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I was really digging the quotes I saw on tumblr all the time...

August 8th, 2013 (03:26 pm)

So I started listening to Welcome to Night Vale.  I, unsurprisingly, became obsessed with it.  It's unique.  In a world of pop culture references and heavy-handed fantasy, Night Vale is absurd with a dark sense of humor that contrasts the levity of the narrator's voice.  I listened to all of it in the course of a week, and I'm hungry for more.

What I don't like is the fandom.  It's not that they're particularly mean or pushy.  It's that they have thoroughly mischaracterized the entire thing to suit their desire for something "unproblematic".

Yes, there is a queer relationship that is treated as normal.  That's great!
Yes, one side of this relationship is very likely a person of color (Carlos is described as having dark skin).

What I'm very tired of hearing, though, is that this relationship is the main story in Welcome to Night Vale.  It just isn't.  It's part of the story, certainly.  It's sweet and romantic and slow-moving in a way that seems natural, but very little airtime is given to the relationship (called "Cecilos" by fans).  Fine, fine.  I mean, I ship characters all the time and make everything about shipping on occasion.  Still, this pairing is being held up by the SJ crowd on tumblr as perfect.  I've only seen one person say there's anything at all problematic about it, and that person was roundly criticized by the fans.  The thing is that the people I see enthusiastically reblogging Cecilos art are the same people who just a few weeks ago were passing around posts shaming people like me for pairing characters because I'm apparently fetishizing gay men.  Sooooooo... it's okay to do it if it's canon now, is it?

Issue #2 is with the internet's characterization of the Apache Tracker.  Tumblr has decided this is the writers "slamming" cultural appropriation (that's actually the word I've seen used).  I've gone back and listened to the first few Apache Tracker "scenes", and I don't think that's what's going on here.  I think the writers are actually poking fun at the way Cecil, like the SJ community on tumblr, sometimes gets caught up in bashing people who may not know better for "cultural appropriation" while ignoring big issues.  Does that mean I think we should all go out and put on Native American ceremonial garb?  No.  What I think is that we need to stop acting like the running joke - Cecil's stopping in the middle of talking about something important to get angry at the Apache Tracker - is actually showing us the right way to call out cultural appropriation.

Lastly, I'm bothered by one particularly pushy thing the fandom is doing; they're creating a fanon version of Cecil that has been so widely-accepted that people actually criticize versions of him that DON'T fit this mold.  I've seen a lot of people actually angry when fans make Cecil white and blond because they can make him look however they want.  Well... maybe the artists decided to make Cecil look like themselves... you know, so they could cosplay him or whatever?  Or maybe that's just what they saw in their heads, and while it's very good for people to create characters of color, there's no reason their personal versions of Cecil have to look any certain way.

*sigh*  Welcome to Night Vale is beautiful and lyrical and oftentimes as meaningful as it is silly, and instead of appreciating that, tumblr has made it about validating its own beliefs.  I wonder if anyone will go and write a criticism of it, pointing out that the writers are, as far as I can tell, white men, and the narrator is also a white man.  Oh, and female characters, while present, play very little role in the story.  Just... saying...


Posted by: Thene (athenemiranda)
Posted at: August 18th, 2013 02:08 pm (UTC)

lolllllllllllll 'fetishizing gay men'. I'm bisexual, I write stories about bisexual people, I am not seeing the catch here.

I've not tried Night Vale yet, but it's something I'd like to get into. It's always sad when fans get more into box-ticking than nuance.

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