are Jewish is because of who they are based on: Alex Hirsch and his family, and if you can't tell by the last name, Alex is Jewish by heritage. On top of that, it's not like he's saying all Jewish people are greedy or stingy. In my opinion, completely avoiding a personality trait in a character because of their race is just as racist, or at least almost so, as giving the trait because of their race. You are deciding their personality by race, not culture, either way. A black person can like watermelon, a Jew can be greedy, and a Hispanic may not speak English well. Likewise, a Latino can like watermelon (and one of my African American friends hated it), a black person can be greedy, and a white person may not speak English well. And you can switch those races around and add in another and will still be just as true.
Racism still exists and it always will. You can be racist towards a minority or a majority and it doesn't make it any more or less racism. But in this case, I feel like this racism is in the eye of the viewer and not the intent, nor is it caused by racist ignorance. People now a days just want to find racism (and every other ism) everywhere, even if it is not present. I don't think Gravity Falls is purposefully or ignorantly racist. I think people just like to complain.