Heroes: Candice

This isn’t really much of a post, sorry. :)

Was anyone else really disappointed to learn what Candice’s (the one on Linderman’s payroll who can make people see whatever she wants them to see) motivation was? It’s not ignoble to want people of all shapes and sizes to be treated fairly, of course, but I dunno. I thought she had a TON of potential, and then we learned she’s really a “fat girl” making people see a “skinny, beautiful girl” and I couldn’t help but be bothered by the whole thing.

Comments

  1. Mecha says

    *checks some quotes* Yeah, she calls herself huge. I dunno how much one can rely on her words (she seems to play with them a lot), but I’ll buy it for the moment.

    I don’t know that one can effectively separate ‘someone who is acting in line with the way the world is, but wants it changed’ from ‘someone who is actively reinforcing the way the world is’, but I think that’s what they’ve tried, to a point. She, if one is paying attention enough to realize she’s fat, thinks the beauty standard is wrong. I don’t think or feel that the metamessage that sends is necessarily a negative one, except possibly if people think that she’s glamourizing cosmetic surgery/body hate/etc (which I don’t really see.) Is there something I’m missing?

    I also think that it is meant to be something that many people can ‘relate’ to: making yourself look more normal. There’s nothing in the text that says she’s really making herself a bombshell, after all. Just getting away from the hate. It’s understandable, but it’s not _positive_.

    I dunno. It is difficult to draw that ‘existing in a -ism universe, but thinking it’s wrong’/’reinforcing an -ism universe’ line, but I think they’re trying to go with the first.

    -Mecha

  2. sbg says

    For me, what really tipped me over the edge was them showing her eating an exorbitant amount of junk food. Maybe she always did and I didn’t notice, but there certainly was a definite “bad diet = fat” thing going on after.

    Even if we don’t get to see what she really looks like.

  3. Jennifer Kesler says

    I was bothered enough by what you described in the original post. (A) Of course if anyone’s going to use their powers to beautify themselves, it would be a woman because they’re silly like that while men have Much More Important things to do. (B) Of course if a woman gets hold of superpowers, her first thought isn’t going to be “How can I change the world/save the family farm/rescue people?” but rather, “Oh, sweet! Now I can finally look like a model!”

    Add in the junk food consumption and we have (C) Of course she’s not attempting to diet or anything practical because fat people are all just lazy people of dubious character.

  4. sbg says

    Motivation of characters’ actions has always interested me about this show – why do they make the choices they do?

    Take, for example, Nathan Petrelli – skeezy politician whose reasons for siding with Linderman are twofold. He wants power, yes, but I think he also ultimately believes that sacrifices need to be made in order to make a better world. (Granted, I think the power is much more of a draw for him. Sad, because I have these twinges of hope that he won’t turn out to be a villian.)

    He’s got a nice complex set of circumstances.

    I know he’s a major player and Candice is so far pretty tangential, so the comparison isn’t exactly apples to apples. It’s just disappointing to see her “backstory” is very black and white. Simple. She buys into Linderman’s utopia-through-disaster scenario because she was the fat girl who no one treated nicely.

  5. Purtek says

    I agree with pretty much everything that’s been said already, but like Mecha, I feel kind of conflicted about it. There’s a nice thematic element of “what you see isn’t necessarily what you get”, but coupled with everything I’ve complained about already in terms of characterization of the women, and with the Betacandy’s “B” point in the above comment, it’s tipped mainly toward frustrated. I didn’t like her much as it was, though, because I didn’t like the “manipulative woman” component of her ability, or the way it was already clear she was using that apparently ever present female sexual power. I kind of felt the same way about Eden–her ability was like a stereotype enhancement, rather than anything really subversive.

  6. scarlett says

    I haven’t seen the episode so I can’t wholly comment but the post made me think of Mystique from the X-Men movies (not including #3). A large part of her using her powers – impersonating people to make political and social changes – is to create a world where she is ACCEPTED in her natural form. When Nightcrawler asks her why doesn’t she just stay in disguise all the time she says quite adapantly ‘I shouldn’t have to’.

    From what I’ve heard of Candice, Mystique looks far more interesting.

  7. MaggieCat says

    I seem to spend a lot of time disagreeing with everyone on this site about this show. Why is that?

    I actually like the idea that the Candice we’ve all been seeing isn’t the “real” Candice, and suspected as much ages ago. (Although my mind didn’t immediately jump to weight issues.) I’ve seen a lot of people online trying to argue that she doesn’t have to be fat, she could be scarred or in some way disfigured. Moving away from the fact that I’m offended that so many people seem to find those two things equivalent, I do think the basis that those people are using might be relevant- so far we still don’t know what she really looks like or what she could be hiding. Yeah, when Micah made the reference to his friend being “huge” her response was “So am I”, but we only have her perception to go on. I can only remember twice that we’ve seen her eating, both in the most recent episode, and the comment that she “eats like that” came from a child (admittedly a smart if somewhat annoying child) and they are not known for seeing the widest range of nutritional shades of grey.

    I’ll think it’s a shame if they pick weight as the in, but the show’s creators have said all along that most people’s powers grew out of their own personalities, and Candice’s abilities would suggest that she would have something she wanted hide. Since I like Candice as a character, I can accept that. (Even if I would have preferred something slightly more original.)

    I didn’t like her much as it was, though, because I didn’t like the “manipulative woman” component of her ability, or the way it was already clear she was using that apparently ever present female sexual power.

    I didn’t like her much a first either, but I held off on deciding when she first appeared because she was given so little material. I can see where you’re getting that reading, but now that I’ve seen more of her that’s not how I see it. To me it now looks like someone who simply thinks very little of people in general, and so chooses to amuse herself at their expense. I don’t think the basis of that has much to do with her gender (although that does affect how she chooses to jerk people around) but with her power.

    But I personally find Candice a pretty interesting character. She’s an odd mixture of cynicism and idealism- the first from whatever it is that’s caused her to feel like the world is broken, the second an almost cult-member like adoration of the person that she believes can fix it.

    Becoming cynical at some point was almost inevitable, her power puts her in a position to have absolute proof of just how mean and hypocritical and petty humans can be for the slightest and most unfair reasons. If you want to know just how awful people are, read their minds (Matt turning Homeland Security and hunting his own kind 5 years from now), see them when they think they’re alone (Claude’s personality in general), or realize just how easily you can manipulate them by showing them what they want to see. Granted, I’m generally cynical (my response when Micah said that he didn’t know the world was sick was “Clearly you are not as smart as people keep telling me you are”) so I could be biased, but I think they did need to start with her at that prickly jaded extreme so that it would be that much more impressive that somehow someone managed to convince her to work for the greater good.

  8. Purtek says

    MaggieCat–I don’t entirely disagree with you, and I think I’d be a lot more persuaded if I weren’t already so frustrated by the general peripheral/stereotypical status of the female characters.

    she doesn’t have to be fat, she could be scarred or in some way disfigured. Moving away from the fact that I’m offended that so many people seem to find those two things equivalent

    Clarification: Are you offended by people online (including here) who are assuming that size was what the writers were getting at, or do you agree with that interpretation of the writing and feel offended by the writers themselves? Because I don’t think it’s an unfair reading of the text, especially if you’re cynical about TV writers.

    Speaking of cynical, I really like your connection of some of the themes in Candice’s storyline with Claude’s and Matt’s (maybe others apply too). I so love stories about the nature and personal impact of heroism and exceptionality, though I may have shut my mind to how those applied to Candice when I decided I didn’t like her back when she had very little material.

    I hadn’t heard that statement about the nature of people’s powers from the writers, and while it does offer some new perspective, I still think it becomes a rather flimsy excuse to stereotype the women, and in fact, magnify their stereotypical features by way of their powers.

  9. MaggieCat says

    Clarification: Are you offended by people online (including here) who are assuming that size was what the writers were getting at, or do you agree with that interpretation of the writing and feel offended by the writers themselves?

    Sorry for the imprecision, I meant to say that I was offended by the arguments that I’ve come across online that imply that “fat” and “disfigured in some way” are basically the same idea. I was borrowing their point that since we haven’t ‘seen’ Candice yet that she could be anything/anyone, and got lost along the way. This is what happens when you rant in too many places. ;-)

  10. Gategrrl says

    Heh. I would have gotten a real kick out of Candice’s dialogue with Micah if she’d said something like, “How do you know I’m not fat? How do you know I’m not this fat black woman? How do you know I’m even *female*?” That would have been a real mind-bender -er, *gender*bender.

  11. Mecha says

    Gategrrl: IMO, that was the larger implication in _everything_ she said. She was playing with perceptions, I could be this, I could be that. I am honestly mainly unbothered. Even on examination… she’s a psych type, a chameleon. I think she wants to be a mystery, to make herself seem like so many things. I can go along with that 110%.

    As of tonight’s episode, I think I’m gonna have to maintain that the fat thing was either self perception or a ploy. I doubt we’ll learn anytime soon.

    – Mecha

  12. MaggieCat says

    A large part of her using her powers – impersonating people to make political and social changes – is to create a world where she is ACCEPTED in her natural form.

    But see, I think that is part of what Candice is doing. Candice’s speech about how Linderman was going to help the world was very much in line with that ideal- that people would treat each other better. But I never really liked Mystique, and found her almost impossible to connect with, so we’ll just have to disagree on that one. :-)

    I really like your connection of some of the themes in Candice’s storyline with Claude’s and Matt’s (maybe others apply too). I so love stories about the nature and personal impact of heroism and exceptionality,

    That’s one of my favorite parts of the show- the fact that Claude’s misanthropic personality seems to be a fairly recent development given his much more easy going style in “Company Man”, and in fact might have been advanced by using his powers almost all of the time to hide from the OWI. (Well, that and having your partner try to kill you. That’s gotta hurt.) Matt’s far less credulous and crueler personality in “5 Years Gone” seems a logical outstretch of both seeing people like him hunted and the years of coming into contact with criminals and being able to know for certain whether or not they have any remorse. Candice, who would have to be fairly accurate with the pop psychological analyses to gauge what to show people, would make sense as another person to fall into the trap of expecting the worst of people after seeing it too many times. If she happens to be snarky and enjoys occasionally screwing with people’s perceptions for her own amusement along the way, well that’s certainly an impulse I can understand. ;-)

    And I really want to know what it would take for somebody to convince someone like her that they could ‘heal the world’. It can’t just have been Isaac’s paintings.

    I hadn’t heard that statement about the nature of people’s powers from the writers, and while it does offer some new perspective, I still think it becomes a rather flimsy excuse to stereotype the women, and in fact, magnify their stereotypical features by way of their powers.

    I’m not sure all of them were developed that way, but I know I heard about the single mother who wants to be in two places at once, the hospice nurse who’s an empath, and the wrongfully accused man who can break out of any prison. (I’m pretty sure there were also mentions of Nathan, who doesn’t want anything to do with his powers, having one that’s fairly impractical and Hiro, who felt completely powerless, getting one of the most significant.)

    I tried to hold off on judging Candice before she got any real material because I prefer to let new characters prove themselves without blaming them for mistakes made with previous characters. (This only applies to the rare shows that I’m willing to give the benefit of the doubt.) And I’m trying not to spoil anyone for the episode I saw just after my last post but Niki finally seems to have tapped into her power, which I really appreciate. The thing I was the most concerned about with her was that they’d get rid of Jessica and suddenly Niki would be depowered because only the psycho gets to have the super-strength.

    But I’ll admit that I love the show and I’m willing to wait and see with a lot more of it than I would with other shows, mainly because they do seem to be trying to address things that aren’t working and reassess rather than hanging on to characters that aren’t helping the story. I caught the Sci-Fi channel marathon over the weekend, and was suddenly reminded that early in the season I wanted to slap Peter every time he came on screen because he bugged me, so I know they’re capable of it.

  13. matt says

    I’m surprised this talk keeps going on about “her” being a fat woman. She was playing with Micah’s head in that scene. “She” is really a gay man. That’s why (s)he was descriminated against. Watch the finaly when (s)he’s knocked out, he reverts back to a guy with bell bottoms and high heels.

  14. Cassie says

    In the last episode she is knocked out by nikki while impersonating nikki and she reverts to her ‘normal’ form while unconscious -which is incidentally the Candice that we have always seen.
    sorry to put a few holes in the arguments above.

  15. Jennifer Kesler says

    You didn’t put any holes. The message SBG reported was put across. If they changed things later, that doesn’t mitigate the initial damage done by the metamessage.

  16. sbg says

    In the last episode she is knocked out by nikki while impersonating nikki and she reverts to her ‘normal’ form while unconscious -which is incidentally the Candice that we have always seen.

    And you know that…how? I mean, do we know Candice’s powers enough to know with absolute certainty that she couldn’t maintain the image she wants to project for herself even while unconscious?

  17. MaggieCat says

    And you know that…how? I mean, do we know Candice’s powers enough to know with absolute certainty that she couldn’t maintain the image she wants to project for herself even while unconscious?

    This is what I think. She was unconscious, not dead, and it would be quite plausible for her subconscious to take the path of least resistance and maintain the facade she’s been hiding behind for heaven knows how long. At this point the ‘Candice’ we know is probably a reflex, so whatever the super-equivalent of muscle memory is took over.

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