cultural co operation

MASS EFFECT THEORY TIMEZ

You know, one thing that I’ve been thinking about lately is how, in-game, the fact that the current cycle finally bested the reapers is more or less explained with ‘Shepard and her crew are just that awesome’.  Which, fair, Shepard is perhaps the most badass person in recent history - but this reasoning has never seemed satisfying to me, because Shepard is still just one person out of idk trillions. She did a lot, but it seems implausible that she was the deciding factor. Exceptional people must have existed in every cycle, but that did not ultimately save them. It probably helped that they reaped (heh) the benefits of thousands of cycles’ work on the Crucible as well, but I’m still not quite convinced.

So! I have been working on a different, systemic theory: the influence of the asari and the volus on galactic life. Hear me out here: both of these cultures primarily choose diplomacy and compromise over violent confrontation if they can. Hell, the volus have pretty much done away with warfare altogether and solve their conflicts with trade. Asari are notorious for their striving for political consensus and focus on communal matters before they make a decision (something that likely drives the shorter-lived species to distraction, but hey, if you’ve got two thousand years to work things out you probably don’t feel the need to stumble headlong into anything). They are also considered the ‘heart’ of galactic politics; their practices and world view have a central role.  

What I’m saying is that these two races have facilitated a galaxy that could stand united against an outer threat. The volus keep the galactic economy relatively stable, the asari uphold (or sometimes enforce) a balanced and cooperative political scene. It’s not a perfect system, of course, but it might have afforded this cycle benefits that previous ones didn’t.

What made the protheans fail? Javik hints that it might be their relentless imperialism and the uniformity of their culture; they conquered other races and then forced them to either give up their own ways or be crushed underfoot.The asari culturally prefer co-operation without assimilation, which brings the unity of the protheans without their crippling lack of diversity. (You could of course argue that the asari just take a more insidious, less confrontational route to galactic domination - after all their form of reproduction is semi-parasitic and they do overrule other races when pressed. I still think they’re overall much more benevolent than the protheans, though.)

I just… it’s constantly underestimated how much the asari run things, I think? They don’t get enough credit for how much of a political powerhouse they are and how interesting they are as a culture if you start to really look into it beyond ‘they’re obviously only designed as hot blue space babes’. (Also I always feel bad for the volus being elbowed out of the way by the entitled fuckboy of the galaxy that is humanity. These guys keep your fucking economy afloat, okay, let them have a say in how things are run) 

Chris Lilley in brown face as "Jonah from Tonga"

Chris Lilley’s “Jonah from Tonga” character is an extension of Australian ignorance and laziness towards Polynesian cultures, our neighbours. We ignore the Pacific and South East Asia (the same way we ignore Indigenous Australian culture and peoples), and we have no interest in the richness of their cultures or regional co-operation. Hell, most of Queensland doesn’t even know the Torres Strait Islands and her people exist. Chris Lilley isn’t introducing Tongan culture to Australian audiences, he is erasing it through his white lens and stereotypes. If this character was Māori I’d be personally offended, and Tongan people have every right to be offended at this act of “brown face”. Lilley’s “comedy” is insensitive and juvenile. Minorities struggle for representation on our screens, yet Lilley is given money from our National broadcaster to develop this show. There is so much great content we could import — Māori Television is AMAZING (and a lot of it you can watch for free online from Australia), yet the ABC never buys or screens that content. I go to dance performances that bring together Indigenous peoples from across the Pacific and am in awe, I go to funny and tender Samoan theatre. Maybe I search it out because I feel so starved for culture here, never sure of exactly where I stand. Yet Chris Lilley merrily mocks Tongan people and is rewarded for it. If you grew up watching his characters and were uncritical, your nostalgia is understandable but that’s not an excuse now. You know what black face and brown face is. You’ve engaged with Indigenous issues within Australia. Start showing respect to our other Indigenous neighbours and condemn Lilley…and if you can’t do that, please don’t add to the ratings of this show.

P.S. Apparently NITV does show Māori, Inuit and American Indian / First Nations content as well as local Indigenous content, let’s all watch more National Indigenous Television.