This is why I love Starfire.
No. Like. This scene was really important. This douche hated her entire race and took that hatred out on Starfire. He called her slurs throughout the entire episode. And Starfire just endured it, because she knew her friends loved this guy. And when he is in trouble, about to die; she has every right to let him. But what does she do? She starts trying to help him. And even as she’s trying to save his life, he pushes her away, throwing slurs at her face. But she presses on, and ends up saving him. Do you know how important it was to see this as a kid? That no matter how much someone treats you with hatefulness and cruelty, the right thing to do when they’re in danger is to help them? That’s some powerful shit for a ‘kids show’, and don’t you dare look me in the eye and tell me that all of this is just superhero bullshit.
Even if they dropped the ball with Victor not actually addressing his race and citing his robotics as a reason for prejudice against him, the reason he understood what Starfire felt, this was a landmark episode.
The slur Val-Yor (subtle show) uses, “Troq” means… you know what, let’s just grab Cyborg and Starfire’s moment of dialogue for reference.
Cyborg: What’s up? I thought you said it didn’t mean anything.
Starfire: No. I said it means “nothing”. When Val-Yor calls me “Troq”, he is saying that I am worthless, a nothing.
Starfire: There are those on other planets who feel Tamaraneans are inferior. Troq is what they call us.
Cyborg: So he’s calling you a terrible name. And you know that if you punch him out, it’ll just confirm all the bad stuff he thinks about you?
Starfire: Yes. You know what it is like to be judged simply by the way you look?
Cyborg: Of course I do. I’m part robot.
The show isn’t pulling any punches here, it may be using alien species, but it’s showing a racist being a racist even while he acts as a superhero, and it uses actual attitudes people may encounter (“You must be one of the good ones.” When he has to acknowledge she saved his life.) This is incredible and the show should have gotten awards for this. More shows should consider these ideas and use them, even as ‘filler’ episodes, because we need to see it.
Val-Yor is a racist ass. But Starfire doesn’t let him win, and delivers an amazing line in the end, reminding me why Kory is one of the best characters around, even if she was created for the cheesecake appeal in comics, she has a lot more to her, a lot of heart and soul that should be highlighted more often.
- Robin: I’m sorry Val-Yor treated you like that. If I’d known, I’d never would’ve let it happen.
Cyborg: None of us would.
Starfire: There is nothing you could’ve done. There will always be people who say mean words because you are different. And sometimes their minds cannot be changed. But there are many more people who do not judge others based on how they look or where they are from. Those are the people whose words truly matter.
Way to go, Teen Titans. You were an amazing part of my teenage years, and I wish we’d gotten more of you.