MBW Formation

Those of you who’ve read my book So Yesterday may remember the following scene in chapter 2. A focus group of cool-hunters has just been shown a new sneaker advertisement, and they all seem to agree that it’s awesome.

That is, until Jen speaks up . . .

“I was kind of bugged by the missing-black-woman formation.”

Mandy blinked. “The what?”

Jen shrugged uncomfortably, feeling the eyes on her.

“Yeah, I know what you mean,” I said, even though I didn’t.

Jen took a slow breath, collecting her thoughts. “You know, the guy on the motorcycle was black. The guy on the bike was white. The woman was white. That’s the usual bunch, you know? Like everybody’s accounted for? Except not really. I call that the missing-black-woman formation. It kind of happens a lot.”

It was quiet for another moment. But gears were spinning. Tina Catalina let out a long sigh of recognition.

“Like the Mod Squad!” she said.

“Yeah,” Hiro chimed in, “or the three main characters in . . . ” He named a certain trilogy of movies about cyber-reality and frozen kung-fu, whose title ends in an X, counts as a brand, and therefore will not grace these pages.

The floodgates broke. More comic books, movies, and TV shows tumbled off everyone’s lips, a dozen stuffed-full pop-cultural memory banks rifled for examples of missing-black-woman formations, until Mandy looked ready to cry.

She smacked the clipboard down.

“Is this something I should have KNOWN ABOUT?” she said sharply, sweeping her eyes around the table.

An unhappy silence fell over the conference room. I felt like an evil genius’s henchman when something goes wrong in a certain series of secret agent filmsรขโ‚ฌโ€as if Mandy might push a button on the control panel and we would be ejected, chairs and all, out the roof and into some lake in Central Park.

I noticed only yesterday that we’re living through a nation-changing MBW formation right now. (Gloria Steinem may have jogged my brain on this point.) So let’s all take a moment to appreciate the predictive, productive, and representative powers of pop culture.

We have a way of becoming the stories we tell ourselves.




Just to be clear: I’m not mocking what’s going on here in the US. Having a woman and an African-American man as serious contenders for president is momentous. It’s great to see.

Still, I didn’t want to let a missing-black-woman formation as epic as this one pass by unnoticed.

And for you younger folks, here’s the scoop on the late-1960s TV show The Mod Squad.

Update: To comply with Federal Election Commission equal time rules, I am also required to display a picture of the Republican candidates . . .


158 thoughts on “MBW Formation

  1. Uh! School. Bores. Me. Very. Much.
    My math teacher is so totally oblivious. My guy friend walked out of the class, did something in the school for five min., came back and she never even noticed! He was in the front row! And its not like he snuck out, he got up and left. everyone was cracking up and my teacher was like “You guys, this math lesson isn’t very funny.” Like, no duh, were not laughing at you.

    This guy in my math class, the one that sits next to me, he always does stuff and she never notices and if she does she doesn’t care. but that not likely, she always gets made.

  2. HaHaHa! It was so funny at school today, in my stupid boring Algebra class, all the guys were throwing pencils and getting them stuck in the ceiling and the teacher never even noticed.I know totally oblivious! Especially since everyone was cracking up laughing and there were like 20 pencils stuck in the ceiling when we left and the teacher’s all mumbling to himself”I’m glad I can have a class with such well behaved students…blah blah blah” Lol!
    Okay, my really important question about who is better,Zane or Edward- I can’t even answer cause they’re both so fantabulous!(my stupid word of the day)Yeah so I just decided that Edward is the best and Zane is the best too.(except they’re in two different like centuries so I don’t have to choose.HeHeHe!)Oh wait,Dang it! Edward doesn’t get any older so does that mean he’s alive when Tally and Zane are? That would be so stinkin awesome! He could have like saved Zane before he died.Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!(I have to stop thinking like this, it’s gonna fry my brain)
    See ya!

  3. lol, i don’t o, i love them both. I think there both pretty freakin fawesome so i give them both a big 100.

  4. Hehe, I have no funny school stories today, because I wasn’t in school! But, ya, the other day my guy friend kept making me laugh during a test and I got in sooo much trouble, he didn’t even get in any!

  5. That’s so unfair, but that stuff happens to me all the time cuz anything totally random can make me laugh so most of my teachers just ignore it now,I guess thats kind of lucky for me.
    See ya!

  6. Hehe, well they don’t ignore me! And it’s the same for me to, I’ll laugh at practically anything, hehe!

  7. yessssssssss!!! done with semester finals….now i have till Tuesday to chill out. hehe.

    anyways i really don’t feel like reading all those comments so can someone sum it up 4 me?? please.


    Okay, I have your attention, but, do you know what would be totally and unstoppidly fawesome?…



    ‘Cause I have always wanted to know about how David and Shay-la, feel about this!!!

    *******WARNING SPOILERS:**************

    Shay-la: hello! Her best friend forever keeps getting on the opposite sides! First she betrays her, then she steals her boyfriend, then her other boyfriend, then she abandons her, then she cares more about her “crippled boy” (see Special than Shay-la!!! Wouldn’t that be totally fawesome and dramatic, and just words that I can’t explain it!

    David: People all over the world are bubbleheaded, brain deads, then a girl names Tally comes to the Smoke, after her best friend did, and she traveled ALONE through the wild!!! This girl is freakin’ awesome, and then we keep getting closer and closer, then the night after they finally kiss, theres all these Specials, everywhere, and it turns out she led them here ON PURPOSE!!! But, she never tells him that, and they escape the Specials, and travel for weeks through the wild, alone, to get his mom and dad and the rest of the Smoke back, and once they help them escape, they figure out his dad died! Then his moms makes these brain-dead-stopper-pills that stop the lesions, and they need some pretty to test it on and his mom tells him TALLY led the Specials here on purpose, soo she goes and becomes a pretty so they can have a person to test it on! Then, he has to go into hiding for a little while so he has to send someone else to give her the pills, instead of him! So, Tally finally escapes pretty-town with all her friends, and it turns out she’s not with them and she has another BOYFRIEND!!! How, hurtfull, but it turns out that they had split the pills and now her boyfriends braindead braindead, and then the specials start to come and Tally won’t go with them. then the next time he sees her shes a SPECIAL!!! OMG! And she’s like totally after him, to destroy the smoke, and get revenge-ishness, for killing her boyfriend! but then, a war starts, and her boyfriend dies, and she needs him!! Thats the perfect story!!!!!!

    But, as you can defiently see, I want David’s story much much more then Shay-la’s but they’d both be just as fawesome!!!

    What do you guys think??

  9. Oh, and I forgot to say, in David’s that she kept rewiring herself without the pills!!!

    There just add that in!

  10. woah. theres a brilliant idea Amelia-wa! see? thats why i love you. David and Shay-la are SO much more interesting. yeah.

    dont you think that all the boring people in books are usually the main character? like…in twilight. how Bellas the main character. whats up with that? i mean, the book wood still be pretty bad no matter whose POV its from. but i read the first chapter of midnight sun in Edwards POV. talk about more interesting. i wood give twilight like a 7 on the good book scale. from Edwards POV i mite give it a 8.5.

    Edward, like Shay-la and David, actally DOES stuff. instead of just sitting around reacting to what there friends do and almost getting killed.

    such a smart smart girl…i approve.

    -Lizzy-wa OUT! ๐Ÿ˜€

  11. i have to do a project that counts as half my grade with the most obnoxus and annoying popular/preppy girl and she is like sooooo stupid and she expects meto do all of the work!!!! she is like always talking to this guy in our class. and like the projec is due monday and ” I ” am not even close to being done. and she didn’t do any reseach last night and se was like all “sorry i was on the phone all night and forgot.” WHEN I CALLED HER TWICE!!!!!!!!!!!! ergay!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! so not fool!!!!!! i’ll have to work this weekend and put my life in the makeing on hold. i was going to wait al weekend for my kinda b/f to call….. long story…. if u want to know i will tell but…. NOT ANYMORE!!!!!!!!!!!!! GRRRRRR,{girl in SoPhIe-La’s S.S. class}!!!!!!!!!!!

    but so……

    he he he

    as u can tell not a good day today……..

    i was kind like ranting….. he he he

    sry 4 have u listen to my problems……

    WoRd ๐Ÿ˜‰

  12. hhhmmm…i think Shay-las POV wood be better. i mean, i wood want to share that hate for Tally-wa with her. ya no what i mean?

    -Lizzy-wa OUT! ๐Ÿ˜

  13. Ya, I know what you mean, but in David’s POV there would be sooo much extra stuff that we haven’t heard of, ya know?

  14. ya i think it sould like switch in between each? maybe…..

    so….. And to the Question Edward 0r Zane? i have 2 anwsers

    1. both i love them the same

    2. THIS IS SCOTT WESTERFELD’S BLOG!!!! he he he i guess it is knda talking abouthis books too bu um……. ya he he he

    ok that was kinda… wha…..

    talk plz…..

    WoRd ๐Ÿ˜‰

  15. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!! I am so mad! I just post a really long comment and now I came back and it’s gone and I don’t even know if I can remember everyhting that I wrote!(It’s probably good for you guys though cuz now you don’t have to read it.lol!)Okay I’m over it now.HeHeHe.

  16. By the way, it is so not happy-making to call Zane
    “cripple boy” actually it’s very rude so I’ll just pretend that I didn’t read it.Lol! Okay yeah, I do think it would be cool to make it in Shay-la or Davids pov but It would be even cooler to do something even more fabulously random. Not sure what yet. Hmmmm… I usually reserve thinking for school but I guess I can turn my brain on to think for this occasion.HaHaHa!!!(wow I have problems with laughing at myself, I do it a lot,if you haven’t noticed.)

  17. I am super bored I guess it’s time for me to start homework then cause I’m knee deep in it from being absent yesterday.
    See ya!

  18. yuck HW!!!!!!!!!!! ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    he he he on the Chasing Midnight Wereeoves hq culb members page i worte Sophie-la over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and ove and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and ove and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and ove and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and ove and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again
    just like that bu lots more times he he he

    he he he

    WoRd ๐Ÿ˜‰

  19. hi
    did any of you look at my reading list?
    if so i have an update
    i have finnished
    my first book cross my heart and hope to spy
    i rate it an 7 out of ten
    good now i will read twilight
    but a evil girl ๐Ÿ˜ˆ
    checked it out of the library
    then she said
    “i might read it”
    i was sooooooooooo mad ๐Ÿ˜ก
    now my reading list is
    the twilight books
    last days
    and last but not least
    so yesterday

    btw i will atempt (spellt wrong) to do my shoe laces like
    oooooh you know what i mean

    gtg evil sis ๐Ÿ˜ˆ
    she is talking about puples
    she is nutz

    gtg byby ๐Ÿ˜‰

  20. Steph-la, that’s so ironic, I just just read Cross my Heart and Hope to Spy yesterday!!! I thought it was really good – I liked the excitment and twists, but I have to say – I missed Josh.

  21. i am a republican so i do not like the pic of the agents from the matrix

    but i must say the mod sqad thind and the other matrix thing was sooooo funny !!!!!!!
    i need to read NOW!!!!!!!!
    bran-la can you bring a book that i could borrow ??
    i have now changed my book list to:
    last days
    the twilight books

    btw i still urge you to rate books and post your own book lists to for reasearch ๐Ÿ˜‰
    keep on reading

  22. hahaha. i totally love it..ironic and yet so true!
    by the way, for anyone who hasn’t read So Yesterday yet- it is such a good book, and it turned me on to reading Scott Westerfeld’s other books (and now the Uglies trilogy is one of my favorites.)
    so in shortt, i love how the MBW applies still…how come the government hasn’t read this book?!
    Scott Westerfeld, you are my hero.

  23. Actually, she just finished the first rough draft of Gallagher Girls 3, Steph-la. It’s still going to be awhile before it comes out because of editing and stuff, but It shouldn’t be terribly long, probably like 6 months or so.

  24. About the Westeroard thing… I have the same problem!!

    Fellow fans- help! Please? ๐Ÿ™‚

    Before I even get to the site I get that same popup that asks me for a username and password. And if I cancel it says “authorization denied” or whateve.

    Help, friends?

  25. i want to see shay-la’s pov! she was ALWAYS my favourite, because even when you didn’t know about the lesions in uglies she seemed a lot more interesting. like she actually wanted to do something instead of being cautious and stuff like tally. and then in pretties she broke out of bubbleheadedness without even thinking she took the pills like tally. and then in specials she kicked ass unlike tally.
    if you think about it, her and david and maddy started the mind rain, not tally. and then in extras, tally gets all the credit for it, an shays stuck with a face rank in the two hundreds! injustice or what?

  26. and, morgan-la:
    (I’m hauntedpretty on westerboard) Westerboard is down for a little, the admin is working on it. We hope it’ll be back up soon!

  27. can’t *twitch* read all *twitch* posts *twitch*
    must *twitch* finish *twitch* blue *twitch* noon *twitch* *twitch*

  28. Wow, I’m sooo glad that you pointed that out and I LOVED So Yesterday. I feel like it doesn’t get as much as attention as your other books and that makes me sad, because I always felt that it was amazing. Also, the parting shot was FABULOUS. Wow.

  29. Lotti-wa no offense I liked Shay-la too it’s just I really don’t like the idea of the cutters its sort of really not a good thing that they were doing.
    Team Zane!
    see ya!

  30. hhhmmmm…

    Steph-la its hard to read your comments. hehe. there all confuzzling and scrambled and shortened an what not. hehe. ya no what i mean?

    -Lizzy-wa OUT! 8)

  31. Yikes. I’d forgotten that section of the book.

    Surreal and unfortunate, but that’s how this country works much of the time.

  32. The MBW formation is very creepy….Everyone does the whole white guy, white girl, black guy formation in EVERYTHING. Can anyone think of anything that actually includes a black woman in an adventure story? …I can’t.

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