War, Morals, Ethics and Ramifications.

 

This is honestly provoked by me getting explosively agitated on a stuffy Manchester bus ride back (will you believe people have sunburned in Manchester already over the weekend? As in—pink lobster levels?) and the exclusion criteria to this post…oh, for goodness’ sake, you know who you are.

NB: I suffered through whole episodes of ‘The 100’ to understand Luna’s character, motivations, background and moral/ethical stance to make this goddamn post—and I think that either requires a.) a liver pump; b.) hospitalisation or c.) someone needs to set up a fundraiser for me because I think it’s going to cause prolonged mortal damage to my brain. “Stop being so dramatic, Nico” you may whine; then good madam or sir, I will counteract you with “I sat through them in succession and then ran out of beer and munchies.”

Firstly, I want to note that whoever the actress for Luna is—I commend you and this is purely character-based, not at the actress. Secondly, okay—I started off a little light-naturedly but if you aren’t interested in the history of warfare, morality or ethics, that is completely understandable and this may not be the essay-of-sorts for you.

As I stated quite blindly in my previous post, pacifism does not equal commandership, thus rending Luna very unsuitable for the seat (I am still ignoring Ontari, and that ‘plot’). Upon watching (I ran out of Bud at about twenty minutes of the first episode, so please bear my frustrations) the episodes, I cannot stand by that stance firmer. From an utterly impartial standpoint, and I think I can claim this because I wish to approach this as an ethics write-up, or an analysis of two very polar opposites. I don’t want to mix in character favouritism into what should be quite a fact-based essay. I physically cannot bear the thought of rewinding those videos and making gifs, so this will be a giant wall of text—an essay of sorts.

LUNA AS THE COMMANDER

Here are the facts I have about Luna:

  • She is a recluse. She lives on an oil rig, far away from the roaring troubles of the earth and Polis.
  • She is the last Nightblood apart from Ontari, which makes her suitable for this…chip.
  • Did Lincoln just go “see ya later, Luna!” and leave this goddamn massive oil-rig to become Trikru or what? How on earth did he—did he swim?
  • She is labelled (self-labelled? Okay, I couldn’t remember at this point) a pacifist—which is true. She states at some point that she did not want any more killing.
  • She is good with children and teaching; there was a brief scene of her interacting with the kids and teaching them about the fishing nets. She seems patient and willing to impart her knowledge to those.
  • She is selective in those she chooses to protect. Everyone on her oil-rig seems to be silently approved by her; thus she is well-loved and seemingly popular. Yet to strangers, she is initially (and sustains it, I think…I can’t remember…) hostile—she is not kind to Clarke, Octavia and whoever else went.
  • She’s paranoid. This is evident in the way they have to light a signal just to get Luna’s attention. The fact that she then sends these huge bulky Grounders to greet Clarke & co, and then sedates them to the point of unconsciousness so nobody knows how they got to that oil-rig (I don’t know if this is a mystery; if they got there by drones or if the writers just don’t know…) except for her trusted warriors.

As I’ve said before, I’ve already explained why I don’t think pacifism is fit for leadership. I think anybody with common sense, looking upon the messy world of ‘The 100’, would already have known that regardless. Pacifism does not, by definition, mean that you are calling for peace. Pacifism means that you already stand by ideals in which you do not wish to engage in violence. One thing that will befuddle me even more (though I really need to stop getting irritated by this show—I’ll be on anti-hypertensives soon…I’m 22) is the fact that Luna didn’t adopt this very strong ethical standpoint when she had to kill her brother during the Conclave. I think there’s a line, actually, that says she was ‘forced’ to kill her brother. What is this? Did somebody put a gun to her head and say “if you don’t spear your brother through the chest* we will kill both of you”?

*Of course, there was no magical seaweed available at the time to cure such spear-to-the-chest injuries.

Another thing: if this Grounder tradition is literally killing off all Nightbloods apart from one (in which Clarke, I believe, in the narrative, has already ridiculed) then why did she kill her own brother? I don’t presume that someone goes from warrior to utter pacifist with one kill, despite it being Luna’s brother. If she knew Lexa was facing her in the second round in advance, did she not know her brother would face her? Could they not have run away together? Could there not have been a spark in Luna’s brain that went: “hey, let’s run away together and become pacif—nope, I’ll just kill you first and then I’m going to declare pacifism”.

The three pillars of being ‘heda’: wisdom, compassion and strength. I think Luna may be missing the first.

Well, Lexa and Ontari are subjecting these innocent Nightbloods to Battle Royale, and if you installed Luna as the commander, this would never have happened. I would first like to point out that Luna engaged in this ritual. The Nightblood Hunger Games (which is such a stupid biological principle) is not a tradition designed by Lexa nor Ontari. It is a tradition that they have grown up with. As cultures and traditions evolve, so do rituals—and this is one of them. It may seem savage to us, as we mostly sit behind our computer screens in relative peace, free of such horrors—but that’s how they survived. The belief that the strongest or indeed the most proficient in battle is not something that is historically invalid. If you look at the Romans and their gladiators, I would argue that that’s barbarianism—but I cannot invalidate their absolute genius in the towns they built, the lands they conquered, the technologies they invented that were hundreds of years beyond their own. I will rant at you about under-floor Roman heating for an entire fifty pages, but I think you’ll all ditch me. In my opinion, and here is where subjectivity comes into play I guess, the Roman Empire was quite possibly the greatest there has ever been, in existence. It was wondrous. It gave us inventions and philosophers and stories and physicians and it was bloody and vicious and absolutely fascinating.

There is a point to my seemingly off-topic rambling. In every culture that is built from rubble, there will always be something that is seen as ‘savage’ or ‘barbarian’ by the onlooker. It’s all about perspective. If I looked at the Grounder traditions of the Nightblood ritual, I would think it savage and stupid; if I looked at their reincarnation beliefs, I simply do not agree; if I looked at their trial by a thousand cuts or whatever, I would also think it’s very brutal. But that’s me, sitting at a cushy chair, at university, as a twenty-two year old who’s never faced the apocalypse. I have never had to adapt to a society that has already fallen around me. So who am I to judge the years of spiritualism and beliefs the Grounders have built for themselves? Most specifically: the Nightblood ritual. Yes, it’s genetically idiotic. But most importantly, Lexa nor Ontari created this ritual. It was an established tradition—and one that Luna took part in. If Luna assumed commandership, pacifism does not dictate whether she would rid of this ritual or not—because it’s Grounder tradition. Just look at the uproar Lexa incited with ‘blood must not have blood’. If Luna eradicated this ritual, they’d have to find a new Nightblood ruddy quick.

If Luna had been the commander, there would’ve been no Grounders sent to attack the dropship, no Grounders at war at Mount Weather, etc. I’m going to go by the show’s timeline(?) here and assume that Luna would’ve been installed instead of Lexa. I think I’ve already argued this point in my previous post. Lexa assumed commandership in the midst of a civil war. I imagine that would be a pacifist’s worst nightmare. Civil wars rip through societies like a hurricane tears through towns and cities; it’s tragic, destructive and it does not spare the innocent. At this point I wish to state that I don’t believe Lexa is a pacifist; I do believe she’s a peacemaker and I believe she strives for peace, but that doesn’t make her a pacifist. For Luna’s case, I ask: how, in abiding to strict pacifist principles as people seem so fond of doing—do you solve a problem like Maria a civil war? Think of the size of the twelve clans here. Think of the Ice Nation. Think of Costia’s decapitated head. Of Nia. I don’t think some pacifist summits at The 100’s version of the G8 with some kumbaya over the fire and grilled fish will solve a civil war.

Wars (especially not this brutal-sounding civil war) are not won by actively preaching pacifist ideals. You can state you are a pacifist with such ideals—but if you engage in war you are, by all means and facts, not engaging in pacifist ideals. If you blow up a village to save fifty billion lives elsewhere, that’s cool for you, but you still killed people—and thus you are not a pacifist. To be frank—I don’t think I can be any more frank—you cannot win wars without engaging in them. You cannot achieve peace—and I have already said this—without, paradoxically, war. Negotiations can be made, yes, and I do believe that in the process of uniting twelve clans under a coalition, Lexa made such negotiations—rather than seizing every chunk of territory by besieging them. But I believe there’s a tweet from Jason Rothenberg somewhere in the depths of his enthralling social media that states that the civil wars were bloody. And on this point, I would have to agree.

Being a pacifist and having such ideals does not make you a good person. It simply means you do not wish to kill anyone. With Luna’s clear lack of foresight (or the show’s just dumb—I actually think it may be the latter) she is not fight for commandership. I have no comment re: wisdom. She has shown strength. She has shown compassion…selectively, to the people she trusts and loves. And that’s another problem: if you’re going to set out for peace, you are surely looking to do what Lexa did: propose a coalition. How do you propose a coalition if you are not open-minded enough to trust? To take those risks, like Lexa took with the Skaikru? Some paid off—Clarke was a brilliant ally to have; some didn’t—Pike is an absolute monster. But seeing the skitterishness and sheer apprehension and immediate distrust Luna placed Clarke & co under, I’m not entirely convinced that she is charismatic enough to hold negotiations and wind up with a coalition. I’m not at all convinced that she has the foresight to see that the coalition does not just mean twelve-clan-wide peace; it also means extended growth of the society, open trade routes and pooled resources among many others. A ‘pacifist’ is a very easy word to throw around, and a very easy word to believe in that makes you think “darn, that pacifist is a good person!” but it’s not. It’s a moral and ethical standpoint. And in The 100 world, pacifism will eat you up alive.

 

ONTARI AS THE COMMANDER

Dude, this girl took the chip. She’s hideously insecure and she massacred a bunch of sleeping, child Nightbloods. Next.

 

LEXA AS THE COMMANDER

Here are the facts we know about Lexa:

  • She was trained to be a warrior since she was two years old
  • Shortly after establishing herself as the commander, she forged a coalition across all twelve clans—even after the Ice Queen cut off her love’s head
  • She’s not a pacifist—she’s a skilled warrior, unafraid to fight on the front lines.
  • Though Clarke had killed 300 of her Grounders, Lexa was willing to listen to her negotiations
  • She was due to face Luna in the second round of the Conclave, in which Luna clearly thought she would’ve won, as she stated something like “I would’ve won” (okay, can you tell I don’t pay much attention?)
  • Tropetropetropetropetropetropetropetropetrope
  • She is well-loved by her people; it’s evident in the reception she gets from the single combat scene in episode four.
  • She’s a good teacher: she regularly teaches her Nightbloods, and reminds them they are all ‘worthy’ of their Nightblood status. She reinforces the three pillars of being ‘heda’: wisdom, compassion and strength. She regularly trains in combat with them in preparation for the ritual.
  • She’s highly spiritual, and believes in the whole reincarnation stuff.
  • She’s dead (hence this whole BS ‘plot’ I suppose).

Going by what I’ve seen on the show, I will put it here now: Lexa was simply the better candidate for ‘heda’. She was not a pacifist like Luna, but that’s because she was intelligent enough to know that if you’re going to sit by pacifist ideals from the beginning of your reign, you will die at the beginning of your reign. Lexa was a fighter: she accepted responsibility and burden, instead of running away from it like Luna did. This responsibility was her people. Her people did not stretch out to just her army: they stretched out to every civilian under the twelve-clan coalition—which she forged, at a very personal cost.

Altruism, simplistically, is the standpoint where you put the needs of others—or perhaps the betterment of others—ahead of your own. Utilitarianism is often associated with the ‘end justifies the means’—as in, if you sacrifice [X] now, it will pay off later because you will have reached your ‘means’. This was most notably demonstrated in the Tondc missile episode, in which Lexa had moments to decide between sacrificing 250 people in the village or keeping Bellamy alive. In saving the 250 people, it would’ve been the morally right thing to do: life-saving’s always a good check in my book. But it would’ve alerted the missile-spotter from Mount Weather, and Mount Weather would realise that Lexa knew about the missile about to hit Tondc (why else would you randomly evacuate a village to a distance as far as possible, when you were about to hold a summit there?) and report this back to Mount Weather. Mount Weather would’ve increased and squeezed the search for Bellamy until someone ratted him out or discovered him, thus devaluing his job as the inside-man. The acid fog would never have been turned off at the Grounders would have been back at step one: unable to breach the border of the acid fog’s reach.

This is the scenario Clarke fought so ferociously for in that episode. Still a little fresh-faced in terms of war, and perhaps a nice set-up for a bit of an egalitarian, somewhat deontological clash (that is—every step towards the means must be moral and just) versus Lexa’s values. Yet Lexa had the foresight to know what this meant, and know of the consequences. In the end, she was right. Bellamy remained hidden and alive because of her decision, and he in turn later deactivates the acid fog.

But the betrayal was so cruel and [yadayada]. I absolutely, 100% agree with you. The betrayal Lexa carried out in episode fifteen was cold and sudden—like a stray bullet from nowhere (sorry). So yes, I agree—on the surface.

If we did a little digging and thought of why Lexa betrayed Clarke, that’s where things get a little messier. Clarke’s Skaikru were not officially initiated into the coalition until season three; up until the end of season two, the coalition consisted of twelve clans, and the Skaikru were saved from impending doom and wipeout due to Clarke’s negotiations with Lexa and Finn willingly giving himself up to the Grounders to face punishment for the massacre he carried out. I’ll refer back to what I said earlier: Lexa is somewhat, if not mostly, an altruist—she repeatedly sacrifices her own chance at happiness for the sake of her people’s, and that is a duty she carries not with some teen angst, but with honour. If you took fan favouritism out of the picture and anonymised everything…if you were a commander of an thousands-strong army, would you sacrifice their lives, upon seeing Mount Weather’s range of guns and knowing they have missiles pointed at your villages, possibly causing the loss of hundreds of more lives—for the sake of 40-something Skaikru stuck inside the Mountain, but mostly, the woman you fell in love with?

A weaker being would say yes. A weaker being would fight with Clarke and stand her ground, watching as her grounder army would undoubtedly storm the Mountain—but at what cost? The Mountain Men had a lot of guns (some weapons expert is going to have to explain this part) and the grounders would’ve suffered huge losses. From Lexa’s perspective, that is already too much. In season three, after the 300-grounder genocide (don’t…even…) a quote sticks in mind, and it comes from one of the young Nightbloods—that the commander feels every death of her people. It’s evident from the look on Lexa’s face in 3×05 (I wonder if the murderers can feel the death of all 300…) Just from hypothetically standing her ground and fighting the Mountain Men, Lexa would’ve been hit with huge losses. Moving farther from that, each grounder would’ve had circles of close friends, families, lovers—how would it affect them? What about the missiles pointed at the village? What about the hundreds of lives lost there, if Lexa stood by Clarke?

As really shown to us in the Tondc episode, Lexa is somewhat of a utilitarian. And so she would’ve thought of these scenarios. She would’ve thought of the skewed numbers; the families and friends; the villages; the fact that once the grounders realised they’d suffered such substantial losses for a bunch of Sky people who weren’t even part of the coalition, they’d rebel. It’s uproarious to think Lexa would even have to consider that choice, of standing by Clarke—because in a war scenario, it doesn’t make sense. Even in season three, Nia managed to stage an entire coup against Lexa because of ‘wanheda’. In season three, the clans are uncertain and mistrusting of introducing Skaikru as the thirteenth clan.

To go back to Grounder tradition, that’s just how things are! Strength is a commodity—it’s proven in the belief that if you kill the wanheda, you assume her power (okay, why haven’t there been ten billion assassination attempts on Lexa’s life already? Aside from Titus’). To stand by her ~true love’s side~ at the Mountain would’ve been weakness. And Lincoln had already told Kane that a commander could be deposed if seen exhibiting such.

Lexa’s such a tyrant—she literally took all the clans and [dalskdjksf]. Firstly, I would most wholeheartedly disagree with you and advise you look up what a tyrant actually means. A tyrant would be Pike. A tyrant would be Ontari (a shit one, but a tyrant); a tyrant would be Nia. Lexa, who herself installed the ‘vote of no confidence’ as established in 3×04, installed democracy herself. I don’t know about you but that does not sound like tyranny to me. Lexa’s advised by Titus; she liaised with clan leaders to form the coalition; she literally fell in love with the girl who dropped out the sky, set 300 of her grounders on fire, had a part in the other 250 killed, and still invited her to join the coalition formally.

Lexa kept Clarke a prisoner at Polis. Now I don’t wish to expand on this too much because it takes away the impartiality of this piece (I suppose there was never any in the first place, seeing as this show is a dump) but first of all, Clarke’s plushy room in Polis is way bigger than any bedroom I’d ever hope to sleep in. It’s bigger than hers at Arkadia. I also don’t see any chains or cages or restrictions in sight. I also saw an episode called ‘Thirteen’ in which Lexa literally—literally, verbally—acknowledged that Clarke had rebuffed her offer of staying in Polis to go back to her people, and accepted (literally!!!!!!!!!!!) this. Disappointed, she still understood, and she was willing to let Clarke go. Jeez, Guantanamo Bay’s changed a lot….

Lexa’s not a pacifist—so [is it that she’s not a better person? I haven’t even…] As stated above, being a pacifist does not make you a good person. What even does? It’s a very subjective topic and one for another discussion another time (like, holy cripes, I have ranted). I won’t reinforce the points I’ve already made: that pacifism wouldn’t have created the coalition/won the civil war; that pacifism is not possible in the position of leadership. One thing I didn’t touch on was the ability of Lexa’s to make peace. It was clear from the creation of the coalition that her end-goal was to strive for a future that was peaceful. Her speech in episode [whatever one Emerson was in] was this:

Silence! The crimes of the Mountain cannot be answered by one man. Wanheda knows this. Her actions show us a promise for a new future. A world in which violence does not always answer violence. A world in which our children can flourish. Without the shadow of death. This prisoner is banished from my land. He will live but he will live with the ghosts of those he has lost. Haunted until the end of his days by the knowledge that he is the last of his kind.

I’m kind of dumbfounded reading that speech myself because if people cannot grasp that Lexa was obviously aiming to revolutionise Grounder society as we knew it, in a positive and difficult way in order to achieve some sort of peace—then I really cannot reason with that.

Luna is the true ‘blood must not have blood’; she’s a pacifist—oh for goodness’ sake.

This isn’t as much an opinion piece as it is a piece explaining why certain ethical principles do not fit the ideal jigsaw of The 100 world, and why pacifism as a word cannot be thrown around to be meant as ‘good’. If I erased all names, would you rather—I’m literally shunting Ontari out of this—someone who ran away from grounder tradition to live on an oil rig, who selectively chooses who to favour, who is paranoid and who refuses to accept the responsibility and burden that is becoming the commander…or would you rather someone who was intelligent enough to make egalitarian decisions in the midst of a war (I’d like to make a point that simply being a pacifist doesn’t just end the war that surrounds you, jeez, what kind of City of Light world are you in?) for the altruistic belief in the betterment of her people?

“Maybe there are no good guys”—isn’t that a phrase ‘The 100’ likes to use a lot? So why is Lorde Luna the purest of the pure because she’s a pacifist? Because she holds one ethical stance? Is that honestly what makes a good person? A good commander? (Well, it still ranks her above Ontari, but I’m going to get profane here if we discuss Ontari).

I can’t even find an emoji that describes the look on my face right now.

Pacifism Does Not Equal Commandership…Sorry, ‘Luna’.

Disclaimer: I can’t say I know much about The 100, considering I haven’t watched it: all I know are facts that a.) Luna can fight/take down people quite impressively; b.) she is a pacifist; c.) she ran away from the Conclave after killing her brother in the first round and was due to face Lexa in the next; d.) there seems to be some belief that because Luna is all pacifism this and that, that she would’ve been a better Commander; e.) that Luna would’ve bettered Lexa in the second round of the Conclave anyway.

I can’t say much for the Conclave stuff, because I don’t know how Luna and Lexa’s respective battle training was at that point. Perhaps, at that point, Luna was indeed the more impressive combatant than Lexa. Looking at Lexa’s single combat scene with Prince (now King) Roan (Zach McGowan) in episode four, I find that incredibly hard to believe. Such skill and precision takes absolute years to master. Perhaps Lexa had not blossomed into the skilful, intelligent fighter that she proved herself to be in that combat scene—so perhaps Luna could’ve taken her—but this is an absolutely unfounded claim, and quite a cocky one I find—though cockiness is not a trait I have seen associated with Luna.

What I find more ponderous is the idea that a pacifist would make a good Commander, or a better Commander than Lexa. In fact, if I were to shove aside all politeness, I find it quite frankly laughable.

From what I understand, Luna ran away from the Conclave. Oh, she might have her reasons and she might claim she would’ve bettered Lexa or whatever, but she ran away into obscurity vowing to never kill again (after, y’know, killing her brother—this show does not make sense to me). Just that act alone renders her one-hundred percent unsuitable for the role of the Commander. As one of the Nightbloods says in their sessions with Lexa, to be the Commander is to bear the pain of their people. Luna, in running away from the Conclave and thus the responsibility of commandership puts her in prime position of number one in unsuitability for the position. If you cannot take pride in altruistically putting your happiness, your life ahead of your people’s—then you’re simply not heda. Lexa, on the other hand, did shoulder that burden. It was a heavy burden that I’m sure her heart screamed for her to go against—but she was selfless enough to take it. Luna wasn’t. And on this occasion, I have to agree with Titus: she was a coward.

I don’t know exactly how fans think commandership works, but being a pacifist when the twelve clans are at war isn’t exactly the best thing to be. Peace cannot be achieved by sitting around in a circle singing kumbaya whilst your husband fishes some sea bass for you on an oil rig. Peace, paradoxically, is achieved by war. It’s achieved by killing and ransacking and bloodshed; it’s achieved by forcing the enemy into submission, either by blood or by force.

Somehow, Lexa wrangled a coalition out of that. It is not her pacifism that makes her a great commander. Indeed, in the dark (nonsensical) world of The 100, I really don’t think you can be a pacifist as well as being the commander. But you can certainly utilise your position, as clans fear and respect you—to look ahead for brighter futures, greener pastures. Lexa was a peace-seeking revolutionary; she tried, especially in episodes five and six, to change the Grounder beliefs of ‘blood must have blood’ to ‘blood must not have blood’. She made impassioned, political speeches to the Grounders surveying her that this would be the only way their children could flourish, the only way their world and their society could flourish too.

And she’s right. It was a damn bloody road to get to a coalition, but install the right person in power (I’m ignoring you, Ontari) they can use their position to try and persuade others into their way of thinking. In Lexa’s case, it was a peace-seeking, unification way of thinking—and one many rebelled against. That’s predictable, not savagery: these Grounders have known war and hostility their entire lives. To have a young commander step up and declare such principles is a swift and dramatic change—and change is scary. To say Lexa isn’t a pacifist would be accurate. To say that she is a peacemaker would also be accurate. To say that Lexa perhaps sought pacifism as her endgoal as the commander? I would like to think that’s what she was trying to achieve with the coalition.

I guess what I am trying to say is that any argument of Lexa being any less capable of a commander than Luna is actually, I’m sorry, laughable. Luna ran away as soon as the weight of responsibility became too much; she isolated herself far, far away. She might be a pacifist but pacifism does not win you wars. It just means you don’t like killing. And unfortunately, in the midst of a bloodied twelve-clan war, the commander they needed was not a pacifist. They needed a revolutionary.

The Importance of Minorities: It’s In the Name

MinorMn

They’re a minority for a reason.

This is a phrase I’ve heard time and time again, flung between fandoms and Twitter handles and Tumblr users in disdain; it’s a phrase that has sickened hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people (yes, there are people behind these computer screens) which makes me believe that this isn’t a game of Chinese Whispers. Somebody had the idiocy to utter those words. At first, I was cynical somebody could even say something as audacious and inconsiderate as that. Surely even if there is a bit of a problem with the ‘human decency’ side of someone’s brain, a phrase as offensive and ignorant as that cannot pass from brain to mouth. And yet it has, because the exact phrase has been uttered over and over, with understandably disgusted and appalled reactions to the phrase—for good reason!

I’m a minority. I am a minority in more than one sense, and I like to think that I matter to people in some way or another. Talking in terms of media, I am still a minority. My ethnicity is hugely underrepresented, as is my sexuality—and when ‘represented’, it’s often badly so or used for comic relief. What I think people have misconstrued, lately, is that minority does not equal LGBTQ. Minorities include men and women of color (that’s not just black men and women, but Hispanic, Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese, Indian…the list is endless), individuals with disabilities (mental and physical disorders), individuals with varying religious beliefs, and individuals who do not fit the Hollywood frame of skinny, long-legged and blonde.

You may ask: why do you care about minorities so much? They’re called ‘minorities’ because they’re in the minority, so why are people making such a huge fuss about them?

Commander Lexa--arguably the spark of this revolt. A great character cheated out of a great exit, and minorities finally decided: "I've had enough."
Commander Lexa–arguably the spark of this revolt. A great character cheated out of a great exit, and minorities finally decided: “I’ve had enough.”
I may retort, slightly bitterly, that there are nearly seven billion people in this world. A minority does not mean a group of ten gay people, or a meeting of six chronic pain sufferers in wheelchairs. Minorities may be the collective umbrella term, but minorities can manifest in numbers up to thousands, or hundreds of thousands—and still be in the minority. Minorities can be supported by those who aren’t, those who have the heart to consider them, those who understand what good representation is on media—and I guess that’s why this is so important to me, as a minority myself.

I confess, whilst television is not in a vacuum anymore, I do still watch television with a level of detachment. I very rarely get too attached to a character, and thus when representation dies—I’m upset, but I get over it pretty quickly. But that’s just me. I will take the cases I know most about, and the show that has kicked up the most controversy (though I endeavor not to ignore the recent ‘The Walking Dead’ and ‘The Vampire Diaries’ disasters): The 100.

In three episodes (do I count episode eight as an episode?), The 100, in its unfortunate shock-value way (i.e. shock value for the sake of shock value to a point where it is really, really, really, really not shocking anymore) committed child slaughter (whilst they were sleeping. It appears cowardly genocidal tyrants like killing masses of people in their sleep on this show), killed a lesbian in a frame-for-frame comparison to Willow and Tara from Buffy (though I confess Mr. Whedon is a good writer) and also executed from point-blank range, a peace-seeking, loving, innocent black man, Lincoln, in one of the most graphic scenes I’ve ever seen on any channel. It took the phrase ‘torture porn’ to the next level—because that’s all it was, and it was disgusting.

Not that I want to see massacres of sleeping innocents on my television (or really this show at all, but gif-makers—you’re quick!) but I find it worrying how this season things took a heavy, racial, minority-aimed step into the dark abyss of no-hope. In episode five, the massacre of the three hundred Grounders wasn’t shown; in the recent episode, Ontari was not shown killing the Nightbloods (alright, I don’t want to see those innocent kids die—and I guess it was for ‘shock value’ because nobody guessed Ontari would kill those Nightbloods, right?). The Hakeldama one is most prominent in my mind. Led primarily by Pike and his gullible sidekick Bellamy, they mass-murdered three-hundred innocents. Only the aftermath—the field of the dead, very brief flashes of about two bodies, and a slow-motion entrance into Arkadia for the genocidal monsters was shown. I don’t know what this show implicates, in writing a scene that way—the same as when they shot Lexa straight after she’d consummated her relationship with Clarke. Maybe they didn’t want viewers seeing fan-favorites do an awful (that’s too kind—this is genocide—crimes that dictators and terrorists commit) thing, so it’s a little easier on the redemption arc when the tears and manpain starts.

It’s not enough. What happened on that field is by every single definition a war-crime and whether you like it or not, one of the war-criminals was Bellamy Blake, shooting to death sleeping Grounders with his rifle. The 100 won’t put Bellamy Blake through the Nuremberg trials. That’s a little too harsh—I mean, the genocide-committer’s a good boy at heart, isn’t he? It shames me to say this because I enjoyed his character up until this season, where his character’s 360 was the weakest, his ‘redemption arc’ nonsensically atrocious, his story-lines horrific and bland—and it hurts, because I did like Bellamy. But when every—single—critic absolutely loathes that story and thus him now; when even the esteemed Ms. Mo Ryan says on the Televerse podcast she can’t even face him as a character—you know you’ve assassinated that character. I’ll never truly understand the appeal of a ‘bad boy’ versus, you know, a decent and peace-seeking man but Bellamy’s not a ‘bad boy’. He is an irredeemable war-criminal with innocent Grounder blood on his hands—perhaps he’s too far gone, now, and any attempt to bring him back will just be laughable. Every single critic I’ve seen has ridiculed a potential redemption arc for this—this isn’t slapping someone in the face. This is genocide. I can’t emphasize that enough because I need to put real weight behind that word. Even when Clarke visited, Bellamy—a grown man—shouted and reminded an eighteen year old girl of everything she’d done, put all the blame on her because his poor twenty-three year old heart couldn’t handle it. A grown man reduced a teenager to tears, and then handcuffed her to be taken to Pike. There’s a worrying trend or I guess double-standard of audiences enjoying ‘bad boys’ suddenly doing one good thing and thus becoming amazing, whereas the badass Clarke—if she’s not physically fighting, but rather politically and cleverly fighting, i.e. using her brain—is seen as either useless for her political scheming in Polis or boring. Either way, it’s gone too far. When that decision is made, and the war-like (ethnic cleansing) execution of the black man is the source of such torture porn (who cares, right? But you can’t watch a white boy* commit genocide because we need to redeem him later) then it’s too far. When suicide hotlines need to be posted, it’s too far. When Lincoln’s only real screen-time this season involved a little with Octavia, then mostly inside a prison cell, and then getting executed—the implications are clear, and it’s—too—far.

Lincoln's had more screen-time as the show's shirtless torture-toy than he has a character, beside his romance with Octavia, at the hands of colonialist Arkers.
Lincoln’s had more screen-time as the show’s shirtless torture-toy than he has a character, beside his romance with Octavia, at the hands of colonialist Arkers.
This is my first article in which I will say that this next paragraph may trigger some of you (I apologize—and I also understand if you skip to the next paragraph or this article altogether), because when that episode aired, I confess—I didn’t watch it—but soon videos and gifs were being spawned on Twitter, and I saw the scene in its entirety. I couldn’t quite believe my eyes. A black man, imprisoned all season long for doing no harm except being different—i.e. fall victim to a xenophobic tyrant—sacrificed himself to save Kane and allow for his escape whilst bravely condemning himself to his fate. The heroism of Lincoln’s actions and his burgeoning, enduring love for Octavia, his girlfriend, will not be forgotten—but neither will his death scene. It wasn’t shocking as much as it was depressing. In fact, the only thing that startled me, quite frankly, from this repulsive show is that Lincoln didn’t fall like a rag doll into a pit of freshly-dug mass graves like the horrors of Romanian and Serbian laborer camps—he fell into a muddy pond instead.

Why am I talking about The 100 again, when I’ve made it pretty clear I couldn’t care less for the show nor its lack of quality? I speak of The 100 because of the very real effects it’s had on real human beings: they are the individuals I care about. All over my Twitter I had horrified teenagers speaking of triggers and suicide—again—following Lexa’s death by mere weeks. E4, the broadcaster that airs the show in the UK, have done excellent jobs in providing viewers with warnings before the show airs that some viewers may find scenes distressing, and at the end of the program (E4 does this on principle—not just for The 100) they provide a helpful list of hotlines and websites in case anybody needs to seek urgent help for what they’ve just witnessed on-screen.

I’ve heard plenty of excuses (seriously, why?) too. One angered me: one compared the show to some American town (Detroit, I think it was) where gun crime is rife and minorities are killed aplenty. I argue the case that The 100 is set in a post-apocalyptic future where the ‘groundbreaking’ show-runner already stated factors like race and sexuality were nullified—so why compare real-life events to very fictional ones? Hasn’t the show-runner already smugly distinguished his world from the real one? Indeed, should it not be one television’s primary aims to offer escapism and hope in a world very deprived of it?

Recently there have been terrorist attacks in Pakistan, Brussels and Turkey; there continue to be attacks in Syria and bomb strikes; there’s a surging terrorist epidemic and under-reported massacres across Northern Africa. There is the existence of Donald Trump. There are people living with chronic, fatal lifelong conditions, battling each day. There are addicts spiraling into an endless abyss. There are young children diagnosed with rare forms of terminal cancer. There’s one suicide every forty seconds. There are LGBTQ teens being bullied both physically and verbally; both in real-life and online. There are people of color everywhere being harassed—again, physically and verbally, both real-life and online—for the color of their skin, the slant of their eyes, their religious beliefs and practices. It’s a dark world for hundreds of thousands of people and if you are in a position of privilege where you are blissfully ignorant of this, then I pity you and I implore that you read on it; that you be kind. If you are in a position of privilege and you simply don’t care, then I pity you for your inconsiderate nature and heartlessness. If you’re in a position of privilege and you contribute to such insults, bullying and petty behaviors in order to discriminate against these minorities even further—I only have the greatest sorrow for the hollowness of your soul, because I cannot imagine anyone with a heart that has the audacity to do such a thing.

The Vampire Diaries killed their LGBTQ characters simultaneously...which must be going for a record, or something.
The Vampire Diaries killed their LGBTQ characters simultaneously…which must be going for a record, or something.
Other excuses have ranged from “well, they’re a minority, so why should they be overly represented?”—and my answer to you would be that they aren’t overly represented, if at all, and that’s one of the biggest problems. My other part of the answer would be what you define representation as. Do you define it as simply sticking a token Asian on-screen? Or do you define representation as a good, realistic, down-to-earth portrayal of that minority?

Some may say: “well, I’ve been picked at by a minority so why should they deserve my time?”—and my answer would be: are you really that desperate to generalize an entire population for a few bad eggs, to masquerade your hatred? If I was hassled or bullied by a white person—and I have been—that doesn’t mean I hate every single white person on this planet. Quite the opposite! I have strong opinions on fascist regimes—I’ll plunder for the popular ones—such as Hitler, Mao and Mussolini—but do I hate every German, Chinese and Italian person for it? No! I shall not hold any person associated with that race accountable for a few’s actions—just as the concept of holding an entire community responsible for the actions of a few is an incredulous, despicable, and frankly a stupid idea. Is ‘an eye for an eye’ really the only policy you can draw here? Or would you prefer it if I proposed this: block or mute—or whatever you do on social media—for a few. And consider how many LGBTQ people there are on this planet. Consider how many POCs there are. Out of nearly seven billion.

Out of an impassioned piece on my anger and distaste of this issue, I do offer some things I wish not to do. First of all, my number one stance is to never tell anybody how they should feel. This includes people who quite simply tell others to “get over it”—be it over a fictional death or, will you believe it, real ones. Whatever you grieve for and however long, and however it may affect you—I shan’t have the pretentiousness to dictate that. You must consider that for as many minorities there are individuals who have co-morbidities such as anxiety and depression; grieving times and severity varies over this wildly heterogeneous population. Perhaps you don’t understand, and that’s fine—it really is—butplease, I beg, for their sake, do not be inconsiderate and rude. It takes more effort and more of your energy to be hateful and spiteful than it does to simply be quiet or offer quick condolences.

I also do not wish to speak for all minorities. That, I hope, is obvious. As a minority of many myself, I can speak from individual experiences but as each of you on this planet is precious and different and unique—I cannot speak for your experiences. I cannot speak for the young lesbian teen still struggling to come out of the closet; I cannot speak for the Hispanic suffering of autism; I cannot speak for the black thirty-year old man in a primarily white neighborhood. Yes, those are scenarios I plucked out of my head—but the point is, is that we are so diverse on this planet. We are surrounded by a sea of color and love that is varied and bright. Why is that something that isn’t celebrated, but rather crushed upon? Bullied for?

I’ve seen teenagers getting bullied or getting into arguments with grown men and women about this issue. I’ve seen people accuse others of using the word ‘minority’ as a cover-up for LGBTQ. I’ve seen articles from reputable websites accusing mourning viewers of The 100 of only grieving the loss of Commander Lexa because the actress was white—and that they wouldn’t be mourning if the actress was black. I have a quick word to say on this, because clearly the journalist had perhaps not researched into the depths of why the community was angry. It barely had anything to do with the death, andnothing on the actress’ skin color; in fact, it had everything to do with the exploitation of vulnerable youth, alleged (and I think confirmed) suicides relating to the death; the year-long misleading of writers and show-runners in baiting the LGBTQ community in their supposed safe-zones by luring them into a false sense of security. And as Ms. Mo Ryan wrote here, the show-runner himself invited fans to watch the filming of the finale on the streets of Vancouver—where everyone would spot the iconic warpaint of Commander Lexa, thus throwing further oil into the already-alight pan—in a long-drawn game of trickery and masquerading so sick that it resulted in self-harm, tears, suicidal ideation and writers desperately tweeting suicide hotlines. I shan’t speak once more of how atrociously the death was handled because many articles have covered it much more eloquently than I shall, and this podcast is an excellent listen for further explanation.

In the space of about a month, there’s already been four LGBTQ deaths (three from the CW, one from AMC) and a graphic execution of a man of color (the CW…again). Again, articles have covered these deaths much more eloquently than I shall—for example, the girls from the Vampire Diaries, Denise from The Walking Dead, and Lincoln from The 100. A week or so ago, ‘MINORITIES ARE NOT DISPOSABLE‘ trended on Twitter. It was then when I saw people—grown adults, mainly—accuse teens of masquerading the word LGBTQ behind the word minority. And I have to say, with the uproar Lincoln’s death has caused on The 100, I think they’ve just been proven mightily wrong.

Denise's arrow through the eye was not even intended for her--she died by mistake, in place of--yes, a white male.
Denise’s arrow through the eye was not even intended for her–she died by mistake, in place of–yes, a white male.
We know this now: TV is not just a weekly sit-down and family gathering. TV affects us in real life because people talk about it; people discuss it on social media; people get sucked into the hype and buzz. People seek escapism from their harder real lives; people seek solace in online friends; people seek online safe-spaces. Yet the Internet is a double-edged sword. It can offer both kindness and cruelty. It can offer understanding individuals, open-hearted people willing to listen—and it can offer delusional, petty bullies.

I only ask that you navigate Twitter and Tumblr and such with care (though I’m sure literally everyone’s more proficient at social media than I am) and never let those words, that you’re a minority for a reason, sink into your hearts. After all, you have very human beating hearts—same as everyone else. People may despise you for your skin color, your religion, your ethnicity, your weight…and you know what, in this world of billions, it’s easy for me to tell you to just not care about them. But I know as well as you that words hurt—that’s why people use them. That’s why insults are thrown around. That’s why hate-mail is sent. I can’t ask you to ignore all of that; I can’t ask anything of you. All I ask is that you know there are people in the Twitterverse, the Tumblrverse, the Facebookverse, the Periscopeverse—however many ‘verses there are (just not The 100’s, because you will die if you are a minority, sorry)—who care, ardently. There are people who are willing to talk and understand and reach out. There are people who empathize; who sympathize; who are rational, decent human beings. And just like minorities may never get the same representation on television as we’d like, because society has fooled itself into being progressive, bullies do not represent the general population. They represent a small percentage of cowards who dare only to attack young, vulnerable teens from behind a computer screen. If anyone has encountered such a being, then my heart goes out to you—but know that you will always be supported by the humane ones on this planet, and I think I can safely say that makes up the majority of people.

Meanwhile, I will pop on Person of Interest, in which the main male lead is permanently and chronically disabled, the male lead is never hyper-sexualized and does not do the same to others, the same-sex couple consists of a half-deaf cordial twerp and the other is a Persian badass with an Axis Personality II Disorder, and their detective on the inside is an overweight but honorable and dutiful cop. (Was that a ‘ding’? I think that was the sound of quality).

I love it when a bit of genuine quality pops up on my screen.
I love it when a bit of genuine quality pops up on my screen. No whiff of exploitation, baiting or lies either (and the POI squad never have done, in four years). I heard exploitation and lies smell like alcohol and trains.

*As played by the show, in which this character’s younger sister is Octavia, and there’s been no indication with regards to Bellamy’s potential parentage. As Octavia is white (or Marie Avgeropoulos is at least half-Greek?) I would assume as siblings (certainly from the same mother) there’s nothing to warrant Filipino origin there. I’ve always fully known the actor, Bob Morley, has Filipino roots. The show, in its flashbacks with Octavia, young Bellamy was played by a white actor, Spencer Drever. I have since been assured via multiple platforms that Filipino children do not get darker as they grow older, hence the whitewashing of Bellamy Blake seems to remain a valid claim. Once more: this is not a slur on Mr. Bob Morley. I completely respect his pride of his heritage—especially coming from a minority myself, where I admittedly was not always comfortable in my own skin—and on a personal level, I wish the CW, Mr. Jason Rothenberg and the show had been willing to portray their main male lead as a man of color. 

Thank you once more for reading. I understand now is a sensitive time for many, and I offer my condolences. I confess I don’t watch all the shows I’ve mentioned here but my heart does genuinely go out to anyone who’s suffered through this. Paradoxically, I find this statement uplifting andheartwarming: you are not alone. And I hope solace is found and social media used for good in this context. To end on a positive note, this smashing fundraiser has achieved over $112,000 as I write. Minorities, huh?

As ever, I’m on Twitter at @NicolaChoi or via the comments below—thank you.

When Does Social Media Go Too Far?

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In my honest opinion, I think social media is a fantastic tool. Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, Periscope, Facebook—you name it, I think they’re fantastic (even though I am terrible at using social media). On social media you can chat to other people, globally, about things that interest you; you can vent and blog about things you may not want to reveal in real life. You can make online friends who are funny, witty and intelligent; you can have intellectual and deep discussions with others and learn. You can use social media as a tool to bring communities—past and present—together, such as the very topical fundraiser for the Trevor Project has recently.

A fantastic fundraiser for a truly fantastic cause. If you're unaware of what the Trevor Project is, I highly recommend googling them for an idea. To The 100 fans: Heda would be so proud.
A fantastic fundraiser for a truly fantastic cause. If you’re unaware of what the Trevor Project is, I highly recommend googling them for an idea. To The 100 fans: Heda would be so proud.

But as I’ve mentioned, it’s a double-edged sword. I’ll start with the very simple issue of cyber-bullying. Cyber-bullying accounts for a large number of suicides in the WHO’s most recent suicide collation—however, suicide is a murky subject as under-reporting and mix-ups are a huge problem in terms of numbers. As it stood of 2012, WHO reported a suicide rate of 804,000 per year (that’s 1 suicide every 40 seconds). In the light of such horrific things I’ve seen on twitter such as suicidal ideation and self-harm, this is an extremely topical issue, considering I follow many twitters that are television fans. The most topical issue I can think of is the outpouring of grief following LGBTQ deaths on The 100 and The Walking Dead.

I’ve also stated before that since opening my direct messages on Twitter, I have received messages from fans all over the world looking for some consolation or advice; some, I’ve extended my help to regardless, and we’ve had a nice chat and I’ve made some new friends. But as the fundraiser grows, so does controversy around one show in particular: The 100.

As recently revealed on the We Deserved Better website, site creators professionally collated a huge and damning amount of evidence implicating one of the show writers. To summarize, the show writer had visited a lesbian message forum (upon already knowing Lexa had died) to ‘reassure’ them differently.

The webpage and collection of hard evidence says it all, really. I don't know if anyone over the years of industry has seen unprofessionalism quite like this.
The webpage and collection of hard evidence says it all, really. I don’t know if anyone over the years of industry has seen unprofessionalism quite like this.
I don’t know when this scandal over this show will blow over—I don’t know if it ever will, because accusations and immense evidence like this keep leaking. But one thing I do know for sure, and this isn’t from a critic/writer’s standpoint, is how to be professional. I am a pharmacy student and I hope to become a successful one. My main goal and vocation is to make patients my first concern. Yet there are aspects of my course that retain professionalism (be it attire, attitude, honesty, integrity) as one of the core points of our course. Why am I talking about pharmacy here? Because in all aspects of a profession, as the name suggests, surely professionalism is key. What has happened here, in this particular case, is absolutely, disgustingly unprofessional. It isn’t illegal—I don’t think so and I’m pretty sure it isn’t—but it is scandalous, exploitative, manipulative and cold. So cold. How cold must you be to deliberately post on a lesbian message forum (and if it’s a lesbian message forum, then surely it is amok with Clarke and Lexa fans) to essentially trick them into a false sense of security? To ensure that they are fully sucked into the frankly appalling game of PR and television business, knowing their beloved character is already dead, just to keep viewership levels up?

I think what is often forgotten is that behind these TV/computer screens, behind the statistics that are simply figures—there are real humans watching this show. There are real humans getting exploited and misled by false claims, lies and manipulation. That disconnect shocks me, considering writers often talk of making people ‘feel’. So how do writers feel when they blatantly lie and mislead their audience? Manipulate them? There can’t be any care there, for that level of exploitation—so really, is it just money?

Before this was even reported, I’ve had messages flooding in saying they’ve never seen exploitation—not just from this particular writer, but from the staff in general, including showrunner Mr. Jason Rothenberg—to this level before. Upon seeing this, I was horrified and shocked when I scrolled through the entire collation of tweets.

As just previously stated, if you are interested, it may be a good idea for you to check out the We Deserve Better website as a whole. I’d advise you to take some time in going through the website’s posts and collection of evidence, including tweets, pictures, quotes and other excellent articles covering the show’s scandal, to get a whole picture of what this means for the show.

The 100 is renewed for season four, as are all CW shows, so its future is secure. As for the viewership figures, the continued social media manipulation, the disastrous interview the show-runner finally gave(timely, before WonderCon) about the episode ‘Thirteen’, that remains unclear. Of course, there will still be a steady viewer base, because not everyone liked Lexa, not everyone liked Clarke and Lexa together, and some people may still be invested in the plot-line…whatever remains of that. So in light of this almost sensationalized article (good grief, I am becoming a newspaper journalist—help me) I want to congratulate the talented cast for getting season four, because Eliza Taylor is stunning as Clarke Griffin, and Lindsey Morgan in particular is an absolute star—honest, earnest and emotive.

To round off, I want to go back to my question: when does social media go too far? I’ve talked of cyber-bullying on a general and very serious level. But when it comes to professionals using social media, such as writers, then in my humble opinion, this is the very definition of ‘too far‘. As a professional surely you cannot exploit a trusting and vulnerable LGBTQ fanbase like that. As a professional surely you cannot have the audacity to lie, bare-faced, like that. As a professional, you must be professional. And in the light of today’s reveals, I can say without a doubt—this went too far. It went so far that I think it’s actually shot out of the planet and is currently orbiting another galaxy.

My last note is an apology. I wish to apologize to those very vulnerable LGBTQ fans I was talking about; I want to apologize to everyone who cried to me in my direct messages. I want to apologize to everyone who trusted a professional writer and got absolutely swindled. I want to apologize because every single one of you is a decent, beautiful human—and nobody deserves to be exploited or lied to like that. By anyone, lest a professional. So I offer my sincerest apologies. However, I do wish to end on a positive note.

In the light of all this consistency of scandals, there is still ongoing positivity with the fundraiser for the Trevor Project. As I write, it has garnered a mind-blowing $62,625. Yes, this recent news is horrendous and inexcusable—but I applaud everyone who has raised money for this excellent cause, and for anyone who cannot donate, I applaud you for sharing and promoting the cause too.

I have never really encountered a fanbase that has been consistently hit with so many disgraces in such a short period of time—but goodness me, on the flipside of that, because of such disgraces, I have never encountered a fanbase that has endured positively through all of it. I’ve never encountered a fanbase that has united others, inspired spoofs, raised money to save lives. This is the highest, most condemning level of unprofessionalism there is—there is no doubt about that. It is shameful and disgraceful (and I’m being extremely polite)—but thank you to the fanbase, and other supportive fanbases too—for continuing to march onwards with positivity and pride—as you should.

Minority? Entitlement? Bullies? I Think It’s Just Called Life-Saving

Full credit to @Papurrcat on Twitter for this gorgeous piece of art. The hyperlink is here: https://twitter.com/PapurrCat/status/709784702966599680
Full credit to @Papurrcat on Twitter for this gorgeous piece of art. The hyperlink is here: https://twitter.com/PapurrCat/status/709784702966599680
Reshop, Heda—but let me tell you: something remarkable has happened since 3 March 2016.

There have been numerous articles covering the fallout of Commander Lexa’s death on The 100—most notably on the exploitation of the fanbase, the social media manipulation game and the cold way the episode was hyped to a largely LGBTQ fanbase only for that very episode to feature every young, vulnerable LGBTQ teen’s nightmare: the ‘Bury Your Gays’ trope. I don’t really want to write about how badly it was done. I think it’s adequately covered by the fantastic Ms. Mo Ryan of Variety; exquisitely explored in Professor Elizabeth Bridge’s essay; numerically tolled in this alarming Autostraddle article (and the equally alarming converse of it).

What I did touch on, very briefly, was the very real humanity behind the movement wheeled into motion after Lexa’s death. I also touched on, briefly again, the very real and worrying harassment and discrimination LGBTQ teenagers/young adults/people of any age face in a society that thinks itself to be progressive but in many ways has not reached that peak yet. I spoke a little about the demo of The 100, of how I believed it to be teenagers or young adults—vulnerable ones too—and speculated that some certainly happily lost themselves in Lexa, a great character, and a horrible loss, for an hour’s blissful escapism. It isn’t so much speculation as it is what I’ve seen on Twitter.

I’ve become more active ever since the fallout, and one day, the fanbase decided to trend ‘LexaForMe’. Upon browsing the tag, I only had to look for approximately thirty seconds before finding some truly touching, genuine messages:

LexaForMe trended worldwide, in a show of appreciation of what Alycia Debnam-Carey's character on The 100, Lexa, meant to individuals globally.
LexaForMe trended worldwide, in a show of appreciation of what Alycia Debnam-Carey’s character on The 100, Lexa, meant to individuals globally.

 

What I have always praised about this movement is its inclusivity, but what I also want to praise about this movement now is its utter honesty on social media. Sure, ‘LexaForMe’ is very character-specific, but many tweets depicted the real struggle tweeters—real humans—felt behind their computer screens. If you have the time and a Twitter account, I’d highly recommend you search ‘LexaForMe’ in the search bar and just see exactly what I mean.

I quickly mentioned a research paper in one of my previous articles and much to my surprise I got a few questions about it, and queries as to where I could find similar articles. I think that kind of goes to show the real impact this death has caused, to young people’s mental health and real-life struggles. I’ve spoken to young tweeters who are still sad and depressed about Lexa’s death, and it greatly saddens me because I just wish so desperately it wasn’t that way. Yet I can’t do anything about it. Everyone mourns differently, and I don’t think anyone can be that emotionally removed to simply tell a fan to “get over it” or something akin to that.

What I do want to mention, and I write this with a massive, awestruck grin on my face, is that thefundraiser set up in Lexa’s honor (with all proceeds going to the Trevor Project) has smashed $50,000. When I first set my eyes upon this fundraiser that kind of money was just unimaginable. Now as I look at it, I can’t help but feel emotional as I think of all the people who’ve donated; people who have struggled with Lexa’s loss; people who’ve lost loved ones to LGBTQ discrimination and prejudice; people who sympathize greatly with the hurt LGBTQ fandom of The 100; people from other fandoms lending a helping hand and a shoulder to lean on.

This amazing, mind-blowing fundraiser has blown $50k—and is proof that you can twist something of repulsiveness into something really rather beautiful.
This amazing, mind-blowing fundraiser has blown $50k—and is proof that you can twist something of repulsiveness into something really rather beautiful.

If that isn’t further proof of the fact that people affected by Lexa’s death are real, honest-to-god, wonderful, generous human beings—then I don’t know what is. I’ve seen this fanbase being called out as bullies, morons, something to be mocked—yet in the face of all of that, they’ve knuckled down to create an amazing website. They’ve set up a Twitter account…and another one. They have been collating articles to support their cause; it gained such massive traction that even the BBC reported on it.

From the very star herself, Debnam-Carey said of the movement: “I think any attention we can draw to a movement like that is an amazing thing, and is a great thing to pursue and keep working towards” and of the situation in general: “I hate to hear people wanting to not watch the show anymore for a certain reason like that. I do understand, of course, it’s a social issue. If people are feeling that way, it’s really important to recognize.”

And she’s right. It is a social issue, and it is important to recognize it—not as something young, LGBTQ teenagers will get bored of trending and brush off—but as a final straw. I quoted the Autostraddle article earlier, glaring proof of the number of LGBTQ deaths on television, and on one of my previous articles, commenters made great analogies of why these deaths aren’t just akin to ‘normal’ deaths.

But to draw back to my original point: firstly, I cannot stress enough, that these sufferers are so incredibly human. To reference Figueiredo and Abreu(2015) again, they reviewed literature surrounding LGBT suicides and found that whilst unclear, they were strongly linked to comorbidities such as depression and anxiety disorders, as well as discrimination, prejudice, and stigmatization. Another paper, focused on bisexual individuals, came to similar conclusions; in 2014, Pompili et al. found, in their systematic review, “Individuals reporting a bisexual orientation had an increased risk of suicide attempts and ideation compared with their homosexual and heterosexual peers. Risk factors included related victimization, peer judgments, and family rejection. Bisexual individuals also reported higher rates of mental illness and substance abuse.”

At a school-level, Whitaker et al. (2016) found that LGBT school-goers were three-times more likely to commit suicide or have suicidal ideations than their heterosexual peers, though the researchers admitted the likely causes were unclear and further research was required in that area, particularly for that age group.

And this isn’t just a Westernized problem; it’s really rather global. I have simply skimmed the surface of research (but if you are interested, I highly recommend JSTOR or Science Direct as reliable sources of journal articles). Even then, I happened across Biçmen & Bekiroğulları’s article (2014) about LGBT individuals in Turkey, and the social problems they faced. Extremely worrying, they found that LGBT individuals were subject to intense harassment and abuse—both verbal and physical—to a point where they weren’t accepted in their hometowns or even in places they’d migrated to. The full paper can be found here.

But what does this mean for this charitable movement, the social media uproar following Lexa’s death, and television culture in general? Firstly, as I have confessed in my previous article: I’m young and naive. I have never witnessed as many LGBTQ deaths as listed on Autostraddle, so perhaps I am not the ideal spokesperson for this situation. But I have to note that even I am aware of the changing scope of television these days. When my mother used to sit down to watch an episode of ‘Angel’ (she very much-loved David Boreanaz) she would not be live-tweeting or interacting with fellow fans on social media platforms. It was a matter of watching the weekly episode and then getting on with life, even if some undoubtedly traumatizing and awful stuff may have happened on the show.

Now, as younger audiences are getting cleverer with social media and more vocally active, they have a voice. They will be heard. That is evident in the way they smartly organize phrases to trend, for certain hours and even convert for different time-zones. It is evident in the way they reach out to critics active on Twitter, eloquently and well-versed. It is evident in the way they set up websites and Twitters in order to collate everything, or ‘receipts’. Television isn’t what it was ten or fifteen years ago. Now I know I’m a hypocrite for making such a statement when I am a peachy twenty-two, but you would surely have to be very ignorant to not see it. Social media matters, because it’s instantaneous reaction to certain episodes; it is instantaneous support systems to vulnerable people left in shock over certain twists.

I suppose the point that I’m making is a very obvious one: that television viewers are not just props or stepping-stones for show-runners, especially LGBTQ viewers. That isn’t entitlement—it’s a rarity to see LGBTQ characters on television, well-represented. If you flick the channel, you will see a billion other straight males with dark hair and a gloomy back-story. But LGBTQ viewers, whilst vulnerable and sometimes scared to approach new shows, are also compassionate, generous, empathetic and inspirational individuals. Who on earth would have thought they’d have raised over $50,000?!

The reason why I’m linking journal articles and papers isn’t to seem like some sort of snob (gosh, that’s the last thing I’d want to do). I’m linking them because they provide real, hard statistics and also qualitative information on LGBTQ individuals in the real world. The same LGBTQ individuals who tune into shows like The 100, which promised representation and ‘groundbreaking’ storylines only to find themselves lured into the same, exploitative trap of a cheap lesbian death. The reason I linked them is because the reaction I saw on Twitter was raw, emotional and heartbreaking. The messages I received on Twitter, when I opened my Direct Messages box for all, was full of grief and heartbreak. Many kindly acknowledged my personal loss: and I confess, my mind was such a mess at that time that I didn’t grieve for Lexa much at all. I had other things to grieve over. But infinitely worse than Lexa’s death, and Debnam-Carey’s departure (she will be sorely missed—for me, she carried some episodes that were frankly dull to watch) was getting these tearful reactions and messages from young viewers. I plucked up the courage to watch some reaction videos on YouTube too, for episode seven (‘Thirteen’) and the stark contrast of utter happiness at the Clarke and Lexa kiss—representation given to them, finally—only to be robbed minutes later by her death, resulting in masses of tears and disbelief—was dumbfounding to watch. It was horrific to see unfold on my PC screen, and there are a few reaction videos that will stay in my mind forever—because their reactions were so heartbreakingly genuine.

The reason I link those articles is because LGBTQ representation is still a huge problem in media. On The 100, it showed promise right up until that very episode. As a Person of Interest fan, I can assuredly say that I have utter faith in the writers to deliver on the same-sex couple of Root and Shaw—not once have they lied or made false promises, or exploited the fanbase—but that is one show, and another topic. On a broader scale, vulnerable LGBTQ youths still exist among us. You may not spot them straight away, but they are there.

Something else I’ve seen, worryingly, on Twitter is—as I’ve stressed before—the accusation of the LGBTQ community as bullies. As Mo Ryan states in her article, she has never been approached with anything other than kindness. To my knowledge, and from what I’ve seen, the LGBTQ community has been nothing but welcoming and generous. I think perhaps the $50k is proof of their generosity; as for the friendliness and open arms, you may just have to take my word for it. But never, ever have I ever seen LGBTQ fandoms—from all shows—band together to support fans like this, in the face of an exploitation so dramatic that it’s been stated multiple times by various sources even they’ve never seen anything like it.

Again, I don’t write to preach. I don’t write to dictate people’s feelings. I’m merely a student hoping to register as a pharmacist someday, and to look after patients as my first concern. I am not a writer, and I am barely eloquent. But I can empathize, and I can feel. I can learn to understand the long-lasting discrimination against the LGBTQ community, not just in real life but via social media and the Internet too—cyber-bullying is also on the rise of WHO’s increasingly unpredictable suicide rates list, because of the murky nature of it all. I’ve linked those articles just in case anybody’s interested, or in case anybody wants to do any further research. But my main point to hammer home is what I’ve said all along, it’s obvious: that LGBTQ viewers are real people. They cry and laugh and joke and emote. They are not just a statistic. They are not just a stepping stone in a plotline. They are human, and shouldn’t it be innately our duty to care and love others? When you stigmatize the LGBTQ community, essentially for who they are or who they love, would you stop and reason why? Why are you singling out a community made of flesh and blood, just like yourself? Do you see them as humans, or do you see them as just another statistic?

I understand this is a departure from my regular articles, and to be quite frank, I don’t have anything witty or cheeky to lighten the mood. I guess I am maybe still too naive to highlight this situation under a spotlight, but I want to try. I want people to listen and I want people to read those articles, and understand that objective evidence cannot lie; that LGBTQ viewers are people. That they matter, even when at their lowest, some may not think so. That as humans, as civil, decent people—we have a duty to look after each other and support each other. I wonder if this article will impact on anyone’s life at all, or if it will change anyone’s perception at all. Maybe; maybe not. But I can’t be ashamed for trying, and I can’t be ashamed of the inspirational fundraiser who has so far totaled up over $50,000 to acharity that supports and saves the lives of suicidal LGBTQ youth.

Thank you for reading this article. As said before, I am aware that this is indeed a departure from your usual article from me—but the past ten days or so have been incredibly hard-hitting for me, personally, and to see that coincide with real grief from tons and masses of youths only added to it. I hope the articles are of some interest to you; I hope that they offer some solid evidence. But most of all, I hope the article validates you. Upon reading that, it seems incredibly self-absorbed of me to say so, but I guess what I want to say is: you all matter. Greatly. You matter to your friends, your family…to me. You matter to someone in this world, and you have all been so inspirational and powerful. You have all been eye-opening and bright, bright spots of hope and joy in a seemingly dark world. I hope, from the bottom of my heart, that you all continue to shine as you do. I’m contactable via twitter @NicolaChoi or indeed the comments below—but firstly, do take care of yourselves, love yourselves, and know you matter. Thank you again, for being so, so incredible. Thank you for teaching me. Thank you.