For a while I was not going to touch this with a 10 ft pole, but after a depression sleep, a few thoughts came to me about Nessa’s white washing controversy. This issue is shockingly reflective of burnout than any of us realize — even for people initially upset believe it or not.
See, I remember how controversial Archie was growing up and I did not understand the controversy myself when I was younger. I did not understand why Archie was suddenly a symbol for gay rights. So, I had admittedly enjoyed the doujin materials as a mere fujoshi and shrugged it off.
Why is Archie relevant? Well, the same exact dynamics are at play as far as how discourse plays out. I had only realized it when I was old enough in 2014 when Omega Ruby & Sapphire came out that the gay rights claim on Archie was challenged again. Around this time was when GamerGate happened. I did not like “SJWs” at that time
I was perplexed at why people were upset over art, over a video game, over anything not related to material well being and what I equated as a sort of “real social justice” that of MLK and figureheads in Women’s Rights had done before my time. I did not see the need for feminism as it is or much of a need for social justice in…wait for it…social spaces. I did not understand much at the time.
In 2014, I was admittedly transphobic, homophobic, sexist, racist and just a complete asshole with a lot of issues that I had not even realize I had until a few years ago. I was dismissive and hardened my heart to what the criticisms even were.
I surrounded myself with other bigots that agreed with me. I wanted nothing to do with these “SJWs”. I just listened to my favorite Skeptic YouTubers and had a lot of hate and confusion for the current events. This was normal for me to do as it is for many nerds who tend to get upset over these issues tends to do.
When I saw Archie again being presented the way he was despite liking the hentai, I often joined others in circlejerking that “the left is so hysterical at everything”. I had no evidence of this despite what was going on at the surface. I never actually talked to a leftist.
I did this with every issue imaginable. I never had a single conversation with somebody from the “left”, let alone even try to reach out and understand why somebody felt the way they did. I did not try to understand the context surrounding issues myself. I relied on others for that.
Things had happened and I grew out of that. It was a phase for me. I eventually learned how to talk to others, how to research, how to be analytical not just about the surface level discourse, but about what is not being said outright and what power structures are at play, etc.
Since coming out as trans and really working on myself (and also not being as politically active as I had been for the past 4 years), I have taken a step back at things and really dove into social issues and learning more about the process of how these things unfold.
From this past February onward, I have seen controversy after controversy, give my takes because of others who follow me enjoy my takes and learn. Ultimately, I have observed trends and effectively relived what I had experienced from 2014 from the other side of the equation.
What did I learn? I learned that there is at least one or more reasons why something so incredibly trivial and inconsequential can mean so much to somebody. Why would Nessa being a lighter undertone upset a Black person? That is a question only born from curiosity, not hate.
Similarly to this and how poorly this person handled push-back, some signals spoke to me about behavior in both cases between this and Nessa: minorities are on high alert and can not help but feel defensive and paranoid.
As a trans, Hispanic woman myself who is keenly aware of what goes on in the world and systems, power and exactly who and what keeps us down, I understand that there are people with a vested interest to make my life a living hell. Had I not had great therapy, I might not be alive right now.
I can’t say the same for people who “fix Nessa” when they see a lighter undertone or for trans people who just want to enjoy the “X Says Trans Rights” meme. I can’t read minds and neither can you. You don’t know who is at rock bottom and can end it all tonight. This is not about “sensitivity” or any common surface level assumptions, it’s about respect.
I also refuse to accept the “why can’t everybody be nice” naïveté stance either. This response doesn’t understand who’s really bringing unnecessary mental harm in an area that doesn’t call for the level of hate, harassment, and terrorism that comes with being a minority online
The point is this: minorities online have just cause to be as defensive as they are. Death threats, doxing, harassment, and bullying are sadly commonplace online. While I may wish that the way in which we go about expressing ourselves and our complaints/issues about any given topic could be less toxic, my response is empathy and a helping hand through these trying times, not “white washing to trigger the libs”
So when I see artists I really like and respect be so incredibly immature with “le trolling”, I don’t feel anger, instead I feel incredibly disappointed instead. I’m tired of being constantly disappointed by people I like. I want us to act like adults. I was never sure what the hell “virtue signaling” ever meant or “internet points” had meant (likely ingrained right-wing buzzwords that do not mean much outside of circlejerks). I am not even trying to guilt trip anybody into being compassionate, quite frankly, that train has left the station a long time ago even for recent memory. For once, I would just like it if we did not cherry pick a few people and claim that they are representative of tens of thousands, if not millions of people. Is that so much to ask?
With that kind of constant disappointment, I am sure that it goes around everywhere for any issue of the day. With events like this happening so often for so long even in recent memory, being desensitized is expected. But also, how we respond to one another is like de ja vu everyday for each “controversy of the day”.
There is an observable political trend for these things. Yes. Even for something as mind-numbingly trivial as this. “Anti-SJWs” have their hearts hardened and they radicalize more further to the right, complaining about a strawman enemy that does not exist and preparing for the next story to cherry pick from. People who are “apolitical” further drift into never ending frustration and confusion as to why things are the way they are and never progress politically or socially for this realm of discussion (go figure if you leave out serious analysis and context in your complaints, then it is clear as to why one is not finding discussion to be productive). “Leftists” have to play clean up of the mess that these reactionary geniuses cherry pick from and fail to mobilize effectively most of the time to change the narrative of a topic. That is what I observe. These dysfunctional dynamics must change for any meaningful productivity to occur for social change as well as having less toxic discussion overall.
Do you think I want to dislike problematic people, companies and organizations on any given issue? I try to find nuance with every issue case by case. I have to confront reality every time and like the Great Queen Marie Kondo once said: “If this doesn’t bring you joy, then throw it out”. I do not actually like politics. In fact, I hate it. I involve myself because I must and I know I am actually contributing to discussions when I actually give a shit about something. I am proud of the results I have under my belt as a community organizer, but also as a commentator. I also realize there is much work to be done and I am willing to help in what ways that I can as an influencer to see these changes through to the bitter end.
At first I believed that the Nessa controversy was beneath me because GameFreak and Nintendo were not involved. Eventually, I looked at the developments and reactions online, then felt the need to chime in despite telling others privately that I wanted nothing to do with this. The way that everybody handled this shows me that we’re at this point in time now where the current state of social issues is at a tipping point. More people are being politically active nowadays and I know I serve a role to guide people
This is symbolic of burn out because most of the responses we have for an issue like this is “We gotta deal with this bullshit again?”. As for most people who want white washing to stop have this initial reaction too: “Can you just not be problematic for once? My requests aren’t unreasonable”
Here is the main lesson over all is this: if you find this issue to be tiresome and sad, take a few minutes to consider exactly why people are upset. Perhaps you can ask such people exactly why they’re bothered by that without debating them or giving them attitude. Just shut up and observe. Learn something by documenting everything.
For those concerned about people “fixing Nessa” to be darker, that’s a non-issue. It really didn’t happen a lot if not that 1 time. In which case, we all should offer an ear for people like that. Chances are they have lots of issues they need to take care of and likely need support.
I will admit in retrospect to how the issue first developed, I enjoyed the color theory workshop that the art community effectively did out of debate. It was interesting. Anyways, I’m sure this article won’t do much of a dent right now to the broader discourse, but I got things off of my chest anyways. I hope this helps you, dear reader, understand my frustration with the issue at hand.
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