Liliaeth (liliaeth) wrote,

Grimm and the Other

There are many many reasons why I love Grimm. It's great writing, awesome characters and acting, wonderful world building, the mix of fantasy and a police procedural. (what? there's a reason I love spn eps that have the Winchesters run into cops you know)

But the one thing that has me coming back tot his show over and over again, is the way it handles 'the other'

Now admittedly the show could do better in its casting poc actor for roles that clearly hint at the character or wesen of the week being non-white. I won't argue with anyone on that one at all. (hell if you're going to have your character use art or traditions based on those of a specific cultures, then the least you can do is cast actors from that culture, it's only fair)

But see, one flaw that keeps coming back in most sci fi fantasy stories, whether it's in books, movies or tv series, is the problem of 'the other'.

Whether the show's heroes are human and fighting non humans, or whether they are the 'other' and humans with the exception of a rare few gets treated as disposable, urging the fans to identify with the non-human cast to the point where human victims of the weeks are treated as background fodder, most of these stories have the idea built in of 'us' against 'them'.

What Grimm does, over and over again is show a spotlight at the 'other' and show us that despite all the differences, the 'them' aren't that essentially different from 'us'. That in fact they're not a solid group who are all basically alike.

They dare to tell us stories of their hero's ancestor and say:"you know these past Grimms weren't necessarily heroes, in fact a lot of them may very well have been coldblooded mass murderers."

And instead of making this a matter of 'manpain' to drop guilt and brooding on the main character, they take another turn. They have the minority char best friend point out how wrong this was, while the hero gives the pat answer of privilige 'those were different times'.

And no, this wasn't an accident, because later in the same ep, we get to see Nick brutally attacking an eighteen year old kid, because all he sees is the kid's wesen face, instead of realizing whom he's dealing with. And once again, he gets called out on it by said same minority character. Allowing the hero who for the most part is a truly decent guy to deal with his issue of privilege of 'othering' wesens, instead of seeing them as people.

I'm not saying that Grimm is the first show where the 'other' gets some moments in the spotlight, or that has some members of the 'other' that are good guys. Hell most shows have some of those, or at least give one or two eps focusing on the 'other' and showing them in a good light.

But in the majority of cases those are the exception that confirms the rule.

Hell, I love SPN, but they really do have a thing going where humans can be all over the moral map, but pretty much all non-humans are either evil, or will do something wrong whether sooner or later. And I get that, they're just being consistent, but... watching series like that gives people a very limited view of the world. An idea of Us vs Them that just doesn't fit with reality.

If Grimm had wanted to, they could have stuck to Monroe as representation of the good wesen and if you actually listened to the very annoying narration in the first few eps this season, that'd give you the idea that Grimm is like that as well. With the chosen hero fighting the monsters. The thing is, the show isn't like that at all.

Every week we get to see these wesen as people, not monsters, but people. Some who do things wrong, some who commit crimes, murders, but not all of them. Just like humans can be good or evil, so can wesens. And judging all of them by their species over and over again, turns out to be utterly and completely wrong.

Take this week's ep. Nick makes a comment on Lowen, whom he has indeed met before, about how they are competitive and aggressive. And they are, or they at least have a tendency to be so. But then you see another Lowen who is just competitive in an academic competition, but who still cares enough about his kids, that he cares more about their safety than about winning the competition. And Pierce the kid who turns out to be the killer isn't evil because he's half lowen, he's out of control, but his lowen side doesn't just want to win, it wants to protect Pierce, wants to look out for him and his interests.

Just like with the Blutbaden. The show doesn't just stick to Monroe on the good side and the bad guy from the first ep as the bad one. But so far there have been four other Blutbaden, each of which has a different personality and a different mode of behavior, ranging from sweet to bad and everything in between.

We see wesen dealing with their heritage, wesen affected by their upbringing, their environment, and over and over again, they stop being 'the other', they're not just metaphors, or the enemy. They're just people. People with their own traditions, their own instincts, but still people. And we get to see their opinions on Grimms, on the way the world works, their lives are seen as worth just as much as those of humans.

And that, is something way more shows should be doing. To show the viewers that instead of focusing on how someone is 'other', we should be focus on how they are alike, how we are all just people.
Tags: essay, grimm, rant

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