You know, ableism of the term aside*, the use of the term “Hugbox” creeps me the fuck out because of how it seems to be used by incredibly toxic communities like on 4chan or Reddit to almost pathologize non-toxic actually-healthy social groups.

Like the way they use it it seems to be saying that, if you’re not constantly mean spiritedly undercutting each other or being terrified of any sincere emotion that doesn’t fit into the paradigm of toxic masculinity while mocking anyone who shows it, your community is an intelectually vapid circlejerk that refuses to confront the “real world” that needs to be taught a “lesson.”

But hey, I could be wrong, I’m just thinking about these factors I’ve noticed…

*Not to dismiss the ableism ,that’s a whole different kind of awful, because it was most likely named after the “hug machines” Temple Grandin and other autistic people use, because Channer-types really fucking hate autistic people

Mass Effect AU: Virmire Victim

So, I was writing about Virmire and this horrible, horrible idea came to me. Maybe it’s been done before, I dunno, but if it hasn’t, it should be.

The one you leave behind on Virmire becomes indoctrinated. They come back later as a semi-recognizable form, something preserved by Harbinger to fuck with Shepard, to derail them from thwarting Collector/Reaper plans.

Imagine fighting Kaidan, with his L2 biotics strengthened and migraines gone, impossibly stronger than before. His body (maybe something Shepard admired before) is now twisted by wires and cords, joints replaced by glistening metal, the glow of programming behind his once dark eyes. And when he speaks, its with the same voice he once used to seduce or flirt, the gravely smoking tones of a lover is now something he uses to lure Shepard into a false sense of security.

“Hey there, Shepard…”

And if not flirted with and left behind, it’s more neutral but no less friendly. He’ll talk about how good they work together on the field and how comforting it was to be on Shepard’s 6, to have that bond and been comrades, friends. If only they could have remained so…

Imagine, Ashley with faster reflexes and deadly accuracy. Her hair is silky smooth. Lips full. Her face angelic, porcelain. Though her body is less appealing, winding wires delving in and out of her body, out of her spine, she still looks human. Her eyes are still big, wide and reflect Shepard’s silhouette, even while glowing.

“Hey, Skipper!”

She plays every inch the Ashley Williams Shepard knows, recalling moments spent with Shepard perfectly, sitting in the armory, talking about the time Sarah slugged a boy for being too forward. How she misses her family and wonders how they’re doing. Of all the trouble they went through to convince the Council and how she’d like to still kick their asses for giving Shepard a hard time.

 She recites a line or two of poetry, which Shepard feels obligated to finish out. They finish the last line together.

“In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeoning of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.”

She might even smile before lobbing a grenade in their direction.


And when the fight dwindles, whenever Shepard is on the winning side, Harbinger orders a retreat, and their programming tells them to call to Shepard for help.

“Shepard, I’m—Please, you have to stop this. Please, come for me. Find me. I’m still here. I’m… still me.”

Then a horde of heretic geth or collector’s cover their retreat, masking the truth from Shepard’s eyes. They’re like Benezia, Saren. But maybe, just maybe there’s hope in there somewhere… Maybe they are strong-willed enough to fight the influence of everything they know is wrong.

Kyouko Kirigiri: A Heroine’s Journey/An analysis on an emotional girl

Kyouko Kirigiri’s is a story of emotions, and how the girl came to respond to them. You may try and assume she acts so very detached because of some crippling emotional weaknesses, but the reality is that people that can hold back their personal feelings and endure stoically are often people with the strongest grasp on those feelings. I know this from experience.

Let’s dive right into the mystery that is Kyouko Kirigiri.

Keep reading
Dear Anti-Israel Activist, by Nevet Basker
Dear Anti-Israel Activist, I don’t know you personally, but I know what you do. You demonstrate on college......

If you cared about the Palestinian people, you would protest the thousands killed and imprisoned, the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians gassed, bombed, and displaced in Syria. But you don’t, because you haven’t (yet?) figure out how to blame Israel and the Jews for this wholesale death and destruction.

If you really cared about the Palestinians, you would fight to improve their education, public health, and economic opportunities. You would advocate for dismantling the UN agency that prevents resettlement of descendants of Palestinian refugees, instead nurturing statelessness and victimhood for generations. You would object to the brainwashing of children in schools and summer camps, of youth on social media and adults in mosques and the media, indoctrination to hate and incitement to violence. If you were a true progressive, you would fight for the rights of women, of LGBTQ, and of religious minorities, all of whom suffer enormously in Arab (including Palestinian) societies. If you cared about freedom of expression and a free press, you would oppose the arrest and abuse of journalists by both Palestinian governments.

And if you really cared about Palestinian statehood, you would invest in building institutions and infrastructure, and in fostering a social climate conducive to eventual Palestinian self-rule and self-sufficiency. You would educate for peace and coexistence, not violence and war.

Red’s Rankings: Top 5 Mass Effect Fan Theories

5. Blasto was the Real Shepard

So let’s start with Mark Meer’s personal favorite, shall we? According to this theory, Shepard is essentially a fictionalized version of Blasto, and the events of Mass Effect are essentially fictionalized versions of the real Blasto’s adventures. Basically, a mirror of the “canon” such as it were. 

I kinda love this one for the sheer ridiculousness of it. And well…gotta say, it would explain why both Blasto and M!Shepard (who is the default in the first game) use the same voice actor, wouldn’t it…

4. Aria T’Loak is Aleena

BTW: I’ve already written at length about this one.  

I am aware that the writers all but confirmed this one. However, as I noted, they’ve deliberately avoided outright confirming or denying this one: we know Patrick Weekes headcanons it, but it’s not 100% confirmed as canon yet. 

The theory is that Wrex’s old mercenary buddy, the notoriously hard-to-kill Aleena, set herself up on Omega under the assumed identity of Aria T’Loak after escaping Wrex. I wish they’d just gone ahead and confirmed this one, maybe an easter egg in Citadel or something, for now I’m assuming it’s permanently locked in narrative purgatory where we assume it’s true but it’ll never be explicitly confirmed in-game. 

3. Eve Lied To and Manipulated Shepard

In one of the more emotional bits of dialogue in Mass Effect 3, Eve—the genophage-immune krogan female—tells Shepard about her first stillborn baby and how she almost lost all hope. The theory here is that Eve, in this instance, was deliberately lying to Shepard in an effort to manipulate them into feeling more sympathy for the krogan and, therefore, more inclined to cure the genophage. What is the basis for this theory?

It’s an inconsistency with the lore: krogan don’t give live-births. In fact, genophage or no, krogan females produce clutches of eggs, up to a thousand at a time—hence why krogan birth-rate is so high, krogans can have up to one thousand children in one batch. Although it’s possible when Eve references “a stillborn” she simply means that she produced a batch of eggs and none of them were viable, it’s certainly a very different image than the dialogue seems to be invoking. Is it possible that Eve, worried that Shepard, too, intended to betray the krogan, was cynically attempting to manipulate Shepard’s emotions with her story? Yes, it’s possible. Whether or not I believe it, is questionable…but it’s an interesting theory that could certainly change the implications of her storyline.

2. The Infamous Indoctrination Theory

This is the theory that everybody in the fandom has kind of a love-hate relationship with. We love it because it’s clever and actually makes the ending of Mass Effect 3…well, make sense. We hate it because we know that, no matter what they say, it wasn’t the developers’ intention, they just ran out of time, and it’s a more clever and subtle idea than Bioware would’ve actually gone through with.

The infamous Indoctrination Theory holds that the ending to the trilogy visually indicated (via colors) taking control of the Reapers as the “paragon” solution and destroying them as the “renegade” solution is because Shepard has become indoctrinated by the end of the trilogy. This isn’t unreasonable considering the context—the hazy, dreamlike imagery in the final confrontation between The Illusive Man, Anderson and Shepard and the amount of Reaper energy Shepard’s been exposed to throughout the series both support this idea. It definitely makes a lot more sense than the ending on its own does. I think it’s what @fandomfollowing would call a “honeypot” if it were in a different, for these purposes unnamed popular medium—we’re filling in the plot holes of the original media with something far more clever than the media itself presents. But, ah…we know nothing, ain’t that right, Johnny-Boy?

BTW: I’ve written my own analysis of the ending of ME3. I don’t think that my “analysis” is actually what the creators of the game had in mind, but I think that (as with the Indoctrination Theory) they accidentally created something…kinda brilliant. 

1. Nobody Actually Knows What the Asari Look Like

What do you know it, my favorite fan theory revolves around my least-favorite alien culture/race. This theory is based off of a conversation that can be overheard on Illium in ME2—if Shepard eavesdrops on the Bachelor Party, he’ll overhear a Salarian, a Turian and a Human discussing the Asari (a Salarian, a Turian, an Asari and a Human walk into a bar…shenanigans ensue haha). As the conversation goes on, all three speakers will express surprise that the other races find Asari attractive, because the Asari resemble their race: the Salarian thinks the Asari look like blue Salarian women, the human thinks the Asari look like blue human women, and the Turian thinks the Asari look like blue Turian women. Wait, how could this be? 

Well…the Asari do show something resembling psychic powers with the whole “mind-mating” thing, don’t they? Is it possible that the Asari passively (even unknowingly) use their pseudo-psychic powers to change how other races perceive them? If that were the case, then nobody (save for the Asari themselves) would know what the Asari actually look like—they’d all see, essentially, blue versions of their own race. A Salarian sees a blue Salarian. A Turian sees a blue Turian. A human sees a blue human.

Far-fetched as it is, it seems far more plausible than the Asari just so happening to coincidentally resemble ageless, beautiful blue human women, I’ll say that.

Another version of this theory is that while they don’t outright “shapeshift”, the Asari may passively manipulate other races to pick up on the traits where they most resemble them. So, a Turian would notice their scalps (which could resemble Turian fringes), a Salarian would notice their necks (which could resemble Salarian necks), and a human would notice their figures (which could resemble human figures), and each race essentially “projects” a face resembling their own race onto them.

All of this is based off of this one conversation.

I love it, personally. I feel like if this one was canon (and if some of the inconsistencies in the lore surrounding the Asari were actually, I don’t know, acknowledged and explained) I might be able to forgive how terribly written and thought-out the asari as a whole are? I don’t know!

So how about it, nerds? What are your favorite Mass Effect theories?