andrew scott in the almeida theatre’s 2017 production of hamlet
Scott is convulsed with emotion on a small stage. From the beginning he is emphatic, tipping easily from fury into tears, a windmill of small gestures, pointing to his eyes when he talks of weeping. He is on the brink of being too much. But then Hamlet is too much – for himself. Scott, spilling over with emotion, continually moves in unexpected directions. Away from lucidity, towards illusion, and suddenly dipping into laconic humour. In an inspired moment, on the eve of his death he sends up the idea of his fitness as a fencer.
What if James Potter didn't reach Snape on the night of the prank? What happens next?
He was taller than he’d been when he left last summer, and
his slim bare feet poked from the bottom of the bed, the hospital sheets barely
covering his supine form. His dark hair was
splayed across the starched white pillow, and his black eyelids fluttered in
his sleep. He mumbled on occasion - his
pale lips barely moving, his newly deepened voice murmuring softly, and his
hands grasping anxiously at his coverings.
She toyed with the frayed edges of her robes until his large
roughened hand covered her slender fingers.
“Stop that, love.”
“I can’t…” Despite
her best effort, her voice shook. “I
can’t, Toby.” She glanced at her
husband, his jaw still set in a grimace.
He looked formidable, but she knew Tobias Snape better than any other, and
his eyes betrayed his fear. Although his
frightful temper commanded respect in the backstreets of Cokeworth, Hogwarts
was a very different world.
Still, Tobias Snape was no coward. His arm tightened around his wife’s
shoulders. “He’ll be right, love.”
“Now, I think we both know-”
Eileen’s voice was like steel. “I want to hear you say it.”
Dumbledore faltered, his half smile almost slipping, but
then he composed himself. “My dear-”
“She’s my dear,
not yers,” Tobias said, rising from his seat to stand in front of his wife. “An’ I know yer can do all sorts with that
stick, an’ Lord knows, I know yer ain’t scairt of me. But if our lad deserves owt from all this, he
at least deserves that you say it. To
his mother.” He moved to Eileen’s side,
and glared at the older man, his eyes as dark as his son’s. “Say it.”
“…it was an unfortunate accident.”
“You did not know, perhaps?”
Eileen stared levelly at her old Transfiguration teacher. “No.
Of course you knew. And the rest
of the staff, they knew as well, I assume?”
“The boy deserves an education.”
The fury built inside her.
“At the expense of my son’s life?
Didn’t you have a responsibility for his education as well? For his wellbeing?”
Dumbledore polished his glasses. “It was an accident.”
Tobias balled his fists and shoved them deep into his
pockets. “If it were an accident, then
how can yer promise it ain’t gonna ‘appen to anyone else’s lad, eh? Yer ain’t gonna ‘ave any other parents in ‘ere,
apologisin’ to ‘em? Not that yer’ve
apologised ter us yet, might I add.”
“It is unfortunate, but ultimately, Severus shouldn’t have
“I’m not listening to this,” Eileen said, standing, and
looping her arm through Tobias’. “I am
not listening to you blame my son for you inviting a dangerous werewolf to live
at this school.”
Dumbledore moved swiftly in front of the pair, blocking the
exit from his study. “I must assure you,
had my precautions been adhered to and acted upon, there would’ve been no harm-”
“Tell me this,” Eileen hissed. “How did my boy know where to look?”
“I believe…” Dumbledore
took a deep breath. “I believe the boy
confided in one of his housemates. The
folly of youth. And I believe one of the
other housemates led your son into danger.”
“Sirius Black.” Her
accusation was swift.
Dumbledore twitched. “And
tell me, Madam Snape, what makes you suggest Master Black?”
“I know you think that we’re…” She halted, gripping Tobias’ arm more
tightly. “Because we live amongst the
Muggles, because Tobias here is a Mugg-”
“I do not hold such prejudices.”
“Our lad talks,” Tobias said, softly. “Not often.
Not much. But he mentions ‘em. And that’s enough for us to know, yer see. Coz if yer dunner mention much, an’ when yer
do, all yer say is Sirius Black this an’ James Potter that, then yer know.” His voice grew in volume. “So if his mam knows, an’ I know, then you
lot ‘ere must know an’ all.”
Representation: Make Your Own, Vote with Your Wallet
Here’s a comic that I drew up to explain my grievances with these counter-arguements I’ve seen popping up. I’ll write more in text here.
I don’t want to stop anyone from making their own games. Making games is a hard, incredibly rewarding creative task, and you should never stop making games, ever. You want to see a game that is totally your thing, your own brainchild go out into the world for people to enjoy? Do it. Make that game, and share with the world more culture than ever before. There is nothing stopping you from making your own game except time and effort.
But one person’s games, that’s just one voice in a million. As a gay person (and I cannot speak for anyone else but my own gay self), I grew up without any gay protagonists, with the constant background radiation of “Straight Is Normal”. Every romance, every love interest, every single character who wasn’t a joke or a villain, straight. I couldn’t share a part of me that was vitally important to me, and nobody knew what being gay meant, since there were no positive gay characters in the media we were consuming. If I made a game with a gay main character, that would still be one game in tens of thousands. It wouldn’t reach a wide audience, and there wouldn’t be the presence in media that is sorely required. I would need to have a marketing campaign, and millions of dollars I don’t have to reach the audience who really needs this representation.
Because this isn’t about one game, this isn’t about any particular game. This is about culture in general. Children will grow up playing straight leads and create straight leads in their own games. They won’t think “Hey, maybe I should make this lead gay” because that’s not what they grew up playing. We imitate what we’ve learnt, and we create building blocks with which we craft stories. The gun toting veteran soldier is always male, the princess who needs saving is always female, the hero is always straight and always gets the girl.
But what if we made sure that wasn’t the case? What if the hero had a gay love interest, what if the princess was a dude, what if the gun toting vet was a lady? What if we explore these avenues, construct a more complex narrative and not just rehash the same narratives we ourselves played as children?
We shout loudly for this to happen, decry wasted opportunities because we need to. Because if we don’t bring it to the attention of the people making the games, nobody will. We cannot remain passive consumers - “only play the games you like” only counts if there are games that represent us - and if there are parts of those games we find hurt us, we can still love those games and recognise the hurtful bits. I do not want to boycott games with problematic elements - that will ensure only bad games get made. How do you make money speak the necessary things we have to say?
(As a footnote, I will explain how money talks. Money is a language all of it’s own, and it is a very simple language. If you give someone money for doing something, you are saying “I support the thing you are doing”. If you do not give them money, you aren’t really saying anything, as it could be anything from “I don’t support this at all!” to “Eh, I wasn’t invested enough to lay down money” to “I wanted to support you, but I couldn’t.”. Now, if someone made a really really good game, but it had an insulting or degrading depiction of your group inside it, and you really liked the game, would you buy it? Would you not buy it? If you bought it, you are supporting the status quo - they will continue to do anyway. If you didn’t buy it, they might think “Wow, we need to not do a game like this ever again” and not even consider that the problematic elements were the problem. Money is too crude of a language to get this across.)
So, we are left with the only avenue that is viable for us: Actual Dialogue and Critique. Where we are free to say “I really liked this game, but it had problematic elements in it”, and discuss the things that went wrong in the game. Now, critique is not the same as censorship. With censorship, you remove the media from the public’s eye as soon as possible, so that their eyes are not offended by it. I do not want this. I cannot stress enough that I do not want this. Censorship is a regressive and counterproductive tactic, which does not help us learn from our mistakes and missteps. If we censored every piece of art that had mistakes, we would stagnate.
Critique, on the other hand, is the honing of skills and behaviour through discussion of the implementation of such behaviour. Just like an artist can recieve critique on anatomy,a writer can recieve critique on representation. A poor artist draws what they think something looks like, a poor writer writes what they think something acts like. And just like a poor artist can avoid drawing body parts they have no skill in drawing, a poor writer can avoid including people they know nothing about. Representation is simply another way we can improve the quality of our games - with proper representation comes richer, more varied casts.
I want to stress again that critique is forward thinking, not backward thinking. When we say, say, that Assassin’s Creed: Unity has four identical white males and that’s boring and samey - it is a critique of the game itself. It is a flaw that perhaps Ubisoft can learn from, and if we didn’t point it out, they would be none the wiser about it. Ignoring flaws is just as bad as censorship - both ways we learn nothing about it. Would you like to see a game industry filled with nothing but grizzly Doom Marines? If nobody pointed that out, the industry would blindly make more Doom Marines, because that’s what would sell. But once we’ve pointed out the samey Doom marines, or the four white lads, future games can be made that have an eye to this critique, and it can only benefit everyone. Sure, there will still be problematic games, but we are only human, and we are still allowed to enjoy those games. But I think the game industry can be better, and it needs to be told where it is going wrong. Those games that it creates, they will still exist for you to enjoy. They will always exist, and they will be fun.
I know you want creative freedom, and I do too, but the industry makes a profit from creating games geared with marketing and not just a little cynicism. By having better representation, we open up avenues for more voices, more varied creators to have their say, not just the ones that “sell at the moment”, as executives, the ones that are really in charge of the creative decisions, are a frightened and conservative lot. If we show them that no, we won’t stand for this lack of representation, they will have to reconsider their cynical and conservative marketing avenues. And we can’t do this by money alone. Money can only take us part of the way there, and for the rest of it, the vast majority, we need…
REAL FUCKING DIALOGUE.
I bet even some of you out there are still skeptical, like, why do we even need better representation, games are fine as they are. I’m not here to tell you that you can’t enjoy games. I’m not here to tell you that games aren’t important, or aren’t art, or should be a lame minority rainbow, or that all games should be Captain Planet and the Planeteers, where social consciousness is the deal of the day, all day, every day. I think that would be terrible. But what I do want? I want gay heroes to be just as normal and ordinary as straight heroes. I want black heroes to be unnotable and accepted. I want female heroes, I want trans heroes. I want characters that stick in people’s minds as normal. There is no “Special Snowflake Patrol” wanting to make every hero be an intersection with every marginalised group.
I just… want to be normal. I don’t want to have to shout, or campaign, or point out Straight White Male Protagonist #6753 as being yet another wasted opportunity.
I want to be normal. I want to be able to walk down the street with my boyfriend, holding hands, without people recalling all the regressive stereotypes that they have seen in the media and informed themselves about my sexuality.
I want to be normal. I want to be the hero sometimes, I want to be the villain sometimes. I want great gay romance, I want terrible gay romance. I want to pick up a straight-to-DVD animated movie and sometimes see gay characters just existing, being gay, without it being notable or anything.
But that will never happen if I just make my own media and just passively consume the media that most closely fits me. Not existing in media I enjoy is not good enough for me. I refuse to be a passive consumer. This solution needs
And if we need to get a little loud to be heard over the roar, well, that’s just what we’ll have to do. Why not join in, so that we can fix this problem sooner, and we can all rest and enjoy making our own games, while enjoying games made by teams of people with far more money than we’ll ever see in our lifetimes? After all, it must be great to see a big budget game with a romance that you can connect with. I wish I could play one!
And even though I’m gay, and not a person of colour, female, or transgender, I still want them to feel the same thing I’m striving for. That’s what equality is all about. I’ll help them, they’ll help me, and if you help as well, to strike up dialogue, to critique, to discuss and deconstruct, we’ll get there.
We’ll get nowhere just passively consuming. Let us
UPDATE: My good friend Samael inked the comic for me! It looks much better now!
1.You Stepped Out Of A Dream (Tony Martin) 2. Frenesi (Artie Shaw) 3.I Wanna Be Loved By You (Marilyn Monroe) 4.Stardust (Artie Shaw) 5.Autumn Leaves (Roger Williams) 6.Peggy, The Pin-Up Girl (The Glenn Miller Orchestra) 7.Sing, Sing, Sing (Benny Goodman & His Orchestra) 8.Thanks (Bing Crosby) 9. I Only Have Eyes For You (The Flamingos) 10.Dancing Cheek To Cheek (Fred Astaire) 11.In The Mood (The Glenn Miller Orchestra) 12.I’ve Got My Love To Keep Me Warm (Billie Holiday) 13.Moonglow (Benny Goodman & His Orchestra) 14.Once And For Always (Jo Stafford) 15. Moonlight Serenade (Glen Gray and the Time Life Orchestra) 16.The Memory Of This Dance (Glen Gray and the Time Life Orchestra) 17. Istanbul, Not Constantinople (The Four Lads) 18. La Vie en Rose (Edith Piaf) 19.Long Ago And Far Away (Jo Stafford)
Harry is your boxing trainer, maybe a little something on the side.
“C’mon baby, harder! Harder! Hit it!” Harry screams at you as you hit the pads that are strapped to his hands. “I swear to fucking god, I’ll hit you in the fucking face if you don’t stop!” You say breathlessly. Harry laughs and you stop he pulls you in for a cuddle. “I’m shattered.” You whispered into his neck. Harry hummed. “Are you coming back to mine?” He asks. You nodded. “But first, we are going to go again. Ready?” He asked. You rolled your eyes at him. “Harry, I’m really not in the mood now” You groaned. “Let’s just go back to yours, have a cuddle and order some pizza.” You smiled. He shook his head. “It’s not cheat day.” He stated. “It’s not my day to work out either?” You cockily replied. “One more round and we can order pizza.” He offered. You smiled. You began to hit the pads he held. You hit and hit and hit and your arms honestly felt like jelly. “Four hard ones now gorgeous. Let’s go!” He shouted enthusiastically. You sighed. Hitting each lad four times you pushed Harry a little bit and laid on the floor. “I hate working out with you some times.” You smiled. He sat next to you. “Enjoy coming back to mine though don’t you” He winked. You only loved going to Harry’s because he had a big massive bath that you indulged your self in after every work out with a glass of wine.
It didn’t take you long to shower and meet Harry outside the changing rooms. His hair is wrapped up in a bun and yours is in a pony tail. You both have a pair of Harry’s sweats on and you both look tired. But neither of you cared. Hand in hand, of course, you made your way to Harry’s Range Rover. You cuddled up in the passenger seat as you glided along the roads towards Harry’s.
“Love, c’mon, I want a cuddle” You moaned. Harry smiled at you as you walked into his living room with a cup of tea for you both. “You promised pizza, not tea.” You groaned as he placed your teas on the coffee table and slid in under the blanket and wrapped his arm around you waist and pressed a little kiss to your lips. “Pizza is on its way.” He smiled. “You’re to good to me”
Soooooo I just saw a frat boy version of the 7 deadly sins and was wondering if you perhaps had any thoughts on a FAHC version?
man. I have so many thoughts, this is absolutely a suggestion I can
get behind, I adore that idea. So I picked what I thought were the
most obvious roles for them all and came up with: Sloth:
Ray, Lust: Gavin, Gluttony: Ryan, Greed: Geoff, Wrath: Michael, Envy:
Jeremy, and Pride: Jack. But they didn’t all fit quite right and i ended up changing my mind and deciding i wanted to put them in
less apparent roles instead, so sorry for that! (Also you
could argue that Gavin’s is still cliché but I challenge you to tell
me which of the seven he doesn’t fit in because I wrote him in all
of them before I settled..).
- Geoff, who never goes the long road, who dropped socially
acceptable behaviour in a heartbeat when he realised a couple of guns
and some loose morals would let him short cut his way to the top. Who
takes care of tricky problems with the finality of a bullet, who grew
his empire just to delegate; finding mercenaries and drivers,
specialists and charmers, bringing them all together and putting them
to work. Geoff who sits back with a drink and a dangerous smile as
all his little worker bees buzz around him.
- Jeremy, who knows all about longing, about unrelenting desire, who
saw the FAHC and wanted,
saw the FAHC and took.
Who makes a life of crime look easy, look like an adventure, like the
time of your god damn life. Who can give and give and still leave you
yearning, desperately clamouring for scraps. Jeremy who seems straightforward but smiles like
sunshine, laughs bright and joyous and blinding, knowing just how
distracting unquenched hunger can be.
- Ray, who has never been more sure of anything than he is his own
abilities, who’d rather rely on himself before any others, who has
always respected the ability to hold your head up high and sell it no
matter how dire the situation, falsified indifference in the name of
saving face. Who knows just how well he’d survive on his own and
exactly how well his skills compare with others in his field. Ray who
can doubt everything about himself except for his talent with a gun.
- Michael, who has never learnt restraint. Who is all or nothing but
mostly all. Who cannot be contained, constrained or repressed,
revelling in overindulgence, in needless waste and unnecessary
destruction. Who will get his heart set on something and refuse to
back down, seeking pleasure or joy or amusement without a thought for
tomorrow. Michael who knows exactly what he wants and refuses to feel
even the smallest twinge of remorse for taking it.
- Ryan, who didn’t become a mercenary for charity. Who might not
flaunt it like Gavin but is still sitting pretty on an untouched
fortune, hoarded like dragon’s gold. Who is always wanting, never
satisfied, forever reaching for bigger and better and always more;
more weapons to use, more threats to whisper, more blood to spill,
more lives to take. Ryan who jealously guards his ever-growing
collections, be it wealth or memories, possessions or people; it
doesn’t matter as long as they’re his.
- Gavin, who wants anything and everything he doesn’t have,
regardless of who it belongs to or how little need he truly has for
it. Who draws in jealousy like flies, constantly surrounded by those
who covet his talents, his looks, his infamy, his wealth. Who desire
his attentions, his affections; fleeting and fickle but so
incomparably addictive his victims would do anything to get them
back, a desperate kind of dependancy more dangerously destructive
than any narcotic. Gavin who wants for nothing, who wants for
everything, who twists desire so expertly he could sell sin to a
- Jack, who waits. Who keeps it together, the analytical centre, the
visible calm in a sea of hotheads. Who doesn’t lose her temper until
she absolutely does. Whose anger burns hot and fast and unforgiving.
Who will destroy buildings, burn bridges, rend flesh from bone
with gritted teeth and no regret. Who lets her reputation work for
her but is never defined by it. Jack whose true fury is infrequent
but unforgettable, utterly devastating and entirely unrivalled.