oliver's statement in 121 gets 10x funnier when you remember how sleep deprived he was the whole time he did his whole stealing a scientist's identity thing
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[ID: a digital drawing of Martin Blackwood, a fat mixed person with brown skin, freckles, and curly brown hair in a ponytail. He has glasses, acne, stretch marks, self harm scars, and scars across his face and neck. They're wearing a white crop top with a small yellow flower on the chest, a long black skirt with agender flag stripes, highland cow print socks, an aromantic ring, and aro flag earrings. He's standing with one hand in the pocket of zir skirt and the other holding an asexual flag over their shoulder. They're looking tiredly and nonchanlantly to the side. The background has some gray ish clouds and a small burst in the non binary flag colors next to his head.
In the second drawing he has shorter white hair and a nose piercing. They're wearing a pink bra and a black see through top with a hood. Ze also has bandaids on zir legs, a mushroom earring, bi and enby flag hair clips, and pins that read 'he/him' 'they/them' and 'ze/zir/zirs'. The drawing is closer up and they're sitting on the ground, the edges of their knees barely in frame. He has one hand pressed against his cheek and is smiling wildly. The background is bursts of color in the aroflux flag, with white hearts and dots for decoration. end ID]
people really liked when i draw aro ace agender martin awhile back and i love them so i did it again
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It’s funny that TMA 196-197 were the episodes where I stopped attempting meta/analysis of each episode as it came out, because pinnacle of all the things that broke my brain were:
- Martin’s supposed Fake Manipulative Niceness
- Trying to figure out what the HELL the spider husk plan was supposed to accomplish and why Jon and Martin’s relationship made it not work
AND IT TURNS OUT
IT’S JUST. EASTER EGGS AND SHOUT OUTS TO DISCARDED STORYLINES.....
I fried SO MANY brain cells on that spider husk plan. I talked with friends trying to figure it out for hours. I finally strung together a theory based on characterization details that got disproven in the finale with toothpicks and fishing wire.
And it was....an EASTER EGG INSIDE JOKE
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161 and 162 are such good Final Season Opener episodes, and i love it. like that method of bringing back old characters... calling back to the first season and examining how far everyone has grown... having gertrude lay everything out in that tape... UGH i love it. now that i know those tapes were our goodbye to long running deceased characters like gertrude and tim and sasha, i can appreciate them for what they are. "gertrude's dead, let's find out for ourselves..." UGH. so good. part of me is sad they didn't return for that final stretch, but god i love 161 and 162.
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my faith in Jonny's talent as a writer vs. my absolute bewilderment at how much ground is left to cover and there's only two episodes left: fight!
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listen this is stupidly rushed but. Joshua Gillespie wasn’t not NOT confirmed to be dead.
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Can some kind soul please direct Rusty Quill to the merch page for Old Gods of Appalachia? Because they have some Edgelord this is a Serious Horror Podcast designs (that aren’t also fuck ugly) but they also have jokey ones, stuff that references in-universe entities, and stuff that acknowledges their queer fanbase.
Like, I’ve seen countless creepy and cool designs for the Fears here on tumblr that don’t require trigger warnings and give a better idea what the show is about and that I wouldn’t be embarrassed to wear out in public. Give me a Breekon and Hope Moving company shirt, a Grifter’s Bone reunion tour shirt, a poster advertising the Circus of the Other* done in the style of vintage Soviet circus posters, “from the library of Jurgen Leitner”, or a WTG logo. Give me a asexual pride shirt referencing the Archivist (seriously, just slap “Statement Begins” over an ace pride flag) or a bi pride one referencing Tim.
*actually might fire up adobe illustrator and attempt to draw this one
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A grim and cosmic soufflé
In one of the S4 Q&A episodes, Jonny said, of TMA becoming more political/less escapist:
“The longer you go, the more you are going to find yourself saying something. And the real question is, how long before you try to be more aware of what it is you're saying?”
I would love to understand what it is he was trying to say with this finale, and whether it’s truly as hopeless a message as it seems to me.
Look, I’ll be honest: I never cared too much what happened to the other worlds in the cosmic trolly problem of the final few episodes. This is fiction, and I chose to invest myself in the characters and world we had for five seasons, rather than worry about other fictional worlds we would never see. I’m also not big on utilitarianism, so the idea of “let’s torture this whole world to death as quickly as possible to spare countless other worlds from lingering harm” didn’t convince me. So I’m not unhappy that the Web got its way, necessarily.
I’m also not against the concept of “everything the characters have done has played into the schemes of an unfathomable intelligence and it turns out there was never any way to win.” That’s good old fashioned cosmic horror, of which I am a big fan.
The issue, for me, began where TMA stopped being primarily escapist cosmic horror, and started leaning into the Fears as a metaphor for real world systems of control and oppression. The analogy has not been even a little bit subtle throughout season five, to the extent that a lot of fandom discussion sees them through that lens first and foremost (“fear capitalism”). We had people trapped in the system and being exploited, avatars complicit in the system out of cruelty or fear of being victimized themselves, Georgie realizing that opting out of the system doesn’t help, etc. etc.
The problem with this weighty analogy, though, is that it demands a subversion of the system, a glimmer of hope for the oppressed, or else it becomes unbearably bleak.
Compare with Jonny Sims’ book ‘Thirteen Storeys’, which is even more blunt with its analogies than TMA is. It’s a fun read, with the protagonists of each chapter victimized by and/or complicit in oppressive systems to varying extents, and it ends (SPOILERS FOR THIRTEEN STOREYS) with these people banding together to fight back against the embodiment-of-capitalism antagonist in an incredibly unsubtle but wonderfully cathartic “Eat The Rich” scene. They don’t smash the system, they still live in an unjust, oppressive world, and in the end we’re left with a picture of wounded, traumatized survivors. But their victory over a symbol of oppression is meaningful and frees them in both a literal and metaphorical sense.
By contrast, in TMA the ending tells us that the system always wins. Everything the characters do plays into the Web’s plan. Jon finds a way to destroy the system from the inside (leveraging his power to kill the world), but his act of rebellion is meaningless, because the system knew what you were going to do, silly, and it is already leveraging your emotional connection to the person you love most to keep you in line.
Yes, the TMA world is saved, the Fears pack up their factory farms and move on, but that only happened because the Web wanted it to. Because giving up your foothold in one world for access to possibly infinite others is just good, capitalist business sense. The characters never get a meaningful victory, or even the hope that the system has some vulnerability. They just get lucky.
The only catharsis Jon gets after a lifetime of being used by the system is killing Jonah. Which is satisfying on a completely different axis (an abused person getting to strike back at their abuser) but doesn’t impact the Web’s plans or give him any agency against the system that used him.
With the “fear capitalism” metaphor so strongly to the forefront by season five, what originally could have been a spine-shivering revelation that a vast, cosmic intelligence has outplayed the characters at every turn, and the survivors are fortunate that it has turned its attention elsewhere, instead becomes a fable about how it’s impossible to make even the slightest dent in an oppressive system, and how every choice you make, regardless of how well-intentioned, makes you complicit in your own oppression. That, to me, is unfathomably bleak. A grim soufflé indeed.
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hey, so, quick question.
why is it when there’s a dynamic in any media that is actually harmful and actively portrayed as abusive, people will jump through hoops to defend it and pull out every excuse in the book to justify it like it’s their minimum wage day job...
but when we get a complex, nuanced, respectful depiction of an LGBT couple (with massive trauma and mental illness on both sides, literally no access to care that would mitigate the effects of that, and no one to even talk to but each other) who consciously make the continuous, mutual, deliberate decision to communicate through misunderstandings and clashes in perspective throughout an indescribably tense situation in a beyond hostile environment that by all accounts would drive most people to far more heinous behavior than an argument or two that are literally tended to onscreen at a realistic, reasonable pace and with, again, deliberate respect...!
...people bend over BACKWARDS to find ANY way they can to call that dynamic abusive and toxic and demonize one or both parties using words that straight up do not apply to the situation literally at all?
i mean, lol. we know why. so here’s a better question! when’s it gonna stop.
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I personally think that the fact that dooming other worlds to save one broken world was THE BAD MORAL CHOICE should've been emphasised more. Like, if you are going for an ending like this maybe you should keep around some characters who will have to carry that guilt with them? Cuz nobody else besides Jon (who felt and was personally violated and wanted to never put anyone through that again) seemed to be emotionally invested on that level...
Or at least put more emphasis on the horror of it all. How easy it was for them to pass the torch and move on...because that's terrifying in its own way when you think about it for a while, but not all people do that, so they might not realize the wrongness of it all...
AGREED AGREED AGREED.
Another option would have been for when the tape next started, we got a new voice saying “My name is ___ and I work for the Cane Institute of London”
Make it hit home that there are so many more people who are going to suffer.
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extreme fucking salt warning but i sure hope everyone is happy now that they’ve made jonny disclose his personal fears and traumas again to reiterate a fucking point that was clear enough in the episode lmao. i mean this next part with no sarcasm whatsoever but if the podcast is getting too real or uncomfy for you you CAN stop listening. i skip statements all the time for that exact reason. no i dont think jonny’s handled everything perfectly but if you were going to get pissed at him for messing up then 185 is a depressingly predictable place for the fandom to get hung up on bc it really shows some people can’t even handle the depiction of certain themes
white americans don’t interact with this post to clown actually
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A tangent from that last post but some friends and I have noticed a really upsetting new trend for how frequently Jon gets outed in TMA fic without any warning tags, and without it being treated as a bad thing. (And not just for asexuality--like trans Jon hcs are pretty common, and we’ve seen it so many times for that too) Or like...scenes where when Jon is allowed agency for coming out, his friends (why is it always Tim and Sasha??) pulling some kind of Love Simon guilt trip nonsense about how dare he feel he has to hide it and how dare he not trust them etc. etc.
I don’t necessarily think this is because there’s an outing scene in the show, which is also played as lighthearted, but it’s so common and so upsetting to come across that I think as a fandom we could stand to talk about it a LOT more. Another one for the “no, just because it’s done to Jon doesn’t mean it’s fair game and totally fine” bucket.
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said this on discord but i want to put it here too bc why not make the tma fandom mad at me
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ID under the cut
[Image ID: Screenshot from one of the Toy Story movies, with the characters labeled in a meme format. The shot shows two Buzz Lightyears sneaking down a ventilation shaft. Buzz is an animate action figure of a cartoon astronaut, with clunky white-and-green armor and a bald head. One is in the foreground looking nervously into the middle distance, and is labeled “Some assistant just trying to do their fucking job.” The other, in the background, is leaning out partially from behind a corner with an evil-looking grin on his face, and is labeled “Emma.” ID ends.]
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i’ve been seeing more criticism of tma as a work of media these days (as opposed to just, y’know, criticism of the fandom), and i have a couple of thoughts. i care deeply about this show, the positive things it’s brought into my life, and the wealth of inspiration i’ve received from engaging with it. AND i think we, the community that celebrates this show, should absolutely criticize it more for what it is. otherwise we run the risk of celebrating every aspect of the show, even the unfortunate, careless, and badly executed aspects. there are a lot of heavy topics the narrative introduces with an attempt to address them, and then completely drops the ball, police brutality among the most glaring of examples. word of mouth advertisement through glowing recommendations by fans and highly diverse fan content paints the show as honestly a lot more inclusive of widespread representation than it actively is, because the creators are hesitant to double down on the way their content is being interpreted.
art is more enjoyable by a large community when we recognize its flaws, and i think a lot of the negative behavior that i’ve been hearing complaints about (and admittedly sometimes voicing) stem from an unwillingness to recognize the faults in this show that means a lot to all of us. fans work with what they’re given. the magnus archives is a good show that is well produced, and it’s one of my favorite podcasts, but i really don’t enjoy listening to it right now, and i know i’m not the only one. we should talk about that. we can talk about it and still value the good things.
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I’m going to tentatively trust that the last two episodes will give us a satisfying end, but besides the pacing, I just...didn’t really like the way certain conversations played out. Martin’s apology was almost non-existent, Jon seems to have no reaction (unless we’re seeing it in the next episode) to being told he’s been manipulated since he was a child and I just...I guess I wanted a little time with Jon’s feelings about all of this instead of the interactions we got here. Banter’s fun and all, but...I don’t know. It just seemed like a wasted opportunity for them to talk things out. I’m trying not to be too negative, but I will say I’m sort of disappointed.
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i mentioned this in my overall criticizing 198 post, but i feel like it deserves its own post: assuming this is the last we'll see of the cult, what was the point of including them?? sure, the return of laverne and celia/lynne hammond was cool. and it makes sense that melanie and georgie wouldn't just sit passively for the whole apocalypse. but if they aren't going to play a bigger role in the finale, why bother introducing them at all? back in november, i remember some speculation that we wouldn't meet the cult, and i feel like if they were literally just there to show what georgie and melanie were up to/show the effects on normal people/motivate georgie and melanie to fight back, it either could've been briefer or they not show up at all.
why base the whole act iii trailer around them, and have the tape recorders follow them, if they aren't gonna play a huge role? i kind of figured lynne hammond would be important (some people floated the agnes montague was her ghost thing, i kind-of wondered if she'd be important as someone martin took a live statement from). some people speculated that the unnamed member would be someone important... i liked the characters, and i thought they brought a cool new energy to the show, but i just expected them to actually play a role in the finale, through one of these ways, or by having them react badly (or not badly) to jon being like. really important in the new world. or by having them be the last ones standing and the tapes following them somehow. something like that!! and maybe they'll return in the next couple eps but there's so much stuff to get through... i don't see how we have time. idk, i'm not opposed to their inclusion (the characters are fun, like i said), but i wish they'd had some significance outside of motivation for melanie and georgie (which is where i assume this is going)
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No need to publish if you want to avoid ethics debates, but thank you for the Omelas comparison - I'm not going to pretend there are easy answers, but I was very surprised to see how many people have been so quick to treat "doom billions of sentient nonconsenting people to save everyone else" as the obviously more moral choice.
Yeah it’s... not as simple as a trolley scenario, and I think I feel frustrated because we went through an entire episode about this and I feel like a lot of the nuance is being ignored. Nuance that was spoken out and discussed for an extended period of time.
Frustration right now is my primary emotion honestly. Like....... the show spent half the episode outlining This Bitch Of A Situation and how Annabelle’s lies of omission and of ignorance complicate the fuck out of the situation. when they say “we don’t know how much of what annabelle said was accurate” that’s not a line, that’s true! like, we all can look at the shit she said about Jon two episodes ago and go “HMMM sounds like this might be a lie” but we can’t here?
so to decide suddenly everyone is a reliable narrator is.... a take i literally do not understand. i keep seeing it in various forms and i am finding it baffling.
everyone in this show is a traumatized mess with their own baggage that is affecting their view of the situation. hell, that’s why each of them have different takes on the situation and what should be done. so why does anyone think they have spontaneously become reliable narrators in other parts of the story.
the show has made it abundantly clear that Jon is not to blame for the apocalypse, and has even stopped now to explain why he still feels guilt over the situation. he physically felt the way he was used to doom the world, and it’s viciously traumatized him. his “guilt” is a trauma response to that event.
this is the case of every other character too. not a single one of them is a reliable narrator. melanie is biased by her dislike of jon to say untrue shit and is still recovering from her trauma. georgie is affected by the repeated loss of her charges, and that colors her response. basira has had the driving truth of her life and career upended and is renavigating her view of the world. martin literally has his own Lonely domain just waiting for him and is the victim of childhood neglect.
i just think that taking anyone of them at their word as if they are objective and clear eyed is the same sort of thing that lead to a lot of people misunderstanding the core conflict of Season Four. TMA has always been a show that demands people do more than a surface level reading. that hasn’t changed.
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Sooo...177 was really something.
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Broke: Martin appealed to the web because he fakes awkwardness to get what he wants out of people, but ended up not being suited because he was too lonely and too impatient.
Woke: Martin appealed to the web because it likes people with a retro aesthetic and love for tape recorders, but ended up not being suited because his plans actually made sense.
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