Explicit sex scenes can be gratuitous, but they can also be valuable characterisation tools. If I describe a story’s protagonist getting pegged by a birthday clown, that tells you several things about the protagonist and several things about the clown.
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Melanie has this self-image that she's—not just angry but dangerous, a hairsbreadth from violence.
We hear it in 131 when she talks about her past:
Anger is… Anger’s been all I’ve had for a very long time. Years. Maybe since… oh, I, I don’t know. ... Angry at being passed over, being disrespected, ignored. That sort of anger, it – it powers you. Right up until it slips out and hurts someone.
and in 190 when she talks about how she feels about the cult:
If I didn’t have Georgie, I think I might just snap and beat them all to death. ... I swear, if it’s another hymn I am going to break something!
But look at how she actually reacts to Arun:
MELANIE: [Awkward] Oh, okay, um… Right, so… Arun, I just think that the…
GEORGIE: I don’t think either of us is particularly comfortable with your use of the word “redeemers”.
MELANIE: That’s… that’s not how it works. Is it? John?
ARCHIVIST: Oh? No. That’s not how it works.
John and Georgie are included to demonstrate what "person being distinctly less gentle with Arun than Melanie is" looks like. Actually, ‘gentle’ is a bit of an understatement—I might be better to say ‘timid’.
And it’s not like this is the product of the therapy or, idk, Georgie. This entire post is inspired by pronouncingitwang’s post pointing this out—rewind to her first appearance:
I waited for another five minutes, but when Sarah still hadn’t returned I started to get a bit worried. I should have woken the others, but if it turned out she’d just gone to the bathroom, I didn’t want to embarrass her in front of everyone. In that case she should have got one of us up to take over watching, anyway, but she’d hardly been the most professional while she was working with us, so it wouldn’t have surprised me if she hadn’t. After another five minutes, I decided to go look for her.
Like, Sarah is not fulfilling her responsibilities that she agreed to carry out. (and in a kinda dangerous way) But Melanie’s worried about embarrassing her.
In the end it was actually Toni that asked we not work with Sarah Baldwin again. Apparently she’d gotten “weird vibes” and didn’t feel comfortable around her. I agreed, though I didn’t share my reasons.
She doesn’t even speak up first to say “let’s not work with her again”—again, this is kinda crossing the line from 'gentle' to 'timid'. Like, you can react to things that negatively affect you without over-reacting?
(This is something she works on in therapy! Speaking up that she doesn't like 'Mel'; work-stoppage at her evil work: constructive responses.) (the apocalypse, uh, derails this a tad. :| )
What effect does the Slaughter have on this? Well, the next example is while she's got the bullet in her.
In episode 100, she's already tired and frustrated when Brian comes in. (let’s get this over with. I just don’t hold out a lot of hope for… coherence.) She does not get coherence. Instead she gets a panic attack.
(Admittedly kinda her fault, because she said that the archives couldn't help with his spider problem. But like, that's more about the circumstances being objectively panic-inducing, she wasn’t being Mean or anything.) And... she's gentle.
There’s, there’s tea there.
Okay. Right. Yes.
Drink, drink the tea.
I’ll, I’ll get you some biscuits. I’ll get you, I’ll get you, I’ll get you… something… Just breathe!
Breathe for me… [BRIAN TAKES SOME CALMING DEEP BREATHS]
Okay, yes. Good. Good.
She's not confident or practiced or comfortable at it.
She's out of her depth and kinda at the end of her rope and... gentle. Trying.
I think the through-thread is—people she has power over. She feels that anger and chokes it down because she could hurt them.
It’s difficult to strike the right balance, when you’re doing that.
(There’s another bucket of just—equals. Basira’s always there; John is for the rest of season 4 after 125; Helen :| ; Martin at least in season 5; etc. She has casual, unguarded conversations, too; and ones that are mostly focused on some goal, and ones where she’s getting what she wants, and all sorts of things.)
Towards people with power over her (the guy with the steady office job and authority over whether her experience counts as genuine; apparent boys’ club; evil mindreading murder boss; etc) she bites back. The difference is it's safe to do that because—one part she can't hurt them, and one part it'd be deserved.
(Melanie as a comedian who always punches up.)
Except, you know... there's this bit in where 106 Basira and Melanie discuss how she 'literally' made Tim and Martin cry, and... while you can construct reasons they could 'have power over her'—seniority, gender—Basira's only been around since 092. Since that point, it's obvious that those aren't real power here. That's what the Slaughter is doing to her with her; validating seeing the world as more and more against her, handing her power and encouraging her to see herself as a put-upon victim, free to fight back guiltlessly.
And then she wakes up to a numb, wounded leg and stabs John. I wonder—what if "Right up until it slips out and hurts someone. I hurt someone." & "It didn’t stay in my leg because of some ghostly master plan. It stayed because I wanted it." in 131 are saying that - like - it wasn't taking out the bullet that de-Slaughtered her? That it was the wake-up call that she hurt John, someone who was trying to help her, and she didn't want to do that.
Didn’t want to be that.
@melaniemonth I don’t know if this is Platonic, or Health: therapy&recovery, or simply Self, but it is very, very Melanie.
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Steve had been just 30 seconds early when spying on Peggy in her Shield office, and he noticed she was talking to Arnim Zola...?
Steve sees Peggy chatting with Zola, who is unmistakably the exact same Nazi scientist who tortured Bucky, was indirectly responsible for Bucky’s death, and here he is chatting away with Peggy like nothing is amiss...
And Steve is shocked at how they’re acting like regular colleagues or acquaintances, but then he remembers what Natasha told him...
So Steve says to himself, "Wow, Nat was right. Peggy and Howard really did hire Nazis for Shield. I’m real glad I avoided this train wreck!"
And then he promptly turns around and gets the hell out of Shield, like he should and would, because Steve Rogers would never stand for Nazis, not then, not now, and not ever.
And for anyone who says Zola couldn’t be there, of course he was. Because clearly Zola was roaming about the Shield base of his own free will.
When Howard finds Tony in the bunker, he was actually looking for Zola yet doesn’t seem concerned that a Nazi scientist is wandering around on his own, and that shows some level of trust toward Zola. The same level of trust you’d afford any other colleague. (If you have one Nazi sitting at your table...)
There is even an Easter egg of Zola's later computer brain in the scene with Tony and Howard. This was confirmed by Cinesite, part of the creative team behind Avengers: Endgame’s VFX work.
Image description: Shield bunker scene in Avengers Endgame, with background set dressing showing what would become the Zola computer.
And no one can say Peggy and Howard didn't work alongside Zola because CA:TWS already showed us a photo of the three of them together at Shield:
Image description: a still from movie Captain America: The Winter Soldier, showing Nazi scientist Arnim Zola working alongside Howard Stark, Peggy Carter, and one more unidentified character. Each figure is partly in shadow, which lines up with the shadowy work Shield was/is doing. It is a Government agency, after all.
Anyway, the MCU is a disjointed mess but Avengers Endgame really does take the cake on many levels. There is no force on God’s green Earth that would make me believe Steven Grant Rogers would do the things he did at the end of Endgame.
The writers could’ve given us a really cool glimpse into the world of Hydra-Shield, what they originally teased us with after CA:TWS, but instead they rewrote Steve’s entire character to the point where at the end of the movie he is barely recognizable.
Possibly the only thing Avengers Endgame is a good example of, is step by step character assassination.
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Little things to write characters who wear glasses (permanently) with:
- Taking off and folding their glasses expertly before they go to sleep
- On the rare occasion that they sleep with their glasses on, waking up and absent-mindedly reaching for the area next to them where they would put their glasses, having a moment of panic when they're not there
- Either having sparkling clean lenses or filthy ones, covered in scratches and fingerprints that they never notice
- Indents at the sides of their nose or above their ears
- Getting small spots in the areas where their glasses frames sit on their cheeks, against their skin
- Looking around confusedly, shaking their head or squinting when trying to look at something with glasses that they know are the wrong prescription for them now but glasses can be expensive and they haven't had these ones for long (very changeable eyesight)
- Poking the bridge of their nose when they aren't wearing their glasses because they forgot to take them off
- "Can you zoom in please?" (When prescription changes)
- Facial twitches that they use to push their glasses up their nose, sometimes this happens even when their glasses are off
- Complaining when their glasses get too lose and start sliding down their nose or falling off when they tilt their head
- Complaining about eye tests and the bright light of the camera that photographs the back of the eye and leaves everything pink
- Getting mask straps, jewellery and hairbands twisted or stuck near the handles of their frames
- Wanting glasses that don't match their face
- "Here, try mine on lol"
- Competing to see who has the worst eyesight
- Lenses falling out of their glasses and having to pop them back in again
- Glasses wipes or spray cleaner?
- Being careless with their glasses
- Feeling that their glasses are almost a part of them and being awkward with contacts
- People saying that their face looks different without their glasses because they're rarely off
- Being sick of being asked how many fingers someone is holding up
- "No I CAN'T just 'take them off' because then I can't SEE!"
- Trying to play sports without breaking their glasses
- Kids assuming they're smart because they have glasses and they might be or they'll be an absolute disaster
- Doesn't use glasses cases really
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Oh wow! I feel like I now know Neji so much better, thank you so much for answering! The differences between him and sasuke are much clearer now as I used to think they were indeed very similar. Seriously thank you for answering! Would you like to talk about Sasuke’s characterization? I know he’s another complex character that many people struggle with. This topic is so interesting!
(Ahh, I'm so happy you found it interesting!! I really enjoyed writing it! Sasuke's characterisation is always difficult but I will try my best to list some of the things I always keep in mind when writing him:)
1. Trauma - It is a sad reality there is almost no part of Sasuke's character that isn't at least somewhat influenced by or driven by trauma. His life has been so hard and has left him with many scars. Sasuke suffers from awful nightmares, has defence mechanisms on top of defence mechanisms, trust issues, difficulties accepting love, a low view of his self worth as a person... And that's just the start of it. Canon can sometimes gloss over it, but I think it's very key to Sasuke's characterisation to remember how broken he is. Even being in Konoha puts Sasuke on edge after everything that the village has done to him. That's why frequent trips out of the village are pretty key to maintaining Sasuke's fragile mental health in my opinion. He needs to get away.
2. Sex vs Love - Sasuke actually has no trouble accepting sexual advances, especially compared to similarly traumatised characters like Kakashi or Gaara. I don't think Sasuke ended his missing nin era as a virgin, personally. But love? He can't handle that at all, and sex fuelled by love falls into the love category. Sasuke doesn't want to leave himself vulnerable to being hurt, it's instinctive after how many times he's been hurt before, so allowing himself to love someone or be loved by someone is a mountainous hurdle for him. If he's alone, he can protect himself. If he relies on others, he open to being hurt at all times. It's something he gets better at, but it never truly goes away. Sex that doesn't mean anything, doesn't leave him open to getting hurt so he's down for using it to blow off some steam.
3. Perfectionist and control freak tendencies - Sasuke is a perfectionist in everything he does. He keeps meticulous training regimes of course, but he also keeps a meticulous shopping list. If someone else buys him his weekly food shopping, he'll double check they got the right things and didn't forget anything (right in front of them lol, some people find it a little insulting.) Sasuke has always had elements of this in his personality, but I think mundane chores were the only things he felt he could control in his life, so he controlled them as much as he could, something he never grew out of. Sasuke is also a very clean and tidy person who likes his space to be perfectly ordered.
4. Touch starved but resistant - Sasuke is touch starved and love starved to the highest degree, perhaps beaten only by Kakashi, but he is resistant to solving those problems. It's why, whenever his guard is down (sick, injured, sleepy etc.) he will always automatically reach towards comfort. He needs it. He thrives under it. But his defences get in the way if they aren't already lowered. Sick!Sasuke does many things normal!Sasuke would be ashamed and embarrassed about.
5. Determination - Sasuke is determined to do things. When he starts something, he commits to it. It's one of the most interesting but often overlooked parts of his characterisation, outside of his commitment to training. Yes, he is determined to train. But when his therapist recommends keeping a garden? That garden will be the healthiest and neatest garden in Konoha if he has any say over it. I imagine that Sasuke vs Ikea furniture would be as entertaining as any part of the chunin exams. Between the perfectionist tendencies and the determination... It would be fun to watch.
6. Protective/possessive behaviours - Let's say someone managed to break down all or most of Sasuke's defence mechanisms... someone like Naruto or a possible partner. Sasuke would die for them without question. He finds it so hard to love, but when he does, he loves completely and in an all-consuming way. He defends that person to the end, and like hell is he letting anyone take them away from him. Even just pulling a prank on his partner would put you on his permanent shit list.
Quick side note to do with the last point, it has been explored by some people on the internet before, but I really like the idea of the sharigan impacting more than just physical health. I think that Uchiha love more deeply, more obsessively than your average person because of the way the sharigan affects their brain. When they attach to a person, truly attach to them, they will never let go, there is nothing they wouldn't do to try and protect that person. Sasuke is the epitome of this. He would do anything to protect a beloved partner. Anything. And if he fails, he would join them in death. There is no life without the person Sasuke attaches to.
I think Sasuke is an 'all or nothing' kind of person in more ways than one.
(Hope that made sense! x)
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just because an episode focussed on character interactions and backstory doesn't make it filler
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Selfcest as a type of therapy or an attempt to analyze character of Loki
Hello. This post is caused by a big wave of negativity that I see on Tumblr regarding the last episode ("selfcest is bad" yada, yada, yada, creators are stupid cowards for not letting Loki go on with Mobius, yada, yada, yada) and also clamors about "nerfing" Loki ("he looks like Mobius/Sylvie sidekick in his own show") .
And I just snicker at the former (I will yet return to this), but the latter has some fair point - there were moments where Loki's actions seem... off, making us to think something like "It's too pathetic for Loki. Certainly, he has A Big Plan".
Like with a broken TemPad! It seemed so far-fetched that lead to appearing of "Loki has time-stone", " Loki made an illusion" "Half of the episode is just a dream" theories. And to dissatisfaction later, when it turns out there wasn't any Big Plan. Only a genuinely incompetence.
Also, even ordinary humans seems made him to struggle in the battle while he can to stop a fall of the freaking tower!
Some can just mutter about bad writing and inconsistent power levels. But I love the series, MCU and all things they can give us and refuse to believe in the "shitty characterisation" explanation in the series lead actor of which can literally give hours-long lectures about his character.
So I begun to think. And after some brainwhacking I finally got enlightening and understood a very important thing that have missed before.
Soo... Is Loki smart? Or is he stupid and pathetic in the series?
Loki is God of Mischief. He's always planning. Always tries to win. Always lies.
And... All of this is a total, cheesy, massive bullshit.
And the only thing you can be sure with the trickster - yeah, he probably will try to deceive you. But, maybe, the lie will be not where you think it is.
Infinity War Loki attacked Thanos with a butter knife not because he got a fit of stupidity. But because he chose to attract attention to himself in the desperate attempt to make Titan to overlook Thor.
And Loki we see in the show... He went through a humiliating and totally self-esteem-breaking experience (even there was something left to break). He lose at Midgard (and we aren't even beginning to think that was before that point), was told that all his existence is meaningless, watched his terrible death after attempt to kill Titan with a dagger. His family and home are no more, the essence of universe is a paperweight, and all he ever was is a second-rate villain in the some space-lizards' storybook. Put it simply, he was left with nothing - not even illusions.
So... Did God of Mischief, after his terapic conservation with Mobius, cheered up and desided to go all out, find new goal and probably, as a little bonus, overthrow TVA?
Yeah... But nope.
Loki just gave up.
Just genuinely surrendered and stopped trying.
Of course, he will never ever let somebody - himself included - to see this weakness. He still bickers with Mobius, puts bravado face and does a not-so-bad job with tasks at the hand. Still jokes, reacts at his surrounding, makes some fights and seemesly tries to enjoy his life.
But on the the grand picture?..
Utter and complete passivity. No Big Plan. No really hard fighting - especially against humans, killing whom now is a mocking reminder about "hurting anothers to make an illusion of control" (He still tries to put an illusion of control. But, at least, not at somebody's lives experience). If he is to live, he will live. If he is to die... Well, he will not really trying to avoid that.
He is incompetent because he no more tryies to be competent.
The most sincerely Loki we see isn't the one who says "I'm always ten steps ahead of you". He is here:
And this laugh, while being sincerest, isn't the laugh of the joy.
(if to think about "five stages of grief", it clearly will be a depression).
And there is Silvie. Who is Loki, but still has a goal and a fire within. Who is annoying, fierce, emotional... And, surprisely, genuinely charming. And she certainly isn't just a measure for somebody to " became a better version of himself".
To love themself is narcissistic? But for someone who's self-esteem was completely shattered, the very realisation that it's possible - to love themselves, - is therapic.
Loki craves for attention not because he wants to inflate his big ego as pre-first-film Thor. It because he is left with no ego at all and just tries to convince everybody - himself included - otherwise.
And if honestly, before series I was against any romantic relationships for Loki in there. Not because of some prejudice but I thought that for it's too early for Loki to have any romantic relationship. "You have to love yourself before you can love someone else", and Loki clearly has a looooot of work in this field. The love for anothers obviously isn't difficult for him (even if he somewhat tries to deny that) but without love for himself it will never be enough.
But Sylvie? It's like to have both of lessons in the single pack. She isn't him and she is a different person with different past and personality but also she still is "Loki". The possibility to like her mean that there is something in "Loki" generally that can be liked. He wouldn't dare to believe in that on the word of any another person - be that family or Mobius or any another possible romantic partner. But Sylvie? She is a real, living proof. A positive association with general term. Not the question "what do you see in me? " but the direct answer.
So, if to put out the brain from the gutter and to remember that love is not equal to sexual attraction (and even with this? no difference. The main focus still is psychological, not physical) , the love for Sylvie is, probably, the type of romantic relationships Loki need right now.
Honestly, when I've saw ep. 4 in the first time, I was veeery baffled. Because, you know, of all "selfcest" jokes and overall I'm not a fan of romance (but a total sucker for sublings relationships, and this is a main reason for me be in MCU). But now... The more I think about this idea, the better it seems.
So... As far, the only " flaw" I see in series is a total number of episodes. There is so many of strings of plot that I fear the creators will not have a time to unravel them all properly (in that regard WandaVision with relatively more straight storyline has advantage). But I am infinitely grateful to creators for this "weird" and "selfincestic" show. And yeah, the mid-credits scene was a pure blast! XD I hope that acquaintance with multiple Loki will let our Loki to really see himself and - that is more important - to like what he see. Really like and believe and not just make a narcissistic facade.
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ok so i just said this on twitter but realised it would devolve into a longer post so here goes:
Tweet reads: "i agree with the "fenris and anders would get along better, you dont spend 7 years fighting alongside someone hating them" and "varric exaggerated for Drama tm" but i raise you: friends are assholes to each other n its all about the "i can bully you but no one else can""
so like. i definitely think varric exaggerated a lot and also left various parts of more mellow conversation out. and i do think that anders and fenris would get along and have much more nuanced discussions. HOWEVER. as an example, my flatmates and i? we're amazing friends. we get along so fucking well. and yet we bully each other absolutely relentlessly, and not always in a respectful way, because honestly, you live with someone 24/7 and there's always going to be Incidents tm. And our inside jokes are vicious! but it's all about the tone things are said in, the audience present, and also in general the fact that you know its just your friends being asshoels to you even though you know youre going to be singing musical songs in the kitchen 30 minutes later
so im just considering it more sort of. at this point they all know anders isnt an abomination, the nickname just stuck. merrill's explained to all of them her view of blood magic and they've come to terms with the fact it's magic of another kind that's just frequently abused, but the world around them hasn't so they'll keep making snarky comments about it at every turn. fenris has mellowed out about mages, but it's about the years-old banter that has just stuck around. obviously there's also regular actual arguments because, you know, you put vastly different people in the same environemnt and they're going to disagree for the next three decades, but still, its not the pure disagreements we necessarily are exposed to in the game; its years of "i've trusted you my life more than i can count so we've accidentally ended up being friends"
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What is Plot Armour?
What Does It Look Like?
Prevailing/surviving a challenge they realistically would lose/die to
Escaping the worst consequences of an action for no believable reason, even if others don’t
Is saved at the last moment more than once
Not having the natural flaws normal beings do, leading to less failures
Repeatedly surviving (both literally and figuratively) dangerous encounters - defying the limitations of luck.l
Appearing to have unearned power/skill that makes them more or less indestructible
(A Song of Ice and Fire Spoiler warning!)
Jon Snow, arguably the main hero of ASoIaF series, is skilled in sword fighting and he has a good measure of physical strength. Not the most skilled, and not the strongest. Not the smartest either. Still, Jon repeatedly survives masses of wights, White Walkers, and literally avoids any read harm when an army on horseback stampedes into him. Even when he “dies”, plot armour activates and he is resurrected with no physical fallouts. He’s just a bit more dejected, poor thing.
Can You Just Not?
Look, we all love a hero who defies the odds. We love when it all looks like all is lost only for a last second win. There’s nothing wrong with giving your character a bit of unearned luck, but eventually you’ll lose the respect and belief of your readers. Plot armour takes realists out of the reading experience. Shifting the balance of fairness is blatant, especially when other characters aren’t so lucky. Outcomes should be real, and that means dealing with reality. Don’t cheapen the storyline with plot cheats!
If you want your character to survive battles, give them levelled opportunities to become a skilled warrior. If there is going to be lots of carnage, maybe your character doesn’t need to be in the firing line each time? Loss and sacrifice can be good ways of keeping a character alive without cheapening the moment. Let the reader feel like they lost, not ‘got lucky’. I’m reminded of Harry Potter escaping Privet Drive in HPatDH. Harry had to survive, but in the process George was maimed, Mad-Eye died, and - heartbreakingly, Hedwig was killed in flight. Harry’s survival was lucky, but not free from cost. Plot armour couldn’t cheapen the experience there.
Now excuse me as I go grieve for Hedwig…
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Okay, people. I’m just going to go on a superlong rant about characterisations and how Sherlock and John are made for each other. I feel like we sometimes get a bit sidetracked discussing mirrors and subtext, references and symbolism, and we forget what is actually there in the text and in the characterisations of these characters.
If we start with John... John is brave and courageous and loyal: 'soldier' qualities. He's also very caring and nurturing and protective: 'doctor' qualities. And that's all well and good. But he also has a bunch of less socially acceptable sides: he's a man who can't stand mundanity, who needs excitement and danger and adrenaline to be content. In reality, he's actually just as poorly suited to conform to social norms as Sherlock, but, unlike Sherlock, he's chosen to suppress the less acceptable sides of himself to be accepted by others rather than be alone (Sherlock has chosen the opposite). So joining the army is a compromise: a socially acceptable way for him to live a life of excitement. And it works - until he's forced home from the war. So to describe John... he has all these strengths: courage, bravery, loyalty, caring and a very well-developed sense of right and wrong. On the other hand, he just... isn't normal. He doesn't fit in. But, unlike Sherlock, he shies away from it instead of embracing it. He's very self-aware and he tries to disguise his lack of being normal. In a way, that he's a soldier AND a doctor shows that dual nature. So his biggest flaw is how incredibly hard he fights to be something he's not, how much of himself he sacrifices to be 'normal' - or at least to be perceived that way by others. His bisexuality is one such aspect of himself that he tries to suppress: he finds it incredibly hard to face the idea that he's not 'just straight' because being straight would be more 'normal'.
Also, there’s that entire halfway subtextual idea that maybe he's so defensive about his sexuality because his father was a homophobe. He's shown at various times to have a very sensitive response to authoritative older men. His sister (Harry) is a lesbian, so it would make sense that maybe she came out and their father didn't approve and John saw that and it just made his own sexuality crisis all the more potent.
So Sherlock offers John what he needs: a life of excitement and adventure that is still morally sound. And I think John loves him not just because of the lifestyle he offers, not just because he's intelligent and John is in awe of that, but because Sherlock represents what John can't find in himself: Sherlock is his own man. He doesn't give a fuck what others think of him (from John’s POV at least). He's himself 100% and all the time and he isn't held back by societal norms in the slightest. And I think John admires and loves him for that. And then... well, then there are the, uhm, more problematic sides of Sherlock. Not just that he insults people and insults John and does stupid, dangerous things and clutters the flat and does experiments in the kitchen right next to their food. That's annoying, sure, but whatever. The real problem John has is that Sherlock is destructive. He's selfdestructive (for instance, dealing with stressful situations by smoking and doing drugs), but he is also just plain destructive. John is moral. For him, the most important thing is morals and doing the right thing and helping others. And Sherlock doesn't always live up to that standard. So there are times when John has to question if Sherlock is actually, you know, GOOD or if he's just motivated by the thrill of being clever. John is a soldier, and later a detective, because he wants to live a life of excitement - but it HAS to be a moral life of excitement. That means everything to him. And the uncertainty about whether Sherlock feels the same is a major problem for John.
Sherlock is... well, he's kind of the opposite. He's not normal, but he's embraced that. He's true to himself and he doesn't suppress who he is. But that's come with a price: he's alone. Few can stand him, no one can understand him. He's lonely, but he's also not interested in being with just anyone, because he takes pride in his intelligence and his difference and people who are just plain, simple and normal... well, he's arrogant enough to look down on them. Like, a lot. He has no respect for societal norms and no respect for authority because he believes he knows best himself. So you could say that both John and Sherlock have a very developed sense of right and wrong. The difference is that John's 'right and wrong' is a universal, socially accepted 'right and wrong', whereas Sherlock's 'right and wrong' is his own and not always in agreeance with the rest of the world.
Sherlock's real problem, though, is that... well, to put it simply: he's too intelligent to be normal and too emotional to be a calculating machine. And he hates himself for it. He isn't actually unemotional, quite the opposite. Only a man who feels very strongly would ever come up with 'All emotion is abhorrent to me', 'I am a brain, everything else is just transport' etc. Sherlock wishes he could be just a brain - he looks up to Mycroft and, indeed, to Moriarty because they manage to do that (at least to his mind). He feels very strongly, but he's too intelligent to be normal, so he's alone and it's lonely and painful. So he longs to not feel. But he can't do that. So he does drugs and shit like that because it dulls that pain.
So John offers Sherlock what he needs: acceptance for who he is. John likes him when he's being himself. And Sherlock loves John not just because John accepts and praises him, but also because Sherlock sees who John is. He sees that John is a soldier AND a doctor, he sees that John is kind of messed up, but he LIKES John's messed-up sides - Sherlock hates the normal and John Watson is not normal.
So in a way, Sherlock loves John for the exact things John hates about himself. And John loves Sherlock for the exact things Sherlock hates about himself - his emotions. I think there's real beauty in that dynamic. They both offer the other exactly what the other needs and they both love the other because of the things the other hates about themself.
And all of that is text and/or basic characterisation. And I think that’s really important to remember.
Thank you for coming to my TED talk.
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Duck deserves all the love. They could have just made her a one note cute character but no, they went all in and created one of the most lovable, realistic protagonists of all time. I feel it so bad every time I indoctrinate another friend into the cult and we watch season 2 together because the things she struggles with are so difficult and so real and end up culminating beautifully in that moment at the bottom of the Lake of Despair and wow they did not have to go that hard but they did and it is fantastic
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I think it actually wasn’t cutting the bullet out that separated Melanie from the Slaughter.
Symbolically, it fits weird, right? That someone else can make that sort of choice for you. And clearly it wasn’t a binary switch: Melanie stabbed John right after they took the bullet out, which still counted as a Slaughter mark.
Yes, the bullet was bad, right, but it didn’t make me angry. … Angry at being passed over, being disrespected, ignored. That sort of anger, it – it powers you. Right up until it slips out and hurts someone.
I hurt someone. And then one day, I suddenly have this thing that takes all that rage, and it holds it, tells me it’s right, that it’s me. It didn’t stay in my leg because of some ghostly master plan. It stayed because I wanted it.
So, something I wondered about for a while was: who did she hurt? The flow of it makes it sound like there was someone specific whom she hurt, badly, right before she got shot in Amritsar. But... she didn’t. We have statements about her whole life for two years before that: we know she didn’t hurt Sarah Baldwin at all; she didn’t hurt the GHUK crew, who ghosted her; she didn’t hurt her more normal colleagues, just stopped talking to them; she didn’t hurt anyone in Rotherham, just yelled at the security guards; she didn’t hurt anyone searching through the Magnus Institute library, and she didn’t hurt anyone in India.
So... maybe it wasn’t then. And if the timing is up in the air anyway, maybe that singular, memorable event (not, “I hurt people”: someone) wasn’t before the bullet at all. Maybe it was a very recent memorable event.
My theory is: she hurt John. (Scalpel to the shoulder, like she’d had in Rotherham.) And then she found out he was trying to help her. And she didn’t want to be angry; didn’t think that was right. Didn’t want to be that.
My theory is that she still felt that influence at that point, that push. (The encouragement, the validation.) And she rejected it. It stayed because she wanted it; it left because she didn’t.
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Image description: Left, character Peggy Carter from Captain America The First Avenger (2011) aiming a gun with a neutral, cold eyed expression. Right, character Bucho from Desperado (1995) aiming a gun with a mildly annoyed expression.
Cinematic parallels: Peggy and Bucho.
Bucho from the movie Desperado pulls off the same shoot your colleague 'gag' when testing a bulletproof shield as later movie The First Avenger does with Peggy shooting Steve Rogers.
Yet with Bucho it works because he's a jerk and the villain. The First Avenger scene feels odd and wrong because they try to frame this cold sociopathic move as 'funny' for a 'hero' to do to another hero.
(It’s not funny, it’s Yikes with a capital Y.)
So is bad writing the cause of this unintentional cinematic parallel? Well, yeah, pretty much! Desperado came out in the mid 90s and yet the writing is far superior.
Desperado even did the same 'shoot your colleague' gag twice, elevating it when Bucho got more annoyed and singles out the same guy again to actually kill him this time.
Which, if you think about it, is a natural progression for a character like him (and Peggy...) who would impulsively shoot their colleague for no reason other than they’re annoyed in the moment.
As this clip of gag no. 2 demonstrates, the joke lands perfectly and is delivered with aplomb: link to YouTube clip of Desperado.
The gag can be funny when used in the right context. (Watch all of Desperado if you can, it’s a great movie and Bucho is an excellent villain, which is something the MCU sorely lacks.)
The First Avenger in contrast generally seems confused as to who Peggy is anyway, and gives her little depth as a character.
Going off the ‘shoot your colleagues’ gag as a set up for her personality, it would make more sense that she is later revealed to be a double agent or a villain character, and that ‘gag’ was actually a mask slip moment in her cover. (That would be so much fun to watch unfold!)
Unfortunately, Disney and the MCU is pretty boring when it comes to writing their female characters, and seem intent on keeping Peggy as 110% pure, even though that doesn’t fit her character in any of the canon they’ve set up for her.
What we’re left with is a weird flip flop/back and forth characterisation between:
a) badass Peggy who knows it all, will shoot her colleagues on a whim for no good reason, has little regard for any of the heroes she’s working with, and later recruits Nazis to Shield
b) pure and innocent Peggy, an infantilised and inexperienced lamb who has no idea Nazis would be Nazis when she hires them, and is oblivious to her own organisation or bad guys in general.
It just makes no damn sense to flip flop between these two polar opposite characterisations!
I don’t know about you, but I’d be more interested in the characterisation A. Let her evolve as the villain, or a double agent. God, give her something more interesting to do than be ‘pure’ 24/7, 365.
Maybe in an alternate universe where the MCU hired better writers and had better villains...
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Ok but like, I feel the Bruce Wayne/Hal Jordan dynamic works so well (shippy or platonically) but DC are just cowards and don’t develop same-sex friendships because they could be construed as romantic... But that’s another post.
They’re as stubborn as the other and equally motovated by their own goals which makes them butt heads a lot, but that also means they can understand each other better and know a bit about what goes on inside each others’ heads.
And by stubborn I mean in a, “why should I let persons A and B help me with activity X when I can do it on my own and they don’t need to concern themselves with it.” To me this doesn’t read as “I’m a Big Strong Man Who Doesn’t Need Help” it actually reads quite the opposite, as “I Am Vulnerable But I Do Not Want These People Doing What I Am Because It Is Dangerous And I Can Probably Do It Better.” Because, Toxic Masculinity can take a flying leap, but I imagine those in the League aren’t entirely immune to societal conventions, especially the ones they’ve grown up with. So while they will beat Toxic Masculinity and mysogyny with a flaming broom at any given moment, many of them struggle with internalised issues. They struggle to admit they need help, that they can’t do things on their own, that they are vulnerable and struggle to come to terms with that.
And because of this, the two can say really hurtful things. There is truth to them, but, like a sibling or spousal argument, their intention is to make their point as well as degrade the other side. They’re more venemous than anything they’d say to almost anyone else but their intention is to hurt; however they almost always regret these things immediately but are often unable to apologise or have another conversation after so they stew on these things and internalise them and make more problems. So, things like this get said to one another:
“You and your damn superiority complex!... I get you have control issues but this is just ridiculous... How many more people need to die before you learn to ask for help?...”
“Can you take anything seriously?... Are you really so desperate for an anchor in this world that you’ll do stupid things like this to form a connection? Or are you trying to burn bridges to avoid them altogether?...”
However they’re able to reconcile and have a civil discussion because they care about each other and because they want to work better together for the good of the League.
And yes, they piss each other off greatly but there is always that level of respect there (as there is for the rest of the JL, but I feel like people exacerbate their “rivalry”/friction when they do trust each other and can and have worked together well). They get on each other’s nerves because they’re similar, and they do similar stupid (sometimes self-sacrificial) crap, and because they know how to push each other’s buttons to either get them to back off of get on board. But, as with any Leaguer, especially a Founder, they’ll zip right over at the drop of a hat.
I mean, at one point in time they both interact with Yellow Lantern Rings, (see: Hal Jordan in Injustice, among others. Parallax. Also, that one scene in a comic I can’t remember the name of, where a Yellow Ring tries to take Bruce as its wearer, but because he’d previously worn a Green Lantern Ring, via Hal, it deems him incompatible and leaves).
I imagine that being ruled by their fears, learning how to co-exist with them, as well as ruling by fear are points of great contention but also of great understanding between them. How to live one’s life being aware of one’s fears and the fear they potentially inspire in others and how to balance and process that in a healthy way.
It comes up in most of their comic team-ups (there haven’t been many in animated series, save for The Batman, and I think Batman Brave and the Bold?) and that Bruce admires Hal for being able to process his trauma and move forward, never forgetting it but not being consumed by it, which is something Bruce knows he struggles with (take notes, DC, a good Batman is at least somewhat self-aware!) and hopes to be able to emulate.
That dynamic, that, “I recognise there are things about you that are not great and I do not appreciate, however you can change and remove those aspects of yourself. There are aspects of you I wish to emulate and inspire me to be a better human being and do right by others. Your presence inspires me. Your attitude and intentions are something I wish more people had. I respect you,” is something I love, fictional or otherwise (can you tell?)
I had a point to this but it got away from me so yeah.
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Heyoo I was wondering, would you ever like to talk about your characterization of the characters? Bc for example, neji, what would you say his personality is like? Bc I know he’s more reserved but on your latest fic he was also a bit of a tease so I’m not sure how he acts😅 sorry if it’s too confusing you totally don’t have to answer! <3
(I love characterisation! I'd be happy to do this, let me give you some of the things I keep at the forefront of my mind when characterising Neji.)
Firstly: Why I wrote that part about him being a bit of a tease
Neji is a confident person by default. He trusts himself, he knows his abilities, and he knows when he can win (most of the time). When Neji is sure of himself, he is confident to the point of cocky. However, when Neji is unsure of the situation or his own abilities, Neji is very hesitant. He doesn't like to get things wrong or go into unknown situations without preparing first. So, for the majority of the heat that I wrote about, Neji is very nervous and unsure. He's only had one heat before a the current one, and it was very different. But, after the kiss, Neji is a little more confident and teasing. Why? Because he knows how kissing works, he's done it before, he knows he's good at it. I mentioned in the story that the kissing was something of a comfort to Neji, and this is why. The confidence/teasing can only happen when Neji feels sure of himself. Hope that explains it!
Key points of Neji's characterisation:
(These are the things I try to keep in mind when I'm writing him.)
1. His relationship to his clan - A key part of Neji's characterisation is the bitterness he feels towards his clan. Between the seal, his general treatment and his father's death, Neji has a lot to blame on his clan. In my AU, his infertility and painful heats are also added to that list. This bitterness never goes away, but he does learn how to channel it towards those who deserve it (rather than poor Hinata) as he gets older. This affects Neji's life in a couple of ways. He seeks to distance his child from the clan as much as possible, he only see medics at the hospital, not the clan medics etc.
2. Enjoyment of traditional past times and general calm surroundings - While the majority of his upbringing wasn't great, Neji is at least well suited to the more traditional lifestyle in the Hyuuga clan. He enjoys tea and keeping a traditional garden, he likes traditional furniture made from natural materials etc. He also likes things to be calm and organised wherever he can. Neji is very much a morning person and likes to enjoy tea on the veranda early in the morning where there is no one to bother him. Neji also raises his children in the same way, although he's more lenient when they're older, but at first, he bans TV and boisterous behaviour in the house and prioritises manners etc. He only allows wooden furniture and handmade toys in his childrens' rooms.
3. Sense of humour - Neji has a very dry sense of humour and a pretty sharp wit. It wouldn't be obvious to anyone who wasn't close to him, but Neji enjoys making the 'under your breath' style comments that can be very amusing for those close enough to hear. A lot of people assume he has no sense of humour, but everyone does, his is just quiet and reserved for those he trusts.
4. The home self vs the outdoor self - This is a pretty common Japanese idea which says that a person is very different inside their own home compared to when they leave. This is absolutely true for Neji. He keeps his emotions firmly under wraps in public. No PDA, no crying, no mushy talk, nothing, he thinks it's inappropriate. But at home, he's softer and more willing to express himself (although he's still a reserved person.) Going out with Neji to a restaurant and having dinner with him at home are very different experiences, although neither are bad. Neji hiding his emotions in public is very important to his characterisation, I would say.
Also, to end, I once wrote a list of key differences between Sasuke and Neji, because I find they have a lot in common and I wanted to be careful when characterising them. Here's some of the things I had down if you're interested:
1. Neji hates his clan and Sasuke holds an almost unhealthy amount of admiration for them.
2. Neji has a dry sense of humour and Sasuke has a very strange sense of humour. Most people can't tell if Sasuke is joking or not. Most of the time, he's just sarcastic to the point of being rude lol.
3. Neji takes to parenting very well and very easily and Sasuke struggles a lot, despite both of them being just as desperate to have pups.
4. Sasuke struggles with allowing himself to be loved romantically but is okay sexually, Neji struggles with allowing himself to let go sexually, but is okay romantically.
5. Neji defaults to communicating nonverbally (hints, body cues, talking around something), Sasuke defaults to no communication (avoidance of issues, brooding)
There are obviously a lot more, but those are the ones that come up most in my writing and so I always keep these in mind.
Hope that all made sense and answered your question! I love writing things like this, and they don't count as requests, so send them in any time <3
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Me, rereading The Book Of Merthur again:
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A character like his disintegrates under analysis. It can only be defined by anecdote, the chance encounter or the sentence overheard. People who had never once spoken to him suddenly remembered, with a pang of affection, having seen him throwing sticks to a dog or stealing tulips from a teacher's garden.
Donna Tartt, The Secret History
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Hades hits me hard because it's really just the story of a young man trying to run away from home because his father is an uncompromising, unforgiving perfectionist who thinks criticism is disrespect and literally everyone sees it or knows bits and pieces about it enough that their help is welcome and appreciated but tinged with pity that the one person who should be there to guide and support a young man is the one oppressing him.
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Manga!Taiki and his brilliant backstory.
Xros Wars/Fusion is generally seen as one of the worst Digimon seasons to ever hit the TV. The reasons why differ from Fan to Fan but most often than not the answer is: 'Well, Mikey/Taiki was to perfect, he had no real character.' Is this true? Well, it depends on which version of the Series you take in. The Manga is more character focused and this becomes obvious with the Protagonist.
Now then, let me explain.
The Anime and Manga both characterize their Goggleboy as a child prodigy who is good at any kind of sport without any kind of prior knowledge about them. He is a kind person who cares a lot about others. He has a helper complex and often goes to the point of exhaustion to help others. The reason for this complex gets handled differently in the Anime then it is in the Manga. And the Manga does a brilliant job where the Anime fails.
The Manga handels the reason for Taiki's helper complex a lot different from the Anime. Taiki is shown to have been a child with many dreams and a focus of making them come true no matter the consequence. He changed dreams a lot and always roped others into helping him even if they might not want to.
Taiki never saw a problem with his way of realising his dreams this way until he made a friend. This boy called Tatsuya was a rather frail boy who shared a dream of running on the tracks with Taiki. They trained every day even when the Coach told them not to. The Problem was that Tatsuya wasn't as athletic as Taiki. So while Taiki could handle this kind of excessive training, Tatsuya couldn't. Training so much with Taiki resulted in Tatsuya getting an injury that put him in a wheelchair, with the Doctor stating that Tatsuya may never run again. A real, severe consequence that impacted Tatsuyas life immensely. Taiki blamed himself since he thought his selfish dream made Tatsuya like that. This is important.
So to summarize:
Taiki was a person with a lot of dreams, who roped a friend, Tatsuya, into helping him with his newest one, which is running.
Tatsuya got hurt while training with Taiki. He got hurt so bad that he might not run ever again.
Taiki believes himself to be responsible. He pushed Tatsuya past the point of exhaustion and now his friend suffers the consequences.
Taiki will not help someone with their dream, when the dream is selfish.
Different then in the Anime, Taiki isnt the type of person who just helps others without a reason. He refused to help Shoutmon become King at first, because he thought Shoutmons reason to become King was selfish. Only after Shoutmon clarifies that he dreams of being King to help others does Taiki want to help him.
Its the same with Kiriha. Kiriha wants Taiki to fight with him because he wants a new and exciting battlefield. Taiki denies and Kiriha reacts by ordering Greymon to kill Taiki's friends. Its selfish and Kiriha seems to be egoistic. Its the type of dream and person Taiki could never want to help.
It was never explained why he did so in the Anime, but the Manga gives a reason why Taiki exhausts himself as much as he does.
He pushes himself to the brink of exhaustion because that is what he did to Tatsuya. Different then Tatsuya he can handle the physical strain a lot longer. He is essentially punishing himself. His guilt is so deeply rooted that he can't even apologise to Tatsuya. Everytime he tries, he gets scared and runs away. Shoutmon pushes for a reunion and a talk between them. It's heavily implied that Taiki thinks Dreams arent something he deserves to have until Shoutmon and Tatsuya tell him he shouldn't blame himself. This isn't done out of pity either. Tatsuya states firmly that Taiki didnt force him to do anything, it was Tatsuyas own dream and Tatsuyas own ambitions that caused the accident.
In the end Taiki is still very much a prodigy in Sports and Tactics, but he is also a child that was dragged down by guilt until he started on a self destructive path. His character is deeper then one might think at first and evolves when he realizes that what happend wasn't his doing. He couldn't have stopped Tatsuya either way and he isn't responsible for the accident.
It's also rather symbolic that after this conversation Taiki finally figures out what evolution really is and how him and Shoutmon can achieve it.
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Some character-based tfatws thoughts...
One thing I am really appreciating about this show is that there is so much damn nuance in the characterisation, and I’m... welcoming all of the takes about it that appreciate that. :-)
There are no perfect characters here, not even Sam (though he comes closer than anyone except possibly Sarah - in fact just, the Wilson siblings are amazing <3 ). There are no uncomplicatedly evil characters either, though John and Zemo are both pretty villainous at this point (not that either started out like that...).
As for the rest?
Sharon may be up to some shady shit and her humour is vicious, but she’s been appallingly treated by her own country and neglected by the friends she gave up everything to help, and is still trying to do what she can for Sam’s mission despite everything.
Ayo fucked up badly when she removed Bucky’s arm (both in terms of personal bodily integrity and trust*). But she fucked up when feeling betrayed and furious, and her grief and anger at Zemo and frustration with Bucky are absolutely justified. She is compassionate (oh Gods, her tears in the flashback - it’s easy to notice how wonderful Sebastian Stan’s acting is in that scene but it’s he and Florence Kasumba working together that makes it work so beautifully), and awesome and heroic and wonderful. (Also her attacking John was spectacular. ;-) )
Karli has crossed some major moral lines by this point. But everything Sam says to and about her in this episode I think is spot on: she’s going about things badly, but she’s absolutely right about so much of what’s wrong and what overall is needed to fix it, and her charisma and intelligence and courage and compassion are extraordinary. I find it notable that the serum may have found some bad qualities in her to amplify but it found a hell of a lot of good ones too.
Lemar... oh Gods, Lemar. He backed John up on some horrible and highly xenophobic decisions/generally being an arse, but he’s fundamentally got some decency that John massively lacks and isn’t afraid to speak up against him when he sees the need. He deserved a better captain and friend to follow.
And Bucky. Who I adore, for so many reasons, he remains my favourite character in the mcu, but he’s fucked up so much in the show so far, most acutely in freeing Zemo, in letting himself be manipulated, and in some clanging moments of unchecked white privilege and ignorance towards Sam (especially but not only wrt the shield). He’s also coping with extraordinary amounts of untreated trauma and mental illness and grief, all with basically no help given him by his shitty government therapist. He’s massively not well enough to be doing the job he is currently doing. And he’s demonstrating that despite that he’s still incredibly loyal, reluctantly heroic, painfully determined, and trying damn hard to be someone other than what Hydra made him.
And the thing is this: I’m not interested in excusing any of the poor actions of any of these characters (I won’t excuse any of Sam’s or Sarah’s either if they, you know, actually make some at some point ;-) ). But excusing is not the same as understanding, and I like that that distinction is brought into such sharp relief in the show. Bucky and Ayo are currently at odds, with a mutual loss of trust, but I still love both and am rooting for them to become friends again at some point; picking sides would feel... odd. Karli... I hope is not doomed, either morally or physically, and I want the world that she wants. I’m deeply upset about Lemar. And I really hope Sharon has more surprises for us and can find some happiness.
(Also just, I’ve not talked much about Sam here because he’s just an angel, especially in episode 4, but I want every possible good thing for him just as much as I do for Bucky. They both deserve it.)
*As a side-note, I would also like to very gently encourage fans who are not physically disabled to please recognise that you may not be in a position to fully understand how viceral and shocking that moment is for those of us who are. I get why people are okay with it, I really do, and I was on Ayo’s side myself until that moment, but abled people (especially, at times, those involved in the provision of assistance devices) regarding themselves as having rights over the bodies and assistance devices of disabled people is everywhere and a massive part of how ableism works.
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