No, Stories Do NOT Exist In A Vacuum.

WARNING! Spoilers for the last episode of Life Is Strange.

OK, you may now read on…

I recently received a reply to one of my comments in the comments section of the Mary Sue, discussing the final chapter of Life Is Strange from DONTNOD Entertainment.

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And it’s this kind of reply that I find incredibly draining and tiring to answer, because it’s a basic kind of question that seeks to derail the discussion at hand instead of dealing with some tropes that are rooted in homophobia.

For starters, the dead lesbian trope started wayyy back in the 1950s, wherein happiness for gay characters existed very little in fiction. While I can’t recall the name of the book that really cemented this, it centered around a woman who falls in love with another, but ends with her ‘realizing’ she’s straight and marrying a man while her lover dies a tragic death.

The other aspect of dealing with this kind of question is that it ignores the very basic reality that stories do not exist in a vacuum. Everything we read, watch, play, or create is influenced by the world we live in, for better or for worse, and that means that there is going to be homophobic, racist, and sexist elements in our stories.

To say that the ‘greater meaning’ gets ignored when we rate something on a pass/fail of tropes comes off to me as not wanting to think about how killing off someone who is a part of a marginalized group looks to people who are a part of that group, let alone the rest of us.

You don’t want to think about those issues, because then you might feel bad about liking something that’s got garbage, homophobic writing in it.

In this case, DontNod created a story in Life Is Strange that boiled down to two decisions in the end:

  1. Sacrifice your best friend, who comes out a lesbian by way of kissing the lead character, in order to save the town.
  2. Leave the town to be destroyed with your best friend, who is now just your gal pal, with no showing she’s anything but.

Those aren’t very good choices, especially considering the amount of time spent with and emotional investment made in Max and Chloe.

It also doesn’t help that in the Sacrifice Arcadia Bay ending, in a discussion held with one of the writers, the reason WHY no sign of something more than being Gal Pals was shown was anything more should be left up to the imagination, implied…

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Oh, and that the budget ran out.

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Source taken from this tumblr post.

Total weak sauce.

There’s another post in me about how this is total weak sauce, in making a game where nothing matters in the end in one way or another, but I want to keep it on this, to show the ignorance in saying that a story should be judged on its own merits.

Because you can’t, not when we live in the world we do. It’s why I’m critical of The Walking Dead for how often they kill off black men, or Marvel Comics for splitting up Spider-Man from MJ because him being married makes him old.

Those all reflect some ugly realities instead of challenging them, and when we’re upholding the status quo, we’re gatekeepers who think nothing’s wrong with it.

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