THIS. I saw a post the other day that literally said if you do it to a fictional character, you’ll do it in real life.
No. Just NO.
I’m so glad someone put it into words.
In art, we can be fucking nuts.
Tag Archives: problematic characters
if you’re going to urge people to think critically about the media they consume, you must accept that they might do that and come to a different conclusion to you.
the phrase ‘think critically…’ all too often comes with an unspoken assumption of ‘…and you’ll adopt my opinion, which is the right one’ which is both arrogant and contrary to the initial suggestion.
let people come to their own conclusions. you don’t have to adopt, support, or even like them but you should respect them.
(also stop assuming that people haven’t already ~thought critically~ about the media they consume before you deigned to show up. condescending intellectual elitism is not a good look.)
Here’s a hot take: villains should be relatable.
Not every villain, not every time, and certainly not to everyone at once, but there should be moments. We should, occasionally, be able to see ourselves in the bad guys, be able to understand how they got there.
Because it reminds us not to fucking go there.
Antis who get upset about villains having relatable qualities (often couched as being “romanticized” or “woobified”) are people who cannot bear to ever think of themselves as having the capability of being wrong.
Every human alive is capable of being a horrible person. Relatable villains remind us to keep an eye on that shit.
Your post brought up a common predicament for writers, how do you write characters with questionable/abhorrent beliefs without causing readers to assume they reflect your own?
Well, unless you are going to only write stories in which nice things happen to nice people, you are going to write stories in which people who do not believe what you believe show up, just like they do in the world. And in which bad things happen, just as they do in the world. And that’s hard.
And if you are going to write awful people, you are going to have to put yourself into their shoes and into their head, just as you do when you write the ones who believe what you believe. Which is also hard.
I think that knowing what you believe, writing fiction informed by what you believe, and knowing that your fiction has a moral grounding (if it does) is the best thing for an author. And not worrying about what readers think of you, any more than you’d worry about what your parents or lovers might think if they read your fiction.
It’s something that I thought a lot about a long time ago, when one young man killed his lover, and then killed himself, and tried to frame Sandman (and me) for it. And the conclusion I came to was that you have to be good in your heart with what you’ve written. And beyond that, you cannot worry.
(For the curious: http://neil-gaiman.tumblr.com/post/54466572210/rebloggable-by-request-on-responsibility Is a link to the time I wrote about it here on tumblr. And https://nothingbutcomics.net/2018/02/26/sandmanmurder/ is a blog entry by someone else that gives more background and news links.)
lestat & his relationship with abuse
there’s something to be said for lestat being abused in a home of disgraced aristocrats struggling financially and then becoming abusive later in life, using money & material possessions as a means of affection, communication, and control, all whilst relying heavily on social status. it’s almost like because he felt powerless, the second he was given this immense strength over virtually anyone or anything, he decided to make for himself what he associated with power. he knew his father had control over him, so he mimicked his controlling ways. he didn’t have as much money as he liked? well now he does! disgraced social standing? patron of the arts, member of high society! also louis loves to read and is in general, a fan of all things intellectual. we know lestat at one point wanted to go to school, wanted to read, wanted to write and was kept from that… yet he rags on louis for doing just that. louis was a plantation owner, he had plenty of money and overall good status to back it. he takes this man as his fledgling, and instantly he has control over him. he keeps him down, because even as a mortal he’s all the things he ever wanted and never got. he, in the very core of his being, is envious of louis. louis, however, in a way wears his heart on his sleeve. he’s very empathetic and feeling and is prone to depressive moods. lestat exploits this weakness and tries to position himself as “stronger” by pretending he isn’t hurting just as much inside from the “mortal coil” he claims he left behind. they both have their traumas. they’re struggling to deal with them in different ways… lestat won’t let it out, and louis won’t move on. they’re mirrors of each other. it’s the same dance to a different tune, and that is why they clash so aggressively in IWTV. i think each of them sees what they hate in themselves in each other, and also what they love. this is why in healthier circumstances than those created in IWTV, they are perfect for each other—they each provide something for each other that they can not consistently manufacture on their own. and this growth is what i think would have been a better path for canon to take as opposed to louis becoming complacent to lestat’s aggression, and lestat repeating the same broken patterns. but this is why we have fan fiction..im very glad that this is in the hands of arguably more consistent authors than anne.
bottom line is, i think people overlook the fact that lestat is also hurting but is just very good at hiding it + lying to himself about it. this isn’t to say that it excuses the way he treats louis, but it is more information about where these patterns are coming from and why. i think after being with lestat awhile, louis, being the intuitive person he is, probably sees through his act. even in IWTV he begins to assert himself to lestat, he isn’t afraid of him per say because he doesn’t genuinely believe him to be heartless like he pretends to be. because louis knows that in his own, broken way lestat loves him. and he loves him too. but if they want to grow that love, they have to begin to heal themselves before healing one another. and i like to interpret the times when louis goes to armand as his moments where he says, “i need to sit with my issues with someone quieter than you, and you need to do the same, because this just isn’t working right now”. each of them holds the key to everything the other fears, loves, and craves.
I wanna add @covenofthearticulate
‘s tags cause this is meaningful
these 👏🏻 two 👏🏻 fucks 👏🏻
I’m glad to see this addressed and there’s been some good discussion on this post, I think everyone on it has come to it with their own interpretations of the characters and the ship in question. I think overall, at least at the time of this reblog, the ppl on the post can agree to disagree. #Your headcanon may vary.
Personally, I do think Lestat was abusive towards Louis and I think @secret-les-mis-blog-ooo and @covenofthearticulate had some very astute comments about that, bringing up points about what might have led Lestat to be abusive, not providing excuses, but unpacking what makes an abuser tick, which can help us recognize abuse and stop ppl from becoming abusers in the real world.
I’m adding to the post but not looking to stir up any drama, I did want to add that @theoneandonlylestat was approaching the topic from a valid point of view, too, it’s true that all the VC characters are problematic in their own way. I thought that they had a good point that Louis’ interpretation of events could also be unreliable, and I’ve even thought about how Daniel’s publisher may have made things more scandalous to sell more books. Louis might also have lied by ommission.
^That said, I am more inclined to trust Louis’s report of things, even though I do think he left things out. There was only so much cassette tape available that night!
The other thing I wanted to add is that abuse in fiction can be difficult for a reader to define. The first time I read IWTV I was 11 yrs old, and I loved Lestat, as one fan once put it, falling in love with Lestat is like falling headfirst down a flight of stairs. It’s an awkward falling in love, bc you know it’s wrong, but he’s fictional! Why not?!
And I didn’t see Lestat as abusive. I saw him as this fun bad guy, this antagonist who would make snappy comments at Louis and Claudia and threaten them sometimes, but usually with some humor laced in, his bark was usually worse than his bite, and he’d physically push them around somewhat, but 11 yr old me was accustomed to Looney Tunes characters being pushed off of cliffs, stabbed, shot, steamrolled, etc. and coming back for a new cycle of violence every few minutes. Physical violence can be entertaining, it can be cathartic.
Later on when I reread IWTV, and read posts, and had discussions with other fans like @wicked-felina, I realized that Lestat certainly was being abusive, with the things he would say and do to Louis and Claudia. The physical abuse came into a new light bc I understood the concept of abuse in the real world much better.
^All this is not to say that I demand everyone agree with me and we all denounce Lestat as a horrible abusive demon!! <—-sarcasm. Not at all, not what this is about. It’s not about vilifying a problematic character, which tumblr discussion can veer towards, so I can see why this post had friction.
Too often it’s “This character was/is abusive, THEREFORE, he should be deleted from canon and fandom!”
Here, it’s “We see that this character was/is abusive, FURTHERMORE, this may be why he acted this way, not excusing the abuse, but we want to know WHY.” <—which can lead to understanding the roots of abuse and recognizing it in the real world. Which, to me, is part of the point of fiction. To entertain, yes, but also, to teach us something about the real world.
Being able to discuss abusers in fiction is useful in that it can show that abusers can come across as beautiful, charming, and loving, when they’re not being abusive. Abuse comes in subtle and not-so-subtle forms. It’s good to be able to talk about it and be able to see it for what it is.
But in the same respect, not everyone will define smtg in fiction as abuse. When I was 11 yrs old it was amusing to me. I still find it entertaining in fiction but I 100% do not endorse it in real life.
We can all still love an abusive character and not support his actions in real life.
Loustat, and why Louis isn’t a liar for saying Lestat was awful, and why you don’t blame the victim holy hell
There has been some excellent discourse around Louis and Lestat this week, and the question of how their relationship is presented in terms of love vs abuse, and abusive love. I’ve seen some great discussion from @monstersinthecosmos and @secret-les-mis-blog-ooo in particular, and that was neat. But I’ve also seen an alarming take that Louis is just a big fat liar and Lestat is ~misunderstood and, fam, I’m not here for that.
I’ve written out my thoughts on the abuse and what canon gives us to parse, and also I’m going to talk a bit about some vaguely triggering stuff from my own life with regard to abuse and gaslighting so whilst the VC part of this post is up for discussion, don’t come at me on the real life stuff kthnx. 🙂
I had chills reading this, both for the subject matter and
@wicked-felina’s writing style, which as always, is sensitive and even some humorous touches while addressing even the darkest topics.
I’m so sorry you went through all that, I’m grateful that you shared it with us, especially in the context of this ship.
Fiction is a way to explore the real world and the darker topics, we can see in L/L than an abusive person can be beautiful, charismatic, and even loving sometimes.
To my reading, it is clear that Lestat was/is an abusive character. We can still love fictional characters even as we unpack their flaws and try to reason out how they became what they became. Fiction can entertain but it can also be informative, and sometimes it’s both.
In Marius’ defence; getting very personal
First of all, there has been some confusion here on Tumblr as to what my intentions are with this post. If you read this and honestly believe I condone pedophilia, I can tell you now; I don’t. Simple as that. If you read this post, written out of my own emotions and translate that to me not caring about yours, that’s simply false. Just because I share mine, doesn’t mean I don’t care about yours. Each their own. Simple as that.
If you truly believe I wrote this piece to trivialize abuse victims and/or glorify sexual predators, you think very poorly of me and I invite you to come and talk to me to get to know me better. I guarantee you, I’m a very nice, loving and caring person.
Secondly, we’re talking about a fandom. Almost in all fandoms, there is love for protagonists and antagonists alike. This does not mean we condone crime, rape and murder in real life. Look at the love for The Joker, Sephiroth, Moriarty, The Master, Mason Verger etc. Is everyone that loves these characters a bigot and contributor to the trivialising of crime victims? No. Wether it’s a villain that not so bad or a ‘hero’ that’s not all good; it is still fiction.
No matter how real our feelings are for certain fictional characters, this is not a real reflection of our stance in real life. Period.
Especially in VC, the fandom is based on loving killers. We love Lestat. We love Armand. All the vampires in VC have done horrible, horrid stuff, taken lives and committed an array of criminal acts to (for example) get undeniable wealth. To go into this and pin pointing one guy with a flaw that makes him in all honesty a villain (Marius in this case); is funny to me as they then all are. They are all criminals. They are all killers, arsonists and thieves and all have their own mental issues to cope with. I will gladly have discussions about individual characters and their crimes or contributions to the fandom, but don’t point fingers saying I discredit crime victims when the whole series does that in romanticizing vampirism in the first place. If you don’t like the books, I discourage you to read this post or anything I post on my Daniel blog.
If someone reads this and still finds me a horrible person, I insist you contact me personally in PM for an open conversation. Don’t hide behind others. If you want your voice to be heard, speak up. I am open to any civil, reasonable conversation.
ON TO THE ACTUAL POST.
One of my dear friends just messaged me about how she feels terrible about the fact that Marius is being portrait as an abusive monster by a lot of people of the fandom and nothing but that. And I just want to share with you my story to let you guys know why there are people out there that love him.
Reading this story take in account that I am religious.
When I was 15 I got into a particular fandom which stimulated my art, my creatively and my love for roleplay. I fell madly in love with one of the characters and RPed him for a looooong time. Nonstop. Only back then I did not know what a muse was. I did not know of the word. And darker forces took advantage of that. When it was revealed that this particular character died in the next book, it tore my heart to shreds. And instead of experiencing the muse as an inspirational source for my writing, it became a constant presence that would ‘talk’ to me. Said it came to be with me. Demand things of me. For almost two years this thing pretending to be him tried to isolate me and drag me down a dark path. I would be his and only his. I even broke up with a boyfriend back then whom I was crazy about. Because he told me to. And in the end he would even start telling me to off myself to truly be with him. Thank god something then clicked in me, only then realising this was going too far. I believe by recognising it, God reached out and expelled it. This thing left. But I didn’t realise it was my own strength- my own doing that did this. So I was distraught. It broke me. It left me depressed and unhappy for more years than I dare admit. It ruined my ability to be romantically involved with anyone which I still suffer from till this day.
But then something happened. I got introduced to the Vampire Chronicles fandom. I was scared at first. The confrontation with such strong, vibrant characters and the overwhelming subject of death made me so very weary for this fandom. But when I reached the point in The Vampire Lestat where Marius dug Lestat up and Lestat said he had never laid eyes on something so beautiful, I was roused. And as I kept reading, this Marius- this beautiful, man so full of life and optimism and love for life made me smile again. He was calm and wise and friendly and so extremely patient. An artist too and in love with everything beautiful in life. He appreciated the simple gesture of opening a door and all his strength and power made him humble towards weakness. Through his death, he only loved life more. All these lessons overwhelmed me. Shook me to my core. Slapped me in the face and told me this was the muse to follow.
And he saved me. He literally saved me.
I smiled again. I started appreciating life again. I went back to art school. I started appreciating the small beauties around me again. He opened my eyes again to the beauty of living.
Getting back into roleplay scared me but I met a girl who for the first time explained what a muse was and only then did I realise that I had been tricked. That I had been taken advantage of by darker forces. And so then I decided that if I was going to RP again, I was going to keep the now called muses at a distance. And I did. And I still do. And I can enjoy it again. I can enjoy life again.
In Marius’ defence
Yes, after reading all the books, I realise he has major issues. I know he made some really bad decisions and a million more mistakes. But let me tell you; I was happy to see he wasn’t perfect. I was relieved to know that even those we look up to are flawed. And yes, in the span of his life, which is over 20 lifetimes!!!!, it is really quite OKAY for him to make more mistakes than we do in a lifetime. But lets not forget he is a vampire. Do we blame a lion for killing the antelope? No. It’s in his nature. Do we blame a vampire for manipulating and taking lives? No. It’s in their nature. It is quite unfair to throw shade at Marius for faltering every now and then when he so desperately tries to be human.
And then there are some things I wish to point out that people seem to forget.
– If it wasn’t for Marius, The Parents would have died thousands of years ago and the vampire race would have gone extinct. There would literally be no VC if it wasn’t for Marius sacrificing his freedom to harness and protect the Core.
– The knowledge of Marius’ possible existence was the thing that kept Lestat going in TVL. It was Marius that dug him out of the ground for a second shot at life. It was Marius who showed Lestat there was more to vampirism than the pain he had suffered so far.
– Without Marius intervening, Daniel would have been lost. Despite Marius’ double agenda to kill his own loneliness or feeble attempts to make it up to Armand, taking Daniel in was an act of kindness. Marius saved Daniel and only could through his endless patience.
– Marius welcomes Mael into his house. This is such an important aspect of his endless attempts to be good. Do not forget Marius was a very, very happy man in his mortal days. Mael stole that away from him. He robbed him of a simple but wonderful life and tossed him into this whirlpool of death and loneliness and misery. And yet Marius lets him sleep under his roof and offers him his own clothes!! His kindness is often obscured by acts of petty behaviour, but in his heart he is a genuinely good man who wants peace. He tries. And that is what matters.
– It is Santino that destroyed Armand. Not Marius. It gets my blood boiling when people have Armand speak in defence of Santino and somehow dare to shove all the blame onto Marius. Despite his questionable ethics with children, Marius wanted nothing but to give the boys and especially Amadeo a second chance in life. He wanted to make him happy, knowledgeable, successful and powerful. Marius is not the one that set the Palazzo on fire. Marius is not the one that tossed children in a fire. Marius is not the one that cruelly made Amadeo kill his best friend.
Marius is the one that got burned to the bone and had to recover for 100 YEARS!! Marius is the one that had to suffer the loss of all his children. The loss of his happiness he experienced in Venice. The loss of his acolyte. The loss of his empire. His pupil. His lover. Marius is the one that served Akasha and was therefor told to leave Amadeo behind. I am not saying he was right in leaving Amadeo behind. Yes, t was one of the biggest mistakes he made. Despite being weak and in excruciating pain, he gave up on Amadeo because Santino had already tainted him. The fact that Amadeo forgot about his trauma’s in the past, Marius had a clean slate to make the best piece of art he had ever made. But Santino went over it with a sharpy and Marius, forever being the perfectionist, did not see a chance of saving it. And yes, that was wrong of him. And yes, he should have tried to get Amadeo back and save him. But it is extremely unfair to forget all these things in play. Marius suffered tremendously through this ordeal and caught his own traumas on the way.
– He stays positive. He couldn’t marry the girl he loved due to discrimination. He was kidnapped. He was robbed of his mortal life by a man whom he later had to safe by pulling his head off and putting it back the right way. Three of his houses got burned down to the ground. He sacrificed his own freedom for the sake of his kind by taking care of The Parents. Akasha then thanked him by crushing him and breaking all his bones. He lost his happiness and the love of his life by a Satan-worshipping cult. He suffered 100 years because he was set on fire. He got the chance to finally be with the woman he loved but literally missed the memo. And yet… he stays positive. His natural optimism of living a happy, mortal life is what kept him going. It’s what made him a child of the millennia. He is the eternal optimist because he knows how precious life is.
So again; I am not saying you don’t have any right or reasons to dislike Marius or distrust him. All I want to say with this, is that despite his flaws, he inspired and set in motion more than the fandom gives him credit for. He suffered more than the fandom gives him credit for.
He saved my life and therefor I will always defend him. He deserves it.
This is a long post, I’m sorry for the dash intrusion, and for making it even longer, but for a year and a half now I have often thought about this post. It’s one of the posts on tumblr that has most stuck with me in the past 5 years. I always wanted to reblog it, but didn’t have the courage until now, bc I felt that the spotlight that my blog can put on a post can sometimes exacerbate an issue. Such is the nature of social media 2.0, where controversy is what makes posts explode (do we still say “go viral”?) more often than not.
But I’m reblogging it now and I’ve bolded some things for ease of skipping around so as not to read through all of it. For what I have to add, tho, NO CUTS WE LONGPOST LIKE MEN.
I remember when I first saw this post in March of 2017, I was floored, immediately deeply respected it in its entirety, and how OP has kept it in their archive, even when challenged about it. I have often cited this post, referred to it, shared it privately with others. And in the event that OP ever deactivates or deletes this post, I wanted a version of it I could point to and say, with pride:
This is the kind of fan I aspire to be. Showing love for a fictional character who had a positive influence on them, a real person.
This character for sure has flaws, and has been interpreted at different times as being
problematic, and sometimes not at all. If I recall correctly, at least from the fics I was able to find during the war on fanfic the mid-1990′s, Marius was sometimes written as an uncool Dad figure, setting rules for Lestat & Co. to break, typically in silly!fics. At other times, I’ve known fans who found inspiration in his intense dedication to keeping TWMBK and the development of his art in painting and film, etc. and hardly focus on any other aspect of him. I personally see him as the adoptive benefactor trope, with some teacher/student kink, the dedication to his art, etc., and some of that romance novel stuff mixed in. I’m not a hardcore shipper of him with anyone but I do love the shippy fanart/fic people make, bc it’s made by fans as an expression of their love for the characters, it’s the artists and writers I love more than the fictional characters. And I know of people who are convinced that Marius is little more than a lure for Anne Rice’s alleged thinly-veiled pedophile propaganda.
^None of these ideas of him are totally wrong, and although there may be some things about him that more of us may agree on, to my mind, none of this is totally right, either, because he’s a fictional character and we all draw our own and equally valid interpretations based on our own educations and experiences. A person might find him as
inspiring as someone else might find him absolutely disgusting. Neither are right or wrong. It’s not that black and white, in my opinion.
I want to highlight this from OP:
“No matter how real our feelings are for certain fictional characters, this is not a real reflection of our stance in real life. Period.”
Your interpretation of a fictional character does not supersede anyone else’s, no matter how well-supported your arguments are, no matter what the author of the original work says about their characters, etc.
When a person claims that Character X saved their lives/made their life better/inspired them in a positive way, you don’t get to decide that Character X didn’t.
Granted, you can certainly flip that around and state: “When a person claims that Character X ruined their lives/made their life worse/inspired them in a negative way, you don’t get to decide that Character X didn’t.” That may be true, but if a fictional character had such negative impact on your life, wouldn’t you want to stop reading that book/series, at the very least? Which is what OP described above, and thankfully, they were able to unload that negative influence.
Personally, I would stop reading that book, I would find something I found more positively inspiring. Maybe I would seek therapy, I’m sure JAWS and IT sent people to seek professional help. I don’t mean that with any sarcasm, I have had therapy sessions in the past, and found it extremely helpful. I for sure wouldn’t have the energy or interest to try to preach that others see the light of how negative this character is. You can blame violent videogames and Marilyn Manson music for school shooters, doesn’t mean that that media is solely responsible, but I’m not providing links for that bc this is not a blog for that. @fiction-is-not-reality might better direct you on that.
It feels incredibly childish for me to say this but: I wish we could stop waging wars over characters. I don’t jump on posts or respond to asks that seem like they’re coming from a place of bad faith on this topic. I come to fandom for entertainment, to unwind, to be among my friends. I don’t have time for unwinnable arguments that are more about moral superiority than anything else.
Good or bad faith arguments about problematic characters, it doesn’t really matter either way, as it’s been around since long before the internet, it’s going to keep happening as long as people can communicate in whatever form it takes. It just seems to have escalated in fandom in the last few years and this is where we’re at right now, it seems, so my comments on this post are for OP, as an apology that I should have added these comments a year and a half ago, and my comments are for anyone who loves fictional characters, however problematic others may say they are, no matter how problematic they are in canon, no matter how problematic their own original authors say they are! Try to be as strong as OP and I when people come at you for liking, what is essentially, ink on a page.
Creation/consumption of ANY fiction =/= endorsement of it in real life.
Shipping a Problematic™ ship
The first time you get hate because ´you can´t ship that
The second time
And then it happens again
Do you hate X character? Or do you have a weird real-life fetish? Do you want that kind of relationship for YOURSELF?
Ugh I hate when people Romanticize™ …
You DO realize you are basically supporting ABUSE RIGHT?
You are disgusting
People like you are the reason-
And, in the end, you keep shipping despite the hate
And creating amazing and complicated work
Because you rock
So don´t let hate get to you, and keep shipping whatever you want. Bless you.
What she says: I hate antis
What she really means: I don’t mind people disliking a ship for their own reason but the anti-shipping movement is driven by hate and bandwagon bullying to police what people are “allowed” to enjoy. They use fundamentally abusive and manipulative tactics on real people in the name of protecting survivors from speculative things in fiction. Antis want to act morally superior over ship wars and claim that to ship something problematic you must be a survivor. By doing this antis force survivors who may be uncomfortable with coming out with their status to out themselves and then hold them to impossible standards. Except when it does come to survivors who ship anti-deemed problematic things we are attacked, harassed, and then pushed under the bus anyway. Antis trivialize terms such as abuse, rape, and pedophilia by using them so often and out of place against a group made up of many survivors and minors– the people they claim to be protecting. They have bullied and suicide baited artists and other content creators they dislike in the name of “policing the bad ships uwu.” All antis are at fault for this, even if an anti claims not to send hate themselves they are still influencing this bad behavior because they are part of this hate group. The entire anti-shipper movement is a toxic cesspool that makes me feel sick.
“you shouldn’t like that character because they’re a terrible person”
look my guy i pulled this character right out of the dumpster fair and square and i’m keeping him