Rediscovering Intimacy: Darling in the Franxx

Whew! I have been looking forward to writing this one!

Darling in the Franxx - Wikipedia

Let’s talk about this anime: Darling in the Franxx.

I heard about this from an AMV of all things, and someone in the comments gave me the title, so I looked it up, liked the reviews, and decided to check it out. Then my sister, who I convinced to join me, told me “Oh, I heard this whole show is one big metaphor for sex.” I was surprised since the review I watched never mentioned this (nor most of the plot) just the ending. But I said the reviews were so positive, I was sure it couldn’t be just sex jokes, people said it was deep and moving. So, both my sisters agreed to try out one episode.

Spoiler Warning now, I will be talking about the end and all major plot points:

So, episode one did confirm all my sisters thought, and I was kind of grossed out. They refused to watch any more, but I was still convinced it had to get better if so many people who weren’t even anime fans liked it. So, weeks later, I finally picked it back up, and within about a week, I both finished it and convinced them to watch the end with me, my younger sister actually got more interested because I watched a back story episode and she paid attention and decided it was interesting.

By the end, we all liked it, and actually had no complaint about the ending, which was a rare opinion among the fans, I already knew.

I tend to run long with reviews, so I decided not to bother giving a full synopsis of the show’s plot here, trust me, the plot is the weakest element, and the end was all over the place.

But what is worth talking about is the themes, pacing, and characters themselves.

Fun fact, this show is not based on a manga like most anime, it’s actually original.

One of the best epidsoes is the backstory of MC Hiro and 2nd MC Zero 2, it’s the first anime epsidose I’ve seen with a split narrative throughout the whole thing and it was very skillfully done even by my American standards (as it’s far more common here).

The characters

So, the characters of this show, who I will not be able to spell all the names of, sadly, are a cast of kids who pilot special mechs that are designed after weird bug monsters, typical anime stuff. The mechs need a male and female pairing to operate, and the teens are basically organized into different types of ships. We have

Goro and Ichigo– the competent pairing (you’ve seen it plenty of times in anime)

24 Goro x Ichigo ideas | darling in the franxx, zero two, anime

Miku and Zorome–the old married couple, who bicker constantly and are often immature but would rather do that with each other than get along with anyone else.

8 Zorome (Darling in the FranXX) HD Wallpapers | Background Images -  Wallpaper Abyss

Eventually after some partner swapping, we also have Kokoro and Mitsuru

Mitsuru and Kokoro – The Best Part of Darling in the Franxx – Objection  Network

And we have Ikuno and Futoshi, who are the only non-ship partners (she’s supposed to be gay, he gets married to someone else later.)

Darling in the FranXX (Ikuno, Futoshi (Darling In The Franxx)) - Minitokyo

Lastly, of course, we have Hiro and Zero 2, who I think the show believes are the pervy couple, but they really aren’t.

Darling In The Franxx Wallpapers - Wallpaper Cave

The whole confusion kicks off after Hiro fails to be able to pair with his old partner, Naomi, and she’s taken away from their home, she comes back later though.

Naomi | DARLING in the FRANXX Wiki | Fandom
Naomi

So, these are the pairings we have to work with and analyze, like most multi-ship animes, the show uses the different personalities and dynamics to show different ideas of romantic or friendship love. Over time as they develop emotions and affection for each other, the friendships get stronger, though feelings get more complicated, and they become more of a family than a plantoon (squad? What’s a ten person soldier group called?)

We see the kids mature, and resolve conflicts that arise form having emotions. They start to realize people aren’t perfect if they have feelings, which is why the Adults on the show have chosen to shut down all their feelings, but by the end the kids understand that to not have feelings is really not to be living at all, it’s not to be human at all.

This anime offends me less in the “not having answers to its own problems” complaint I usually have, because the kids are starting from the ground up, and have no resources to teach them morals or philosophy, you wouldn’t expect Socratic answers from them, just gong off feelings and their own logic is all they can do, and their logic isn’t so bad considering.

What makes Hiro different, we are told, is that he asks questions, what attracts him to 02 is that she also fights the system of cruelty and apathy that he hates so much but doesn’t understand how to leave. He’s just a kid when they meet, but they promise to be together forever. Which the show appropriately acknowledges as marriage.

02 is embittered by eyars of mistreatment as a living experiment from a very sick doctor (who is still somehow not the villain) and being told she’s a monster. She starts off as a very uncaring, sometimes psychotic seeming character. While she clearly is drawn to Hiro, she doesn’t realize who he is, and tries to use him to get her goal.

She had the most complex character, I would say. While we don’t approve her behavior, we see how ears of being told you’re a monster, and forced to act like one by being sued a s a weapon, and given men to literally drain the life out of, without anyone seeming to care about it, would twist someone pretty bad. She shows signs of guilt, but is unable to change just because the team calls her a monster. It takes Hiro thinking that for her to realize what she’s done, but she still doesn’t stop because she thinks she’s lost it all already.

Hiro then realizes he has to be with 02, even if she’s done some bad things, because she is still a person who he loves, and he wants. So, he forgives her, and she finally accepts his love. Then the 2nd half of the story begins.

Along the way, we deal with Ichigo having feelings for Hiro, and having to accept he won’t be hers, which is hard when she’s never had love before, and doesn’t see other options, though Goro loves her. And Mitsuru and Kokoro begin to develop a relationship also. Culminating in them getting married, torn apart by the Adults, and then eventually getting back together and having a baby.

The characters are not extrmeely intersting in of themselves, but they are human and likable. I didn’t expect a whole lot since there was so many, but they all did what they needed to for the plot, and it’s not a long enough show to spend as much time as MHA or Naruto on developing personality ad backstory for everyone, the pint it the expereinces they share, and what they do with them. Sci-fi anime tends to focus more on that then on individusla, form what I’ve seen.

Themes

Okay, this is the strongest aspect of the show, and I want to try to stay on track here, there’s a lot I could talk about.

First, the elephant in the room: Sex, is the show really about sex?

Yes, and no.

I would not show any kids this show, the innuendo isn’t really the problem because it’s mostly non visual, but there are scary, gory elements I didn’t have an easy time with myself.

That said, if you’re a parent looking this review up to see if it’s okay for kids, just watch it yourself first and decide if your kids can handle it.

I’d say young teenagers are more at risk of missing the deeper themes and just watching it for the sexual innuendo, and probably young adults too, to be honest.

I mostly don’t get turned on by animation, it’s just not real enough for me to be effected, it bothers me more in live action movies, I try to avoid highly sexual ones. But a 2D character? They don’t look like a real person. So, I can watch most anime and only be grossed out by the idea of it, not tempted to actually look. But this is a specific trait of mine and I am cautious recommending anime to other people who may have more of an issue, as clearly plenty of otakus don’t have any difficult sexualizing 2D characters (ew).

So, if you do have a problem with it, this may not be the show for you, at least int eh first 3 episodes, it gets better after that.

The show is about sex. It’s like one long Sex Ed class, there’s metaphors for infertility, deep intimacy, compatibility, DNA, and possibly STDs, though it was unclear. A lot of the language has double meanings.

However, on the other hand, none of what it says about Sex is really wrong. The show is not promoting immorality, or promiscuity, or perverseness. The topics are broached lightly, but the mature route is taken by the kids. They talk honestly about how they should treat each other with respect, and forgive each other for having a little trouble occasionally with ogling, as it is hard to never do that if you like someone (and if you are married, wouldn’t even be natural.)

Kissing is talked about, and Hiro decides it is something you should only do with the one person you love, you should kiss around, basically. Partner swaps are taken seriously.

Though riding in the Franxx mechs is a metaphor for sex, the show remembers it is just a metaphor, and doesn’t treat changing partners as cheating, more like realizing you’re not right for your bf or gf and not forcing yourself to stay with them. Though Kokorp does break a promise, it’s not literally marriage, since the show later has actual marriage, so you don’t have to feel it’s the icky affair divorce and infidelity would be.

Also the Franxx are a metaphor for emotional intimacy, the kids literally connect their minds and feelings inside them, and while sex is one way to do that, it’s not the only purpose of the metaphor. People who are not sexually attracted to each other can still pilot together, if they have mutual trust and are willing to try, because it is also about relational intimacy. The lesbian and the reaming guy can still work together because they are friends, not as effective as the others maybe, but it’s not a sexual thing for them.

Some fans probably saw this as inconsistent, but I saw it as wisdom on the writer’s part not to take their own metaphor too far, that always cause major plot issues in a story, you need to remember no metaphor is perfect.

The idea that you should find the right person and stick with them forever is actually stressed constantly by the show. And you could say it leaves room for arranged marriage, at least two of the couples are put together by the Adults without getting a say in it, but they eventually grow close and make it work, while the other get to choose their own partners eventually, and they make that work. The point is if you are willing to try and you have a decent person, you can learn to get along.

Then there’s 02, she, I eventually realized, is sort of in the role of a slut/prostitute, if you follow the metaphor. She lets herself be used, and devours other people, which of course is a sexual term, one found in the Bible also. Used specifically for harlots and cheaters. like most lusts, 02 does this because she has no self respect and feels it is all she is good for, and she hates the men she is given the same way most sinners hate the ones they sin against, she calls them “fodder” because that is what the system is giving them to her to be, and she hates it but feels stuck.

As with many whores, though, 02 secretly dreams of love and trust just like ordinary people can have. She met Hiro years ago and wants to find him again and be with him, no matter who she has to kill and what she has to do. As her conscience grows, she gets more desperate and unhinged, then feels ashamed once she finds out the truth.

I thought it was one of the most powerful thematic moments when it hit her that her lifestyle of debauchery in order to find love was exactly what made her unable to have it once she did find it. A major reality check you could say.

Then, in a Hosea like move, Hiro forgives her and accepts her anyway, and she confesses “I am a monster” but he’s already told her he doesn’t care.

Let’s unpack that.

Should you actually be with someone like that? People like 02 have very deep issues, and often will do what she did, try to suck your life out in order to fill their own void, like with her, it may not even be something she always does on purpose, it just happens. Then they may start doing it on purpose as a way to cope.

The show stresses that 02 is a monster in some ways. That her actions made her that way, even if her DNA didn’t. But believing she was a monster is what caused her to do that. Hiro was the first person who made her feel human and she wanted to be human so she could be with him.

I believe the “monster” metaphor is meant to represent how people do have ugly parts to them, and you have to accept that.

I was reminded of Fruits Basket, which I am also currently re-watching, in episode 23, I believe, when Kyo laments his mother covering up his ugly form. he says he knew it was monstrous, and he wish she would just face that with him together, instead of pretending he was not what he was.

People are not literally bests or monsters, but it’s a metaphor, so we can’t take it too literally. The point is that we all have ugly sides to us.

I don’t hold with calling that a good thing, it’s not. But neither of these shows seems to be falling into that error. 02 is clearly not a monster for her horns and pink hair, bur for her actions. Kyo had damage and a curse that makes him have an ugly side, but it is not who he is truly, he transforms back to a human when Tohru accepts that about him.

I was reminded of myself. I spent many years worried about being a monster, I used to think it was just me, I later learned it’s almost everyone, at some level, whether we all use that word or not. I struggle even today with wondering if anyone will ever love me enough to get past that.

Most people would not describe me as someone with confidence issues, or as a bad person. I have gotten much better at loving myself than I use to be, but it doesn’t rear its’ ugly head at times.

I know that I will always, in this life, have moments of insecurity. Maybe not about this, but about some things, to be human is to sometimes have fear. But you don’t have to live in torment of it.

My family does accept me, much more than ever before, and I have healed, but an abusive past is a detriment to many people when they consider who they want to spend their life with. Though I do not believe I will repeat my dad’s mistakes, some people don’t think that way. And I know that the trust issues I have are likely to flare up in a romantic relationship, all the therapy in the world will not take it away, it just gives you a way to work it out. Something many people don’t understand.

Hiro chooses to see 02 as beautiful despite her differences, and at first she rejects that as much as any broken person would, but when she realizes he loved her from the beginning, she melts.

The relationship is not one side though. Hiro teaches 02 how to accept love, but she teaches him what passion and emotion are, she brings him to life.

It’s very much how I’ve read the male-female relationship is meant to work. Man gives strength and care to woman, she gives it back to him in life and beauty and enriching his existence, you need both.

Goro and Ichigo have a more typical anime type relationship where Goro had to be in it for the long game, and Ichigo doesn’t love him at first, but eventually he does win her over, though we don’t get to see it own screen. The point is he never becomes bitter because she likes someone else, and she learns to be mature about it, and let Hiro go. I was surprised at the illogical hate fans had for her, when I didn’t really see any other way she would have handled it, knowing nothing and with 02 being a anything but healthy at first.

It’s a tough call too, some broken people should not be in a romantic relationship, and if your friends are warning you about that, you should take it seriously. Other times, a broken person can be healed through a romantic relationships.

I am no expert in this field, but the best clues I can guess at are look very carefully at what kind of broken they are, the reason behind it, and if they seem at all willing to change. 02 wants to become human so much that once she realizes what that means, she changes very quickly, not without road-bumps along the way, but still, Hiro’s trust in her proves justified. If she didn’t want that, it would be an entirely different thing, and some anime do go there, some of Western shows go there (actually way too many now) and that is very toxic.

Final Themes

All right, the final themes I want to talk about are the idea of what makes us human, what it means to bring life into the world, and the surprising take on what sex is really about.

Some feelings make us human. But pure lust doesn’t. The doctor character lusts after a creature on the show, but that makes him a monster, very Claude Frollo like. 02 understand lust in a weird, twisted, way, but not love. Hatred doesn’t make us human.

But the alternative the show’s villains offer, that of only purely spiritual feelings, is also not human. They don’t quite go so far as killing god, thanks goodness, but the idea of becoming gods is actually voiced, to my surprise. The Doctor says repeatedly “I’m an atheist.”

He might be, but is the show? Not really. Prayer is actually part of the solution to the final battle. Not prayer to any specific god, but still. Spirituality is not actually discouraged, but the idea of disassociating it with being human, and leaving behind humanity to be “spiritual” is what is denounced.

C. S. Lewis warned that Spiritual pride and Spiritual sins are the worst kind. The most dehumanizing. In the end, a witch becomes little better than a pure beast, because their value for anything good will be eaten away by their darkness, this is quite literally in “The Silver Chair” where the witch is literally a serpent. not human at all.

Now, the Bible teaches us that our mortal bodies do house sin, and we will be rid of them. But we will be given new bodies, not be disembodied spirits. Jesus is described as having a body.

The point is not to think of it as choosing between a body and a soul, but it becoming a new kind of being, never before seen, that is someone both at the same time. That is what the Bible says Jesus is, and that is is till now unheard of.

And, to my astonsihment, DITF actaully went to that conclusion.

Darling in the FranXX Windows 10 Theme - themepack.me

At the very end, 02 and Hiro combine their bodies, minds, and spirit, to become something that is both a physical and spiritual entity. Hard to explain with any scientific logic, but if you are following the metaphor, it makes perfect sense. True perfection is the melding of those two or three things.

Not many people even in church know this, but the sexual act is supposed to represent in a very small way, the connection between Christ and the Church.

In the best sex, between a man and wife, you experience the other person. You become one with them, while remaining yourself.

The show describes this as “I can’t tell where you begin and I end” and going deeper inside that person.

While you could see that as crass, it only happens when the show is putting empathsis on the spiritual connection, not just the physical act of sex. Yes, the physical components do mirror the emotional ones in that way, I’m a virgin and I can understand that. The whole sexual design is a living metaphor for connection between people.

Which is why it’s been degraded so much by the culture. We sexualize everything, because we have no ability to understand spiritual intimacy anymore. Sex is the closest experience to that the average person has, so many people bring it into everything.

But, it is about so much more than that.

The show is far from being vulgar. It keeps it within the context of a husband and wife, and explores what it really means.

It deviates a little from just sex, as they share memories too, but the point is it’s a deep connection. When it goes from 02 using him to her doing it out of love, they become a whole new person, in a very literal sense.

The show ends with them saying they are ONE. Not like that weird alien creeps are all one, uni-formally, but ONE because they joined together two very different creatures, but embrace that fully.

I realize I can’t write this without it sounding like innuendo, darn it show!

But there is a reason we use those terms about sex too, it is true. When it’s between people who have that real relationship out of the bedroom it will be expressed in the bedroom too.

I don’t feel embarrassed talking about it, though I’ve never experienced it, because I see it as beautiful. God-ordained, and I see no reason to treat it like a shameful thing.

I was surprised that the show used the terminology is did. It sounded like the Bible. Saying the two became One. Hiro literally leaves his Papa to become joined to 02 (though in this case, he wasn’t leaving anything worth having, as PAPA was just the villain.)

The Bible has the unique idea, among religions, that becoming one doesn’t take away your individuality. That God is 3 in 1, all 3 being different, but being 1. That husband and wife show this to us on a smaller scale.

It’s like if you fit puzzle pieces together, the only way they can fit is if they are different, yet made to fit together. Men and women quite literally are made to fit together. If we were more alike, we couldn’t do that.

In the most poignant part of the metaphor, Hiro and 02 even look alike, and have exchanged DNA (not like that), they have fully merged, yet remain separate in a way.

Not everyone knows this, but your DNA in sex does get imprinted ont eh toher person, in a strange way. Even if it’s just one time and a one night stand. I’ve heard that it’s harmful in every ocntext but marriage.

Married people start to look and act alike after awhile, and sound alike. My mom’s sense of humor a=changed after marrying my dad.

Actually, if that’s not happening, it’s a sign of dysfunction.

Finally, the theme of life, and legacy. Not much to say on, but I really liked that the show depicted having a baby as something to value, and the beauty of new life. When Mitsuru cried at his daughter being born, I got emotional, something is very precious about seeing babies valued in media.

In Conclusion

There are more themes in the show, micro themes like what to do with unplanned pregnancy, and if you don’t remember something are you still responsible, and I liked the show’s way of handling them all, but I can’t go into them here, I covered the most important stuff.

So, I hope this was enough to convince you to check this show out, but even if you don’t, I hope you got something out of this post.

I have to admit, I better be careful who I admit having watched this too, since I think its reputation is skewed by the people who only watched it for the sex thrills. They were probably disappointed ultimately in its mature take on all that. I loved it though.

It’s not the anime I enjoyed the most, and it may not be on my top 5 list of ones I’ll re-watch, it’s not really that kind of story. But it is beautiful, and poignant, and worth seeing at least once. It’s also one of the first ones I’ve seen that I honestly can’t disagree with the conclusion of, and that is remarkable.

Until next time, stay honest–Natasha

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My (updated) thoughts on RWBY.

Well, it’s been over a week, and I thought I’d take a break from blogging about my life and instead return to a well worn subject: Things I watch.

Namely RWBY. Volume 8 has been releasing since last month, and will be going on hiatus after this week till February, I hear, so it seems like the perfectly imperfect time to talk about the show again.

I started watching RWBY about 2 1/2 years ago, when Vol 5 was out and Vol 6 was coming in, I think, 6 months or so. I blogged about it back then, and I’ve mentioned it since and used the characters for references in other posts, so if you read that stuff, you probably remember my interest in it… but if you’re new, stick around, this is never boring.

Breakdown

If you don’t watch RWBY, I’ll give you a brief break down. It’s center around 4 girls who are on a team of huntsmen (like superheroes combined with special operatives, typical anime idea), and their quest to save Remnant, their world. The first 3 volumes focus on developing the characters and their dream and goals, and the next 5 focus on world building, and explaining the main conflicts of the story.

It’s been said by many other fans that the show is inconsistent about what those conflicts are. Volume 4 focus on revealing the BIG BAD, Salem, the archetype of evil in the world. The she-devil, basically. The ruler of the monsters that devour people, only humans too, no animals. Volume 5 focused more on the racism in the world because the show tries to be woke (not that I minded the theme if it was consistent), Vol 6 goes back to explaining about Salem and Ozpin, the alleged Dumbledore/Professor X of this world, and their history of a very Magneto vs Prof X kind of struggle, with some Thanos MCU type villain stuff thrown in, and healthy dose of probably the worst mythology of gods I’ve ever seen. It really makes no sense.

I didn’t really mind this too much though, I was still invested up till Vol 7.

But last year the show just took a weird turn, and fans have been arguing since about why it has and who’s to blame and if it can get back on track.

And why should we care?

Because I think the problems with RWBY are ones that reflect our culture overall, and the show is just a particularity cringy example of them, but I see them everywhere, and it’s pretty telling about the mindset people have nowadays.

First of all, the writers do not know how to write. I tried hard to believe they did, after Vol 3, the last one Monty was involved in, and Vol 5, the last one I actually liked the ending of. Partly I had the benefit of getting to watch all of them consecutively, so the slow pace didn’t bother me, I now understand why the older fans must have found it frustrating.

I still maintain that Volume 5 is not the train-wreck everyone says it is for the simple reason that it accomplishes something, it has two story threads that it keeps up with consistently, even if they do drag on in places, and the ending at least makes sense, once it’s all tied together, plus gives us a few emotional moments.

Volume 6 seemed okay to me up until the last episode where I just couldn’t buy Cordovan letting them go, it was too convenient.

Volume 7 however, has the real problems with writing in my opinion.

Now aside from this blog, I write original stories, fan fictions, and papers for college classes when necessary. I read other author’s writing tips whenever I can. I read classics. I watch videos breaking down story structure, tropes, and character development. I don’t agree with all of it, but I’m well immersed in the community and culture of writing, and I’ve personally encountered the difficulties I’ve seen in this show, and others.

So, I don’t criticize writers lightly, I feel it’s tough to be a writer, especially with someone else’s show. But since I write fan fiction, I am pretty familiar with how you convert other people’s ideas into your own story. I’ve gotten very good at it, by trial and error.

All this to say, I did not go from being a fan to a hater willingly, on RWBY, and I think that’s important, because with art, it’s the people who truly want to love it and polish their own skills who should be talking about it, not the people who just want to get what they want. I don’t criticize art lightly.

I have my preferences, but I critique things differently based on personal taste, than based on actually deep flaws. Like, I hate Belle in the Disney Beauty and the Beast, I always have, I don’t think that makes the movie the worst princess movie, I’d argue it’s better than most of the other renaissance movies plot-wise, but I loathe Belle. It’s not my cup of tea. Still, if someone else likes it I don’t question their whole outlook on movies and stories in general.

Versus Naruto, where the people who praise Itachi and Pain and Obito scare the crap out of me. How the heck can you excuse literal mass murderers on the grounds that they “thought they were doing the right thing” especially when Itachi admits he knew it was a horrible thing to do and still did it… ugh.

So, with RWBY, I’m not going to be superficial. Yes, I find some new elements very annoying in the later volumes, but those are not really what bother me, I might even get to like them if the other problems weren’t there, and if the problems weren’t there mostly because of our culture’s very strange approach to shows and content.

You can find whole videos explaining in detail what’s wrong with the new volumes, I recommend the ones by Vexed Viewer if you want the closest to my opinion, and he was not always a hater either, I think. He is mostly fair and doesn’t just whine because it didn’t go how he wanted it to like some other fans I’ve watched.

So, I will just briefly describe what I mean, I can’t possibly be as thorough here as a whole video could be to each separate item, or cover them all.

But I think the three main things that bother me are:

  1. Changing character’s personalities and values and goals completley from vol 1 to volume 8, or even vol 7 to vol 8.
  2. Forgetting the lore established earlier, or changing it to be plot convenient.
  3. Pandering to one part of the fandom, and ignoring the other part.

Let’s start with number 1.

I loathe character inconsistency more than almost any other flaw in storytelling. So, I denied RWBY had changed its characters for a very long time, but vol 7 finally did it for me. Winter was the last straw.

I loved Winter Schnee in vol 3, and if you follow the short stories the company releases, we find out a little more about her, she’s a great character. Also a victim of familial abuse and neglect, she has a lot of traits I could relate to, we’re both the older sisters, we both tried to protect our younger siblings from our parents, an both feel the need to be strong, independent, and not let our guard down easy. We also both have tempers. That was all established with only a few scenes, a great VA (Elizabeth Maxwell is superb), and a little manga detail that is considered canon. Winter is awesome. Volume 7 did something to her I just couldn’t get behind.

I am not going to say I expect Winter to be perfect, I thought she’d probably be loyal to Ironwood to a fault, (I actually wrote fan fiction dealing with just that subject), but what I wrote and believed, is that someone as independent as Winter, who questioned her father enough to abandon her inheritance and join the military, and who is capable of being a top level Atlas Elite, basically the right hand woman to Ironwood, would really be so much of a sheep as to follow all his terrible orders in vol 7’s finale without so much as a word of protest. I also don’t believe someone who spent most of her time at home taking care of Weiss and preparing her to be strong, would immediately turn on her and tell her to run away… and arguably, before Weiss had really done anything worthy of being arrested other than disagree with Ironwood.

I’m sorry, it just doesn’t compute. Winter’s loyal, but that loyal?

Thankfully, vol 8 seems to be suggesting she’ll reconsider, and maybe she can be salvaged, but I still think it’s bad writing to make her such a predictable person when her best trait in vol 3 was being able to show us two very different sides to her in just two or three scenes. I’d say she was one of the best written characters of the show. It’s hard to tell people so much in so little time, I’ve struggled to do it myself. But experienced writers do it all the time, most really good movies establish a character in the first 10 minutes.

Winter is a personal peeve of mine, perhaps, but she’s honestly the least of the examples here. The main cast have much, MUCH bigger issues.

As most people have acknowledged, both Blake and Yang have gone downhill since vol 6. Yang got really good development in vol 4 and 5, and Blake had an actual arc (rare on this show) with Sun, her love interest (more on that in a second) and then vol 6 hit and… something just went off the rails. I didn’t care about the PTSD that much, because it’s not the same for everybody, and not everybody has it the same, but Blake just seemed to forget about the faunas after spending two volumes getting involved in taking back the White Fang. Yang seems to forget about her Mommy issues with Raven (and by the way, she’s still not bothered to tell anybody that Raven is the Spring Maiden, which could be kind of important, since Cinder is going around hunting down maidens and also knows Raven is one. Yang may not know that, but still, if they want to put the relic back, it might be kind of important!) They kill Adam (which was great, I never liked him, though a little rushed I thought) and then volume 7 has them making goo goo eyes and forgetting to ever discuss their unresolved issues. Vol 8 is doing even worse with it so far.

About the ship, I never liked it. I don’t ship LGBT stuff anyway, but I can acknowledge when it’s written better and when it’s not. And this has to be almost as bad as She-Ra’s, but at least one of these girls didn’t try to kill each other.

But they’ve never talked about Yang’s anger with Blake for running off, Blake’s weird behavior about Yang’s arm, or either of their trauma with Adam. I’ve never seen them “Talk” really openly and unrestrained, since volume 2. 2! Yet somehow I am supposed to think they are a good couple? Heck, Weiss and Yang would make more sense if we went by actual communication.

Of course my chief annoyance is that Yang was straight in vol 1 and checking out the boys, while Blake was interested in Sun from that volume all the way up till volume 6. 6! and they dated a couple times. But nope, I’m supposed to forget that and believe she liked Yang the whole time and Yang went from straight to gay in the course of one year with no circumstances prompting it whatsoever.

You know, even if I wrote this kind of stuff, I wouldn’t just change it half way through without any development. In real life people transition from straight or gay due to a myriad of circumstances and steps, it doesn’t just happen. There’s no struggle in this show, no reason for it. It’s just inconsistent. And that is bad character writing.

There are fans who justify it for literally no other reason than that they “need representation” that they don’t get as much as us straight people, so even if it’s bad, they still need it.

Well, first of all, that’s pathetic. I don’t appreciate bad portrayals of Christians in movies just because it’s so rare to find us portrayed at all. Do I need the world’s approval or endorsement of my lifestyle? No.

Second, is it the job of writers and artists to boost the self esteem of their fans? It’s nice when they do, I don’t mind when shows choose to tackle hard subjects because they want to contribute something. But when the fandom is demanding it, and throwing a fit if they don’t get what they want, and saying they are “owed” representation, then where exactly do they get off?

I ask, is it a writer’s job to endorse your personal choices? Or to even care to validate your identity, if you choose to base it on something as flimsy as sexuality or race? Why do they need to do that? They are just trying to tell a story, why does it need to have a political message?

If that is the point of the story, I have no issue, I just won’t watch it if I don’t want to see it. But if the story was initially about something else, and that got added only because it’s “woke” and the fandom clamored for it, then that’s extremely irresponsible of the writers and extremely insensitive of the fans.

When I criticize a show for not doing what I want, I do it because I think there is a standard of morality that every good show has to follow: good is good, evil is evil, truth is important, Love is the most valuable thing there is, Unselfishness is better than selfishness, etc. How each piece of art interprets those themes is up to them, I learn a lot from the differences.

If a political agenda is thrown in there, I sometimes don’t mind if it’s tastefully done, but then there’s Zootopia, something that’s jamming the comparisons down your throat till it’s not a story anymore, it’s one 90 minute long metaphor that I’d have been able to read much faster if it was in book form.

Pandering

This is point 3 also, the writers of RWBY pander to the fans who have a political agenda. They pander to the ones who think race has to be talked about in every single work of fiction, and that Gay Pride deserves to be reinforced in every single show and movie there is.

Which is kind of like saying if every movie doesn’t have at least one romance, it’s bad. And if every movie doesn’t have at least one black character, it’s bad… oh wait, they already do say that.

Yes, because the color of someone’s skin is what decides the quality of their work… oh, wait, that’s racist… then why do black people have to be included? I don’t care if they are because they are good, but why are the races of classic characters altered just to be more inclusive? Isn’t that a bit untrue to the original author’s work? Why should we change it just to appeal to people’s political agendas? You know, that used to be called propaganda.

Not to belabor the point, but RWBY has been doing this for the past 2 years and it’s not surprising that everything interesting about Yang and Blake has been completely forgotten. They aren’t in the story to be characters anymore, they are in it to make the fans happy.

If you are going to ask me why the fans shouldn’t be happy, then let me explain what I mean.

I think pandering is okay if it’s harmless, like Easter Eggs, stuff that doesn’t change the plot, it’s just there to be cute, funny, or show the fans the writers appreciate them. My Little Pony did some great stuff like that in its filler and Easter egg episode’s.

I think listening to criticism that is well thought out and shows an understandinf of the plot and direction of the show is perfectly fine.

But I do not think doing a major twist or change solely because “the fans wanted it” and “representation is good” is a reason to include anything. It’s always clumsy when it’s done for that reason anyway. I can’t name one time it’s felt natural to me when I watch, and even the supporters of it admit that. They know it’s just there to “represent” them, not because it feels natural.

With every good story, the plot twists are surprising, but fit naturally into the rest of the story. Things build off each other. They make sense. The changes in Ozpin’s character worked well, we always knew he was suspicious and irresponsible, finding out why and how, made sense (though I hate the gods part, it’s so badly conceived), but by contrast, Ironwood acts one way in vol 3, continues to act that way up through half of volume 7, then snaps, and goes full on dictator villain.

I thought he would corrupt because anyone who would jam someone’s soul into someone else’s body is already crossing the moral line and then some, but to become heartless and domineering to that point in the course of literally one day in actual story time… how? Why? Why wouldn’t he hesitate? Why is no one questioning this sudden callous, irrational behavior? And how is he stupid enough to let Watts hack Penny, a twist my siblings and I predicted since the ending of the last volume, and possibly before, according to my sister, and yet the people who designed Penny can’t predict it…what?

Sue me for thinking there would actually be explanations for this…

Though stupidity is a minor annoyance for me, since it’s usually inevitable with shows that go on for longer than 3 or 4 seasons. It’s really hard to keep a story going that long, especially without an original ending in mind, and characters tend to be dumb when the plot calls for it.

But stupid and immoral are not the same thing.

Vexed Viewer actually pointed out to me that in volume 7 team RWBY is against focusing on the world instead of Mantle, but in vol 8, with no apparent transition, half the team suddenly thinks they should focus on the world, and the other half thinking they should focus on a single city. Which they haven’t a prayer of saving anyway, as they all know deep down. So, basically, Ruby agrees with Ironwood… so why turn on him, and make yourself a public enemy then? Why not compromise? Ask him if you and your team could help Mantle privately, while some of you help with Atlas… why not do that? Jaune could come up with that plan in 5 minutes… of course, he wasn’t there in vol 7, so I guess that explains it, Ruby is just dumb.

I liked Ruby, honestly, up till vol 7. She wasn’t my favorite, but she has a personality, I believed in her intentions. Now I can’t understand what she’s doing at all. She wanted to help people and be a hero, now she’s acting like she has to single handedly have all the answers and no one can do anything unless she approves of it…which is the opposite of how she was in vol 1. She didn’t want people to think she was special.

This isn’t an arc, however, because at no point did Ruby ever come to grips with being special, she just suddenly starts thinking she’s the bees knees, to use Yang’s term. And Yang actually puts pressure on Ruby by saying “she always knows the right thing to do” and then takes zero responsibility for Ruby making bad decision because she’s forced to do it on the spot and no one else will step up and have an idea. Then Yang, the biggest supporter of Ruby as a leader, turns on her with no warning and says she’s been making bad choices… yeah, Yang, and you were right there questioning them the whole time right? No, you weren’t. You never questioned any of them till now.

I hesitated to use the word bad, but this is bad. Objectively, it just isn’t consistent or built up to at all.

Some might say I am biased because I am A Christian and these changes go against my world view.

Well, I would still disagree with the moral direction of these decisions, but I do criticize Christian art also, when poorly written, and one of the worst ways it is is when conversions are rushed. They just happen for no reason. No drama or progress. Or depth. A Conversion is the most common arc in a Christian story, though there are others.

So, if I compare RWBY to my own standards, I still think it’s being badly done. But the change is recent. Up till vol 5, I didn’t think the characters had changed drastically.

I can’t say exactly why it changed, but I think the moment I would pinpoint as the real change was the death of Adam. Adam was a useless character by that time, I agree he could have been more interesting, but I hated his guts too much to care about it, and I don’t think his death hurt the show in any measurable way. People bemoan the lack of importance more than the actual effect of it. However, it was then that the Bumblebee ship began to be pushed for no reason, and Yang and Blake both started saying weird stuff that made no sense.

However, I really wasn’t sure it was going to go bad till the end of vol 7 when all the characters started doing stuff I couldn’t understand at all, turning on each other, and playing right into Salem’s hands. Like they are doing this on purpose?

Now in vol 8, Ren is pointing out the obvious, that the characters are not ready to be heroes. Well, great, that’s what the fans have been saying for years… so, you’re agreeing with us… and then what…?

Personally, it almost seems like the writers are admitting they have no idea what they are doing or why, and are hoping they will stumble upon the answer.

As a writer myself, I know that if I had any clue where I was going with the story, I’d have set it up by now, I wouldn’t be waiting for 5 seasons to get to the point. I would have had the characters actually change and grow by now, having petty fights in the team should have been a thing back when it first assembled, not now. Now when they can’t afford to be disagreeing and having resentment.

I can say this because I’ve written very similar stories and had to time this out myself, I’m not just underestimating the difficulty of doing this.

Now it’s true I have no fanbase to please, but I am not overly concerned with pleasing the whims of people, I want to go for something meaningful. When you change whole plot points just to please fans, you have a real conflict of interests.

To go back to Bumblebee (which is truly the poison all this started from if you track it because it’s the first time the writers did something just to appease fans) it was never really established for five volumes, while BlackSun, the ship between Blake and Sun, was built up in every volume. They had moments in 1, 2, 3, 4 , and 5. with 1 and 5 featuring Sun as important in two major steps in Blake’s life. Sun, in fact, gets Blake out of the hole she digs herself into on both those occasions, plus they date and flirt in between.

Now, ship or no ship, Sun is huge part of her arc, and it would be wisest to keep him relevant since that would encourage building off her arc. As soon as he’s gone, the show can’t really drive Blake forward because her parents and friends who were helping her grow are gone and she’s on RWBY, where she doesn’t really have anything to contribute, since racism is not the focus of that team. Since Blake has nothing to add to the central themes of wanting to be a hero and telling the truth, as she’s never been great at either of those two things, and does not even call on her bad experiences to help the others avoid making her same mistakes (something that would actually be useful right about now).

And then they push Yang, but don’t do any of the actual work to make that believable. One talk in volume 2 doesn’t cut it.

Losing both Blake and Yang’s depth affected the wider plot, since if Yang talked about Raven, the drama of volume 5 might actually have led to something with the girls and Qrow. If Blake talked about Adam, maybe they could have used the White Fang as a guideline for how to help resolve tensions in Atlas. But no, nothing. Because ship, ship, ship.

Lore

Lastly, my second point. There’s one glaring problem with the lore. It might be overlooked if it was the only problem, but it adds insult to injury.

Penny has become a maiden… even though she is a robot. Maidens had to be girls, had to be young, and had, we thought, to be human. Otherwise, why the heck would they not try to put the power into a machine before? And Penny has a soul, allegedly but it’s a man’s soul, since it came from her father. There should be no way she could take on the maiden powers.

It’s one thing, but it kind of throws off the whole build up since volume 3 of the rules and lore around the magic, and makes you question if the writers just want any excuse to do what they want and make Penny important. Which I wouldn’t mind, if it was following their own rules.

Is someone holding a gun to their heads and making them break the rules they wrote into the show? The world may never know.

I think I explained already why I think this is important. I guess this turned into a post about the intergrity of writing and art in general. Which I could defintely follow up with some other posts expanding ont the differnt points.

But for now I think that’s enough to mull over, until next time, stay honest–Natasha.

Weaknesses (READ: Strengths).

As you probably know, I love kids shows.

I mean, you get the same themes as adult shows, without the stupid, needless drama of sex and profanity and angst (not that those are never good, but overused.)

And I’ve talked about the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic show before and how much I like it.

Today I thought I’d talk about something this show did well that I don’t see often in any form of writing, books or shows.

The show, for anyone who doesn’t know, relies heavily on the symbolism of the 6 elements of Harmony. The elements are embodied in the Mane 6 (pun intentional) characters. Here’s a run down for the novice to the MLP universe (skip if you already know)

MLP Wallpaper- Elements of Harmony by jhayarr23 on DeviantArt

  1. Magic (Twilight Sparkle, the main, main character.)
  2. Honesty (Apple Jack)
  3. Generosity (Rarity)
  4. Kindness (Fluttershy)
  5. Laughter (Pinkie Pie)
  6. Loyalty (Rainbow Dash)

Elements of Harmony | My Little Pony Friendship is Magic Wiki | Fandom

Much later we find out all these elements are reflections or expansions of 6 original elements of older ponies. Which were

  1. Sorcery
  2. Strength
  3. Beauty
  4. Healing
  5. Hope
  6. Bravery

I thought this was really cool, they are all similar, but just different enough to make you think about it (take notes Miraculous Ladybug, this is how you do lore).

Overtime the show does a lot with exploring what each element means.

One of the criticisms of the show by some fans is that each of the Mane 6 characters sometimes demonstrate the opposite of their elements, meaning that it seems like it doesn’t really fit them.

The most common complaint is that Apple Jack, the element of Honesty, lies a lot, in fact, I’d say in most of the episodes about her specifically she lies or struggles with honesty and fair play.

Applejack | My Little Pony Friendship is Magic Wiki | Fandom

Rarity also can be a bit selfish and ungenerous, despite being the element of generosity.

Rarity | My Little Pony Friendship is Magic Wiki | Fandom

But I gave it some more thought and I realized it wasn’t just them.

Fluttershy, the Kindest pony has a lot of episodes where she is not kind. She gets a dark side, gets too absorbed in trying to be less shy, to the point where she bullies other ponies.

Fluttershy_Trotting,_Staring_at_You

Pinkie Pie actually gets depressed more easily than any other of the mane 6, and it’s visually shown.

Pinkie Pie | My Little Pony Friendship is Magic Wiki | Fandom

Rainbow Dash often lets ego get in the way of being loyal to her friends. Or, she goes overboard.

Rainbow Dash My Little Pony Pinkie Pie Applejack, rainbow ...

Twilight, the Magic element, struggles with magic constantly, making mistakes, having to work on control, and meeting other ponies more powerful than her.

Twilight Sparkle | My Little Pony Friendship is Magic Wiki | Fandom

(One might wonder what magic represents in the real life application of the show, and I think the best answer is it represents wisdom and understanding of how to use the other elements. Twilight most often figures out the best application of the other elements, and how to make them work together. Magic is mostly knowledge on the show. It’s studies by scholars, so it makes sense.)

Twilight also often lacks understanding of friendship situations, especially when they involve her, and has to learn the hard way.

What’s interesting is that she begins the show by not valuing friendship at all, and then becomes the princess of friendship halfway through. Making her the alleged expert on it.

If her element is understanding, however, that’s a bit ironic isn’t it?

But it’s this aspect of the show that I think gets overlooked by many fans. Twilight’s journey is the same as her friends.

They all begin with some innate talent in understanding their elements, but the show is about how all of them grow into being better examples of those elements.

You could say that becoming the elements at the beginning of the show was like being chosen for their potential, and the show is how they grow into that potential.

In this way, their constant struggles with fulfilling those roles makes perfect sense, and is much more compelling to watch, otherwise we’d be getting what a lot of shows do, having the specified characters just preaching at others constantly. Which is okay, but usually means they’ll be stolen, corrupted, or killed off to create drama because there’s no learning curb, they are already experts.

In another way, it was a smart writing choice, because I know from my own efforts that if you set yourself up as an expert in any field to begin with, you’ll come off as a fool, since we humans are always learning, and writing about something is a great way to learn about it more.

The writers didn’t put the pressure on themselves to fully understand all 6 elements at the beginning of the show, instead they gave one example in the pilot, then built on it season after season till by the end they do have a very in depth take on each, but they didn’t start out that way. Which is fine.

I write about the steps to overcoming abuse, obht in fiction and in nonfiction, and I’m still learning about it. If I tried to sa I already had it down, I’d be ridiculously arrogant, by saying I am still learning, I give myself the freedom to revise and build on it.

But this is something a lot of young writers gt wrong. The Bible actually warns the Church not to let new believers become teachers because they are too green and might become prideful.

It’s very true.

The principle of maturity has nothing to do with talent. It’s entirely possible a brand new christian may have a strong gift of teaching, I always have had that gift myself, and it got even stronger once I committed to Christ, because I had more inspiration and less fear.

And I probably have more of a natural talent than many of the pastors I’ve known, but that has very little to do with being able to actually teach.

A good teacher needs to be humble, open to learning from their mistakes, and able to not take all criticism seriously, since people will criticize you more for what you do right than what you do wrong, 9 times out of 10.

A young christian has too much enthusiasm and not enough experience, They may believe, they may even have more raw faith than a 10 year old christian who has hit a rough patch in their life, but what they don’t have is experience of temptations and weaknesses to give them empathy and humility.

And a teacher with neither of those qualities is going to do more harm than good.

The Bible is always practical, if you just know human nature.

The same principal applies to any field. Newbs don’t make good instructors. They may be better than the teacher at doing the thing, but that doesn’t mean they know how to teach it.

I once let one of my Sunday school students who knew the lesson already try to teach it for a single minute. Then I encouraged the others to interrupt the same way they do with me, and get distracted. (I didn’t even have to help that much, they did it on their own.) My student gave up before the minute was even over. They realized quickly that getting the class to listen to requires more than a good memory of the lesson.

I had to smile because I had the same experience when I tried teaching for the first time.

So, I think MLP is actually very right to show that an affinity for something is not the same as being an expert. The reason MLP stayed good for 9 seasons is because the progress makes sense. The students become mentors, then eventually teachers, as they learn their own trade better, but they start off making all the mistakes we would all make.

The Bible talks about the principle of turning strength into weakness and weakness into strength. (Joel 3:10, 1 Corinthians 1:25)

One of my favorite books, Hinds Feet on High Places (Hannah Hurnard) explores this principle much more fully, showing how all our weaknesses and flaws become our greatest strengths, because we allow God to help us more in the weakness we can’t deny, then in the ones we think are not so bad, and so those become our strengths.

The good thing is, that all grows with time. My fear was something I knew was a weakness, but later I began to notice problems with being too vindictive and willful. My willfulness is something I see as both a strength and weakness, and I’ve treated it as both over time, and God has brought to light how sometimes I need to strengthen it, and other times I need to bend.

My natural inclination is to be willful, so it’s harder to refine it then to encourage it, yet I need to do both.

I think MLP shows this best with Apple Jack, who can take honesty too far more often than the others misuse their elements, (except maybe Twilight who often gets too caught up in trying to understand magic to actually be a friend,) but Apple Jack’s is easier to recognize.

But Apple Jack also has a hard time telling the hard truth. So sometimes she has to encourage the blunt side of herself. It’s a great way to show the two sides of the same coin.

I think that’s about all for now, in conclusions, MLP is a really good show, and we don’t get many like it anymore.

And weaknesses become strengths. If you want more proof, look up how many great speakers once had speech problems or stage fright, and you’ll start to see how often this is true in real life. Until next time–Natasha.

HappyColor_16479

She-Ra Season 5 tanked the characters.

I have not really admitted to being a She-Ra fan on this blog, and the truth is, I’m really not a fan. I got vaguely interested in the show because a reaction channel I like talked about it, I mostly just watched it to laugh at it, but then I got interested in the depiction of abusive relationships–for obvious reasons.

So, I watched up to season 4 and then when season 5 came out last week, I watched it too, interested to see how they’d wrap things up…

SPOILER ALERT (duh)

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If you care

 

Now, to be honest, my emotional investment was low in everyone except Entrapta and Hordak, and that part was pretty good, so I enjoyed some of the season.

I was never the biggest Catra fan, but l had moments of enjoying her arc also.

But in my opinion, about halfway through is where they dropped the ball, and they dropped it off a cliff.

I’m aware a lot of you readers probably haven’t even heard of this show, as I have international followers, and followers who probably have better stuff to do than binge Netflix kids shows.

Why should you care?

Well, in what it becoming the typical Netflix American fashion, this show tackles both LGBTQ issues (if by tackles you mean subtly promotes the lifestyle in a cotton candy way that you’ll never see with a real gay couple, at least, I’ve not seen any act that way) and abuse. I can’t really explain why it’s so popular to tackle abuse on kids shows now, but I’m not against it if it’s done right, since I certainly wish I’d seen more about it before so that I knew what I was experience was at least not right.

I don’t think they need to call it “abuse” because kids should not be taught to throw that word around until they can understand the difference between abuse and discipline or acts of anger from an equal.

And just to be clear about why I’m going to criticize the show, this is how I qualify behavior as abuse:

  1. Power. Power is the absolutely crucial element of any abuse. Power over the other person, not power to enforce what’s right. Verbal or emotional abuse is just as much about power as physical abuse is, and can be more effective and harder to trace.
  2.  Confusion. Discipline is given for a clear reason, or should be. Abuse can be about one thing one day and the opposite thing the next day. The victim is constantly confused about why they are in trouble.
  3. Justification. Abusers justify what they do with crap reasons that put the blame on everyone else. they don’t just have outbursts of temper, they say those were appropriate reactions. Without the other two elements, justification isn’t abuse because all of us do it, but when someone does it with that kind of malice, it’s become abuse.

Another element that doesn’t have to be it, but usually is is that the two people are not equals, one is a parent, boss, or tyrant figure, and the other is their subordinate or dependent. It can happen between equals in a different sense, where one tries to usurp the other and become the top dog, no matter what the cost.

So, if you watch She-Ra you can probably guess the rest of my thoughts from here on out.

She-Ra depicts it’s MC Adora as the victim of abuse from Shadow Weaver, one of the main villains. then Adora’s “friend” Catra overthrows Shadow Weaver and starts posturing and acting like her…and trying to kill Adora.

I’ve had many a rant about Sasuke and Sakura getting together after all the crap that no one ever calls them out for (except the fans).

But this show managed to trump the bad idea of that ship.

So, after a redemption arc more rushed than necessary, Catra and Adora get together…

*Deep breathAngryComputerGuy-1024x581-799x445

Okay, here’s the deal.

You spend 4 FREAKING SEASONS portraying the stages of leaving an abusive relationship, gaining Independence, discovering who you were meant to be, and learning to communicate with healthier friends. You do a decent job with all that. Have some real cathartic moments of characters calling each other on their crap. Have your MC learn to stop taking blame on herself for stuff beyond her control, choose her own path, etc.

You do ALL THAT right,

And then your big answer at the end is to GO BACK TO THAT PERSON who abused you and make nice with them, and then get in a romantic relationship?

‘Cause that’s realistic.

I mean, it’s not uncommon for victims to go back to their abuser, but it is uncommon for survivors who get out of it to ever willingly put themselves back in. Even when the plot demands it, Adora is hesitant to trust Shadow Weaver.

Someone would say “Catra isn’t Shadow Weaver, Catra was a victim like Adora, so it’s different.”

Ah, no. No, no, NO!

There’s a few reasons that won’t hold up.

  1. The obvious one? Catra tried to kill Adora several times. I know, I know, if people can ship Sasuke with Sakura and Harley with Joker, that won’t stop them. But consider what the point of Adora’s whole arc at the end of Season 3 was? She gave up trying to talk Catra off the ledge, and just stopped her. My World's On Fire, How About Yours? — So when I first saw the ... It was great. In Season 4 she’s in the next stage, learning to just not care what Catra says or does to try to get under her skin. (It’s a fun phase, you feel so free). Season 5 marks the time for Catra to have her own arc, of learning to let go of control, to not give in to anger, and to forgive. Then either at the end or in a future season, a reconciliation could happen, but by no means would it be romantic. That would take years, if it happened at all (which it wouldn’t just to be clear. Once you’re out, you’re out. Unless you’re still married, maybe. A kid isn’t going to move back in with an abusive parent. Sorry.)

2.   Adora was already moving on. As I just said, Adora had gotten over a lot of the anger and guilt she felt over Catra, she realized it was Catra’s choice to screw over the world, not hers. She wasn’t even obsessing over stopping her, she was treating it like a chore. You don’t want to, but you have to.

And that, my friends, is the best place to be in.

As someone who’s kicked an abuser out of my life, let me say, I don’t enjoy reinforcing that. I don’t like making him suffer. I do get catharsis out of seeing the same tactics no longer work on me or anyone else, but I know it’s not over. I have to see this through till the end, but it’s not all I think about.

3. It would never, ever happen.

Even in fiction, two victims of the same abuser who were raised together are not going to end up in a relationship, and this is why:

When an abuser has multiple victims at the same time, usually a parent, but it can be a boss or tyrant also, they will pit them against each other to curry favor. They get a kick out of making one scapegoat feel small, and the other feel dependent on them for their self esteem.

Case in point, I’m the scapegoat in my family, and one of my sisters is the “good sheep” (commonly called Golden Child) but when she caught on to the abuse and began calling it out, she fell from grace within 2 weeks. No joke. It took about 3 days to go from being the good kid to the same basket case as yours truly. Why? She changed, but our dad didn’t.

The scapegoat will realize what’s happening to a certain point, and resent the abuser, and usually, they’ll resent the Golden Child too. Sometimes they get over it and realize the other person was also a victim, like in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (a much better handling of the same dynamic), other times they turn on their fellow victim, like in the new show The Dragon Prince, with Claudia and Soren (another much better depiction.)

The Best Nebula Quotes From MCU Movies, Ranked By Fans Assorted Thoughts on The Dragon Prince Book Three | Manic Expression

Even if you reconcile, you never get away from the fact that they were in that with you and will always remind you of it. Ideally, you both go on to live independent lives, and stay close, but you know you can’t be dependent on each other, or the cycle continues.

Growing apart is actually good for abused siblings, because abuse traps you into one little circle of people. I hardly ever had friends over growing up, play-dates didn’t get set up, nothing. I think there was just this instinct to keep to ourselves. It’s not malicious on everyone’s part, it’s just there, darkness hides, that’s all there is to it.

People who marry victims of abuse may find the family will either make them a part of the cycle, or always resent them for being outside it, and it causes more problems in marriage than most realize. If two abuse victims get married who never got over it, then it’s likely they’ll become part of both cycles in some way, directly or indirectly, and so like attracts like, it’s what’s normal to you.

All this to say, Adora and Catra’s best case scenario always should have been parting ways at the end of the show. Even if Catra had joined Adora at the start of it, eventually she would have needed to find her own path, apart from Adora, to find out what it’s like to not revolve around Adora and Shadow Weaver.

Adora’s whole journey in seasons 1-4 is learning not to revolve around Catra and Shadow Weaver, which the ever unhelpful Glimmer does not make easy.

Certainly, once Catra started trying to kill her, any chance of being close like they were before was out the window.

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I am all about forgiveness, but I am not about stupidity. We have flaws. You can forgive, but some things you should not forget. You need to remember, so you value your freedom.

It’s like how we remember 9/11 and Memorial Day, and JFK’s assassination. How the Israelites remembered being set free from Slavery on Passover. You need to be reminded that freedom is hard, costly, and has to be maintained. Or you’ll lose it.images

In my mind, Season 5 was doomed as soon as Adora went back for Catra after Catra told her not to. Not because I was against Catra getting saved, but because I think it needed to be someone other than Adora. Glimmer, Bow, Entrapta, anyone it wouldn’t have been codependency with.

They could have still saved it if Adora had understood what needed to happen after saving Catra, but she goes right back to blaming herself, worrying, and saying she “doesn’t want to lose her”.

On most shows, this would be a red flag that the person was getting too obsessed with the other, but nope, its okay now, because…uh, no reason really. The fans wanted the ship, I guess.

Catra’s arc is undermined by the fact that she is not letting Adora go, but still basing her self-worth on Adora and Shadow Weaver.

Even to the point where Shadow Weaver successfully manipulates her into running off again, so, she learned nothing, really.

This “ship” hit all the wrong branches on the abuse-victim tree for me, and it was infuriating to see it be endgame.

I both think it was never going to be romantic once it was depicted as two abuse victims trying to deal with their past, and that it should never have been romantic once they were free already, and that even if it was going to be at all costs, they could have at least tried to be mature about it.

But nope, let’s just kiss and do the love defies death cliche (I love that cliche when it’s done right, by the way).

Now, you may think, I just don’t like gay ships.

But let me counter with this, I watch a reviewer of the show who does support gay ships, and he has made the abuse comparison in each season of the show.

Here’s the problem, he still ships it (and no, he’s not gay himself, he just wants to be progressive.)

Now, he called it abusive, before I did, in fact. But he still ships it. Do you see the problem here?

Warning tape danger tape Royalty Free Vector Image

I suppose someone who hasn’t been abused can make glib comments about it, but overlook it in the end if they get the butterflies from the sickly sweet shipping moments.

But let me spell this out for anyone who might think I’m being too harsh:

Abuse is hell, at least, it’s pretty darn close.                         images

Abuse tears apart who you are, and gives you nothing back but poison. It’s selfish, it’s isolating you from anyone who might help you.

When you are finally out of it, you dread somehow getting tricked into going back. You have depression, guilt, fear, anger, rage, grief.

It can feel like you’ll never be a normal person. You’ll never have a happy life. This will blot out the sunshine forever.

All this can go on for years, at the very least, months.

And that’s AFTER you got OUT. Not even mentioning what it was like while it was happening. Not feeling safe any day of your life because that person is there, or will be, or may find some way to hurt you even if they aren’t there.

Words can not describe the amount of loathing I would feel to ever willingly subject myself to that again, as well as the paranoia that I someday will. The only thing that keeps all that at bay is knowing God is there, having my back. I can’t imagine how I would feel if I was not a Christian and the same thing happened…yikes.

So, seeing someone dismiss that on the grounds of “cute shipping moments” kind of makes me want to throw up.

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This is my issue with the show, in summary. They threw out all that good writing in order to ship the characters, which is a terrible example for kids, and gay people, for that matter. Don’t get back into an abusive relationship, just don’t.

There is no going back. Even if you forgive the person, and miracle of miracles, they are actually sorry and learn to be better, distance is what maintains that.

Abuse is about control, distance is the sincerest form of repentance for an abuser, and the truest form of freedom for a victim.

In a perfect world, with perfect people, it wouldn’t matter. But the world isn’t perfect.

And that’s also my other problem with the show’s ending.

It’s a pastel pink, gay paradise. Literally. No one mentions the people who just died, we see no funeral, no one mentions Angella even though her husband is just getting to see his home without her for the first time, no one talks about all the damage they’ll still need to repair.

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And no one even thinks about how Catra still has a crap ton of issues, and needs to resolve them without Adora’s help.

Nope. Best friend Squad, my foot.

They make it look perfect, because any acknowledgement of the real problems that still need to be dealt with breaks the illusion that this could actually be the ending.

Don’t say “Disney does it all the time” not the same thing. At its worst, Disney doesn’t end with abusive relationships.

Paradise is a good ending when the main problems have been resolved, or the path to resolving them has been made clear for the audience, not when there’s a lot still to do.

Freaking Naruto ended better than that… and it was awful.

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Anyway, yes, I did turn this into a rant, but I hope it’s clear why I feel so strongly about this.

To me, it seems the writers must not have talked to anyone who has been abused, because it’s just so repulsive to you if you have gotten out of it.

I don’t by any means wish to make my abuse story a badge of identity to myself, I detest that mindset.

Force Captain Badge | She-Ra and the Princesses of Power Wiki | Fandom

 

But if the subject comes up, as it clearly did, I think I have the right to call them out for doing it wrong.

I still liked some things about season 5, but the conclusion is not one of them.

Until next time, Stay honest–Natasha.

At First Sight–3

Okay, last couple but first, I hit 1,000 likes on this blog! (Cue trumpets and streamers).

Party Streamers Images, Stock Photos & Vectors | Shutterstock

Thank you all so much for coming around and reading my stuff, I never knew if this was going to work out, and after about 4 years, it’s been a really fun journey of finding my writing style and interests. If I went back, I could trace kind of how I grew up through this, I started it when I was 16, and I’m 21 now. That’s an important chunk of my life and this is like a documentation of what I was into and learning all that time.

Okay, now that I’ve acknowledged that, let’s get back to the show:

Interlocking Rings Images, Stock Photos & Vectors | Shutterstock

My favorite couple was Jamie and Doug, mostly because I freaking called it, but also because Doug was just this gem of a person, and he was actually funny. No joke, he did stand up comedy as a hobby, and his down to earth approach to the whole experiment just gave it legitimacy.

If everyone who tried it had Doug’s attitude, it might be a good idea to do.

Jamie was a basket case, but no more so than I am, or anyone else who’s had a hard childhood and been left to deal with it was best as they could.

I did like that Jamie admitted her issues, and worked to overcome them. The whole thing was a trial by fire for her, she had problems with trust, and committing and feeling safe, getting married was like the “kill or cure” method for her, much like for Jason.

but Jamie was humble enough to admit she got herself into this and she needed to give it her best shot. Also, I would have been psyched out by the pressure too, so I couldn’t’ really judge her for crying and panicking, I’ve had those moments.

Like Jamie, when I’ve put a lot of thought and effort into something, I can break down when it suddenly grew from an idea to a reality. As a teen I was sometimes shy, and anxious about being away from home. I’d go to Church camp, or on a mission trip, and some break down would inevitably follow, because I bottle my emotions up and don’t ask for help till I’m so overwhelmed I get physically sick.

I’ve worked on that lately, but I sometimes still wake up and have gagging episodes of stress induced reactions. (Also allergies and environment contribute).

Or I get really drained emotionally because when I feel things, I feel them keenly. I think it’s an empath thing.

Anyway, Jamie’s reaction was too real for me because of all that, but Doug was the kind of person who would have made me feel better. Calm, not taking it personally, funny, and patient.

See, the breakdown is kind of an unintentional self-sabotage. You believe you can’t do something, so you go into panic mode to get other people to come to the same conclusion, you think they will. When someone believes in you regardless, and encourages you, it’s a bonding moment.

Like Jamie, I have trust issues and have had to pull myself together so much, I don’t really know when to let someone else help me. By the time I realize I need help, I’m really worked up.

So, again, this show was kind of enlightening, maybe the reason I am this way is like her, it’s my response to the past. Like her, I also know I am this way and want to work at it, but my own weakness trip me up.

Doug was great, he deserves respect for how much he put up with, and he didn’t grudge her for needing time. Jamie herself alter regretted being quite so challenging, but we all know, she almost couldn’t help it, she was fighting her demons as hard as she could, and she went along with the counselors advice even though she admitted she wouldn’t have been comfortable doing it if it was just up to her.

her guts to do it regardless matched up with Doug’s willingness to put in the work. They were the best match. I wondered why the experts seemed to doubt it would work out. It might just have been to create tension, bu they thought Jamie might be too mistrusting.

It’s rough because she really was struggling, but you could tell Jamie is an overcomer. She works on her flaws. It’s not always a pretty picture to do so, but life isn’t always picture perfect.

And that’s why I think maybe we can learn the most form their example.

Even assuming you find someone who is not abusive, not selfish, and not a quitter, you have to make it work. It won’t work for you by itself.

Doug expressed his attitude that it was too much to expect it to go perfectly. he hoped for the best, but he was going to give it his best try even if it wasn’t what he wanted. Jamie did end up being what he wanted, and he put work into it. Jamie kept pulling back, and then trying again, it was a long process. It almost ended when Doug lied to her.

But Doug showed way more maturity than Vaughn did, in that he took responsibility, did not justify his actions, admitted he was still working on it, but then said it really wasn’t important enough to toss the whole thing out over.

and yeah, don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Jamie was hurt by Doug, certainly.

The people close to you can and will hurt you, deeply, where it counts.

It’s not even because they are flawed, though that’s part of it, it’s because people are easily hurt. We misunderstand each other, often without meaning to we base our assessments of each other on assumptions.

I have friends who have triggered my abandonment issues by doing things that aren’t really that bad, maybe aren’t bad at all, but any little lack of engagement can make me feel like they are losing interest in me.

Why?

Well, I had a dad who told me he would give up on trying with me multiple times, till I could predict when he would say it. I realized it was cowardice after awhile, but also the message that I was not worth enough to him to push past his own insecurities was hammered in.

And that, by the way, is very painful.

Cinema has a habit of making insecurities and backstory justify everything, as I mentioned in the last post. But they don’t.

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I know because the people who succeed most as what really matters, they do it because they push past their insecurity.

If you know you are insecure, and you let that define your life. You don’t risk love because you  know you tend to mess it up, you don’t risk trying to win because you know you will fear failing, then you are giving in. You let the darkness win. End of story.

It will always be the end, until you yourself decide you’ve had enough of unhappiness.

In my life, about a year into being a Christian, God presented me with the challenge of choosing to heal, to lean into His love, and not let people define what I could do.

I am still living that out today. My life is far from my dream version of what I want. But, in 8 years, not everything you want will happen.

The point is, even if I’m still waiting for some things, I have changed.

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I choose to love people even though I not only know to expect hurt, I actually can predict exactly how it will come. Being an empath, I can gauge what people feel about me, and if they are really concerned about me, or themselves.

It made my past more hurtful, because I stopped being able to lie to myself about my dad. I knew he didn’t love me, I knew even, that he hated me.

Yet, I did not stop loving him. I still do.

I don’t love my dad because I get something gout of it. At this stage, it is doubtful I ever will get a thing out of it. But he is my dad, he’s a person, and I can understand him, even if I don’t look up to him.

I would want to be loved despite my flaws. Jamie and Doug’s story hit me about where it counts the most.

Before marriage, you may know the person, but you won’t really, truly know them, know what sets them off, what they fear most, what they hate, until yo live with them nonstop.

You can go into it with the attitude that they’ll help you fix all your problems and won’t ever have any of their own that aren’t minor.

Or, you can do what Doug did, and realize that no one is perfect, everyone has a past.

Doug didn’t judge, he just accept Jamie and her family as what they were. Warts and all, as the saying goes.

His outlook was that he could not be disappointed, if he didn’t put unrealistic expectations on her. He was hurt a little, but he didn’t go into a tailspin when it didn’t go the way he wanted, because he knew it wasn’t all up to him.

He knew also that Jamie was dealing with past memories and he couldn’t expect her to not react based on that sometimes, but he had to be responsible for himself.

I don’t think he’d put all this into words, it was just in his actions and manner.

 

And hey, guys, that’s all it has to be. Don’t worry about trying to say all this stuff. Just do it, and the girl will get it eventually, if she’s Miss Right.

But this can just as easily be a Man thing too.

Women have a harder task in marriage often because men will resist help even more than we will. Men get told that’s normal. Jason and Cortney kind of ran into that problem.

But, when God made Marriage, it was actually the needs of the Man he was considering. Eve was made for Adam to solve the problem of loneliness, to give him his other half, because as our modern lingo has put it “I can’t do life without you.”

Adam really couldn’t do life without Eve, plain and simple.

And men, if you’re reading this, this is great news for you. It validates the fact that you have needs, just as much as women do, and in fact, God designed companionship with that idea in mind.

It’s like Women know this more because we are made to be the answer to the problem. I mean, you’d better know what problem you’re supposed to be helping, right?

So, if the first man himself, even before sin, needed a woman, then every married couple should know that the man need his wife’s support just as much as she needs his.

(It’s kind of telling that it took God to point this out even in the first story, though. Men still don’t always get it. Until they see it.)

So, ladies, don’t think your man doesn’t need you to be patient, caring, and not take things personally with him either.

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And personally, I am expecting my husband to need that. In fact, I expect him to probably have less of an idea why he needs it than I do. Again, women tend to know more about this. I’m okay with him not getting it right away as long as he know sits important, and thank God women are naturally more patient then men, usually.

See, it makes a kind of sense doesn’t it?

Anyway, I think the real difference can be most women will not just be supportive silently, like men are, they will explain it. But there’s nothing wrong with that, as long as you don’t over do it.

Jason and Cortney also demonstrated this, Cortney was far more verbal about helping Jason, but Jason still did it, he just didn’t talk through it as much.

And we need both the words and the deeds, sometimes women don’t need to explain it either, other times men need to be able to explain it.

Doug and Jamie illustrate why, actually.

Now that we have a fallen world, misunderstanding is not likely, it’s guaranteed. I don’t care how in sync you are, you’ll misread each other.

Case in point, my sisters and I can guess what the others are going to say, we talk in unison all the time, some people think we’re twins (we are all at least a couple years apart and it’s weird.) Plus, I’m an empath and can read their emotions really well. And we still have miscommunications almost daily over dumb stuff. We have almost all the same opinions on things, and yet we still step on each other’s toes. And we’re all girls.

So, you can bet two people of the opposite sex who have not grown up in the same house are going to the same thing, probably way more often than we do.

It’s okay, just accept it and don’t let it get to you. I think more couples need to hear that advice.

Anyway, in summary, Jamie and Doug just basically showed how to be married, not just how to date, and be a friend. Marriage means sharing all your problems, event he ones you can’t help each other with, but you still need to talk about, just so you know it.

Glad they stayed together and got their own spin off show. Which I may watch if I can.

And so, that was my experience of Married at First Sight. Did I surprise you with what I took out of it? What I didn’t like?

My thoughts on the experiment are that they got lucky, because they missed something that the two couple who succeeded demonstrated.

You just can’t plan for this one thing: Drive.

If people choose to make it work, they can make almost anything work. If they don’t try, then no matter how compatible they are, it won’t work.

Monet and Vaughn were the most compatible by the test scores, but Vaughn didn’t know how to live with anyone.

The other two couples got that they had to make it a success, no one else could do it for them.

So, they did. Because both people were on the same page.

Marry someone you know will work at it, that’s my takeaway.

And no test can predict that. It’s a choice moment by moment, and it can be undone at any time, the person has to daily decide to do it.

So, no, I’m not about to let scientists choose my husband, but it’s also not really worse than choosing one without asking any of the real questions. It’s not invalid, it’s just risky. Better to know yourself what you should look for in a spouse.

Until next time, stay honest–Natasha.

Can check out my other writing on Amazon and Wattpad 🙂

 

 

https://www.wattpad.com/user/worldwalkerdj

Arrival at UA by worldwalkerdj

At first Sight-2

Picking up from the last post about “Married at First Sight.” I’m going to talk about (cue MC announcer voice):

Couple No#2

Ugh… Monet and Vaughn.

First of all, I like Monet fine. She’s got sass and guts, and I think she tried to be the mature person.

If you clicked on this post because you watched the show, I bet you know what the attitude towards Vaughn was. People did not like him, and with good reason.

I feel bad for the guy in a way, but he was one stubborn jackass, and he said a lot of stuff on public television to incriminate himself, so I think it’s fair game now to critique what happened.

Now, Vaughn came off as kind of self-satisfied even before the marriage happened. He seemed to have high standards, but not about the things you’d think would matter. He and Monet both wanted a more traditional set=up, the man leads, and takes charge while the woman cooks or supports.

Monet was no cook, as it turned out, and Vaughn didn’t let that one go.

However, Monet also didn’t like that Vaughn lacked direction in his life, he had a job, a  nice set up, had been in the military, but didn’t have a real life goal planned out.

What bugged me and my sister about Vaughn was how familiar he was. He hit all the sore spots we’d had from our father. In fact, we recognized the exact same turns of phrase, tones, and ploys that out dad used. Word for word, sometimes.

Like our dad, Vaughn was always changing what he said. He’d want one thing one day, and the next day another. A classic sign of an abuser is their changing their wishes every other day and blaming you for doing what they said to do the day before.

Vaughn also attacked Monet’s personality, even though he asked for bubbly, her cheerfulness wore on him, apparently. He didn’t feel like talking, he did feel like sex a lot, and they had sex a lot. Mistake one, I thought.

I am not against sex in marriage, of course. But getting right to it and not setting up any kind of trust or parameters first was probably appealing to the baser instincts in human sexuality, and that’s not a great foundation fro marriage.

I personally would not have had sex with someone I just met, because in my mind marriage is binding once you’ve had sex, annulment is only acceptable when it hasn’t come to that yet. The Bible teaches that it’s sex that binds a couple together spiritually and physically, and so the only grounds for annulment would be if that binding hasn’t happened.

The Bible says that even if you divorce, if its for any reason other than infidelity, to remarry is to commit adultery. There is grace, thank goodness, as many people remarry before becoming Christians, and the word is clear that we should not leave our spouses over that, don’t add another split to the first one, but don’t make that mistake again.

This made rooting for Monet and Vaughn complicated. I would not live with a man like that, but I wouldn’t consider myself free to divorce and remarry till he cheated. I have little doubt he would have, however, from his attitude. And them, it’s fair game.

But even so, it’s a tragic thin to divorce, and why this experiment was risky.

It was frustrating to watch this couple, because the longer the show went, the more signs of abusive behavior Vaughn showed. He didn’t hit her (that would have put an end to it at once, I think) and I don’t think he’d be the type to do it, he was more of the passive abuser. The emotional manipulator who tries to make themselves out to be the victim, while contradicting themselves and criticizing you for what they praised the day before.

Vaughn also did what I thought he would do, after seeing how he and his mom interacted on camera, and got her involved in their fights. Which, guys, you should never do. If your mom has to take your side against your wife, you’re relying on her too much. your wife had better be cheating on you or abusing you if its gotten to that point. Same thing with husbands and fathers. No woman should get her daddy to chew her husband out unless her husband is violent and dangerous, or cheating. I think that’s just common sense.

It’s your parents job to parent your significant other. It’s beautiful when in-laws can give nurturing care to each other, but they are not “raising” your spouse. Respect has to be maintained.

Sorry for that soapbox moment, but jeez the counselors should have told Vaughn that.

Actually, I was amazed these “experts” did not spot this behavior a mile away.

I think I figured out why, since the whole thing had to be anonymous, they didn’t ask the parents and friends of these people what they were like.

But hear me on this, if you’re single, you will never get a real idea of someone’s character till you ask the people who have to live with them or interact with them on a regular basis. Even workplace people will know more about them in some ways than you will, as their SO.

The guy I’ve been crushing on for years has a great family, and I’ve some knowledge of how he interacts with them. Not as much as I need, but enough to look promising. I have lots of friends who I can tell a lot about by how I see them talk to their families. One family interaction can speaks books worth of knowledge about a person. Even if it’s 5 seconds long.

The audience found out later that Vaughn told his mom how Monet was treating him badly, and omitted that she apologized. Color me not surprised, I expected as much, my ad used to dot he same thing, still does for all I know.

Vaughn talked to Monet just like how my dad would talk to my mom, but to Monet’s credit, she saw through the bull-crap. Not being in love gave her no room for blinders or rose colored glasses, I think she held back during the initial filming out of consideration for privacy, but later she called him out on it beautifully.

To my chagrin, the experts and show host did not really side with her enough. They didn’t admit to making a mistake and not accounting for Vaughn’s destructive tenancies.

Now, the thing is, his mom would not have called him abusive. He’s her little boy, though she did give him some flack for how he acted. But you don’t need the relatives and friends to tell you they’re abusive, you just need to know to ask the right questions. Here’s a few to try:

“Does he/she take responsibility when they screw up, and apologize quickly?”

“Does she/he try to fix their mistakes, or do they repeat them?”

“Do they use the phrase “no win/can’t win/don’t know what to do to make it better a lot?”

“Are they consistent with what they say they want? Do they ask you to do contradictory things like be supportive but also call them out on their crap (not that you shouldn’t want both, but do they change it from day to day)?”

“Do they say you are not making it possible for them to be happy?”

and

“Do they come to you every time someone hurts their feelings and ask for sympathy?” (If you are a parental figure, and they are a grown adult. Clearly a teenager can still do this without it necessarily being a red flag).

If you answered no to the first one, and yes to the others, warning.

Now, if your spouse or SO displays only one of those behaviors, or displays them with only one type of person, namely, not just the ones close to them but one personality type, then I’d say they might not be abusive.

You can have some symptoms of abuse, but it hasn’t permeated your whole life and outlook and you can probably be made to see its wrong and grow out of it, with enough time and patience. Even if not, if you are only like that with one or two people who are not your family, it probably won’t wreck your marriage.

What that means is that being abusive is not your characters, it’s just a flaw in certain parts of it that may not dominate your life, most of us have flaws that could be seen as manipulative and abusive if dialed to 90, and if they were like that all the time, but to be clear,  a husband is not abusing his wife if he says once in a while that she could nag him less, he is abusing her (emotionally) if he says that every time she has a problem with him.

Likewise, a wife is not abusing her husband if she sometimes cries to get her way, or uses other lines like “don’t you love me?” if she only does it once in along while and can be reasonable at other times, it may just be an old habit she’s not completely over, but if she does it so regularly you can predict it, that’s probably deliberate manipulation.

Not manipulation is abuse, and some manipulation is actually good. People like to feel they are being managed if it’s respectfully and shows an understanding of who they are as a person, and is not using them. It’s the secret behind “sweet talking” someone into something while they know you are doing it.

Needless to say, that wasn’t the case with Vaughn. Monet was right to say he didn’t want to be helped. Even in public, he blamed her and would not recognize his faults or unrealistic expectations.

He wanted a wife to meet his needs, but he did not do more than the bare minimum to look good for the public.

Another thing I learned from watching my parents, and that Vaughn replicated:

Touching gestures can be part of abuse.

My dad bought us gifts after telling me “f—you” as a parting shot while leaving us to manipulate my mom. He said “maybe you’ll appreciate me more if I’m not around” which is a line Vaughn used too, straight up.

My dad would be docile a few days after a big blow out. I don’t know if he got sex out of it, I don’t want to know, it’s not my business, but he would act nice. Another tried and true abuse tactic.

He’d get the flowers on Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day, Birthday, etc. He’s been doing that since moving out too.

What was telling to me, however, was how little he understood about my mom. I came to realize that he never asked her what she liked, or tried to learn, just as he never did with me.

Once I told him that my mom didn’t like being praised lavishly in front of all of us, that she found it awkward, but my dad would over do it just to make a point of it, and demand we follow his example, like we were bad kids if we didn’t.

When I told him she didn’t like it he was stunned, and asked her if it was true, she told him it was. She never told me that, but I knew my mom.

I, for one, am okay with praise in front of other people, but my dad didn’t often praise me in front of people, he would tell them my faults however, real or imagined, to total strangers, to other people in the family.

I had my well-meaning uncle give us a talk about respecting parents that demonstrated how little he knew about us. He noticed I had tension with my dad, but failed to notice how my dad talked to me, and did not hesitate to embarrass me in front of others. Probably he did not know, a family has plenty of trigger words that only make sense to them.

If I said “You don’t like to play games with me” to you, you might not take it personally. Or “you don’t usually do nice gestures like…” maybe for you, that’s just an observation about your personality. But suppose you have a history of fighting with someone over that very thing, now, you’re embarrassed. See?

Vaughn did the same thing to Monet, insulting her personality and ways of showing love, and getting his mom on his side, to where his mom talked to Monet about it. That was on her too though, she should have known better. She gave good advice, but she didn’t have the whole story. I didn’t blame Monet for being mad, but to her credit, she did her best.

But Vaughn, of course, didn’t treat his mom like that. Abusers are rarely abusive to their parents, in my experience. They feel powerless with them, or have an idealized vision of them, as above reproach. he compared Monet to hims mom and what he saw with his dad.

But for context, Vaughn’s dad die when he was 12, too young to see a lot of flaws in his parents. There always are flaws. Learning them is rough on kids, but essential to learning that people aren’t perfect and you must not expect them to be. Kids who don’t learn this with their parents have a harder time adjusting to their spouses quirks. As observed by the author of “Pygmalion” (better known to most people by it’s screen version “My Fair Lady”.)

(Now my parental figures are so flawed, my husband could probably surprise me most by being unlike them, more on that when I cover Jamie and Doug.)

Vaughn never learned that marriage is hard, and he seemed very arrogant. If he was unfixable, only God knows, but he was not ready for a relationship. Even having his flaws called out on TV and pointed out by many viewers did not humble him and if at that point you can’t reexamine yourself, I don’t know what would help you. Monet has my sympathy and respect for standing up to the host and holding her ground.

Here’s one last thing I took from their example, and it was really eye opening, don’t skip this part, trust me.

Media likes to sell us the line that abusers have been abused, and maybe 9 out of 10 times that is true, but Vaughn proved to me that it is not true every time.

Also, destructive attitudes are a choice. Her’es why this was odd for me.

My dad always blamed his past (red flag) for his bad parenting. He’d say he never got shown the right way, his parents were awful, etc. They were, but it wasn’t why he was abusive.

See, abuse always comes down to control, but a man may feel out of control for many reasons.

Vaughn, it could be, missed out on a father figure teaching him what it was to be a man, but here’s the thing, I don’t know that it would have made a difference.

His whole attitude was self righteous because he thought he knew what a good marriage looked like, only very careful parents would have caught that, and he hadn’t been in enough relationships for them to have done so.

I had accepted that my dad abused because he was abused, but Vaughn changed my mind. He wasn’t abused, clearly, yet he was still abusive.

See, you can develop wrong ways of control without it being shown to you, human nature is what it is, after all, the abuse starts with someone, doesn’t it?

My grandpa was a lot like my dad, personality wise, but he had a very happy remarriage with my step-grandmother. She managed him, he let her. It wasn’t abusive, though far from perfect. To the last, he really cared about her, and didn’t act like she was around just of his convenience. It was really sweet.

Actually, my grandparents ton my mom’s side also were married a long time, while her mom remarried a lot of times, so it really doesn’t run in the family.

My dad’s mom is abusive, but she is far less aware of it than my dad is, and its more of an annoyance than anything to take seriously. She can still be kind sometimes. She just can’t see why it’s wrong to talk the way she does. But her verbal abuse was from misery, not control. She never controlled anyone but her husband all that effectively with it, she just grated on people.

My dad is worse than either of them, because his abuse was personal, it was often intentional to some level, and it worked. Far, far too well.

In the same way, I don’t think Vaughn had abusive parents. I think he liked control. But he is not your typical image of the guy with his life falling apart who take sit out on others, that’s actually the problem. he thinks he’s got it together, and he has no need to improve, any woman would be lucky to have him, clearly the problem was with Monet.

Well, I think I’ve explained it thoroughly. If you take anything away from this, I think it should be what I took away, that you decide who you are. Not your parents. download (7) 6486314-images

You can end up worse than your parents. Anime has it wrong, backstory does not explain everything.

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I know people who’ve gone through emotional healing for their past and still suck at relationships because they have not taken control of their future self.

Also, you are not destined to be abusive if you were abused, thank goodness. Just don’t marry someone like that.

Until next time, stay honest–Natasha.