kids and trolls

Pay attention, 2014 Mad Men: This little girl is holding a LEGO set. The LEGOs are not pink or “made for girls.” She isn’t even wearing pink. The copy is about “younger children” who “build for fun.” Not just “girls” who build. ALL KIDS.

In an age when little girls and boys are treated as though they are two entirely different species by toy marketers, this 1981 ad for LEGO — one of our favorite images ever — issues an important reminder.

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what i know about homeshit before i read it part 1

part 2

also thanks to @introverted-meme for setting up the slides so i didn’t have to look through googles spoiling :0

Why DaveKat is Narratively Important

Let’s talk about DaveKat because I have nothing better to do!!
So, whether or not you personally ship or agree with davekat, this is just going to be about how, from a narrative standpoint, it is 100% vital to both Dave’s and Karkat’s storylines and personal character arcs, let’s start with:

Knight Class- So, bit of class/aspect analysis because the fact they both Dave and Karkat are both Knights is absolutely VITAL to their character development and their connection to each other. Something Kanaya said, that classpects are not necessarily chosen to suit the strengths of each player but rather to challenge them in a way that is most beneficial to their personal growth? That is completely correct, Dave and Karkat being some of the best examples in the comic. The aspects are the elements which the game, and therefore the universe(s) are made of - literally. Like, these are the constructs out of which the world exists, the building blocks so to speak. However, they also represent more metaphorical concepts, Life=Optimism, Hope=Belief, Heart=Soul, so on and so forth etc. So paired with the Knight class, the active pairing of Maid class, we have to examine how exactly the aspect *applies*. Obviously, being active, the Knight class is self serving (more on active vs passive or knight vs maid specifically if y'all hmu with some asks I’d be happy to explain more in depth), there’s also a metric shitload of symbolism involved in the name. I’ve been reading this comic for almost five years and the sheer amount of symbolism never ceases to amaze me, but the absolutely loaded amount of metaphorical value behind this class has to be in my top 5. The classic “knight” iteration, sword and shield type of deal, is instrumental in the interpretation of how Dave and Karkat wield their abilities and grow as characters. The weapon is obviously the way in which they wield their aspects, but the shield is so much more interesting: it’s their PERSONA. Part of the blatant parallels between Dave and Karkat’s story arcs is how they allow others to perceive them in regard to their own internal struggles, they both put up a persona to protect themselves. For Dave it’s his “coolkid” facade, he doesn’t let others see his emotions, feelings, or motivations because he’s so wrapped up in this delusion of irony and toxic masculinity that he feels it would be a weakness to show himself for what he is, one that could very possibly (at the hands of Bro) get him severely injured at best, dead at worst if he fears for his life which is a distinct possibility. Karkat suffers in a similar way, his persona is this image of the overly aggressive, “shouty/angry” guy, he’s loud and obnoxious because he’s trying to keep people at arms length, similar to how Dave doesn’t let anyone in. Karkat also has similar motivations behind this persona, because of his blood color he knows he will be in immediate danger if people get too close, look to closely, care too much, so if he can shout and seem just as bloodthirsty and aggressive as other trolls, he can both keep them away and keep himself free of suspicion. So, they have their shields, their personas, this is how they protect themselves from the world. Let’s talk about their weapons.

Aspects- As I mentioned above, aspects are the literal elements that make up the world, but also have a more metaphorical meaning. In the same way that Heart=Soul, Dave’s aspect Time is not only literally representative of time, but metaphorically representative of PROGRESSION. Karkat’s aspect of blood is therefore, while literally blood (possibly a reference to his mutation), also more symbolically representative of UNITY. Now, let’s see how those apply to each players personal struggle, because remember that’s the key here, how their classpects tie in to their character arcs. Dave is troubled by his aspect at multiple points throughout the storyline, severely disturbed by dead Dave’s and essentially haunted by the multiple loops he has running, in what is a single day to his fellow beta players likely feels like *weeks* for him, he’s not progressing in the game, he’s running all these loops and doing so much and yet he’s not really going anywhere. He’s like a broken record, if you will. Dave doesn’t see himself as a hero, broken sword symbolism aside because I cannot get into that rn lmao that’s way too loaded and this is long enough, Dave *can’t* see himself as a hero because in his mind, Bro was a hero, and he will never live up to it, so why bother. Easier to just run his loops and do whatever Terezi says because she’s probably right and anyways it’s just easier to do something menial and meaningless that doesn’t move anything forward because he would probably fuck it up anyways, right? Dave is so stuck in the past, haunted by his loops, haunted by the legacy of his Bro, haunted by dead Daves, he is terrified (whether consciously or subconsciously) of moving forward, of Progression. Alternatively, Karkat’s aspect of Blood, or UNITY trips him up in similar ways. Karkat’s relationships are…complicated. It’s been *headcanoned* that he comes across as pale towards most of his friends, because despite how hard he tries to act loud and aggressive, he’s a big softie who cares way too goddamn much about everything. Terezi also represents his biggest struggle with Unity and relationships, he “wanted her in every quadrant like a desperate fool”, and she played along for a while to see if he would settle in any one quadrant, but when he never did she moved on. This is a huge blow to Karkat’s self-esteem, he thought he was being so suave and smooth just like his romance novels and movies, but really he was pushing her away either knowingly or unknowingly. On the topic of his romance novels, his obsession with relationships also shows him trying to compensate (more on this in a sec) for his lack of capability in the area, as if he’s studying them to get a better understanding of how relationships should work because he really has no idea. In his very first conversation with Sollux that we see, he ends by affirming that he hasn’t gone too far right? They’re still friends? Because underneath his loud, obnoxious persona, he’s just acting the way he thinks he’s supposed to in this hyper-aggressive society. Sound familiar? It’s because Dave is doing the same thing. They’re both using their personas to survive, to appear the way they think they should to other people, because when it comes to their aspects, they’re fucking terrified and don’t have a clue as to what they’re really doing.

Storyline Parallels- So, I’ve seen a lot of good analysis of this and I doubt any of what I’m saying will be news to any of you, but I’m gonna put it in my own words as best I can bc this shit is imperative to understanding why DaveKat works so perfectly in the narrative. Dave is obviously working an uphill battle the entire story to overcome the hyper-masculinity (see also: toxic) that his Bro has ingrained in his psyche for 13 years. Not the least of which is some deeply rooted homophobia. Dave fronts constantly, accusing others of being gay, accusing *Karkat* of being gay pretty amusingly. Obviously he pokes at this in other people because he’s so insecure about it in himself, he struggles heavily with his sexuality the way so many pre-teens do, only he’s fighting against a decades worth of anti-gay propaganda basically so there’s no room for him to search within himself too deeply without feeling deeply uncomfortable because obviously that’s Wrong and Bad and that’s not how society works in his world. Similarly, Karkat struggles with the quadrants which is practically unheard of on Alternia. It’s such a clear parallel to human homophobia that like. I’m left speechless when I think about it honestly. Their struggles are so overwhelmingly similar and parallel to each other sometimes I just have to stop and appreciate it. But back on topic, his whole life, Karkat has grown up with this over idealized concept of romance, the quadrants, and he obviously knows something is wrong with himself from an early age. Karkat’s obsession with romance novels is no coincidence, he’s clearly always felt off when it comes to that and so he most likely reached out to these novels and movies to get a better grasp of the quadrants, consuming what was essentially romantic propaganda to overcompensate. The problem is, in studying these works, he latched onto the wrong thing which is so funny to me. He’s reading these trying to understand, to make himself fit into this system because that’s what society is like *cough* heteronormativity *cough* and yet he latched onto quadrant vacillation like it’s the holy fucking grail of romance. Like oh, okay, this is normal? Obviously people do this, as long as they switch within the bounds of the system it’s Okay™ and even romantic in some occasions. Only, this is fiction he’s reading and if you try to apply the logic of romance novels to real life…well, we all know what happened with Terezi. He was constantly pushing the boundaries of vacillation, he was red for her, he wanted to act black on occasion, he cares so much about everyone it’s impossible for him not to be pale, and we see him (though I doubt he realizes he’s doing it) trying to auspistice for her and Gamzee in the pre-retcon timeline by staging a sort of intervention. He “wanted her in every quadrant like a desperate fool” and I don’t understand how people put Karkat into the quadrant system!!! That line is so IMPORTANT, not even taking into account that we know his dancestor, who shared his blood mutation which may have had something to do with his irregularities, loved the Disciple “beyond the quadrants”. It’s. So. Obvious. Karkat is overcoming the stigma of wanting to love beyond the quadrants in the same way that Dave is struggling to overcome the loaded idea behind being Not Straight. They’re both overcoming these extremely similar prospects and it’s an absolutely stunning feat of narrative that as an English major it makes me fucking weak in the goddamn knees like Hussie is a lot of things but this? This is fucking genius. I’ve never seen two characters written together in such an in depth and parallel way before.

Opposites Attract- So we’ve talked about their similarities, let’s talk about their differences and how those differences are also actually poorly disguised similarities. Karkat is obviously a Loud Boy, thats his coping mechanism. He keeps people out and away by being loud and aggressive. Dave needs to cope for similar reasons, to protect himself he needs to keep people out and away but he does it in just the opposite way, he gets quiet. He doesn’t talk about his shit. Sure, he’ll go on the rambling metaphor when the occasion calls, but although he’s always talking he’s never really saying anything. Karkat is an almost compulsive over sharer, like, the boy (bless his heart) has zero filter. Dave will talk your ear off just as well, but I’ll be fuckin damned if he says anything worthwhile outright (his many, many Freudian slips aside). It’s also interesting to note that while I’ve seen people talk about how part of the reason Karkat doesn’t fit into Alternian society is that he’s so human, as its stated in the narrative that after seeing this soft species, that shares his blood color and stupid, stupid compassion, even *Vriska* admits that Karkat seems to fit in better with them than he ever did with trolls, we don’t see the same for Dave? I’ve rarely, if ever, seen the situation flipped, in that Dave was more suited for Alternian society the same way Karkat was more human than troll or at least had severely human aspects. Obviously Dave’s romance is still very human in that he’s a big ol’ fan of monogamy (he and Karkat both faced problems in their relationships with Terezi romantically when she became involved in other quadrants, these boys love monogamy I’ll fight), but his upbringing? Yikes. Lusii are supposed to, while still protecting their trolls, prepare them for the harsh and violent world. Whether they had to kill other trolls and Lusii to feed them, or learn how to fight to fend off other trolls on their own, there was a shit ton of fighting in their pre-pubescent years. Trolls are a hyper aggressive, violent species that learn to fight basically as soon as they can walk, which is exactly what Bro did to Dave. Dave could fight practically from the second he crawled off the meteor, I doubt a day went by without a sword in his hand for some reason and god knows he suffered through enough strifes. Both boys were brought up just thoroughly *wrong* for their societies in a way that ensured they would never feel like they truly fit in.

Finally, Romance- In the final culmination of all this, let’s actually talk about how they work together as a couple. So, they have this overwhelmingly similar upbringing and life experience, what happens when they finally meet up? Dave thinks it’s hilarious that Karkat is always yelling, “get a load of this guy I was telling you about, Rose”, and while I have no doubt he thought Karkat’s shitfits were the funniest thing since Colonel Sassacre, there had to be a part of him that was just in awe of how someone could be so free with their emotions. Like, he’s angry? And you know it the second he walks into a room?? This is an entirely new concept to Dave, my son, who grew up with an insanely passive-aggressive psychopath who would sneak up on him and fight him with a crazy fucking puppet like what the fuck?? Dave has always had to be on edge at home, Bro was quiet so you never knew when he was upset and you never knew when he was coming for you. With Karkat, that’s such a non-issue it’s like the issue dined and dashed, no bill and no tip, vanished into the wind. You can hear Karkat stomping down the hall five minutes before he even gets into the room, and once he gets there oh boy he will Let You Know What The Problem Is. Why is Dave always provoking Karkat? Literally just to hear him yell because it’s so goddamn refreshing to know exactly with 100% certainty what someone is thinking, no irony, no bullshit, just genuine fucking refreshing annoyance. And for Karkat, well here’s the guy he’s always wanted to be, right? Cool and suave, the romcom hero who could smooth talk the paint off a wall. Only, Dave isn’t actually cool in the way he pretends to be, he’s not this smooth suave hero, he’s not even just a hero. He can’t be. He’s just…a kid. A kid like Karkat who has issues like Karkat and talks just as much when he’s nervous as Karkat and he’s relatable even though he’s trying not to be. He’s trying so hard to be what society wants from him he wants to be the tough guy with the sword but he’s just so not and that’s so refreshing! Karkat realizes he’s not the only one who’s trying to live up to some buttfuck impossiblestandards and he realizes…that’s okay. He doesn’t have to be anything he’s not. And they figure that out together.

So pardon me if I don’t understand how you can put Dave with John, or Jade, because they don’t fit. The narrative literally doesn’t benefit in any way for them to fit, and if it’s your personal preference then by all means go for it who am I to stop you, but there is no benefit to them being together. They will not grow from it, John is explicitly someone who doesn’t seem to focus or care much about romance even? And Jade has no concept of anything Dave has gone through, she couldn’t even begin to understand. Same with Terezi and Karkat, or Gamzee and Karkat or John and Karkat or whatever, Terezi likes quadrants. They make sense to her and she enjoys them, Karkat cannot bring himself to deal with with that and they’re so much happier as just friends. I’m not even getting into Gamzee, I’m not even gonna dip my toe into that discourse because everyone likes different characters for different reasons and I won’t begrudge you of that so I’m just gonna stay away. So again, if you ship those then that’s fine! Go for it! This is just an analysis of why the narrative, in my personal perspective, supports DaveKat and why I personally think they are good and healthy for each other and help each other grow as people.