In traditional fashion, I always feel the need to defend my taste in TV shows whenever I tell somebody “Yeah, I really like The 100. It’s a CW show.”
CW shows get a bad rap – sometimes deservedly so – but generally speaking I’ve enjoyed The 100 for its originality, its willingness to treat its audience like adults and not condescend to them, and of course I can’t speak more highly of its diverse cast.
Anyone who thinks this show is “playing it safe” clearly hasn’t taken a closer look at characters like Clarke Griffin (the female lead and canonically bisexual) and Bellamy Blake (the male lead of mixed race background). Also, how cool is it that all the leaders of the different nations in the show are women? ‘Bout damn time.
But it’s Bellamy Blake (played by Bob Morley) who I’d like to talk about here, because fans and the internet at large need to take note of something pretty important:
Bellamy Blake isn’t white.
Neither is Bob, who makes no secret of the fact that he’s half Filipino:
As a child, primary school was unkind to me. Growing up in a small country town where coming from a mixed-race family was alien, the racial taunts were abundant, and my thick black hair and my dark complexion were a dead giveaway that I was different, let alone my proud Filipino mother.
Emotionally too weak to deal with the racial slurs, my body responded and became my savior. I learned to use my physicality as a means of defense. I was the kid so puffed up with bravado and aggression, yet so full of pain. (Source)
I feel as if this goes without saying after having read that, but being mixed race was not simple for Bob, especially as it sounds like those racial slurs and taunts were huge wounds for him.
Full disclosure: yours truly is also half Filipino, but I never dealt with the level of bullying that it sounds like Bob endured. Little microaggressions, sure (“I bet you were cute as a baby, mixed babies are sooo cute!”), but nothing overt.
So as a fellow Pinay of mixed-race background, this is my bone to pick, and it’s unbelievably insulting to see that fans of the show have a habit of disregarding and/or ignoring Bob’s ethnicity when convenient.
I’ve seen fan art where his character Bellamy’s skin is colored the same shade of pale as Clarke’s. I’ve read meta and commentary where fans treat Bellamy like another “generic white guy” with “generic white guy” problems and bravado, effectively forget intersectionality altogether. I’ve seen GIFs on Tumblr where the PSD coloring whitewashes his skin so it’s practically translucent, all for “the pastel aesthetic.” I’ve even read (rare but all still infuriating) comments that, because there’s no conclusive “proof” that Bellamy is mixed race in the show, that it’s perfectly acceptable to assume that Bellamy is 100% organic white even though Bob is not.
This problem of not being “white enough” or “non-white enough” isn’t unique to The 100 or its fans, and it’s certainly not new. Comedian Steve Byrne (of Korean-Irish descent) once joked that from his own experience being a person of mixed backgrounds, people tend to pigeonhole you: “Whatever kinda messes up the whitey, that’s what you are.”
While crass, there’s something to that idea. Mixed people are never “enough.” We’re too white or we’re not white enough. We’re a person of color, but we aren’t enough of a person of color. We’re too Westernized. We’re not Westernized enough. In short, there’s no place for us to fit. We’re too much or too little, never “just right.”
Mixed people are never “enough.” We’re too white or we’re not white enough. We’re a person of color, but we aren’t enough of a person of color. We’re too much or too little, never “just right.”For Bellamy, it’s a case of old-fashioned whitewashing. There’s no “proof” in the show that he’s from a mixed background? Default him to white, slap that ‘beige’ palette on him in Photoshop and let’s hit the road.
As for the show itself, sure, they never explicitly say anything about his ethnic background – and if I’m being honest, they don’t have to – but they have an interesting loophole to use to their advantage if they so choose.
Bellamy’s younger sister Octavia is played by Marie Avgeropoulos, who is of Greek descent. Some fans have said that because Marie is not of Filipino descent that this must mean Bob’s character is also not of a mixed background, but here’s the thing: we’ve never met the Blake father. It’s possible that they have different fathers and they’re only half siblings. Bellamy’s father could be Filipino; Octavia’s might not be.
Has it been stated as an official fact yet? No, but it hasn’t been denied either. The show writers could potentially write themselves out of a messy quagmire if they utilized this particular loophole.
And if fans can read and accept fanfic AUs where Clarke and Lexa are dragon riders, they can accept the possibility of a mixed race character with a white half-sibling within the context of the show. That doesn’t dilute or diminish Bellamy and Octavia’s relationship in any way.
As a fan of the show, as a fan of Bob and as a fellow Pinay, I refuse to stay quiet on this simple fact: you cannot claim that a character in any medium is fully white if the actor portraying them is not. Period.
Would you try to argue that Halle Berry is 100% white? What about Zoe Kravitz? What about any other actor or actress of mixed background?
What is it about Bob that allows people to think it’s acceptable to, as he put it himself, “disregard someone’s cultural heritage and upbringing” so easily? Is it because it’s “easier” to get away with whitewashing an actor of Asian descent than any other minority?
I don’t know. But it needs to end. The 100 is too much of a diverse show for fans to so flippantly disregard the ethnic background of one of its lead actors – especially when being a person of mixed race has had a profound influence on his life.
Acknowledging someone’s mixed background should not be like pulling teeth. Again, as Bob said, “Respect yourself and respect others.”
Bob Morley – and by default Bellamy Blake – is not white.
Editor’s Note: “Pinay” is a feminine form of a word many Filipino people use to self-identify as part of the Filipino diaspora. Bob Morley would be described with the masculine form, Pinoy.
Gabby Taub is the Fantasy Reviewer at Girls in Capes and a graduate of New York University where she studied creative writing and English. She’s currently working on her own horror novel, holding down a regular job, and enjoying the self-assigned title as the Captain America aficionado at GiC.