At first I didn’t even know if I loved The Venture Bros. or was just struck by the sinking of the main characters (minus the cool machismo of Brock Samson) but the show ultimately taught me to love myself a little more. Long before season two told me everyone was free to feel good, I knew I had a connection to this wild franchise, which is now getting its own movie. A Venture Bros. the character, in particular, opened me up to more personal thoughts and a more in-depth analysis of the show.
Pete White is an important supporting character in Venture Bros., a brilliant computer scientist with his own boast and wit that demands attention to his obvious lack of melanin. But what’s the most important aspect to me, he’s an albino. In fictional worlds, characters with this mutation are often accompanied by villainous roles, so it’s refreshing to see someone with my condition who exists outside of this trope. To be fair, he has a little cocaine problem (because, of course, a person with albinism and the last name White would put white powder in his nose), is a little callous, ungrateful, passive-aggressive. and, as the series describes it, a “Star fucker”, but who has no faults? Thankfully, people like Shore Leave and, yes, even Sergeant Hatred put him in his shoes every now and then, but I otherwise see him as a role model in many ways.
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White and I have a lot in common, aside from our mutual love for video games, especially the Grand Theft Auto series. Like him, I was in a situation where I was talking to a friend about why a certain girl wouldn’t notice me and got the response, “She’s hot and you’re albino.” My whole branding incorporates my last name or references me to an albino, my original blog, Into the Pale Wilds, referring to both. White, whose college radio show was called “The White Room,” does the same. I’m not sure where the marketing side ends and where the identifying cry begins, but I think we’ve both seen some bleeding.
It’s easy to write Pete White as a joke, especially for those who have only seen a few episodes. He shines through in little moments, but I also died laughing the first time I heard White explain to the rest of the characters why a fun day in the sun just wasn’t possible for him: “Should I?” you specify it people? I am an albino. It is not a fashion choice. My body literally hates the sun on a molecular level. “I knew from that joke that I had found a new line to respond to and that the character understood me. One of the first quotes we hear from him is, ‘We monsters have to stay together,’ which is oddly touching and a nod to the alien culture so prevalent in the dark, comedic adventure genre.
Venture Bros. likes to flex his dark humor, bathe in his vulgarity, and push a few buttons on the way down the drain, so it’s no surprise that he treats a character with albinism like a joke, trotting the genetic mutation for a laugh. This was sometimes reserved, allowing Pete to be self-sufficient alongside his traits being a part of the story. His sensitivity to the sun was exaggerated, but seeing him with shades and an umbrella planted him in my reality. It was a representation in the strangest form.
White is known as The Pink Phantom, a reference to her skin tone and something that I know incredibly. I don’t mind being called white or pale, but at a younger age pink was just one step too far and it’s a visible trait that I’ve fought against all my life. A longtime friend once tried calling me “Pinky” as those close to us tend to test it out, but I hated the name and was grateful when they got it. However, white embraced pink and wore it as a nickname, which I’m not sure I can do even now. In one aspect, I see her comfort in being called things like The Pink Pilgrim as overtaking me in her comfort with the condition, but I also remember that just because we both have albinism, we don’t share. not the same experiences with him.
Sometimes I feel a juxtaposition between our relatable experiences (called a “pale face” or Casper) and a less familiar scientific life and albino code that he clearly knows more than I do. I’m also jealous of anyone in my mutant position with a better sense of fashion – what my best friend says is everyone – especially those albinos who have learned to wear colors other than black. Pete wears his dressy, new wave club look with a natural swagger.
I attended Dragon Con in 2012 with friends and sat on a Venture Bros. panel with the show’s creators, Doc Hammer and Jackson Publick. It was hilarious, even with all the smoke breaks (a running gag for their presentation). We were a few minutes late in the large conference room, so our seats were further out. During the question and answer part, I decided to ask a question. My friend used his cell phone to get the attention of the man running with the microphone. When it was my turn to speak, I didn’t ask about the upcoming special, the new season, or the rumors of issues with Adult Swim like I normally would. I wanted the creators to address something notable from my last replay of the series: their treatment of Pete White.
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I started by thanking them for including the character on the show, happy to see an albino in a good role, and they seemed to embrace the questions in our back-and-forth, realizing I also had the albinism. When I brought up their type of jokes and asked how they were going to “answer for their crimes against albinism,” they seemed nervous and didn’t know how to react. They made some typical jokes about pink eyes and cooking in the sun, but as time went on it was clear that they knew more about the disease and had done some research. They were sincere in sharing how much they enjoyed writing White and Billy, with Hammer discussing their relationship and what it meant to him, while Publick compared the character to his father (he claims in the DVD commentary that the voice de White was based on his father). This part of the panel ended with them, hinting that there would be more albino humor to come next season.
Fans were then introduced to a villainous albino ninja, and along with a new character came a new set of albinism-based jokes. In a way, it wasn’t what I wanted, but I was also happy to see more of White and to have these characters on screen, even as a joke at the expense of my condition. Having this moment with the creators and understanding where they were coming from with the humor made my bond with the series stronger. While it’s not always an individual representation, seeing it in one form or another always matters. I don’t necessarily want to look more like White – unless we can fix that fashion thing – but the new movie gives me the chance to see an old friend I’ve known for almost eighteen years, someone I have known for almost eighteen years. feel genetic connection to, and that will mean a lot.