Color Coded: Beast Boy (“Teen Titans,” “Teen Titans Go!”)

Photo credit: Warner Bros. 

Teen Titans was my favorite show growing up. I was team Raven/Robin, even though the show really wanted everyone to be on team Starfire/Robin. I could launch into an entire post about why Raven/Robin appealed to me a lot more, but that’s not the subject of this article. This article is all about Beast Boy.

I don’t know why, but for some reason, I saw Beast Boy as coded as Latino. Apparently, I’m not the only one; folks in various Yahoo and Reddit forums have also been questioning each other about if they viewed Beast Boy as Latino as well.

I decided to ask folks on Twitter what they thought about Beast Boy and if they felt like he was coded as Latino. Here’s what they wrote:

Aside from the Cinco de Mayo episode of Teen Titans GO!, Bre might also be talking about the fact that Beast Boy is bilingual; apparently, he’s fluent in Spanish, which is revealed when he speaks to twin superhero duo Más y Menos.”

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Of course, being bilingual isn’t a prerequisite for a character to be coded as Latinx. But Beast Boy is an interesting character because, as Kyle noted above, Beast Boy can be coded as any ethnicity. As brought up time and time again, cartoon characters that are generally colored green, blue or some other unnatural shade are often stand-ins for marginalized characters; it’s as if it’s a shortcut for having “diversity” without actually having to create diversity that reflects the real world. Perhaps this is what’s driving my own reading of Beast Boy–I’m trained by television to assume he’s representing something other than white European ethnicity.

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Beast Boy’s racial and ethnic malleability are also being put to use in the upcoming live action TV show Titans. The actor playing Beast Boy is Ryan Potter, who is half-Japanese.

Ryan Potter and Beast Boy

In short, Beast Boy is a character who is transformative in many other ways aside from turning into every animal alive.

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