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The Phoenix Gate

Comment Room Archive

Comments for the week ending August 18, 2019

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I know Greg is probably not reading this anymore, but I personally do wish that he'd addressed the issue of violence. There have been more than a few times in this season where I've seen Halo die from attacks that, if it had been another character, they probably would have dodged or walked off. I know that, from the show crew perspective, this is probably something like the Worf effect - they want to show that some villain is a threat, so they have Halo take a big injury. The same sort of thing happens to regenerating or immortal characters all the time.

But (aside from the problem that it's sort of a quick and cheap way to establish a threat, just writing wise, and the in universe question of why no one has taught Halo to dodge or built body armor into her suit), the thing is, Halo is not Worf or Deadpool or Wolverine. Halo is, at this point, the only Muslim on the show and the only non-binary character on the show. So, even if it is not intentional, the fact of the matter is she's the only one getting hurt in this way. And that, when combined with all the non-Muslim, cis characters who get much less violent injuries (at most, their visible injuries are bruises or vague bloody marks), creates a dichotomy of whose pain seems more acceptable. And this is, really, another instance in a pattern we've seen for years. People of color's pain is shown bluntly when white people's pain is danced around. As a general trend, across media, we see that violence against brown people is more palatable than that same violence happening to white people.

If this had only happened once or twice, it probably wouldn't be as much of an issue, but it keeps happening, and only happening to Halo - with the possible exception of Victor Stone, who is <i>also</i> not white - and even if it's not intentional (which, to be clear, I don't think Greg or Brandon or anyone sat down and went 'woo, we have a brown-skinned character, let's do All The Gore to her') it's still a really bad pattern. I don't really know what can be done about it at this point, other than not continuing the pattern for season 4, but. At this point, it's too noticeable to be ignored, I think. I can see how Halo's figuring out gender and religion can serve a character purpose, showing her path through life, but I still don't see how the frequent, gory violence that almost exclusively happens to her serves anything.

Karrin Blue

It's worth noting - a lot of the articles that come out about this show, especially from CBR or comicbook.com, are not written with any input from anyone on the show. Half the time their information is flatout wrong in ways that would be corrected in a second if they'd spoken with anyone who was actually on the crew. So if there were "at least DOZENS of articles coming out hyping up the fact that we were getting a nonbinary Muslim superhero" then... that might not have been anything the crew could control. Greg's said on multiple occasions that he doesn't have any say in marketing, it's not his department, and these articles usually aren't written with input from marketing anyways. They're just what people write in the moment, and more often than not they're being written to draw in clicks from people, not to accurately talk about the show. Greg and co pretty much only have control over what is in the actual show itself, the script and animation and sound design. So, sure, we can criticize them about that, but the marketing, the advertising, the articles someone on CBR writes about it, Greg and co have about as much control over that as we do.
Karrin Blue

I fall in to or at least closely adjacent to the categories being discussed in this lengthy discussion.

As a Muslim/a person from a Muslim family/person whose family social circles are varying degrees of Muslim faith practices, I have no problem with how things have been portrayed with Halo’s faith or the symbolism of the hijaab. In fact, I know several woman who renounced their Islamic faith ( to simply declare themselves spiritual rather than religious) yet they still wear their hijaab as comfort and familiarity in a world that can be trying and stressful.

As someone whose personal social circle is mostly filled with people of the LGBTQ+ , and in fact I watch this show with one of them who is both transgender and a professor of gender identity studies, and none of them have expressed any displeasure with the characterization and story developments for said character.

It’s a show based on comics. ‘Crap’ happens to every one and their stories develop as they adjust to those changes. Because who Halo is and therefore who Halo represents to some people it might get more noticed or focused, but I see it as no different than the beating up other characters have taken and continue to take. Halo is just the emotional anchor this season much like (arguably) Artemis’ story line was in a prior season.

In fact, I would argue that the fact that Halo is being treated as an individual with nuance - that , to me, is what makes for an honest and real character story telling - and NOT some over the top caractuture ( I’m looking at you Hadji from the original Johnny quest, and even some character actors in present day sit coms) .

I say all this to say, everyone is entitled to their opinion. But opinions are all different and as someone that falls in to all the categories discussed here I personally don’t have a problem with the representation. So before the YJ team is admonished for representation let’s also remember that there is no single right opinion here, even from those within the communities being discussed.


MD> Possible. [SPOILER] I don't think either Granny's been in the vicinity of Megan yet. [/SPOILER]
Business as usual...

It also seems possible to me that [SPOILER] one of the Grannies is actually M'Comm, or a member of his faction. [/SPOILER]
Masterdramon - [kmc12009 at mymail dot pomona dot edu]
"If you have love in your life, then you must keep on living!" - Juvia Lockser

MATTHEW> [SPOILER] I wonder if they're going for a Grant Morrison type take? The idea being that the New Gods' true forms are metaphysical platonic thought-forms and the the physical forms we see are just avatars that they use to interact with mortals. So someone like Granny might have multiple avatars roaming the universe, functionally independent of each other yet essentially aspects of the same malevolent entity? [/SPOILER]
Business as usual...

The hits just keep on coming, here are my thoughts on Season 3 episode 22 "Antisocial Pathologies"
[SPOILER] Early on in the season I wondered about where they were going to take Dr. Jace as in the comics she sorta bounced around from ally to villain depending on the writer. But she genuinely seemed to care about Brion, Halo and Tara and I wondered if that was because she was using them to help fill the whole in her heart over losing her daughter.

But it was all a lie. She was never a mother. She didn't care about Jefferson or Halo and her concern for Brion and Tara was only in a twisted maternal sense due to her being the one to give them powers. The truth is she's a sociopathic, Victor Frankenstein with mommy issues. Not only was she fully aware that her "mentor" is an unrepentant super villain but she was the one to kill Gabrielle Daou. And not only that, but lied to her about her powers slowly killing her to exert more control over her. And that just sums up this episode in a nutshell, the lies told to control others.

Something that was a bit of a mystery to me this season was Tara, unlike other incarnations she's been pretty quiet and withdrawn. It's led to a lot of debates about what she's planned or wanted with most folks agreeing that she's been going going back and forth an whether to betray the team or not. What I thought was interesting was the psychological control Deathstroke put her through in order to control her, by making her believe that he's the only one she can trust. Emotional abuse to convince her that he can make her strong, emotional abuse to truly unlock her power and a few well placed lies sprinkled with the truth to keep her thinking only what he wants her to think. That everyone will turn on her except him. Convenient for Slade to leave out that Bedlam was a subsidiary of the Light and that Ultra-Humanite is a colleague. Not to mention what her parents actually did do after she was taken, and how their speaking out against meta-human trafficking cost them their lives. Interesting to also learn that she was abducted while under the care of Brion, that certainly explains why Brion was so desperate to find her in the first half of the season. It's also a shame that the denouement happened when it did, because that pretty much sealed the deal that the Judas Contract is happening.

Well Jeff soon figured out the truth pretty quickly, much quicker than the Light did. And I like that he used all the elements that would raise suspicion: the simultaneous resignation of League members, the "unintended" coordination of the strikes against the meta-human depots, the bat-drone saving them from Granny Goodness and the private meeting between the leaders of Batman Inc., the team and the League. And you know what? He had every right to call them out because no one likes feeling used.

It's pretty common in animation for a character to make a mistake and learn from it by the end of the episode. Usually the don't learn there lesson when the writings lazy and repetitive and they can do the same moral over and over again. What isn't as common is for characters to be called out on their mistake and then double down on it. Let's be honest, Kaldur's fake defection worked amazingly, but it only worked by sheer luck. Within that scheme Kaldur's brain was almost turned to silly putty, Artemis trapped behind enemy lines, M'Gann almost killed during the assassination attempt, and a number of the team could've been killed by the Reach's experiments. The Anti-Light thought this could be fixed by broadening the number of people involved in the conspiracy so things like Kaldur being brain-blasted by one of their own wouldn't happen again, but the ignored the biggest thing of all. PEOPLE DON'T LIKE BEING USED.

Which brings up ol' Bats. It's been a recurring problem about how controlling he is, the fact that writers so often let his shadiest crap slide like "Tower of Babel" or the Brother Eye incident which means that the cycle of enablement continues within the story itself. Batman has always had a "my way, my rules attitude" and a bit of moral superiority. Too often he's had the mindset that he alone is the arbitrator of what is right and good and thus comes off as not only authoritarian but extremely narcissistic. Which brings up the membership of the Anti-Light. Three of them are former proteges of Bats and you can make the argument that Kaldur and M'Gann also qualify, none of them are about to disagree with him due to their time of being under his thumb and the only one open with her criticism is conveniently not in a position to stop them if she felt they got out of hand. And think that's the big issue with Jeff, assuming he got his start in superhero-ing the same way he did in the comics, fighting crime in Metropolis' Suicide Slum, he wasn't forced to play by Superman's rules. But here? It's entirely Batman's game, an the democracy of it is an illusion.

One thing I really like about this show's take on the Justice League was how democratic the whole of it was, unlike the one in the DCAU. A leader was voted on for a limited term by the members themselves, everyone had an equal voice at the table, other leaguers weren't treated like lesser employees because of redundant powers or gimmicks, and there wasn't a secret part of it made up by a select few that determined the fate of the others. But all of that is gone here and that really makes me sad. Sad that friends and colleagues are now using each other as pawns for the sake of the mission, for the greater good.

So the Anti-Life Equation comes in the form of a simple hack, an unfiltered source of the well, Source channeled through Halo. You know each season made one character an integral part of the season long arc. In some cases it was obvious like Blue Beetle in Season 2, others it was hidden like Red Arrow in Season 1, I don't think anyone of us guessed it would be Halo this season. You know when Vandal and Darkseid had their unseen meeting I doubt it was to discuss the recent discovery of the Anti-Life Equation. I'll be honest, I always expected the Light would be the ones to tip their hand at the wrong moment and shatter their "agreement" with Apokolips not the other way round. Judging by Vandal's expression this isn't something he saw coming, he's been blindsided before but not like this. I'm curious to see what the Light will do next, but I'm guessing that it may involve our heroes. Maybe that's what the Judas Contract will be this season, Tara organizing a summit between the Light and the Anti-Light as a alliance of convenience. Perhaps even throwing around the possibility of their "nuclear option" or keeping the knowledge of their off-the-books teams away from the public. And wouldn't that just be ironic? Our heroes about to split and it's the villains who convince them to stay together for the time being.

Some final thoughts. So Metron wasn't being vague, there really are two Grannies, this brings up a boatload of questions. Robotic double like Morrow and Ivo? Cadmus clone? Evil twin and the twist is they're both evil? I know they did some vocoder effects for Ultra-Humanite's voice but Greg does a pretty good growl. It's interesting that we haven't seen Artemis much lately, I'm especially curious how she'd take the reveal. But I'm betting she's spending more time with Will. I also doubt will get every element of this season wrapped up by the end like the conflict between the bugs and the New Gods, M'Comm's desire of revenge and the trafficked teens possibly taking up the fight. Also probably not going to see Wally again, shame. [/SPOILER]

Insert Inspirational Quote Here:________

Alright yeah, I was being a massive jerk. I apologize and I too will refrain from commenting any further to save us both time and effort. I don't want you to give up, so you can just do what you like. I don't mean that to sound condescending in any way, I genuinely mean you are free to do what you want. I'm just some random jackass on the internet with her own opinion on things.

I should not have spoke as if I have any authority on the matter of how things are done with Warner Brothers. I do appreciate the work you've done to help represent marginalized voices, putting all criticism aside. I genuinely do respect you and I will respect your choices. I guess I'll just sadly have to cut ties with Young Justice at this point. Nothing personal, Greg. I just have personal limitations on these things that make me the wrong audience for this kind of show. I wish you well in your future endeavors, and I hope Young Justice reaches more success than it already has, even if it's not personally my cup of tea with how it handles it's LGBT+ representation.

I will advise you though to communicate with your marketing department in the future, however, because I recall at least DOZENS of articles coming out hyping up the fact that we were getting a nonbinary Muslim superhero and, as you yourself noted, the hijab would imply an implicit promise of some sort. I realize now that this is not really your fault, it was likely just a lack of communication between you, the people who wrote the articles, and whoever gave those websites the information to begin with.

I apologize for this comment being so late, I only JUST now say your follow-up comment to the one I initially replied to today. Good luck, Greg, it was nice consuming your content while it lasted.

Raven - [proudtolikemylittlepony at gmail dot com]

RAVEN> Forgive me for getting personal here, but haven't previously indicated that you yourself are neither Muslim nor Non-Binary?

Isn't it a tad White Saviory to undertake this moral crusade on behalf of communities who never asked you to?

Business as usual...

First off, I never said I expect season 4 to be an instantaneous fix. I get that it's going to take a while to fix everything. Season 4 is just when I'm expecting the change to begin, the starting line for improvements.

Yeah, you've made great strides since season two, and I don't want to diminish all the work you've did but going from nothing on your plate to half-eaten moldy scraps doesn't mean you shouldn't try to get a better meal, nor does it mean you should be satisfied with the half-eaten moldy scraps. Also, you shouldn't have to sacrifice marginalized communities to represent other marginalized communities. That's not really how diversity and representation is supposed to work.

You wanna know what hurts more, Greg? Being the ones that you failed. But you wanna know the best part about failure? You can always improve. And I feel like you should focus on that instead of wallowing in a weird mixture of self-pity and self-loathing that I really hope you don't actually fall into. Greg, I don't mean to sound insensitive here, but it's much better if you just straight up apologize, acknowledge that you failed, and promise to better. And for the most part that seems to be the route you're taking. But I've noticed signs here and there you may fall into the second route I've seen cishet writers take of a weird unhealthy intense hatred of themselves where they just cruelly beat themselves up about it in an attempt to not only guilt trip those they've hurt into shutting up but also spin it into a "those mean minorities" thing. I'm not saying that's what you intend to do, or that you're actively doing this out of ill intent, but try not to spin the story into how much of a victim YOU are for you failing a minority. The irony is that you actively acknowledge how unproductive and insensitive that can come across and yet you...did it anyway. Please don't fall into that rabbit hole, Greg. I know you can do better.

And Greg, I've spoken about this before....but complete 100% creative freedom isn't really as good as it sounds. Steven Universe got that and it turned into a sobfest trying to get you to feel sorry for genocidal space Nazis that killed millions of innocent people, all just because their sister died and they were sad. Spongebob got 100% creative freedom and look how bad the seasons where Hillenburg was gone from the show are. My point is that 100% creative freedom isn't all its cracked up to be. I understand the desire to just write what you want, but sometimes "what you want" is something EXTREMELY problematic and hurtful and it'd be better to not get that thing after all. Sometimes our gut instincts are the wrong things to follow, and that's especially true when you're a person with a significant amount of privilege (a cishet white man) writingan extremely marginalized minority (a nonbinary Muslim person).

Raven - [proudtolikemylittlepony at gmail dot com]

Catching up. A few loose thoughts:

*Raven, your bluntness is appreciated - up to a point. You've also been rude and dismissive. You might say, "That wasn't my intent..." but I'm positive you'll understand that that's how you made me feel. You might say, "Yeah, but, Greg, you NEEDED that." And I'd say, no, I really didn't. It forces me to fight my instinct to be defensive. To overcome that in a way that a more measured response wouldn't have generated. Now, I'm not telling you how to respond to YJ or how you should address me, even. But if you think you're not hurting my feelings, you're wrong. I think I'm allowed to say that.

*You wrote: "I respect Greg enough to think he'd just come out and say Warner Bros was directly limiting [anything]. " I have gone right up to the razor's edge of what I'm willing to say about limitations from higher ups. If that wasn't clear, it's not going to get any clearer, because on this point, you're simply and objectively wrong. I still have to keep my job. And throwing my bosses under a bus is no way to do that. (Even typing this paragraph makes me nervous as hell.) And please don't go attacking Warner Bros. now. You have no idea what they have or have not limited, so you cannot speak with any authority or confidence on this subject. And if said attacks bring this paragraph to their attention, I'm well and truly screwed.

*I think Halo - origins aside - is a completely human character. Superman is an alien. And he's a human character. Red Tornado is a robot, and he's a completely human character. Etrigan is a demon, and he's a completely human character. We're doing super-heroes here. If you're going to eliminate every literal non-human character from the ability to being represented as a "human character" then I will in fact throw up my hands and give up. I'm not writing the Sopranos or some real world thing. Science fiction and fantasy, etc. have a LONG tradition of this sort of thing. This is our genre.

*I never promised a non-binary character. (I don't know what articles you're talking about.) I never even promised a Muslim character, though I get that the hijab seemed like an implicit promise. Things are revealed as they're revealed.

*In case it's not clear, I love the character of Halo. I get that the character doesn't work for you. But I still love her. I don't want to throw Motherbox-Gabrielle-Halo-Violet under a bus either.

Now, I'm really going to try to STOP responding in this Comment Room for the time being. To stop reading it, if I have the willpower. I need a break.

Greg Weisman

Raven - I can't possibly address everything here - haven't even had time to READ everything here - but I can say this: we do have sensitivity readers, including members of the communities that we're attempting (and/or failing) to represent.

We did before.

And we've brought in more now for Season Four. Some of the things you're not happy with we've discussed in detail with these wonderful people. They have and continue to offer adjustments, suggestions, etc., all of which, so far, we've taken. And, over the long haul - the LONG haul - they feel like we're on the right track. No group is monolithic, so, as the saying goes, "your mileage may vary." And none of this is to say that we can't do better. And that includes adding more characters to increase our diversity to represent these and other populations.

We have attempted to do this in Season Three. And I think we made great strides if you compare where we were at the end of Season Two. I get that it's not enough, but we're starting at a deficit. We need time and episodes to do this. And, no, it's not a Herculean task, but it is a complicated task. Much more complicated than you're making it sound. You can tell me over and over again that it's simple. It's not. "Just do it! It's easy!" takes literally nothing into account. Not the needs of other populations to also receive representation, not the corporate desires of folks at Warner Bros and DC Comics. Not the needs of storytelling and entertainment value and character consistency. To be clear, I'm NOT saying that we can't and won't include more diversity. We are trying every day to do that. But pretending we don't have multiple masters to serve that make this more difficult than you say it is doesn't make it so.

I think about this stuff all the time. ALL THE TIME. So when you're dismissive of our efforts, it's painful. (Yes, yes, "woe is me" is not an attractive position for this white male to take.) What I mean by that, is that it hurts to think we've failed populations that we are actively trying to serve and support. We are constantly, constantly striving to do better. But there are just no instantaneous fixes here. If that's what you're expecting from even Season Four, then I might as well warn you now, you'll likely continue to be disappointed in us. But if you're willing to take the ride with us, I think that maybe, maybe, you'll find the journey worthwhile. In any case, that's our goal.

As for digging in my heels, well.... I get the best advice I can from the best people I can find. (And as I've said, so far we've taken that advice, particularly with regard to Season Four.) But at the end of the day, Brandon and I have to follow our creative instincts. Period. If we're not passionate about the show, if the characters don't speak to us, then we cannot expect others to be passionate about the show or expect the characters to speak to them.

Greg Weisman

-Yeah, and critiquing a show is an appropriate time to use bluntness. I can criticize aspects of Greg's writing without calling into question his moral character. I respect Greg enough to admit he does seem to care about his fans a lot and that he might rework how he writes things, once I put my natural cynicism in regards to things like this aside at least.

-Except yes, she is an egregious example of a problem. You can't pick and choose which instance of a problematic trope is okay. The only reason Halo has any human DNA or human cells is that she's inhabiting the body of a human. That doesn't make her human. Like just because I have a beard and look like a man doesn't make me any less of a woman. Just because she's inhabiting the BODY of a human it doesn't make her any more human. It's always a problem making your only nonbinary character an alien, no matter how good of a writer you otherwise may be.

-I didn't mean Wally specifically, but yeah looking back I really shouldn't have name-dropped him. My general point still stands. I don't see why he couldn't make any of the less popular HUMAN characters nonbinary. And, I don't see why TTG and The Flash shouldn't make their Kid Flash nonbinary too. The more representation the merrier.

-Steven Universe and We Bare Bears both had on screen same-sex weddings, She-Ra has one of the main characters have two dads, and there are at least two same-sex relationships in The Loud House (Clyde's dads and Luna x Sam specifically). But yeah, keep talking about how LGBT+ rep is in its virtual infancy.

I don't really see how Cartoon Network is relevant to the discussion. That doesn't negate anything I've been saying.

Raven - [proudtolikemylittlepony at gmail dot com]

-Sorry, that should have read "if a close trusted friend of mine called me a jackass". My point being that there's a social context to the appropriate level of bluntness to use in any given situation.

-I find it funny how you keep citing Wally as an example of pre-existing characters who could have come out as non-binary, as though making the show's first non-binary character the one who died last season would have been totally unproblematic. But even leaving that aside, does that mean the makers of The Flash and Teen Titans Go! have to go make their Wally Wests non-binary now? See what I mean about the corporate hierarchy?

- Violet Harper's just as "biologically human" as you or I. She has human DNA, human skin cells, human kidneys and all that good stuff. She has as much right to call herself human as Cassie Sandsmark (who's half Olympian God) or Gar Logan (who changes species 'bout as often as he changes socks). I agree with your broader point, I just think Violet's not as egregious an example of the problem as you make her out to be.

-Apples and Oranges, LGBT+ rep in mainstream media is still in its virtual infancy, arguably behind even where POC rep was when Lee and Kirby created T'Challa. When the last ep of Invasion aired way back in March 2013, Korrasami was still well over a year away.

Had Outsiders gone into production straight away and aired on Cartoon Network as originally planned, it's highly doubtful we would have ever gotten Violet coming out to the Team onscreen or Brion's reassurance that he loves her/them unconditionally.

Would that really be better?

Business as usual

-Except that I've not called Greg a jackass. Again, I've been nothing but respectful to the best of my ability. And don''t insult Greg like that. He's better than just hitting the block button over perfectly valid criticism.

-Maybe they wouldn't, but for the lesser known characters like Artemis or Wally or Impulse? I mean, they're the ones that greenlit Halo being nonbinary. I respect Greg enough to think he'd just come out and say Warner Bros was directly limiting the amount of nonbinary characters he could make, and that would be a PR disaster for WB, especially after all the positive press that was (admittedly kinda wrongfully) put on YJ and WB for having a nonbinary character.

-Yeah, that's great and all but she's an alien. Not just that, but an alien computer ghost. Violet may ACT like a human, but she's not. She is fundamentally incapable of being completely, fully human.She's inhabiting the BODY of a human, yeah, but if I were to wear a pig costume and start squealing and eating slop, I'd still be a human pretending to be a pig, you know? I'm tired of our only nonbinary characters being aliens or robots or computers. We need actual, biologically human nonbinary characters. They can have superpowers, duh, but they need to be human.

-Yeah, except that was in the 60's. This is 2019. Greg's better than that. We're better than that. "Good for its time" doesn't cut it anymore. We've had "fair for its day" representation for years now from people like Greg, it's about time we get actual good representation from writers that aren't LGBT+

Raven - [proudtolikemylittlepony at gmail dot com]

On Wednesday, Chuck "SFDebris" Sonnenberg published his review of Superman vs. The Elite. I feel his lengthy discussion in the middle of it is relevant to the discussion going on in here.

Basically, good/better is not perfect. The review in full for who want to watch it: http://sfdebris.com/videos/animation/supermanvstheelite.php

Brainiac - [OSUBrainiac at gmail dot com]
There is balance in all things. Live in symmetry with the world around you. If you must blow things up and steal from those around you, THAT'S WHAT RPGS ARE FOR!

More bulletpoints! :D

-MD> Sorry for the effin’ and blind, I’ll try to keep it PG from here on in.

-RAVEN> There’s a time to use a sledgehammer and a time to use a scalpel. If close trusted tells me I’m being a jackass, I’m more likely to stop and listen to what their trying to say. If some random stranger on the internet tells me I’m being a jackass, I’m more likely to just hit the Block Button.

When others are confrontational with us the natural response is to get defensive. The more defensive people get, the less receptive they get, the less open to new perspectives. It’s as natural and automatic response as jumping at a loud noise.

-I think you may be somewhat overestimating the freedom Greg has. He’s still beholden to a sprawling corporate hierarchy and utilizing characters who are all mini-branding empires onto themselves. I can’t honestly see any of the suits at WB signing off on non-binary Bruce Wayne.

-I would argue that Violet Harper, as she exists now, is just as “fundamentally human” as any other member of the Team. She eats, sleeps, falls in love, gets scared of thunderstorms and runs the whole gamut of human emotions and experiences. Her powers may make her theoretically immortal, but in that respect she’s no less human than Vandal Savage or Ra’s al Ghul. Whatever she may once have been, I can’t think of a single meaningful definition of the term “human” under which she doesn’t currently qualify.

Ultimately, I do agree with MD that imperfect rep is generally better than no rep at all (within reason). Just look at the way Wakanda is portrayed in old 60s Marvel Comics. Yeah, it’s progressive by the standards of its time, but it’s still very much “Darkest Africa” as seen through the eyes of two white Jewish dudes from Brooklyn.

Yet without it, the first superhero movie to garner an Oscar Nomination might not have been the one with a Black director and predominantly Black cast.

Just sayin’

Business as usual

I don't have time at the moment to respond to everything in your latest post, Raven, but I have indeed seen Zombie Land Saga and I absolutely adore Lily.
Masterdramon - [kmc12009 at mymail dot pomona dot edu]
"If you have love in your life, then you must keep on living!" - Juvia Lockser

I agree, this was a pretty deep conversation and honestly not one I see very often on the internet.
Though this went a little longer than I expected so I'll post my thoughts on the last Young Justice episode tomorrow. And man, it's going to be a doozy.

Insert Inspirational Quote Here:________

-You're right about the profanity. I apologize. I will try to do better. I just swear a lot when I'm having discussions like this. I let it get out of hand. I'll try to do better.

-Doesn't matter what you meant, it's still kind of dehumanizing. Though that's more an issue with the writing than your argument so not much to go into there.

-Except Halo is, for the most part, a relatively obscure character. Most casual viewing audiences had no idea who Halo even is before Young Justice, and even then if they don't watch YJ they still may not know. So when I saw all those articles explicitly mentioning we're going to get an actual CANONICAL nonbinary character it made me a lot more excited for Young Justice than I already was. Also, it was completely the writer's choice to make her nonbinary. Out of all of the new heroes they could've chosen like Brion or Beast Boy, or even old ones like Dick, Artemis, or Wally they chose one of the ones that was fundamentally inhuman and alien.

-I think you and I have vastly different methods of criticism. I am a very blunt person when I see something I think is bad or I don't like, and I honestly roll my eyes whenever I see someone try to critique something while hiding their complaints behind a dozen reassurances that it's not the absolute worst thing they've ever critiqued. If someone had a problem with how I do things (a reasonable problem, mind you), I'd much rather them just outright say it as opposed to sneaking it in there underhandedly and sending off mixed messages about their thoughts on my story. I've treated Greg and the show with the utmost respect I can possibly muster. I just feel if I point out the problems with Greg's work bluntly and concisely he's going to be much more likely to improve than if I were to just pepper backhanded praise into the story just for doing the bare minimum effort.

-Yeah, that scene sounds wholesome as heck. If only it wasn't completely ruined by the super problematic nature of basically everything involving Halo's character.

-Yes! Exactly! That's a scene we desperately need to have! And also have her actually react to being misgendered! Like, imagine how satisfying it'd be to have her shout "I AM NOT A GIRL!" at a villain while decking them in the face the next time they call her a girl (looking at you Captain Boomerang).

-Why is it unfair to lay all of this at Greg's feet? It's his show. He's the executive producer, or at least one of them. He has a responsibility to control what goes on in his show. So do the rest of them. He's just the only one with a website we can actually meaningfully discuss this on as far as I'm aware. If his show does something bad, regardless of if its a cultural failing or not (it totally is btw, we're in agreement there), he should still be held accountable.

-I hope you know that "better than" doesn't equate to "good" or even "decent". I'd much rather get shot in the knee than in the throat, but that doesn't automatically make getting shot in the knee a good thing by default. Also, it's less that the trans characters in MHA depictions of trans people with some flaws in how we're depicted, it's more like everything about them from a design standpoint is an inherent flaw. Side note: if you're looking for an anime that ACTUALLY has respectful depictions of trans people, look up Zombieland Saga. One of the main characters is a trans girl and she's not designed any differently from the cis girls. THAT'S how you design trans characters.

-Yeah, correcting and informing is what I've BEEN doing. I'm just a lot more blunt and honest about it than most people who take the correcting and informing approach. That's the only way anyone ever learns. Honest criticism they can't ignore and/or can't get drowned out with a dozen "just my opinion"s or "you're really great otherwise"s.

Raven - [proudtolikemylittlepony at gmail dot com]

Wow, this really blew up while I was at work. A lot to unpack/respond to here...

- First of all, a general housekeeping note for everyone involved: I'd like to gently remind that Station 8 is (largely) a PG site, so it would be appreciated if we all toned down the profanity a bit. Greg and Gorebash have consistently expressed their preference that this forum remain one welcoming to fans of all ages, and all the F-bombs detract from that.

- My point about Twitter wasn't to state that it's impossible to craft a meaningful apology in 140 (or 280) characters. But that it's impossible to have a discussion like we're having right now, on issues that by their very nature require deep thought, detail, and nuance. And I think the quality of this discourse - both the criticisms you've levied as well as Greg's even-handed responses to them - bore that out. These are issues that deserve nothing less.

- When I described Halo as a "gestalt" I meant precisely that. As presented, they appear to possess the Mother Box's factual knowledge but none of her memories, thoughts, or preferences - and it appears largely the converse is true for Gabrielle. The closest allegory I can draw is to fusion in Steven Universe which results in a new being with consciousness wholly separate from their component parts (not two people, not one person, but "an experience"). The difference here being that both of the "components" had to die in order for the fusion to occur. Violet isn't Gabrielle, but they also aren't Mother Box. They're Violet.

- And I certainly get how, for some folks in the audience, that essential erasure of Gabrielle Daou (especially without ever getting to know her as anything more than "poor Quraci refugee") can be upsetting. It's an erasure of the original Mother Box as well, but since we don't - as far as we know - have any living alien computers in the viewing audience, that part doesn't register as equally objectionable. Whether losing those characters is "worth" gaining Violet as a person to explore is a judgment call every individual audience member is going to make.

- One quibble from your most recent post, Raven: much as I actually agree with a good deal of the wider point, it isn't accurate to say that we were "explicitly promised a good nonbinary and Muslim character." Muslim, yes - in promotional stills it was fairly obvious Halo was wearing a hijab and no one in the marketing department chimed in with a "well, actually..." So feeling misled on that particular score is a perfectly valid critique. But I don't really see how one could go into the show and expect Halo to be a fully human NB character. There was no hint of such in early material, and her comics counterpart (like 99.99% of comics characters, which is what's really the problem here) is cis. It was only revealed after we already knew Violet's "deal" (to borrow Algae's phrase) and the conversation flowed directly out of that.

- None of which renders that particular reveal immune from criticism, some of it definitely justified. But in and of itself, I personally found the scene...largely sweet. Whatever they may know intellectually about Violet's origins, it's clear that emotionally, the rest of the Team considers them just as much of a person of value as anyone else. And each and every one readily accepts Violet for who they are. I find power in that, honestly. Even if I fully acknowledge and appreciate that not everyone will.

- I do, however, think an opportunity was definitely wasted to have a quick follow-up scene where Violet clarifies their preferred pronouns. That's a particular conversation that almost never gets to happen in visual media and would be a helpful guide for folks that might need assistance navigating those sorts of conversations, the way the M'Gann/Harper counseling session was designed for folks in abusive situations. With that scene missing, it just feels like every other character is consistently misgendering them for the rest of the season - even clarification that they're still fine with feminine pronouns being applied to them by others (defining her as a non-binary woman, ala Rebecca Sugar) would be tremendously helpful.

- Now, with all that said, we all do seem to largely be in agreement that the "problem" with Halo's NB identity isn't so much that it exists (really, it'd be more surprising if a character in Halo's situation did align along the human gender binary), but that by existing in a vacuum as the only NB or genderqueer character in that particular universe (with the possible addition of Ultra-Humanite, although in being both visibly inhuman and a sinister villain...doesn't exactly help things), it reinforces harmful stereotypes about such people being fundamentally "alien" or "other." Solution is to also have some NB human characters, preferably alongside folks of other trans and queer identities? Yeah! Go for it! 110% on board yesterday[I].

- But in that case, I do think it's unfair to lay that all at Greg's feet, because it's a [I]cultural
failing. Like...I literally can only think of one fully human NB character in all of pop fiction, which is Hanji Zoe from Attack on Titan (and even then, portions of the fandom and even some official material constantly misgender them). If you know of some other examples, by all means, I'd love to see them. And that's not meant to be sarcastic, by the way - I'm an avid fan of queer media of all stripes, and if some show out there is doing this right, I want to be watching it.

- And this really brings me to the crux of what I wanted to respond to. I do think it's tremendously important that cis-het writers try to be inclusive of identities not perfectly like their own, even and especially if it requires research, second eyes from folks of those identities, and a more diverse writing room in general. No one's saying that because that effort is made, the results are immune from criticism, or that those writers should be "coddled." Just that there are different ways to go about that criticism, and that I prefer to acknowledge the effort while also being cognizant and mindful of how far we still need to go.

- The reason I brought up anime wasn't because any given example of its attempts to tackle queer issues is perfect. I'm under no delusions there. But compared to Western media, in terms of specifically trans representation, I do want to acknowledge that some manga/anime writers are trying. Trying in ignorance, without full or complete understanding, but trying nonetheless. And I'm not judging those against an imagined ideal (one, don't get me wrong, I'm fully on board with us pursuing with every fiber of our beings) but against the 99.99% of fiction writers who never try at all.

- Like, literally the only reason I brought up MHA is because, simply by including three explicitly trans characters (irrespective of, as you note, none of those examples being without their own issues) Kohei Horikoshi has already blown the vast majority of popular media out of the water. Three. That shouldn't be something to marvel at, and yet in comparison to just about all of its peers, it is. Even in otherwise very queer-friendly Western cartoons like Steven Universe or She-Ra, the "T" in LGBTQAI+ tends to be conspicuously absent. Literally the only explicitly trans characters in Western Animation I can think of are highly offensive stereotypes in "adult" toons that make the fact that Tiger still wears his old uniform seem positively quaint.

- I have more to say, but this post is getting almost obnoxiously long, so I just want to say this: thank you, to everyone involved, for engaging in this discussion with respect and in good faith. It genuinely warms my heart to see the Comment Room abuzz with such spirited, lively conversation on issues of genuine import.

- If nothing else, that's one more reason why I think it's important that writers try to expand into unfamiliar territory...even when they know they might stumble. Because that's really the only way they, and we, are ever going to learn and get better. Mistakes can and should be called out; story decisions weighed and discussed. Not for the sake of being punitive or "getting" someone, but to educate and inform. I don't agree with every single point you've made so far, Raven, but I appreciate that you've come here in that spirit. And I've tried to do my best to respond in kind.

- That's it for now, at least. Love and Peace, y'all!

Masterdramon - [kmc12009 at mymail dot pomona dot edu]
"If you have love in your life, then you must keep on living!" - Juvia Lockser

Algae, I appreciate your input (also hello fellow bisexual, I'm pleased to meet another one of my kind), but I have no idea where you or Greg got the idea my anger was directed at the Violet/Harper scene. I mean, I was hurt at first, but I've made my peace with that and calmed down. My anger was more directed at how they're treating Halo as a whole. Even if I continued to have a problem with the Violet/Harper kiss, I'd acknowledge it's a symptom and not the actual disease in of itself (I don't mean to sound so harsh but this is the best way I can describe it).

Second, Halo ISN'T human, and that's part of the problem. She's an alien inhabiting the use of a dead Muslim girl. I've already spoken at length about having your show's ONLY nonbinary character be fundamentally inhuman and the problems present with that, so I won't get into too much detail on that here.

Yeah, it's noble Greg's trying, but just because he's trying doesn't mean he shouldn't be criticized whenever he fucks up. Him having good intentions doesn't mean we should coddle him. And I'm not crying "abuse" at him, I'm just asking him to acknowledge that he fell into some pretty harmful stereotypes about nonbinary people, to apologize for it, and promptly adjust his behavior and writing so he never intentionally falls into those stereotypes again. Criticism is okay. It's how people grow. If we coddle Greg and never ever critique how he writes his minority character he'll never grow and improve. Like, the entire reason we're having this discussion is because nobody in the writing room knew enough to comment on how making your only prominent Muslim nonbinary character fundamentally inhuman might hurt those watching that are nonbinary and Muslim (especially after being explicitly promised a good nonbinary and Muslim character). But now they do know, and now that they know they can rectify this mistake. That's all this was, really. A series of mistakes. I'd only really say its malicious if Greg continues to do what he's currently doing with Halo's character into season 4 despite KNOWING how hurtful it is to his fans, but I have some faith in him that he's going to do better in the next seasons as much as my more cynical side tries to convince me otherwise.

And also, there's a difference between a well written character with personality flaws and a character that's very existence is a flaw in of itself. Take Dr. Frankenfurter from Rocky Horror, for example. Despite so many LGBT+ people lauding it as a landmark of LGBT+ representation for some fucking reason, Dr. Frankenfurter is basically every transphobic stereotype rolled into a single character and even has a song called "Sweet Transvestite". Am I saying Greg's depiction of Halo is as bad as Frankenfurter's whole existince? No, of course not. Frankenfurter was outright malicious and meant to mock us trans people, how Halo was written was just a bunch of clumsy mistakes that Greg falsely assumed would be perfectly fine diving into. Halo falls distinctly more into the camp of "flawed writing filled with harmful stereotypes and tropes" more than she does "well written character with natural personality flaws".

If Greg is the type of person to step away from writing LGBT+ characters when someone tells him he fucked up and asks him to improve his writing of LGBT+ characters, then he really shouldn't be trying to write LGBT+ characters in the first place. Luckily, I don't believe Greg is like that. He seems smart enough and kind enough to listen (for the most part, at least) when told he fucked up. Since we haven't gotten season 4 yet, though, the jury's still out on if he'll actually improve or keep doing what he's currently doing.

As for Halo denouncing her Muslimhood, her still wearing her hijab is really a minor point. The main problem is that it happened at all. You can't promise a Muslim character and then just have her go "nah, not a Muslim". Do you know how rare it is for Muslims to see themselves on television? Let alone see themselves in a way that's portrayed POSITIVELY? They can't even get that from writers that promise diversity because apparently Greg was unaware the stuff he puts in his stories has emotional impacts to his audience that he doesn't intend and he just thought it'd be a neat story idea. I'm not saying this was intentionally done out of malice, just one of those many...MANY clumsy mistakes involved with handling Halo's character.

Raven - [proudtolikemylittlepony at gmail dot com]

I posted this before but I think its even more relevant now lol

"Let's have robots and aliens as allegory for nonbinary people!"
"Why not just have actual HUMAN nonbinary characters?"
"....Do what now?


Except portraying your only nonbinary character as fundamentally inhuman is not progress. It's not a step forward. At best, it's a step into a moldy pizza. I get that he's trying, but you wanna know the best part about trying? You can try harder. And the fact that he's trying doesn't immediately absolve him of criticism whenever he fucks something up. And again, having your only nonbinary character be fundamentally inhuman is a pretty major fuck-up, even if it wasn't 'meant' to say that.
Raven - [proudtolikemylittlepony at gmail dot com]

Raven> I feel like I may have worded my response incorrectly and it came off as insensitive, please understand it was not my intention to insult you or anyone else and I do apologize.

When I said "the most cynical part of me would say that nonbinary characters are represented through robots or aliens because that's an easier pill to swallow for audiences" I feel I should have clarified that this is only a small part of my judgment. As Masterdramon pointed we are seeing a lot more representation in mainstream media, and yes there is certainly more that can be done but such is the nature of progress. It's constantly progressing.

And I do feel that too often books/film/television falls into the token representation trap. That "we showed a non-white/not straight character, our quota has been filled" problem which feels more like placated than actual representation. But as Greg put it that was not their intention and they're still trying. And I feel that not enough credit is given when people honestly and sincerely try. Progress is made up of a combination of little steps and big steps, and just because the big steps can have a greater impact than the little ones. It doesn't mean that the little ones can't also be important.

Insert Inspirational Quote Here:________

I'm gonna get a little personal here.

I'm Bi. I've been attracted to men and woman basically my entire adult life even if I didn't always consciously realize. I don't really talk about often online like this not because I'm closeted persay but well unless any y'all wanna ask me out it's rarely relevant.

I'm perfectly fine with the Harper/Violet scene. I get in an intellectual abstract kinda sense why a lotta my bisiblings were bothered by it, but I really can't share their ire.

Looking at the scene in the broader context of Harper and Violet's respective character arcs, it clear what we have here are two extremely emotionally vulnerable teenagers each going through some deeply traumatic shit. So they do what most emotionally fraught teenagers do, make poor impulse decisions.

I never got the sense that this was typical behavior for either of them, and it certainly would NEVER had occurred to me that Greg or Brandon were trying to make somekinda broader comment on bi-folk in general. And frankly I'd rather have SOME on-screen confirmation of Harper's orientation than have to settle for some note in a wiki

It's not perfect, it's not ideal, but it is human and personally; I'd rather see myself represented as a complete human being with ALL the good and bad that goes with it than as some sort of sinless immaculate paragon that can do no wrong. Heck, one of my fav bi characters is Shinji Ikari and no one who's seen Neon Genesis Evnagelion can argue he isn't one of the most #problematic fucks alive.

Yeah, even the best cishet writers are gonna fuck up when it comes to writing LGBT characters 'cuz they're only flawed problematic human beings like the rest of us. But screaming abuse at them when they stumble is only gonna disincentivize them from even trying.

Not really qualified to speak on Halo's Muslim identity (or lack there of), but I will note that at least some Muslims are perfectly happy for non-Muslim women to wear the hijab.


Business as usual...

Wow. I genuinely was not expecting a response from you, Greg. I don't mean that in a snarky mean way, either. I really do appreciate your response here. Now, onto your points.

*I am well aware all the work on season three is done. That doesn't mean you can't improve in season four, though. I have a bit more faith that you'll actually address the issues I admittedly had yesterday, thanks in part to your response. I still have a little bit of worry you're going to drastically mess it up (again) but that's probably just due to how cynical I am when it comes to cisgender heterosexual people writing LGBT+ characters.

*Yeah, you made a significantly higher amount of mistakes than you probably like to admit. I mean, really, everything about how you've handled Halo has been one mistake after another. Please don't dig your heels in on this matter. Please don't fall into the oh-so-common pitfall non-LGBT+ writers have when they write LGBT+ characters and insist they know better on how to represent a demographic than that demographic when they critique your show. Please don't pull a Voltron, Greg. You're better than that.

*I understand that you can't spoil season four, Greg. I'm not asking you to do that. I'm asking you to be more careful about the storylines you write and consider how the people you're SUPPOSED to represent with Halo feel when they see those stories play out. You're not just writing for yourself anymore, and with only one nonbinary or Muslim character in your entire show you kind of have a responsibility to know things, Greg. You can't just write whatever you want willy nilly with your only prominent nb or Muslim character because that style of writing for characters like that leads directly into diving headfirst into problematic territory.

*Yes, you chose to put her on the journey. But you didn't HAVE to. You could have given her a character arc about literally anything else. You could've chosen differently, but you actively chose to do this. And now that you know this hurts the nonbinary and Muslim, I think actively choosing to still do this after becoming aware of how hurtful what you're doing is...that's just twisting the knife at this point, man.

*You wanna know how you can organically rectify that? By just adding in more Muslim or nonbinary characters. Hell, you could even make some of the characters we've already seen nonbinary. It's not this great difficult Herculean task, Greg.

*Yeah, I get that you didn't INTEND to send that message. But you DID. If someone were to run over your cat, they'd have still ran over your cat even if they didn't mean to. I'm not saying running over someone's actual pet and writing harmful stereotypes into your fictional characters are just as morally bad as each other but my basic point is that "even if you accidentally do something, you still did that thing". The least you could do is add more nonbinary characters to your stories and apologize for the damage done.

*And Greg, yes. Your lack of other nonbinary and Muslim characters SHOULD have prevented you from doing that. Again, you can't just write what you want willy nilly when you're dealing with minority characters like this. You have to actually consider what this could (even unintentionally) say and the potential harm done.

*"Diversity on all sides"? Greg, I know you mean well, but eighty cis white characters with one Muslim nonbinary character does not equate to diversity on any side. And yes, I understand your choices are not made in a vacuum, but making a character nonbinary or trans is literally one of the easiest ways to put diversity into your stories. Just have them come out as nonbinary or trans explicitly in the show (I know you did this with Halo and I appreciate it, I'm just pointing out it's not this grand Herculean task you like to build it up to be). Oh, and also have them explicitly react to getting misgendered.

*I've seen you mention that you live in a bubble so...why not hire sensitivity readers and writers that are actually nonbinary or bisexual or Muslim? Don't try to lie to me, and say you have one already, I very much doubt that sensitivity readers would allow half of the stuff you do to Halo. If you do have some, then they're either bad at their job or you actively choose to ignore them. I frankly don't know which of those possibilities is worse.

*We appreciate that you're sincerely trying, Greg, but when you fall its important to acknowledge you fell. You don't pretend it didn't happen and convince yourself that everyone who pointed out that you fell was in the wrong and that you just kept running. To break away from that metaphor there, the best thing to do would be to actually listen to the complaints instead of going "I did most things perfectly fine and I'm not going to change at all!". Actively work to do better instead of settling for where you are now. Admit you made lots, and I mean LOTS, of mistakes and that you could've handled Halo's character a lot better than you did. Don't try to pretend you made less mistakes than you actually did, Greg.

Raven - [proudtolikemylittlepony at gmail dot com]

Long as this post is, this won't be a full response. I can't make a full response until after the season ends, and even then I'm not going to give spoilers for the next season. But I did want to address some of the points made in this very worthwhile discussion. Following Masterdramon's lead, I'll just give bullet points:

*I appreciate the understanding that we had no "evil intent."

*I regret the phrasing of the tweet noted below. And I will admit, I was back on my heels when I tweeted it.

*In case it's not clear, all the work on Season Three is completed and locked and has been for some time. I couldn't change it if I wanted to. I'm honestly not sure if I DO want to, but even if I was desperate to change things, I couldn't. So us not addressing fan concerns this season is not meant as any kind of insult to injury. That may not be worth much, I realize. But it's still a fact.

*We may have made mistakes this season. I personally believe we made fewer mistakes than some people think, and I'm hoping the end of the season will prove that out to some degree. But maybe it won't. In the end, everyone has to judge that for his, her or their self.

*The assumption that we won't be addressing any of this in Season Four is flat-out wrong. But I'm not going to spoil the details of what we're planning or how Halo's journey will continue. I would hope that I've earned enough trust over the years and the series that I've done for people to believe me when I say this. But I'm well aware I'm stating this from within my cis-het-male-Caucasian-showrunner bubble. I do understand that it feels differently outside the bubble.

*I am not abdicating responsibility for the choices that Brandon and I made about Halo. When I say she's on a journey, I guess what I mean is "We put Halo on a journey. We have chosen to put her on a journey."

*It's neither a one episode journey nor a one season journey. (There was a risk that we would only get one season, but that's a risk we always take with all our characters.) I would personally appreciate if people withheld judgement until more of Halo's journey has played out, but the point I was clumsily making on that tweet was that I actually do understand - and even sympathize - if that's asking a bit much. That's not a line. I get it.

*And I get that the main reason that waiting for journey's end is frustrating is because Halo is being forced to REPRESENT on a lot of levels, because the series doesn't have enough other characters (or any other characters) to share said representation. That's a flaw in the series, but one we're on an ongoing quest to organically rectify. I like to think that we do a better job than most series, but that doesn't mean we've ARRIVED. We don't claim that. We're trying though. Please believe we are trying.

*I also understand that it is frustrating that the one non-binary character in our series - and, no, I don't count Sphere - is a human body possessed by the spirit of a dead alien artificial intelligence. We are not saying - or not trying to say - that non-binary characters are all inhuman. But still, the choice seemed right for this character. So we went there.

*Again, I know that would play better if we had other non-binary characters who were human in the show. But should the lack of those characters have stopped us from doing what we did with Halo? I honestly didn't think so at the time. Now, I'm less sure. But it still feels wrong to truncate what we see as an important aspect of this character ONLY because we hadn't yet added another non-binary character to the mix.

*Likewise, I understand that Halo seemed to be the only prominent Muslim character on the series, and her stating coldly that she wasn't a Muslim was, is and continues to be a blow. But we had to respect the character. Halo can't be a Muslim SIMPLY because Gabrielle was. It's way more complicated than that. In fact, based on our research, she literally can't be a Muslim until she personally commits to it. It's the First Pillar, as I understand it. So she has to make a choice at some point. She hasn't yet. Which may, at least in part, explain why she hasn't yet stopped wearing the hijab. She's still on the journey.

*And to paraphrase/repeat what I said above: I know that would play better if we had other significant Muslim characters in the show. But should the lack of those characters have stopped us from doing what we did with Halo? It still feels wrong to truncate what we see as an important aspect of Halo's character ONLY because we hadn't yet added another significant Muslim character to the mix.

*There's only so much screen time. Young Justice adds more characters per season - to the despair of our line producers - than most shows, but there are only so many characters we can add. And, yes, WE are making these choices of whom to add and when. Again, I'm not abdicating responsibility here. I'm OWNING it. But I'd hope people see that we aren't making these choices in a vacuum. We have many things we need to consider, including entertainment value, diversity on all sides, and notes from multiple individuals representing multiple entities within the Warner Bros/DC corporate structure, etc. I'm not trying to whine or say, "Poor me." Brandon and I relish making these choices. But it simply may not be as easy as it all seems.

*I have never pretended to know all or get everything instantaneously. Here's an example: I honestly had no idea that there was a stereotype that bisexuals are always unfaithful. I'd never heard that. Again, maybe that's the bubble I live in, but it was honestly news to me. We weren't trying to play into that stereotype at all. PEOPLE in general are - for all sorts of reasons - unfaithful. And in this case, Harper and Violet were those people. (Though I'll point out that Kaldur is also bisexual and isn't unfaithful. So here we had some representation to balance things, but it was revealed in the wrong order.) Had I known that stereotype existed I would have thought twice about that scene. But I might have done it anyway, because I believe it was right for both characters, though it may have been wrong for the show as a whole. Those are things that Brandon and I weigh literally every day.

*As stated above, I'm aware that I live within a bubble of implicit and explicit privilege. But I want everyone to know that I'm sincerely trying. Everyone on Young Justice is sincerely trying. We may stumble. We may fail. But that's not for lack of effort. We do a lot of research. We consult with a lot of people. We try to get things right. We may not always succeed. And I do understand that intent and effort aren't always enough. But right now it's all I've got.

Thanks for listening,

Greg Weisman

Matthew, I think Algae described a lot of my problem with Halo's character. She's the show's ONLY nonbinary character, and she's also an alien computer spirit. Intentional or not, this seems to be the "reason" she's nonbinary. This whole thing would be significantly less harmful if they just HAD other prominent nonbinary and/or Muslim characters, but no. We're stuck with yet another portrayal of nonbinary people that tells the nb fans they're inherently alien and not human, whether that's what the writers intended or not. And don't try to spin that positively either. Humans are still PRESENT in Young Justice. Robin, Artemis, Kid Flash, Beast Boy...I mean, granted, they're superpowered humans for the most part, but still human. And don't give me that "they made her an alien to make her easier to watch for mainstream audiences" crap. If you're going to sacrifice an actually nuanced and sympathetic depiction of a human person as nonbinary in favor of "lol alien I guess idk" just for the sake of general audiences then I, frankly, do not want you even touching a nonbinary character until you learn how that makes your nonbinary fans feel. I don't mean to be rude but frankly that is the most insensitive comment I've read in the past month and it genuinely upset me.

Also Algae, yeah no. There's no "story context" where dehumanizing your ONLY nonbinary character is ever okay or justified. I just want him to at least acknowledge the harm he's done and try to do better in season 4 instead of just blindly continuing on what he was doing previously.

Masterdramon, I'm going to bullet point your commetn the same way you did mine.

-Yeah, no. Doesn't matter if the season is over yet, Greg still massively hurt his nonbinary and Muslim fanbase. And when told this, does he apologize? No, he shrugs it off as if the dehumanization of nonbinary people can be retroactively seen as a good thing (it can't, btw). The least he could do was apologize instead of ignoring the criticism altogether because Halo's "on a journey" (that he's in complete control of btw). And you know, there's a way he could apologize fitting the Twitter character limit: "I'm sorry. I admit I fucked up and will try to do better." There. Done. That's a much better response than him going "Um actually its not hurtful at all and is perfectly fine!" despite him being a cis white man and having no authority on the subject.

-No. He shouldn't justify his creative decisions. He should acknowledge how BADLY he fucked up and apologize, and also promise to not pull shit like this again. Whether you "agree" or not, making your only nonbinary character into an alien robot ghost thing is dehumanizing as fuck, and is incredibly hurtful to nonbinary fans, regardless of the intent of the writer or if he "does it good enough". This is the problem when cishet white people try to write LGBT+ POC characters. They almost always fall into harmful stereotypes and when you tell them? Do they apologize and stop the thing that's being criticized? Some do, but most of them shrug it off and go "BUUT I CAN DO IT GOOOOOD". The issue isn't the execution of what you're doing, it's the fact you're DOING it in the first place.

-Yeah, except that is never actually explicitly mentioned or shown in the show. And even if it was, for all intents and purposes Gabrielle is basically fucking dead. She doesn't even exist as a character on her own. I don't think she ever really did. This isn't a thing where they switch control of the bodies every now and then and can communicate with each other in their mind like Greeling from Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood. Halo has straight up taken Gabrielle's body away from her and is using her body as a "host" for lack of a better word.

-Yeah, that's great there are more Muslim superheroes! Why doesn't Greg write them into the story?

-Maybe you got a point. Maybe flawed rep could be better than no rep at all. Except it isn't. Because nobody is willing to learn from their actual LGBT+ audience members about what good rep is. Flawed rep being better than no rep is no excuse to just sit back and let the harmful stuff happen because "well, it's better than nothing". We have to actively make sure to improve so the rep isn't flawed, and the ONLY way to do that is to listen to the actual voices of authority on the subject; which so many cishet writers fail to do because, as I mentioned previously, they think they're special and that if they do the harmful thing a certain way, somehow that'd make hurting all their LGBT+ fans okay and the show would be showered with praises. Inevitably, they're always super confused when their "special" skills as a writer are booed out of the building for pulling harmful stereotypes and patting themselves on the back for how 'woke' and 'diverse' their show is.

-Yeah! I agree! Too bad we haven't gotten there yet, which is why this show needs criticizing. If we never call Greg out when he does something harmful, he'll never learn to do better and to not do the harmful thing.

-Are you kidding me? Speaking as a trans woman, anime is complete dogshit when it comes to representing trans and nonbinary characters. MHA especially. Our identities are used as punchlines (in the case of MHA). If not that then we're usually mass murdering villains, or fetish fuel for cis people to have warped sexualised ideals of.

-Side note: I don't count it as good representation when your trans women are drawn explicitly to resemble men in female clothing. Please start using normal designs for us.

Raven - [proudtolikemylittlepony at gmail dot com]

Matthew: While Simon's first story was...bad, he's had seven years worth of stories since then as a largely positively portrayed and multi-layered hero. That's part of why I hold to that axiom that problematic representation is (usually) better than no representation - especially in a long-term collaborative medium like comics, where one writer can take what did work about a character and jettison what didn't.

I fully believe that the primary reason Simon's popular image hasn't been boosted accordingly is his near-complete absence from adaptations, something YJ could help with. It'd be neat to see him on the League in Season 4, perhaps with either Kyle Rayner or Jessica Cruz (giving us some additional Hispanic rep either way) as his protege on the Team.

Masterdramon - [kmc12009 at mymail dot pomona dot edu]
"If you have love in your life, then you must keep on living!" - Juvia Lockser

GB> Yeah, the Bourassa design is probably the best one Savage ever had. It the first one to really sell me on the idea that this dude is 50,000 years old.
Business as usual

MD> ".I wouldn't personally describe Vandal Savage as "white." He predates any modern conceptions of race, and certainly doesn't seem to originate from the Caucasus."

That's actually one of the reasons why I think Phil's redesign is so brilliant. I imagine it if this guy was real, looking at it would be some kind of uncanny valley. You wouldn't quite know where he came from. You may get a sense, but you wouldn't know. Which allows him to stand out more, and yet blend in better. Because I could never believe that the guy on jlu, who is apparently the right-hand man of Hitler, was also Genghis Khan... for obvious reasons.

Greg Bishansky

Masterdramon> I completely forgot about The Nail series, I need to reread that.
I also completely forgot about Simon Baz and Nightrunner. And for the former, yeah oof. Brings to mind the circumstances that led Casey Kasem to quit the Transformers.

Insert Inspirational Quote Here:________

Wow...a lot to unpack here. I'm going to bullet point this because I think that's probably more expedient:

- I'll admit that I was not aware of that particular Tweet, though I cannot honestly say I disagree with the underlying message of it: that the season isn't over yet, and to holistically judge Halo as a character, I think it's fair to ask that fans have a chance to view the full picture. None of which erases or ameliorates the issues pointed out thus far, but I wouldn't call it an inappropriate or "condescending" statement, in and of itself.

- Now, what the situation does get me irritated at isn't Greg, but Twitter: a site I have largely come to despise for its deleterious effects on political and social culture over the past decade. Its format by definition discourages thoughtful conversation and nuance, and elevates exchanges of quick, pithy one-liners. It is absolutely the wrong platform for a discussion like this, which by necessity requires breadth and detail to peel back the layers on the construction of what is - love them or hate them - a highly complex character.

- See, I was really interested to see Greg's response to the first such post on this subject (even if, at this rate, it probably won't be answered in ~2 years). I guarantee that, with the benefit of hindsight and no word limit, his answer would be a lot more useful and informative than any given Tweet thread. Which isn't to guarantee that he'd agree with all or even most of the criticisms, but he deserves the chance to address the issue and justify the creative choices made in a format greater than 140 characters.

- I do think, in a general sense, you're somewhat underplaying the impact Gabrielle clearly still has on Violet. The show has consistently demonstrated that she is more than "just" the soul of a Mother Box piloting a corpse like a puppet, but a full-on gestalt of two individuals who would've died otherwise, fusing into a new person who's both and neither.

- This is important to note because of the hijab issue. Gabrielle was a Muslim; Violet isn't. Yet Gabrielle's subconscious and instincts still affect her, and what they tell her about her hijab is that it's a source of comfort and security. In a world that so often tries to cast it as a symbol of oppression (various bans are still in effect around the globe to this day), I'm not going to utterly reject the statement being made there.

- Side note (for Matthew): Halo may have been picked for "race-bending" because of her counterpart from JLA: For Want of a Nail who is dark-skinned.

- Other side note: I won't deny the list is short, but two DC Comics heroes who are largely positively portrayed Muslims are the Green Lantern Simon Baz, and Nightrunner (who is basically French Batman). Neither is a 100% perfect bastion of representation (particularly in Simon's debut story...oof) but have come to grow in interesting ways, and I'd love to see them show up in a future season.

- Which brings me to the point where I think everyone involved in this discussion is entirely in agreement. I am all for the cast being further diversified as the show rolls forward, in any number of possible ways - in terms of race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, etc.

- See, I'm generally of the opinion that flawed representation is almost always better than no representation. But this discourse is a vivid demonstration of the pitfalls of a character being the only member of a minority in an ensemble cast; every flaw and foible in how that character is handled is magnified, because that character is shouldering all the issues of being the "Cast [BLANK]."

- For example, if your horror movie has a bunch of white characters and one black character, and said black character gets eaten by the monster 10 minutes into the film...that's problematic and cliched. If it has several black characters of prominence, and one just happens to be the first to die, it doesn't necessarily have the same "ick" factor for the audience.

- So by all means, I'd love to see some more Muslim characters of prominence. I'd love to see some more non-binary folks, and in general, a lot more folks of various trans and queer identities. Whose gender identities, yes, are just as human and valid as Bruce Wayne's or Dick Grayson's cis identities.

- I especially get the frustration in the latter regard, because in children's/family media such characters are nearly non-existent. The clock is only just starting to turn for LGB characters getting to be prominent and visible in Western toons...there's no question the "T" is having a harder time at breaking into the mainstream. Anime has been a little ahead of the curve in that particular regard, though some of the examples have been so horrendously problematic that they test my above "flawed representation > no representation" syllogism (I'm looking at you, Tokyo Ghoul). Best one I can probably cite is My Hero Academia with a FTM hero, a MTF villain, and a NB hero who are all quite deliberately treated with no different a brush than their cisgender colleagues.

- Okay, one last thing that's completely beside the point and the nittiest of nitpicks, but...I wouldn't personally describe Vandal Savage as "white." He predates any modern conceptions of race, and certainly doesn't seem to originate from the Caucasus. I'll assume you meant he's coded white, but while I'll grant that Savage is on the paler side, I still wouldn't tend to agree. Indeed, given that (A) the two roles we see him take up directly in history are Genghis Khan and Marduk, and (B) his main base is in Mongolia, he seems pretty clearly coded as Asian in this particular iteration. At least to me.

Masterdramon - [kmc12009 at mymail dot pomona dot edu]
"If you have love in your life, then you must keep on living!" - Juvia Lockser

MATTHEW> Sorry for the double post but just noticed your comment and wanted to chime in.

I think Raven's issue with Halo's gender ID is that the show seems
to be implying the only reason she's non-binary is 'cuz she's literally a genderless alien AI walking around in a human body. Being non-binary comes across as an aspect of her "alienness". Not saying that was the writers intent mind, just how it can come across.

A good contrast would be Sir Ystin from Paul Cornell's short-lived Demon Knights comic series, who's already established as a genderqueer full-fledged homo sapien before being made immortal by the Holy Grail and getting a magic horse from Merlin. (The book has ALOT going on.)

Business as usual

RAVEN> These are all quite valid concerns. I figured out Halo's "deal" within the first two or three eps of the season just based on reading her comic incarnation's wiki page. And I do remember thinking at the time that the writers may not have really understood what they were stepping into.

That said, I kinda want to hold off any judgement on Halo's character has been handled until the end of the season in case there's some story context we're currently missing.

Business as usual

Sorry I feel I should clarify something, I've long held the theory that the character of Halo is less of a case of a Motherbox soul possessing a dead body and more of a merger between the two beings. Especially considering that one: we know very little of what Gabrielle Daou was like before she was killed, so there's always the possibility that Halo's personality isn't too far off from what she was like before her death. And two: all of the memory flashbacks have been about Gabrielle not the Motherbox meaning that they're emphasizing the human side of her rather than the living computer one.

Now the most cynical part of me would say that nonbinary characters are represented through robots or aliens because that's an easier pill to swallow for audiences. That being said, I feel it's important to remember that representation can also succeed when audiences form an emotional connection to the characters or elements regardless of whether it's human or not (see the success of xenofiction for more details). Within the main cast of this season alone we have a cyborg, an insectoid alien with different sense of self than others do, a shapeshifting alien who's a minority within her own species, a half-human and another shapeshifter who may or may not have a connection to a mystical monkey god. Diversity's the name of the game so I ask does Halo having an alien connection take away from the fact that she's also nonbinary? Now could they have spent more time on her being nonbinary or even make her nonbinary without an otherworldly connection? Of course, but as we saw on the show, everyone's pretty quick to accept it and there's already a lot to cover for each episode.

And finally, I'm pretty sure her excuse to start drinking was due to the fact that she was depressed over the fact that her healing aura was slowly killing her and the prospects weren't looking good. Not to mention the ever increasing guilt over Gabrielle's part in the assassination of Brion and Tara's parents and her fear of how her boyfriend and new family would react at learning this. Her "I'm not a Muslim" comment came off more as a justification to Harper Row than as an excuse. Especially when you consider her more reckless acts like when trying to prevent the assassination of Troia and Garth, her drinking was just another part of her throwing caution to the wind.

Keep in mind all of this is just my own opinion and I do think it's important to discuss difference.

Insert Inspirational Quote Here:________

Fair point, but also the writers were the one to make the decision to have their only immortal main character be their only prominent Muslim character. Again, not accusing them of malicious intent, just pointing out some biases they may have there.

Uh, no. Nonbinary people being exclusively represented as aliens or robots or some bizarre combination of the two are part of the problem with Halo's character. Nonbinary people are tired of being represented entirely as strange, inhuman fantastical creatures. You wanna know a good way to explore being nonbinary? Having an actual HUMAN nonbinary character!

Oh, really? Because the way I remember it she used it as an excuse to start drinking. Which, y'know, already pretty violated her faith. So they need to address that and explicitly confirm she's still a Muslim within the context of the show and not via fan on anonymous messageboard.

Raven - [proudtolikemylittlepony at gmail dot com]

"Let's have the ghost of an alien computer be an allegory for nonbinary people!"
"Why not just have ACTUAL nonbinary people on our show?"
"...Do what now?"


This is partially directed to Raven, but anyone can chime in if they feel like it.

I've heard about the Greg bashing over how often Halo is brutalized (mostly on TV Tropes) though I would remind folks that Greg himself stated that this season would be more PG-13 to R. Now I will admit that Halo bearing the brunt of those reminders is unfortunate but I will also say it's probably far better that the brutalities are directed towards someone we know will heal over those that won't.

And like Masterdramon, I'm all for representation. And to be perfectly honest Muslims haven't really been represented all that much (or all that well) in comics. Off the top of my head I can only really name three Muslim comic heroes: Kamala Khan, Faiza Hussian and Dust. And all three of them are Marvel. Now I don't know why Greg decided to make Halo Muslim in this series, but I can guess, and I can reference other times he's done so. In this case when he changed characters like Liz Allen and Debra Whitman for the sake of diversifying the cast as there were already plenty of blonde-haired, blue-eyed characters just like Halo is in the comics.

Speaking of which, in the comics Halo was an energy being alien and thus had no concept of the subject of gender. Now this would've been a great time to explore the notion of being nonbinary, but this was the 80's and there's no way a mainstream comic was going to do that at the time.

And finally the "renouncing her Muslimhood" I should point out that the only really time she said she wasn't a Muslim was when she was drunk and depressed over the notion of dying. But it's important to remember the whole Motherbox soul trapped in a human body thing she still displays elements of her faith even after the reveal that she wasn't Gabrielle Daou. Like her unwillingness to take off her hijab while Vic was present.

Long story short, Halo is a pretty complicated character.

Insert Inspirational Quote Here:________

Although, now that I'm thinking about it. Having Halo remove her hijab to symbolize her leaving Muslimhood would be super shitty and gross. The only respectful way to end this arc would be for her to just go back to being Muslim.
Raven - [proudtolikemylittlepony at gmail dot com]

Masterdramon: Yeah, I can understand why you'd think that. I mean, you're only reading the submissions on this site. Except that Greg HAS actually addressed this issue, he just hid it in a snarky somewhat condescending "I'm sorry you got offended" non-apology and made no indication he was going to actually adjust the story in season 4 to accommodate these situations.

The tweet in question was in response to a tweet directly to him and Brandon Vietti (Vietti hasn't responded at all, so we're still waiting on input from him) and it read "Halo is on a journey. If you don't have the patience to deal with that journey I understand and sympathize."

Okay, addressing everything wrong with that tweet. One: Halo is a fictional character completely within the control of Greg and the other writers. She is only "on a journey" because Greg made her that way. He could've chosen to not do what he did instead. Two: its not about patience. At all. It's about realizing that, even without meaning to, you're furthering harmful and problematic stereotypes used to dehumanize both Muslims and nonbinary people, and that the stuff you write has an impact on others even if you don't intend it to do so, for better or worse. Third, there doesn't even seem to be a HINT of an apology in there. Which is honestly one of the worst ways to handle criticism like this.

Okay! Moving on to the other content of your comment!

First off, yeah, I'd say the way they handled Halo being nonbinary was clumsy at best, and at worst falls into downright dehumanizing stereotypes. Halo is the ONLY canonically confirmed non-binary character- except for mayyybe Sphere according to another fan I talked to about this on Twitter- and she's a ghost of an alien computer spirit posessing the body of a human while still not ACTUALLY being human. And if you were to include Sphere in the discussion? He's a robot. A literal robot. A giant metal ball. You see where I'm going with this? Young Justice's ONLY two nonbinary characters are fundamentally inhuman. Intentional or not, stuff like that sends messages to nonbinary people. And, frankly, nonbinary people are sick and tired of their only representation being aliens or robots or fantastical creatures that Aren't Quite Human. Nonbinary people aren't nonbinary because they're some other species than humans. Nonbinary people are nonbinary because that's their gender identity. This whole problem could've been avoided if they didn't make Halo non-human and just gave her regeneration powers, or if they just had more nonbinary characters that are flesh and blood humans.

Second, the hijab. Hijabs are incredibly significant to Muslims and unique to their religion. A non-Muslim person continuing to wear one is cultural appropriation. You wouldn't give a character that regularly insists they aren't Native American a feathered headdress, would you? The same principle applies here. (There's also still the issue of your only prominent Muslim character suddenly declaring they're Not Muslim Anymore after all the hype and good will you generated and robbing Muslim fans of actually seeing themselves on mainstream television portrayed as heroes after explicitly promising that and getting their hopes up but that's another conversation).

Now we move on to the violence. The complaints (mine included) aren't that violence is happening to her. It's that it's happening to her far more frequently, far more graphically, and in far greater detail than even cis white villains. Vandal Savage got attacked by a bear and impaled by a spear, but even that wasn't enough to generate the same amount of gore Halo's injuries create. Correct me if I'm wrong but didn't she get her entrails ripped out? A thing that doesn't happen to any of the other prominent cis white characters.

I'm not saying any of the writers are doing any of this on purpose, mind you. I'm just saying Greg needs to be aware of the harm he's doing and a noncommital shrug accompanied by a "Hands are tied, can't do a thing about it" like he showed in the Tweet isn't really the best way to handle these criticisms.

Raven - [proudtolikemylittlepony at gmail dot com]

Raven: While I think the criticisms of how the character of Halo has been handled are fair, even if I don't 100% agree with them personally (in regard to the violence against them, their hijab, and their nebulously non-binary identity), I'm not sure there's any reason to claim that "Greg doesn't seem to care."

I notice that there are a couple of posts in the queue expressing these criticisms, which have been submitted anonymously. I fully intend to approve those posts as they come up, because all criticism, no matter how negative, is welcome on Ask Greg - so long as it stays within the rest of the guidelines.

However, the fact that Greg hasn't addressed those particular posts yet has nothing to do with whether or not their points are valid...and everything to do with the fact that the queue just broke 1600 unanswered questions. He doesn't see a given question until he's in "answering mode" - in which case he only sees them one at a time, in chronological order.

When those posts eventually do reach Greg, and he decides to react curtly or dismissively...then your irritation with him (and the rest of the creative team; please remember that none of these decisions are made as a one-man show) would certainly be validated. But I somehow doubt that is what's going to happen.

Reading through Greg's recent Tweets on Kaldur's sexuality, he comes across as patient, fully aware of his personal blind spots, and also willing and able to listen and learn from the fan community. That's leaps and bounds above what I've seen out of a lot of similarly situated creators.

I do feel your point, don't get me wrong. Diversity and representation are big priorities for me in the media I both consume and develop (if you count fanfic, LOL)...and having known Greg for a number of years now, I can assure you that they're the same for him. Even if - by his own admission! - his understanding of certain issues is a work in progress.

Ultimately, I don't see a reason to simply assume he isn't interested in hearing your concerns (and those of like-minded fans), without giving him a chance to respond to them.

Unfortunately, given the sheer length of the queue as of now, that chance might be a way's off. But like the illustrious Dick Grayson, I encourage patience.

Just my two cents.

Masterdramon - [kmc12009 at mymail dot pomona dot edu]
"If you have love in your life, then you must keep on living!" - Juvia Lockser

Is anybody else concerned by the fact Greg doesn't seem to care how the fans of the show feel about his handling of Halo's character? Doesn't really feel like he cares after all the [SPOILER] graphic, frankly unnecessarily brutal depictions of violence against her, her renouncing her Muslimhood while still wearing a hijab (y'know, a culturally and religiously significant part of Islam), the fact she's the show's ONLY canonical nonbinary character and she falls pretty distinctly into the "nonbinary as nonhuman" stereotype. Like, can we PLEASE get some like actual human nonbinary characters and not just bullshit like "they're ACTUALLY the ghost of an alien computer!"? I'm tired of cishet writers being fundamentally incapable of understanding nonbinary people unless they portray them as some kind of alien or robot.

And that's not even getting into how frequently Halo is misgendered as a girl and how little Young Justice actually acknowledges her as nonbinary. We've gotten more nb-coded characters from characters that aren't supposed to be the canonical nonbinary rep (it's Connor, if you're wondering) [/SPOILER]

Raven - [proudtolikemylittlepony at gmail dot com]

Paul> Wouldn't it be more appropriate for me to talk about the glory that is Earthbound, specifically the moles, since I'm in the fifth position?

Or maybe it should have been Adam since that would reference how strong each mole considers itself...

...and there's the confusion all over again.

Brainiac - [OSUBrainiac at gmail dot com]
There is balance in all things. Live in symmetry with the world around you. If you must blow things up and steal from those around you, THAT'S WHAT RPGS ARE FOR!

I'm 4th, I believe.

The confusion reminds me of the 5 moles in the mine in EarthBound, who each consider themselves the third-strongest mole.

Paul - [nampahcfluap at yahoo dot com]

Aglae - Thank you. Then I get to keep my bronze.

ADAM> No, you're third. Spam doesn't count.
Business as usual


Love it to the bones!
Testrx Review - [landscapingservicescolumbia at gmail dot com]

Business as usual

So first I guess.
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