Here We Go Again: Even a Black Powerpuff Girl Isn’t Allowed To Be Great Without Being Stereotyped

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On September 6th, Cartoon Network dropped a bomb in Instagram announcing the addition of a new Powerpuff Girl with Blossom, Bubbles, and Buttercup surrounded by the silhouette of taller and, ummmmm… darker sister. Rumors spread, the interwebs speculated and soon we found out that the fourth sister was indeed an older POC. Voiced by Olivia Olson [Phineas and Ferb, Love Actually], we later found out that the new sister’s name is Bliss (we’ll come back to this).

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I have to admit that when I first heard of there being a new sister added and that she might be a WOC, I was a little anxious and excited. I remember PPG Classic and was a huge fan. I have to be honest and say that the Cartoon Network reboot never sparked my attention until now. Like many fans and others interested in seeing what kind of a punch the new girl packed, I sat down to catch the season 2 five part movie premiere Power of Four after it aired on Sunday September 17, 2017. I watched the entire movie and I’ve got feelings. I’ve got pacing around the room stomping my feet feelings. I’ve got pass another Black woman on the street give a head nod and smile in the key of “what the hell kinda white nonsense is this?” feelings. Here we go again feelings. I’ve got the “why can’t we live” blues over this shit. Please allow me to list my issues below, in no significant order.

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1. Bliss got more names than a Black baptist church.

Her full name is Blisstina Francesca Francia Mariam Alicia Utonium. Bliss for short. I had to do a little research just to find the full names of the other PPGs and to get my feelings in check before I went all the way in. Guess what? Blossom’s name is Blossom. Bubbles is Bubbles and yeah, Buttercup is just plain ass Buttercup. Sure the girls like to give one another nicknames, but that’s it. Why in hell does Bliss have 6 names? You can take Utonium out if you want and blame that surname on the professor, but the rest of those names smell like stereotypical bullshit to me. She got the name of every POC character that hit PPGs cutting room floor.

 

2. Angry Black Girl

Apparently Bliss can’t hold it together. No matter her emotion, she ends up wrecking shit. Bliss’ explosive manner is seemingly a result of the accidental Chemical W in her system and how it pairs with sugar, spice and everything nice. She is noted to be the “perfect little girl” with you know, just a dash of emotional instability. She’s so emotionally unstable that she literally blows shit up and left the professor ten years ago because of it. Was this character trait necessary? Hell nah. Why does the only POC PPG have to have an attitude problem? We can’t get past the angry Black woman trope in 2017? This is a label rooted in fear; a stereotype that continues to be perpetuated in many forms of media and one that I’d rather not see in my cartoons.

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3. Monkey Business

Mojo Jojo was Bliss’ best friend when he was Professor Utonium’s assistant. A monkey. This Black girl had a monkey for a best friend? At least they didn’t show a flashback of them eating watermelon together, huh? I’ll take “Disparaging stereotypes and racist symbolism” for $1,000 Alex. FOH.

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4. Daddy Issues

Bliss seems to be the only one of the PPGs calling Professor Utonium daddy and the only one that lived on a shitty ass island without him. Seriously, she left after having one of her “meltdowns” over some milk to go live on Bird Poop Island and this dude never went looking for her. She lived on an island of shit, y’all! Trees covered in bird shit. Mountains covered in bird shit. Bird shit covered in bird shit on top of a cave that is covered in…. you get it. Not only did he not step a foot toward finding Bliss, when she got back he locked her ass up. Well ain’t that some shit nice. Good thing Bliss is a winner…

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5. Hypersexualized: The Hips Don’t Lie

Again, I admit that I was blinded by the thought of a POC PPG and missed some initial reactions of caution that I should have had at the announcement of Bliss. That’s what your homegirls are for, though, to point out the bullshit so you can keep ya feet clean. My sis Brittany Williams pointed out Bliss’s cinched waist and wide hips and I lost it. Teenager or not, forreal? Being taller couldn’t have been enough? I mean, it’s all fictional, she could’ve been the same size/height as her sisters. No, Bliss had to be taller with an accentuated waist to show that she was older than the others. Black bodies have been fetishized, hypersexualized, and policed since before the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade, so taking a critical eye to Bliss’ physical portrayal is necessary. It’s necessary criticism because it was an unnecessary distinction.

I could probably keep going with the list, but why. When we add it all up, the sum of it all equals to Cartoon Network jumping on the diversity bandwagon and skipping the relevance and relationships to its viewers for a piece of the equality pie. Instead of a new PPG worthy to stand her own ground and a kickass little super-heroine, we were given the possible makings of another magical negro to add to an ever-growing list. The archetype been played out and so is Cartoon Network. Bliss left at the end of Power of Four and I don’t blame her. I’ve seen this beginning and ending too many times to count.

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  • Alice

    As a black female nerd I love this site cause you say things that need to be said when it comes to nerd culture and how we fit in it but girl I think you are reeaaching for #1,#3,#5 (#2 & #4 I agree wholeheartedly). Here’s why:

    #1 Since when was having that many multiple middle names a stereotype for black ppl? Most of my family members have one. I myself don’t have any. My friends & random ppl I grew up with had none, one, or two. If anything that many middle names is a Telenovela stereotype. Also many white ppl have multiple middle names. The most famous ones are ppl from the British royal family. But even ones in the US do. Or is your issue with the names specifically? If so I don’t see a problem with those either, its not like they’re stereotypically outrageously “ghetto” names.

    #3 Yes the thing about us being compared to monkeys pisses me off but in this instance we are not. With Bliss being an only child at the time, wouldn’t it be only natural for her to grow close to ppl or animals that were in the house constantly? Are black ppl not allowed to even be near a monkey without it being seen as racist. I sure as hell won’t stop eating watermelons & chicken out of fear of being stereotyped, why can’t our black characters live their lives without that fear. If ppl wanna associate Bliss with a monkey in that racist way then THEY are fucked and THEY are the ones that need to change. But I hiiiigghhllly doubt the creators of Bliss thought that way when they made her friends with Mojojojo before he went evil. Like I sed they grew up together.

    #5 I see your point about the hips but it’s still kinda reaching to me. The hips in my opinion are just a clear way to make her seem older instead of like a tall kindergarten kid since her face doesn’t look older. It’s not like they slapped on a huge Nicky Minaj booty and boobs. Now that woulda been…. wierd. Also I actually like that they made her different shape, we shouldn’t be afraid of our curves in a cartoon, especially a lil curves like hers. There are other cartoon network characters that have bigger curves but they don’t get flack for it. I just don’t think her curves are sexualized at all.

    Hopefully I don’t seem like an ignorant complacent black girl but these are just my opinions. And even if I’m the only one with them, I hope it’s at least clear what I mean.

    • Paula g

      1. The fact that this detail was done is problematic in itself. Imagine the conversation had when it was decided to give her multiple names.

      3. When it’s factual, fine. But when you create these details, the person behind the creating must consider their motives.

      • Raven

        I think their “motives” behind the many names was humor. It’s a common joke to give a character a ridiculously long name, and a short first name. Think of Dot from Animaniacs. Her full name is Princess Angelina Contessa Louisa Francesca Banana Fanna Bo Besca the Third. But she goes by Dot. I really don’t think cartoon network had sinister intentions.

    • RL

      I agree with your points, Alice.

    • Asia Mills

      I agree that hips indicate just that’s she’s a teen. They’re not protruding or raunchy, just older

    • Sean

      There’s even an episode where the original trio of power puff girls are shown as teens and they have literal boobs and hips, with their belly buttons showing, so to me the hip thing is 100% a reach.

    • Rory Turing

      The hips thing isn’t a reach with THIS series though. Keep in mind, to remove ALL sexuality from Ms. Keane, they removed her breasts. And they booted Miss Bellum COMPLETELY. Those hips are a shocking thing for this shitty reboot. I’ll bet the only reason they were allowed is because she’s black, and black people have “dat ass”…..I really would think it was a stretch otherwise, but because of the way they handle ANYTHING remotely “sexy”(and keep in mind, she’s supposed to basically be 15), I can’t see it as a stretch.

    • James Owings

      I almost laughed reading this!!

      Congratulations, PPG introduces a character with traits that are different, climactic, and different. So, now what can we say? A unique named character gets the low end because she’s different? At least she isn’t a drunk, murderous villain, autistic/slow, or any of the other stereotypes. But since we’ve identified stereotypes and want to point fingers at characters like this for having them, let’s just remember that if Cartoonnetwork created this character as another white girl, no one would say a word. So drop the act and realize this, the character was designed and perceived differently because she needed to be entirely different for the character to be relevant. Oh how boring it would be if this character was exactly the same as the others. The fact that she is different is a GOOD thing. She is going to have redeemable qualities as well as struggles just like the rest.

      Each PPG has its amount of struggles. And the fact that she got a cool long name is awesome! I’d be proud of it. Her back story is anything but boring and probably my favorite part about her! Keep up the good work Cartoon Network! Don’t let stereotypes ruin your creation of characters that matter to us! Because I don’t see color and I don’t see a problem with including a character that’s different in every way :)!

    • Chun

      AGREED. there is QUITE a bit of reaching going on here lol. I would even say #2 is a reach as well. Buttercup has been the resident “angry” PPG since forever. 90% of these points are a complete reach.

  • Eric Robertson

    I’m mostly right with you, but I’m gonna take some minor issue with point #2. Bliss is the only PPG with an attitude problem? Excuse me, but have you MET Buttercup..? 😉

    • Asia Mills

      Agreed. And pardon my black girl but she’s ALWAYS been my favorite….Bc she reminds me of me.Take that as you will

    • Denise

      You forget. Buttercup is white, so she’s seen as “feisty”.

  • Skye

    The shape of her character reminds me of the Total Drama Island characters, all of them are teenagers. No?

    As far as having a pet monkey. It’s been an established fact that Mojo Jojo used to belong to the Professor and was there before the Powerpuff Girls, he left because he felt neglected. Even I remember this from my childhood. Unless they write his character out of it’s history, “naturally”, they’ll be the only two around when the Professor first started his experiments and be “friends”. I can see a big reach with that.

  • Justin D

    As some in the comments of the article have pointed out, the author is reaching for the sake of complaining. As far as her name: what is stereotypical about having a few names? If it’s a stereotypical “black” thing to have multiple names, this is the first I’ve heard about it (I’ve heard ‘jokes’ about Latinx having multiple names, but not blacks). Plus, it’s just a name on a cartoon show… how many time do you really think they’ll be calling her out by her full name?

    How many ‘blerds’ have a story of them becoming a teenager, becoming disenfranchised with their parents, and leaving home to where the fuck ever because they didn’t want to live under the parents roof? How is this any different from those real life situations? The only thing that’s different is that Bliss is superpowered… do you really, really think that Professor Utonium would have been able to stop her? No, he let her go and make her mistakes and come back home.

    So Bliss has an ‘attitude’ problem, right? Let’s forget about Buttercup, who’s reputation is nothing but attitude and Bubbles who notoriously shows off her attitude side from time to time. This point is extremely reaching for reaching.

    Bliss was the only child, so she had her dad’s assistant/pet as a best friend. Last I checked, children were always friends with pets that were in the house… dog, cat, bird, rabbit, or (in this case) a monkey. Another point of trying to find racist overtones in an innocuous relationship all kids have with pets.

    And the hips as oversexualization. She’s a teenager, well above the years of the other PPGs, so yeah her body will be more developed than the younger ones. It’s called puberty, and can strike even in the cartoon world. And if a black female character didn’t have some curves, then there would be screaming of disproportionately showing a black females body in order to not have her stand out against the rest of the white PPG’s. Next thing, she’ll be writing that Black Barbie dolls shouldn’t have hips because they hypersexualize dolls for little girls (instead of praising that they are taking into account the curvaceousness of the black female form.

    This article was problematic from the moment she decided to write it. We see so many flaws with how Black Americans are portrayed that when we don’t see any we make a bunch of nothings into something. Maybe the author should take a seat back for half an hour and watch the show as just a cartoon that finally got some representation for black girls in it after more than a decade. Maybe she should find a new cartoon to rant over, like My Little Pony. Maybe all this is just mute because I’m a guy and the consensus is that I’m overstepping my thoughts because this is about a black female character in an article written by a black female. Or maybe it’s just a children’s cartoon that, unlike others, is just a fluff distraction from the rest of the bullshit that is affecting us in real life.

  • Francisco

    Sooooooo basically what you’re saying is nothing on this list would be relevant or offensive if they had just made her white… Duly noted!

  • Sarah

    Before I comment, I’d like to say that I have not seen this episode/movie but let me say this as a black woman myself and a former superfan of the original PPG…Going off of this list of grievances, I think that maybe these complaints come from a bit of hypersensitivity. These don’t seem like blatant racial offenses to me. The only thing I don’t care for is the rebooted show entirely and their use of a new black PPG just to get more viewership. I checked out after I saw the original girls TWERKING. To me this reboot is just screaming “We’re desperate to be relevant!!!” and this new addition of this black PPG just proves it. I mean I guess you could argue that it’s a progressive move but c’mon ya’ll… Was this really necessary?

    • Nova

      Agree with you 100%

    • Eric

      Bless this one she knows what’s up.

  • Eric

    First off this show is trash.
    Second off this show will always be trash.

    Ok now with that said a fourth powerpuff girl is not need and if we are being accurate bliss is the 5th not the 4th. S for the hypersexualization they literally have a episode of them s dumb teens. If you wanna see ppg hips go there.

    These girls have multiple episodes of them losing there cool or just being angry and irrational not just bliss.

    Also I’m a black man who enjoyed the old series for the development of these character. This new series is trash and is trying to save itself by adding new characters to it universe that aren’t need.

    One of my favorite episode is the one with the blonde feminist getting owned because of how she used her “girl power” to corrupt the girls sense of justice.

    So yeah the old episode are great the formula is great adding new pic character that pop out of nowhere isn’t cool make me feel like they are think more money and who adding a pic character is going to get more people to view there shit reboot show.

  • Maurice

    I usually wouldn’t read articles like this, but for once you guys are 100% right. No one asked for this. And at the end they made no one happy. I don’t get it man. This was so tryhard and insluting. You should watch OK Ko. Enid is a much better black female character than Bliss.

  • Rachel

    I enjoyed reading this article. It helped me understand a lot and hear from POC on issues that directly impact them.
    I want to point out the ableist use of “blinded”. Using it in a negative, inaccurate way is hurtful to people who are blind, or have some form of a visual impairment.
    Thank you so much for writing this article and highlighting some of the issues and shortcomings of Cartoon Networks POC PPG

  • Johnwilliam

    I have a problem with #2,3.

    #2: Bliss doesn’t lose control because she’s an “angry black girl”. Professor X mentions that it’s any strong emotion she has. This is the equivalent to Raven in Teen Titans. This is definitely reaching.

    #3: What are the creators suppose to do about Mojo Jojo? He was the assistant to the professor in the original series and they likely made his story the same here.

    #5: Fair game until we see the show give the same treatment to the other girls (if there is a moment they become teens). Let’s be honest, oddball lab created humans are not suppose to look normal but the hips were a bit much.

    I agree there are reasons for complaint but some of the explanations sounds like a rant overlook details to make a point.

    • Johnwilliam

      Remove the “game” in the “#5” comment. The writer does have a point about hypersexualization of black females but this can be applied to females in the media as well.

  • Taylor

    I usually don’t leave comments on articles, but this one made me cringe a little. I understand your points and you’re more than entitled to your opinion, but we must remember, representation matters.

    As knowledgable and educated adults, we see how stereotypes play a huge role in perception. Of course, we want to get over this hurdle in TV and film. However, becoming angry at Bliss’ characteristics erases the little black girls who go through these issues.

    Yes, we may feel upset about such stereotypes. But please consider the little black girls (with long names, family issues, and hypersensitivity) who can relate and feel elated about Bliss. Bliss should make them feel like the superheroes they truly are.

    Feeling angry about such representation undermines their experience.

  • Mika

    I really think your over thinking this, first, who cares about the names,maybe they are names after people who created her or maybe they will say why she has so many. Second, she’s the OLDER sister. She will be taller and will be curvy. And third, buttercup has some serious problems, but they all do. Blossom is controlling, bubbles is a spoiled baby, and buttercup is angry, mean and grumpy all the time.

  • Luna

    but like….could we get a curl pattern though??

  • Tt

    I can see it from both sides

    For one many ads, cartoon , tv shows, and articles make people think about the stereotypes blacks females and men read and see because of the underlying racism black people face
    So for someone to think this she not that off! lets be open minded with this side and really understand

    On the other side i do feel black people have to stop looking at everything or everyone is trying to attack or poke fun at us

    And my last point i think we should teach our children what some tv shows , news , internet and magazines try to portray and how they try to destroy our image as blacks ..teach them to really love thier inner self after that it dont matter what anyone throws at us cause we know and wont be effected

  • Jasmine Foster

    Ok well A your reaching with the hips thing . She’s older and black but she still needs to look like her younger white sisters. Plenty of siblings have variations in skin tone . She has hips because she’s older do you remember how all the older women are super curvy? And who cares it’s all about body positivity let her be thick and great ! B her name is Just Bliss Utonium don’t believe every thing you read on wikia and believe that dumb shit . Everyone know butter cup is the A Hole. And she’s older so she’s going to be a bit spicy and emotional like a teenager . The back story you put was awful the bird pooo thing ? I need some receipts because I have not seen that anywhere and it sounds like bs. The monkey thing is annoying but I mean listen they have a gender less devil on the show named him so I mean if that doesn’t trigger you since this is about black stereotypes and we are so anti gay then let the monkey thing go . Yes it was unclassy of them but they could let her be friends with HIM or the germs . I need receipts for your info cause some of it I call bs ?

  • WHATSITTOYA

    Brown Sugar, Watermelon, and everything Black
    These were the ingredients chosen
    To create the perfectly forced PC black girl
    But Professor Utonium accidentally
    Added an extra ingredients to the concoction
    Chemical W….e was kangz

  • Tayanme

    Why people always running away from being who we are. Fact is, many of us black women may come off as angrier than the average woman. That’s because we have to put up with a lot of be because we’re black, and we are constantly put in a position where we have to fight for basic liberties, so sometimes we are more forward than women of other races. So, why don’t we just accept that and be proud of it instead of trying to make people forget that it is true in many cases.
    Also, many of us are curvy, so why should we want to hide or ignore that? If women of other races can be drawn with their natural features, why can’t we, and why should we be ashamed of it?

    Listen angry writer, your rant kinda proved the angry thing, because much of this stuff isn’t worth getting upset about. Did you want them to simply create another white ppg, then paint her skin brown. No, Sweetheart, bring a person of color is a lot deeper than that. Would it have also upset you if they had given her full lips as well?

    • Joseph

      The fact that she is black isn’t the problem. If one of the Powerpuff girls was black to begin with, nobody would be complaining. The problem is that cartoon network decided to just add a new powerpuff girl and give her a horrible backstory, which is bad enough as it is. The fact that shes black only makes it worse, as it seems the only reason they made her black is to look more politically correct and accepting, and to get more views. Some other comments have given a much better alternative, and that’s to just make a new show with a black character in it. Also, even if Bliss was white she wouldn’t be liked much. In the group of 3 little girls with realistic hair colors, a teenager with long bright blue hair wouldn’t work very well, and her being black isn’t helping much. And on your point of people being curvy, I think they gave Bliss hips to make her look like a teenager, not because black people are curvy, but this wasn’t the best way to go about it. I don’t think a person like Bliss would have hips in real life around her age. They could have made her look older by making her taller, which they did, but not making the eyes bigger and leaving them the same size as the other powerpuff girls while making her head grow like the rest of her body.

      TL;DR, We’re mad at Bliss existing because she’s a brand new character to a really old show who is very different than every other character for reasons that seem to stop at “more relatability = more money”. Making a new show with a black main character or adding a black character to a show newer than the powerpuff girls would have been a much better idea that trying to milk every last dime out of a show that’s almost 20 years old.

  • Tyrone Blackman

    We wuz Powerpuffs n shiet

  • Tal

    Why did they have to shove a 4th PPG anyway?

    • Joseph

      For money and because they’re unoriginal

  • Dawn

    Although I’m glad to see diversity in the cartoon world. I definitely feel PPG Bliss image could be improved.
    The long long turquoise weave looking hair is way too much. It should be “natural” black girl afro puff balls, which goes along with the cartoon name and the other girls hair looks suitable for their age. We need positive role models for our children and not someone creating a black PPG that has anger & emotional issues being raised by a single parent. After all not every black child has been raised in this situation or even will be. You have your very spoiled rich kids with both parents, such as Blue Ivy, North, Saint West, Jaden & Willow Smith…I could go on & on! So I say revamp Bliss’s image Cartoon network! ?

  • Ginger

    TBH, the whole point of her character was a stereotype. She was supposed to parody DA OCs and fanfic characters with her overly long name and blue hair. She’s a parody of a Mary Sue, down to the backstory being a copy of Blossom, Bubbles and Buttercup’s creation. Her powers being OP but unusable because of her mood is also a commonly overused trope to introduce a troubled character with a dark past. Bubbles herself lampshades the violent mood swings as “being a teenager”, furthering the clichés. Bliss was made to criticize the fandom as well as introducing a family member for the sisters (also explaining why Chemical X is called Chemical X).
    Her being black is just a reference to black representation becoming more common nowadays, it wasn’t meant to be offensive

  • ChrisLF

    First, let’s put things in perspective. Here we all are. I’m going to assume all grown ass adults, ranging from 20s to 60s (yes, 60s:-), possibly, mostly black, having a supposed serious discussion about the Powerpuff girls and addition of a black (older) Powerpuff girl they managed to pull out of somewhere. This is a cartoon grown ass people are having a serious conversation about. Just the thought of it just makes me laugh my ass off. Now we’re all here because we must love watching them, with the exception of Eric, which which is in denial of his love of them girls also (or he wouldn’t be here :-).

    Now how did I find myself here anyway? Well, I was an original Powerpuff girls and went on a hiatus for some years. I happened to just turn them on to see what I was missing and was thrown when I saw a fourth and black Powerpuff girl. The second thing I noticed was that she was obviously taller (older) that than the other Powerpuff girl. Using my childish imagination, the first thing I didn’t do was pull the Black card and started cursing the man! I went straight to She was the professor’s first girl, he had somehow lost custody of (LOL!!). So they’ve reunited so of course she’s older and taller.

    All I’m trying to say is, enjoy the cartoons for what they are. You can always make up meanings for what you’re seeing in cartoons. Yes, I know cartoons have traditionally had messages behind some the words or things shown, but that didn’t stop us from watching them or beating the shit out of them.

    We’re all grown ass adults who LOVE watching the Powerpuff girls CARTOONS! Let’s leave the analyzing for work, or whatever you do the rest of the day.

    Love you all for loving Powerpuff girls! Love you haters to that’s really in denial!

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