An essay

Dear Director Costigan,

We accept the fact that we had to sacrifice time, privacy, and dignity for whatever it is we did wrong. But we think you’re crazy for making us write an essay telling you who we think we are. You see us as you want to see us, in the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions. But what we found out is that each one of us is a Bull… and a Doomed… and a Janus… and a Legacy… a Nova… an Outsider… and a Scion. Does that answer your question?

Sincerely yours,
The Menagerie

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Highly problematic, in hindsight, but still one of my favorite movies.

I feel like I’m missing something here.

The original bit is a Menageried version of the final ‘essay’ voiceover from the Breakfast Club.

Yeah, but there’s hope. More in a moment.

The impetus for the post wasn’t necessarily remembering “The Breakfast Club” itself, but this music video from Gunship, a synthwave act:

And I had tweeted this earlier:

And if you watch the video, that’s what’s going on. You have a ton of people - of whatever color, sex, body size, or other background - just having fun dressing up as 80’s icons, dancing around, lip-syncing, and otherwise reveling in what makes them feel good.

And their example crosses back to a lesson from movies like “The Breakfast Club” and “The Goonies” (a particular favorite of a friend of mine’s, to the extent that playing Data in a Masks game was just as important to him as Dave playing Johnny Quest was to him). That lesson is that other people are who they are, and we can open up to who they are, make space in our own lives to accommodate them, and that doing so is a good thing.

In the game, we have a ton of examples of that. Two that spring to mind are this bonus comic from the Colin thread, and Issue 41 or so, where Leo’s interaction with the Bot’s future Pneuma is wrapping up, and he’s yelling at the old man to go be himself again. That Leo may need to accept that his Pneuma might not ever speak again, or at least will have serious problems, and I think he’ll be able to do so. I think even years from now, Jason might need to have his nanobots on defensive standby, for the moment Alycia wakes up from a nightmare and lashes out in a way that might seriously injure him - but he accepts the risk and the cost, because that’s the price of being with her and he pays it gladly. And Alycia and Summer might both accept that Alycia will always have these tendencies too, and find healthy ways to manage it. I know people in real life who have similar considerations. The people around them must make allowances, and accommodations, and we do it because they are worth doing it for.

So back to the 80’s. For those of us who grew up in 80’s pop culture, it occupies an niche in our formative emotional lives that gives its messages power over us. Sometimes those messages are unhealthy. No less than Molly Ringwald herself wrote about her experience making movies with John Hughes, and it might sour the reader on the filmmaker or his films. But sometimes, like with that ending essay, there’s messages we need to hear, and the fact that they came from media that affect us deeply can help those messages take hold in our lives. So I’m grateful to things like synthwave, or this game, for taking sometimes problematic media (like, yes, Johnny Quest as well) and reinventing it, transmuting that power into something positive.

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I had a long speech written out for Alycia for toward the end of 61 or something, confronting Doctor Infinity about fate (it might also have been written out for a cutscene with Summer or Aria once Doctor Infinity’s identity was revealed) that was basically summed up at the end – having used pretty much everyone on the team as an example – as “We do not need to become what others think we should be. This team, I am told, was founded on that very principle, down to its ridiculous name.”

It’s a very appropriate theme for a Masks campaign, I think.

Two other comments:

  1. Thanks, @insomn14, for asking about the original post. I caught the theme, but not the origin (I was never a big John Landis fan, and never saw The Breakfast Club).

  2. JQ was horribly problematic, being basically a cartoon remake of every B science-action-adventure movie from the 1930-40s. (This did not occur to me, personally, until I was showing them to @fragolakat when he was a mere tot, and I realized I’d need to probably connect those dots for him. Not watching them with him was, honestly, never an option. My particular apologies to any Bambenga, Bambuti, or Batwa peoples in our studio audience. Also to pretty much every other non-European ethnic group portrayed, though, frankly, Germans get a pretty nasty treatment, too.) That said, as a model for science adventure and for (disfunctional) family, it was a hoot to do.

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