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spending 4 days drawing homestuck; boss battle edition™

ok so this is probably old news but

I recently bought the 2016 homestuck calendar

had it open to the March page for a while

This one right

and I had it where I could see it all month, so I stared at it often

so like

we have Caliborn running away with a box of cereal right

it’s like an obvious homage to Lucky Charms cereal, with the leprechauns and everything. So while it doesn’t explicitly say so on the box, we can safely assume it’s cereal

so we have Caliborn running with the cereal, and the kids chasing after him right

Jane with her spoon and a bowl, Roxy with a carton of milk, Dirk with his fist up in anger (probably doesn’t actually want the cereal, is just along for the ride) and Jake with his……

his……

JAKE

JAKE WHY

JAKE WHY WOULD YOU EAT YOUR CEREAL WITH A FORK

THAT’S NOT THE WAY YOU EAT CEREAL STOP THAT

characterization, filters, and characterization to be found in the lack of filters

Talking about Jane earlier got me thinking, you know, Jane is not at all the only character that uses this device to show off the less desirable traits lurking in the psyche of all these damaged teens. Like. So many characters have these lurking deep seated issues that stay hidden deep down because the characters are pretty good at projecting a less damaged and more together version of themselves. 

If that sounds familiar it’s because it’s a fucking outrageously relatable quality and part of what makes the Homestuck characters RESONATE so much. Why they feel like they have all this dimension and depth that makes us grab on to them and never want to let go. 

I’m just going to run through some examples here while I’m thinking about it. The first OBVIOUSLY since thinking about her is what got me going on this – Jane. Crockertier Jane removing the layers of self-imposed filter on Jane’s festering insecurity, entitlement issues, jealousy and so on. I’ve already talked enough about that today.

Grimbark Jade! You notice Jade says what she’s thinking WAY more easily while she’s mind controlled, and she still sounds like herself – she sounds kinda like she does when she’s owning Karkat repeatedly, doesn’t she? Because angry Jade has that same effect of pushing her nice girl filter aside and letting the angry witch (not a cutesy slur, her literal witch class) within fly free. Grimbark Jade tells us that behind that nice girl front Jade Harley actually thinks some pretty uncharitable thoughts sometimes, she just keeps a tight fucking lid on it because – well, don’t most people? Relatable as fuck. 

Jadesprite! Since we’re talking about Jade anyway. Jade likes to think she has everything together, that her visions from Skaia and her scientific prowess and the tools her Grandpa left her are more than enough to handle everything that comes her way, she’s independent, she’s capable, she’s certainly never LONELY oh no of course not certainly never CRUSHINGLY OVERWHELMED by the responsibility of her own existence nah those are weak feelings for weak girls who aren’t as awesome as Jade! And then – Jadesprite. Why do you think Jade got SO ANGRY at Jadesprite? Because she was being confronted with something she knew deep down was a reflection of weaknesses in herself (totally normal ones that her later arc reinforced were a mistake to pretend weren’t there – Loneliness and fear and regret are all tied in with Jade’s character progression and learning how to deal with those things is where I imagine her arc would have gone if Homstuck’s ending hadn’t been the literary equivalent of chopping off a limb and cauterizing the wound.) Jadesprite is Jade without the filter of implacable strength Jade imposes on herself to fuckin cope with living on a hell island with the stuffed corpse of her grandpa who she grew up thinking literally killed himself at BEST.  god damn

Davesprite. Dave Strider with a slow long agonizing depressing arc wherein he realizes his coolkid persona won’t make anyone think of him as their best friend anymore, and in the absence of the security that persona afforded him when he was The Real Dave he has no idea what to do with himself. He’s lost, he feels aimless, untethered, incapable of being happy – and yes, Davesprite is his own character, but you can still infer a lot from Dave’s character about him – for instance, how he completely ties his self worth up in how useful he is to his friends or how worthwhile they find him and has no idea how to even BEGIN the hard journey of looking within for worth instead of relying eternally on changeable external sources. Davesprite is Dave not WITHOUT a filter but certainly with a VERY DIFFERENT one.

Homestuck does this with almost every single damn character on its roster at some point. Shows a version of them with a different or lesser or completely missing filter to highlight flaws and issues and internal struggles of all kinds. 

Homestuck is a damn deep dive into an exercise about analyzing nature vs nurture and what we’re predisposed to do and what comes from within and what is put upon us by forces out of our control, and how that line is blurry and messy and everyone has the potential to be either the worst or best version of themselves. Even Caliborn was given a choice. Hussie-The-Character explained it to him at great painstaking length. 

There are so many other examples. Jasprose is Rose without a filter, and the way Jasprose goes around gleefully calling every hot girl she sees hot and delighting smugly in knowing more than just about anyone else and lording over the information and playing smarter-than-thou games – that tells us a LOT about Rose! A LOT about what sort of urges Rose tamps down on every day in an effort to just be fucking cool! 

I bet you have things like this with yourself, right? Doesn’t everyone?

Tricksters! Look at how they act. They’re not themselves but there is plenty to glean from them. Jane immediately goes for Jake, the object of her desire, to pursue an exaggerated version of her idealized future. Trickster Jake is a passive fucking ragdoll who immediately acquiesces to everything everyone demands of him because their happiness becomes his happiness – Jake hates confrontation, so Trickster Jake is just a fucking doormat. Roxy goes for Jake AND Dirk because divorced from the guilt she normally feels for harboring desire toward either one of them she knows exactly what she wants! ETC ETC. Of course they would never do any of this shit if they weren’t high as balls and incapable of understanding the meaning of the word “consequence.” That’s the point. Seeing what they do in this situation is an interesting window in!

Brain Ghost Dirk is a version of Jake (yes, of Jake, not Dirk) without a specific filter Jake runs his own personality through before he’s comfortable presenting it to others, and you’ll notice, it’s EXTREMELY biting and critical sometimes. Jake knows what he’s about. He just buries it most of the time because that’s easier than dealing with it. 

I could seriously keep going. 

Homestuck loves to show us what our favorites do and say and ARE when basic filters go out the window. Those filters that most of us employ to make other people believe we don’t all have intrusive thoughts or bad desires or just plain old weaknesses we’re ashamed of and want to keep hidding at costs – or that we occasionally think things or think about doing things we would never ever ever do in real life are demolished or changed or temporarily suspended. 

It’s brilliant tbh. It lets us see facets of characters that would normally never really get full spotlight reveals by their very nature, especially with protagonists. 

Vriska vs (Vriska) – (Vriska) is just Vriska with some more self awareness and more willingness to let down her self-imposed filter and actually examine the shit she wants and why because watching Aranea fuck the timeline over out of motivations eerily similar to her own hardcore shook her enough to develop in that direction. (which makes sense since HER original motivations are copying Mindfang who IS alt-aranea lmao I love Homestuck)  (Vriska) is still Vriska, it’s just a very very different lens through which to view her character. 

blah blah blah blah etc there are so many examples

anyway I love Homestuck and good character writing what up

agentsokka  asked:

Not sure if you've made posts about it before (sorry if you have!), but could you elaborate more on the alphas not 'getting' each others' main flaws? I'm really curious since I haven't heard their relationships described like that before.

Sure, let me try to articulate what I mean here. 

Basically, the alphas as a group all love each other SO MUCH, which is awesome, they’re this closeknit squad and they’re all so important to each other and their relationships all make me feel enormous sprawling feelings, but the sheer AMOUNT they all love each other sort of blinds them to some of their own needs. They all want to think the very best of each other, and the occasional thoughts they have about each other that aren’t like 100% positive get immediately suppressed and marinated in guilt juice and they try not to acknowledge it and go back to focusing on the good instead. 

So they’re all kind of bottling things up about each other, right? But it doesn’t come from any malicious place, it comes from a place of wanting to be the best they can be because they care about everyone else’s opinion so much but also knowing they aren’t always their best selves – and knowing their friends aren’t always their best selves – but if THEY know their friends sometimes are shitty, that means everyone else might know that THEY are sometimes shitty, too. 

They’re all trying so hard to downplay the bad and upjump the good, which is MUCH MUCH easier to do with online relationships. 

You throw them into physical proximity and suddenly those annoyances you all tried so hard to pretend didn’t bug you that bad and never talked about because talking about unpleasant things is, well, unpleasant, start to boil over. Put that on top of the stressful circumstances that led to several relationships starting the session OFF more strained than usual, and wow. They had no fucking chance. 

I love the alphas so much – they got shit on by a lot of the fandom because their plotline was so internal and cerebral, but that is the kind of shit I LOVE. The betas were all friends, but they never felt like ONE GROUP to me. The full four way group dynamic never crystallized. We always found them interacting one on one and rarely ABOUT one another, because the betas’ conflicts were more or less external. The betas’ story up to Collide was them vs the environment, the game, doc scratch, sburb, the horrorterrors. The alphas’ story is so much about THEM. Their relationships. Them as a group. Their interpersonal issues and foibles and there’s this element of nitty gritty real HUMAN-ness to their struggles that isn’t super present with most of the betas who feel like more fantastical figures that struggle against equally fantastical antagonists. (The betas KIND OF segue into something like this post-Collide, but it’s not expounded upon as much, they’re split into different groups, and also a lot of it got retconned - Jade and John had some interesting moments on the boat but that stuff was probably the biggest victim of the retcon.)

OKAY. 

Here’s an example of what I mean to wrap it up: 

Jane and Roxy are best friends, they love each other deeply, you can tell from their every interaction that they care tremendously about each other’s opinion of them, but. Roxy has a drinking problem. This (I think) clearly makes Jane uncomfortable sometimes, but Jane suppresses it and pushes it down because she wants to think the best of Roxy, she minimizes the issue. No one ever confronts Roxy about this very serious problem she has in any real or effective way (not just Jane, NO ONE does this) because they all want to think the best of her and oh… haha….. it’s just a little foible… just  a quirk…. it’s cool…. not a big deal …. I’m sure roxy has her life under control no big deal!!

Basically EVERY alpha relationship has something like this going on. Everyone downplays how much the AR bugs them because hey I’m sure Dirk has things under control he probably does this on purpose god Dirk you’re so silly jeez Dirk we’d really like to talk to you instead of your fucking hell robot sometimes but oh well I’m sure Dirk knows what he’s doing ho hum let’s all downplay how much this actually bothers us because we want to think the best of Dirk and can’t imagine him ever creating a situation he genuinely cannot deal with or control because well gosh he’s just so capable!

Everyone downplays how selfish Jake can be because oh well Jake is just silly he’s so nice he doesn’t MEAN to be this way I mean it’s JAKE how could Jake English ever do something as vaguely malicious as take advantage of how he KNOWS Jane never really says what she’s thinking if that thing is hard to say and use that to his advantage to give him a perfectly reasonable out on having to tell her he isn’t interested in a romantic relationship with her and then, KNOWING she actually did have a huge crush on him, constantly inundate her with his issues with his boyfriend for months thereafter. Surely Jake could never be that manipulative he’s so nice!! (NOTE: I love Jake English, specifically BECAUSE of things like this, I honestly would not like him if he were actually the way fanon paints him all the time, some weak cinnamon roll that can do no wrong.) 

etc etc etc

This is why I love the alphas! They are a group of fucked up teenagers who are all struggling so fucking bad but all need their friends to believe everything is ok, and who need to believe their friends are ok, who want so bad for each other to be happy that they sabotage themselves both individually and as a group in misguided attempts to pretend at and manufacture that happiness without actually doing the hard work of fixing the underlying issues preventing them from TRULY achieving it. 

(The one issue, as with most things in Homestuck that I have issues with, is that we are not shown the resolution to these arcs and struggles in canon, boooooooooooooooooooooo)