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Teen Wolf

Racial Representations

Lesley Bradshaw, Author

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Stereotype Subversion

However, the mere representation of multiple races is not the only important factor: “the concern is not only with the lack of diversity on TV, but also with the types of characters actors and actresses of color play” (Conners 208). According to data collected by the Screen Actors Guild in 2008, overall “representation of people who were non-Caucasian was in supporting and not leading roles… An overwhelming majority of acting roles went to Caucasian performers” (Luther 304). In Teen Wolf, ethnic actors play a range of roles from lead to satellite, hero to villain. In fact, the lead character, Scott McCall, is portrayed by Hispanic actor Tyler Posey. The media rarely portrays Hispanic characters, despite the ethnic landscape of the United States. In this aspect, Teen Wolf is progressive, especially considering the way Scott McCall is depicted. While he undergoes drastic character development over the three extent seasons, Scott is always shown as a fair, kind-hearted, hard-working young man. He cares for his friends and family; he respects his girlfriend; he trains hard to make first-string of the lacrosse team; he studies hard to improve his grades and his intellect; he works in a veterinarian’s office, makes time to bring his mother lunch at work, and strives to protect everyone in town, werewolves and humans alike. While bitten-werewolf Scott can be violent, he is the heroic protagonist as well as the moral compass of the show. Despite being a Hispanic lead character, Scott McCall never perpetuates the Hispanic stereotypes: “lazy gardeners, maintenance workers, violent gangsters” (Luther 103).

Fortunately, negative Hispanic stereotypes are not the one ones to be subverted on Teen WolfVernon Boyd IVDr. Alan Deaton, and Marin Morrell challenge stereotypical attributes of black characters. According to Bradley Gorham, there are “four traits prominent in the stereotype of Blacks: lazy, unintelligent, aggressive, and engaging in socially destructive behaviors” (19). Mainstream media “only show extremes in the black community, not a continuum of actions and identities” (Luther 64). In opposition to that, Boyd is a level-headed, non-aggressive teenage werewolf. While all of the werewolves can be aggressive and engage in gang-like behaviors with their “pack,” Boyd chooses to fight only when he is protecting his friends. He chooses to become a werewolf to cultivate deeper friendships, joining the lacrosse team and becoming involved in ROTC. Despite his added strength, his disposition is relatively unchanged after he is bitten. Like Scott, Boyd is far removed from the stereotypical traits associated with his race. Likewise, Dr. Alan Deaton and Marin Morrell, black adult siblings, are highly-educated professionals who mentor the teenagers on the show: in a reversal of the media stereotypes, they are intelligent and they engage in socially constructive behaviors.

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