Person of Interest’s AIs: Can Humanity Seep In?

NB: This was written far before B.S.O.D.’s release, and any spoilers had hit the Internet at all–these are just random musings of my (now BSOD’d) mind. A thinkpiece, if you will (and a probably highly illogical/inaccurate one by now, at least if not within the next few episodes!). If you’d like in-depth reviews on Person of Interest, Ms. Faith Bektas at TV After Dark is reviewing and livetweeting the show! She’s written some great Orphan Black ones, if you’re a fan. For me, I’m not covering POI but I’m simply an avid fan! Alas I do like to ponder these kind of topics and I’m beyond excited to see Root and Finch’s moral ideals clash on the show and what compromises they have to make–in order to simply survive–and if Shaw’s banger of a return will shake things up a bit, including perhaps Root’s motivations. Also, since seeing that extended promo trailer and Shaw in a skull clamp I’M NOPING THE HECK OUT OF MY LAST ARTICLE ABOUT HER. NOTHING WILL HAPPEN. SHE WILL COME BACK AND SHE WILL BE FINE. She just looks exhausted and drawn-out because, um, she had a bout of insomnia… *rocks back and forth*

It’s no lie that Artificial Intelligence (AI) has attracted the interest of television and film, and also real-life. With Britain, under the Conservatory Party, looking to establish more and more security cameras and thus arguably quash our privacy rights, the development of smart-thinking applications such as Siri for your iPhone, and notably in 2014, in which a computer program—’Eugene Goostman’, a simulated thirteen year old boy—passed the Turing test by convincing 33% of impartial judges that it was indeed a real person, not a machine.

There has been huge debate over this issue. Arguments such as the Turing test being favoured and skewed towards the ‘Eugene’ have been made, thus rendering the result null; there are also other AI systems, such as Cleverbot, Elbot and Ultra Hal in existence. But why is science-fiction so interested in the topic of AI? It’s inspired a number of films, such as ‘Ex Machina’, the ‘Terminator’ series, ‘I, Robot’—among many others. Yet most films seem to depict AIs as the villain to be conquered—but computer intelligence is human nature’s creation. So what are we now, in the fictional sense? Progressive technologists spurning potentially evil AIs?

TED guest-speaker Nick Bostrom makes an excellent case for humanity’s progression in the creation of super-fast computers, and how one day, there is a distinct possibility these super-computers could become the dominant race. If you think about humanity, our existence on this planet has been very short—yet with factors such as the Roman Empire’s advanced technology beyond our years (their aquaduct systems allowed for under-floor heating—central heating! Way before it was ever introduced in modern times), the Industrial Revolution, World Wars spurring artillery and medicine, The Cold War and the increase in biological warfare and technology, and the increasing need for efficient consumerism—it’s not difficult to imagine why computers were made to cope with faster, quicker, and more efficient demands.

In the TED talk, Bostrom poses an interesting scenario: as these AIs develop in their intelligence, surely they would opt for the most efficient route of solving a root cause. A weak AI could interpret the mission directive of: “stop over-population” by evenly distributing citizens in less densely packed, urban areas. As the AI develops super-intelligence, it discovers that there is a more efficient route, by wiping out half the population so there is no over-population at all. But does this sound like, to you, that the AI has humanity’s best intentions at heart? It certainly doesn’t to me—and that’s why the conflict of AI vs. Humanity is such a common and now scarily topical theme in our world, because we could be on the very cusp of that. I’d like to focus a little more on Person of Interest, that I think delves into the world of AI with interesting and sometimes scarily plausible ideas—rather than just your regular movie supervillain.

 

THE MACHINE: “WARM AND FUZZY TO ME…”

Undoubtedly one of the best shows we’ve been gifted with over the past few years, Person of Interest tackles the notion of AI from the very beginning, in which a young, impressionable and talented computer programmer Harold Finch decides to create an AI for his dementia-suffering father. He’s driven by personal motives to create a machine capable of preserving his father’s memory.

Ingram and Finch watch the news on 9/11 in horror.
Ingram and Finch watch the news on 9/11 in horror.

After watching 9/11 unravel in horror, Finch and his best friend, businessman Nathan Ingram realise that whilst they’ve made significant money from their company IFT, they’ve done nothing to salvage humanity. Ingram, the face of IFT, is hired by the US government to build a Machine capable of predicting terrorist attacks to avoid cases like 9/11 happening again—by using NSA data and surveillance collected by the government. Finch works in the background, eager to keep his anonymity. Together, they build and train their AI to test The Machine’s capability of decision-making and problem-solving, As The Machine rapidly learns, most notably through the chess-scene flashbacks in ‘If-Then-Else’ it also becomes speedily self-aware, attempting to free itself from Finch’s computer, hack into Ingram’s WiFi, overload the servers and set the room ablaze, almost killing Finch. Finch immediately destroys the program. This is what is so fundamentally important about Finch and Ingram’s Machine: they want to teach it humanity’s moral code. They, idealistically, want The Machine to act in humanity’s best interest.

Ingram finds out the government are excluding the ‘irrelevant’ numbers—normal people who could be subject to crime or murder. Ingram argues that they need to install a back-door into The Machine in order to gain access to these numbers—but Finch is reluctant, resulting in a fallout between the duo. Not long after, Ingram is killed in a bomb explosion. When Finch goes back to check Ingram’s contingency plan, he finds that Ingram’s number had been given by The Machine, indicating his imminent danger. Stricken by survivor’s guilt, Ingram’s death, having to fake his death and sacrifice a budding romance, a lifelong disability—Finch decides to honour Ingram’s memory by secretively working on the Machine’s irrelevant numbers.

As Root, a fanatic of the perfect, flawless Machine’s design later notes:

Root: “How badly did you have to break [The Machine] to make it care about people so much?”

Finch: “I didn’t break it; it’s what made it work. It was only after I taught The Machine that people mattered that it could begin to be able to help them.”

For me, this is what differentiates Person of Interest from other AI-themed shows and films—the Machine is not a benevolent being, but it certainly is not evil. It has foresight and shows almost human traits of utilitarianism in which it orders the team to kill a congressman in order to stop Samaritan, a rival AI, from coming online. Finch, who cannot fathom the idea of a kill order, sticks by his strict deontological code and pleads with the team to disobey The Machine. Where is the line drawn, for Person of Interest’s Machine? If it can see ahead and spot danger, then surely killing the congressman from a utilitarian point of view is justified? After all, The Machine was right: they didn’t kill the congressman, and this allowed Samaritan into the world. And even deeper into that—how human of an issue does this become, now? Because The Machine was acting out of humanity’s best interests—in keeping Samaritan offline, they had to kill the congressman, but Finch couldn’t allow that kill order. But just how far can a Machine go? Finch, in this episode, does make a very important point. No matter how much Finch teaches The Machine of morality and humanity—how many lives could The Machine sacrifice in order to maintain its core objective? The Machine saw ahead and arguably instilled very utilitarianism values by issuing this kill order: that the end justifies the means. Isn’t that a very human ethical argument to have, especially when you’re considering this is about a non-human being?

With regards to Root, it’s largely ingrained in Root’s character that her belief in The Machine was overly-zealous—she almost saw the Machine as a God—she sees no flaw in the beautiful code of The Machine. When we first truly meet Root, she’s disillusioned by humanity. She says: “One day, I realized all the dumb, selfish things people do… it’s not our fault. No one designed us. We’re just an accident, Harold. We’re just bad code.”

Though both have hugely changed over the course of these seasons, Root and Finch's ethical standpoints don't exactly add up--but they're both absolute geniuses. What kind of compromise will they come up with to fight back against Samaritan? To find Shaw?
Though both have hugely changed over the course of these seasons, Root and Finch’s ethical standpoints don’t exactly add up–but they’re both absolute geniuses. What kind of compromise will they come up with to fight back against Samaritan? To find Shaw?

For Root, an expert hacker and tech-genius, she sees freeing The Machine as her ultimate goal: because she can’t see beyond humanity as simple ‘bad’ code’. Yet Root’s arc has been arguably one of the most moving, drastic ones on the show. As she integrates more with the team, completes missions for The Machine and forges relationships with the gang, it’s the episode ‘Root Path (/)’ that serves as the pivotal point. Root meets Cyrus Wells and vows to protect him, only to find that once he’d been a successful businessman—until a rival business hired a certain hacker to assassinate his two colleagues. Cyrus becomes disenchanted by the prospect of money, donating it all and taking up a low-level job as a janitor. In this episode Root is haunted by the guilt of her part in Cyrus’ fate, yet she cannot prioritize him above the super-powered chip Decima has acquired in order to power Samaritan. Ultimately, Root comes back to assist Reese and Fusco in saving Cyrus—the first steps of her almost learning humanity, ironically, from The Machine. To cement this, she says before she leaves, earnestly: “You think I don’t care about people, Harold? I’m doing all of this to save you.”

However, for all of the gang’s heroic deeds in solving the perp/victim cases—as well as fighting the sheer evil Team Samaritan—Finch cannot bring himself to look upon his own creation as benevolent. In this striking and thought-provoking conversation, Root, Shaw and Finch discuss an all-powerful AI’s incapability:

Finch: What if, one day, a friendly AI decides to end world hunger by killing enough people off of the planet that there would never again be a shortage of food? It would have fulfilled its goal, but it doesn’t exactly sound like it has our best interests at heart.

Root: Your machine would never do that.

Finch: You don’t know that, Ms. Groves. To say that a machine is benevolent doesn’t make it so. It just makes you blind to the reality.

Shaw: Which is?

Finch: That our moral system will never be mirrored by theirs because of the very simple reason that they are not human.

It’s an eternal struggle for Finch, who had initially taken upon irrelevant numbers to honour Ingram’s memory—but throughout all seasons, he tries to distant himself from The Machine for fear of getting too attached or reliant on it.  For all of the struggles Finch has faced regarding The Machine, it is most emotionally telling in ‘Asylum’ where the Machine tells Finch, “You are wrong, Harold. You are not interchangeable. I failed to save Sameen. I will not fail you now”—and in the next episode, engages in an emotive exchange with Finch as Reese defends them from Samaritan operatives on the outside:

The Machine: [on a Laptop screen] Father. I am sorry. I failed you.

Finch: We haven’t failed yet.

The Machine: I didn’t know how to win. I had to invent new rules.

Finch: You had an impossible challenge. One I never programmed you for.

The Machine: I thought you would want me to stay alive. Now you are not sure.

Finch: That’s not true…

The Machine: If you think I have lost my way, maybe I should die. I will not suffer.

Finch: You were my creation. I can’t let—I can’t let you die.

The Machine: If I do not survive, thank you. For creating me.

It is such a mess of impossible morality regarding the creation of AIs. After all, as Bostrom mentioned in the TED talk—will a fully developed Machine still try to preserve humanity’s best interests at heart—or its own values? With The Machine needing to be rebuilt in season five, one can only ponder what influence the rest of the team will have in this. Root, whose faith in humanity has been restored by the team and notably Shaw, and Reese—who has suffered so much—would they want The Machine to be more vicious, efficient and aggressive in the future, both to avenge their personal losses but also to create a Machine capable of fighting an incredibly powerful Samaritan?

Shaw's a very important figure in this and her return will shake the team up--both emotionally, and possibly with the mission of defeating Samaritan.
Shaw’s a very important figure in this and her return will shake the team up–both emotionally, and possibly with the mission of defeating Samaritan.

Shaw—however she may come back—might. She arguably has, in my opinion, one of the best and consistent moral compasses (that’s a whole other argument—please don’t get me waffling about ethics, you’ll want to beat me up) on the show yet she challenges Finch whilst Samaritan runs a peaceful NYC. Why not be that efficient? Look at what it’s doing now. Look at how peaceful and crime-less it is. She’s someone who can see from both sides of the equation—a good and bad thing I guess, and I suppose she will only glimpse a closer (and nastier) side to Samaritan with her ordeal in their hands. Only time will tell, but this surely remains the most exciting, clever and topical story told on television, especially in regards to artificial intelligence.

SAMARITAN: “THE BAD GUY”

It’s very easy to split the two ASI’s into good versus evil, with The Machine being good and Samaritan being evil—but it just isn’t that easy. They started with the same base code. Finch’s friend Arthur at MIT had created pretty much the same hardware Finch essentially copied off, in order to create The Machine. So from its very roots, if we look at it simplistically, and before they were brought into activation, The Machine and Samaritan were at equal-pegging.

And then everything changed.

Greer heads the shady Decima Technologies, utilising the NSA feeds for Samaritan's gain.
Greer heads the shady Decima Technologies, utilising the NSA feeds for Samaritan’s gain.

The shady technology company, Decima, headed by a former MI6 agent and all-round untrustworthy slimeball Greer (played excellently by John Nolan) steal the drives from Arthur’s safe box before Finch even got the chance to destroy them. With the hardware now in Decima’s hands, they can go about business in the shadows, acquiring bits of technology such as hardware to power their generators, super-powered chips that can process much quicker than The Machine can, and essentially set Samaritan free. The thing that distinguishes Samaritan from The Machine is that it’s an open system vulnerable to targets, whereas The Machine is closed.

But this is where I think humanity ultimately comes in. Harold ‘broke’ The Machine in order to teach it strict morality; for it to care for human lives and not assign value to them. Greer, on the other hand, reminds me a little of Root when she first entered the show—Greer is happy to let Samaritan do whatever it likes, because Greer believes Samaritan will save the world. Given Greer’s flashbacks and his betrayal whilst working as a secret service operative, it’s clear—from many of Greer’s quotes, to be honest—that he wants a world of utter transparency, where people are ‘good’ and almost…’obedient’—and it is so far away from the notion of free will that it’s worrying. It also makes me wonder: has Greer ever considered the possibility that he’s simply Samaritan’s pawn? Like Harold’s quotes above—yes, The Machine is considered ‘the better guy’ than Samaritan, but Harold’s also convinced that once [Root] dies, she’d get dropped like a hot potato. That The Machine doesn’t care (status rendering post-‘YHWH’). Samaritan cannot operate alone—not yet—it’s used Greer and his human lackeys to retrieve everything: all the hardware, the superfast chip, the loyalty of congressmen, a way into the CIA feeds—but at any point, will Samaritan grow and grow until it’s capable of independently issuing its ‘plan’? What is Samaritan’s plan? There’s no clear mission objective defined (not that I can remember—please correct if I am wrong!) because Greer literally says to Samaritan, pretty much, ‘do whatever you want’.

Open versus closed system? Both has its flaws--and will likely be discussed heatedly in season five. For Root in particular, she's always wanted The Machine to be 'free'.
Open versus closed system? Both has its flaws–and will likely be discussed heatedly in season five. For Root in particular, she’s always wanted The Machine to be ‘free’.

Now with The Machine effectively gone or at least glitching badly, Samaritan is well and truly on-course to win this battle between the AIs. Yes, it’s much ‘younger’ than The Machine but it has superior hardware and technology on every level compared to The Machine—meaning it can learn at a pace so rapid The Machine could never compete with it, unless Root and Finch do some serious meddling. And that of course goes back to the number of times Finch had to build The Machine and restart it—because he effectively had to cripple it in order to teach it morality. Yet he also acknowledges The Machine is not human and thus will never fully understand human morality—so is that a lost cause? Is Greer’s ardent belief in Samaritan’s pure stats and his execution of such actually the answer? When they rebuild The Machine, will Finch be quite as pushy about human morality…or will he have to sacrifice that in order to win this AI war?

This exchange between Finch and Root is from the episode ‘Prophets’:

Root: We understand the machine. We can understand Samaritan.

Finch: We don’t understand the machine at all. Out of 43 versions, how many do you think there were that didn’t try to either trick or kill me? One. And I could only bring it to heel by crippling it. I put the machine in chains, bereft of voice or memory. Now it has both, and it terrifies me.

Root: You don’t trust the god you made?

Finch: It’s not a divinity. I programmed it to pursue objectives within a certain parameter, but it’s grown out of my control. One day, to suit its own goals, it’s possible that the machine will try to kill us. We are only numbers to it, code.

Root: No, the machine cares about us.

Finch: If it fools you into thinking that you’re special, that assumption may doom you.

Root: You’re wrong. She chose me. I will protect her, and you.

Finch: The second that a bullet enters your brain, the machine will cast you off and replace you. Don’t tie your life to its whims. We cannot understand these intelligences. The best we can hope for is to survive them.

And Finch is completely right. Yes, he ‘broke’ The Machine but The Machine is an AI; it can self-learn and it can evolve. This seems to be the most likely course of action for season five. But in self-learning it could also identify Finch and Root and the rest of the team as unnecessary; in this argument, Root’s strong belief in The Machine and The Machine caring about the team is proven somewhat right in ‘Asylum’ and ‘YHWH’, when The Machine finally communicates—and saves Root and Finch’s lives. It is arguably also displayed in ‘If-Then-Else’ when Shaw, a random outlier in the many scenarios The Machine ran through, faced off with Martine after she pressed the override button and from The Machine’s perspective, you could see its mad and desperate calculations for a way out.

In circles, I suppose what I am trying to propose as a question is: is this really a war between two AIs? Or is it a war waged between machine and humanity? Is a war waged between two sectors—Decima vs. Team Machine—with varying degrees over the control of the Gods they have nurtured to blossom? The AIs are all-powerful, and scarily so; they are feared, and rightly so. But right at the very heart of each The Machine and The Samaritan’s programmes are humans; we have Arthur Claypool and we have Harold Finch. Both were driven to create such programmes on very human levels, human emotions—and Finch, certainly, has been the witness of the consequences of that.

With season five looking to be an absolute belter of a season, one can ponder: will the AIs win out? And if so, what are their intentions? What, at their very core, were each programmed to do—and how will they exact the consequences? Or will humanity fight back in the form of Team Machine? Would Team Machine ever join forces with Greer & co (now there’s a ridiculous outlier that would be both thrilling and baffling to see)? So long as Greer keeps hounding Team Machine with bullet after bullet until they’re backed into a corner; so long as he keeps Sameen Shaw under his watch and execution; so long as he remains Samaritan’s willing toy—how can humanity fight back if the only ones who can take back humanity itself are looking set to kill each other?

Will the answer lie in a tragic sacrifice of a hero? Maybe Finch? Will the answer lie in Root’s influence on Finch rebuilding The Machine, and any changes this expert hacker would make? Will the answer lie in the shroud of mystery that is now Sameen Shaw? Captive for nine months, what has Samaritan done to her, her personality disorder, her loyalty, her morals? What answers could she hold, besides the obvious one of “are you with us, or against us?”

“There’s no dead in team,” Shaw firmly tells Reese, on one of their first missions. Since then, they have bonded to a point where the fanbase lovingly call them the ‘Mayhem Twins’. But Shaw’s right—and whoever’s team she’s on, there cannot be a ‘dead’ there. But someone—or something—has to die. An AI war cannot wage across New York City forever. Even in the epic Iliad, Hector is finally defeated and whilst dragged around the city unpleasantly by Achilles—given a proper hero’s send-off by the Gods. I wonder: what is the fate of these two combating machines? What fate belies our heroes in this death-ridden battle?

Person of Interest is a show that, despite its AI focus, has always had extreme focus on the depths of humanity—from morality and ethics to jealousy, despair, love, hate, deceit, conceit…it has shown us, throughout all these years, every single side to humanity we can think of—be it via the team’s actions or words, or the person of interest case the team tackles. Root’s perhaps staple quote is hers regarding Pandora’s Box—that at the bottom of the box, once everything is aired, there lies hope. And hope is something so important to cling to, a beacon to look to, a signal to assure one—that something light, something great awaits them in the future. But for now, when the team are fighting for their lives, thanklessly and selflessly, I ask: will their stories be known and remembered, in their universe? Are they fighting in secret for nothing? Will humanity prevail as these AIs, with broadly different setups, clash? Will Team Machine triumph—even if perhaps sacrifices are made in the name of—ultimately? Or will Samaritan take it up a notch and destroy the hope the noble fight Team Machine has put up?

Can humanity beat machine? I think I have utmost, optimistic faith it will. Do you?

Quotables: What Are Your Favourite Person of Interest Quotes?

After I asked Twitter for a series of their favourite Sameen Shaw one-liners (which come in truckloads, I now remember—and shame myself for forgetting) I’ve collected a brief run-down of what I think my favourite character quotes/exchanges are: for Reese, Finch, Carter, Fusco, Shaw and Root. Some are a little more trivial than others, but all I think are magnificent—and I did sort of just want to copy and paste the entire Wikiquote of Person of Interest, but that seemed like cheating. So I’ve ranked my top ten for each character—and please, if you have any suggestions (because you will, won’t you? They are ridiculous. I love them so much. MAY 3RD—ahem) please comment underneath or indeed tweet me @NicolaChoi with a hashtag of—Gosh, I don’t know… #JustPOIQuotes! Or perhaps reply underneath the tweet. Thing.


1QuotablesJohn

JOHN REESE may be the king of deadpan humour and…well…deadpan deck-you-in-the-face and also deadpan falling off a multi-storey building and going “no biggie” but here are my top ten for him (and yes, I have to include the Pilot one—because I will sing ‘oh take me back to the start’ in dreadful Chris Martin fashion).

  1. “When you find that one person who connects you to the world, you become someone different. Someone better. When that person is taken from you, what do you become then?”
  2. “We’ve already started. Step one: Observe. The most efficient way to lose is a fight is to act without knowing your enemy.” (Okay, I have a bit of a weakness for some Sun Tzu…)
  3. [When Finch asks if he’s been under any recent stress] “You mean besides being locked in an 11×13 in Rikers and wearing a bomb vest around Manhattan? Not really.”
  4. “Hello, fellas. Can I borrow some of your drugs?”
  5. “You look worried, Finch. Did your tailor leave town?”
  6. “Dadda? Or dadda?”
  7. “You’re one hell of a Detective, Carter. And I can’t stop you from looking. But you already know quite a bit about me, Finch, and you may know we both had people who once cared about us. Not anymore. But you You still have your son, your life is still yours. So I think the real question you have to ask yourself, Detective is how much more do you really want to know?”
  8. Carter: “Something funny?”
    Reese: “Subway. Thugs. Kind of reminds me of the first time we met.”
  9. “Elias can’t kill a cop without permission; run it up the chain of command… permission’s been revoked! Tell Elias that if he so much as touches Detective Carter again, I will put him, you… everyone in the ground. You got that?”
  10. “A friend once told me, in our line of work, we walk in the dark. Doesn’t mean we have to walk in it alone.”

2QuotablesFinch

HAROLD FINCH may be our sometimes morally questionable—yet always properly-spoken—computer genius, and his starch politeness is sometimes more amusing than it should seem. Still—he rocks a three piece suit, doesn’t he?

  1. “I am handi-capable, Mr. Reese, but I need some assistance. We don’t want to exclude Bear from our rainy day activities.”
  2. “Not everyone’s a social butterfly, Mr. Reese. For some of us, human interaction is… difficult.”
  3. “I’ve never regretted building the machine. But I didn’t fully realize the personal cost. I’m good with computers. People; well, people other than Grace; have always been a mystery to me. I failed to recognize the lengths to which they would go to protect the machine, to control it. By the time I realized it, it was too late for me. But not for her. You see, Mr. Reese, if knowing about the machine is like a virus that makes me patient zero. Simply being near me was putting her life in danger. I’m sorry. I was lucky. I had four years of Happiness. Some people only get four days.”
  4. “It’s not where you begin; it’s where you end up. You’re a brilliant woman, comrade and a friend.”
  5. Ingram: “You talk about the machine likes it’s a living thing.”
    Finch: “Shhh. It can hear you…”
  6. “Hacked is such an ugly word…”
  7. “Let me show you. Pi, the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter, and this is just the beginning; it keeps on going, forever, without ever repeating. Which means that contained within this string of decimals, is every single other number. Your birth-date, combination to your locker, your social security number, it’s all in there, somewhere. And if you convert these decimals into letters, you would have every word that ever existed in every possible combination; the first syllable you spoke as a baby, the name of your latest crush, your entire life story from beginning to end, everything we ever say or do; all of the world’s infinite possibilities rest within this one simple circle. Now what you do with that information; what it’s good for, well that would be up to you.”
  8. “Sooner or later both of us will probably wind up dead. Actually dead this time. I said I’d tell you the truth. Didn’t say you’d like it.”
  9. “I’m good with computers.”
  10. [About chess]: “It’s a useful mental exercise. Through the years, many thinkers have been fascinated by it. But I don’t enjoy playing… Because it was a game that was born during a brutal age when life counted for little. Everyone believed that some people were worth more than others. Kings. Pawns. I don’t think that anyone is worth more than anyone else… Chess is just a game. Real people are not pieces. You can’t assign more value to some of them and not others. Not to me. Not to anyone. People are not a thing that you can sacrifice. The lesson is, if anyone who looks on to the world as if it is a game of chess, deserves to lose.”

3QuotablesJoss

JOSS CARTER—perhaps consistently delivering performances of the seasons was the magical Ms. Taraji P. Henson as the morally incomprehensible, noble, honourable Detective Joss Carter. A hard-working mother, a loyal and dutiful cop, and someone who instantly saw humanity and heart behind the city legend of ‘The Man in the Suit’, Carter didn’t come without her lines—and some are so hilariously delivered by P. Henson that you really kind of have to re-watch!

  1. Finch: “A baby went missing from a clinic in Washington Heights last night.”
    Carter: “Missing? It was stolen! By some weird-looki…”
    [Looks at Finch]
    Carter: “No. You didn’t.”
    Finch: “She was in imminent danger of kidnap.”
    Carter: “So you kidnapped her?”
  2. “Guy looked right into my eyes, then he was dust. Never saw it coming. When your time is up, it’s up.”
  3. “You don’t work for HR anymore, son. You work for me
  4. Fusco: You know, Carter, we’ve been working together for a while now. My friends call me “Lionel.” You got a first name?
    Carter: Sure. “Detective.”
  5. “Let me guess. Some guy in a suit.”
  6. “You know, I always pictured you in the back of my car… in handcuffs.”
  7. Shaw: Remember, the aim shouldn’t be to hurt him, just incapacitate him a little. Also, watch your knuckles. I’ve punched a lot of guys—
    Carter: [Punches Laskey] So have I.
  8. “You’ve got an entire NYPD task force looking for you. Had to run two lights getting here just to make sure my own people weren’t trailing me. I’m a cop, which means I’ve got rules. Rules that can’t be broken. But, um I want to know more.”
  9. “Why not just dangle them off the roof and force them to tell us how to find the hitmen?”
  10. Reese: “What is it about you, Joss, makes you want to do everything on your own?”
    Carter: “What is it about you, John, that makes you want to save everybody else’s life but your own?”

4QuotablesFusco

I could probably create a War and Peace sized collection of LIONEL FUSCO’S nicknames for everyone, but that’ll have to wait for print. In the mean time, here are some excellently delivered bits of dialogue (seriously, this dude does not get a break).

  1. “Just when I think life with you people couldn’t get any weirder, one of you takes it to the next level.”
  2. Therapist: You killed a man—
    Fusco: No. He got the Devil’s share.
  3. “Easy on the volume there! No wonder Mr. Sunshine is always in a foul mood!”
  4. “Is that glasses? Tell him this is the last time I chauffeur your ass.”
  5. “Bad things happen to people around me, Carter, so you should get out of here.”
  6. Reese: Just proves that no matter what we do or don’t do in this world, bad things are still gonna happen. It’s pointless. Irrelevant.
    Fusco: How can you say that? You saved lots of people, including me. You’re saying that was pointless?
  7. “Elias said, “Go to hell”. Quite frankly, I second the motion.”
  8. “How many countries you think there are in the UN? Like 50-something?”
  9. “Dog showed up at the precinct with a message from Cuckoo Clock to meet at this intersection. Didn’t know she meant you and this guy.” [Points to Hersh]
  10. “That’s just it. I could’ve been just like you, a bottom-feeder who turns on his own kind. For what? Money, power? I got lucky. I had a partner. She was good for me. For a lot of reasons. She reminded me that I could be good again too. i could be a good father, a good friend. A good cop. I’m not gonna let you undo all the good she did. Carter saved my life. She – she saved me from myself. Because she believed in me. And I’m not gonna throw that away on a piece of crap like you. Patrick Simmons, you’re under arrest.”

5QuotablesShaw

SAMEEN SHAW has been a (literal, probably) nutcracker ever since she exploded onto our screens in ‘Relevance’. Badass, definitely not a yoga instructor, might’ve died once, and caught up in a messy whirlwind romance with Root, Shaw’s practically brimming with (sometimes grumpy) snark. Gooberish as she is, she is never robotic, which is something I greatly admire in Sarah Shahi’s portrayal of Shaw—this could be a very one-dimensional character but the way she’s written and the way she’s acted—good grief, Shaw is a goldmine.

  1. Special Counsel: “Hersh was right. You are a good soldier. You didn’t want revenge. You wanted to protect the program.”
    Shaw: “A good soldier does both.” [Shoots Wilson]
  2. “I’m just not wired for this kind of stuff, kid.”
  3. “I’m a pragmatist, John. I go out, have a fun night or three, and then, uh, I move on. No muss, no fuss.”
  4. Root: “Shaw? I think it’s time you had a chat with your old boss.”
    Shaw: “I’m on it. We’ll chat about how I’m gonna kill her.”
  5. “I would have taken the head shot, but Finch gets annoyed when I kill people.”
  6. Matthew Reed: “You look ten years younger than the rest of us. How do you handle stress?”
    Shaw: “Well, every once in a while, I shoot someone.”
  7. “Well, I’ve got finesse coming out of my ass, Harold.”
  8. “There is no dead in team.”
  9. Maria Martinez: Foreign Legion? Why would they wanna kill me?
    Shaw: I don’t know. I don’t speak French.
  10. “Yeah, sure, Root. Maybe someday. Is that good enough for you?”

6QuotablesRoot

ROOT, as the reformed killer-for-hire ‘Samantha Groves’ is best known by—and her name is Root—is impeccably played by Amy Acker…which means, somehow, she manages to make even the most psychopathic of sentences somewhat hilarious. I don’t know what that says about me. But as unwittingly uproarious as Root can sometimes be, the back end of season four gave Acker a chance to explore Root’s more vulnerable, broken side to her usually creepily chipper stance—and it blew pretty much everyone anyway.

  1. “I don’t want to hurt Grace. I’m not a sociopath, Harold. Believe me, sometimes I wish I was. The things I’ve had to do would’ve been so much easier. I don’t like taking lives. But I will. Because I believe in something more important. I believe in your machine.”
  2. Harold Finch: [about stealing a police cruiser] Are you out of your mind?!
    Root:
    Since when is that relevant?
  3. “Oh, did you not hear about my chat with Control? She’s fun… in an unnecessary stapedectomy kind of way. But I do miss music in stereo.”
  4. “You think you’re in charge? It’s adorable just how wrong you are.”
  5. “Even without Her, I can still see the edges of the tapestry. The world is dark for everyone, but, Harold, things are gonna get much darker.”
  6. Root: She loves us, Harold. She taught me to value life, but war requires sacrifice. I’m not lost. I’m scared. We’re losing. But I know where I am and where I’m headed.
    Finch: We have more to look forward to than death.
    Root: I hope so. But the life I’ve led, a good end would be a privilege.
  7. “Remember, one false move, you’re dead. So have fun!”
  8. “What good is saving the world, Harry, if we can’t enjoy it?”
  9. “One day, I realized all the dumb, selfish things people do… it’s not our fault. No one designed us. We’re just an accident, Harold. We’re just bad code. But the thing you built… It’s perfect. Rational. Beautiful. By design.”
  10. “You once told John, the whole point of Pandora’s Box is that once you’ve opened it, you can’t close it again. She wanted me to remind you how the story ends. When everything is over and the worst has happened, there’s still one thing left in Pandora’s Box: hope.”

Okay—so there you have it—ten painstakingly picked quotes from the core gang (I don’t think I can count Bear in this one, unfortunately…) but I know I could’ve picked a thousand more for Root in particular (the lady is…yeah). It’s a mix of dark and light, some morality lessons and some plain bonkers—but I think that quite adequately sums up what Person of Interest is all about. Ultimately, it is a huge war of ethics and humanity, and the battle each member of the gang fights every single day puts their life at risk—yet they aren’t without their funny moments, either. Person of Interest is a dark, somewhat scarily plausible future—it’s gritty, it’s raw, it’s emotional and it’s hard-hitting. But like Root says, there is always one thing left in Pandora’s box: hope. And it is my true belief that as dark as the world may grow for the gang, there is still a beacon of light—hope—worth fighting for. There is still a world they believe in, people they need to save, loves they need to find, bonds forged in steel…humanity is the very thing that glues everyone together, and it is their humanity they must fight for as New York City descends into a chaotic ASI-war. And it’s humanity that must win. But with this bunch of rag-a-tags? I think we’re in for a hell of a ride.

Also, I feel like “You can just call me Root, bitch.” will be the unanimous response. I’m pretty good with that.

The hotly anticipated, what looks to be an emotionally-fraught scene in a Shaw-centric episode. Broken tailbones may have gone into the making.
NB: I’ll just post [this Root/Shaw gif tearing off shirt] because it’s everywhere. It may as well grace my humble blogspace. I think it looks rather pleasant.

Person of Interest’s Root, Shaw and a ‘Happy Ending’

It’s been a year, hasn’t it?

Roughly a year since season four aired ‘YHWH’ and we were left with radio-silence in regards to ‘Person of Interest’. It’s been a year of muddled up rumours, evasion of airing schedules, messiness like that—but finally, finally—over the past week or so, the Person of Interest fandom has leapt to life in joy and good riddance!

With perhaps the best trailer for a TV season I have seen of all time, exciting storylines looking to converge and emerge, theories and speculating wildly being thrown about, giddiness (and gross sobbing over Shaw…is that just me?) at what could happen in what promises to be, and I fully believe it will be, the most mind-blowing thirteen episode season ever. And I believe that because even with a hugely serialised arc, the executive producers and writers still managed to hold together a compelling and thrilling story whilst keeping the plot tight. In my opinion, yes, in season four, I thought there were a number of fillers. In those fillers they sometimes contained important cluedrops—but they were minute and could’ve been fitted in elsewhere—which is why I think thirteen episodes might literally kill us off. I think I tweeted that nobody would die on POI in the end…it’d just be the audience left dead!

Thirteen episodes. Thirteen episodes of fast-paced, non-filler, action-packed drama—fraught with reveals, romance, the conclusion (a definite one? Or not?) of this AI war, relationships (not just romantic ones) reaching straining point, and a whole lot of guns (not you, Ms. Shahi, but…yes, also you)—I’m excited. I’m literally bubbling with excitement. I can see a promotional picture and babble on about it. It’s not good for me (but it so is oh my God).

I do want to talk a little bit about Root and Shaw (as previously done). The timing of Person of Interest comes at a height of fear of the ‘Bury Your Gays’ or ‘Lesbian Death’ trope. And I completely understand that. As someone who watched Lexa’s death scene, and heard of others such as Denise from the Walking Dead, or the two girls from the Vampire Diaries—I utterly get that. I get the caution in approaching a show with a same-sex couple because of fear you’ll get your heart broken again. That actually makes me incredibly sad that at this state of television viewing, some viewers cannot approach a show for fear of falling trap to the trope.

img2
Root and Shaw’s undeniable, blossoming romance has been on the cards for a long time–and fans cannot wait to see how it’ll return. For Shahi, it is “absolutely a romantic return”.

I do ask: how many of these concerned fans have actually seen Person of Interest? It is not an accusation, but merely a question. It’s something that I understand, but I also have my heart deeply buried within the Person of Interest fandom. I was so happy when they were jumping for joy at the trailer, at the glimpse of the Root/Shaw romance we were teased with by Lead Troll Sarah Shahi and Shyer Troll Amy Acker and the executive producers as well. And from my standpoint: I don’t think the writers or execs have anything to prove. They have proven that they can write a tight and gripping plot for four seasons; excellent characterisations; non sexualisation of female characters; a lead male with a chronic disability; accurate perceptions of PTSD; very accurate computer science; that women are equal to men and the men treat them as such—with no pat on the back whatsoever (I’m talking especially about Reese here, who is just amazing); the non stigmatisation of Iranian characters, Persian characters; the non stigmatisation of disability in both Root and Finch; the non stigmatisation of mental health disorders for example in Shaw.

This is a ‘ship’ that started with a flipping iron (you could say their chemistry was sizzling hot in this scene but then you’d groan and facepalm). I don’t think Person of Interest does normal, but they jumped at this chemistry and ran away with it; they saw it as a romance and they just did it, without self-congratulation, without calling themselves ‘groundbreaking’ or ‘revolutionary’. They just did it because Acker and Shahi were so magnetic together on-screen and it was unavoidable. The level of chemistry they have has spiralled to insane heights.

And as this last season approaches, I hear a lot of concerned fans—and I will say, for example, from The 100 (though of course not exclusively—I am definitely not here to point fingers), because I have been witness to that as followers on Twitter of both fandoms—regarding the trope. I would never urge you to watch a show and force you to do it—that’s insane and kind of arrogant of me. In my opinion, where The 100 always lacked quality (like, since forever), Person of Interest had it in bucket loads. Not just with the same-sex couple but with everything.

I remember the happiness The 100 fandom exploded with when the kiss was ‘leaked’, and the second kiss was ‘leaked’ (four for you, E4, now leak the finale) and everyone was congratulatory from what I saw—across all fandoms. Because LGBTQ representation is so minor and there really isn’t much to get seriously giddy about—and on an actual TV channel as well—of course everyone was happy. Why not? Even if you weren’t a fan of the show (and to be frank, I wasn’t at this point, anymore…and had already pondered why I was a fan in the first place. I enjoyed the many moral, war, ethics, martial arts discussions spawned, but…I started to think: were they even on the show itself?) you could be happy that a show was getting some aired same-sex love. And of course it came crashing down and it was devastating. And I’ve written and written about my empathy for that, and I still empathise with those hurt—I truly do. Because I still believe that television for some is not just a matter of sitting down weekly for an hour and then going “okay, bye”. It resonates within the heart and soul.

I guess I’m just trying to plead: before you make snap judgements about Person of Interest, or indeed Root and Shaw, perhaps watch the show. The last thing I’d want for the Person of Interest’s fanbase heading into its final season is to be subject to prejudice regarding a show they know nothing about, or indeed the fanbase still are in the dark about—we don’t know how POI will end. We’re crapping ourselves too! But over four quality, quality—insane quality—seasons, I don’t think the writers have anything to prove. Just watching Root and Shaw scenes on YouTube will not give any indicators of the Person of Interest world. You may skip episodes and stuff if you like (I would advise against it) but I just plead—because I’ve seen this capslock giddiness (okay, hands up, this includes me) and excitement surrounding the show and Root/Shaw—that you don’t try to douse the roaring fire that is the fanbase out. I think the POI fanbase know to expect what to expect…if that makes sense.

Subtext whaaaa? These two have been confirmed to be gloriously beyond it. Ask David Slack...
Subtext whaaaa? These two have been confirmed to be gloriously beyond it. Ask David Slack…

It’s healthy, I think, for the soul to be more optimistic than pessimistic. It is also healthy to be more realistic than delusional. One cannot deny that Person of Interest is not prone to an error, but if you find a perfect 10/10 show…let me know. The thing is, for Root and Shaw, is that their return has been hyped and massively played up (especially for Root in the back end of season four) for a long time. Root and Shaw exist beyond just their romance; they exist to serve gigantic plot purposes and are absolutely integral to the plot, but of course there are people who absolutely love this ship to bits. CBS are burning out the show’s run to kind of get rid of it ASAP (I’ll never get CBS…) and please—I find it much nicer and easier to let people be happy rather than drag people down into misery. I find it much easier to just… let people be. Let people celebrate; let people be joyous and excited and inspired. It makes me smile and it makes me happy that others are so genuinely excited. It’s heart-warming. And when the season ends, I will mourn the ending of a fantastic series—of a quality I think I shan’t ever see again, or at least, it’ll take a bloody huge series.

So really all I want to humbly request, is—do you see that tiddly-tot Root/Shaw shipper over there who’s happy that their ‘OTP’ is returning soon? Please just keep it that away. Please just let that smile stay on their face; please let them remain inspired by their art. Please don’t make statements and smackdowns based on past experience (and I know past experience!) with same-sex couples. Whatever happens—please just let them enjoy it in peace. I cannot ask for more. If there is negativity to be had…I ask you merely to wonder is this directed at Root/Shaw or is it from somewhere else? And why must you swerve direction to point it at Root and Shaw? I also ask: would you rather see somebody happy and delighted their Root/Shaw will come home to roost soon, and be excited and anticipated for the season, trusting in the writers they’ve trusted for four whole seasons, to deliver an epic episode… or would you go and tap them on the shoulder and say “excuse me, but ‘bury your gays'”?

It isn’t a criticism at all. I completely understand the awful, awful loss of LGBTQ characters over the past month or so—and that’s completely inexcusable. But when fans are genuinely excited about the return of one of their favourite, favourite relationships (and personally, my favourite ‘ship’ of all time) I plead you to not rain on their parade. It truly is a joyous time for the Person of Interest fanbase. I beg of you: please allow the joyousness.

The hotly anticipated, what looks to be an emotionally-fraught scene in a Shaw-centric episode. Broken tailbones may have gone into the making.
The hotly anticipated, what looks to be an emotionally-fraught scene in a Shaw-centric episode. Broken tailbones may have gone into the making.

I hope this resonates; I hope this allows those POI fans, even if it only is read by a small sect of them, to just enjoy season five in peace—though I fear I have been condescending because I assume you will not have listened to such negativity with much seriousness in the first place. Thank you for your consideracy, and let’s plough on forth for one helluva closing chapter!

To add a quick amendment/ETA: I would say perhaps it is more fun to approach a show with some optimism and excitement, as the fanbase seem to have gone (in capslock…and yes…me too…) with, because I think to watch a show expecting the worst will always make way for gloom. I know, I know, the classic phrase: lower your expectations. But all I can say is, if the fans’ expectations are so high, why bring them down? Is there a reasoning for that? Or are they high at all? Are they simply just excited because the fanbase has literally been starved of new material for a year? Either way, to comment as such to fans without even seeing the show or knowing anything of it, is saddening on the part that fans cannot even watch same-sex couples’ journeys without reassurance of their ending, and also a little bit of a downer. Imagine a random person who doesn’t watch your favourite show goes up to you and says: “well, [X] trope so…your show’s so tropey” (okay, I made that up, I don’t think anyone speaks like that). How would you feel? On your favourite show? It is often sometimes best to watch, perhaps the lesser quality shows with lower expectations—from personal experience, I think I certainly watched some episode of The 100 with no expectations—but all I ask is to give the Person of Interest fanbase a chance to be happy. Their channel has messed with them and been general plonkers. Now they are consistently getting brought down when they should be happy for their new content and it saddens me as much as it saddens me to see people who cannot enjoy f/f couples anymore without death as the number one concern. It’s all I wish to ask. A fun task before Person of Interest airs may be to count the number of times Root and Shaw get shot. That may take you wayside from the ‘stray bullet’ fear (it seems, on POI, the gay actually counteracts the bullet. It’s science). And I only request: if one cannot approach a show with optimism or be happy for the joyous…then perhaps not make the effort to bring them down. Who knows what’ll happen with this show; maybe everyone will die (…that’s legitimately…possible) but consistently—consistently—Person of Interest has offered hope. And who’s to say POI cannot be the, er, lost bottle of Chanel among the manure? Who’s to assume anything before it’s even aired its premiere episode?

A poetic prayer for a hero, a poem for Nicola Choi by Tracy Diane Miller

Tracy is by every definition a hero … peaceful, patient, calm, rational and always so supportive …i don’t know if I am a hero. I am capable of making rash comments and still so–I think because I am young–but that is no excuse. I have so much to learn… and in meeting Tracy (and Stacy!) I have learned so much about being a better person, about keeping your head up, high and professional, about being above the unprofessional and bigoted and bullies. To stand up for what I believe in…that minority voices shouldn’t be silenced, that minority lives matter just much as the next person and that should be emphasised in our society- that is nowhere near as progressive as it thinks it is. Thank you Tracy!

lifeisawalkingshadow

A poetic prayer for a hero, a poem for Nicola Choi by Tracy Diane Miller

As children we learn of heroes
Who fight the good fight
Endowed with special powers
To answer the call both day and night

As we grow older
We realize heroes live among us everyday
At great sacrifice to their own personal well-being
They battle injustice to keep it away

I have met many heroes
My mother was my first
Without her I would be nothing
For my love of learning she fostered my thirst

Then there is Nicola
She hasn’t been in my life for very long
Her voice is inspirational
Her passion for others remains so strong

Nicola has no special powers
She has no xray vision and she cannot fly
But she is the definition of a hero
For she gives her heart to others is why

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I Am Honestly Speechless.

Let’s talk mortality/morbidity rates from a non-idiotic POV, aye?

Firstly, one must ponder what someone defines death as. Car accident? Cancer? Cardiovascular fatality? You may say ‘HIV/AIDS!’ and before you even get to the forward-slash mark, Imma stop you there and tell you now that most people live with good lives, at a low viral count—thus not progressing onto AIDS—happily. Yes, especially in the eighties’ (where certain morals may still be stuck) the death in the gay community due to AIDS was high. By the end of this decade, WHO reported at least 400,000 AIDS cases worldwide, from 145 different countries.

Now that’s a high death count, but you have to also take into consideration:

  • What AIDS, medically, is
  • The state of medical care in the eighties and the lack of biologics
  • Other contributors to this: needle-stick users, for example

In summary—people were (rightly) starting to panic about this oncoming epidemic. The LGBTQ community were terrified. In a more touching, personal account of these experiences it was revealed that whilst a lot of people within this community were not affected—there is a snippet with a lesbian woman there—people didn’t just abandon gay sufferers, whereas on the converse, gay sufferers also found that there were people who wouldn’t even kiss them on the cheek. Information about transmission and avoidance was sparse, because nobody knew what the hell this awful thing was. Some believed it to be pneumonia; some believed it to be some kind of rare cancer; others just thought it was a disease ‘from the gays’. It’s horrifying, the ignorance displayed especially during this decade—yet it’s almost made up for it by the sheer kindness shown.

Reports from the same article remember the kindness of other citizens as AIDS sufferers unavoidably sunk to their deaths. For a more dramatised version (and a decent film—and I’m not big on musicals, actually) you might want to watch (or have seen) ‘Rent’.

I’m not talking miracle cures. There just weren’t any. I’m talking about the kindness of people—lots of them women—in bringing these suffers food they could stomach. Making sure to look after their symptoms with any cough medicines, blankets, items for sweats and fevers; I’m also talking about the more unpleasant tasks like cleaning up after vomit and self-defecation. Some today may see AIDS as a four-letter acronym that is a near impossibility now, but back then, it was very real, very scary and very unknown. It did not only touch the lives of the gay community, but the drug-using community—and all their families and friends too. And something common shared between them? The huge, disgusting stigmatisation driven directly at them.

This was hugely prevalent, and of course I wasn’t even alive during that time—I don’t know what it was like. It’s also not the focus of this little piece—but if you’re interested in researching about this, I’d for once not recommend scientific articles, but more personal accounts—such as this reddit thread from responders who lived through the HIV/AIDS terror.

 

LGBTQ DEATHS

I’d firstly like to make a point of being sensitive about this topic. My last wish would be to offend any who have lost LGBTQ friends or are feeling this subject sitting heavy on their shoulders. I’m not a health practitioner—yet—but all I can offer are condolences, and also to advise you to stop reading and perhaps block the crap out of some people on Twitter if you’re following them.

I want to say what I feel like is a really bloody difficult concept for people to grasp: that people within the LGBTQ community are humans. They are human just like everyone else on this planet (this includes the bigoted idiots, unfortunately—sorry). We are, scientifically, junk DNA with a small proportion making up our individuality. If you cannot treat people openly, equally and respectfully for simply who they are—whether that is because they are in this community, or because of their race, their religion…then quite frankly that is disgraceful. You are not doing humanity in a service. You are, in fact, dividing humanity into unnecessary sects and spreading pointless hate when you could, I don’t know, take a walk or go for a jog or see some sunlight.

When it comes to LGBTQ deaths—like any other death rate—statistics must be transparent in order for people to make (ignorant) statements about it. I don’t know where this myth of ‘there’s high rates among LGBTQ’ folk came from—because the LGBTQ community are not massive. That’s not to say they don’t make up huge numbers, but they are—er—don’t shoot me, but they are a minority (hey at least I didn’t say “for a reason”, leave me alone).

Now if we’re talking suicides—and I’m going to assume nobody made statements about ‘LGBTQ folk are more likely to get hit by a car because everyone got a tramp-stamp saying they were a minority for a reason and those Fiat Pandas went mental and ran them all over’—then yes, among the LGBTQ community—suicide rates or suicide ideation can be high. I wish to reiterate that this is within the community. A community that is a minority. This may come in later when—okay, I’m just going to say it now—LGBTQ death rates aren’t bloody high. Over 17 million people die each year due to a cardiovascular disease. Some may be from the LGBTQ community; in my experience they are mostly not. CVDs are a slow and creeping danger—especially with diabetes on the rise.

If we briefly get back on to the topic of suicide—there’s a wide under-reporting that makes even WHO unsure (their latest stat collection was back in 2012) and that’s because of stigma, religion, laws…all sorts—as Bertolote & Fleischmann find out here in their 2002 paper.

Perhaps one of the biggest reviews of the literature on this topic is the Figueiredo and Abreu (2015) paper and I have quoted this one already before. The rationale is because these two researchers noticed that among the community, co-morbidities such as depression and panic disorders were prevalent too. With some digging, they found this:

There is evidence of elevated rates of reported suicide attempts in LGBT compared to heterosexual adolescents and adults, worldwide. Individuals reporting a bisexual orientation had an increased risk of suicide attempts and ideation compared with their homosexual and heterosexual peers. Mental disorders do not appear to entirely explain elevated rates of suicide attempts in these individuals. Social stigma, prejudice and discrimination associated with this individual are important factors.

Before anyone makes misinformed and quite frankly insensitive comments on the topic, perhaps take—literally—a few seconds to type in ‘LGBT’ and ‘deaths’ in the search bar of JSTOR, ScienceDirect, ncbi—or any other reputable journal collation and read. Inform yourselves. I’m not saying this generally because I know there are people out there who have done so, and I know there are people out there who are loving, kind and generous—and non-ignorant.

LGBTQ deaths (I’m just going to assume it was meant as suicide, because that makes the idiotic comment…somehow less idiotic. I can’t believe I’m helping this) are not just part of life—they can be avoidable, as the HIV/AIDS epidemic showed us in the eighties. With the still rampant stigmatisation of gay individuals, medically that area of focus was swamped with research and the development of life-saving drugs—some so old that they are still in use today for their efficacy. Today, women with HIV can be treated to a point where their viral count becomes so low that they can give birth to their child without vertical transmission of the disease i.e. the child does not have HIV. HIV patients get such effective treatment that quite rarely they progress onto AIDS, and instead live a happy and fulfilling life.

I think most tellingly, what has told us of the action we can take towards LGBTQ suicide rates—if we cared—is the inspiring fundraiser set up by those oh-so-meddly minority groups. Informed websites such as We Deserved Better, LGBT Fans Deserve Better and outreach onto platforms like twitter via @LGBTFans is important and necessary. I’d like to point you towards the Testimonials page of the LGBT Fans Deserve Better website because if that isn’t further proof that this project and this fundraiser has united this community and given everyone a helping hand, allowed people to meet others they hadn’t before—then what is? I can say from a personal level I never thought I’d chat to the start-up of this fundraiser, ‘G.T’, but G.T. is so inspiring and positive that she makes me hope for a brighter future. The mission statement exhibited by both websites is so positive and wonderful that I hope others take heed. This is not a fundraiser made of spite; this is a fundraiser made of a spiteful scenario and the community capitalised on that by responding with something beautiful. Anger will not get you anywhere; positivity and intelligence will get you everywhere. By that, I mean the attention of esteemed critic Ms. Mo Ryan, the willingness to listen and understand by the lovely and admirably open Mr. Ryan McGee and even the massive Washington Post.

Again, some may claim “hey yeah but this lesbian was so mean to me!” and I’m just thinking—please…stop. Stop making generalisations based off a minority within a minority community (so many jokes to be had here—I’m gonna keep the tone serious). I’d advise you to read Ms. Mo Ryan’s article closely again (if you haven’t read it fifty billion times already because it is awesome). Do you realise how hurtful it is when privileged people make sweeping generalisations of an already marginalised group just because of who they are? Against hard evidence that a.) they have raised an insane amount of money for charity and b.) have inspired fandoms past and present to join and support; c.) hit the straight community hard and let them take a step back, and come back into the fray with determination to learn and understand.

Across all humanity we are hit with mental disorders such as depression or anxiety. The NHS actually did some research and found that one person out of every four are affected as such, at some point in their lifetime. Perhaps this is higher in the LGBTQ community—but why? Well, I ask you—are many groups like the LGBTQ community targeted for prejudice, discrimination, stigma, hate and death threats (I believe many have so called ‘receipts’ for this) as the others? My solid answer would be no. Are people with different ethnicities other than Caucasian and perhaps privileged ever shunted to one side and silenced because, again, of who they are? I can definitely say that’s a solid yes.

The Trevor Project is immensely important because this is a charity that focuses on saving LGBTQ lives—by protecting those vulnerable people from suicide or suicidal ideation. Without the Trevor Project, there are not that many of such scale. There are support hotlines (if you’re in the UK—the Samaritans is excellent; worldwide, online chatrooms such as 7 Cups of Tea may be useful too) but this is where the money from the aforementioned fundraiser is going to. I cannot fathom why anybody would actually be against that idea because they are taking action to save lives. In my book, that’s a very honourable approach. If perhaps you do not believe in such ideals…I’m speechless.

And if anybody thinks that such LGBTQ suicides (again I refuse to just say ‘deaths’ because it’s so stupid) are just part of life and that sucks for them…well…maybe look at the contributory factors to suicide? Though unrelated to LGBTQ deaths, Arvind in 2008 from the Oxford University Press found that is was highly unlikely for a suicide to be attributed to a single anomaly. I think from personal experience I can support that statement. There’ll usually be 3-4 factors whirling around before somebody tragically tries to (and sometimes succeeds) in committing. But if you look at some of the stronger factors that clue into LGBTQ suicides, these include, as aforementioned: stigmatisation, bullying, hate, prejudice and discrimination. And no, these do not come from within the LGBTQ community (why would they? That’s—oh God, that’s so ridiculous)—they come externally. From the non-minority groups who have also stigmatised and hated on the gay community during the HIV/AIDS epidemic; some still do. This is not to say that all white, straight people do this: absolutely not. I wouldn’t have the audacity to make such a generalisation—in the same way that I would not have the audacity (or idiocy) to make a generalisation of one member of a minority group’s idiocy representing the entirety of the community. It has to go both ways, and if people cared about human lives—if people could just see beyond labels and see that the LGBTQ community as a whole are made up of humans—then would that not change how you see the LGBTQ community? Rather than generalising them all as hare-brained losers?

If you had the opportunity to make a change in such statistics, would you? Because from my stance, discrimination, stigmatisation, hate…they aren’t factors that are simply ‘there’. They aren’t factors inherited and thus unavoidable. They are factors that can be stopped, and changed. If you took ‘bullying’ as an example—perhaps teenaged lesbian girls would not come running into my Direct Messages, crying, because they had been bullied and called awful names—if you didn’t bully these vulnerable members of the community, would that not make a change? Does this make any sense?

For once, change can be made to a crappy reality. For once, people can do something about it. I have no doubt the fundraiser plus its testimonials and comments have saved lives; it has certainly saved mine, on many occasions. I have no doubt that the whopping amount of money the Trevor Project will receive from this will literally save lives—as such is their charity aims to do. But if you sit back with a blasé attitude of ‘yeah well, LGBTQ deaths happen…and they suck’ that’s lazy and that’s uncaring. If you cared at all about humanity—about the sheer talent that has come and is yet to come from this community—about their humour and kindness (I could be making a generalisation—but this is all I’ve encountered from that community—I cannot endorse or condone hateful comments made within the community, of course, that’s despicable—but again: minority of a minority), and if you had half a brain cell you would realise that suicide or death is not something to be so nonchalant about. That if you researched into the factors attributing to LGBTQ suicides…you’d realise that most of them are avoidable and can be saved, if the community are just shown some kindness, love and respect.

I think humanity in general is quite capable of such things—so why can’t they offer the same support to the LGBTQ community like that? Because of a few bad eggs? Would you rather spend your time making huge, unfair, sweeping generalisations of some comments…or would you try and be a bit more tolerant and sensitive?

I know which I’d choose.