C!Tommy’s Storyline With C!Dream Is A Very Concerning Depiction Of Abuse
Okay, I’m sure that this probably isn’t too new information for anyone paying attention to the overall story of the DreamSMP, especially C!Tommy’s storyline, but I figured I’d give my two cents for this anyways.
C!Tommy is an Abuse Victim who has gone through horrific stuff at the hands of C!Dream. This is not an arguable fact. regardless of if C!Dream had reasons for doing what he did, if C!Dream also later gets abused, or if ultimately the abuse portrayal could be considered in some ways flawed or unrealistic, that stuff doesn’t ultimately matter. Because we’ve seen what happened to C!Tommy during Exile, have seen the physical, emotional, and mental abuse he was put through. Just because they won’t call it Abuse doesn’t mean it isn’t Abuse.
Now, C!Tommy being an abuse victim is an interesting idea from a storytelling perspective. It has a lot of potential to lead to genuine character development, or to affect relationships and story beats in interesting ways. And it could be an interesting way to really say something about abuse and coping with it.
And to an extent, an argument could be made that it has, though I’d argue the exact way those are handled in canon, but not the point. The point is, abuse is not just something that you get to gloss over. If you want to include themes of abuse in the story, a story you are making available to the public for millions to see, then there needs to be a clear and obvious message being portrayed with including abuse in the story. Preferably, that abuse is bad, and can have majorly negative effects on anyone, especially children. We don’t always get that lucky, but whatever.
But, from my months of watching the story of the DreamSMP, and trust me I’ve been here a long while, I haven’t seen C!Tommy’s abuse being handled very... well. I could, of course, be wrong in some aspects, and maybe be misremembering stuff since this dumpster fire has been happening for a year now, and feel free to correct me or bring up more points if you know something I don’t. But, I still think that overall, I have a point of view that should be considered.
So basically, C!Tommy is an abuse victim, right? this is easy to see, very obvious in the way he acts and behaves. Or... is it?
Abuse is a complex topic and one that, in real life, presents itself in all sorts of forms. Many abuse victims were raised in unloving homes and ended up becoming more vulnerable to abuse later on in life as a result of that. Others never properly learned how to express emotions or turn people down and got taken advantage of. Others were abused from the start, and develop various ways of coping and dealing with that, even ways that they might not be fully conscious of themselves. Abuse is not a one-way street, it could hardly be considered a street at all given how diverse and differing the people who experience it end up developing into are.
So I’m not saying that, if C!Tommy were a real person, that he isn’t “Being traumatized enough” or that “Why isn’t he more like what I expect him to be like?”. That is not what I’m saying at all.
What I am saying, is that C!Tommy is a fictional character who exists within a narrative, a story. And in a good story, consistency is half the battle. I, as the audience consuming the story, need to be able to look at C!Tommy and pick up on and understand the effects abuse has had on him. And these effects need to be consistent, otherwise, as an audience member, I’m going to get confused and start having questions about why he acts one way here but doesn’t somewhere else.
I also need to be able to clearly see and understand, by being given narrative stepping stones, if something is changing for his character.
As the saying goes, “Show don’t tell”. C!Tommy can’t just say he “Goes to Puffy for Therapy” offhandedly one time, as a means of handwaving away why he doesn’t really consistently act as traumatized as he used to even though it’s literally only been a few weeks, or months at most. To explain how he can jump back between being really sad and depressed about something, to joking about Women and Twitter. It seems weird if he’s able to just so seamlessly, so effortlessly, go back and forth. Almost as if he’s bouncing between OOC and IC, but that’s a whole other discussion.
Sure, C!Tommy is representing real mental health issues, but he is, ultimately a Fictional Character existing in a story. I need to be given signs, proof, foreshadowing, to explain when he has certain reactions and behaviours in order to understand his character. And these need to be consistent, otherwise we get plotholes and general confusion.
I criticize the inconsistency and the offscreen handwaving because it’s generally not very good writing. It’s the same reason I disliked Eret’s basically off-screen-sort-of-redemption-arc. It’s the same reason people dislike it when Villains of previous seasons suddenly come back as fully reformed good guys for seemingly no reason. There is no arc, no development, no progress is shown to us.
Because when you’re telling a story about a character having some major change or developing in some way, or having an important character trait, if I don’t see it on screen, then it didn’t happen. How am I supposed to root for C!Tommy’s progress, or understand what he’s doing to progress, if a never see his coping mechanisms? His therapy appointments?
You can’t just say something, or inconsistently portray something, and expect me to jump through hoops to connect these nearly transparent dots that keep getting thrown around.
Show don’t tell. Show me Tommy getting better, because otherwise you’re just telling me he made character development, and showing me this completely different character as proof. No, last I remembered C!Tommy was having panic attacks and yelling when C!Dream was even mentioned. You can’t tell me that a day later he can interact normally after days of being in the prison and a month of being dead.
Or, if you are gonna have him flip flop back and forth, don’t have it be so sudden and jarring, give an explanation. Is he faking being fine? Does he have memory issues? C!Tommy doesn’t read to me as the type who’s good at suppressing his emotions, he wears his heart on his sleeve. So you’re going to have to explain, clearly, in a way that isn’t ambiguous, what’s happening with C!Tommy here.
You’re not really saying anything about the abuse C!Tommy goes through, if all of that trauma is automatically wiped from the story when the writers get too lazy or too scared to keep it in. At best, you are showing abuse and trauma for the sole purpose of showing it, with no intention of properly dealing with and addressing it in the story. At worst, you are basically just doing torture porn.
Pain, Hurt, Trauma for the sake of it. Not with any goal in mind. Just for the drama of it, or to hurt the audience.
And then your audience is just supposed to take that content in uncritically, and they gain no true understanding of how abuse victims survive and cope after their traumatic treatment.
Exile Arc sure did a good job at making C!Tommy suffer. But as soon as that arc ended, a lot of the stuff that happened in it went completely glossed over and unaddressed for a long while. That might have been fine in the lead-up to Doomsday, since a lot of plot stuff had been going on and stopping to handle C!Tommy’s issues might (Might is heavily doubted cause it certainly isn’t impossible) mess with the pacing a bit. But then after Doomsday, there isn’t really any excuse to put it off. Because nothing was really happening for a good while, and nobody had anything to do plotwise.
And this became even more true with C!Dream being locked in Prison. Nothing was really happening, so what was stopping the story from taking the time to properly discuss and deal with this stuff?
Well, nothing really. So, the Hotel Arc happened. And oh boy, was it a mess.
So, C!Tommy being angry at C!Dream for the abuse and trauma he has suffered at Dream’s hand isn’t an issue. It’s an incredibly common thing for victims to feel angry at their abusers, and to even go so far as to wish for vengeance against them in some way. And that’s a totally valid and fine feeling.
You’re hurting, you’re scared, you’re in pain. I get that. When we’re hurting, we don’t always act rationally or healthily.
But, ultimately, that rage, and hurt, and want for vengeance is not a healthy thing to hold onto. In many circumstances with an abuse victim wanting to inflict pain back on their abuser, we run into various problems.
For one, getting vengeance on your abuser is quite frequently going to give you more emotional pain than it will fulfilment. Especially if you are young, or are letting this want for vengeance take over your entire livelihood. It does you no good ultimately, to attempt to bring pain to the person who hurt you, because not only will you often be unsuccessful, you frequently won’t find emotional healing and stability in that.
(The only exception to this rule being if ignoring them or moving on from them isn’t an option for you right now.)
Actions have consequences, and if you invest more time in that person who hurt you, then you have no time to work on yourself or the relationships around you. You have no time to heal, and this can become self-destructive.
Spending time around an abuser, as a victim, is in all likelihood just going to upset you more. You’re retraumatizing yourself by spending time around them, and as you make attempts to give them their comeuppance, you could possibly end up internalizing the methods they used on you, and just end up perpetuating the cycle of abuse again.
And even if you have no problem with doing that to this particular person, consider how fully internalizing these abusive behaviours could affect your friends or family. Frequently, even when they don’t mean to, abuse victims can internalize the things that they went through and then use those same behaviours against people in their life later on. Being shitty to your support system because of what you went through isn’t a good move, for you or them.
Basically just, an Abuse Victim has more to gain from working on themselves while finding ways to heal and overcome their trauma and abuse, than they do spending their time and energy on the abuser. Its frequently unhealthy, distressing, and self-destructive to indulge in that too much.
(Of course, I don’t speak for everyone, but from what iIve looked into and seen, this is the healthiest method of actually healing from your abuse. That doesn’t mean you just... leave your abuser alone and never address or talk about what they did, you don’t let them get away with it, of course not. It just means you don’t waste your mental well being and time obsessing over someone, especially someone who has hurt you so much.
You deserve better than that. You deserve to heal.)
Now, let’s get back to C!Tommy.
C!Tommy, instead of finding a proper means of coping with his issues (proper therapy, diagnosis for his issues, forming and maintaining healthy support systems, focusing on things he loves, etc) is shown to repeatedly focus back on C!Dream. When he was making Big Innit Hotel, it did seem like he was to an extent finding ways to cope with his shit. He was still kinda shitty and his hotel was not exactly made and run by the most morally great standards, though I suppose I can’t expect too much when he is a very traumatized teen and doesn’t really know what he’s doing.
But, ultimately, this all fell apart when he got locked in Pandora’s Vault with C!Dream. Arguably, it was already falling apart the moment he decided to keep pursuing C!Dream even when he was locked up.
See, the thing is, C!Tommy can never just… have trauma. Having trauma that he can healthily and methodically work through is something that for him as a Character, is basically impossible. His character is an angry one, one built on spite and childishness, and who holds the mantle, unfortunately, of “Spunky Male Protagonist In A YA Novel”. So, his mental health issues can never just be a struggle he has to cope with, especially not when the DreamSMP can never seem to have anything between “A lot is happening right now omg” or “Literally nothing is happening and nobody is playing on the server at all omg”.
Instead, his issues have to be seen as a battle, and they fuel the narrative of the story. Him having been abused by C!Dream cannot just exist as a thing that he as a person has to work through slowly with the help of others around him. It has to be seen as this Epic Triumph Against Evil, another battle of Tommyinnit VS Dream on the DreamSMP, a classic Villain versus Hero fight.
This, of course, isn’t too great. By C!Tommy’s abuse plotline being framed in this manner, it makes it so that C!Tommy is constantly obsessing over his abuser and recklessly throwing himself into dangerous and triggering situations is some attempt at an “Epic Battle With Evil”, rather than this being treated like the self-harm it actually is. And yes, it is self-harm, a form of it.
C!Tommy uses his trauma and issues as fuel for the story, making it so that its impossible for him to truly progress and a character, and the moment he does start growing, he has to get retraumatized again so he goes right back to where he was.
C!Tommy does not become a better person when he’s around C!Dream, nor does he find any form of fulfilment in being around him. He gets shaky and panicky at just the sight of him. He regularly has violent and explosive outbursts at just the mention of him. When C!Dream talks to him, he gets nervous and basically can’t help but listen due to conditioning he still listens to.
When C!Tommy went to go visit C!Dream the first time in Pandora’s Vault, he brought with him stacks of TnT. He did it because he wanted to mimic what C!Dream had done to him in Exile, where he would take all of C!Tommy’s newly gained items and blow them up underground for dramatic effect.
C!Dream did this for control over C!Tommy, to manipulate him, for his suffering.
And C!Tommy wanted to do this to C!Dream, because he was feeling vindictive.
When C!Tommy got into the prison, he mocked C!Dream, hit him repeatedly, and tried to boss him around. He made him write ridiculous books and verbally berated the man. He did this in a feeble attempt to gain some feeling of control over C!Dream. This, evidently, did not work. At best his success was momentary. And this sense of achievement he gained was gained through projecting his abuse trauma onto someone else.
He repeated the cycle.
After he got brought back from the dead and let out of the prison, he was much much worse. C!Tommy was now paranoid, anxious, constantly thinking about C!Dream, and had his mindset solely on getting revenge on him, by killing him.
It got so bad, he ended up doing lacklustre “Exposure Therapy” to help himself not panic when he went into Pandora’s Vault to kill C!Dream. It got so bad he dragged C!Tubbo and C!Ranboo into this, putting them in danger and putting more pressure on another two teenagers’ shoulders.
It got so bad, that Ghostbur died, C!Sam closed off even more, and C!Wilbur came back.
Objectively, C!Tommy leaving C!Dream alone would be the better thing for everyone. And yet he keeps repeating the cycle. Because C!Tommy is not meant to grow, learn and heal. He is made to suffer.
The problem is not so much showing an unhealthy depiction of a mentally ill or traumatized person. Because trauma and mental illness and the effects of abuse are not always pretty, and they shouldn’t always have to be portrayed and pretty or sympathetic to be accurate.
It becomes a problem when you get this depiction of C!Tommy’s coping being presented uncritically to an audience of a lot of underaged and young people.
Nobody in canon, whether they be adults or fellow teens, has ever tried to question C!Tommy’s methods for coping. C!Ranboo and C!Tubbo just limply went along with his plans for Exposure Therapy with no consideration of if this was a good idea. No adults really offer to genuinely step in and help C!Tommy deal with his shit, and the ones that do leave him or get corrupted in some way, often leaving him with more trauma as they do.
C!Puffy’s therapy methods are dubious at best, and the most we ever see of her actually helping C!Tommy is her humouring his toxic behaviours, and C!Tommy making offhanded mentions to vague therapists appointments we never see.
C!Technoblade stopped giving a shit as soon as C!Tommy walked off the screen. C!Wilbur was dead, and now that he isn’t he certainly isn’t helping C!Tommy. C!Phil isn’t C!Tommy’s dad and has no obligation to do anything for him as a result. C!Ranboo has the backbone of a chocolate eclair. C!Tubbo is too busy repressing his own trauma to help C!Tommy with his. C!Sam is being ruled by the prison and C!Quackity. C!Quackity has become an Ancap.
Nobody in this story is a reliable or trusted person to C!Tommy, who could properly tell him his methods are unhealthy and give him better alternatives. And as a result, nobody is able to tell the audience that C!Tommy is wrong
Unreliable Narrators are only effective when the narrative in some way has their unreliableness pointed out or proven to the audience. If you go into a story with the assumption that everybody watching will be able to see past C!Tommy’s POV and not take him at face value, then you are naive. Especially when this fandom is made up of many teens and children.
I only know C!Tommy’s methods are unhealthy because I care way too much and do my research. A vast majority of the world doesn’t have the same understanding and education on these topics, especially not children and teenagers. A good chunk of people, especially neurodivergent and mentally ill people, could very well take the story at face value and automatically assume that what Tommy’s doing is actually a good coping mechanism because they don’t know any better.
There is no clarification or safety net for preventing misinterpretation. And being of the opinion that “Well, they should know better than to trust a bunch of Minecraft Youtubers for this stuff” or “We can’t expect them to be psychologists! You expect too much” is just… not helping.
Because I shouldn’t have to explain why children and teenagers, especially those that are using these people to cope, are not always going to make level-headed and common-sense decisions. They will be influenced by these Content Creators, whether we think it’s “Stupid” or not.
And I can say with certainty that, while yes, this might be a bit much to expect from a bunch of British/American white guys who play Minecraft to handle, may I also point out that nobody fucking made them put this stuff in the story. There are ways to write a story without stepping outside of your realm of true understanding. Nobody begged these MCYTs to go and make torture porn for a 16 year old, nobody asked them to touch on topics they have no fucking clue about.
They put that in themselves. And we have the right to point out the problems and flaws in it, and criticize them for not handling this stuff better.
You don’t start applying for a job you don’t meet the requirements for. You don’t start an expensive project you can’t finish.
You don’t include elements in a story you aren’t willing to fully go through with and address in a proper and sensitive way.
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