So I just dialed down the joke on page 7623.
The thing with that joke was:
Poking a little fun at an ongoing point of controversy surrounding the comic, without trying to make a statement on anyone’s position in particular.
The thing with that joke was not:
Admonishing those who wish to maintain non-white headcanons for characters. Or those disappointed to see Trickster Jane with skintone. Or anyone really. There was not any coherent ‘TAKE THAT’ going on here.
At least that was not the intent. I can see how it would appear that is what I wished to communicate, but it is not. If that is an interpretation that will commonly persist I’d rather just ditch the joke. Or at least tone it way down, which I did.
But actually what motivates me more to revise it is noticing more than a few unsavory individuals using it as justification to harass POCs or anyone who, reasonably, wanted to voice their concerns. On reflection I’d rather not have my decisions serve as fodder for the arguments of such people. They don’t speak for me.
As a humorist, and someone who writes a provocative and unpredictable story, there are many types of unpleasant responses to my stuff I can easily accept. But some types… maybe not so much.
The original joke from my perspective really was a lighthearted jab at the storied subject of race in the comic, and the debates about it over the years. Mainly I thought the gag was tempered by its utterly absurd presentation, and made so over the top as to compromise its ability to be taken seriously. Beyond the pale of usual absurdity even for Homestuck, as has been the case with all this trickster stuff. Trickster mode, you’ve probably observed, is a sort of ridiculous game powerup, like a Mario star or Kirby’s lollipop, which for a while brings everything to a frantic and surreal place. In this case those effects apply to Homestuck in its entirety, the characters, visuals, flow of story, the site itself, and the sense of humor, all getting a little warped and pushed a bit outside the usual comfort zones.
Tricksters were once an easter egg in HS a long time ago, and they kept picking up steam in the fandom. So, as is often the case with MSPA, the idea has been adapted as a nod to the readership, in a way that is compatible with the story’s logic. Fans have always drawn them as particularly cherubic white kids, and so that’s how they look in the comic. But this creates a really strange disparity between their skintone and the usual blank #ffffff depiction of human characters. This alone makes them a pretty bizarre addition to the story and contributes toward pushing this arc into sort of a narrative uncanny valley. I was inclined to address this flagrant coloration disparity by making a totally ridiculous, way over the top joke about it. That’s because jokes are pretty much all I do. I even turn my jokes into jokes. (See the edited page.)
Personally I still think the original gag is pretty funny. But I had the benefit of knowing exactly where I was coming from. I think the new joke is pretty funny too. Maybe even more funny, if you have the benefit of remembering the old one.
I know I have a reputation for riling people up, so some probably think this was my chief motivation. But not really. My primary goal is always to do what I think is funny. I’m not saying I wasn’t expecting some kind of controversy from invoking the subject, but neither did I anticipate the particular texture of the response, which isn’t sitting well with me. So in retrospect, I decided THIS time, the gag wasn’t really worth it. Especially if it just galvanizes an army of tools against people who have to deal with shit like that too often already. So to those people, I will apologize.
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