A personal post


I’ve been wanting to write another post critical of Marvel. But in reality, right this moment, I’m feeling thoughtful and tender enough that I want to talk about other things with more emotion.

I think I take for granted and sometimes forget just how good things seemed to me when I was younger. I had a very fantastical, magical view of the world. Everything felt like it teemed with life and promise, and wonder. It’s what I learned from the Final Fantasy of old, and other media and influences I had back then.

This of course does not mean things actually were better then compared to now. There are so many advances we’ve made on many fronts. What I remember as a fond and better time, was also notably a time when gay marriage was banned, and the existence of trans people was often treated like a joke instead of given the respect they deserve. But on a personal front, it seemed better.

There are a lot of things I can’t really say here, either. Because they’re too personal.

What I can say is this: I have to believe things can get better. At least for other people if not for me. I have to believe good, caring, compassionate and considerate efforts to make the world better will lead to positive change somewhere down the road.

That doesn’t mean the efforts will always be benign and passive. Sometimes making the world better requires conflict and confrontation. Uncomfortable truths are hard to accept, and people tend to hate assessing themselves and fixing what they have wrong in them. People like the comfort of the familiar even if the familiar is toxic and hurts other people. Challenging that is difficult. Sometimes dangerous.

Honestly? I think that better world I’d like to see is also one I wouldn’t be a part of. I think I’d be gone, or I wouldn’t fit. It’s one thing to imagine, another thing to be, and who and what I am doesn’t really have a place in it if it’s actually realized.

It’s hard to properly describe what I’m feeling. I know the immediate thoughts people would have to the above, and those thoughts are wrong, but there’s no way to get even a fraction of it across without personal details. And even then, with those personal details, I doubt it could be understood. Understanding here isn’t about intellectual capacity or emotional care. It’s about perspective. These views are so uniquely tailored to my POV based on what I’ve experienced that there’s no real explaining. You get it or you don’t. It clicks or it doesn’t. And often you need to have those experiences too, because it’s hard to grasp the complexities without living them.

And I do greatly appreciate the life I have. The luxuries. The small bits of good I can still get out of it day to day. But there’s also the fear of it ending, and disappointment at the more there could be but isn’t.

Anyway that’s my personal post. I’m about to listen to these two in succession. It’ll be my first time with all of the second vid.

Hype

Hype can be insidious. Companies rely on it to sell their wares.

They develop massive marketing and advertising campaigns, sometimes even creating fake accounts, for the express purpose of making the average person think what they’re providing is so big and awesome and important that you absolutely must pick it up immediately.

They poke fandoms for buy-in in various ways. Appealing to them with particular language. “We’re bringing this franchise you love back to its former glory!” “Now with the return of this historically fan-beloved writer!” Or offering slick images. The underlying intent of it all is to build and maintain a consumer base which will simultaneously buy whatever gets put in front of them with the company brand, and defend that brand eagerly even in the face of any evidence that says it’s unearned.

I know this from experience. I used to be a hardcore Squaresoft fan, whose fandom carried me into Square-Enix content until the mistakes and insults became so many and egregious that I learned.

I’m not immune to the effects of hype. It can still influence how I think and feel. Even if I don’t fall into the trap of rushing to buy something due to hype, I may still get mentally absorbed into thought patterns encouraged by hype culture. In certain circumstances, it can still make me think what I’m seeing is far more important and not-to-be-denied than it really is until I reorient myself.

How do I reorient myself?

I think of what I’ve seen. Instances where excessive marketing and corporate talk or the appearance of fan support turned out in the end to not be anywhere near what hype made it look like. Where “You must support this, everyone’s into it, it’s the company’s direction for maybe even decades” fizzled out. Sometimes spectacularly.

These are just a few cases I’ve seen over the years.

3rd Birthday

One of the first, most memorable instances was 3rd Birthday. I could technically start with FFX-2 because I dove into it without thought from brand, but 3rd Birthday was where I saw and remember the entire landscape from start to years after release.

The game was announced for Japan. Initially as a mobile phone game, later as a PSP game. It was to be the return of Aya Brea after nearly a decade of nothing. Fans of the character and the original Parasite Eve games were excited. Most of the more vocal people continued to hype up the game all the way up to and slightly past launch.

But… it was bad. And a vivid example of people working at a company saying things they know people want to hear but not really meaning it.

Motomu Toriyama, who wrote the script for the game, said he was going to write Aya as a “cool mature woman in her 30s.” What the game actually did was have “Aya” act like a scared, submissive sex object who lets people sexually harass her repeatedly, before the final reveal that it was really the spirit of Eve (a younger girl) in Aya’s body… and you kill Aya’s spirit in the ending, leaving Eve in her body.

Yoshinori Kitase, the game’s producer, responded to criticism of the game’s clothes-ripping-away-from-damage game mechanic by claiming it was for “realism.” Which is not only flimsy for games, but in the specific mechanics of 3rd Birthday, is complete BS. “Aya” possesses a person’s body for missions in 3rd Birthday. What you’re seeing is her spirit, hence why what she wears differs from the character she possesses.

Originally, 3rd Birthday wasn’t going to have a shower scene. Then, at the last minute, they decided to add one… which was pretty much on the verge of softcore porn with its angles, sounds and visuals. Completely different from the far more tasteful shower scene from Parasite Eve 2.

In Famitsu (Japanese video game magazine), the biggest image for articles about the game was whatever fetish outfit they had for Aya that month. For Japan, they had special lines tailored to each costume, such as submissive server talk when she’s in the maid costume.

That’s the company… and then there were the fans. Who supported all of this. Most places you looked, people were hyping the game up, saying it would be amazing.

Years later, you ask the average person and if they even know the game happened, they say it was bad.

Squeenix to this day has done nothing to fix the damage they did to the character. They went from saying Parasite Eve would be one of their major returning franchises, to quietly shelving it and hoping people forget as they do other things.

That’s a common company response, by the way. To either kill a franchise they ruined, or double down and try to force people into accepting what they did as if it was somehow good. Companies rarely admit when they make mistakes, only doing so if what they did was so bad that not admitting fault and trying to make amends poses an existential threat. As seen when Squeenix went for a complete overhaul of Final Fantasy XIV and offered free access until the game was “good enough.”

Yet for Aya Brea, Squeenix can’t be bothered to admit and fix what they did. They’re responsible for one of the most atrociously sexist cases of character assassination in video games out there, but because the franchise and character are “obscure,” they think they can just pretend it never happened and hope people buy into a non-sexist perception of them from other games like Life is Strange.

People talk about how bad Metroid: Other M was. 3rd Birthday was worse. Much, much worse.

Soul Calibur V

The Soul Calibur franchise had been retired with SCIV. Bandai Namco felt they only needed Tekken. When Daishi brought a campaign to revive it, fans were ecstatic and eager to support him. The campaign itself was a success.

Then Daishi made the game.

He decided SCV’s story should have a time skip. The reason was so a majority of the roster could be purged and replaced with brand new characters.

It was primarily the existing female roster that got purged. Not even Sophitia and Taki got to be in the game, despite having been mainstays since the very first game, while characters like Siegfried and Mitsurugi and Raphael got to return. And Ivy, of course.

In the specific case of Taki, Daishi teased with the idea of her before explaining her exclusion as that she was “too old to be a ninja.”

…………….

Mitsurugi, a man, was the same age. He was included in SCV. Taki, a woman, wasn’t. It’s pretty blatant to me that behind the scenes, Daishi and/or the team thought that female characters have to be young and attractive in the ways they perceived attractiveness to get in the game. And that they’d been around too long, even conceptually (hence timeskip), to be appealing to them.

Again, like 3rd Birthday, a majority of fans were all in favor of SCV’s timeskip. I even talked to someone that insisted if the next game brought Sophitia back, they’d stop buying Soul Calibur games, just as I didn’t buy SCV.

Soul Calibur V sold half of what SCIV did. The most common complaint for the game was the new roster of characters, and purging of the old roster. It’s only recently that Bandai Namco released a new Soul Calibur game with Soul Calibur VI, meant to act as a reset for the franchise in a similar way to how Netherrealm Studios reset Mortal Kombat.

Tomb Raider

Some will disagree on this. I think I’m very justified.

The 2013 “reboot” presented “Lara” getting shipwrecked on an island. Everything about the game plays from what I’ve seen like “Lara” is the final girl in a horror movie. She gets traumatized, constantly attacked and pursued, and over the course of the string of “reboot” games suffers from PTSD. The underlying idea proposed being that it’s her journey toward becoming the icon.

Here’s the problem. The “reboot” destroys any notion that Lara had good qualities prior to 2013. Yes, it got rid of the bad elements like sexual objectification, but in the process it also threw away her status as a heroic icon and acted like “sex object” was all she had going for her for nearly 20 years.

That flies in the face of the character’s real worth. Lara Croft was created in 1996. At that time, games with female characters as the main protagonist were few. Lara’s arrival spawned Jill Valentine, Aya Brea, Regina in Dino Crisis, and many others as female stars for franchises.

Again, sexual objectification of Lara was bad – and it got worse as games went on, and games became worse in quality. But she had a personality, and had a positive impact on representation, that attitudes surrounding the 2013 “reboot” pretended never existed. They essentially wiped out that cultural memory in pretending the “reboot” was the first time anyone wrote a “real story” with Lara as an “actual character.”

What does this have to do with hype? Crystal Dynamics and Square-Enix were very, very successful at creating hype toward the ends.

They had advertising literally everywhere. That’s not exaggeration. Every site I visited except for hentai sites had ads. They also deftly covered up one of the game’s producers saying “Lara almost gets raped” and “players will feel for Lara cause they want to protect her” by very quickly announcing how they had Rhianna Pratchett writing the script. Nobody talks about that, may not even be aware of or remember it, and that’s how successful the move was. They were able to patch over comments that would’ve hurt sales by showing off how they have creative representation.

I also want to note that I don’t hold the “Tomb Raider” “reboot” or Crystal Dynamics’ actions against Rhianna Pratchett. Female writers need their gigs. She had few video game writing credits at the time, closest of note before that being Mirror’s Edge. People higher up on the project said what they wanted, her job was to do what she could with it.

Unfortunately, there’s only so much that can be done with a bad premise. And honestly, I don’t know where the line exists between what the higher-ups expected from her and what she decided to do on her own. So I err on the side of assuming the higher-ups are responsible given a) they have more power, and b) they could’ve stepped in if it was her plans and they didn’t.

Nowadays, people seem to be more discerning of the “reboot,” how it presented the character and franchise, and the effect it had. We’re out of the hype period. Culture is becoming more cognizant of issues they didn’t see before. But for its time, the “reboot” managed to convince a lot of people that it was making great advances for the character even as it gutted her and insisted she had nothing good to her pre-2013.

Man of Steel

I tend to talk a lot about how female characters are treated, because I’m more interested in them. Here’s one of two examples I have concerning male characters.

Snyder’s idea of “Superman” in films was through the lens of Batman. Blatantly. It was very Batman-colored lenses. Everything was grim, people died for Superman’s failures, etc.

Where things differ here compared to my prior examples is that a majority of consumers seemed to immediately acknowledge and condemn Snyder’s films for this. I didn’t see any hesitation. Yet the films still had their fans, and DC still carried this idea of Superman into Batman vs Superman in spite of people not wanting it.

My view of this (and for my next example) is that people in general are far quicker to care about when male characters are treated poorly than when female characters are. Which is incredibly sad. Hopefully it’s changing to where people care about how female characters are treated just as much, if not more than, male characters.

I can’t say DC’s attempts at hype were successful. They weren’t. Both films that Snyder’s “Superman” were in bombed. But a hype culture still existed, promoting the idea that you must see this film because it’s a big blockbuster film and part of this new expanded film universe like Marvel has. Plus you can see how dogged Snyder’s fans are with how vocally they’ve demanded the “Snyder cut” of Justice League.

DmC

Like Snyder’s “Superman,” people almost were immediately against DmC – a “reimagining” of the Devil May Cry franchise and Dante. The game’s writer and director, Tameem, certainly didn’t help himself as he responded to complaints by saying Dante sucked and he’d be “laughed out of bars” if he were real (which… we play games about demons for the realism now?).

Yet in spite of pretty common consensus against the game, it did have its fans and defenders who rode along for the hype. And this is where I have more reason to talk about it than Man of Steel.

The most notable situation here is hair color. Many people who were opposed to DmC talked about how its idea of Dante had black hair, unlike the franchise’s traditional Dante who had silver/white hair. Fans on the hype train eagerly jumped on the hair complaints and ONLY the hair complaints, while also ignoring the larger point to ridicule it as a miniscule aesthetic whine. “Look, they’re complaining about hair color!”

Such talk deliberately ignored two things. For one, hair color wasn’t the only complaint. It was merely the most visibly obvious change that people could call out. Most of the other problems with it were harder to explain well for anyone not really into the franchise and character. For another, the hair color was more a matter of what the change represented rather than the color itself. Some people like to be dismissive of visual indicators, but they really are a window into the attitudes of people behind those visuals.

Once again, like Man of Steel, majority noticed the problem in advance, and hype failed to win them over. But the fandom created a certain culture that tried to deter criticism all the same.

All-New X-Factor

Let me preface: by the end, in general I liked All-New X-Factor. I laud All-New X-Factor #14, which had Lorna and Wanda spending time together as sisters, and I often encourage reading it on my Polaris reading list.

But not all of the issues. I always say people should skip ANXF #4-6, and sometimes include #3 in that.

Here’s where hype culture comes in. I was reading every issue as it came out back then. I liked #1-2. But as we got to #6, I didn’t mince words on problems with its treatment of Lorna.

Peter David has fans. His fans didn’t like my raising complaints. So at the time, they were dismissive of everything I said, and often tried to shut me down and get me to keep quiet to maintain the “sanctity” of their favorite writer’s image. I didn’t back down, of course. Now, I don’t know what really happened with that creative team, but I suspect the criticism given by Lorna fans (not just me) led to some major improvements in the book so that it got much better from ANXF #7 on after.

Years later, you do see people speaking positively of the book. I like to think that talk is thanks to said improvements above. But you also don’t see those fans going around attacking anyone who levels a complaint. Because that’s how hype culture works most of the time. Once the thing being hyped is no longer happening, there’s less sense of urgency to be protective of it.

House of X/Powers of X/Dawn of X

My urge to write this may change from day to day, but lately, the biggest reason is House of X/Powers of X/Dawn of X.

This event is current. We don’t have the retrospective glasses I was able to use for cases outlined above. But through the cases above, it’s possible to weigh what’s really happening against the hype.

Marvel hyped up HoX/PoX/DoX as a huge return of the X-Men franchise to its “proper place” of glory after a decade put down. Fans see it as some sort of second coming, like it’s the be-all end-all of our times. It must be worshiped. It must be coddled. To go against it is tantamount to treason, and it’s supposedly going to decide the direction of the franchise and various elements of it for generations to come in all forms of media.

… That’s just what Marvel wants people to think.

It’s not the reality.

Marvel has an incentive to convince people that anything they make is revolutionary and you must must must buy into it. They make money. They get support. Acquire power. And absolute hardcore fans have an incentive to encourage such thinking, because it leads to what they love getting more resources devoted to it.

Here’s the thing. HoX/PoX/DoX offers nothing to me.

They’re not doing anything with Lorna’s history with Genosha or Krakoa (unless Empyre changes that; we’ll see). They’re not acknowledging how she’s the second woman to join the X-Men, leaving her off a female X-Men variant cover that includes other characters like Dani Moonstar, Magik and Mystique. They don’t have Lorna spending time with Jean or Iceman to take advantage of how she was with them way back in the beginning.

All Marvel’s done is make her a supporting character (not even leading it) of a book that has the same title she was on 30 years ago, use her for Magneto to mansplain at her or for Cyclops to talk about his family at her (with no input of her own), and bring up Havok.

Marvel would like for me to think that I must purchase what they make that has her in it, no matter how it treats her, because their word is law and hype culture says everything is perfect. But really, I don’t need to buy anything they make that doesn’t treat Lorna with the long overdue appreciation and respect she deserves. And in fact, if my only choices are mistreatment or hiatus, I’d gladly take hiatus and wait for a future Marvel that’s infinitely better for Lorna than current Marvel.

That won’t stop me from calling Marvel out where appropriate. Like how Marvel’s decided Storm should get to be outraged about the Genoshan genocide even though she wasn’t there while Lorna, an actual survivor or suffered immense PTSD from it, is written as if it never happened and she doesn’t even know what it is. Lorna on hiatus doesn’t give them a pass on all the things they should be doing and aren’t. It just means they’re not also getting called out for doing bad things they shouldn’t, and Lorna’s better preserved for future writers that will care enough about stories and characters to do right by her.

In recent months, I’ve started to see some people questioning HoX/PoX/DoX. And hardcore fans upset that people are questioning it. It’s really only the beginning, as the newness and hype culture wear off and people are able to take a look without being influenced by marketing efforts and fans’ attitudes.

And again, I’m not immune. The marketing and hype culture of HoX and PoX did get to me until roughly halfway through. I had trouble seeing it objectively during that period. I started to fall into thinking about the franchise and characters in ways Marvel wanted me to, and started to think it just might really have the level of importance Marvel wanted everyone to think it had. But since halfway through the event and up to right now, I’ve been able to see it a lot more clearly.

Remembering the cases I’ve shared here helped me toward that clarity. They’ll continue to help me every time a company announces something new. Past experiences educate me for future experiences. Sometimes, it even helps me in simpler ways, such as to delay purchasing something that seems urgent because there’s a sale or everyone’s talking about it.

This is a long post, so I’m wrapping it up. Maybe I’ll have another post sooner than the last few times!

My Marvel History

I’ve said before that I never really cared about anything Marvel had to offer until I discovered Polaris. Tonight, I decided it would be useful to look back through my history concerning Marvel. I might’ve done one of these a while back, but I don’t think it covered pre-2009.

Also for those seeing my blog (again) for the first time since February, the tagline quote of my blog is taken from a comment made by a guy that seems to hate me.

Anyway, here we go, and I’m not giving years or dates until I get to 2009 cause that would be telling. Even if you might be able to pick up on things.

Kid Time

I had toys of Cyclops and Wolverine as a kid. I had no real concept of who they were. I knew Cyclops shot lasers from his eyes. I knew Wolverine had claws. That’s it. I didn’t watch any Marvel cartoons whatsoever. What I DID have was plenty of Batman toys, and exposure to DC films.

A local rental store carried comic books too when I was a kid. I remember seeing a cover that had Thor on it. If I bought and read any, I sincerely do not remember.

I remember renting an Avengers game, and playing someone else’s copy of an X-Men game and using Storm.

The 90s/00s

I watched the occasional episode of X-Men Evolution whenever it was on TV. I also became interested in anime music videos, so I watched several of those focused on X-Men Evolution’s version of Rogue.

Of course, I saw the first two X-Men movies. Pretty much everyone did. I also watched the first two Sam Raimi Spider-Man films. I think I had the soundtrack for the first Spider-Man film cause I remember listening to “Hero” by Chad Kroeger plenty of times, though not because it was part of the film. I saw Iron Man in theaters too like most people did.

I might’ve rented some games. I honestly can’t remember. I was more into Final Fantasy and RPGs in general.

By contrast, I was really getting into DC content. I watched Smallville when it aired new for the first five seasons, and got those seasons on DVD. I watched Justice League Unlimited when it aired new on TV, loved it, got both seasons on DVD. Then went back and watched Justice League episodes.

2009 – 2011

I discovered Polaris by jumping around the Marvel wiki. Honestly don’t remember why I was on it in the first place. Maybe for drawn or written porn I saw online.

After I learned of Lorna, I immediately went out to a comic shop and bought multiple comics and collections that had Lorna on the cover. I don’t think I really had a guide to go by. One of those collections was Jeff Parker’s Exiles which was amazing.

At some point, I watched all of the Wolverine and the X-Men cartoon cause it had Lorna in it. My original reaction to the show before I learned of Lorna was to spurn it for putting Wolverine before the franchise that made him.

Somewhere around this, I was on 4chan talking about how Lorna should return from space, and some guy said she should stay in space to “keep her away from characters that matter.” Doesn’t matter if the guy was trolling, it’s stick with me ever since.

I continued to see Marvel films as they came out until the Axis retcon. I bought and played a couple Ultimate Alliance games, the Captain America console game, and the Deadpool game, in this span. Oh and at some point around ANXF, I bought one of the Spider-Man games written by Peter David. I technically should be putting this in each year but I’m too lazy to remember those dates or look them up cause they don’t really matter.

2012-2013

Mike Carey wrote Five Miles South of the Universe, which I was very supportive of. It brought Lorna back from space. It confirmed her status as Magneto’s daughter, and subtly confirmed she was a mutant again. Up until then, the last word on her powers was that Celestial tech used by Apocalypse to restore her powers was doing something to her, which implied she was some sort of cyborg rather than a mutant.

This is about when I learned of a certain editor being a tool toward Lorna in the Avengers books and in general. Said editor did an excellent job of killing a huge chunk of my interest in books under their purview. I did buy and read SOME issues of Avengers vs X-Men cause Lorna appeared, but stopped when she stopped showing up and when it became clear it wouldn’t actually use Lorna.

I also learned of Lorna being sent to X-Factor again with Havok. On the one hand, I think I judged Peter David too hastily in assuming the worst. On the other hand, in retrospect I do think it was somewhat justified on account of a) it was Lorna forced back to the book she was on in the 90s, and b) the cover to announce implied it was a continuation of trying to isolate her into a role of “Havok’s girlfriend.”

Peter David did Lorna’s origin story issue which turned out much better than I expected and greatly improved my opinion, but then he had Lorna claim she never wanted to see her father again which instantly negated that progress.

Lego Marvel Super Heroes came out. Until then, I really wasn’t interested in any of the Lego games. Even after I tried the demo for this game, I didn’t like it. But I bought it on release at full price cause Lorna was in it, and I ended up liking the final game. It led to me buying and playing a bunch of other Lego games too.

2014

All-New X-Factor came out. I was excited in lead-up. Disappointed and complained during arc #4-6 for its treatment of Lorna. Annoyed by Marvel not promoting ANXF #14, and commissioned art to promote to offset Marvel refusing to do so. ANXF eventually evolved for the better but Marvel still canceled it.

Also was annoyed by Axis trying to “replace” Lorna with Enchantress, while excluding Lorna. Something the Avengers side would trying to do post-Axis by creating Luminous as a new “sister” for Wanda and Pietro, who’s also conveniently color-coded.

The Axis retcon ended my watching Marvel films, and by extension shows that would come out. I vowed to not watch any of them until the twins were restored as Magneto’s kids. That’s still in place, but now superseded by Marvel’s toolishness toward Lorna.

I remember pushing for Lorna to be on Bunn’s Magneto book during this time, as well. I started reading his book specifically because there was a chance that Lorna could appear in it, and even if she didn’t, Magneto being her father at least gave some background to Lorna’s relations and how things might go with her and him.

I would have read the Scarlet Witch solo book if Marvel hadn’t done its Axis retcon. Just as I read the Magneto solo for Lorna ties, I had no reason to read Wanda’s book due to lack of them.

The Days of Future Past mobile phone game (no longer available) came out and had Lorna as free DLC. I bought it, I played it. I didn’t really like playing it on phone though. I had hoped the company would eventually convert it to PC or console, but sadly they never did. I really didn’t like playing any games on mobile phone at the time.

I think I did watch Days of Future Past around this time, mainly on account that the little girl in Peter’s home was speculated to be Lorna.

2015

Secret Wars happened. I was very happy with Lorna appearing in so many places. I REALLY loved her treatment on Secret Wars: House of M. I bought everything she appeared in.

I had an instinctive red flag warning afterward that Marvel was only using Lorna so much because they planned to drop her into limbo and not use her….

2016

Nothing.

Okay, I think the Marvel Legends figure might’ve come out in this time. Aside from that, my instinct proved correct and I should’ve listened to it. Marvel did what it had during Secret Wars because they wanted to look good before throwing her into limbo.

2017

Lorna was used primarily to promote Havok and Magneto, and it pissed me off.

A reveal at C2E2 implied X-Men Blue was going to be a big return for Lorna after her absence. Instead, it ended up being all about promoting Havok, and how Lorna could be exploited to do so. Subsequent issues then ignored Lorna’s past character development and in-common aspects so Magneto could have stories and dialogue focused on making him look and sound good. I stopped reading after ~15 issues, Bunn started to improve his treatment of Lorna around Magneto and I was set to come back, but then he wrote a story arc dedicated to Havok and my desire to read anything more from Blue instantly died. Bunn tried to pretty it up a bit with Lorna as a temporary team leader but it didn’t come anywhere close to making up for how thoroughly Lorna kept getting used as fodder for Havok’s promotion ahead of him leading a team book.

On the bright side, Gifted released with Emma Dumont as Lorna. I had some issues with decisions made, but still loved it as it did much better by Lorna than anything Marvel had done with her since Jeff Parker… until the show did a horrible job in its handling of Dreamer’s death.

This is where I need to give an aside. I think character death is worthless and terrible. There are plenty of ways to use characters in intriguing ways that don’t require death. But, if it’s going to be done, there are ways that make it at least not so bad. I felt Walking Dead managed this most of the time – give a character a big glorious moment, provide plenty of introspection to grasp and appreciate what was being lost, and often an entire episode is devoted to that character. Gifted didn’t do that. It had everyone act needlessly stupid to get her into a position to die, then rushed on to the next part of the story as if her death was just a tiny bump in the road.

I stopped watching the show at this point. I struggled with the matter for several days, because as a Lorna fan, I wanted to keep watching for her. But I had to stick to principles. If it was Lorna treated that way, I would’ve been ranting and pissed. So I stopped watching the show, and only would’ve returned if a) Dreamer returned, and b) the show handled death better going forward (if used at all). Sadly, the show never did either and got itself killed off as a result.

It also proved another red flag warning of mine true: if the show was so cavalier about Dreamer’s death, who’s to say they wouldn’t turn around and treat Lorna poorly in the future to promote some other character they liked more? Which as I’ve heard, they did exactly that when they introduced Reeva.

2018

The Gifted stuff played out as I said above.

2018 was also the year Mlad and I made a 50th anniversary comic for Lorna. I tried plenty of other things to get anniversary celebrations going, but they weren’t successful. I tried to get a hashtag going on Twitter and nobody else participated. I encouraged anniversary fanart and fanfic outside of me commissioning it, and nobody made or commissioned any. People DID make fanart and fanfic in this time, especially of Gifted version Lorna. But they didn’t participate in the anniversary component.

The Uncanny X-Men event did actually do a couple good things for Lorna, so I did in fact buy (digitally) and read the relevant issues. Those issues had good scenes for her.

I made an exception to my “no Marvel films” rule and saw Black Panther to support diversity in superhero films. Just as I saw the Wonder Woman movie to support that diversity in superhero films.

That was pretty much it. Nothing happened in the middle.

2019

Prisoner X happened, and I skipped it on account of a couple things. For one, it positioned Lorna as a supporting character for a book led by Bishop, when Lorna seriously needed something more. Which she still needs. For another, the setting was very clearly inspired by Gifted, yet Marvel decided to hand it over to Bishop.

Now, if the scenario had been one where each character is living their own version of a prison, I would’ve been… not exactly fine with Lorna being there, but fine with Bishop leading it. Say, what Bishop sees is a concentration camp. What Lorna sees is either a prison or a mental institution. Another character sees it as a school. Another sees Hell. Etc.

The Havok bullshit reached a breaking point for me toward end of 2018, going into 2019. Throughout 2018 and the first half of 2019, Marvel was obsessive in trying to force Havok onto Lorna wherever they could, while refusing to do anything meaningful for Lorna that would make up for the combo of forced limbo and Havok/Magneto hijacking her possibilities with Blue.

The result: since Jan 1 2019, I refuse to touch anything having to do with Disney as a whole until Lorna gets a solo, mini, oneshot, or leads a team book again. Only exceptions will be if it’s something involving Lorna that treats her well, or I have absolutely no other choice.

House of X/Powers of X/Dawn of X happened in this time, and predictably it completely ignored Lorna. It also has other issues I’m not going to dive into, but net result, everything I saw out of HoX/PoX/DoX and Hickman leads me to the conclusion that Lorna’s better off not used at all right now. Saved for a much better Marvel in the future that gives a damn and can do better by her.

2020

X-Factor is coming. I see nothing good for Lorna in it.

It’s Lorna thrown onto a fringe satellite book bearing the name of the book she was on in the 90s, yet she’s not even leading it this time, which would’ve at least been some small consolation (and satisfied my condition that would’ve led to engaging in Disney content again, if Lorna was treated well).

The immediate press release/promo work for it also raised the massive red flag of Leah Williams talking about how she talked to exactly two fans she’s friends with, one of whom supposedly helped her “see” the Havok and Polaris relationship “in a different light.”

Leah could’ve talked about so much else that wasn’t Havok. There’s Lorna’s history with Genosha and how that would feed into her views on Krakoa. There’s Lorna having launched Krakoa into space way back in Giant-Size X-Men. If absolutely nothing else, she could’ve mentioned how Lorna and Rachel were on the same team in space, or how Lorna should have plenty of tales to tell from having teamed with Jean in the old days. Spoilers wouldn’t have been a risk at all for those two. What did Leah decide to focus on? The worst thing she could’ve possibly picked.

The only thing to come that looks like it could be promising is Empyre. I’m keeping my eye on that. A cover for it has Lorna right in the middle, and synopses place emphasis on Genosha. It’s possible that Empyre just might be the first time in over 15 years that we see that aspect of Lorna’s history get acknowledged and used.

All in all, discovering Lorna made me buy and check out things I never would have without her. I watched Wolverine and the X-Men. I bought and played Lego Marvel Super Heroes, and went on to many other Lego games. I bought and read, both physically and digitally, many comic books: All-new X-Factor, Jeff Parker’s Exiles, the Magneto solo, etc. I have actual Polaris merch, something I’ve only done with video games besides her.

But then Marvel screwing Lorna or her family over led to me engaging in far, far less than I would have otherwise. I stopped watching everything MCU, and eventually ended up cutting out Disney content altogether. Some of that is stuff that I wouldn’t simply “catch up on” if Marvel were to turn around and do better by Lorna some day far in the future.

The Days of Future Past game being a prime example. Some things shut down. Whether they’re events, or video games, or sites, or what have you. When they shut down, that’s it. Done. And I’m fully comfortable with this. Nothing is lost in not giving money to a company that doesn’t deserve it. It’s not my job to ignore everything wrong and bad Marvel does so I can waste my money on things that I don’t really want. It’s Marvel’s job to give me a reason to want what they have.

Polaris Headcanons

I have a lot of different Polaris headcanons. Some of which I find more valid than things Marvel does, on account of how Marvel never thinks or cares about Lorna as her own character. I’ve decided to make this post to collect all the different headcanons I have!

Note: I have enough that it’s entirely possible I may forget some, and have to come back to this to add what I’ve forgotten.

I’ll enter each headcanon, and if I want to say a little more on it then I’ll add text after.

Lorna can change the color of her hair

Lorna’s powers of electromagnetism mean she has access to the whole electromagnetic spectrum – including colors. By this token, perhaps her hair defaults to green because it fits her mood, or because it’s the middle balance of rainbow colors (ROY G BIV).

Lorna is a knight/warrior type

Which does not detract from the princess aspect either (hi Xena). But when I convert characters to medieval settings, Wanda’s a witch. Lorna’s a knight. We’ve seen her don armor before as Pestilence.

In legend, I also think she would slot in well with Arthurian tales as the Green Knight.

Lorna has a Phoenix-equivalent concept of some sort out there

Another user on Twitter recently suggested from art that Lorna could be The Dragon. I like this concept. It pairs well with the Phoenix concept as a mythological creature, dragons are often seen as green and liking to collect treasure (e.g. Lorna’s original gold secondary color), and often perceived as evil (again, going back to the original conception of Magneto as evil).

Lorna creates her own costume with her powers

In my head, Lorna’s costume isn’t cloth. It’s very thin metal, constructed by her using materials that are around her. When she needs to enter combat, she doesn’t dress or undress, she gathers molecules and constructs it however she wants.

Lorna creates art with her powers

This is something I don’t see Magneto doing, but definitely see Lorna doing. Exploring her artistic side as a fun, constructive use of her powers.

Lorna can’t die

Lorna’s existed since 1968. In that whole time, aside from alternate universes, she’s never died.

Realistically, I think this is because Marvel cared so little about her that they didn’t think her dying would serve a purpose. But it pays off because with all the shit she’s been through, to NOT die to me implies there’s something about her that simply can’t be killed. Like her survivor’s spirit and electromagnetic powers work together.

In my mind, at most her body could be destroyed but she would still exist as an electromagnetic entity who rebuilds her body with her powers. Perhaps that’s even what happened on Genosha for real. It would really feed into survivor’s guilt for her, by the way.

Lorna is bi/lesbian

This is one part “I really like this for her,” and one part “she keeps getting treated poorly around men, so maybe women would be better.”

Within this idea, my top pick of a partner for Lorna is Jean. I think it would open excellent doors for the two characters to revisit their history way back to around when Lorna arrived on the scene (before Giant-Size X-Men and all that followed). Second pick for partner may be Emma Frost due to Genosha connections, but I’m really big for the Jean.

Lorna has low-level semi-psychic powers

The “low level” part of this is honestly more to be fair to full-fledged psychics than anything else. Since it wouldn’t be fair if Lorna could be as powerful as a main psychic AND have the rest of her powers.

Over time, research has found electromagnetic waves are able to do a lot of things involving the human brain. Some research can pick up thoughts and dreams. Some research can suggest an action for someone to take. From this, I have a headcanon that Lorna can use telepathy and add/erase/alter memories.

Lorna can access the internet at any time with her mind

The internet via WiFi is essentially electromagnetic. By this token, Lorna should be able to access the internet with her brain. No need for a computer, no need for a monitor. She’s already both. What’s more, because it goes straight to her brain, she should be able to read and process faster than someone simply reading from a screen.

This would make her one of the “smartest” people alive. By that I mean, say she encounters someone who’s been poisoned. She can look how to cure that poison immediately. Heck, she could have a live chat with a real doctor. Perhaps even sharing images/video from her brain to see what’s happening in real-time.

The weakness to this, of course, would be any time Lorna enters an area where those waves can’t reach her. If the signal’s cut off, then she can’t make use of it.

Lorna can create audio/video in her mind

If she has access to the electromagnetic spectrum, why not manipulate it to broadcast or record whatever she wants? She could make fake footage that looks like someone said something they never did. She could play her dreams and fantasies on TVs. All sorts of things.

X-Factor

I had a longer post on this in drafts. Then I deleted it. Because it doesn’t need to be a long post.

I don’t expect anything good for Lorna from this book. Period. I could write a big in-depth explainer behind that, which I originally was going to do, but the bottom line is Marvel and the team haven’t given me any reason to think it could be good for her on any level. I can’t even begrudgingly say “Lorna deserves better but this is better than nothing,” because I actually think Marvel leaving her alone is better for her and nothing I’ve seen so far makes me think otherwise.

Lorna’s stuck on a team she was put on in the 90s. The writer either can’t or won’t mention anything about her besides that she dated Havok, even something simple like how Lorna and Rachel were in space together. The past few years have been poor treatment of Lorna in general, but narrowing just to HoX/PoX/DoX, there’s been no acknowledgment of anything Lorna’s done besides Havok.

I don’t expect everything Marvel does to cater to my exact specifications, but if Marvel’s going to use her, I expect key moments in her development like how she survived the Genoshan genocide and was considered Queen of Mutants by those who remained to actually mean something. Instead, we’ve got Storm able to freely cite that genocide while what happened to Lorna is treated like it never happened.

Anything that ignores such a vital moment in a character’s history when it matters deeply, is absolutely worthless.

And even in the off chance that Marvel ever gets its act together and acknowledges what happened to Lorna for once after 15 years of ignoring it, a throwaway line in a single panel is not sufficient both for the importance of what happened and the insultingly long gap from when Marvel last acknowledged it to today. These other characters get to regularly talk about what a horrific event the Genoshan genocide was, but Lorna can only be used for her dad to spout exposition at her or for Marvel to hype up Havok for the billionth time cause they think he can’t hack it without exploiting her? Please.

That’s what I have to say about this book at the moment. Lorna deserves a hell of a lot more and better. Tacking her to a team book she’s not even leading, with the same title as what she was on in the 90s, doing nothing else and apparently with no grasp of what she offers (just “oh she dated Havok”) is not the way. I’m not going to deny the evidence of my eyes and ears.

X-Men #1: Run, Polaris, Run!

Shelfdust

I wasn’t going to read any of these comics, after covering House of X and Powers of X for Shelfdust last year. It all felt like a very nice jumping-off point, which let me skip away from the world of mutants for a while… at least until I could see what the reaction was to the new series, at least. It all seems to have gone basically as you’d expect, with each new series being a chaotic new element into the previously-structured world Hickman and Muller had carefully put together. Having given the X-Men a happy ending of sorts, it makes sense that the characters would then find themselves all filled with random purpose, inspired to then race off and do whatever came to mind first.

Excalibur, X-Force and Marauders all seem to be completely manic and unstructured, and I’m not going to read Fallen Angels. With the world…

View original post 775 more words

“Best Kept Secrets” + X-Factor

I’m combining two topics into this post.

I recently had reason to think of “best kept secrets.” Generally, we think of that as a good, endearing trait. Like being a best kept secret makes that thing more valuable, has the extra street cred of being an in-group privilege.

You see that cozy little cafe down the street, the one you’d miss if you weren’t looking for it? They make the best sandwiches you would ever eat. But not many people know about it. It’s a special privilege for those who know about it.

But I heard someone that pointed out: best kept secrets die quietly.

That same little cafe? When times get tough, maybe their business struggles to survive. Maybe it doesn’t survive. And then 50 years after its closure, because it was so small and secret, nobody remembers it even existed. Despite all the good work put in, it’s disappeared from public knowledge.

Polaris is a best kept secret.

She’s an amazing character, with amazing potential, whose background offers a lot of relatable content and depth. We’ve seen what’s possible with this. She was the breakout character on Gifted, even without being able to call upon history (e.g. Genosha) or relationships (e.g. Scarlet Witch) that exist in the comics. We’ve seen tons of excitement and fan content over the years from people who find out she exists.

But that’s the key. They need to know she exists. Which is something Marvel doesn’t want people to know.

I could cite a lot of things, but HoX/PoX/DoX is easiest because it’s recent. Marvel didn’t acknowledge Lorna’s history with Genosha or Krakoa. They didn’t include her on the X-women variant cover. They only used her as something to build up Magneto and Havok, and exposition provided by them. And now, she’s going to be put on X-Factor – not as a leader, but as a supporting character they’re trying to frame as sort of an overseer or advisor or something. And in talking about the book, the only aspect of her Leah mentioned was her relationship to Havok. Despite how, along with so many other things, she could’ve said something about wanting to delve more into Lorna and Rachel’s dynamic due to history in space.

Every single action taken by Marvel lately has been one geared toward forcing Lorna to stay bogged down as a “best kept secret” who serves the whims of whatever characters they like and respect more, or whatever story they want to sacrifice her on the altar of. In spite of how Gifted demonstrated she can be and deserves so much more.

This is not the way. And I reject it.

I’ve had some people, mostly eager fans of HoX/PoX/DoX or Marvel, suggest that Marvel’s treatment of Lorna is more than enough and I should be happy instead of critical. That I’m somehow in the wrong for demanding better for her, and sometimes citing how other characters aren’t getting their due either and should.

I’m not going to be quiet about Lorna. I’m not going to let Marvel kill her as a “best kept secret.” If they can’t do better by her, then they should just not use her and leave her to her fandom making everything of her that Marvel won’t. If Marvel wants to get in the way of that, they’ll see me call out when they do.

If this is supposed to be such a “great new era” for the X-Men franchise like Marvel and its corporate fans claim, then I expect them to show it. I expect them to treat Lorna and other characters a hell of a lot better. I expect them to interrogate long-standing “traditions” and if they hold any merit. I expect them to radically adapt and improve upon their creative philosophy, to better utilize what they have and touch fans who they’ve missed for so long due to bad policy.

Simply making mutants the dominant species is not a new era. Giving them fluff like their own language, a resurrection process, that sort of thing is just the appearance of change. Real change is deeper and harder.

That’s topic one. I also said I would be talking about X-Factor, topic two.

I’m against the upcoming X-Factor book. I’ve said why. It’s placing Lorna into a supporting character role for a team book led by Northstar, while Lorna isn’t doing something more important elsewhere. More importantly, said team book is named X-Factor, a book she’s been stuck on for 30 years and which she previously led. Lastly, there’s been zero sign of Leah considering who Lorna is for herself. Just her talking to a couple friends she knows who are fans, and taking away from one of them that apparently Havok is more important than anything else about everything Lorna’s been through in her life.

Some people (again, mainly HoX/PoX/DoX fans) think I’m being too hasty and judgmental about X-Factor and what Leah Williams might do with Lorna. They think we haven’t seen enough yet for me to be able to make that determination.

I understand their reasons for thinking this. And I need to pull in some of my own history for full, proper consideration. Back in 2011/2012, when Marvel announced that Polaris was going back to X-Factor written by Peter David, I was pissed. I saw it as a backstep. As Marvel trying to undo Lorna’s character development and revert her to a 90s view of her. I fully expected that Peter David, having written Lorna in the 90s and being older at this point, would feel strongly compelled to revert Lorna to how she was when he last wrote her and ignore anything writers did after him.

About this, I’ve said before: in retrospect, I was wrong and too quick to judge. Peter David ended up doing a lot of good things for Lorna, contrary to what I expected back then. I didn’t imagine him giving Lorna her origin story, having Lorna lead ANXF, or having Lorna build up her relationships with Wanda and Pietro. And when Peter David DID write her origin story, I expected the worst – and was pleasantly surprised.

But that was back then. Things have changed greatly.

I was new to X-Men comics in 2011/2012. I had been told things, and read things, but I hadn’t experienced things yet. I didn’t have much grasp on how Marvel thinks and functions.

More importantly, Marvel’s had more problems with how they treat Lorna in the past few years than they did in 2011/2012. Yes, in 2011/2012, she had been tossed into space and then space limbo. And yes, her getting sent into space was purely to be Havok’s girlfriend. But there were at least bright spots like her time with Crystal and Luna. And just 2-3 years prior, Lorna had a big role on Wolverine and the X-Men, and AU versions of her did great things in Jeff Parker’s Exiles and Fantastic Force. Mike Carey’s Five Miles South of the Universe re-established that Magneto is her father, that she’s a mutant, and her return to Earth could have technically re-opened doors; arguments could’ve been made that Lorna returning to X-Factor was just a baby step to regaining a platform.

Plus, many of the biggest problems with Marvel’s treatment of her seemed isolated to how a certain editor outside the X-books saw her. Not problems within the X-books themselves.

Jump to today. We spent late 2015 to early/mid 2017 with Lorna in limbo. When she DID return, it was primarily to promote Havok and Magneto, and everything she did on Blue was in service to that. What little good that came pre-HoX/PoX/DoX, was a tiny drop amid usage for the benefit of other characters. Like a panel or two of her doing something cool before she talks up Havok to launch him into a new team book he leads.

The trend of Marvel and the X-Men books at present is one where there’s no reason to trust they’ll change course with X-Factor. Especially with the position they put Lorna in, and how Leah’s talked about her so far.

If I turn out to be wrong, I’ll be amazed and own it. Like I own that I was wrong about Peter David, above. But it would not be an unjustified wrongness. It would be absolutely justified by my experiences and observations over the past few years.

Which means that I’m not going to give X-Factor or Leah “benefit of the doubt” when history tells me that would be a mistake.

They can say Lorna is “the north star of the team” as much as they want. I’ve seen others say such things only to do the exact opposite. I saw Motomu Toriyama claim he was going to write Aya Brea as a cool mature woman in her 30s in 3rd Birthday, only to write “Aya” as a woman scared of combat who endures and accepts repeated sexual harassment and has her clothes ripped off for a game mechanic argued as “for realism” (despite Aya being sort of like a ghost). Before revealing at the end that it was Eve in Aya’s body, and killing Aya. I could say I’m going to buy every single X-Men comic out there, doesn’t mean I’m actually going to do it.

You can’t expect me to put faith in this book when both Marvel and the writer are unable to acknowledge any of her own actual character history.

New Polaris/Lorna Dane “soundtrack”

In 2017, on Tumblr, I created my own idea of a Polaris “soundtrack” for the character. It was largely constructed in chronological order of her life.

Three years have passed. New songs have come out. And this time, I’m far more eager to create a “soundtrack” that’s more about capturing her essence as I see it via the songs I know and like rather than trying to code songs to her life events.

So let’s begin!

Golden – Halestorm

Ignorance – Paramore

Joan of Arc – In This Moment

Going to Hell – Pretty Reckless

Monster – Stitched Up Heart

Vicious – Halestorm

Turn Off the Light – Kim Petras ft Elvira, Mistress of the Dark

Lightning – Fireflight

White Flag – Bishop Briggs

Nightmare – Halsey

Simmer – Hayley Williams

Control – Garbage

My Tears Flood the Streets – Charlotte Martin

Blindside – Icon for Hire

The Last Hope in a World of Hopes – Temperance

Otherworld – The Black Mages

Fandom and Authority

This is a Polaris post. About authority on defining and understanding characters, and companies vs fandoms.

Companies have their own ideas of what deserves or doesn’t deserve attention. How to use their “assets.” What they want people to think and believe about those “assets.” Within that, as the rightsholders, they want a constructed reality wherein the only “true” and “legitimate” version of a character or relationship or story resides with the company. With the people who own the rights and are legally allowed to profit off of it.

There’s a problem here. Even the best, most well-intentioned companies can’t cover everything. They can’t grasp everything. And that’s just the optimistic POV. It’s not counting companies with people who look at various characters with hate on their minds, or presumptions of lack of worth, or looking at everything through their own fandom and not considering the fandom of people other than them.

That’s the risk.

If you buy into a company’s narrative, that they’re “the authority” and you must abide by what they say, then you have no options even if what they say is garbage. It could be racist, sexist drivel. But if you just accept “only the company gets to decide what counts,” then that’s what it is. Marvel could write Captain America as a sieg heiling Nazi and you have to accept it (hi, Secret Empire). Now, he’s a Nazi. Nevermind whatever he’s been before.

This is where fandom comes in. Fandom by its nature hones in on the beautiful, the sad, the dark, the powerful, everything about the object of its fandom. It explores the myriad dimensions that the company either can’t or won’t. Furthermore, authority is decentralized in fandom. There isn’t one lone person who gets to decide everything. It’s a work in progress of many anonymous and non-anonymous people all over the connected world.

Case study: Magnus family

Marvel demanded via Axis that people accept “Wanda and Pietro are not Magneto’s kids” as canon. According to Marvel, they’re not related, and they shouldn’t have family-based stories together.

If you stuck only to Marvel’s narrative and nothing else, that’s it. Done. The family is over. No stories to tell, nothing to engage in. Time to move on and do other things.

Fandom didn’t do that. Fandom refused. It doesn’t matter what Marvel puts out, how fiercely they try to reinforce the retcon. The fans have decided it was a stupid ass decision and have chosen to ignore it. And we’ve been better off for it, because we’ve seen some amazing fanart, fanfic, fan comics, cosplay, etc come out of it.

This cycles back to Polaris specifically, not just in the context of the Magnus family.

Consider Marvel’s behavior for the past few years (don’t even need to consider decades). Marvel’s constructed authority, what they want people to believe, is that Lorna has no value outside of providing support for other characters – primarily Havok and Magneto. She gets no stories actually focused on her. She leads no teams. When she shows up, it’s to reinforce Magneto being powerful and wise, or Havok having a woman he dated, or how helpful she can be in telling the stories of Bishop or Northstar or whoever else.

If you stick to Marvel’s constructed “authority,” then Lorna really isn’t worth much. According to Marvel, she has no history with Genosha or Krakoa, has no past dynamics with Jean or Iceman, nothing worthwhile.

Fandom says otherwise.

Fandom has looked at her character history and seen these things that Marvel, in all its “wisdom,” deliberately pretends never happened. Fandom sees the importance of Genosha in shaping her world view. It sees the fun she must’ve had with Jean, or the insight of Iceman’s relationship history for an outsider view. And then fandom does something with it – unlike Marvel.

Fandom presents an actually proper, accurate picture of who Lorna is and what she offers at the same time that Marvel presents an atrophied, dismissive, ignorant view. And ignorant has two meanings here. Ignorant in that they aren’t willing to consider what she truly offers as a character. Ignorant in that they literally ignore key aspects of who she is and what she’s done.

This is why you see me spurning HoX/PoX/DoX and talking about fandom being Lorna’s salvation. Marvel’s “authority” is not to be respected, because it’s false. It lacks anything other than a spiteful cardboard conception of her. Fans have the true multi-dimensional view of her. So they’re her future.

Marvel’s just the people who own the legal rights. That’s all. They’re not even her creators. Her creators (Don Heck and Arnold Drake) died over a decade ago. Steranko’s the only one still around art-wise.

That’s all I have to say at the moment on the topic. May add later or write a sequel if I feel it’s relevant.

On Outspokenness

Today, I’ve been exposed to a few things that lead me to think greatly about outspokenness. And reactions to it. Especially when the topic is problems.

People don’t like when you “air dirty laundry,” as they think of it. When you cite problems and insist on fixes. Especially if those people are in positions of power where they have some kind of expected duty to provide the fix, or to be outspoken themselves when they either don’t care that deeply or dread some kind of backlash.

You would think that the more serious the issue, the more eager someone else to set things right. But no. In fact, something very serious can have the most effort to suppress and ignore and silence outspokenness about it. Because people don’t want to think about it. They just want to forget and bury it, even if doing so is toxic and destroys from within.

With any legitimate problem, when initially called out, there seems to first be that effort to forget. To pretend it never existed. Then, if it’s serious enough, things change… temporarily.

By temporarily, I mean doing and saying things that appear to be responding to and addressing those problems without really doing much. People in powerful positions offering a few breadcrumbs of the appearance of sympathy. Maybe rushing to a “quick fix” where they think offering up the most talked about bits will magically make everything instantly okay, and you can go back to Business-As-Usual. You can now forget those awful things, what impact they had, and focus on other things you like and care about more.

… Unless that isn’t “enough” for someone. And that someone feels that what’s been offered wasn’t sincere, or fell short, or most importantly, wants some assurances that there will at least be attempts not to repeat past mistakes. That’s when the people who initially sought to look open and cooperative will become dismissive, and derisive, and attempt to “punish” anyone who’s still outspoken.

The natural – and hoped for – reaction when faced with that kind of reaction is for the outspoken person to feel like they should self-silence and slink into obscurity to avoid being a target. Because the general effort against them is to try to make it look like any further outspokenness is only going to hurt the thing they care about, and themselves too.

But when something is truly wrong, that is not the way. In reality, if you stop speaking out, you’re allowing matters to look like they’re far less important than they really are. The real path forward is to continue, because it’s justified, and necessary. Ostracism, dismissiveness, and sometimes isolation is a test of the seriousness of the issue.

If the issue isn’t worth enduring such things, then obviously a person should not keep going for the possibility of a reward they may never get. But when the issue matters, then being outspoken about it matters.